For Immediate Release
At its Wednesday evening board meeting, NJ TRANSIT announced it is shelving a plan to build a 140 MW fracked gas power plant in Kearny, and will instead move forward with a renewable energy alternative.
The dirty energy plant, part of the agency’s NJ TRANSITGRID TRACTION POWER SYSTEM, has been strongly opposed by local residents, elected officials and climate activists.
“The plan to build a massive fracked gas power plant in Kearny was a disaster for clean air and our climate. Communities across the state came together to tell Governor Murphy to find a better alternative, and today’s announcement shows that his administration is listening,” said Food & Water Action organizer Sam DiFalco. “In the midst of a public health pandemic and deepening climate crisis, we cannot allow any fossil fuel expansion projects to move forward, especially not in environmental justice communities already overburdened with dangerous levels of pollution. For the sake of his own climate agenda and the future of all New Jerseyans, the governor must stick to this course by enacting a moratorium on all fossil fuel projects.”
Food & Water Action spearheaded a coalition of more than 60 organizations that held in person and virtual educational forums, organized rallies on land and water, lobbied their elected officials, and spoke out at NJ TRANSIT board meetings in opposition to the proposed fossil fuel power plant. To date, 16 municipal governments have passed strong resolutions opposing the fracked gas power plant and supporting a renewable energy alternative, including Newark, Kearny, Jersey City and Hoboken. More recently, 13 state legislators signed onto a letter calling on the governor to reject the power plant and replace it with a clean energy solution.
The resolutions and letter all cited the significant greenhouse gas emissions and toxic air pollution that would have resulted from the project, as well as Governor Murphy’s commitments to protect public health for environmental justice communities, and achieve the state’s climate and clean energy goals.
“Today’s announcement bodes well for the future of clean air and healthy lungs in Hudson County, and marks a huge step forward towards establishing New Jersey as a leader in the race to get off fossil fuels and onto 100% renewable energy,” said Liz Ndoye, Hoboken resident and volunteer with Food & Water Action.
The 140 megawatt plant was to be partly funded by a federal grant tied to Superstorm Sandy recovery. Under the new goal announced today by NJ TRANSIT, that public money can now be invested into a clean energy solution that provides the same resiliency benefits without the negative health and environmental impacts.
“This announcement is monumental, not only for New Jersey residents, but for all of those around the country and world defending the right to clean air and clean water,” said Ellen Lee, president of the Environmental Protection Initiative at Bergen Tech High School. “This was one of many fossil fuel projects that are currently proposed or moving forward in New Jersey, threatening our communities with more pollution and more climate destruction. While our work isn’t over, today’s victory proves that with a strong coalition, a growing youth presence, and the right leadership, we can continue to protect the land, water and climate, for now and for generations to come.”
Today’s announcement from NJ TRANSIT marks the second time the Murphy administration has nixed a major fossil fuel power plant. Last October, Governor Murphy rejected the Meadowlands power plant proposal after thousands of residents and 52 municipal governments joined together in unified opposition to the project, which would have been the largest climate polluter in the state.
“As a high school student, today’s victory is incredibly exciting, and signals the beginning of the end for fossil fuel power plants in New Jersey,” said Logan Miller, co-leader of the The Hudson School environmental club. “It’s crucial that we begin making the bold changes we need right now, as the decisions made today will impact me and my generation for the rest of our lives.”
By setting a goal to develop what would become the largest renewable energy powered microgrid in the world, NJ TRANSIT has a once in a generation opportunity to create a more resilient public transportation system while positioning the state at the forefront of the clean energy economy.
“How exciting that Governor Murphy and the NJ Transit are now on board with 100% Renewable Energy Rail!” said Paula Rogovin of the Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains. We look forward to NJ leading the nation in the development of clean energy solutions for public transportation. As one of the thousands of people who signed petitions, rallied, marched and even kayaked, who lobbied state legislators and local councils, I am sincerely delighted that we have finally been heard.”
During today’s announcement NJ TRANSIT committed to launch a robust and inclusive public stakeholder process to help the agency achieve the new goal of a 100% renewable energy powered microgrid. The stakeholder process will also extend beyond the scope of the TRANSITGRID project to include ongoing input into the agency’s other clean energy and climate commitments.