Jersey City Council to vote on measure opposing proposed fossil fuel power plant in Newark

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The Jersey City Council is set to vote on a resolution opposing a fossil fuel power plant in Newark proposed by the Passaic Valley Sewage Commission (PVSC) that they say would increase pollution locally.

Photo via Microsoft Teams.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

During the council’s caucus meeting, Councilman-at-Large Rolando Lavarro noted the resolution was initially introduced and co-sponsored by himself, Councilman-at Large Daniel Rivera, Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey, and Ward E Councilman James Solomon.

“We all saw the effects of Tropical Storm Ida first hand. It’s important that we take a stand on these issues,” said Lavarro.

NJ Food and Water Watch Director Matt Smith gave a presentation to the council on the power plant speaking about potential negative impacts.

“Coming off one of the worst storm events in our nation’s history, it is more imperative than ever that we find ways to meet our energy and resiliency needs without further exacerbating the climate crisis and public health in our environment,” Smith said.

He explained that PVSC has proposed a new fracking plant in the Ironbound section of Newark, part of a federal effort in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy to ensure a storm does not impact the PVSC.

During Hurricane Sandy, Smith noted PVSC discharged millions of gallons of untreated sewage into the Passaic River and the community.

He explained they are calling for PVSC to exhaustively assess the ability of renewable energy for backup power requirements, as well as that they never comprehensively studied alternative energy sources.

“The last study they did was back in 2014. Over the past seven years, there have been enormous advances in clean energy storage,” he explained.

Smith noted PVSC wants to create a plant that would only operate during peak demand. However, such a plant would pollute more than a normal plant due to the start up process.

“We know that we are still in a public health crisis like COVID that the very same pollution produced by this power plant … were responsible for higher mortality rates and infection rates during the COVID-19,” Smith stated.

“And Jersey City is located immediately downwind of the proposed power plant. We know that Jersey City and communities like Newark have long been overburdened with environmentally hazardous factories and polluting facilities,” he added.

Smith also argued that the long-term impact of air pollution disproportionately harms communities of color.

In asking for the council’s support, Smith noted that the Livingston Township Council and the Newark Environmental Commissions have both passed resolutions opposing the fossil fuel power plant.

Smith also recalled that the Jersey City Council opposed the proposed NJ Transit fossil fuel power plant last year, which, along with other opposition, led to Gov. Phil Murphy (D) canceling the project.

“Jersey City’s actions on that resolution were decisive. So we find yourselves in a very similar situation with this PVSC plant.”

Council President Joyce Waterman instructed City Clerk Sean Gallagher to add the names of the remaining members of the council members to the resolution and plan to vote on it at Thursday’s 6 p.m. meeting.

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