Building a climate movement that stops new fracked gas power plants is amazing. But you know what’s even better than that? When the local political forces backing one of these dirty fossil fuel schemes try to challenge our local champions and you beat them at the ballot box.
The past two years have been a turning point for stopping fossil fuel expansion projects in North Jersey. Thanks to our growing grassroots movement, Governor Murphy came out in opposition and effectively stopped two power plant proposals.
In October of 2019 he spoke up against a proposed Mitsubishi plant in North Bergen, effectively ending the North Liberty Generating project. A year later, he took action to stop another plant proposed by NJ Transit in Kearny.
Lauren Larkin and Russell Castelli’s Support Of The Climate Movement Helped Them Win
These victories for our health and climate came because of a strong grassroots mobilization that was supported by elected municipal leaders like Russell Castelli and Lauren Larken, who just cruised to re-election on the Ridgefield Borough Council.
Larkin and Castelli were critical leaders in our fight to stop the North Bergen Liberty Generating power plant, which would have been built right on the border of Ridgefield in North Bergen. This facility would have been the single biggest climate polluter in New Jersey, emitting 2.4 million metric tons of greenhouse gases annually. It would have created a huge increase in toxic fossil fuel pollution in an area of the state that already suffers from some of the worst levels of air pollution in the country.
Larkin and Castelli worked with Mayor Suarez and their colleagues on the Ridgefield Council to pass a resolution that made the borough the first municipality to publicly oppose the fracked gas plant. And they didn’t stop there. In the following year and a half, they organized the community, held town hall events, spoke out at public demonstrations, and engaged other municipalities to also pass resolutions opposing the project.
Their efforts were critical in building a powerful coalition of 52 municipal governments throughout Bergen County that joined Food & Water Action and the Don’t Gas The Meadowlands Coalition in successfully pressuring Governor Murphy to stop the power plant.
But wait, there’s more! Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Larkin and Castelli — along with the Ridgefield Borough Council — became one of 17 municipalities that passed resolutions opposing NJ Transit’s fracked gas power plant proposal. These towns and cities, joined by the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders, sought to stop this plant and build a clean, renewable alternative. These resolutions were critical in convincing Governor Murphy and NJ Transit to publicly agree with our demands.
When Our Champions Are Challenged, We Fight Back And Win
Speaking out on these issues — and leading these winning fights — drew some serious opposition. It was no surprise that Larkin and Castelli were being opposed in the general election by two independents backed by the same Hudson County elected official who campaigned for the North Bergen Liberty Generating Power Plant.
We knew we needed to protect their seats. Food & Water Action volunteers worked to generate thousands of calls, texts, and other outreach to our local members and independent Ridgefield voters. The election results show when leaders step up to fight for their communities, the voters have got their backs!
We’re excited to continue to fight along these great environmental leaders for the health of our communities while we grow our movement for a healthy planet. We’re at a critical point where we simply cannot allow for new sources of fossil fuel pollution that poison our communities and destroy our climate. We need more leaders like Larkin and Castelli who will take up these fights with us to protect all communities across New Jersey.