What Can I Do?
Taking action from a safe social distance
By Rhyan GrechApril 21, 2020
The outbreak of COVID-19 brought an overwhelming number of changes to daily life. From health to work to school to getting the basic supplies we need, things are more challenging, more physically difficult, more emotionally draining. We’re all in this together, yet we’re all affected differently. It is truly a time for compassion for others and for ourselves, as we struggle to balance this reality with allowing ourselves time to rest, grieve and recharge for the next day.
Most of our municipalities and government agencies are understandably and rightly focused on responding to the virus and keeping their constituents safe. However, other things are still happening outside of the spotlight. Government is moving forward, albeit even slower than usual, and applications, regulations, appointments and other business are happening via teleconference and webinar. For those of us who love the Pinelands, this could be a little nerve-wracking. What am I missing? What is getting approved right now? What protections are being impacted?
PPA staff are all still working (from home) during the shutdown, and we are doing our best to stay on top of everything. But we’ve always known that our power comes from YOU: our volunteers, members, supporters and activists. So, if you have the bandwidth, if you’re wondering what you can do right now to help the Pines, if you are able, we have a few opportunities for you to get involved this week. See below for more details.
April 22, 2020 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Ordinarily many of us would be out volunteering to plant trees, remove invasive plants, or clean up trash. This year is different. But we can still make a difference and help protect the Pinelands during these strange and scary times. Thank you for supporting PPA through the years and for all you do!
New Jersey Natural Gas SRL Pipeline
Despite the Governor’s executive order halting non-essential construction, the SRL pipeline is still being built in Monmouth County. It is an unfinished redundancy line, and halting construction will not impact anyone’s service during this state of emergency. Workers are unable to practice social distancing or wash their hands on site, putting them at high risk of infection. Trucks are blocking roads and residents along the route aren’t receiving deliveries of essential supplies. Please urge Governor Murphy and his administration to prioritize the health and safety of residents and workers over the construction of an unnecessary pipeline.
Pinelands Commission and Gas Pipelines
On Friday, April 24, 2020 at 9:30am, the Pinelands Commission Policy and Implementation Committee is meeting via teleconference. One of the agenda items is the proposal of an amendment to the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP). The proposed amendment would allow some projects like natural gas pipelines to avoid an evidentiary hearing. We disagree with the amendment because a hearing with sworn testimony, evidence and cross-examination is the only way to fully examine and consider all aspects of a complicated development proposal. Please tune in to the meeting and let the Commissioners know that these projects should be treated like other private applications, and the only way to truly test an application is to hold an evidentiary hearing.
For questions on these or other issues in the Pines right now, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org
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