TRENTON, NJ - Today Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-22) has introduced an Assembly resolution opposing the construction and operation of the Pilgrim Pipeline in New Jersey. The proposed project would install two brand new pipelines across New Jersey to carry crude oil and refined petroleum products. The resolution cites a number of environmental, public health, and safety concerns with the project including risks to drinking water supplies, impacts to the Highlands region, and the volatility of Bakken crude oil which would travel in the pipeline. The resolution also calls on regulatory agencies to conduct extensive environmental reviews of the project and to prohibit its construction in the state. This is a first step by the Legislature in opposing the project. The Sierra Club applauds Assemblywoman Stender’s leadership on this issue.
“It is important for the Legislature to send a clear message that this pipeline is bad for New Jersey. Not only will it create an ugly scar through our communities, there are real health and safety issues from this hazardous oil pipeline. Bakken crude and gasoline are highly volatile. This project threatens our water supply and a leak or spill could have catastrophic effects on the drinking water for 3 million people. We applaud the Legislature for standing up against the pipeline and standing with the other towns and counties that have opposed the pipeline,” said Jeff Tittel, Director, NJ Sierra Club.
Pilgrim Pipeline LLC is proposing to construct two new pipelines to connect Albany, New York, with Port Reading and Linden, New Jersey. The pipeline would cut through both communities that are overburdened by pollution already and environmentally sensitive areas critical for drinking water supply. Environmental groups are especially concerned as the project would cut through 10 miles of the Highlands Preservation Area, the most sensitive portion of the region.
The Pilgrim Pipeline would cut through important water supply watershed and near water supply aquifers. The pipeline will run through the Ramapo River Watershed in New York and New Jersey. This system serves Mahwah, Ramsey, Oakland, Franklin Lakes, Allendale, Pompton Lakes, Wayne and 8 more towns in New York as well as a backup to the Wanaque and Oradell Reservoirs during times of drought. The pipeline will 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.
The infrastructure would transport Bakken shale oil, produced by fracking in North Dakota, and refined petroleum products. The Bakken oil is highly explosive and pipeline transportation would threaten local communities with the risk of spills and accidents. The source of the oil and its consequences for our climate, along with the environmental impacts of the project’s construction and operation, will have long-term, negative effects on both states.
The risk of spills is also a major concern. The Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) reported 1,763 oil pipeline spills between 2002 and July 2012. The agency only has 135 inspectors to oversee 2.6 million miles of pipeline. As a result, only one-fifth of our national pipeline system has been inspected by PHMSA or its state partners since 2006.
Local municipalities along the route have been actively opposing the project. Sixteen municipalities in New Jersey and Passaic County have passed resolutions.
“Now we will work with the Legislature to ensure this resolution passes both houses as quickly as possible. It is important for the Senate and Assembly to act now to help protect the residents of New Jersey from this dangerous project,” said Jeff Tittel.