Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) addresses Cape May County League of Municipalities Jan. 28 in Sea Isle City. Photo by Al Campbell.
BEESLEY’S POINT – An investigatory process was started Feb. 12 by Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-1st) and Assemblyman Robert Andrzejczak (D-1st) into the reasons for rejection of South Jersey Gas’ application to build a gas pipeline from Millville to the B.L. England Generating plant, owned by R.C. Cape May.
The senator, in a release, stated, “I’m going to look at every aspect of this process and analyze how we can make it right. Make no mistake about it, we need to build this pipeline and I’m going to give it my level best to make it happen. I am asking the governor and Senate president to help in this process.”
Van Drew stated, as he had to the Cape May County League of Municipalities Jan. 28, there were 75 construction jobs that would have been created to erect the pipeline, and 60 jobs saved at the generating plant, if it remains open. The coal-fired plant may have to close if it cannot meet stringent air quality standards.
“Currently there is only one major source of natural gas into Cape May County and if that line is compromised, there will be no source of natural gas into the entire county,” the senator stated.
“The First Legislative District, as we have heard and read too often, has one of the worst economies in the entire country. We need to create and find thousands of new jobs and certainly not destroy the few good jobs that we already have,” he continued.
By order of the Department of Environmental Protection, the B.L. England Plant must cease burning coal. Upper Township receives Energy Receipts taxes for hosting the plant, and would lose that revenue source if the plan were to close. Property tax increases would likely be “significant,” Van Drew stated, should the plant close.
“The decision to reject the application by the Pinelands Commission was devastatingly bad at a multitude of levels,” Van Drew stated.
• Loss of more permanent jobs in a region of the state that is already suffering terribly if the plant closes.
• Loss of public safety without a redundant gas line coming into Cape May County.
• Loss of construction jobs building the pipeline.
• Loss of a major ratable in Upper Township which could trigger a tax increase.
• Loss of increasing energy independence by relying on other energy sources which in some cases are a source of greater pollution. Others have suggested wind turbines or solar field on the site.
• “I am in favor of solar and wind energy, but we also need to utilize all forms of energy to push our economy forward. A gas-fueled plant will burn cleanly and efficiently. If we can build wind turbines or solar panels at the site as well, I will be supportive, but we must get natural gas there and build this pipeline. This two-foot-wide pipeline underground along a roadway will not harm the pinelands.
“This was a devastatingly bad decision by the Pinelands Commission and Assemblyman Andrzejczak and I will do all that we possibly can to make it right,” Van Drew concluded.