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The SRL Continues On...

It’s up to the Burlington County Freeholders now.

May 15, 2020

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For those activists involved from the beginning, the journey of New Jersey Natural Gas’s (NJNG) Southern Reliability Link (SRL) pipeline has been an emotional rollercoaster ride. And it looks like the ride won’t smooth out any time soon.

In the midst of a global pandemic, stay-at-home orders, shut downs and social distancing, the SRL has been steadily marching through Monmouth County. Even after Governor Murphy halted non-essential construction, crews arrive at the work site daily and continue to dig, drill and lay pipe. Neighbors along the route report equipment idling for hours each day, generating inescapable fumes, and bright lights blaring through their windows all night. Trucks block the road, sometimes both lanes, and delivery trucks have been unable to bring essential supplies to the residents, many of whom are seniors. Construction crew members are unable to maintain 6 feet of distance from their coworkers, and have no access to running water on site to wash their hands.

On May 1st, a bit of good news came in the form of a cease and desist order from Burlington County. County staff had confirmed that crews drilled under bridges and culverts co-owned by Monmouth and Burlington Counties, without a permit from the latter. The County Engineer acted quickly and appropriately, notifying NJNG that all construction must cease and that progress on the permit application would be suspended.

However, NJNG made the surprising and brazen decision to continue building. Stunned residents and community groups have watched as two weeks passed with no slow down by the construction crews.

Burlington County has reported that their lawyers are talking to NJNG’s lawyers, but outside of a legal dispute, the County holds a very powerful card. NJNG needs a permit to finish the last stretch of the pipeline. Burlington County must now decide whether to grant not just a permit, but a considerable amount of trust and responsibility to a company that committed a permit violation, and then ignored a subsequent halt order. They must decide whether to expose their residents to the risks of massive construction, environmental damage, and finally a high-pressure transmission fossil gas line under their feet. All these risks, unsettling under normal circumstances, are compounded in light of the COVID crisis.

The decision that the County must make is clear. NJNG has demonstrated that it cannot be trusted with the health and safety of residents and our shared natural resources.

Contact the Freeholders and let them know that NJNG should not receive a final permit:
  • Call: 609-265-5020
  • Email: freeholders@co.burlington.nj.us

6 responses to “The SRL Continues On…”

  1. Terence Major says:

    It seems obvious that the next step for Burlington County government is to urgently request judicial intervention, as many have proposed. New Jersey Natural Gas has acted with contempt for the county, first, by proceeding without a permit, and second, by ignoring the stop work order. Do they know something that the public doesn’t? Why would they seemingly risk so much with this illegality?

    • Rhyan Grech says:

      That’s an excellent question! It’s hard to know exactly what Burlington County is thinking right now. PPA continues to press our appeal of the December 2018 resolution passed by the Freeholders authorizing road closures necessary for this project. The resolution was passed despite the fact that two Freeholders had conflicts of interest at the time they voted (they worked for the union that publicly supported the SRL and stood to benefit from its construction). Those Freeholders are no longer on the Board. At the same time, NJNG is now openly defying the stop-work order and thumbing its nose at the County. It seems like there is more than enough reason for the County to do everything in its power to halt this project now. We think they should pursue all available options to enforce the stop-work order. The best thing you can do now is to keep up the pressure on these elected officials and tell them not to be bullied by NJNG.

  2. Kenneth W Johnson says:

    The NJNG company executives should be jailed for continuing pipeline construction without a permit. This is just another instance where the rich and powerful in our country break the law with no fear of punishment for their actions.

  3. David L Steinberg says:

    Here is what I propose for starters:
    –> A HUGE Fine for each day they were out of compliance of the Governor’s
    shut down order
    –> Issue a cease and decease order
    –> Arrest of the company officials who gave the illegal order to proceed
    –> Remove all construction from the date when the Governor imposed the
    shut down order
    –> Restore the land to its previous state
    –> Burlington County to revoke the permit
    –> Prevent them from bidding on all future contracts for 5 years
    –> Compensation to owners who were affected by this illegal construction

  4. Ron Pugh says:

    NESE was stopped, now stop this! Not just for the Covid 19 outbreak and the danger this company is putting their construction crews, but for demise of the environment! Please Burlington Count Freeholders, do not permit them! This needs to become a news media topic.

  5. Michael McClure says:

    Just say “NO” to NJNG. NJNG continued to work without a permit. What will you say when they do that to you!

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