NAACP Cites Numerous Deficiencies in Woodbridge Gas Plant Proposal

Published Feb 2, 2023


Climate and Energy

DEP, CPV undermining public participation and state’s environmental justice law

DEP, CPV undermining public participation and state’s environmental justice law

The NAACP Perth Amboy Area Branch submitted a letter to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that outlines serious problems with an application to build a massive new gas-fired power plant in Woodbridge, and calls on the state agency to postpone a public hearing scheduled for February 28. 

The January 31 letter to DEP Commissioner Shawn LaTourette says that the DEP and Competitive Power Ventures are pursuing an “inconsistent and unlawful process… to cut corners in their environmental justice review” of the proposal to build a second plant in the overburdened community of Keasbey. 

The letter from NAACP Perth Amboy Area Branch president Rev. Donna Stewart identifies a number of errors in the company’s public materials – listing incorrect years for hearings and the public comment period, directing residents to a confusing company website that is missing pertinent documents, and giving inadequate notice of an upcoming public hearing.

Further, the company’s public notice directs residents to read the draft permit application at the Woodbridge Municipal Building – but that document was not available there. And while the state’s new environmental justice law requires that public notices be placed in “at least two newspapers circulating within the overburdened community,” the CPV notice was apparently only published in the Courier News, which is not circulated in Woodbridge. The law also requires notice to be published in a non-English language newspaper; it is not clear that this has happened. 

“This plant would go against environmental justice,” said Reverend Donna Stewart, President of the NAACP Perth Amboy Area Branch. “The NAACP is a civil rights organization, and environmental justice falls under civil rights of our people.”

The company has scheduled only a single public hearing – an English-only virtual videoconference to be held on the Microsoft Teams platform. And while DEP officials have repeatedly promised to meet with local residents opposed to the gas plant, last month the agency abruptly decided against holding a meeting to answer pertinent questions.

The Woodbridge power plant is one of several major polluting facilities seeking state approval before the environmental justice law is fully implemented The ongoing delay by DEP is facing growing pushback from environmental justice advocates.

The NAACP Perth Amboy Area Branch is requesting that the hearing be postponed, and that the process should be carried out only after the environmental justice law has been fully implemented. 

The community movement against the project continues to grow. Resolutions opposing CPV’s gas plant project have been passed by ten municipal governing bodies (Edison, Highland Park, Hoboken, Perth Amboy, Franklin, Sayreville, Rahway, South Brunswick, Cranbury, and East Brunswick), as well as the Somerset County Commissioners, and the Highland Park Board of Education.

Press Contact: Peter Hart [email protected]