The DEP promised it will have public hearings on this project before it rules on the air quality permit currently under review.
The annual volumes of emissions shown below are from a 10/17/18 letter from the NJDEP and reflect the volumes stated by NBLG in their application:
- 3,500 tons of carbon dioxide (by comparison the DEP estimates NJ CO2 equivalent emissions from electricity generation at 18M tons/year. This new plant alone would produce almost a 20% increase).
- 423 tons of carbon monoxide, which can cause headache, dizziness, vomiting, and nausea. High levels can cause loss of consciousness or death. Exposure to moderate and high levels of CO over long periods of time has also been linked with increased risk of heart disease.
- 305 tons of nitrogen compounds, which cause acid rain and are an ingredient in ground based ozone.
- 376 tons of particulate matter that can cause respiratory harm and also trigger a range of cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks, strokes, congestive heart failure, and reduced blood supply to the heart.
- 262 tons of ammonia. Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia in air causes immediate burning of the nose, throat and respiratory tract. This can cause bronchiolar and alveolar edema, and airway destruction resulting in respiratory distress or failure. Inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation.
- 73 tons of methane
- 52 tons of sulfur dioxide, which irritates the nose, throat, and airways to cause coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, or a tight feeling around the chest. Long term exposure may cause asthma.
- 1,000 pounds of benzene, a known carcinogen.
For reference, total NJ greenhouse gas emissions in 2015 were equivalent to 101M metric tons of CO2. This plant would increase NJ greenhouse gas emissions by over 3%. https://www.state.nj.us/dep/aqes/climate/data.html
The volume of methane above is the estimate provided by the applicant in their DEP permit application. However, studies of similar power plants produced an estimate of 1,000 tons per year. Recent studies of methane emissions from power plants have shown under-reporting by factors ranging from 21 to 120 by the power plant operators. http://blogs.edf.org/energyexchange/2017/03/16/study-emissions-from-power-plants-refineries-may-be-far-higher-than-reported
There are caps set for all of these and if a pollution source is expected to exceed any of them its air quality permit will be rejected. However, ozone is allowed an exemption through the use of ozone credits. In effect, ozone is the only form of air pollution that the DEP does not control. Applicants are allowed to buy ozone credits from defunct power plants. NBLG is already in the process of purchasing credits from plants in NY. Not only is the DEP not going to do anything about existing levels of ozone, they are not going to do anything to stop this from getting worse.
New Jersey residents should also understand that the option to purchase ozone credits is based on NJ law, not federal law. This can be easily changed if the governor and the state legislature wished to do so.
In addition, the DEP does not regulate CO2 or methane as greenhouse gases which are injurious to the climate. They do regulate methane separately as a Hazardous Air Pollutant.
A new report by Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center (https://environmentnewjersey.org/reports/nje/trouble-air) states:
- The New York/Newark area experienced 75 days in 2016 in which half or more monitoring locations reported elevated ozone and/or PM2.5 particulate matter increasing the risk of premature death, asthma attacks and other adverse health impacts.
- It cited a 2017 Journal of the American Medical Association study, (JAMA, 318(24): 2446-2456, doi:10.1001/ jama.2017.17923, 26 December 2017) in which researchers examined more than 22 million deaths in the Medicare population from 2000 to 2012 and found that a 10-parts-per-billion rise in smog pollution increased the daily mortality rate by 0.5 percent, regardless of how low pollution levels had been initially.
- It cited research at the Harvard School of Public Health (The New England Journal of Medicine, 376(26): 2513-2522, doi://10.1056/NEJMoa1702747, 29 June 2017), which found that death rates for older Americans rise as air pollution increases – even when air pollution levels are below current national standards.
- In conclusion the report stated, “To drastically reduce our dirty air days, we need to strengthen existing air quality protections and reduce global warming pollution. We shouldn’t accept bad air pollution, especially in the summer, as the status quo. But we also need to stop digging the hole deeper on carbon pollution and smog-forming emissions here in New Jersey. We need Governor Murphy to intervene to put the brakes on the massive proposed Meadowlands gas power plant that will pollute our air for a generation.”
And global warming itself is a cause of increased pollution and premature deaths. Another study cited by Environment NJ estimates global warming will increase the number of air-pollution-related premature deaths. The analysis estimates that 1,130 Americans may die prematurely in the year 2030 from smog pollution made worse by global warming, and that the number of premature smog-related deaths could rise to 8,810 annually by the year 2100. The study also estimates that particulate pollution worsened by global warming could cause 6,900 premature deaths in 2030 and 19,400 premature deaths in the year 2100.
Some homes in New Jersey are within 3,000 feet of the proposed plant and Harlem/Upper Manhattan (where one in four children suffers from asthma), which is downwind of the prevailing winds, is within 3.6 miles.
Given the 30 to 40 year expected lifetime of such a plant, people in the area will be dealing with the health impacts for many years, even after the plant has closed. Assuming it operates for 35 years, the additional medical costs are estimated to be over $1.1B in societal (unreimbursed costs such as premature death and lost work days) and direct medical costs.
Air pollution comes back to earth with precipitation that makes its way into rivers and streams. The DEP measures this effect after the fact but takes no action to prevent it and no action based on results. NBLG stated in its DEP application that in addition to CO2 it will emit lead, particulate matter (PM10 and PM2.5), NOx, SO2, Volatile Organic Compounds, ammonia, butadiene, acrolein, arsenic, benzene, cadmium, formaldehyde, manganese, mercury, polycyclic organic matter, selenium and toluene.
