Phil Murphy took office as governor of New Jersey speaking out against fracking and pledging to move the state to 100% clean, renewable energy by the year 2050.
So why is his administration issuing permits for a massive fracked gas power plant in the Meadowlands?
The North Bergen Liberty Generating plant would be a major source of the greenhouse gas emissions driving the global climate crisis, it would increase fracking in neighboring states, and it would put frontline communities at increased risk due to air and water pollution. And it would be built in an environmentally sensitive area that, thanks to dogged local activists, has become an important wildlife habitat.
A California company called Diamond Generating Corporation has plans to build a 1,200 megawatt plant in North Bergen that would deliver electricity to New York City via a cable under the Hudson River. When news of the plan surfaced, Governor Muprhy had this to say: "I have to admit, I always scratch my head when something is being done here that another state will benefit from."
But just a few weeks later, his administration quietly issued several permits—freshwater wetlands, flood hazard area and waterfront permits—that the company needs to bring the massive project into reality.
Despite this misstep from the Murphy administration, local residents and environmental activists are stepping up to fight it. A coalition of over 40 groups released a letter in May urging Governor Murphy to reject the unneeded and irresponsible proposal. We explained that the plant would exacerbate local air quality problems, since it would be located just two miles from an existing plant that is already one of the largest sources of air pollution in the state.
The facility will emit hundreds of tons of pollutants annually—including particulate matter and ground level ozone, both of which disproportionately harm children, pregnant women and outdoor workers. Most distressingly, at a moment when we are in an urgent race to stop emitting greenhouse gases that are fueling the climate crisis, this plant would take us the opposite direction by locking in decades of additional fossil fuel pollution.
The Murphy administration’s early approval of the Meadowland fracked gas plant... serves as a wake up call to the climate movement in New Jersey: We have our work cut out for us.
After issuing the permits, the Murphy administration released a statement stressing that their actions were “just the first step in a long permitting process that includes many opportunities for public input.”
That is, as the governor might say, a real head-scratcher. But it's true that there are plenty more hurdles for the company to clear before they can start building this plant—and we’ll be there to fight them every step of the way.
In fact, this fracking scheme is already running into problems on both sides of the Hudson River. Ridgefield Park recently announced their intentions to fight the project to a crowd of over 150 residents at a local town hall meeting, and New York officials are voicing serious skepticism about the company’s plans, including its attempt to use an old permit for a different project for this plant.
The Murphy administration’s early approval of the Meadowland fracked gas plant doesn’t leave us sitting around scratching our heads. It serves as a wake up call to the climate movement in New Jersey: We have our work cut out for us. Send your message to Governor Murphy today!