At last night’s Hoboken City Council meeting, dozens of public speakers asked them to approve a resolution opposing NJ Transit’s construction of a fracked gas power plant in Kearny – a request that the council ultimately obliged.
By Marc Bussanich/Hudson County View
Councilman-at-Large Jim Doyle sponsored the resolution, along with Councilwoman-at-Large Emily Jabbour, to call on NJ Transit to use renewable energy technology instead.
Doyle believes that NJ Transit can use a combination of solar, tidal energy and wind turbines that, when coupled with their uses to charge batteries to power the microgrid, are technologically feasible alternatives.
“The facility is supposed to be built near the Hackensack River, which is a tidal river, and [with] these sources [the power generation] can be done for the same or less amount of money, and it won’t have to run 24/7 because it’ll be a true backup rather than a 140-megawatt facility that will be spewing particulates 24/7,” said Doyle.
But according to NJ Transit, they are still continuing to consider a variety of ideas as the request for proposals process continues.
“To ensure a full understanding of the options available for further design, NJ TRANSIT will continue to draw on the market for ideas through an RFP process, after assembling renewable team experience as part of an RFQ process, that will seek to maximize the use of renewable and clean energy technologies,” said NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.
“This will allow NJ TRANSIT, in the months ahead, to further enhance design in a manner that supports Governor Murphy’s clean energy goals.”
Nonetheless, numerous speakers during the virtual meeting called for renewable options.
Food & Water Action organizer Sam DiFalco said the plant would be a massive long-term investment in dirty fossil fuels, directly undermining Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) “supposed clean energy plans.”
“The only responsible course is for the governor to reject this dirty energy scheme and replace it with a clean renewable energy alternative for public transit resiliency.”
Additionally, Hoboken resident Liz Ferman, a member of Hoboken’s Green Team, rejects the notion that alternative energy options aren’t feasible.
“Real evidence exists that renewable alternatives offer a range of advantages, including lower initial costs, as well as zero emissions for the life of the facility. I was saddened when I read that NJ Transit has failed to seriously explore modern day renewable options that best protect our environment and health,” said Ferman.
And high school student Logan Miller impressed upon the council the urgent need to vote yes on the resolution in light of climate change.
“Think about what your kids will think of you in 30 years when a flood forces them to move out because their mom or dad didn’t think hard enough when they heard that there was a power plant which was going to release over 600,000 tons of greenhouse gases every single year.”
The resolution passed 8-0, with Council President Jen Giattino absent. The Hoboken City Council was the first governing body to approve such a measure regarding the power plant.
In April, the proposed 140-megawatt generator passed an environmental review.
According to NJ Transit, the proposed plant is part of the NJ TransitGrid Traction Power System that will consist of a central, natural gas-fired power plant and transmission lines to traction power substations, one of which will be located in Hoboken.
The power plant will also be able to electrify railroad tracks on the Morris & Essex line between Hoboken Terminal and Maplewood, as well as the Hudson Bergen Light Rail system.
The country’s third largest transit system says the project is needed to maintain and enhance mobility and regional security in the event of power outages and emergency situations – though environmental groups like the NJ Sierra Club have panned the proposal.
“I want to thank the Hoboken City Council for having the courage to stand up to the Murphy administration and demand that we build a power plant in accordance with our values,” Michael Watson, the Hoboken Chapter President of The Climate Mobilization and a member of the Hoboken Democratic Committee.