Unless Barr has a heretofore unseen backbone and is able to stand up to the political pressure of Christie and Senate President Steve Sweeney, the pipeline could soon be built in a restricted area of one of the nation's most precious ecological treasures.
The full Senate vote Monday confirming Barr, a South Jersey Democratic soldier loyal to Van Drew, also was orchestrated by Sweeney. When a vote was first called, Barr lacked the needed support; the tally was 19-18, two shy of the 21 required for approval.
TRENTON - The state Senate approved Gov. Chris Christie's nomination to the Pinelands Commission today, renewing concerns about a controversial plan to build a natural gas pipeline through the protected region.
Nominee Robert Barr was appointed amid an outcry from environmental advocates, who were escorted from the Senate chambers for booing legislators over the vote.
He'll replace commissioner Robert Jackson, who cast one of the "no" votes that narrowly rejected a proposal from South Jersey Gas to build a natural gas pipeline along 20 miles of roadways through the Pinelands. Supporters of the project say it will increase energy reliability in South Jersey and create needed construction jobs.
The Senate yesterday narrowly confirmed the nomination of Robert Barr to the Pinelands Commission, a choice opposed by four former governors, most conservationists, and some lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.
In a 21- 17 vote, the confirmation won approval, but only after some old-fashioned legislative arm-twisting behind the scenes, after lawmakers had initially held off approving it earlier in the session when it came two votes shy of passage (19-18).