Water is Sacred
Saturday was an eye-opener when I joined concerned citizens from seven counties who peacefully protested the proposed pipeline through the Pinelands. Voted down in 2014, it has gained new momentum with a tweaking of the application to avoid environmental rules. Along with Gov. Christie’s unilateral decision to appoint a new administrator to the Pinelands Commission and additional support from Senate President Sweeney, freeholders, mayors, gas companies and shareholders, it looks as if they are all willing to gamble with the 1.1 million acres designated as an International Biosphere Reserve due to its diverse spectrum of plant and wild life. Most importantly, a gas leak or explosion would be extremely destructive to the eco-system, as well as to firefighters, as a high pressure 24” diameter gas pipeline through 15 miles of pristine forest will be horizontally drilled under at least 14 streams, wetlands, creeks, ponds, two rivers and along populated roads. This puts New Jersey’s unique, irreplaceable eco-system and 17 trillion gallons of the purest and oldest water in the U.S. in jeopardy, particularly when the proposed route is through naturally prone high and medium risk fire areas.
Engineers use the term “Potential Impact Radius” for determining “safe” setback distances along the route, determined by pipe diameter, material and working pressure. In this case the PIR would be longer than an NFL field. Pipeline malfunction and/or combustion would therefore result in a significant impact area, twice this radius, with little or nothing left standing, posing a threat to residents, property and the future of the Pinelands itself.
A permit by the DEP for the BL England Plant where the pipeline is routed to serve allows emissions of thousands of pounds of arsenic, cadmium and chromium per year, including ultra-fine particulates which could be more damaging to the body than coal emissions. So why is the potential risk to the Kirkwood-Cohansey Aquifer and pristine national forest, the danger to residential and commercial properties, and the threat to health and safety of citizens disregarded by those who will reap the profits of the declining fossil fuel industry? Climatologist James Hansen informs us that November temperatures in the Arctic hit 36 degrees above average. Closer to home, Rutgers studies concluded in 2016 “that global sea level rose faster in the 20th century than in any of the 27 previous centuries” and “sea level is rising faster at the NJ shore than the global average because of land subsidence (sinking).” Renewable energy sources such as solar and wind generating systems must offset the potential danger of contaminating our national lands and waterways.
Friends, it is urgent that you visit www.rethinkenergynj.org/stopsjgpipeline/. Instruct the Pineland Commissioners to continue their good stewardship of the Pinelands. We need clean, safe, sustainable energy that supports this and future generations. We don’t need this unwelcome pipeline that will forever hold us hostage to a catastrophe that will cost millions of dollars to “fix” a potentially unfixable problem. Keep the Pinelands Safe! Deadline for public comments is February 8th.