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On Eve of Largest Climate March in History, New Jersey Leaders Call for Action on Climate as New Report Reveals State’s Most Carbon Polluting Power Plants

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Jersey City–As international leaders prepare for the UN Climate Summit next week in New York and New Jerseyans prepare to cross the Hudson on Sunday morning for the largest climate march in history, a new study shows New Jersey’s fossil fuel power plants dump as much carbon pollution into the atmosphere as the entire country of Guatemala. Environmental advocates, elected officials, civic organizations, public health groups and clean energy businesses argued the data strengthened the call to march for action on climate in New York and reduce carbon pollution from our power plants.

 “On Sunday, New Jerseyans will vote with their feet as people across the state join the largest climate march in history,” said Doug O’Malley, director for Environment New Jersey. “We will march for action on climate because it’s time to stop ignoring the nation’s largest global warming polluters, and start investing in clean energy.”

The Environment New Jersey Research & Policy Center report, America’s Dirtiest Power Plants, comes as more than a 100,000 activists and world leaders converge in New York City on Sunday seeking solutions to climate change, which scientists have clearly linked to extreme weather events such as Superstorm Sandy. More than 5,000 New Jersey residents are expected to attend the People’s Climate March in New York, and there are more than 30 buses, trains and even the ferry from Atlantic Highlands booked to bring people into New York on Sunday.

“Climate change is real, it is happening all around us. In New Jersey we know this all too well, as we continue to rebuild from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “The People’s Climate March taking place in New York City on September 21st shows a call to action from concerned citizens. We need to stand with the over 100,000 participants making their voices heard at the climate march and take action before it is too late.”

More than 1,000 organizations are sponsoring the march, and 1,500 events in over 130 countries are planned around the world to coincide with the big event in New York City.  It will be the largest climate march in history, with over 100,000 expected to attend.

“The goal of the People’s Climate March is to show world leaders, including President Obama, that we the people won’t stand for more delay in solving the climate crisis. We need the boldest possible actions now,” said Rosemary Drew Crager, the lead 350.org. New Jersey organizer for the march. “New Jersey has a lot to gain from action on climate, and plenty to lose from continued inaction. As Superstorm Sandy showed, the impacts of extreme weather--which scientists say will become even more frequent as a result of climate change--can be devastating.”

The report also comes as the Environmental Protection Agency takes public comments on the proposed, first-ever limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants until December 1.If enacted, the limits would be the largest step the United States or any country has ever taken to cut global warming emissions.

“We’re taking it to the streets because the challenge the climate crisis presents is as much about the hot air coming out of politician’ mouths as it is the hot air coming from the greenhouse effect,” said Dave Pringle, campaign director for Clean Water Action. “The science is clear, true clean renewables like solar, wind and water are plentiful, viable, cheaper, safer, and cleaner than fossil and nuclear fuels. Our leaders need to follow the lead of the people and finally, effectively just say no to the polluters profiting from global warming.”

By comparing carbon emissions from U.S. power plants in 2012 to total carbon emissions of entire countries, the Environment New Jersey analysis shows why limiting pollution from fossil fuel plants would make such a big impact. Key findings include:

  • If the United States’ fleet of coal- and gas-burning power plants were a country, it would be the 3rd-largest carbon polluter, behind the entire U.S. and China.
  • Key findings from the report include:
  • In New Jersey, the top five most polluting power plants are:
    • PSEG’s Bergen Generating Station in Ridgefield which puts out more than 2,500,000 metric tons of carbon pollution each year, a slight increase from the prior year.
    • PSEG’s Linden Generating Station in Linden which puts out 2,150,000 metric tons of carbon pollution in 2012, a slight increase from the prior year.
    • Red Oak Power LLC in Sayreville which puts out more than 1,940,00 metric tons of carbon pollution in 2012, a slight increase from the previous year.
    • Cogen Technologies’ Linden Cogen Plant in Linden emits more than 1,4500,000 metric tons of carbon pollution in 2012, a drop from last year.
    • Nextera Energy’s Sayreville Cogeneration Facility in Sayreville emitted more than 720,000 metric tons of carbon pollution in 2012, just edging out a perennial Top 5 polluter, PSEG’s Hudson Generating Station here in Jersey City which emitted more than 690,000 metric tons of carbon pollution (but still a significant drop from its 2011 emissions).

