Activists rallied at NJ Transit’s board meeting this evening to call on NJ Transit to address critical issues with the Transitgrid power plant project, and on Governor Murphy to hold NJ TRANSIT accountable to re-designing the project with clean energy..
NJ Transit was scheduled to vote on a new project design at the February 8 board meeting. Instead, they reissued their request for proposals (RFP) which delayed the decision until April of 2024. The re-issued RFP fails to incorporate consistent public feedback calling on NJ Transit to re-design the project without the inclusion of a dirty methane gas burning power plant.
“Since the release of the initial RFP in late 2021, NJ Transit has shown an unwillingness to meaningfully engage with the public on this issue,” said Sam DiFalco, New Jersey Organizer with Food & Water Watch.” After dozens of impassioned public comments were ignored at many board meetings throughout 2022, we hoped that this new RFP would steer the project away from a gas plant. Instead, they continue to defend their critically flawed RFP, which is skewed heavily in favor of fossil fuels,”
This delay of what should be a keystone clean energy project for the administration comes just weeks after the Governor’s abrupt decision to delay a series of public hearings linked to the state’s Energy Master Plan update — another sign that the administration is not making sufficient progress in addressing the climate crisis.
“This delay and the Governor’s failure to hold NJ TRANSIT accountable is the latest example of Governor Murphy throwing New Jersey’s climate and clean energy commitments under the bus in the name of political expediency,” said Food & Water Watch New Jersey State Director Matt Smith. A report from the energy research firm RMI detailed the areas where New Jersey is falling short of the goals set forth in the Global Warming Response Act, the strategies outlined in the EMP, and Governor Murphy’s own executive orders on climate.”
The Transitgrid project was initially proposed in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, which knocked out power to some areas of NJ Transit’s rail line. The original project design featured a new fracked gas power plant in the Kearny Meadowlands. But in 2020, after 18 months of advocacy and organizing, activists successfully pressured Governor Murphy to direct NJ Transit to shelve their plans to build this gas plant and redevelop the project primarily using renewable energy.
NJ Transit spent the following year redesigning the framework for the project and issued its RFPto developers at the end of 2021. However, the new framework again allows for a gas plant at the center of this project. Activists have raised issues with NJT’s RFP at every Transit board meeting of 2022 and were expecting the board to hold a vote on a design decision at their February board meeting. Now the amended RFP extends the development timeline into 2024, without removing plans for a new gas plant.
“Despite delaying the project by more than a year, the amended RFP still allows for proposals to be submitted that utilize fossil fuels or dirty energy now as long as they can be transitioned to “carbon neutral” by 2050. Sinking $400 Million in taxpayer money into a new polluting power plant will take our state backward in the race for climate and environmental justice,” said Paula Rogovin, coordinating committee member of the Don’t Gas the Meadowlands Coalition. ”Governor Murphy and Transit have deceived the public. We call for a renewable-based energy solution from the start, not a new gas plant in an overburdened community that wouldn’t even come online until 2030, a date by which leading scientists mandate we must significantly reduce our emissions.”
“Over the past few years, 20 North Jersey municipalities and 14 state legislators have joined thousands of New Jersey residents in calling on Governor Murphy to fulfill his promise to reverse decades of environmental injustice by stopping NJ Transit’s proposal for a new power plant and instead invest in a clean, renewable alternative,” said Liz Ndoye, member of the Hoboken Green Team. “We had sincerely hoped NJ TRANSIT would fulfill their commitment to re-envision this project with a state-of-the-art clean energy solution that would serve as a model for the rest of the country. Instead, they seem to have spent the years since Governor Murphy directed them to redesign the project, coming up with new ways to greenwash the same old dirty project.”