New Report Shows EMP’s Clean Energy is Not Clean
The New Jersey Sierra Club and the Empower NJ coalition released a report today critiquing the Murphy administration’s Draft Energy Master Plan. The report highlights the many problems with the EMP, including the failure to call for a moratorium on all fossil-fuel infrastructure projects in the state. If 15 proposed pipelines, power plants and LNG ports are built, greenhouse gases will increase 32% and block us from reaching 100% renewable energy. Jeff Tittel, director of the New Jersey Sierra Club, released the following statement:
“Gov. Murphy broke his commitment to the people of New Jersey on Clean Energy. He called for 100% Clean Energy, but our report critiquing the EMP shows how he is redefining Clean Energy to include natural gas fossil fuel plants with carbon sequestration, nuclear power plants, incinerators, biomass, carbon credits and offsets. He’s now defining dirty energy as clean energy in almost a Trumpian-like way. The EMP also does not call for a moratorium on fossil-fuel projects in the state. If 8 proposed pipelines, 6 power plants and an LNG port are built, greenhouse gases will increase 32%. The EMP does not address the urgency of climate change at a time when we are being overrun by fossil fuels.
“The EMP sets a goal for renewable energy at 50% for 2030, and makes no mention of renewable beyond that. This means that to reach 100% Clean Energy by 2050, half our energy can be from dirty fuels and nuclear. We may not even reach 50% renewable because of the cost cap on solar. If the cost of solar goes up by 7% or more the BPU is required to set aside the Renewable Portfolio Standard for that year. The definition of Clean Energy also doesn’t include impacts from natural gas pipelines and compressor stations, and ties us to continued reliance on nuclear. When it comes to reaching our climate and renewable energy goals, our governor is full of hot air.
“Gov. Murphy’s failure to act with a moratorium on fossil-fuel projects stands in contrast to past NJ governors with a history of using moratoriums on pressing environmental issues. Gov. Byrne stopped Pinelands development until the Pinelands Act was approved. Gov. Kean preserved freshwater wetlands while awaiting approval of wetlands protection laws. Gov. James Florio blocked new incinerators. Gov. Murphy needs to show the same sense of urgency in reducing greenhouse gases.
“Clean Energy now includes dirty fuel. That goes against the governor’s commitment to Clean Energy as well as the typical definition of Clean Energy as wind, solar, energy efficiency, hydro and geo-thermal. The EMP redefines Clean Energy as Carbon Neutral, which means that carbon will still be released from sources such as natural gas and nuclear. The plan doesn’t mention the nuclear subsidy, which locks us into buying 32% of our energy from nuclear from now on. That will require nuclear plants to stay open after their licenses have expired. The nuclear subsidy will also continue taking money away from wind and solar.
“Goals for electrifying the transportation sector are laid out in the plan, but they don’t go far enough. Our cars, trucks and buses produce nearly half of our air pollution. Environmental Justice communities continue to choke on the emissions. The EMP sets goals for deploying 330,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025 and building out an EV charging station network. However it does not properly address NJ Transit’s environmental performance and the need to electrify buses. NJ Transit is also pursuing its own new natural gas power plant in the Meadowlands while the EMP is silent on a moratorium.
“New Jersey was once a leader in Clean Energy. We are far from that now. The EMP is EMP-T-Y when it comes to reaching 100% renewable energy. We need bold steps to catch up to states like California, New York, Washington, Hawaii and others that have done far more to combat climate change. The governor has said he doesn’t call balls and strikes on pipelines and power plants, but this EMP hands the game to the gas and nuclear industry. The public must turn out for stakeholder meetings to make sure we get to 100% renewable and zero carbon. BPU will host public meetings on the draft EMP on July 17 in Trenton (Statehouse), Aug. 8 in Newark (Seton Hall) and Sept. 12 in Camden (Kroc Center). We cannot keep kicking the can down the road on greenhouse gases. We must continue calling for a moratorium on all fossil-fuel projects. We cannot be Carbon Neutral. Our climate and our environment depend on it.”