Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mahwah Discusses Limit on Pipelines

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Mahwah Discusses Limit on Pipelines

Article excerpt

MAHWAH -- The Township Council has introduced an ordinance to prohibit unregulated pipelines in any zoning district.

By doing so, Mahwah is one step closer to joining eight other municipalities in the state that have adopted legally untested ordinances blocking pipelines. Oakland's council will be discussing a similar ordinance at its meeting Wednesday.

Both municipalities are among dozens in New York and New Jersey that have resolved to resist the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline, a 178- mile dual pipeline that would transport crude oil from Albany, N.Y., to Linden and send refined fuel back, for a total 16.8 million gallons a day. Opponents cite the dangers of an oil spill in a part of North Jersey that supplies potable water to millions of state residents.

Mahwah's ordinance, introduced last Thursday, would block pipelines that aren't public utilities that deliver services to end users and lack state Board of Public Utilities regulation.

Whether such an ordinance could trump any related state law when it comes to such unregulated pipelines remains untested.

Now, the Planning Board has 35 days to offer guidance before a public hearing on the ordinance at the Jan. 21 council meeting. Last month, the board recommended the ban after reviewing the township's master plan and receiving dozens of comments from residents opposing the pipeline.

Pilgrim Pipeline Holdings LLC announced in November that it had applied in August to begin the environmental review process in New York. It said its preliminary map of its route through New Jersey -- which shows the pipeline entering into Mahwah -- may change. The company said in November that it would begin the New Jersey process by year's end. Pilgrim Pipeline spokesman Paul Nathanson said Friday that the company has not yet done so. Nathanson said he now estimates such an application would be filed in "early 2016."

It's going to be soon," he said.

The Mahwah ordinance is based on a hole in federal and state regulation that supporters say municipalities could exploit. The routes of interstate oil pipelines -- unlike those of interstate natural gas pipelines -- are not regulated on the federal level. At the state level, the Pilgrim Pipeline would be subject to full Department of Environmental Protection review, including for wetland permits, Highlands approval and adherence to Flood Area Hazard Control rules. …

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