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Stop the PennEast Pipeline!

Pipeline Proposals - Save Pinelands Forest

Highlands Regional Planning - Working to Protect the Palisades - Farmland Preservation

 

 

Conservation Success!

Natural Resource Damages Funds Dedicated to Protection and Restoration of Natural Resources

 

On November 7, 2017, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly passed the statewide ballot measure dedicating all funds from Natural Resource Damages settlements to the protection and restoration of natural resources. These funds have historically been used in part to preserve important lands, and NJ Conservation Foundation projects have received some of those funds, but a portion of the money has repeatedly been shifted to plug holes in the State operating budget.  Passage of Question 2 this year – which had the support of nearly 70% of voters – will ensure that all funds resulting from settlements with polluters will be dedicated to environmental protection and restoration.

 

 
Help us Stop the PennEast Pipeline!
NJDEP Denies Freshwater Wetlands Permit for PennEast

On February 2, 2018, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) sent a letter to the PennEast Pipeline Co., denying the pipeline’s application submitted last year.

Tom Gilbert, Campaign Director for Energy, Climate and Natural Resources at New Jersey Conservation Foundation, issued the following statement in response: 

“We are very pleased that NJDEP has denied PennEast’s illegal application. The conditional Certificate that FERC recently issued for PennEast clearly states that the pipeline cannot proceed without water permits from NJDEP. PennEast is trying to claim that FERC’s Certificate means the project is a done deal, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The project cannot go forward without NJDEP’s environmental review, which has not yet started. PennEast wants to put a polluting, dangerous pipeline across dozens of pure streams and rivers that are the source of our drinking water. If PennEast reapplies to NJDEP, we are confident that their damaging pipeline won’t be able to meet the strict standards that project our water and natural resources.”

Background: New Jersey currently has 1,520 miles of existing natural gas pipelines with enough capacity to supply our residents even in the coldest weather. But if we don't change course soon, we won't be the Garden State - we'll be the Pipeline State!

 

We don't need new pipelines!

 

Three years ago, the PennEast pipeline was proposed to carry fracked shale gas from northeastern Pennsylvania across the Delaware River and into New Jersey's Hunterdon and Mercer counties.

 

Landowners, communities, agencies and elected officials wanted to understand why.  So they did their research, mobilized with their neighbors and communities, and hired experts. Here's what they found:

·         New supplies of natural gas are not needed in New Jersey - now or in the future.  In fact, the proposed PennEast pipeline would displace gas in existing gas pipelines.

·         The cost of building the pipeline would fall on the backs of consumers and raise the costs of natural gas for ratepayers! (This is based on findings from the NJ Rate Counsel and an independent gas industry consultant.)

·         The PennEast pipeline would cut through over 4,300 acres of preserved farmlands and open space and cross 38 of our highest quality streams.

·         Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conditional approval means that the companies behind the PennEast pipeline can seek to seize land from private homeowners, towns and land trusts such as ours for the pipeline construction using eminent domain.

·         The private companies behind the PennEast pipeline stand to get a guaranteed 14 percent rate of return on their investment, and that is what is really driving this project, not public need.

Every single town and county along the proposed pipeline route oppose it! 



So do the vast majority of the impacted homeowners.


In spite of all of these findings, FERC gave conditional approval to the proposed 120-mile PennEast pipeline this January 19.  FERC granted a "Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity" and gave PennEast the authority to attempt to take land from homeowners.

 

While that may sound like the end of the story - and one more step to becoming the dreaded Pipeline State - it's not. 


This pipeline can be stopped!

 

The project still needs permits from NJDEP and other agencies. 

 

Why is NJDEP involved? Because this state agency oversees and enforces water quality and wetlands protections under the federal Clean Water Act, and they must determine the pipeline's impacts using far more stringent standards. Since the PennEast pipeline would cross 38 pristine "Category 1" streams, the state's highest water quality ranking, this is important. 

 

These streams have some of the purest water in the state and the pipeline would cause irreparable harm to these Delaware River tributaries. In addition, independent scientists warn that pipeline construction would increase the risk of arsenic - a toxin naturally present in the region's bedrock - contaminating drinking water supplies!

 

The pipeline must also receive approval from the Delaware River Basin Commission, which can use its broad, independent authority to protect water supply and quality in the Delaware River and its tributaries.

 

TAKE ACTION! While FERC got it wrong, New Jersey can get it right.

 

Contact Governor Murphy and new Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe TODAY and urge them to strongly enforce our environmental laws and regulations. Go to https://secure3.convio.net/ njcf/site/Advocacy?cmd=display &page=UserAction&id=213 to stop this pipeline and make sure New Jersey stays the Garden State, not the Pipeline State.

 

Thank you for taking action!

 

 

Working to Protect the Palisades
LG Proceeds with Low-Rise Headquarters that Protects the Cliffs

 


Following extensive discussions and litigation over a proposed high-rise on the cliffs, LG Electronics USA, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and a number of parties interested in LG’s new North American headquarters in New Jersey reached a “win-win” solution.

The new building design will create a world-class, sustainably designed building to the benefit of LG, the town of Englewood Cliffs and the state of New Jersey, while protecting the iconic vistas and integrity of the Palisades Park, a National Natural and Historic Landmark.

