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Poll: Much Ado About Controversial Pinelands Commission Nominee

Four governors from both sides of the aisle have argued against confirmation; what's the real deal here?

If snow does not blanket Trenton today, the Senate is poised to vote on a controversial nominee to the Pinelands Commission, a nomination drawing rare opposition from four former governors from both sides of the aisle. Robert Barr of Ocean City won approval from the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. His appointment is viewed as a crucial juncture for the commission, which oversees the 1 million-acre preserve, partly because his vote could be crucial to allowing a controversial natural-gas pipeline to be built through the Pinelands.

Should his nomination be approved?

  • Gov. Chris Christie won two elections in New Jersey and deserves the right to appoint the people he wants to serve on commissions and other agencies to reflect his views and direction for the state.

  • The controversy over the natural-gas pipeline is less about who will support it, and more to do with the fact that it will help provide increased reliability in a region where power supplies are questionable because of the retirement of the Oyster Creek power plant.

  • The controversy over the natural-gas pipeline is a red herring, according to some proponents. It is more about fracking natural gas in neighboring states, which environmentalists want to stop, in part to prevent new natural-gas pipelines in New Jersey. The Pinelands already has six natural gas pipelines running through it.

  • The nomination threatens to undermine the independence of commissions such as the Pinelands and others, as the four former governors argue. Barr, who has been legislative aide to Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May), declined to say where he stood on the pipeline issue in testimony before the Senate Judiciary panel.

  • The Pinelands Commission is a strong advocate for protecting the preserve, home to many endangered species found nowhere else on the planet. It needs the best possible people to serve on its commission.

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