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NJ Gov. Murphy’s Climate Policies Are Greatly Exaggerated

DEP Power Sector Emissions Proposal And Diesel Truck Rule Produce Negligible Reductions

Building Sector Emissions And Electrification Ignored

Shutdown of Newark, Camden & Rahway Garbage Incinerators Would Provide Far More Pollution Reductions and EJ Community Benefits

NJ Gov. Murphy has gotten strong praise from NJ environmental, climate, and EJ groups and media for his climate policies.

Off shore wind investments and the Gov. Executive Orders on aspirational goals have been used to obscure the actual greenhouse gas emissions issues.

[Here’s recently deceased Joan Didion’s famous takedown of Bob Woodward making my point clearly:

The genuflection toward “fairness” is a familiar newsroom piety, the excuse in practice for a good deal of autopilot reporting and lazy thinking but a benign ideal. In Washington, however, a community in which the management of news has become the single overriding preoccupation of the core industry, what “fairness” has too often come to mean is a scrupulous passivity, an agreement to cover the story not as it is occurring but as it is presented, which is to say as it is manufactured. ~~~ end]

To reduce emissions, the administration advanced 2 DEP rule proposals: 1) a carbon dioxide (CO2) rule that applies to a portion of the power sector (now subject to public comment) and 2) a diesel truck rule (recently adopted).

Both have gotten exaggerated and false praise by environmental groups and media.

Media has failed to report what the actual emissions reductions would be (best case) from these rules or what impact they would have on reducing total greenhouse gas emissions.

So let me very briefly provide that factual information:

I)  Diesel Truck rule

The Newark garbage incinerator emits 2.16 million tons per year of CO2 equivalents (that does not include all the emissions from the hundreds of diesel trucks per day that dump there).

Just shutting down the Newark garbage incinerator would provide over 13 TIMES more emissions reductions than the diesel truck rule would provide (more if you count the diesel trucks). See:

According to DEP’s own proposal, the diesel truck rule would reduce emissions just 162,500 tons per year: (@ p.  46 – 47)

the Department estimates cumulative total CO2  reductions from 2024 through 2040 to be 2.6 MMT

(Math: (2,600,000 tons)/16 years = 162,500 tons per year)

According to the DEP’s most recent Greenhouse Gas Emission Inventory total GHG emissions in NJ were 97.7 million tons/year (2019). (with no cap on total emissions, those emissions are likely to grow by 2035, due to economic growth, increased consumption, more logging and development of forests, rampant unregulated warehouse development, loss of farmlands to development and industrial solar, more roads, more vehicle miles travelled, and conversion to electric power increasing electric demand before the power sector is 100% renewables).

The diesel truck rule would reduce total greenhouse gas emissions by just 0.16%

(Math: (162,500)/(97,700,000) X 100= 0.16%)

II)  CO2 Power Sector rule 

According to DEP, the best case, assuming full compliance with the rule and other rosy DEP projections, the power sector emissions would be reduced by 2.5 million tons per year by 2035.

DEP admits this on page 58:

The estimated total potential avoided CO2 emissions is approximately 2,548,210 tons per year.

That’s just 13% of power sector emissions and just 2.6% of current total state emissions.

Again, the Newark garbage incinerator emits 2.1 million tons CO2 equivalent.

According to DEP, Newark burns 985,000 tons of garbage per year .

The Camden incinerator, located in NJ’s poorest and blackest EJ city, burns 451,140 tons.

Assuming comparable greenhouse gas emissions, the Camden incinerator emits almost another million tons (962,000).

So shutting down the Newark and Camden incinerators would far exceed the greenhouse gas emissions reductions of BOTH DEP rules.

In addition to the greenhouse gas reductions, that shutdown would also reduce other hazardous air pollutants like lead, mercury, fine particulates, NOx, and SOx that deposit locally and harm the health of environmental justice communities.

The Union County (located in Rahway) garbage incinerators emits another 1 million tons and Gloucester about half a million.

Shut them all down!

[Historical Note: For those who may think that shutting down 4 currently operating aging dinosaur polluting garbage incinerators is a heavy political lift, consider the fact that Gov. Florio (1990 – 1994) Executive Order #8 established a moratorium and policy and Statewide DEP plan that resulted in the termination of 15 planned garbage incinerators most of which were financed and permitted at a bond amount of over $3 billion ($5 – $6 billion in today’s dollars).

In case the hacks in current Gov. Murphy’s Office don’t understand how to draft an Executive Order with teeth, here’s how it’s done: (I know, I worked with Frank Sweeney in Florio’s Gov. Office to do this):

The Department of Environmental Protection shall not issue a final approval of any solid waste management plan that sites increases the capacity of or approves financing for waste-to-energy resource recovery facilities;

b. The Department of Environmental Protection shall not issue a approval of Preliminary or Final Environmental and Health Impact Statements for any waste-to-energy resource recovery site or facility;

c. The Department of Environmental Protection shall not issue tentative or final approval of any solid waste facility engineering design now pending or hereafter submitted for any waste-to-energy resource recovery facilities;

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