Hundreds of community and climate activists joined environmental justice leaders in a march and rally demanding that Governor Murphy deny permits for major new fossil fuel projects.
The March and Rally for Clean Air and Climate Justice, convened by the EMPOWER NJ coalition, brought together residents and community groups fighting on the frontlines of fossil fuel pollution with environmental groups and climate activists from every part of the state.
The event sought to highlight several major fossil fuel expansion projects, four of which are approaching permit deadlines with the Murphy administration. The Empower NJ coalition is working closely with local communities to stop these projects. According to the coalition’s estimates, if all seven are approved, the state’s overall greenhouse gas emissions could increase by up to 38 percent.
Attendees gathered at the stops of the Patriots Theater at the War Memorial before marching to the Statehouse Annex, where speakers from frontline communities talked about the threats they are facing from new dirty energy projects.
The march was focused on environmental justice and the unequal burdens faced by communities that must live with fossil fuel pollution. While the state’s environmental justice law is an important step, it is not being applied to the current proposals, including a new fracked gas power plant at the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission treatment plant in Newark.
A growing coalition of community groups, elected officials and activists have mobilized against the project, which would dump even more air pollution in a community already suffering some of the worst environmental and public health impacts in the country.
“Environmental justice communities like Camden already suffer the dire consequences from dirty energy facilities that pollute our air and water, “ said Minister Roy Jones, Camden resident and executive director at the National Institute for Healthy Human Spaces. “By enacting a moratorium on fossil fuel projects, Governor Murphy can halt the proposal to ship explosive LNG by truck and train through Camden for overseas export and fulfill his promise of a healthy environment for all New Jerseyans, regardless of their skin color or zip code.”
“Sometimes our courage is called upon to say no to something outdated and harmful. The plan for another dirty gas power plant in Woodbridge, which will spew even more toxic pollution into the air we breathe in Perth Amboy, is exactly that,” said Julie Ann Ferreira, a Perth Amboy resident and Food & Water Watch volunteer. “We must make history of fossil fuels before they make history of us.”
“The proposed Williams pipeline expansion would introduce even more unnecessary and unhealthy pollution into our community and contribute to the ever-growing climate catastrophe. Our leaders cannot claim to take action on the climate crisis while allowing these dirty energy projects to continue. Our future is at stake, and it’s time to say enough is enough,” said Rey Watson (they/them), 17 year old climate justice organizer from Whitehouse Station.
“All of us here in Hudson County see it’s a trap that will create new congestion and dirty the air we breathe,” said Dr. James Lee, an organizer with Safe Streets Jersey City. “The proposed turnpike widening is the equivalent of dumping a fossil-fuel power plant complete with billowing smokestacks in the middle of Jersey City next to our homes and schools.”
“The proposal by Tennessee Gas Pipeline to expand their pipeline operations in North Jersey with more dirty, dangerous fracked gas compressor stations sabotages New Jersey’s visionary goals to curb destabilizing fossil fuel emissions and toxic air pollution,” said Melissa Brown Blaeuer, a 20+ year homeowner in the Highlands watershed town of West Milford in Passaic County. Her house is surrounded by a vital greenway of protected land, and sits only a mile from the proposed compressor station. “If Governor Murphy is the climate leader we all truly need, he will reward companies investing in energy innovation and safe, sustainable solar and wind development. He will deflect and de-incentivize old technology profiteers undermining our moral obligations to ourselves and our children. The Governor can and must stop the flow of money and talent into such ill-conceived and self-defeating fossil fuel projects.”
“After over a year of activism and organizing against NJ Transit’s proposed gas plant, in 2020 at the direction of Governor Murphy they committed to finding a greener solution for their resiliency needs. Now after over a year of “re-envisioning the project” NJ Transit is yet again continuing to push for a dirty fossil fueled power plant in an environmental justice community in the Kearny Meadowlands,” said Liz Ndoye, Hoboken Resident and member of the Don’t Gas the Meadowland Coalition. “I say shame on NJ Transit and Governor Murphy for allowing this plan to pollute the air of Essex and Hudson County residents during this time of extreme climate crisis.”
“We call on Governor Murphy to stop PVSC’s proposal for a new gas power plant in Newark,” said Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds, Co-Chair of the Newark Environmental Commission. “Newark has long been disproportionately overburdened with pollution from both stationary and mobile sources. We cannot get to zero emissions unless we switch to clean, renewable energy and shift away from harmful fossil fuels. This type of power plant would already be a relic. No more fossil fuel projects in Newark and no more fossil fuel projects in New Jersey!”