As Chris Christie takes the oath of office to become New Jersey’s 55th Governor, he now becomes front and center in the spotlight on all issues regarding the Garden State. One feature of New Jersey that I hope he will take very seriously is the Jersey Shore environment.
From Raritan Bay down to Delaware Bay, the Jersey Shore generates billions of dollars every year in tax revenue for the state. Yet, many government officials continue to forsake a sense of control and good planning over our coastline.
While taxpayers in New Jersey subsidize sprawl and poor planning by paying for new roads, road maintenance, new schools, police and fire protection, the extensions of utilities (water, sewer, electric) and everything else that goes to support new development, many communities struggle to purchase even an acre or two of critical open space, such as wetlands, meadows, dunes, and wildlife habitat along streams, rivers, and estuaries. Every day we lose land as well as protection for endangered species and storm-water management. This is foolish, because from family clamming and crabbing, to saltwater fishing, boating, and birding, to scenic beaches and swimming, a rich economy for the Jersey Shore depends on a healthy environment.
The sprawling, residential, industrial and commercial landscape we see in parts around the Jersey Shore clearly shows the negative effects of decade after decade of poor human decisions about what to do with the land. For far too long, residents of New Jersey have often approached land use decisions with a lack of awareness, or even laziness.
(We need to always fight to keep the Jersey Shore an exceptional place)
Now in the first half of the 21st century, we find the precious natural resources of the Jersey Shore under attack again. Not on land this time, but in the water by the building of industrial facilities and pipelines in the Atlantic Ocean and Raritan Bay.
The Atlantic Sea Island Group has proposed building a Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) receiving station for huge tankers on a 63-acre man-made island (about the size of 12 football fields) located about 19 miles off the coast of Sea Bright, NJ and about 15 miles off the Rockaway peninsula in New York State. The proposed island would be made of fill from the Ambrose Channel.
(Large LNG tankers like this one from Russia could soon invade the Jersey Shore and industrialize our coastline with fossil fuel pollution)
The artificial island is only one of three liquid natural gas terminals in the planning stages off the Jersey Shore. Another proposed LNG industrial facility is by Liberty Natural Gas and it would be located near Asbury Park, N.J. The third proposed LNG industrial facility is from ExxonMobil, the largest multinational corporation in the world, and it would be located approximately 20 miles off the Manasquan Inlet.
If just one of these industrial projects are completed, it will threaten the unique natural and social character of the Jersey Shore, degrade local economies in many coastal communities, and further decay the great natural beauty and diverse fish and wildlife habitat found along the Jersey Shore, which is shared by all of residents of New Jersey. What’s more, LNG will lock the state into an undesirable energy path that will rely upon fossil fuels. This could make future energy decisions costlier than ever and increase the environmental burden on our energy infrastructure, just as the load of sprawl has created financial burdens for many municipalities in New Jersey.
LNG is a foreign fossil fuel. LNG does not come from the United States. Private corporations transport LNG to the United States via large tanker ships from different foreign countries, quite a few from governments that have violent pasts, or a history of not respecting basic human rights or safeguarding the environment. In 2006, LNG imports to different areas of the United States were from a mix of mainly suspect countries including Trinidad, Tobago, Egypt, Nigeria, Algeria, and Russia. Moreover, tankers could import gas from other Atlantic Basin regions and countries, such as western Africa and Venezuela. Iran too has some of the world’s largest natural gas reserves.
Take for example what has recently been going on in Boston, Massachusetts, which has a LNG facility. Boston Mayor Thomas Menino is trying to block Yemeni tankers from delivering liquefied natural gas into Boston Harbor, in light of the failed Christmas Day attempt by a Nigerian man, who trained in Yemen to blow up a US airliner over Detroit. Mayor Menino stated, ” Everyone should be concerned about [LNG] because the Coast Guard, Boston fire department and other agencies do not have the equipment if something did happen with an LNG tanker. Everyone says there is no problems, but what happens when something does happen?” If we can certainly learn from the mayhem up in Boston it is that New Jersey needs to be energy independent and not have our money help pay for potential terrorist attacks.
Yet, the dangers of LNG do not stop there. Construction of gas pipelines in the water could cause harmful spills of drilling fluids and even contaminated sediments into the near shore marine environment. Vessel traffic from at an LNG facility also increases the likelihood of hazardous diesel, oil, or sewage spills.LNG facilities or tankers would also intake millions of gallons of seawater to cool generators, and discharge water more than 28.3 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than ambient ocean temperatures. These billions of gallons per year of intake and thermal waste would cause serious harm to the surrounding ecosystem, killing zooplankton and small fish critical to the survival of marine mammals and fisheries.
New Jersey ranks second only to Florida in the nation for saltwater recreational fishing activity, with many commercial fishing boats in Monmouth County offering estuarine and deep sea recreational fishing. In addition, the Belford Seafood Co-op is one of five major commercial fishing ports on New Jersey’s coastline that requires vast deep sea areas of the Atlantic Ocean to offer high quality local seafood to community markets. The other four major commercial fishing ports in New Jersey include Point Pleasant, Barnegat Light, Atlantic City, and Cape May. An LNG facility would threaten extremely rich fishing grounds, and turn an LNG area into an industrial park, increasing ship traffic, oil spills from tankers, and other threats to the northern Jersey Shore.
Thus far, behind all the greenwashing, the majority of voices being heard in favor of LNG facilities along the Jersey Shore are only the multi-national energy corporations and their special interests groups driving the proposals. Yet, we don’t even need LNG. Unlike oil, the U.S. is energy independent for natural gas and the Obama Administration estimates at least 70 years worth of reserves are left. Industry groups estimate over 100 years worth of natural gas.
Thankfully, Governor Christie has seen the wisdom on this issue and is being hailed by local environmentalists, like Clean Ocean Action, who oppose the LNG projects. Not only has Christie come out against LNG, but he has the power to veto the projects outright and send them away. This represents a clear change from the Corzine administration. Indeed, Corzine lost some votes from those people who choose a candidate based on the environment, because of the liquid natural gas terminals.
On December 16 a spokesperson for Christie told the media that he remained opposed to the three LNG port proposals off the coasts of both New Jersey and New York due to concerns regarding the project’s impacts on the state’s coastal economy. This is great news!
Yet, as we know, politicians sometimes do not always keep their promises. So we need to make sure that he keeps this one. Please send an email or text message today to Governor Christie and tell him to keep his promise to kill LNG! We need his help to keep the Jersey Shore free of LNG!
You can contact the governor at this state web site address: http://www.state.nj.us/governor/index.shtml
Let the State of New Jersey officially oppose LNG, just like many other states around the nation. Within New Jersey, the opposition against LNG is growing too with many coastal communities, such as Borough of Union Beach, the Borough of Keyport, the City of Long Branch, the Borough of Sea Bright, the Township of Neptune, and the Borough of Point Pleasant Beach all declaring loudly their opposition to the building of industrial fossil fuel facilities off the Jersey Shore. You should urge your Mayor and local government officials to do the same quickly.
Privatizing open waters with fossil fuel projects would be fundamentally wrong and serve as a dangerous precedent for industrializing a source of joy and income in Monmouth County and along the Jersey Shore that people have spent years and millions of dollars trying to clean up. The State of New Jersey needs to move forward with a clean and sustainable energy plan that includes clean jobs, which do not negatively impact the Jersey Shore.
For more information on the LNG issue along the Jersey Shore and how to get involved, please check out Clean Ocean Action’s website at: http://www.cleanoceanaction.org/index.php?id=37