On February 1, the Maplewood Township Committee passed a resolution opposing the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s (PVSC) plans for a new fracked gas power plant in Newark and called on Governor Murphy to direct the agency to shift to a renewable energy alternative.
Maplewood is the fourth municipality to formally oppose the project, following Hoboken, Jersey City, Kearny, and Livingston.
“We stand with our neighbors in the Ironbound who continue to be dumped on and disregarded, their health and wellness dangerously compromised,” said Maplewood Mayor Dean Dafis, “We owe it to them to fight for renewable alternatives for this project. Our decision to pass this resolution was unanimous.”
The power plant would be built at PVSC’s massive sewage processing facility in the Ironbound section of Newark, part of a resiliency project that was proposed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. That storm caused the sewerage plant to lose power and spill billions of gallons of raw or partially treated sewage into the Passaic River. The project would provide backup power to the treatment plant when the grid is down, but PVSC also plans to run the facility to offset their power needs from the grid at other times.
“I’m proud that Maplewood is helping to lead the way in fighting for environmental justice and advocating for our environmentally overburdened neighbors in Newark,” said Jennifer Nielsen of SOMA Action. “By supporting the resolution asking Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority to use alternative energy for their proposed power plant, the Maplewood Township Committee has given notice that they will not tolerate further environmental inequity in our state.”
While local community members and advocates agree about the importance of improving infrastructure resiliency in the face of a worsening climate crisis, they are demanding a clean renewable energy project that will not increase the pollution burden in the Ironbound and the surrounding region, which has historically faced the brunt of New Jersey’s pollution burden and decades of environmental injustice.
“Last month, Governor Murphy directed PVSC to delay a vote to begin construction on a massive new polluting power plant in Newark. This was a critical intervention, but without further action from the Governor this project could move ahead very quickly,” said Matt Smith, Food & Water Watch New Jersey State Director. “If Governor Murphy wants to live up to his clean energy, environmental justice, and climate commitments, he must direct PVSC to withdraw the air permit application for the gas plant and redesign the resiliency project without any increase to the already intolerable levels of air and water pollution in Newark.”