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Smith, McKeon Proposal for Constitutional Amendment to Prohibit New Fossil Fuel Plants Advances

power plant

TRENTON – The Senate Environment and Energy Committee advanced legislation sponsored by Senators Bob Smith and John McKeon that would submit a proposed amendment to the New Jersey Constitution to be voted on in the next general election. The amendment would prohibit the construction of new fossil fuel power plants in our state.

“The continued construction of fossil fuel plants would only serve to delay our energy transition and further exacerbate the climate crisis,” said Senator Smith (D-Middlesex/Somerset), the Chair of the Senate Environment and Energy Committee. “This proposed amendment would be voted on by the people, and if they choose to support it we will help ensure a cleaner, safer future for the next generations.”

The resolution, SCR-11, recognizes that fossil fuel power plants are one of the largest sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the state, and that ambitious state climate goals are compromised by their continued construction in New Jersey. The amendment would not compromise the ability for existing fossil fuel power plants to continue operating or their ability to execute repairs and maintenance.

In addition, fossil fuel power plants that are or would be solely used on an intermittent, occasional, or emergency basis as a “peaking power plant” would be excluded from the general prohibition on fossil fuel power plants. This provision is meant to ensure that the state’s electric grid has sufficient power during periods of peak electricity demand.

“We can’t afford the increased greenhouse gas emissions from new fossil fuel power plants, especially given new, cleaner alternatives,” said Senator McKeon (D-Essex/Passaic). “Letting existing fossil fuel power plants continue to operate while we transition to clean energy is sensible, but permitting the construction of new ones threatens air quality, undermines our current climate goals, and would compromise our future.”

The resolution was advanced in a 3-2 vote.