NJDEP’s proposed CO2 rule not enough to address climate emergency
Today, the Empower NJ Coalition along with advocates and others testify at the NJDEP public hearing into its Carbon Dioxide Emission Control and Prohibition Regulations, which is part of the NJ Protecting Against Climate Threats (PACT) rulemaking process. This is supposed to be one of the biggest and most important rules for New Jersey to meet its climate change goals, but the coalition argues the rule doesn’t go far enough.
The rule is not meant to achieve the 80% reduction in greenhouse gases (GHGs) by 2050 that is set out in the Global Warming Response Act. Additionally, the rule does not mention, contemplate, or approximate Governor Murphy’s EO 274 goal of 50% GHG reduction by 2030. The standards set by the rule would allow the majority of power plants New Jersey’s existing gas-fired power plants to continue operating and new ones to be built, making it even more difficult to reduce emissions. The rule also exempts facilities such as incinerators, cogeneration plants and projects that do not sell electricity to the grid or burn 50% or more fossil fuels. There is no environmental justice component to the rule, it does not assess cumulative impacts on surrounding communities, and it does not include language to protect those communities suffering from a disproportionate amount of pollution. Click here for more information on the gaps in the rule.
“New Jersey urgently needs CO2 regulation. In theory, this rule is the best opportunity for the NJDEP to achieve the easiest and cheapest possible reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, but it is too weak. If this rule is not significantly strengthened, NJ will miss an opportunity to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and its state climate goals,” said Anjuli Ramos-Busot, New Jersey manager for the Sierra Club. “If our best way to regulate the power generation sector is to allow new gas-fired power plants to be built, then we really have no chance of mitigating climate change. We are living in a climate emergency, and storms and rising sea levels won’t wait for us to transition to unnecessary natural gas. The NJDEP must step up their game for the sake of our people and the environment.
“The power plant CO 2 rule proposed by DEP is just more hot air. The rule allows new gas plants and grandfathers of almost all of our existing fossil fuel plants. The rule is a sham DEP says it only reduces pollution by 2.5 million tonnes in 2035 and zero by 2030, meaning we’ll never be close to meeting our climate goals,” Jeff Tittel, retired former manager of the NJ Sierra Club. “This rule has more holes than Swiss cheese. It exempts incinerators, biogas, emergency plants and ignores environmental justice. The PVSC and NJ TransitGrid plants proposed under this rule can be built as well as a new gas plant in Woodbridge. This is called the CPR rule because we will need CPR of any additional pollution.
“The DEP has squandered what will likely be the last opportunity we have to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions to avert climate catastrophe. The rules could have been written by the fossil fuel lobby. They go unabashedly against climate science and even the Governor’s so-called 50×30 policy to cut GHGs by 50% by 2030, which the rules completely ignore. The rule provides only minimum GHG reductions; excludes many factories and facilities; continues to allow dirty factories to operate indefinitely; fails to restrict the construction of new fossil fuel facilities; and continues to treat fractured gas as bridge fuel when the science is clear that when the life cycle of the gas is taken into account, it is as dirty as coal. These rules need to be removed or completely rewritten,” said John Reichman, Blue Wave NJ.
“The transition from fossil fuel-fired power plants to powering the state with clean, renewable energy was the implicit promise of the NJPACT rules. These climate rules proposed by the NJDEP fall short of the mark and will enable the construction of more fossil fuel power plants over the next decade,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey. “The NJDEP can’t just tout climate change resilience solutions — we need to reduce climate pollutants by 50% this decade to meet Governor Murphy’s executive order. This rule needs to be revised to move closer to that goal.
“Governor Murphy and staff at the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) have known since at least November 2018 that the deadline to secure a viable climate future is 2030. Unfortunately, these proposed CO2 rules are a big swing and a failure to make New Jersey a national leader in the fight against climate change,” said Eric Benson, NJ Campaigns Director, Clean Water Action. “Fair or not, science moves the goalpost, and in the interests of life, property, and justice, it is imperative that the NJDEP urgently adopt policies that prohibit the posting of new sources of fossil fuels, while phasing out current climate polluters.”
“The new air emissions rules are the one shot New Jersey needs to reduce through regulation the powerful greenhouse gas emissions that are driving climate change in New Jersey, but they fail to achieve what is needed. . The climate crisis is a global catastrophe, but it is determined by every source of greenhouse gases and that includes gas-fired power plants here in New Jersey and other sources of emissions that these proposed rules will allow to happen . These rules need to be revised in order to achieve real emission reductions,” said Tracy Carluccio, associate director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.
“None of the administration’s existing or proposed climate rules will prevent the continued proliferation of dirty pipelines, power plants, and other new sources of climate-destroying pollution in New Jersey,” said Matt Smith, the NJ director for Food & Water Watch. “The proposed power plant rule doesn’t even compel polluters to use the best available technology, let alone do anything to shut down the new fossil fuel power plants currently being proposed in Newark and Woodbridge.”
“The Climate Threat Protection process was launched two years ago on January 27, 2020. After two years of effort, DEP and BPU have produced rules that fail to protect us from climate threats and whose the sole purpose seems to be to protect the energy industry from any financial burden. The use of emission limits is fatally flawed, as it ignores the net impact on total atmospheric GHGs from all sources AND ALLOWS AN UNLIMITED NUMBER OF NEW SOURCES. This is the same deeply flawed approach the DEP has used in the past to regulate point sources, which never considers the total impact of all sources on GHGs or hazardous air pollution producing quality results. seem intolerable in EJ communities”, said Ken Dolsky of the Don’t Gas the Meadowlands Coalition.
Empower NJ is a coalition of more than 120 environmental, civic, faith-based, and progressive organizations calling on Governor Murphy to ban all new fossil fuel projects in New Jersey and urgently implement policies that reduce gas emissions emissions (GHG) by at least 45% below 2010 levels by 2030. www.empowernewjersey.com
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