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Vindication In The Pines

We end the year with a smile on our face.

It’s rare to get vindicated so thoroughly and have your opponent eat their own backstabbing personal attack words.

Here is what Nancy Wittenberg, Executive Director of the Pinelands Commission was caught on tape saying to the Commission about me in July 2013, as the controversial debate on the South Jersey Gas pipeline took off:

But the thing that Bill [Wolfe] said that I wanted to remind you all of is that, Stacy [Roth], month after month after month, went on the record warning you: the pipeline project was coming. The public was here. We did not keep this a secret. It’s not my fault they missed it. But I really resented that and I resent Bill Wolfe saying it because he doesn’t know what we do. (listen, starts at time 2:30)

Let me repeat:

Bill Wolfe … doesn’t know what we do.

For more than 3 years, here is what I testified to the Commission and wrote, over and over and over again, about Ms. Wittenberg – valid substantive criticisms that were dismissed by the Commission as personal attacks:

The Executive Director of the Pinelands Commission, Nancy Wittenberg, has engaged in a pattern of conduct that makes a mockery of the Pinelands Commission, ignores the concerns of the public, and seriously impairs the integrity of the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP)

This conduct includes:

  • reversing a prior staff finding, backed by the Commission, that the South Jersey Gas (SJG) pipeline was inconsistent with the forest area standards of the CMP;
  • determining that a slightly revised SJG application should be considered “private development” and issued a “Certificate of Filing” under the CMP, bypassing the Commission and public review procedures;
  • misleading and manipulating the public and the Commission regarding various critical regulatory interpretations and alternatives and powers of the Commission;
  • providing undue and improper influence to SJG and engaging in extensive private email conversations with lawyers from SJG, including allowing SJG lawyers to review, and edit regulatory documents – including her own recommendations to the Commission and the Commission’s response to public comments – before those documents were shared with the Commission;
  • acting unilaterally and taking policy and regulatory positions on behalf of the Commission, without the knowledge or approval of the Commission or awareness of the public.

This pattern of conduct was repeated in the NJ Natural Gas pipeline controversy.

More specifically, I emphasized that Wittenberg abused her powers and violated the Pinelands Act on both the South Jersey Gas pipeline and the NJ Natural Gas “Southern Reliability Link” (SRL) pipeline:

3. [BPU President] Mroz stated that the pipeline was “approved by the Pinelands Commission” as consistent with the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP).

LET ME BE CLEAR: That is a LIE –


The so called approval and CMP consistently determination was issued unilaterally by Gov. Christie’s installed Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg – not the Commission – who was following Orders of the Governor’s Office, not the direction of the  Pinelands Commission or the requirements of the CMP.

Wittenberg also directly participated in the fabricated fraudulent military need justification to evade Pinelands regulations.

Well, here’s what the Appellate Division found on November 7, 2016:

the CMP does not confer on the Executive Director or the Commission’s staff the authority to render final decisions on CMP compliance in these circumstances. There also is no provision in the Pinelands Act that confers upon the Executive Director authority to render a final decision for the Commission in the coordinated permitting process.

Here, the Commission retains final decision-making authority as to whether SJG’s proposed pipeline is consistent with the minimum standards of CMP. Indeed, as we have pointed out, the CMP states, “the Commission bears the ultimate responsibility for implementing and enforcing the provisions” of the Pinelands Act and the CMP. N.J.A.C. 7:50-1.11. The Commission therefore retains “ultimate responsibility” under the CMP to review the proposed project and render a final decision on CMP compliance.(@ p.22)

The Court vindicated my criticism.

The Pinelands Commission just passed a Resolution recognizing the Court’s decision striking down Wittenberg’s actions with respect to the SJG pipeline and another Resolution PC 4-16-43 that legally consolidated both the SJG and NJNG projects, because they both relied on the same illegal Wittenberg review process:

Whereas the Commission staff utilized the same review process for both the South Jersey Gas Company’s and the New Jersey Natural Gas Company’s Pinelands Development Applications;

So, given the Appellate Division’s decision, I wonder if Ms. Wittenberg still believes that I  don’t know what the Commission does.

Happy New Year – and eat your words, Wittenberg!

(You can’t say I didn’t try to warn you and prevent this via an appeal to reason).

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