“We are standing here today by the Kearny Generating Station, which continues to pollute our air and threatens public health. Instead we should be standing in front of wind mills or solar farms. As shown in this report, we need to move towards renewable energy, which will create jobs, grow our economy, and ensure we have a livable planet for future generations. This is the future we are marching for on Sunday at the People’s Climate March. This is the future we want our world leaders to start to work towards in order to protect our planet,” said Nicole Dallara, Outreach Coordinator for the New Jersey Sierra Club. 

New Jersey’s emissions from its fossil fuel power plants is equal to Guatemala, a country that has nearly double the population of the Garden State and is ranked 91st. The most carbon-polluting power plant in the nation – Georgia Power Company’s Scherer Plant – emits as much carbon pollution as more than 4 million cars – and puts out more pollution alone than all of New Jersey’s power plants.

“As stewards of the earth, we have an urgent duty to take action on behalf of our environment, and I am elated that so many men and women who recognize this responsibility will stand together this weekend,” said Assembly Environment Committee Vice-Chair John McKeon (D-West Orange). “While more than 200 miles separate New York and Washington, it’s clear that the two cities stand united on climate change. The People’s Climate March comes on the heels of the Environmental Protection Agency revealing its Clean Power Plan, a proposal that, if successful, will be a major leap forward for reducing carbon emissions and moving toward clean energy.”

The Clean Power Plan would also spur investments in clean energy like wind, solar power and energy efficiency, all of which there is vast potential across the country and in New Jersey.

“New Jersey’s neighbors are boosting their economies by cleaning up power plants,” said Scott Needham, President of Princeton Air and Efficiency First. “EPA’s Clean Power Plan will reduce pollution, while at the same time supporting economic development, creating new jobs and saving consumers money on energy.”

Americans have submitted more than 6 million comments to EPA supporting limits on carbon pollution from power plants; and more than a thousand people testified in support of the Clean Power Plan at hearings held across the country this summer. Local elected officials, small businesses owners and dozens of members of Congress have all voiced support for limits on carbon pollution.

“The League of Women Voters of New Jersey is excited to be a part of the historic People's Climate March in New York City on Sunday. The League’s nationwide efforts to move the issue of climate change to the forefront of the Obama Administration’s agenda started with over 3,000 grassroots letters to the White House in support of action to combat climate change,” said Nancy Hedinger, LWVNJ Vice President of Advocacy. “Currently, the League is supporting the Obama Administration's Climate Action plan by submitting comments on the Environmental Protection Agency’s groundbreaking regulations to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.”

Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan would reduce as much carbon pollution in 2030 as the entire country of Canada, the world’s 8th-largest polluter, emits today. New Jersey alone would be required to reduce their emissions from power plants by 43%. If left on a business-as-usual trajectory, EPA modeling shows that we would see global warming pollution from our power plants increase more than 50% by 2030.

“We are marching to amplify the fact that fracking-methane-climate crisis with a goal of widening the awareness that we must replace fossil fuels with renewable and sustainable energy sources, energy efficiency and conservation to successfully address climate change. Delaware River Watershed residents are filling buses to the march to speak for an end to fracking to stop it's devastating pollution throughout shale regions as well as the destructive impacts of this powerful greenhouse gas globally,” said Tracy Carluccio, Deputy Director, Delaware Riverkeeper Network. 

The march will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Columbus Circle, winds its way down to Times Square, and then over to the West Side of Manhattan. New Jersey will march as a section at the event.

“At the largest climate march in history, we will stand with parent groups, with moms, and with families. We will raise our voices at this peaceful event to demand clean air and a healthy future for our children. Because we care about our children’s future, and because we know that climate change gravely threatens their health and the health of all children, we’ll join with hundreds of organizations and thousands upon thousands of people who want to see meaningful action on climate,” said Trisha Sheehan, the New Jersey field organizer for the Mom’s Clean Air Force. “We will be marching on Sunday to show that we support the EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan and to urge the EPA to take swift action to place the strongest possible limits on carbon pollution from existing fossil fuel power plants.”

The march is meant to influence the U.N. as it prepares for the 2015 international climate summit in Paris.

“Climate change is more than an environmental issue: it’s a people issue because it affects everyone. It does not matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white –we all must join together to stop climate change,” said Beverly Brown Ruggia, a New Jersey Citizen Action organizer. “Fighting climate change will take local actions, from marching in New York to cleaning up our power plants in North Jersey.”