Essex County Commissioners Oppose PVSC Fracked Gas Plant

County joins growing call for a halt to the proposed Ironbound power plant

Published Mar 30, 2023


Climate and Energy

County joins growing call for a halt to the proposed Ironbound power plant

County joins growing call for a halt to the proposed Ironbound power plant

On March 29, the Essex County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution opposing the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s (PVSC) plans for a new fracked gas power plant in Newark, and calling on Governor Murphy to direct the agency to shift to a renewable energy alternative. 

Commissioner Robert Mercado, who represents District 1 which contains Newark’s East Ward and many other parts of the city, championed the resolution. Hear his statements opposing the gas plant at the meeting here: (1:40:20).

Essex County’s opposition comes just weeks after members of the 29th Legislative delegation –  made up of Senate Majority Leader Theresa Ruiz, and Assemblymembers Eliana Pintor-Marin and Shanique Speight, representing much of Newark – sent a letter to the Governor strongly opposing the gas plant. And in February, over 20 other members of the legislature, along with Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, sent a similar letter opposing the direction of the project.

“It is indeed a commendable act on the part of the Essex County Commissioners to oppose the proposed PVSC fracked gas plant. It sends a message that the Commissioners are aware that pollution from the plant would not only add to unsafe levels Newark residents are bombarded with every second, but that these harmful pollutants would spread to other cities throughout New Jersey and beyond,” said Wynnie-Fred Victor Hinds, Newark Environmental Commission and Weequahic Park Association, Executive Director. “It also sends a message that these polluting industries need to commit to renewable energy, if they’re really concerned about the health of future generations, climate change mitigation and the quality of life of Newark residents and those of other municipalities.” 

The Essex County Commissioners join a growing coalition of elected leaders, residents and advocates who have commented at public hearings, written letters, marched, rallied, and spoken out in the media against the gas plant for the past two years. Together they are demanding immediate action to prevent this grave environmental injustice looming over Newark and the Ironbound community and calling on Governor Murphy to work with PVSC to redesign their resiliency project without bringing a fourth gas plant to Newark.

“The Ironbound Community Corp.’s Environmental Justice team is grateful to have community members throughout Essex County and beyond rally in support of Environmental Justice in Newark,” said JV Valladolid, Frontline Communications with the Ironbound Community Corporation. “The Essex County Commissioner’s commitment to develop a resolution against the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission’s current proposal to bring a 4th fossil power plant to the Ironbound of Newark is a solid demonstration of community-driven decision-making and support.” 

The environmental justice review of PVSC’s proposed methane gas burning power plant is complete and is currently before the DEP for their review. The 2020 signing of the environmental justice law was supposed to mark the beginning of the end of the disproportionate siting of major polluting facilities in EJ communities and the myriad public health harms they bring. Though the law was signed two and a half years ago and the Murphy Administration promised to have rules in place by November 2021 so the law could go into effect, the rulemaking process is yet to be complete and Governor Murphy himself has indicated it could still be months away even though the rule is ready to be adopted today.

“Without intervention from Governor Murphy, PVSC could vote to begin construction on their dirty gas plant proposal in the coming months,” said Food & Water Watch organizer Sam DiFalco. “The Governor has consistently made big promises to protect environmental justice communities, yet without action to stop new polluting proposals in overburdened communities like Newark, his words mean nothing. If he wants to live up to the commitments he made to Newark where he signed the environmental justice law back in 2020 then he will stop PVSC, a public agency under his authority, from proceeding with this gas plant.” 

Press Contact: Peter Hart [email protected]