ENVIRONMENT

Jersey City Mayor Vows To Fight New Gas Pipeline

A state commission yesterday approved a controversial proposal for a new high-pressure gas pipeline through Jersey City.

Many Jersey City residents are angered by the plan. In an interview that took place prior to the decision, Jersey City mayor Jerramiah Healy told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that he will to fight to keep the pipeline out.

Healy said he is unhappy about the prospect of a new gas pipeline and has been fighting it for more than two years. He wrote letters to federal representatives and the company proposing the idea, Spectra Energy, and isn’t letting up. “We’re looking for a reconsideration from the Federal Energy Regulatory Committee known as FERC,” he said. “If we’re successful there, which would be wonderful, it would be over. If we’re not successful there, we intend to litigate it through the courts.”

Jersey City representatives have had a handful of meetings with Spectra Energy, but not in about six months. “They were somewhat dismissive in that they felt that they had the technology to ensure that this was safe. We know that there’s no such thing as a sure thing,” Healy said. “When we look around, these things are popping up and exploding. Incidents and accidents are happening all over the country.”

He added that Jersey City is more densely populated than other areas where similar pipelines run. The proposal calls for the pipeline to run nearly the whole length of the city, from the south to the north, Healy explained. He also said New York residents will reap the benefits of the pipeline while Jersey City incurs the risks.

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While Healy admits that Jersey City has other gas lines running through it that haven’t caused too many problems, he said the new one would be much more pressurized and could cause mass destruction and casualties if an explosion occurred like the one in California about a year ago.

Another negative consequence could be a disincentive for investors to develop Jersey City. “I can’t concretely document that but it’s so difficult to get a loan if you’re buying a home these days,” Healy said. “I couldn’t imagine a mortgagee or a lender coming in and saying here’s $100 million to build this structure right along a volatile pipeline such as this.”

Another issue in Jersey City is the use of red light cameras. The cameras generated $1.7 million in fines, which Healy said gets split between the county, the state, the company that makes the cameras and the city. When all is said and done, the city collected about $600,000, Healy said.

The main purpose of the red light cameras is to make travel safer. He pointed out that the only individuals impacted by the cameras are those that run red lights.

“We think it’s aimed at slowing down traffic, making people abide by the law,” Healy said. “An ancillary benefit, yes it adds to the city’s coffers and we think that’s a positive thing, not a negative thing.”