This week, Union City and Bayonne passed resolutions opposing the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s (PVSC) plans for a new fracked gas power plant in Newark. They join a growing number of Hudson County municipalities – including Weehawken, Kearny, Jersey City, and Hoboken – that are calling on Governor Murphy to stop PVSC’s polluting proposal and instead pursue a renewable energy alternative.
With these votes, six of the twelve municipalities in Hudson County have now formally opposed the project, in addition to three other municipalities from Essex and Bergen Counties (Livingston, Maplewood, and Alpine).
“It was impressive to watch the Union City Commissioners and Bayonne Council pass this resolution against the dirty power plant proposed by PVSC in the Ironbound. It showed that smaller cities can work in solidarity with their neighbors to stop environmental injustice at the local level,” said Liz Ndoye, member of the Hoboken Democratic Committee. “They can help their neighbors and themselves stave off the ill effects of air pollution and the climate crisis by taking this kind of direct action. These commissioners did the right thing to protect the residents of Hudson and Essex Counties from further damage and illness from pollution and climate change.”
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.
“We applaud our neighbors in Hudson County for taking a stand against the dirty energy plant and supporting the well-being of North Jersey communities and our climate,” said Maria Lopez-Nuñez, Deputy Director of Advocacy and Organizing at Ironbound Community Corporation. “The welfare of Newark residents and residents downwind in Hudson County and across the region depends on Governor Murphy rejecting the proposed PVSC power plant and investing in an alternative guided by input from our community.”
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 Newark and the surrounding region, which has historically faced the brunt of New Jersey’s pollution burden and decades of environmental injustice.
“These resolutions are major victories in our effort to make PVSC and Governor Murphy realize they must listen to the residents of Newark and surrounding communities who are suffering severe health issues from overwhelming pollution,” said Bill McClelland, a volunteer with Food & Water Watch. “Another huge fossil-fuel burning project is not acceptable. If Governor Murphy wants to live up to his clean energy, environmental justice, and climate commitments, he must direct PVSC to immediately withdraw its air permit application for this power plant and re-write their proposal.”
Residents and activists will continue to present this resolution forward to other municipalities in the region. Secaucus is expected to vote on the resolution at their next council meeting.