Allen Swanson, Union County Conservation Chair
Environmental activists across the state achieved a great victory last night. NJ Transit has been planning ground-breaking early next year for a gas-fired power plant on the shores of the Hackensack River in Kearny. The project has been under fire from environmental groups on a continuous basis for nearly 18 months.
Last night the NJ Transit officials met and voted unanimously to shelve the project and seek to construct a plant that is 100% powered by renewable sources. There isn’t a guarantee, but the agency has demonstrated their commitment by creating financial incentives for companies to submit plans for a renewable energy plant. The NJ Transit CEO, Kevin Corbett stated we want to “let people know we’re serious and willing to pay.”
The Chairwoman of the board, Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti, confirmed the efforts of the environmental movement worked when she stated: “We heard the public comments loud and clear and recognize as we move forward there is a need for NJ Transit to focus on the environment.”
Leaders of prominent environmental groups across the state are unified in their praise for the NJ Transit board and the prospect of development of technology not yet used on a scale proposed for this project.
The possibility that a power plant as large as proposed in Kearny could be conceived, funded and constructed will go a long way toward breaking the barriers imposed by climate change deniers and fossil fuel industry backers.
Now the task of monitoring the development of plans and adherence to the expressed commitment begins. The road ahead may remain difficult, but today is a day to put aside the notion that activism and being on the right side of environmental protection does not achieve success.