By Jeff Tittel
The New Jersey Natural Gas Company has filed a rate case with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU). The petition would increase ratepayers’ monthly bills by 24.8%.
According to New Jersey Natural Gas, this rate increase would help pay for costs associated with the Southern Reliability Link pipeline which runs through portions of Monmouth and Ocean counties.
Grab your wallets, New Jersey Natural Gas is coming after your money. What’s worse is that they don’t care about hurting the environment in the process. They want to raise gas bills by almost 25% to pay for their damaging and dangerous Southern Reliability Link pipeline.
This is simply impossible for some families, especially during the financial downturn from the coronavirus pandemic. This rate hike is even more disgraceful because of all of the damage the Southern Reliability Link pipeline has caused so far.
It is shameful New Jersey Natural Gas wants the ratepayers to pay for this pipeline, especially with all of the destruction they have already caused from horizontal directional drilling. So far, they have destroyed homes, blown through wetlands and infiltrated chemicals into the ground water.
There have been reports along the Southern Reliability Link pipeline route in Monmouth, Ocean and Burlington counties about problems with the building of the pipeline. These include suspected spills, sinkholes and materials from drilling in streams and ditches.
The Pinelands Commission is currently investigating why spills and violations by the New Jersey Natural Gas Southern Reliability Link in the Pinelands Preservation Area were not brought to the commissioners’ attention.
It is outrageous that New Jersey Natural Gas wants to increase rates to pay for the Southern Reliability Link pipeline when it has caused so much damage.
A house was condemned in Upper Freehold Township, they caused a sinkhole in New Egypt, and there have been at least nine proven inadvertent returns and 10 more potential leaks or spills from construction on the Southern Reliability Link pipeline. There could be more leaks since they started back up two weeks ago.
The BPU should not even look at this rate case until they put a stay on the Southern Reliability Link pipeline that we have sought.
New Jersey Natural Gas is trying to rush through construction and it will cost ratepayers more to take the pipeline out if we win in court. They want us to fund their destruction of our environment, cutting a scar through the Pinelands, open space and preserved farmland.
Out of the 28 horizontal directional drillings for the Southern Reliability Link pipeline, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has cited nine inadvertent returns.
Residents living along the route have identified 10 more suspected Southern Reliability Link incidents in Monmouth, Ocean and Burlington counties about problems with the building of the pipeline.
The BPU needs to tell New Jersey Natural Gas to take a hike. This rate hike is unconscionable. They are asking people to pay more money, some who can’t afford to do so, so they can pollute our water and destroy our environment with their pipeline that may never be used.
Gov. Murphy also needs to put a stop work order on the entire pipeline and pull the permits. Since Gov. Murphy, the BPU, the DEP and the Pinelands Commission have allowed New Jersey Natural Gas to continue construction of their pipeline at their own risk, there have been many problems and a home has been destroyed.
This administration has been siding with New Jersey Natural Gas. Now they need to step up and protect the environment and the residents living along the Southern Reliability Link route.
Jeff Tittel is the director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.