The Sierra Club has filed to intervene in a PSC rate case (similar to BPU) challenging North Bergen Liberty Generation’s efforts to amend the New York Public Service Commission’s 2003 approval for a never constructed transmission cable across the Hudson River, to authorize construction of two new submarine transmission cables that would enable the company to sell electricity from its proposed 1,200 MW New Jersey Meadowlands natural plant into the New York electricity markets. The New Jersey Chapter and Atlantic Chapter are also involved in this case and represented by Earthjustice.

“We are opposing the Hudson power-line because it is for the North Bergen Power Plant. Both fossil fuel projects will be bad for the environment and the ratepayer. We have intervened on the rate case because we should not be paying for the destruction of the river bottom for the sake of an unnecessary and unneeded natural gas power-plant. New York has doesn’t even want this power-line. With this proposal, the company makes the money, New York gets the energy they don’t need, and New Jersey gets stuck with the pollution, climate and health impacts,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “We will fight and keep on fighting natural gas infrastructure because if we can stop this power-line, we can stop the Meadowlands power plant.”

There can be serious environmental impacts from dredging, especially because the Hudson River remains contaminated with unsafe levels of PCBs. PCBs remain widespread and pervasive throughout the river. AC cables in operation produce electromagnetic fields (EMFs), which can affect electro sensitive fish and could alter fish migratory patterns.

 “The proposed cable line will just add more pollution and serious environmental impacts to the Hudson River. They will have to dredge across the Hudson. This dredging process to install the line will stir up contaminated sediment that contain PCBs. The electromagnetic field in the cable will also impact marine habitats in the Hudson river. They also have to build a line to New York, this will cut through homes and neighborhoods,” said Tittel. “The North Bergen power plant will also have serious health impacts and environmental impacts. The proposed power plant could generate almost 2.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year. Not only would this massive plant spew poisons into the air, but it could infect our water, agriculture, and environment as well.”

If successful in stopping the new transmission lines, environmental groups could cut off a significant market for the proposed Meadowlands gas plant and reduce its impact on the environment and public health. In September, The New York Department of Public Service (DPS) denied a request for an Article VII waiver for the proposed Meadowlands power plant. In August, New York also rejected Title V Permits for Wawayanda Natural Gas Power plant.

 “The Hudson power line has financial problems, is not being used and is costing ratepayers money. There is no need for another line across the river. There is already a Hudson line that New York Power Authority is already having difficulty financing. We are going to be paying for another line we don’t need that will just add to more pollution. NYC and Con Edison have also already spoken out about lack of need for this project. New York is also trying to build 2400MW of offshore wind, more natural gas would undermine those efforts and New Jersey’s efforts at 3500MW offshore wind,” said Tittel. 

Earthjustice will challenge NBLG’s proposal on the grounds that it conflicts with New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision goals, the statewide Clean Energy Standards, and participation in a Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, as well as several Executive Orders on energy from New York’s Governor. Sierra Club counts more than fifteen thousand members in the New York City area; these members and Sierra Club would be affected by the economic and environmental impacts of this project.

“The State of New Jersey and BPU should be opposing this power plant too and filing with New York. While New York gets the electricity, New Jersey gets stuck with the pollution. This is like if New Jersey decided to put a landfill in Central Park. If we don’t stop this plant, we’ll never be able to rejoin RGGI and meet those greenhouse gas reductions. This is a line to nowhere,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “This is why we need Governor Murphy to put a moratorium on fossil fuel infrastructure until we can regulate and reduce our emissions across the whole sector and have a program and rules in place to get to 100% clean energy.”