The plant will increase the rate of climate change by producing large amounts of CO2 and methane releases. New Jersey is already seeing the impacts of climate change in storms and rain/flooding events and sea level rise. These will only increase in intensity as climate change accelerates.
The plant will be within the half mile US DOT Evacuation Zone for oil train derailments which have been known to explode and can only be handled by letting them burn out.
The location of the plant conflicts with the Regional Plan Association’s 2017 finding of the Meadowlands being at risk from sea level rise. The RPA’s Fourth Regional Plan found that “of all the places in the tri-state region challenged by increased flooding from climate change, the New Jersey Meadowlands is at greatest risk and are also likely to be one of the first places to be permanently inundated from sea-level rise.”
The connection to the Williams pipeline may require upgrades to the line and expansion of its compressor station at Rivervale risking increases in dangerous emissions from the compressor station. The Rivervale South to Market project in turn would be a direct threat to the Oradell and Lake Tappan Reservoirs.
The plant will require diesel generator backups for winter gas shortage situations which in turn will require storage of 1M gallons of diesel fuel onsite which has inherent risks of spills and leakage which would produce additional air pollution as well as ground pollution to sensitive wetlands and nearby water bodies.
The plant will require 8.6M gallons of sewage discharge wastewater per day to cool the plant some of which will be released as steam. The water will com from the Bergen County Utilities Authority across the Hackensack River in Little Ferry via a new two-way pipeline. This cooling water can pick up heavy metals such as lead and mercury from the pipes and volatile organic compounds as well as treatments such as algaecides and fungicides all of which will evaporate in the water and contribute to the existing levels of air pollution.
Nitrogen oxide pollution will contribute to algal blooms and is a major cause of heart disease. Emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides will cause higher levels of acid rain.
The plant will require on site storage of chemicals such as ammonia, bleach and acids as well as trucks to supply these products that increases the potential for spills into nearby wetlands and steams.
Gas infrastructures periodically conduct gas blow operations to remove debris. One such operation at the Kleen Energy Systems LLC power plant in Connecticut in 2010 vented gas into an area where it could not easily disperse. It exploded and killed six workers and injured 50 others.
Providing gas for this plant is undoubtedly one of the driving factors for Williams’ plans to add another compressor station in Roseland within a flood plain next to the Passaic River. It would increase the amount of toxic pollution released through leakage and deliberate gas blow downs into the surrounding areas. The existing compressor already has caused problems with emissions from blow downs.
• Waterfront Development
• Flood Hazard
• Water Quality Certificate
Other organizations need to approve other permits. There is no feedback from any of them to cause us to believe they will oppose these permits.
In effect the governor is saying that despite this plant’s impact on his plans to move New Jersey to 100% renewable energy and its impact on the health and welfare of millions of people in Northeast NJ and its impact on climate change, he knows virtually nothing about it. If we take him at his word he is woefully ignorant at best and incompetent and uncaring at worst. If we assume he can’t be this ignorant or incompetent the answer is likely that he wants to keep the unions happy and continue to receive their support and funding and he also wants to keep Nick Sacco, a big supporter, appeased and happy. Therefore, the likelihood that he will oppose this project at some point is probably zero unless we make him so uncomfortable that he has to change.
Furthermore, this plant, if built, will come on line in 2022 and could be operational for 40 years, which means it will stop consuming fossil fuel in 2062, well beyond the target date of 2050 for ending energy production from fossil fuels. When asked about this contradiction, the governor refused to engage and just said that NJ will get to 100% renewable energy by 2050 with no further explanation.
The New Jersey Global Warming Response Act requires an 80% reduction in greenhouse gasses from the baseline year of 2006 by 2050. Stopping this increase in greenhouse gas emission would be entirely reasonable as one tactic to meet this requirement.
As part of its re-entry into the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), NJ is supposed to be reducing CO2 emissions, not increasing them. RGGI calls for a cap on CO2 emissions from the production of electricity of 13M tons per year. NJ is currently at 18M tons and will increase to 21.5M tons if this plant is built.
Governor Murphy has the authority to call for a total moratorium on new gas infrastructure projects or at least require all gas power plants to shut down by a certain date. Both actions would have dramatic effect on the willingness of companies to invest in new gas infrastructure.
NorthJersey.com reported on July 6, 2018 that “North Bergen officials who support the project because it could bring hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra revenue to the town have said that there would be no direct affect to residents because of its location in an industrial corridor.” This statement is obviously misleading. No one is complaining of the location being in an industrial corridor. The problems are related to the direct effect of the emissions which will pervade nearby communities for many miles and many years.
The Bergen County League of Municipalities has passed a resolution opposing the power plant.
The mayors of Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Lyndhurst, Moonachie, North Arlington, Ridgefield, South Hackensack and Teterboro approved a motion denouncing the project at the regular meeting of the Hackensack Meadowlands Municipal Committee, a division of the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which controls most land-use issues in the 14-town wetlands district.
• Continue to call Governor Murphy at 877-814-5667 to let him know you oppose it.
• Attend our rallies.
• Contribute to support our efforts such as the billboard in Ridgefield (shown on this web site).
• Attend hearings conducted by the DEP (expected at some point regarding the air quality permit).
• Contact your local, regional, state, and federal representatives and tell them that you oppose the North Bergen Liberty Generating Project.
• Share information on social media, with your neighbors and with your communities.
Click here for a downloadable copy of these FAQs, suitable for printing. That file contains footnotes for more sources of information.