The New Jersey Sierra Club is taking aim at NJ Transit advancing the Kearny power plant, part of the $546 million NJ TransitGrid project, during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“ … Their reckless move to rubber stamp their power plant without looking at environmental impacts or alternatives will have major impacts to public health,” said NJ Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel.
” … We support federal funding going to NJ Transit to keep our trains moving and its employees with jobs. However, we should not be wasting that money on a fossil fuel power plant that would add major pollution to our air. This power plant is a dirty deal for dirty power.”
He continued that the agency’s April 17th Environmental Impact Study and Record of Decision did not have any public opportunity for public comment, nor did they address any of the main concerns associated with the project.
“NJ Transit’s EIS on their proposal is merely an environmental assessment that does not deal with greenhouse gases, EJ communities, climate change, cumulative or secondary impacts,” Tittel added.
The natural gas power plant in Kearny would potentially build a 140 megawatt generator as part of the NJ TransitGrid Traction Power System, which seeks to provide electricity to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.
“The need for the proposed Project is based, in part, on the vulnerability of the commercial
electric power grid that serves NJ Transit and Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor rail service,” the NJ Transit decision read.
“The region’s public transportation infrastructure is vulnerable to power outages due to the nature of the existing centralized power distribution system and the intensity and frequency of severe weather events.”
The decision also said that they provided “an adequate opportunity” to hear views for all sides, as well as that “no feasible and prudent alternative to the adverse environmental effects of the NJ TransitGrid exists and all reasonable steps have been taken minimize the effects.”
Furthermore, NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder said that the agency held two public hearing on June 18th last year, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, at St. Peter’s University.
She also indicated that the 60-day public review period began on May 20th when the Draft Environmental Impact Statement was published and will continue through July 20th.
“During this time, members of the public are invited to review the DEIS document and submit their comments in writing or by attending one of the public hearings,” Snyder added.
Labor unions members have spoken in favor of the power plant, while environmentalists like Tittel have come out against it.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with a comment from NJ Transit spokeswoman Nancy Snyder.