A proposed natural gas pipeline in South Jersey failed to pass muster Friday, when a tie vote by the Pinelands Commission blocked a potential memorandum of agreement with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities.

Yellow line indicates proposed route of Pinelands pipeline
Yellow line indicates proposed route of Pinelands pipeline (Pinelands Commission)

The deadlock has some environmentalists around the state popping champagne -- but it may be too soon for that, as others say this is hardly the victory they ultimately seek. South Jersey Gas still wants to convert the BL England Plant in Cape May County from coal and oil to natural gas.

Doug O'Malley of Environment New Jersey is thrilled that the commission made the decision to put the environment ahead of money and generation of power. He and other environmentalists feel the conditions of the proposal would be a detriment to the region.

"We don't think South Jersey Gas will give up, but this is the first step," O'Malley said. "We will continue to advocate the blocking of this plan."

Some proponents of the idea, including South Jersey Gas, indicated that the section of land for the 22-mile pipe was already disturbed by a right of way access passage.

"Although we're disappointed, we are not giving up the fight," said Dan Lockwood, public relations manager for South Jersey Gas. "There are many benefits for the pipeline and the conversion of the plant. We are still deciding how to proceed."

The state BPU had backed the plan.