The Pinelands Commission says a proposed natural gas pipeline that would cut through a section of the Pinelands meets all of its environmental protection standards.

Pinelands pipeline route

Pinelands Commission Executive Director Nancy Wittenberg said allowing the pipeline to be built under an existing road, or alongside it, would fulfill a state mandate requiring the B.L. England Plant in Cape May County to be powered by gas instead of coal to improve air quality. "In light of what happened after Superstorm Sandy, people have recognized the need to have a redundancy in service, so if one line goes out, there's another line that can continue to provide service," She said. Wittenberg noted, the existing road already fringes upon the environment.

South Jersey Gas wants to build  22 miles of pipe through Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland Counties.

Wittenberg admitted if the proposal is approved, it could lead to increased pressure for future infrastructure. But she said the Pinelands Commission's Comprehensive Management Plan is designed to protect from future building where it is not appropriate. "I think there are many layers in place to make sure that even if more pressures come we have a mechanism in place to make sure that only those that serve the Pinelands or that have little to no environmental impact are the ones the Commission will allow to go to fruition," she said.

A public hearing on the issue is being held in the Galloway Township Municipal Building on Monday, December 9th at 5 pm.