Native American Tribe Fights Pilgrim Pipeline Plan in New Jersey

A potentially huge protest is shaping up against an oil pipeline through New York and New Jersey, just weeks after Native Americans won a victory over a pipeline in North Dakota.

Native Americans in New Jersey are leading the protest, but they're facing some legal problems from the town of Mahwah. 

The so-called Pilgrim pipeline would run from Albany to the Bayway Refinery in Linden. The plan has the pipeline going through a reservoir, which has the Ramapough Lunaape tribe girding for battle.

The Lunaape have put up protest signs on a 13-acre tribal enclave in Mahwah. The signs stand beside teepees that were erected to recognize the Standing Rock Sioux, whose confrontation with an oil pipeline company in North Dakota led the Army Corps of Engineers to order a fresh look at the Dakota Access pipeline.

Chief Dwaine Perry and members of the Lunaape want others in New Jersey to join their fight. Dozens of people have been attending teach-ins at their encampment near the New York border to learn more about the pipeline. 

“The community needs to stop looking at the Ramapoughs as the canary in the mine and get their helmets on and stand with us, because if that goes it doesn’t matter what your home costs, you can’t drink oil,” Perry said.

But the effort of the Lunaape is running into obstacles. The town of Mahwah said that the tribe needs permits for the campground and for the teepee structures.

Mahwah has issued summonses against the tribe even though the town agrees that an oil pipeline running through the Ramapo Valley Reservation is unacceptable.

“One leak will determine the fate of our community and the millions of people between here and the Newark basin,” Mahwah Mayor William Laforet said.

The summonses from Mahwah should be addressed at a Jan. 26 municipal court hearing.

Meanwhile, Pilgrim Transportation of New York, Inc. has yet to apply for the permit that would define the exact route the pipeline would take. Until then, demonstrators are bracing themselves for a possible confrontation. 

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