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The Board of Trustees of New Jersey Conservation Foundation, a leading statewide land conservation organization, has formally objected to the proposed PennEast natural gas pipeline and indicated its intent to intervene in the federal permitting process.

At its January 28th meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution objecting to the proposed 108-mile pipeline, which would run from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., to Hopewell, N.J., and carry gas generated by deep well “fracking” in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania.

The resolution:

– Approves New Jersey Conservation filing as an intervener in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) permitting process on the PennEast Pipeline.

– Calls for “a shift of policy at all levels of government to require comprehensive planning for energy infrastructure in a science-based, proactive manner that protects preserved and other high quality natural resource lands.”

– Calls for a moratorium on “any and all permitting for the PennEast Pipeline unless and until there is a demonstrated and proven compelling public need; a comprehensive plan that takes into account all historic, cultural and natural resources; and a complete alternatives analysis which includes non-pipeline alternatives.”

NJCF resolution PennEast pipeline 01-28-15The PennEast Pipeline would cross through parts of Hunterdon and Mercer counties, impacting about 50 parcels of preserved farmland and open space totaling 3,377 acres.

These preserved lands include many properties in the Wickecheoke Creek Greenway in western Hunterdon County, an area where New Jersey Conservation and its partners have worked to preserve land for the past 35 years. The Greenway includes about 8,500 acres of preserved farmland and open space protecting the Wickecheoke Creek, a pristine tributary of the Delaware River and Delaware & Raritan Canal, which serves as a drinking water source for more than 2.5 million people.

“The PennEast proposal jeopardizes the tremendous public investment in preserving land and critical drinking water supplies in New Jersey,” said Maureen Ogden, a former state Assemblywoman and current NJ Conservation board member.

“Routing this line through preserved lands and across dozens of tributaries to the Delaware River runs counter to long-held land preservation policies across all levels of government, setting a terrible precedent,” added Ogden, co-chair of NJ Conservation’s Policy Committee.

“The lack of any comprehensive planning for pipelines, and the sheer proliferation of proposals impacting New Jersey, made it imperative for the NJ Conservation board to register its opposition,” stated Bradley Campbell, a former state Department of Environmental Protection commissioner, former regional administrator of the federal Environmental Protection Agency and current NJ Conservation board member. Campbell is the other co-chair of NJ Conservation’s Policy Committee.

Michele S. Byers, executive director of NJ Conservation, commended the Board of Trustees for its resolution. “I am proud to work with this board of trustees that is willing to take a stand to defend preserved land, public health and the investment of taxpayers,” she said.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation is a private nonprofit that preserves land and natural resources throughout New Jersey for the benefit of all. Since 1960, New Jersey Conservation has protected 125,000 acres of open space – from the Highlands to the Pine Barrens to the Delaware Bayshore, from farms to forests to urban and suburban parks. For more information about the Foundation’s programs and preserves, go to www.njconservation.org or call 1-888-LAND-SAVE (1-888-526-3728).

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe, and a lawyer. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, photographing mushrooms, and misguided adventures in random hobbies. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), serves on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, and holds the elected position as the Hopewell Borough Democratic Committee Municipal Chairwoman.

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