LG reached the mutually beneficial settlement with Scenic Hudson, the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Natural Resources Defense Council, New Jersey Conservation Foundation and New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.

The new building design, reflecting compromises by all the parties, calls for a five-story north wing just shy of 70 feet in height and a three-story south wing, protecting the scenic views of the Palisades. LG will implement landscape, lighting and other design features to further reduce visual impacts, while retaining the scale of the complex as home for LG’s growing U.S. business.



Laurance Rockefeller (third from right); Michele Byers and Alison Mitchell, New Jersey Conservation Foundation; and William Cho, LG electronics, join conservation partners at groundbreaking for LG North American headquarters

 
 

NJ Conservation weighs in on 2018 Farm Bill

 

Protecting the land that grows our food!

 

We have begun to work on the 2018 Farm Bill with the Land Trust Alliance, the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture and other organizations to ensure robust funding for Farm Bill conservation and organic agriculture programs. New Jersey as a whole benefits enormously from these programs, including the Agricultural Land Easement program (ALE), which requires natural resource protections, especially soil protections so that the agricultural soils of today will be available to grow food tomorrow. Conservation program funding is likely to be reduced in the next Farm Bill and a greater emphasis placed on agricultural industry priorities due to the current climate in Congress and the Trump Administration. We are advocating with our partners for $500 million per year for ALE.


Through our farmland preservation work, NJ Conservation is working toward a day when an abundance of locally grown New Jersey food, produced in a healthy, environmentally sustainable manner, will be available to feed the region.

As part of that vision, large concentrations of preserved farmland will not only support the local food system, but will also protect the state’s water supply and wildlife habitat, combat climate change by sequestering carbon and connect with other preserved lands – parks, trails, and natural areas – as part of an interconnected system of public and private open space, with all of the benefits associated with preserved, open land.

And while we support clean renewable energy sources, we are working to ensure that these sources don't come at the cost of our most productive farmland.

Agriculture comprises one of the most important sectors of New Jersey's economy, while also providing a host of public and community benefits that cannot be fully measured. NJ

Conservation is committed to keeping the garden in "The Garden State."

 

Read more about soil protection efforts in Michele Byers' column, "The State We're In" >>

 

 

 

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Advancing and Defending Environmentally Sound Regional Plans


Pyramid Mountain, Morris CountyNew Jersey has a strong history of adopting comprehensive regional plans. Regional planning that incorporates environmental protection is critical to protecting the land and water supplies on which we depend. Other important benefits include stabilizing local property taxes, retaining the character of rural areas and established communities, and generally promoting growth in places where it is less environmentally damaging and more cost-effective to build, because of the presence of existing infrastructure like roads, sewers and public water systems.

New Jersey Conservation Foundation has been integrally involved in the passage of many landmark New Jersey regional planning laws, including the Pinelands Protection Act, the Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act, the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park law, and the State Planning Act. Constant vigilance is required to ensure these laws and their regional plans remain strong over time.

 

The Highlands are part of the great sweep of the Appalachian Mountains that shadows the East Coast from Maine to Georgia. The Highlands Region extends from southeastern Pennsylvania through northwest New Jersey into New York and Connecticut. With forested ridges, pastoral farmland, and pure streams, lakes and reservoirs, the Highlands form a greenbelt surrounding the most populous metropolitan area in the US. The Highlands provide an essential source of drinking water, clean air, critical wildlife habitat, historic resources, recreational opportunities and scenic beauty for both its residents and the millions of people who live within an hour’s travel.

 

About the New Jersey Highlands Act

 

New Jersey’s 2004 Highlands Water Protection and Planning Act passed by overwhelming majorities in the State legislature after two decades of focused citizen and governmental efforts to protect the New Jersey Highlands Region. The 860,000 acre Highlands, with only 17 percent of the land in the State, provides drinking water to 5.4 million – nearly two-thirds – of the State’s residents, who live in fifteen counties in northern central and southern New Jersey.

 

If you are either a Highlands water-drinker or a Highlands resident, there is good reason for you to become involved in the region’s protection. The New Jersey Highlands Coalition has an outreach program directed to Highlands water-receiving areas outside the region. To find out more visit the Highlands Coalition website.

 

The Highlands Act affects 88 municipalities in parts of seven counties:  Bergen, Passaic, Morris, Somerset, Hunterdon, Sussex and Warren. The Highlands Water Protection and Planning Council (Highlands Council) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are both charged with implementing the Act. The DEP has rule-making authority over the Preservation Area, about half the region, much of which is preserved state and county lands. The Highlands Council completed the required Regional Master Plan (RMP) for the 88 municipalities in 2008. 

 

Highlands Plan Conformance

 

Conformance with the Plan is mandatory for the Preservation Area, but voluntary for the Planning Area.  Since the Plan is based on scientific assessments of available water supply and septic capability in each watershed, its build out scenario, along with required environmental ordinances, offers a blueprint for sustainable, capacity-based development for all Highlands municipalities in both the Preservation and Planning Areas. Implementation is achieved through municipal conformance with the Plan, which benefits substantially from the involvement and support of local residents. 

 

We periodically post action alerts on Highlands issues, so please sign up for our email alerts and stay tuned!

Read statement by former Governors about the importance of protecting Highlands, Pinelands >>

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