Critics of a proposed natural gas pipeline through the Pinelands in South Jersey were out in force at a public meeting held yesterday by the Pinelands Commission.
The meeting, at the Pine Belt Arena in Toms River, came after a state appellate court ruled it could not approve the project without public participation. Commission staff previously had signed off on the Southern Reliability Link pipeline.
The chief argument that protesters articulated against the pipeline was its potential danger to the environment. James Conroy, a Bricktown teacher, said he is worried about the possibility of contamination of the water supply. Notwithstanding the need for energy, Conroy said, the project’s environmental risks are too high.
“We can’t drink gas. We can’t harvest blueberries from poisoned bogs. And we can’t raise animals when surrounding water becomes contaminated,” Conroy said.
A supporter of the project, Christopher Bohlke — who is a member of the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 825 — said he has helped to build pipelines. Of a recent job running pipes underneath the Delaware River, Bohlke who is from Chatsworth, said, “Not one leak. Not one frack-out. The pipe went exactly where it was supposed to be … I would welcome natural gas to Chatsworth, and so would many of my neighbors.”
Just under half of the 30-mile pipeline would pass through the Pinelands.
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