Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News (MDN)
Radical environmentalists have told South Jersey residents their energy needs don’t matter and to just drop dead. Green political correctness is what counts.
Anti fossil fuel freaks have scored a victory in reducing the amount of electricity available to New Jersey’s southern shore area (rolling blackouts anyone?). There was a plan to convert a now-closed coal-fired electric generating plant to use natural gas, fed to it by a new (very short) pipeline.
The Sierra Club and other radical groups have opposed the project for years, tying it up in an avalanche of frivolous lawsuits. The plant owner has finally thrown in the towel and no longer wants to do the project. Thanks, Sierra Club!
The question now is, will the pipeline project that would have fed the plant still get built? Running a spur to the power plant was part of the justification for the pipeline project, but not all of the justification.
The “Southern Reliability Link” pipeline project is a $130 million, 28-mile natural gas pipeline proposed by New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) to connect NJNG’s distribution system serving customers in Ocean, Burlington and Monmouth counties (in NJ) and the interstate pipeline system adjacent to the New Jersey Turnpike. In addition to providing gas to the power plant, the pipeline is meant to provide a backup for hundreds of thousands of NJ residents who lost access to natural gas following Super Storm Sandy. Redundancy is a good thing when it comes to natgas supplies.
The pipeline would run through 12 miles of scrub pines that are “protected” in NJ. The scrub pines are actually overseen by a state commission, the Pinelands Commission. In Sept. 2017 the full Commission voted 8 to 4 (with 1 abstention) to approve the Southern Reliability Link project (see Pinelands Commission Approves Pipeline Thru NJ Scrub Pines). Big Green contested the Commission’s vote in court. Not one shovelful of dirt has been turned to build it–yet.
The question now is, with part (not all) of the raison d’etre gone (no power plant), will the Commission have to re-vote? Will the pipeline ever get built? Will demented antis ever pull their heads out of their…whoops, there we go saying something with our out-loud voice again. Check out this Atlantic City Press story:
There is no longer a need for a South Jersey Gas pipeline to the B.L. England electric plant in Beesleys Point, after the plant owner said in court papers Wednesday it no longer plans to repower the facility with natural gas.
But that doesn’t mean a pipeline project is dead, said South Jersey Industries Vice President of Communications Marissa Travaline.
“It may be a different-looking project,” she said, but the company still feels the region needs a second transmission line, in case an accident or natural event damaged the only one serving the Cape peninsula.
Dave Robbins, president of South Jersey Gas, said the company has already begun to explore options for another pipeline to serve the company’s 142,000 customers in Cape May and Atlantic counties.
On Wednesday, an attorney for the company that owns the plant, RC Cape May Holdings, sent a letter to the Appellate Division of Superior Court asking to withdraw the company from a lawsuit against the state Pinelands Commission over its February 2017 approval of the pipeline.
No one from the Pinelands Commission could be reached for comment Wednesday night.
Then, the state Attorney General’s Office, which represents the commission, sent a letter asking for a postponement of the case, due to the changed circumstances.
“Today, Intervenor RC Cape May Holdings … stated, for the first time, that the B.L. England electric generating plant will not repower and will not be using the South Jersey Gas pipeline,” Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal said in a letter dated Wednesday.
Grewal said that decision undermines the basis for the Pinelands Commission’s approval of the pipeline. The commission had said it approved it because it served a business in the Pinelands and would benefit people living there, and required a new application to the commission if there was any redirection of the gas from the B.L. England plant.
“This means the entire basis for the Pinelands Commission approval of the pipeline is now gone,” said Pinelands Preservation Alliance Executive Director Carleton Montgomery, “because the commission approved the pipeline on the sole basis that all the gas would go to a new plant at B.L. England, a use located inside the Pinelands.”
PPA and other environmental groups had sued the Pinelands Commission over its decision. They disagreed that the pipeline was a permitted use in protected areas of the Pinelands, and with the argument that the pipeline would benefit people who lived in the Pinelands.
“It was a terrible argument, but now even that terrible argument is invalidated,” said Montgomery. “The BPU (New Jersey Board of Public Utilities) also relied on the representation that the pipeline would serve a power plant at the B.L. England site, so its approval too is invalidated. The only course now is for the Pinelands Commission and the BPU to withdraw their approvals of the pipeline altogether.”
Environmentalists had been fighting the project for years, arguing it would damage the Pinelands and promote fossil fuel use rather than renewable energy such as wind or solar power.
The pipeline was supported by business and labor groups, and many of the towns through which the 22-mile pipeline would have run from Maurice River Township to Upper Township.
Ten of those miles would travel through protected Forest Areas, where utility infrastructure is only allowed if it serves the Pinelands.
“I’m surprised, since it did go through the Pinelands Commission and the whole process,” said U.S. Rep. Jeff Van Drew, D-2nd, a strong supporter of the pipeline during his days as a state senator from Cape May County.
He said he supported it because it was to be installed along roadways, not through pristine areas; would keep the plant operating and keep jobs in the district; and because it would provide another way of getting natural gas to Cape May County.
“There is no question we only have … one line going in,” said Van Drew. “If something happens, there really is going to be a big problem. I thought the redundancy was a good thing. It was a big public safety feature. But companies make decisions.”
According to Upper Township Mayor Richard Palombo, crews were in the process of decommissioning two of the power-generating units at the B.L. England plant last fall. It has operated as a peak provider of electricity to the grid during times of highest use, and is due to stop operating altogether in May.
Editor’s Note: This story illustrates the absurdity and dangerous nature of radical environmentalism. This power plant exists and could have supplied much needed clean energy and energy security to 142,000 residents of South Jersey. It required a pipeline that would be placed in an existing highway right-of-way. Yet, a handful of radical environmentalists led by Jumpin’ Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club, using gentry class funding, were able to stop the power plan conversion and may well stop the pipeline based on nothing more than hyperbole, speculation and green political correctness.
This is the sad state of affairs in many parts of the Northeast and it is already taking a toll in places such as Westchester County, New York. Madness has taken over in New York and New Jersey, it seems. We could tolerate that, I oppose, if it didn’t require telling South Jersey and Westchester residents to just drop dead.