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Pinelands Commission Staff Issues Certificate of Filing to NJ Natural Gas Pipeline

Staff again unilaterally usurp the Commission’s powers & betray the public interest

I just learned that yesterday, the NJ Pinelands Commission staff, just 2 days prior to tomorrow’s Commission meeting, issued a Certificate of Filing to the NJ Natural Gas “Southern Reliability Link” gas pipeline, paving the way for approval by Gov. Christie’s pro-gas BPU.

Once again, staff bypassed the Commission, completely ignored public comments and strong and well informed opposition, failed to consider climate change, and bent the CMP regulations to favor a corporate fossil energy project.

But this time, given credible allegations of fraud by NJ Natural Gas in fabricating a false military need – credible allegations that have yet to be investigated, while a formal complaint remains pending before the US Pentagon Inspector General – staff have corrupted the review process even further. (see emails)

The Pinelands Commission staff is now complicit in fabrication of what appears to be a fraudulent military purpose: that’s a conspiracy if the applicant “knowingly” misrepresented facts on the application.

Here is the relevant finding from the Certificate of Filing (no link yet, PDF provided upon request):

Public service infrastructure is a permitted land use in a Military and Federal Installation Area provided it will be associated with the function of the Federal installation (N.J.A.C. 7:50-5.29(a)) and certain conditions are met. The applicant has represented that New Jersey Natural Gas currently maintains a natural gas distribution system throughout the Lakehurst portion of Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst (JB MDL). The applicant has further represented that the proposed natural gas main will be associated with the function of JB MDL by providing energy redundancy to the Lakehurst portion of JB MDL. 

NJNG can’t waive a magic wand after the fact, after they are publicly accused of fraud, and merely “represent” that “energy redundancy” somehow complies with CMP regulations.

And the Pinelands Commission staff has accepted NJ Natural Gas’ representations at face value, despite credible evidence to the contrary, and without independently investigating the facts and making independent findings and conclusions.

That alone is outrageous.

This is another stain on the integrity of Executive Director Wittenberg, the Pinelands Commission and the Comprehensive Management Plan – more to follow, as the Commission meets tomorrow.

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