NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – The Borough Council is not ready to join a multi-municipal legal bandwagon to fight the Pilgrim Pipeline at the present time.
Mayor Al Morgan and the council briefly discussed the issue at the Monday, Feb. 8 meeting. Morgan said that he had been approached by the Mayor of Chatham Borough to join a legal team along with other municipalities to oppose the pipeline project. Council President Michael Gennaro recused himself from the discussion due to the fact that some of his clients may be owners of the project.
“We have discussed this extensively,” Morgan said. My interpretation of those discussions is “that the council wants to stay informed, but not spend any money,” he added. Morgan called the legal team “a well-meaning attempt”; however, “I know how government works. You can spend a lot of money on things that go nowhere.” It could be “a black hole” starting with a couple of thousand dollars, but may end up being a costly endeavor for New Providence, Morgan said.
Councilman Gary Kapner pointed out that it is unclear under whose jurisdiction the pipeline falls. He also noted that the pipeline is not a public utility, but a private enterprise. At this point “we don’t have enough information to make a decision,” he said.
Councilman Jim Madden explained that he had attended a meeting organized by the Mayor of Watchung. At that event a hazardous material expert had given a presentation. It was very informative, and “I had red flags go all over the place,” Madden explained. He said that he was concerned with the project’s impact on the first responders and the watershed protection plan. However, he said that it appears that there is an alternative route for the pipeline. “It could go along the Garden State Parkway up to interstate 87 to Albany without being intrusive” to local municipalities, he said.
Borough Attorney Paul Rizzo advised the council that “you don’t hire a lawyer if you don’t know what the lawyer is to be doing”.
The Pilgrim Pipeline project surfaced in the fall of 2014 when the Albany based start-up venture – Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings, LLC – planned to install an 18” and 16” bi-directional pipeline system to transfer 400,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil from Albany to Linden, NJ on a daily basis.
The project has faced growing opposition in the approximately 30 northern New Jersey towns where the planned pipeline would cross.