RED BANK – While addressing a gathering of outraged activists standing up against the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project (NESE), Cindy Zipf, Clean Ocean Action executive director, invoked a famous midnight ride from American Revolutionary lore. Hohenleitner held a homemade sign at the rally that referenced an analysis of comments submitted to the DEP by New Jersey residents concerning the NESE pipeline project. Passing boaters also weighed in.Photo by Patrick Olivero Residents gathered at 10:30 a.m. for the Rally by Land or Sea to demand protection of Raritan Bay and regard for clean water.Photo by Patrick Olivero Several officials spoke at the rally, including Monmouth County Freeholder Gerry P. Scharfenberger, left, and Red Bank Mayor Pasquale Menna.Photo by Patrick Olivero The DEP issued a statement following its ruling articulating that the application did not demonstrate “a compelling public need” and noting concerns that dredging associated with the project could negatively impact surface water quality in the Bayshore region. It’s a future they said isthreatened by the NESEpipeline project, a $1 billionendeavor by the Williamsenergy company to extendits natural gas footprintthroughout the Northeastregion by carrying naturalgas through New Jersey toNew York City and parts ofLong Island. Williams resubmitted theapplication June 10. Hundreds of residents from Monmouth County and beyond, including some elected officials, gathered with Zipf on the banks of the Navesink River in Red Bank to implore New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to help preserve a healthy future for waterways and coastal communities throughout the state. “I’m sure that the governor has a lot of hard decisions to make over the course of a day, a week, a month, a year. But this is not one of them. This is an easy decision. There is no benefit to New Jersey. It contradicts his green energy agenda. It’s clear the governor has to stand behind the science, the facts and his agenda, and say ‘no’ to NESE,” Zipf said. Clean Ocean Action’s Cindy Zipf spoke at the rally Sept. 14 at Red Bank’s Marine Park, calling for Gov. Phil Murphy to reject the Northeast Supply Enhancement Project proposal.Photo by Patrick Olivero Monmouth County freeholder and state assembly hopeful Gerry P. Scharfenberger, a Middletown resident, said the freeholder board stands united against the NESE pipeline effort for reasons that extend even further than environmental concerns. Murphy was on an economic development trip to India so did not attend the rally, but Zipf urged residents to continue to reach out to the office of the governor and the DEP with comments. On June 5, the DEP denied, without prejudice, six crucial permits requested by the Williams application, which proposes to slice through the heart of the Raritan Bay with 23 miles of pipeline. “These are our communities in jeopardy and I’m an elected official saying you need to hold your elected officials accountable,” Atlantic Highlands council member Lori Hohenleitner said. “Nobody who lives in New Jersey should be for this project, because there is no benefit to anyone living here.” “We have to say ‘no.’ There are really no other consequences to saying ‘yes’ other than corporate greed. The platinum barons are running everything else and now they want to screw up our waterways,” Red Bank mayor Pasquale Menna said. “It’s time to send a message. We’ve had enough of corporations in our waterways. We have to stand up. We have to say ‘no.’ And this is one way to start.” “Our county is one that is dependent on its tourism and commercial fishing industries and we just don’t see the value in this project versus the risks it presents,” Scharfenberger said. Zipf said Clean Ocean Action filed a Freedom of Information Act request to the state for those comments and found approximately 3,900 against the initiative, while just four were in favor. “We’re thrilled to see people joining us by land and by sea,” Zipf said. “And what we’re doing here today is similar to what Paul Revere fought for so many years ago. The colonists wanted to declare independence from England and we want to declare independence from fossil fuels.” In its initial decision, the DEP specifically denied the project’s land-use elements, including a compressor station in Franklin Township – which borders the Raritan River – additional sections of pipeline snaking through nearby Sayreville and Old Bridge and an extension ofthat pipeline through theRaritan Bay to New York. Murphy is expected to make a decision Sept. 25 on Williams’ request for a water permit, which is critical to the project.