Citing environmental justice, Murphy halts power plant vote

New Jersey

This Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2022 photo shows part of the Passaic Valley Sewerage Authority plant in Newark N.J. A proposed backup power plant for the facility is drawing strenuous opposition from residents who say their neighborhood is already overburdened with polluting facilities, including two other power plants. (AP Photo/Wayne Parry)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy directed a sewage treatment facility to cancel a vote Thursday on a backup power plant after Newark residents complained that it would violate a law intended to keep minority communities from being overburdened with pollution.

The Passaic Valley Sewerage Community was scheduled to approve a contract to build the largest part of a $180 million backup power plant, designed to kick in when the main facility is knocked offline. But the vote was canceled, encouraging foes including residents of Newark’s Ironbound section, who say it would violate an environmental justice law Murphy signed in 2020.

The plant sits near a neighborhood in Newark that residents told PIX11 News is already overburdened with pollution sources.

Resident Chris Rodriguez suffers from asthma.

“We are overburdened with so much pollution,” Rodriguez said. “To propose another power plant in this neighborhood, it’s a slap in the face to the community.”

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