For Immediate Release
Secaucus, NJ -- Dozens of environmentalists and climate activists joined local students Monday morning in a march and kayak paddle action to protest NJ Transit’s plan to build a massive new gas-fired power plant in Kearny.
The plant, part of the agency’s TransitGrid proposal, would increase the air pollution burden for nearby communities, and would be a substantial new source of planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions -- squarely at odds with Governor Murphy’s climate agenda.
"It's time for politicians to stop playing games with my future,” said Logan Miller, a Jersey City resident and co-leader of the Hudson School Environmental Club. “Governor Murphy says he wants to make New Jersey run 100% on green energy by 2050. Let's hold him accountable."
Ellen Lee, a Food & Water Action intern and president of Bergen Tech’s Environmental Protection Initiative, added: “I’m shocked that a power plant would be built on a river, right by a residential area, and near a county school. It is NJ Transit, a state government agency, that is endangering students, teachers, and residents of the surrounding area. They are the ones ignoring pleas from residents, research from the Don’t Gas The Meadowlands coalition, and concerns about climate change. After seeing the gathering of dozens of concerned residents, I hope that NJ Transit would call off the project, and would start researching alternatives that do not emit 576,000 tons of greenhouse gases every year.”
“Today we rallied on land and in the water to let Governor Murphy know that New Jersey doesn’t want and doesn’t need any more dirty energy projects,” said Food & Water Action organizer Sam DiFalco. “The NJ Transit fracked gas plant would generate air pollution and steer our state away from its climate goals. Governor Murphy has to decide if he means what he says about protecting our climate and stopping environmental injustice. If he wants to be a leader, he must stop this dirty power plant.”
The action began with a rally at Laurel Hill Park, with one group of students marching from there to the Secaucus Junction train station, while others participated in the “kayaction,” paddling down the Hackensack river close to the proposed site of the plant.
State Senate Majority Leader (D-38th) Loretta Weinberg issued a statement in support of the action: “I think we could all agree that building for resiliency, making sure that the rails are powered should we suffer another Superstorm Sandy, is a laudable goal. There is no reason to predicate that resiliency on a new natural gas plant—a plant which would fire continuously for decades, regardless of whether or not there’s an emergency. The microgrid is meant to kick in during a failure of the larger power grid. The microgrid is thus mostly about the distribution of power, not generation of new power. The problem being solved—the resiliency being created—is in power distribution. That should be the focus of this project, either by tapping into available power sources or by laying the groundwork for a renewable energy source. If we build a new natural gas power plant today, we’ll be living with it into the 2060s. What a terrible inheritance to leave for future generations! There’s no reason to build another piece of fossil fuel infrastructure in New Jersey: not now, not ever again! This plant is wrongheaded, and I stand with you in opposition to its construction.”
“It is absolutely ridiculous that we have to be here and do this today in 2020,” said Hackensack Riverkeeper Captain Bill Sheehan. "It makes no sense whatsoever that a state agency wants to build new, unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure literally a stone’s throw from where a decommissioned power plant is being demolished as we speak. There are much, much better ways to use that federal post-Sandy money than to plop a carbon-spewing monstrosity in a floodplain."
“Exxon knew long ago about impacts of toxic pollution from fossil fuels. Governor Murphy knows, too. In 2018, he issued Executive Order 23 with a pledge that all state agencies and boards would work for environmental justice,” said Paula Rogovin, chairperson of the Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains. “It’s past time for the Governor to reject the proposed NJ Transit fracked gas power plant. Pollution from the plant would directly impact environmental justice communities in Kearny, Newark, Jersey City, and Hoboken and beyond, putting people at risk. In addition, the power plant would be built next to the CSX “bomb” trains at the heavily toxic former Koppers Coke site next to the Hackensack River. A train derailment could mean death to, not 47 people as in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, but potentially thousands of people in the blast zone. Time for the Governor to get on board with Renewable Energy RAIL.”
Environmental groups and local communities have been organizing informational forums, conducting outreach to directly impacted communities, speaking out at NJ Transit board meetings, and working to get local councils to pass resolutions against the project. So far, eight municipal governments -- including Jersey City, Fort Lee, Kearny and Hoboken-- have passed formal resolutions opposing the new power plant.
“We’re not going to let Governor Murphy poison our air,” said Michael Watson of The Climate Mobilization Hoboken. “We’ve passed resolutions against this plant, and now we’re going to take the fight into the streams and streets we’re looking to protect.”
“NJ Transit needs to become the leader in transportation by moving to alternative energy to power their system,” said Liz Ndoye, the president of Hoboken MoveOn and Hoboken Resist. “They must reject a fracked gas power plant that will further pollute the communities of Hudson County. This power plant would negatively impact residents of Secaucus, Kearny, Newark, Jersey City, and Hoboken, who are already suffering from environmental injustice. They should adopt a solar/wind powered transit grid and become the cutting edge transit system that the whole world envies.”