CHATHAM, NJ - Chatham Borough and Chatham Township have joined a group of 15 municipalities which have come together to fight the crude oil pipeline being proposed by Pilgrim.
The group officially formed the Municipal Pipeline Group on Tuesday, announcing the alliance.
The group consists of the following municipalities: Berkeley Heights, Chatham Borough, Chatham Township, East Hanover, Fanwood, Florham Park, Livingston, Madison, Mahwah, Montville Township, Oakland, Parsippany, Scotch Plains, Wanaque and Watchung.
The MPG is an outgrowth of a series of public information sessions on the pipeline proposal hosted by Watchung and Madison, and follow-up meetings of the mayors and other elected officials from towns on the proposed pipeline route.
“The governing bodies of the MPG’s members recognized the benefit of one larger team to raise our collective voice in unison to oppose the significant dangers of the pipeline," Chatham Borough Mayor Bruce A. Harris said. "The issues presented by the pipeline proposal are complex, addressing them would require the advice of legal and environmental experts, and that it would be more cost effective for the towns to collaborate and share expenses.”
The formation of the MPG, which includes municipalities in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Somerset and Union counties, is in response to the proposal by Pilgrim Pipeline, LLC to construct a 178-mile bi-directional pipeline between Albany, N.Y. and the refineries in Linden. It would transport crude oil from Albany to Linden and refined fuel from Linden to Albany.
According to the MPG, the proposed route crosses 30 New Jersey municipalities and sensitive environmental features, including streams and aquifers that provide water to millions of people in towns on the route, neighboring towns and even distant communities that depend on those streams and aquifers for their water – such as Newark and Jersey City.
The primary purpose of the group is to ensure that the interests of the affected municipalities and their residents will be protected when the pipeline company applies for permits from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) and other governmental regulatory authorities.
The MPG has retained legal counsel and will coordinate activities among the municipalities to protect critical environmental resources.
“The group conducted a review and selected one of the premier environmental attorneys in New Jersey to represent our collective interests in a cost-effective manner,” Mahwah Council President John Roth said.
The MPG will continue to work closely with the Sierra Club and Food & Water Watch, advocacy groups that are opposed to the pipeline.
“All of the MPG members have adopted resolutions opposing the pipeline,” Mahwah Mayor Bill Laforet said.
Pilgrim has filed for its DEP permits in New York State and it is expected they will do so in New Jersey later this year. New Jersey law requires NJDEP to rule within 90 days of a permit request. The DEP does not conduct its own independent environmental study.
“This is why, as a group, we need to be ready at a moment’s notice," Len Resto, Chatham Borough council member, said. "We will continue to reach out to the many other municipalities whose citizens and critical water resources are impacted, because we are all in the same situation and must join forces to have an impact and be cost-effective.”