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North Bergen calls for the closure of Ridgefield power plant

The township also opposes the fracked-gas power plant under construction in Kearny

The PSE&G Bergen Generating Station

Mayor Nicholas Sacco and the Board of Commissioners passed a resolution at the Sept. 23 meeting, calling for the closing of the Bergen Generating Station and calling on Ridgefield Mayor Anthony Suarez and the Borough Council to join them.

After calls for the board to oppose the power plant in Kearny at the Oct. 7 meeting, the board may pass a resolution to do so.

 The Bergen Generating Station

The neighboring 1,229-megawatt, gas-fired power plant has been named by environmental advocates as the top producer of greenhouse gas in the state.

“The Bergen Generating Station has consistently been cited as the dirtiest power plant in the state and the biggest contributor to climate change in our area,” said Mayor Sacco. “Closing this plant and transitioning it to a renewable energy use would not only benefit North Bergen residents by making our air cleaner and reducing carbon emissions, it would also help hundreds of thousands of people who live within a few miles of the facility.”

The action by North Bergen comes after PSE&G announced that it planned to divest from its fossil fuel burning plants in the state.

Sacco continued: “With PSE&G announcing its divestment plan, this is the perfect opportunity for local communities to bring pressure on the utility to close this dirty plant, and we hope that Mayor Suarez and his fellow Ridgefield leaders will join us in this fight and make their commitment to environmental justice clear.”

Ridgefield Mayor responds

Mayor Suarez opposed the proposed power plant in North Bergen that was later cancelled after public outcry from environmentalists and residents.

Suarez opposed the project because “our air here already isn’t a great quality. It’s gonna be putting more and more CO2 emissions into the air.”

In an interview with the Hudson Reporter, Suarez said that the proposed Meadowlands Power Plant would have powered New York City and polluted New Jersey, while bringing in tax revenue only to North Bergen. He said the lungs of residents in surrounding towns would have been hurt by the pollution.

“The power plant in Ridgefield has been there since the 1950s and supplies energy to New Jersey residents, including North Bergen,” Suarez said contrasting the Ridgefield power plant to the proposed power plant in North Bergen.

Suarez said he supports clean energy, but there aren’t clean energy alternatives to the current Ridgefield power plant. 

“There’s nothing right now other than the PSE&G plant that supplies energy to Ridgefield and other towns serviced by the plant,” Suarez said, noting that if there was an alternative supply of clean energy for Ridgefield, he would support it.

Suarez said Ridgefield has passed a resolution opposing the Kearny power plant. 

Opposing the Kearny plant

At the Oct. 7 meeting, environmentalists lobbied the North Bergen Board of Commissioners to pass a resolution opposing the Kearny plant.

Members of Food and Water Action Group and Don’t Gas the Meadowlands Committee spoke against the power plants.

“As the climate crisis intensifies, we must rapidly transition off fossil fuels and onto clean energy to protect our health and future,” said Food and Water Action organizer Samantha DiFalco. “So we must work to close down polluting facilites that harm the health of New Jersey residents, we must also prevent the construction and operations of new ones like the 140 megawatts fracked-gas burning power plant that New Jersey Transit has proposed in the nearby Kearny Meadowlands.” 

DiFalco urged North Bergen to join 15 other municipalities, including Hoboken, Jersey City, Union City, Weehawken, and West New York in opposiing the power plant proposed by NJ Transit. 

Sacco asked for a sample resolution to be sent over, a sign that the commissioners may pass a resolution against the Kearny plant at their next meeting. 

Clarifying inconsistencies

Matt Smith, Director of Food and Water Action, pressed Sacco as to why he supported the proposed power plant in North Bergen, which would put the health of esidents in jeopardy. 

Sacco said the difference between the Ridgefield plant and the power plant  that “might have been” in North Bergen “but was simply being studied,” was that the Ridgefield plant “is the dirtiest in the state” and actively pollutes the area. 

Smith countered that if the North Bergen power plant had been built, it would have been the “largest source of carbon pollution in the entire state.” 

Sacco said the plant in North Bergen would have been the “cleanest plant,” given the technology.  

Smith claimed Sacco’s comments were “a complete 180” from the past but embraced Sacco’s calling for the closure of the Ridgefield and Kearny plants. 

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.