The Real Battle against Pilgrim Pipeline Starts Now
The Pilgrim Pipeline has filed a use and occupancy permit in New York to construct a damaging and dangerous pipeline from Linden, New Jersey to Albany. The 178 mile pipeline would carry 200,000 barrels of Bakken crude each day cutting through open spaces, communities, and important water resources. Pilgrim stated today that they plan to file permits for New Jersey later this year. Pilgrim has been officially opposed by all 28 towns along the proposed route in New Jersey, in addition to 5 County Freeholder Boards and both houses of the state legislature. Pilgrim would bring Bakken crude, which is one of the most explosive types of oil in the world, through the Ramapo and the Highlands threatening the state’s drinking water supply and putting residents at risk. However Bakken crude is transported: by pipe, train, or barge, it is a disaster waiting to happen. The pipeline would threaten open space, contribute further to greenhouse gas emissions and fracking, and cause irreparable harm to our communities.
“This is an alarm bell going off with today’s announcement that Pilgrim Pipeline is starting to push this dangerous pipeline through. By applying to New York permits, they are starting to move forward on this project and now the real fight begins. Pilgrim stated New Jersey will be next and they will apply for permits by the end of the year. That is why the real battle against Pilgrim Pipeline starts now. The public knows that this project is unnecessary and dangerous. All 28 out of 28 towns along the proposed route in New Jersey have said no to Pilgrim Pipeline. What part of the word NO does Pilgrim not get? 5 counties and both houses of the state legislature have also passed resolutions against this dangerous project. They know that Pilgrim Pipeline could be a disaster for their communities, especially for public safety and the environment. Bakken oil is not only the most flammable, it’s the most explosive, and no matter how you ship it there will be serious disasters,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “Hundreds of citizens have come out to meetings and wrote their officials to oppose this project. New Jersey, to paraphrase John Wayne, has clearly said, ‘Listen Pilgrim, Get out Of Town.’
The process for Pilgrim Pipeline’s approval will be lengthy in New York compared to New Jersey, which is most likely why they filed their application their first. However, there will still be many state and federal agencies required to give Pilgrim approval like the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the New Jersey Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council, local governments, and the Army Corps of Engineers.
“The permitting process will take about a year or maybe longer in New York, which will give us a good chance to fight it. In New York, there is a State Environmental Quality Review Act process which also requires an Environmental Impact Statement. That means there will be multiple public hearings on the EIS. However in New Jersey, we do not have the same process so our ability to stop department permits will be harder. In New Jersey, Pilgrim is not a designated as a utility so they do not have standing or the right of eminent domain. That means they have to go through other roadblocks in New Jersey like the Highlands Council, DEP, and Army Corps of Engineers. This will make it more difficult for them because they can’t go through Highlands Preservation Area,” said Tittel.
North Dakota Bakken Shale oil is one of the most explosive types of oil in the world. It is dangerous because volatile compounds are left in, instead of taken out because it would cost more to remove. There would also be a tremendous impact to groundwater impacting dozens towns drinking water in Highlands and Buried Valley acquirers. Devastating incidents around the country raise many concerns regarding the transportation of the dangerous Bakken crude whether by rail, barge, or pipeline. They could build facilities to remove this compound, but it’s cheaper to transport them through our communities. Gasoline cannot be moved by rail, the same way Bakken is yet Bakken is more volatile and flammable. Whether it is traveling by rail, barge or pipeline, it is a disaster waiting to happen endangering our families, property and environment.
“The reason Pilgrim Pipeline has went to New York first is to try to lock in the route so it forces New Jersey from being able to move it. Pilgrim is trying to give these towns no choice but to accept even though every town along the route has opposed it. These towns understand that this pipeline would be detrimental for the lives of New Jersey residents and would threaten our first responders as well as public safety. No matter how new a pipeline is, all pipelines are prone to human error, accidents, and spills. Counties and towns near and along the route came out in opposition because they have seen the devastating impacts from pipeline leaks and are well aware of the risks. The proposed route cuts nearby residential neighborhoods, schools, businesses, hospitals, and hazardous areas. There are also concerns a potential spill or explosion could have to green space and parks. We need to reject the various pipelines around New Jersey to protect us from a potential disaster,” said Tittel.
The pipeline would impact environmentally sensitive areas critical for drinking water supply. It would cut through public land and water supply intakes, and pass within view of the critical reservoirs. The pipeline is planned to run through the Ramapo River Watershed in New York and New Jersey. The pipeline would pass through or near the Buried Valley aquifer, tributaries to the Hudson River, the Hudson River, and the Catskill and Delaware aqueducts which provide drinking water to New York City. Of particular concern are potential impacts to the Passaic and Pompton Rivers, which provide drinking water to close to one million people as well as through the Highlands Preservation Area.
“The towns and counties opposed to Pilgrim Pipeline realize the impacts a spill would have on our water supply. A spill crossing through the Highlands region would threaten the drinking water for close to 3 million people. In the Highlands, a spill could mean that water supply intakes on critical water supply rivers like the Passaic, Ramapo, and Pompton could be closed for weeks if not longer until a spill is cleaned up. There have been serious oil spills in North Dakota, and the last one was in the Yellowstone River. The Highlands is like our Yellowstone, but as you know is more important because of all the people who depend on the drinking water from the Highlands region,” said Tittel.
Two weeks ago, the Obama Administration officially rejected 1,179 mile Keystone XL pipeline. This pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels a day of petroleum from the Canada oil sands to the Gulf Coast. The Secretary of State, John Kerry, determined the project was not in the country’s national security interest and Keystone suspended its U.S. permit application expecting the Administration’s rejection. This showed the lack of need for crude oil pipelines to cross through our communities, open spaces, and water supply resources.
“Now that Keystone XL Pipeline has been rejected, Governor Christie should reject Pilgrim Pipeline. The NJDEP should not allow Pilgrim permits if they decide to move forward. Pilgrim should learn the lessons from the Keystone XL Pipeline battle and withdraw their plans like Keystone did. Pilgrim Pipeline is New Jersey’s version of the Keystone XL. What they have in common is that the oil will not benefit us, it will be exported while at the same time we would get all the damage from the pipeline spills, leaks, and explosions,” said Tittel.
One of the best ways to stop this damaging pipeline is for towns and county officials to deny Pilgrim Pipeline survey access. If they do this, it will make it harder for them to get permits, and approvals required and help block this damaging project.
“These resolutions have sent a clear message for Pilgrim to stay out, but they are trying to push through anyway. There is no safe way to transport Bakken crude rail, barge or pipeline that is why public opposition and government opposition is growing. Instead of transporting Bakken oil, we should be investing in renewable energy that will not damage our environment, put the community at risk, and will help to combat climate change. Bakken crude however it is transported is a ticking time bomb. That is why we must re-double our efforts to reject this dangerous pipeline from harming communities across our state. This is just the beginning of the next phase of our battle and the real fight against Pilgrim starts now.” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.
The link to Pilgrim Pipeline permit documents for New York can be found: http://pilgrimpipeline.com/new-york/
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