The SRL Continues On...
It’s up to the Burlington County Freeholders now.
By Rhyan GrechMay 15, 2020
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: firstname.lastname@example.org