Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Park Survey for Pipeline under Way

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Park Survey for Pipeline under Way

Article excerpt

MAHWAH -- Contractors have begun surveying land in Bergen County's largest park to determine a route for a key part of a proposed interstate oil pipeline that has received considerable public opposition.

Pilgrim Pipeline's consultants will continue ecological surveys at Ramapo Valley Reservation over the next several weeks to determine if there are any endangered animal habitats that would affect the company's application to New Jersey environmental regulators, a company spokesman said Monday.

The Connecticut-based Pilgrim proposes to build a two-way underground pipeline that would deliver crude oil 178 miles from Albany, N.Y., through some of New Jersey's most environmentally sensitive areas to the Bayway Refinery in Linden. It would send refined fuel, like gasoline and heating oil, back to New York.

The survey work comes as a group of residents and activists plan to deliver petitions and demonstrate today outside the county administration building in Hackensack, calling on County Executive James Tedesco to rescind the survey permits. The 4,000-acre Ramapo Valley Reservation is one of the last remaining tracts of wilderness in Bergen County and has already been cut through in recent years by another major pipeline project.

"The county executive's office has been completely non- transparent when it comes to this issue," said Matt Smith, an organizer with the advocacy group Food and Water Watch. "We've been met with resistance at every turn."

In a March 10 letter to pipeline opponents, County Administrator Dominic Novelli said denying Pilgrim the opportunity to survey could leave the county without any input on the path of the proposed pipeline.

Novelli said the state's open space program, Green Acres, would "assume control of the process due to non-compliance by the local governing body" if the county blocked Pilgrim.

But a spokesman for the state agency that oversees Green Acres said it was too soon to predict if the agency would get involved. "At this point, and as we have advised the county in the past, it is up to Bergen County to make their own best determination on whether or not to grant permission for access to their park lands," said Larry Hajna, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. …

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