CAPP-NJ-MEDIA Blog 10-24-16: Three Reasons All Towns in Northern NJ Should Oppose the Pilgrim Pipeline

THREE REASONS ALL TOWNS IN NORTHERN NJ SHOULD OPPOSE THE PILGRIM PIPELINE

All of the towns in the path of the Pilgrim Pipeline have declared their opposition to it. Now it is time for neighboring towns to step up to the plate.

The Pilgrim Pipeline – and any others that may be built in the future – threatens the water supply, health, and property values of all of us in northern NJ, even if our town is one not directly in its path.

Here are three good reasons that neighboring towns should voice their opposition to the Pilgrim Pipeline.

Reason 1: Water Is a Shared Resource in New Jersey

The Water Supply Management Act, N.J.S.A. 58:1A-1, gives the state the power to reallocate water supplies due to shortages from droughts, pollution, etc. For example, if the water supply provided from a town directly in the path of the pipeline becomes contaminated, water that may have otherwise gone to your town may end up going elsewhere, and water restrictions may be applied across an entire region. As well, the northern part of NJ is home to numerous interconnected water sources¾including rivers, aquifers, and reservoirs¾that would be impacted in the event of a leak or spill. Stopping a project that can cause water shortages or contamination anywhere in northern NJ is in everybody’s interest.

Reason 2: Each Town Protects Itself Best When It Takes Part in Protecting All

The power to stop this pipeline comes from the ability of towns and counties to work together. No one town can do this by itself.

When the first group of towns opposed the pipeline, they empowered our state legislators and county freeholders to do the same. Every town that voices its opposition adds to our collective power to persuade leaders, including federal legislators, to help us.

Saying, “This does not go through our town, so we have no reason to address this,” seriously undermines the power of combined actions across many towns. Imagine the message it would send to our elected leaders and the NJ DEP if every town in northern NJ were to visibly oppose this pipeline.

Reason 3: The Pipeline Route Can Still Change

Even if the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline route does not go through your town, there is no guarantee that the pipeline route won’t change or that a future proposed pipeline may do so. None of the towns on the currently proposed route ever imagined they would be fighting this battle, so none were prepared to respond to the threat of an oil pipeline going through their borders and near wells, fields, and high-consequence areas like health care facilities and schools.

Once an oil pipeline is constructed through the protected NJ Highlands and activated, stopping the next will be much more difficult, maybe impossible. Voicing your opposition after a pipeline company has filed for a route is not as effective as demonstrating rational and logical limits for such an event before it is proposed.

What You Can do

All of the towns along the route of the Pilgrim Pipeline have passed resolutions against the proposed project, and we encourage all neighboring towns to consider passing their own resolution. Although a resolution is only a symbolic action with no actual legal weight, it does lend support to neighbors and builds momentum, and we now have good resolution language.

Another option is to pass a legally enforceable ordinance, which provides stronger protection than a resolution. Ten of the towns along the pipeline route and one town not on the route (Mountain Lakes) have passed ordinances to protect themselves against a possible route change or future pipelines. However, passing an ordinance usually involves conformance to a town’s master plan.

One last thought…

It costs very little for a town to pass a resolution and help itself and neighboring towns. Someday, if you need support or cooperation from other towns, you may find that they are eager to help because you helped them.

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