Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the project as the PennEast pipeline.
The New Jersey Pinelands Commission today approved a controversial natural gas pipeline from Millville to an energy plant in Upper Township in Cape May.
The 9-5 vote, with one abstention, came as environmental protesters held signs and called on commissioners to vote no.
The 22-mile pipeline will run mostly under existing Routes 49 and 50 from Estell Manor to Beesleys Point, with about 15 miles traveling through the Pinelands and requiring the commission’s approval.
South Jersey Gas says the pipeline is needed to reinforce the supply system for 142,000 customers in South Jersey. Right now, only one natural gas pipeline services those customers.
“Our recommendation carefully balances the energy demands of 142,000 customers in Cape May and Atlantic counties, and protects and creates jobs while operating responsibly within the Pinelands,” said Jeff DuBois, South Jersey Industry’s executive vice president and COO, in a Jan. 23 press release.
SJI said the project will also help the electric-generating facility B.L. England convert from coal and oil to cleaner-burning natural gas. DuBois said the project would make the facility one of the cleanest power plants in the state.