The DEP issued the first in a series of permits that a company would need to build a proposed power plant and cables in the Meadowlands.
The Murphy Administration approved the first in a series of state permits needed by a company that wants to build a gas-fired power plant in the Meadowlands to provide energy to New York City.
The state Department of Environmental Protection approved freshwater wetlands, flood hazard area and waterfront permits for North Bergen Liberty Generating to build the power plant, and an underground cable line from the plant to the Hudson River and under the river to New York.
The company still needs to secure air quality and other permits, and approval from other agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, for the controversial project to proceed.
The first series of permits were approved June 26 and signed by Christopher Jones, manager in the DEP’s division of land use regulation.
A DEP spokesman was not immediately available to comment on the permit approvals.
The approvals generated angry comments from at least one environmental advocate.
“This is a big DEP misstep,” said Jeff Tittel, head of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This means this project is really heating up and the DEP is moving along with individual permits and not stepping back to ask the larger question of whether there should be a big power plant in the Meadowlands in the first place.”
Among other things, the initial permits allow the company to temporarily disturb nearly a half acre and permanently disturb a tenth of an acre of wetlands vegetation to build two stormwater outfall structures at the site of the new power plant in North Bergen.
It also gives the company the right to disturb a small area of vegetation to install underground cable lines in Edgewater.
The North Bergen Liberty Generating Project would produce about 1,200 megawatts of electricity, making it one of the largest power plants in New Jersey.
The power would be sent via cable under the Hudson River to New York City, which operates under a separate grid system that New Jersey doesn’t access.
The plant’s parent company — Diamond Generating Corp., a subsidiary of Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi — has said the project would generate more than 2,200 construction jobs but only 33 full time permanent jobs when the plant is completed, according to plans filed with New York regulators.
A rally held by supporters of the project in late April drew more than two dozen unionized construction workers who want to build the plant.
And 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.
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Groups from across New Jersey protest plans for the North Bergen Liberty Generating Project on Tuesday, May 8, 2018. Michael Karas, NorthJersey
Environmentalists, on the other hand, have rallied against the plant, saying it will contribute to sea level rise globally and make flooding worse locally. They have said the millions of tons of carbon dioxide and other global warming gases produced by the plant would be felt throughout the 14-town Meadowlands region, which experiences chronic flooding and suffered tens of millions of dollars in damage following a 12-foot storm surge propelled by Superstorm Sandy in 2012.
Leaders from five environmental groups have urged Gov. Phil Murphy to reject the proposal, arguing that it contradicts the governor’s ambitious plans to wean New Jersey off fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power.
“DEP is siding with a power company over protecting the Meadowlands,” Tittel said Friday. “DEP is rushing forward with land use permits and is not looking at the disastrous impacts to the Meadowlands. This area is a gem and a unique ecosystem. Building onto and next to wetlands, streams and on the waterfront of the Hackensack River is an environmental outrage.”
The company has said the plant would use the most up-to-date equipment that would release far less emissions into the atmosphere than other gas-fired power plants.
Source: North Jersey