The Linden City Council last night voted down a memorandum that, if approved, would have opened the door to a controversial coal plant. The council was divided, voting 7-4 against the memorandum after lengthy testimony by members of a standing-room-only crowd.
The state’s environmentalists applauded the vote, calling it a win for public health, the environment and renewable energy. Rachel Kohl, a global warming associate with Environment New Jersey, said her group hopes it “sets the tone for any further pursuit of new coal plants in Linden or the state of New Jersey.”
A “yes” vote by the council would have fast-tracked the creation of a coal plant on the 98-acre site of the former DuPont plant, and brought a new coal plant to a region that already fails to meet minimum federal health standards for air pollution.
But this wasn’t to be your standard coal plant: As planned, the $5 billion, 750-megawatt “PurGen” plant would use an emerging technology to capture and sequester carbon dioxide, pumping it deep underground rather than blowing it off into the atmosphere. Most of the exhaust from the plant would be liquefied and travel through a 100-mile underground pipeline to a point 70 miles off the Jersey coast, almost two miles under the ocean floor — and there, so it goes, it would remain.
Image: Daniel Schrag, Harvard University
Some environmentalists call the carbon capture and sequestration technology promising, since it keeps most of coal’s CO2 emissions from contributing to global warming. At this point, Norway is the only country that has undertaken a large project to bury greenhouse gas emissions under the sea, according to the New York Times.
Former N.J. DEP commissioner Bradley Campbell is a consultant on the Linden project, by SCS Energy of Concord, Mass.; he told the Times for a story over the weekend that environmental groups need to learn to compromise.
“One of the difficult challenges that climate change presents is that environmental groups are very good at opposing projects, and not very good at making compromises in supporting projects,” he told the newspaper. “We need to get beyond the mind-set that there’s a perfect alternative if we ever hope to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”
Last week, a group of about 25 union members upstaged a campaign kick-off by the Arthur Kill Watershed Alliance, a coalition of environmental groups that had formed to oppose the project. Proponents of the proposed plant have cited a need for jobs.