Four former New Jersey governors are supporting a campaign to stop the proposed new natural gas line through the Pinelands and the Assistant Executive Director of the Pinelands Preservation Alliance Dr. Jaclyn Rhoads told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that the proposal does not meet the regulations of the Pinelands Commission.
Rhoads said, “To have that bipartisan support of former governors that have worked in protecting the Pinelands truly shows to everyone that this is an important project that needs to be stopped.”
She said that typically, those proposing projects get all of the other permits and clearances they need and come to the Pinelands Commission for approval last. Rhoads said this is because this attempts to force the Pinelands to vote with the agencies but the Pinelands Commission has a special role to play and they are the only ones that make sure that the Pinelands’ integrity remains intact.
There are problems with the proposal, Rhoades said, which include no sufficient review of the impact it will have on endangered species, some reports requested for review were blanked out and flood gates to other projects might come through that may violate regulations that have been in place for 30 years.
“I think the Pinelands Commission right now is at a critical juncture. We are going to say this does not abide by our rules, there are other choices. Don’t use the Pinelands as the cheapest route to get to the plant,” Rhoads said.
Rhoads said the Pinelands Commission is responsible for protecting the Pinelands, and it is not within their jurisdiction to evaluate whether or not the plant needs to be in operation. But she said that South Jersey Gas has other options that would not affect the Pinelands.
“I don’t see trading the integrity of the Pinelands and its rules for a power plant that has other options as a viable choice and I think that’s what the Pinelands Commission is there for,” Rhoads said.
As for the Pinelands Commission’s decision, Rhoads said, “Their choice right now before them is whether or no this meets the regulations and it doesn’t. I think that’s why they need to vote no on it.”