The Coalition to Stop Pilgrim Pipeline has been encouraging residents of towns along the proposed pipeline route in New Jersey and New York to attend local town/borough council meetings to ask them to pass resolutions opposing the pipeline. Why is this such an important action to take? What role to town councils have in the process? Shouldn’t we be lobbying FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) since it’s an interstate pipeline?
There are two important things to remember that make this project different than other pipelines we may be familiar with:
- This is an OIL pipeline, not a natural gas pipeline.
- Pilgrim is NOT a public utility. It DOES NOT have the right of eminent domain.
The Pilgrim project’s routing is not subject to federal oversight. Instead, that responsibility belongs to the individual states of New Jersey and New York.
- In New Jersey, local towns have much greater rights for the siting of a non-utility oil line than they would for a utility’s pipeline. Only the BPU or a court could declare that Pilgrim is a utility with the right of eminent domain to compel reluctant landowners (including municipalities which own public land) to allow surveying or construction on their land. A surging number of towns raising their objections to the project makes it more difficult for the BPU to justify granting utility authority.
- In New York, the NY Thruway Authority controls much of the right-of-way (ROW) which Pilgrim wants to use. The state Department of Transportation would have to allow an exception to its Accommodation Plan to allow the project to proceed. Like in NJ, a growing number of municipal resolutions can influence the decisions of state authorities.
Working together, the towns of New Jersey and New York can influence their states to reject this project.
Want to go further? Contact your local state legislator. Write a letter expressing your concern that this project would have on your local community. Find your legislators at: