Pinelands Pipeline Project Headed Back to Appellate Court

Tom Johnson | March 29, 2017 | Energy & Environment
Pinelands Preservation Alliance argues that 22-mile conduit violates its Comprehensive Management Plan

Credit: Kirk Moore
B.L. England power plant in Cape May County
The South Jersey Gas pipeline is headed back to litigation.

The Pinelands Preservation Alliance yesterday filed an appeal in the appellate division challenging the approval of the 22-mile project through the Pinelands.

In a meeting last month, the Pinelands Commission approved the project, which will supply natural gas to the B.L. England power plant in Beesley’s Point, in a packed public meeting in Cherry Hill over the protests of hundreds.

The project, tied up in litigation and disputes for the past six years, would cross 10 miles of forest through the Pinelands, a 1–million-acre preserve set aside more than four decades ago. Opponents say it violates the agency’s Comprehensive Management Plan.

Despite the ongoing controversy, the Christie administration has steadfastly backed the project, which would allow the power plant to convert from coal to cleaner- burning natural gas. It has won support from many legislators, business interests and labor.

Four former governors, virtually all of the state’s environmental groups, and thousands of residents have opposed the project since early in its review process.

“Over the last four years, we have seen some politicians, South Jersey Gas, and the staff of the Pinelands Commission do everything in their power to move this forward,’’ said Carleton Montgomery, executive director of the alliance.

If the project is not built, the B.L. England plant will have to shut down under a consent decree with the state Department of Environmental Protection.