Almost every Thursday I walk with a friend up and down a short stretch of the Union Transportation Trail, a beautiful trail that was once part of a railroad that ran between Pemberton and Hightstown. Besides good conversations, we enjoy the flora and fauna that surrounds us. There are several streams that flow under the bridges we cross. I often stop to take photos of the various plants we come across. It’s a small gem hidden away in a bustling state that people normally associate with city life. However, this is all being threatened by a proposed high-pressure gas line that will run close by if it is allowed to be constructed.
I live in a part of New Jersey that still shows the world why we are known as “The Garden State”. Farm stands dot the local roads with banners that proudly claim that their produce is “Jersey Fresh”. Traffic jams are usually caused by farming tractors making their way from one field to another. Our state animal is the horse so it is not surprising to see pickup trucks pulling horse trailers with sulkies strapped on top pass by regularly on their way to Freehold Raceway. It’s as close to a Norman Rockwell painting as you can get in this day and age.
That will all change if New Jersey Natural Gas (NJNG) has its way and runs a high-pressure gasline from Chesterfield to Manchester. They are calling it the Southern Reliability Link, but the only thing reliable about it will be the destruction it will cause to our local environment, both obvious and not so obvious.
The least of our concerns will be the traffic problems caused as the pipeline rips through our rural country roads during the Southern Reliability Link’s construction. Parts of the gasline will run along County Routes 537 and 539, two major roads for the residents of the area. Even during times that these roads have been under construction for legitimate reasons, it causes traffic headaches for commuters that lasts for months and even years.
Another major concern is the safety of the residents along the pipeline. I’m sure you have heard of the various explosions and pipeline leaks that have been in the news lately. People have had their lives forever disrupted by the contamination and loss of property and sometimes human life. Even if there are no accidents, people suffer various health issues running from cancer to asthma to premature births.
Property values will go down and home owner insurance rates will increase. No one buying a house will want to risk their family’s health and insurance companies will not want to insure properties with the added risk unless they can increase premiums from those they are insuring.
The local environment will be affected, not only humans but also the plant and wildlife. The various chemicals being used will seep into the ground and contaminate the water supplies.
Local taxes will need to be increased so Emergency Services can be better equipped to handle the new types of threats. They will also need to have specialized training in dealing with gas explosions and chemical leaks. Another risk to local residents and their homes are that these services are not just a few minutes away as this is a large rural area. In some cases it may take up to almost a half an hour for even a police officer to arrive on the scene as many of the townships do not have a dedicated police force and must rely on the New Jersey State Police whose nearest barracks are located quite a distance away.
I could add at least one more post on the negative impact to the local natural environment, but I will reserve it for another time. After all it’s not just about the “wild critters”. We humans can be a bit selfish even if hurting them will eventually hurt us.
Now, here is the kicker to all of this pipeline garbage: It will NOT benefit anyone along the route! No one. Nada. Zip. Zilch. We will get nothing but the burden and potential threat.
New Jersey Natural Gas may try to convince the Federal Government that it will benefit the Joint Base by adding some connections to supply some of its gas, but it won’t.
If NJNG uses an alternate route though the Pinelands, it will only serve to negatively impact what should be a protected area of our state. Do you think that the squirrels and deer need to have gas keep them warm in the winter? I don’t think so.
Even the people of Ocean County who are supposedly getting the “needed” gas do not need it. There would be an incredible excess of gas and where do you think the profits will go? Not to the people of Ocean County or even New Jersey. No, it will be sent to other markets along the East Coast and perhaps over seas as the United States has lately become the leading producer of natural gas. The only one that will profit will be New Jersey Natural Gas.
As a side note, this will not bring much needed jobs to the area either. Many of the employees of the gas companies come from states to the west as they have the experience with laying down pipeline.
So, as you can see, the Southern Reliability Link (or any interstate gasline going through New Jersey) should not be allowed to run through our neighborhood or even our state. In this case we are unfortunately between Pennsylvania and the Atlantic Ocean so the gas companies only see us as an obstacle to gaining profit so they try to convince us that we need this pipeline using any means possible. Flyers have been sent (for the Penn East Pipeline ironically, not the Southern Reliability Link) to local residents claiming the gasline will bring jobs to the area and reduce the residential heating cost. This is a blatant lie and we should not fall for the scam.
For more information on the Southern Reliability Link, click here to be sent the the website set up by local residents fighting against the pipeline. It contains more information on the impacts the pipeline will bring to our neighborhood as well as how we can fight all those agencies and companies involved so we can keep our families, friends, and those critters safe.
We are the Garden State, not the Gasline State!