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NJ DEP backs Pinelands pipe plan for air benefits



PEMBERTON TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey environmental officials say a proposed pipeline plan through the Pinelands would drastically reduce air pollution in the region by enabling an old coal-burning power plant to use cleaner natural gas.

Air quality officials from the state Environmental Protection Department spoke Friday at a Pinelands Commission hearing.

They say enabling the BL England plant in Cape May County to switch to natural gas will cut carbon dioxide emissions by half, virtually eliminate sulfur dioxide emissions and reduce mercury emissions by 94 percent.

The commission has to approve the plan because the 22-mile pipe would run through the protected Pinelands region.

Environmentalists oppose it, fearing damage to the fragile region. But union workers and business leaders want it approved for the jobs and added energy reliability it would provide.