I arrived at City Hall at 6:05, folding bike under my arm. I looked like the kind of person that would be against a major fuel company erecting a 655-Mega Watt natural gas power plant in the Ironbound. Military jacket, cropped haircut, ankle boots…The stereotype. I intended to observe and see for myself, what you read about in the paper but always happens in someone else’s neighborhood.
When I sat down, I was expecting the floor to be open for residents to speak. Of course, that was the case during the last meeting. What happened next was jaw dropping.
Formalities, and legal jargon, then from what I could hear, “yes”, “yes”, “yes”, and so on and so forth.
Hess’s plan had been approved.
Most of the room was clapping loudly. I thought I was mistaken. I thought, “Was I in the wrong place?” “Did did the people in this room really know what they were supporting?”
According to Kim Gaddy, Chair of the Newark Environmental Commission, those clapping had been paid to attend the meeting.
In an economy where jobs are scarce, I can imagine Newark residents being excited for a major project boasting 300-400 jobs for the perpetual “Renaissance City”. However, those 300-400 construction jobs are temporary. Only 26 highly specialized jobs will be available after the power plant’s completion. I couldn’t help but think people weren’t seeing the bigger picture over the short term. As a lifelong asthma sufferer, I wonder how valuable money is when it’s used to pay for asthma medications and hospital bills? No doubt my own condition was a result of the pollution in my urban surroundings.
Will residents choose Industry over Health?
Gaddy has been vocal about the consequences of supporting such a project, “I will be organizing a class action suit because of the health risk this plant will have on Newark residents and the negligence of this administration to address the respiratory and cancer risk that will impact Newark residents.”
When asked what locals can do to prevent the power plant from being erected, she stated, “The next step is with the NJDEP who has the authority to issue the air permits needed by Hess. Residents will have the opportunity to testify at hearings that will be held sometime in June, July or August.”
For more information visit the links below: