EmpowerNJ's Cheat Sheet on BPU Draft Energy Master Plan

Tuesday, April 16, 2019
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Trenton, NJ: Empower NJ - No Fossil Fuel Projects, a coalition of more than 70 environmental, community and faith groups dedicated to seeking a moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects as critical to fighting climate change, released the following guide in anticipation of the imminent release of the BPU’s proposed new Energy Master Plan (EMP).

The EMP will not be consistent with Governor Murphy’s EO 28 and New Jersey’s goal of 100% clean energy by 2050 or up to the urgent task of combating climate change unless it includes a moratorium on all new fossil fuel projects and adopts specific, concrete steps and benchmarks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

“2018 has set the stage, but 2019 won’t win the Oscar without a strong Energy Master Plan and other policies being implemented that include a moratorium on all frack gas infrastructure, mandating maximum pollution reductions in environmental justice communities, and denying unwarranted nuclear subsidies. The State is not saying yes to clean energy if it’s not also saying no to dirty power. Gas is not a gap fuel or bridge to the clean energy future, it’s a drive off the cliff to the dirty energy past,” said Amy Goldsmith, NJ State Director, Clean Water Action.

“The only way the state’s clean energy goals can be met is to stop new fossil fuel projects, and pivot immediately towards renewable energy sources,” said Doug O’Malley, director of Environment New Jersey.

A recent report issued by EmpowerNJ, FIGHTING Climate Change in NJ: The Urgent Case for a Moratorium on all Fossil Fuel Projects calculates the staggering amount of new greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) that will result if the 13 new, largely unnecessary, fossil fuel projects that either recently went online, are in various stages of construction or are proposed to become operational.  These projects would increase New Jersey’s total GHG emissions by 32% and the five power plants included in this set of projects would increase GHG emissions from electricity generation by roughly 76%.

“Achieving our green energy goal of 100 percent renewable energy will be challenging enough with the existing fossil fuel infrastructure in New Jersey; it will be impossible to achieve them if the baker’s dozen of new and unnecessary fossil fuel projects (eight pipeline/compressor station projects, five power plants), in various stages of planning and execution, are allowed to go forward,” said Matt Smith, Senior Organizer, Food & Water Watch.

“Unless we move forward with a moratorium on fossil fuel power plants and its infrastructure, the EMP will never reach the goal of getting to 100% clean energy. The EMP will be EMP-T-Y with a hollow goal that will never be fulfilled. The BPU needs to tackle climate change and reductions in GHG’s as part of the Energy Master Plan. This is the only way this can plan can deal with climate change, create green new jobs, and provide us with a clean energy future. They also need to move forward on electric vehicles and offshore wind, but more importantly they need to fix solar and the cost cap. Otherwise, this EMP is really just a PR stunt and just more hot air,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.

“The draft EMP should not adapt the false narrative that natural gas is the bridge to a clean energy future.  It isn’t.  Gas fired plants and pipelines have 30 to 40 year life spans, cost billions of dollars and lock us indefinitely into a carbon based economy.  They are a bridge to climate catastrophe,” said John Reichman, the chair of BlueWaveNJ’s Environmental Committee.

“New Jersey is experiencing an onslaught of new fossil fuel projects that, if built, will trap us into disastrous greenhouse gas emissions because they rely on fracked gas and will inflict environmental harm because the state’s regulations have been weakened by the Christie Administration. Governor Murphy needs to enact a moratorium on all new fossil projects so the policies and regulations can be put in place that will chart a renewable, clean energy path, starting now,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network.  

“The math is clear that the proposed increase in carbon emissions from new fossil fuel projects would blow a massive carbon hole in any benefits from Gov. Murphy’s clean, renewable initiatives,” said Ken Dolsky, with the Don’t Gas the Meadowlands Coalition. “The Energy Master Plan can’t ignore this contradiction or paper it over with fuzzy carbon math – there is a clear decision to be made and the Murphy Administration needs to take actions that climate science demands. This includes ending green lights to new fossil fuel infrastructure projects that dig the climate hole deeper.”

In addition to the moratorium, inclusion of the following policies will determine whether the EMP adequately provides a viable and effective plan to achieve our clean energy goals:

  • Provide specific and detailed year-by-year plans, starting in 2019, for cutting GHG’s, reducing the use of natural gas and other fossil fuels in New Jersey and replacing them with clean renewable energy technologies in compliance with the Global Warming Response Act and EO 28. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report by the world’s climate experts highlights the urgent need for immediate actions to sharply reduce fossil fuel use.  The report concludes that absent aggressive action, many effects once expected several decades in the future will arrive by 2040 and that global net human-caused emissions of GHG’s need to fall by 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030 to avoid catastrophic climate change.
  • Debunk the false narrative that natural gas is the bridge to a clean energy future.  It isn’t.  Methane, the primary ingredient in gas is 86 times more effective than CO2 at trapping heat and is more potent than burning oil or coal in contributing to climate change. As a result, developing new gas infrastructure is likely the absolute worst form of energy production in terms of negative impacts on climate change.  Gas fired plants and pipelines have 30 to 40 year life spans and lock us into a carbon-based economy.  They are a bridge to climate catastrophe. Natural gas produced by fracking is worse for the climate than coal or oil.
  • Establish DEP rules that place limits on CO2/GHG emissions, require fossil fuel applicants to conduct a comprehensive alternatives analysis of renewable energy technologies, require gas infrastructure projects to provide evidence of demand before receiving permits and enable the DEP to reject permits for projects that would cause New Jersey to exceed GHG limits.
  • Revise DEP policy that allows polluters to purchase ground level ozone credits, which today allows virtually unlimited production of ozone precursors even in areas of the state that exceed ozone attainment levels and are already rated as ‘F’ by the American Lung Association.
  • Update the DEP rules regarding air deposition in order to allow rejection of permits that would increase water pollution beyond specific limits.
  • Recommend immediate rollbacks of the previous Administration’s regulations on flood hazard rules, water-quality management-planning rules, the Coastal Area Facility Review Act, wetlands and stormwater management rules that make it easier to build pipelines and other developments across New Jersey while shortchanging environmental protections.
  • Mandate a comprehensive climate adaptation and mitigation plan.
  • Remove the cost cap on renewable energy projects, which does not exist on other energy sources.
  • Create a strong green jobs program including training and placement in the new green economy, built on and driving living wage union jobs in emerging sectors (solar, offshore wind, electric car infrastructure, energy efficiency, etc.).

The BPU will soon be holding hearings on the draft EMP.  We urge all New Jersey residents to attend and address the content of the BPU’s plan based on the criteria provided above.

Amy Goldsmith