Chatham Borough Council Passes Resolution Opposing Pilgrim Pipeline; Creates Citizens Advisory Board

Fay Molesphini, Chatham resident who spoke out against the Pilgrim Pipeline before the resolution was passed Credits: TAP Chatham

CHATHAM, NJ - The Borough of Chatham Council passed a resolution to oppose the proposed Pilgrim Oil Pipeline, and formed a citizens advisory committee in the same resolution, by a 5-1 vote Monday at its regular meeting.

The lengthy and strongly worded resolution drawn up by Mayor Bruce Harris and read into the record, also calls for the formation of a Chatham Borough Pilgrim Pipeline Advisory Committee, which would obtain information and advise the mayor and borough council about organized efforts to oppose the pipleline.

The members named to the advisory committee were Len Resto, Kate Murphy, Tony Britt and Dick Plambeck. Council members John Holman, James Collander and Alida Kass were named the liaisons to the citizens committee. Kass cast the dissenting vote on the resolution, explaining that she felt it was too early in the process to vote in opposition.

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"We have citizens who are interested in forming an advisory committee who will help both us and the public understand everything that is going on," Holman said. "It's the formation of towns coming together, it's a formation of groups coming together. It's given us advice on the actions taken by other people. We're going to be very active on this."

Pilgrim Pipeline is proposing to build an underground oil pipeline from Albany, N.Y. to Linden, which would pass through Chatham Borough's PSE&G right-of-way.

"This is going to be a long, difficult and probably expensive process," James Collander, council member, said in relation to the legal fight to stop the Pilgrim Pipeline. "There seems to be some sense that if we have any communication with Pilgrim Pipeline that it would be the wrong thing to do. If you're in negotiation with anyone, you must know who your enemy is and have some concept of what they're thinking. To ignore them would be a mistake. You have to sit down and understand what they're trying to do, if nothing else."

Mayor Bruce Harris reads resolution, which he wrote, opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline into the record

Council member Alida Kass explains her no vote on passing the resolution to oppose the Pilgrim Pipeline

According to a release from Cindy Kane of "Chatham Citizens Opposing the Oile Pipeline," Chatham Borough became the 10th New Jersey town to officially oppose the pipeline. Chatham joins joins East Hanover, Chatham Township, Madison, Mahwah, Montville, Oakland, Parsippany, Watchung, and Kinnelon in passing similar resolutions. The Passaic County Freeholders and the New York towns of Rosendale and New Paltz have also passed resolutions against the pipeline.

Chatham Township resident Faye N. Molesphini spoke during the public portion of the meeting and drew a standing ovation from many in the packed meeting room for her vehement objection to the Pilgrim Pipeline. Molesphini said afterward that she had phoned her state senators and congressmen, as well as Gov. Chris Christie, seeking their support. She noted that Senator Cory Booker's office was the only one to return her call to date. 
Molesphini cited the 2010 Kalamazoo River disaster in Michigan, when a spill of over a million gallons of heavy crude oil caused massive pollution that cost $1.2 billion and took years to clean up.
“We fought hard to keep the jetport out of this area,” Molesphini said, referring to the grass roots efforts that led to the creation of New Jersey’s Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge. “It took a couple of ladies from the Garden Club. I’m not going to stop if I have to go up to the Governor’s office in Trenton and sit there in my chair."
The resolution cited the toxicity created by “fracked” oil and the pipeline’s proposed path through critically sensitive sources of drinking water served by over 5 million residents, including the Highlands and Chatham Borough’s sole source aquifer. 
The resolution also cited Chatham Borough’s record of stewardship of natural resources, the possible harm that construction of the pipeline might cause, and its proximity to residential neighborhoods and schools in the event of a leak or explosion, according to Kane.
On the successful passing of the resolution, Katey DePinto, a member of the executive board of the group Chatham Citizens Opposing the Oil Pipeline, said, “The Borough Council wrote and passed a strong resolution in opposition to the Pilgrim Pipeline. The Chatham Citizens group is thrilled that Mayor Harris and the council support stopping the pipeline and recognize the necessary momentum to take this fight to the state level for the safety of Chatham’s residents and our water, as well as the safety of millions of others that would be affected in New Jersey.”



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