Pull Pipeline Project

Nov 08, 2017

To the Editor:

The following letter was sent to the Department of Environmental Protection, Green Acres Program, on Oct. 9 in opposition to New Jersey Natural Gas pipeline plans here along Dock Road in Eagleswood Township.

Green Acres encumbrances are set up to prevent diversions. The first sentence within the Green Acres regulations on diversions states, “It is the department’s policy to strongly discourage the disposal or diversion of both funded and unfunded parkland.” To even be considered for a diversion, the project must fulfill a compelling public need or provide a significant public benefit. When combined with subsequent regulations, these benefits/needs must not be able to be provided using an alternative route, which has not been sufficiently proven.

The project must also provide an “exceptional recreation and/or conservation benefit,” according to the state. Neither Eagleswood nor NJNG has attempted to demonstrate compliance with this regulation. All that has been presented is the monetary compensation. We do not know how this compensation will be used or if it will be able to provide exceptional recreation or conservation benefit.

In Green Acres diversion applications, the regulations state that “it shall be the Department’s presumption that there is a feasible, reasonable and available alternative not involving parkland for the project.” During the public hearing, residents raised several possible alternatives. They were informed that the alternatives analysis already took place. However, this presumption of the DEP does not end once the analysis has concluded. Eagleswood must demonstrate that all suggested alternatives are inappropriate.

Furthermore, the regulations stipulate that a diversion may be rejected if it would substantially interfere with water quality protection efforts. The construction of a pipeline under the Barnegat Bay certainly seems to interfere with water quality protection efforts, and an environmental impact statement has not been conducted. It would be irresponsible and contrary to the regulations for the DEP to approve the diversion without further consideration of what could happen to the bay if the construction or operation of the pipeline does not go according to plan. NJNG’s plan to use horizontal directional drilling under the bay is also questionable.

For these reasons, I ask Eagleswood Township to withdraw the Green Acres diversion application. If the township does not withdraw the application, as it is compelled by resident interest to do, the DEP must reject this diversion.

Margit Meissner-Jackson

Eagleswood Township

The writer is acting chair of the Sierra Club’s Ocean County Group.

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