LINDEN – City Council members sided with environmentalists and rejected a deal to build a $5 billion “clean coal” power plant on Tuesday, disappointing union members hoping for jobs.
The council rejected a memorandum of understanding that would have given the city’s full support to the project, to be built by Purgen on the site of a former DuPont plant on the waterfront, by a vote of 7-4.
A standing-room only crowd argued over the merits of the project for three hours before the vote was taken. Many were concerned about the safety of Linden residents if the plant were to be built.
“I have heard what my constituents in Linden are saying,” said Councilman Gene Davis. “They are worried about the health and well-being of not just themselves, but their children.”
Others feared that the project would go ahead in another nearby location, costing Linden the chance for tax revenue and local jobs while still subjecting residents to potential pollution concerns.
“If we don’t take this opportunity, it’s going to be just like the Rahway incinerator, another town’s going to take it,” Councilman Jack Sheehy said.
Local environmentalists argued that the PurGen project would severely degrade the local environment and undermine Linden’s attempts to revitalize the area, while relying on untested carbon sequestration technology could jeopardize the state’s attempts to mitigate climate change.
Carbon capture and sequestration is new technology. PurGen theorizes they can capture and liquefy carbon dioxide and push it 70 miles through an offshore pipeline to be buried under the seabed. The pipeline would run under Raritan Bay through the ocean to the shores off Atlantic City, where a carbon dioxide discharge site would be located in ocean rock deposits.
The Obama administration has endorsed ‘clean-coal’ technology, hoping to utilize America’s large coal stocks to insure less reliance on foreign oil. Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy, wrote an editorial published this month in ‘Science’ magazine promoting the development of coal gasification and carbon sequestration plants.
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