NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—Big steps were made this April in the growing opposition to the Transco natural gas pipeline proposed to be built in Central Jersey.

The Middlesex County Freeholders have officially filed to become intervenors with the company’s application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which will make the final decision about whether or not the pipeline is built.

On April 24, Freeholder Director Ronald Rios released a letter stating the Freeholders would be filing as intervenors in the case.

Filing as intervenors would allow the county access to all pertinent documents and filings related to the pipeline.

“This is exactly the kind of action the Freeholders should take to protect the health and safety of county residents,” said Junior Romero, an organizer with Food & Water Watch.

“It shows they are listening to our concerns about this dirty energy project. What we need next is their opposition to this pipeline, which poses direct threats to local air and water, and represents an awful investment in the dirty energy of the past over the clean energy of the future.”

Although the announcement is brings hope, it is a small victory in the fight against the pipeline construction.  The Freeholder Board still has not said if it will support or oppose the plan.

“The next step in organizing all together is to get folks to attend the next round of public hearings in masses, and a round of educational events to ensure folks understand the relationship between these dirty energy projects in their backyards, and the national environmental crisis in play by these gas and oil companies,” says Romero.

The plan to build 26 miles of natural gas pipeline underneath the Raritan Bay has caused much controversy in Central Jersey, as well a related plan for a gas compressor station proposed for Franklin Township.

The pipeline and compressor would affect other towns such as South Brunswick, Old Bridge, Sayreville, South Amboy, and Perth Amboy.  The pipeline would go under the Raritan Bay.

Oklahoma-based Transco is owned by the Williams Companies.

Organizations such as Rethink Energy NJ, Food & Water Watch, Franklin Township Task Force, and concerned citizens have come out in vocal opposition to the pipeline, citing health concerns such as cancer-causing air pollution and potential water contamination.

Others cited the increased risk of explosion related to the proposed compressor station.  In 1994, Middlesex County was home to one of the largest, most devastating pipeline explosions in American history.