SJ Gas Pipeline
The South Jersey Gas proposal is the pipeline we have been fighting for five years now. The 22-mile, 24” natural gas pipeline would traverse the Pinelands Forest Area of Cumberland and Cape May Counties to deliver natural gas for a proposed new electric generating facility at the BL England site on the shore of Great Egg Harbor. It would traverse the Forest Area, a Pinelands planning district where this kind of infrastructure is forbidden unless it primarily serves the needs of people already in the Pinelands.
How you can help
Right now, we encourage you to call, write, or email Governor Murphy urging him to get the Pinelands Commission back on track and make appointments of qualified individuals who will uphold the Comprehensive Management Plan.
You can also make noise at your county level to promote a transparent county appointment process. We have sent resolutions to each county for their consideration regarding the appointment process. Attend your county freeholder meeting and express support for this resolution during public comment.
PPA, New Jersey Sierra Club, and Environment New Jersey are challenging the Pinelands Commission approvals in the appeals court, based on the merits of the decision and the way the Commission went about it. If the court agrees with us, it is possible the project will be defeated or that it will be sent back to the Pinelands Commission for a new review. If that happens, then we will reach out to the public to voice its opposition to this project to Governor Murphy and the Pinelands Commission.
The SJG “Cape Atlantic Reliability Project” is a 22-mile, 24” 700 psi natural gas transmission line that would run from Maurice River Township to Beesleys Point in Upper Township, through the Forest Area of the Pinelands. The Forest Area is one of the most ecologically sensitive areas of the Pinelands. The Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) strictly limits development in the Forest Area. It specifically prohibits public service infrastructure development (like pipelines) in the Forest Area unless the development primarily serves only the needs of the Pinelands itself. The SJG pipeline, in contrast, would service a private power plant and South Jersey Gas and Atlantic City Electric customers who are almost all outside the Pinelands.
The South Jersey Gas pipeline violates the Comprehensive Management Plan in the following ways:
- The pipeline is designed to carry four times as much gas as the proposed new power plant could use, according to the manufacturer's specfications, and more than twice the capacity that SJG has contracted to provide to the BL England site. So what plan does SJG have for the rest of that transmission capacity? Certainly not to meet any need of the Pinelands.
- The mere fact that the BL England site is just inside the Pinelands boundary does not mean gas to the plant primarily serves the “needs of the Pinelands” (even if the pipeline did primarily serve the proposed power plant).
- SJG has consistently said the pipeline is being built for – and most of the cost paid by – its ratepayers, the vast majority of whom are outside the Pinelands. Only when faced with the Pinelands rules did SJG change its explanation to claim all the gas would go to the power plant.
- The great majority of South Jersey Gas customers are outside the Pinelands. The vast majority of electricity customers and demand to be served by BL England are outside the Pinelands. On any rational interpretation, this pipeline would serve demand outside the Pinelands.
- There is no need for a new power plant at the BL England site. The old power plant barely functions any more, and the owners are committed to shutting it down entirely in the very near future. PJM Interconnection, the electric grid operator, has found that a plant in that location is not needed to provide reliable service. The plant, and therefore the pipeline, are not needed either for Pinelands customers or anyone else.
- The pipeline will bring impacts and risks to water and other resources that neither SJG nor the Pinelands Commission has addressed or resolved. Over the last five years there have been numerous leaks, construction accidents and explosions of similar natural gas transmission linesin our region and across the country. Yet our state government has never grappled with risks, instead accepting the developers' assertions that it will all be just fine.
Details on each point can be found in our submissions to the commission here:
PPA Cover Letter and Summary Jan. 24 2017
PPA Expert Reports Jan. 24 2017
PPA Additional Comments Feb. 8 2017
Letter from Governors Byrne, Kean, Florio and Whitman Opposing the Pipeline
Former Governors and others explain why gas pipelines represent a threat to the future of the Pinelands in this video produced by the Pinelands Preservation Alliance as part of our Save the Source campaign.
May – July 2013: South Jersey Gas and the company that owns B.L. England, Rockland Capital Cape May Holdings, received permits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
January 2014: On Friday, January 10th, the full Commission voted on a resolution that would have authorized the Commission’s Executive Director, Nancy Wittenberg, to enter into a Memorandum of Agreement with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities allowing the construction of a 22 mile, 24 inch diameter natural gas pipeline.
The final vote was tied 7-7 resulting in a stunning victory for the environment. They needed 8 votes in the affirmative in order to advance this project.
- Read Commissioner Lohbauer's full statement here. He makes a very strong case for his "no" vote.
- Here is a link to a video of his statement.
April 2014: Cumberland County removed a crucial ‘no’ vote on the pipeline by replacing Leslie Ficcaglia as the Cumberland County representative on the Commission
May 2014: Governor Christie made nominations to replace two of the Pinelands Commissioners, Robert Jackson and D’Arcy Rohan Green, who stood up to the political pressure and voted against the South Jersey Gas/Rockland Capital pipeline deal.
March 2015: The New Jersey Senate voted to confirm Robert Barr’s appointment to the Pinelands Commission to replace Robert Jackson. D’Arcy Rohan Green’s seat was protected.
May 2015: South Jersey Gas made minor changes to their application and resubmitted it to the NJ Board of Public Utilities (BPU) and the Pinelands Commission
August 2015: The Pinelands Commission issued a Certificate of Filing for the South Jersey Gas application. A video of the meeting is available here: http://youtu.be/I6cIH8Fd_8c. In a stunning move, the Executive Director decided she would not allow the full 15-member governing board of the Commission to review the matter. She stated that the project complied with the Comprehensive Management Plan.
December 2015: The BPU approved the petition from South Jersey Gas that would waive all municipal land use ordinances and regulations in relation to the construction of the pipeline. The BPU did not directly address the potential impacts on the Pinelands. PPA filed appeals against the BPU on this decision.
November 2016: The Appellate Division of the Superior Court agreed with us that the Pinelands Commission and Board of Public Utilities improperly approved the controversial South Jersey Gas pipeline without a review and decision by the full membership of the Pinelands Commission. The decision was sent back to the full Pinelands Commission for a review.
December 2016: The Pinelands Commission approved the process by which they would review the South Jersey Gas pipeline application, which did not include a public hearing with sworn testimony. PPA filed an appeal of this process.
January 2017: The Pinelands Commission held a public meeting during which they took comment on the South Jersey Gas pipeline. Over 100 people were locked out of this meeting and were forced to stand in cold rain waiting to enter.
February 2017: The Pinelands Commission voted 9-5 to approve the South Jersey Gas pipeline before hundreds of opposed residents. See a link to the video here:
- Voted to approve the pipeline: Commissioners Sean Earlen, Paul Galletta, Bob Barr, William Brown, Joe Chila, Jane Jannarone, Edward McGlinchey, Gary Quinn
- Voted against approving the pipeline: Commissioners Candace Ashmun, Edward Lloyd, Mark Lohbauer, Richard Prickett, D’Arcy Rohan Green
- Abstained: Commissioner Frank Hays
March 2017: PPA, New Jersey Sierra Club, and Environment NJ filed appeals of the Pinelands Commission approval of the pipeline. These appeals are still pending.
June 2018: South Jersey Gas applied to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection for an extension to its Freshwater Wetlands and Waterfront development permits. PPA believes they should not get an extension and we are urging the DEP to deny this application. The DEP must make a decision by June 21, 2018.