New Jersey and coal

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Taking Carbon out of Coal?

New Jersey had 9 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 2,237 MW of capacity, representing 11.5% of the state's total electric generating capacity; New Jersey ranks 36th out of the 50 states in terms of coal-fired electric generating capacity.[1] In 2006, New Jersey's coal-fired power plants produced 10.7 million tons of CO2, 55,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 16,000 tons of nitrogen oxide; coal-fired power plants were responsible for 8.7% of the state's total CO2 emissions.[2] In 2005, New Jersey emitted 14.2 tons of CO2 per person, about 50% less than the U.S. average.[3]

No coal was mined in New Jersey in 2006.[4]

Global warming plan

In December 2008, the NJ DEP and Governor Corzine announced a new plan to attack greenhouse gas emissions in the state. The plan recommends state action and policies that will:[5]

  • Clean up existing power plants, put a moratorium on new coal-fired power plants, and expand renewable energy to ensure that all electric sources in the state are carbon-free by 2050. The plan demonstrates that New Jersey could meet all of its electricity needs solely through renewable sources.
  • Promote clean, efficient vehicles, including zero emission electric cars, with a goal of eliminating fossil fuels from the transportation sector.
  • Mandate that buildings meet state-of-the-art efficiency standards and incorporate renewable energy with the goal that, by 2030, every new building should generate more electricity than it consumes.

Regional carbon trading

In April 2011, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he is re-evaluating the state's participation in a regional carbon trading program and could opt to withdraw the state.

The anticipated policy reversal is in step with recent actions in Maine and New Hampshire, where Republican-dominated legislatures are trying to repeal their states' participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), a carbon market between 10 Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states and the first mandatory emissions trading plan in the country.[6]

The program was launched in 2005 and held its first quarterly online auction for carbon credits in 2008. Participating states so far have raised nearly $861 million in carbon allowances from 11 auctions. More than half of those funds went to improving energy efficiency, according to the latest auction results posted by RGGI. New Jersey had raised $102 million in proceeds to date, the fourth highest amount behind New York, Maryland and Massachusetts. Proceeds in New Jersey are distributed through the Clean Energy Solutions Capital Investment (CESCI) loan/grant program. About one-third of the state's proceeds so far have been spent on clean energy and customer assistance programs to cut electricity costs.[6]

In 2010, Christie diverted an estimated $65 million from the state's RGGI revenues "to help balance the $10.7 billion state budget." RGGI proponents argued that the diversion of funds from the state's Global Warming Solutions Fund from fiscal year 2010 to 2011 stunted the program's reach, making it disingenuous for Christie to then say that RGGI had been a "failure."[7]

The governor's re-evaluation of RGGI may in part be a response to mounting pressure from outspoken RGGI opposition groups, namely Americans for Prosperity (AFP), founded by David Koch in 2004, and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which is funded partly by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation. In February 2011, AFP launched a media blitz of radio spots and television advertisements in New Jersey to alert residents "to the fact that RGGI will cause their electricity rates to soar and cost our state jobs," according to the announcement.[6]

AFP is planning a similar media campaign for New Hampshire and has applauded a March 30, 2010 vote by the state's House of Representatives to pull New Hampshire out of the carbon trading program. In Maine, AFP is backing a bill introduced by Republican State Sen. Tom Saviello, the sole sponsor, to withdraw the state from RGGI and the northeast power grid. Steve Lonegan, director of AFP's New Jersey chapter, said that his office had provided Christie with information on RGGI and urged the governor to repeal the measure. The chapter also runs a website, NO NJ Cap and Trade, as a "resource" for RGGI opponents and New Jersey residents. According to claims on that site, energy taxes under RGGI have cost businesses and consumers more than $66 million.[6]

Gov. Christie pulls NJ out of regional carbon trading

David Koch Praises Chris Christie's Withdrawl from RGGI

In May 2011, NJ Governor Christie pulled the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), the only mandatory cap-and-trade program in the U.S., while promising to ban new coal-fired plants in the state. Branding the RGGI a "failure," Christie said he would withdraw from the program “in an orderly fashion” by the end of 2011, coinciding with the end of RGGI’s first compliance period. The RGGI currently has ten member states – New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. The nine remaining states will need to provide guidance to explain how they will deal with power plants that currently hold carbon allowances from New Jersey.[8]

In July 2011, tape of a secret meeting between Christie and Charles Koch was released. In it, David Koch said of Christie: "Another example of Governor Christie’s commitment to the free enterprise system is that only a few weeks ago he announced that New Jersey would be withdrawing from the [Regional] Greenhouse Gas Initiative which is a [cheers and applause], which would have raised energy costs, reduced economic growth and led to very little, if any, benefit for the environment." The audio was taken outside the political retreat, where static was reportedly being played in order to block anyone from recording the event. The tape was the first time that Christie’s participation in the Koch-funded retreat had been publicly reported. The trip, which was paid for by the New Jersey GOP, was never written in the governor’s public schedule.[9]

In March 2014 a NJ appellate court ruled that Christie’s administration violated state law in the way it withdrew from the RGGI. Environment New Jersey and the Natural Resources Defense Council sued Christie in 2012, claiming DEP improperly posted its withdrawal from the trading program on the department’s website rather than follow the Administrative Procedure Act. DEP argued that by withdrawing from RGGI, its trading program regulations are defunct. But the judges found “little doubt” that lawmakers meant for trading-program regulations to “enable New Jersey’s participation in RGGI, rather than to establish a stand-alone carbon dioxide cap-and-trade program in New Jersey.” New Jersey must begin amending or repealing the state’s climate-change regulations within 60 days.[10]

Citizen activism

Hudson Generating Station and Environmental Justice

Resident RJ Harper on the Hudson Plant

Public Service Enterprise Group's Hudson Generating Station near Jersey City ranked #2 in the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)'s 2010 report on the nation’s most toxic coal fired power plants. NAACP ranking on environmental justice and coal was based on level of poisonous emissions from coal plants, cross referenced by proximity to large populations of communities of color and low-income communities. Within a three mile radius of the Hudson plant, 85% of the area's 100,000 plus residents are African Americans with an average income of $10,000 per year. Hudson is among over 100 coal plants near residential areas.[11]


With little or no coal reserves, New Jersey has no history of coal mining.[12] The coal power industry is also relatively weak in the state, which is dominated by nuclear and natural gas-fired power production.

The license for the 641-MW Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, built in 1969, is expiring in 2009. However, due to a carbon cap that has been proposed by the state's governor - and facing the alternative of building new coal-fired power plants - state regulators are now considering extending Oyster Creek's license.[13]

Legislative issues

Clean energy spending

A March 2011 Sierra Club report, "A Clean Northeast: Moving the Northeast Beyond Coal and Toward a Clean Energy Future" notes that NJ ranks second in the country in using solar technology, and is among the top states for venture capitalists and investments for clean energy research and development. The report also notes that NJ Gov. Chris Christie cut about $463 million worth of clean energy-dedicated funds in 2010, and is planning to divert $66 million for the proposed 2011 budget. Also, the state's new energy master plan calls for reducing clean energy subsidies and building more power plants using fossil fuels. The report argues that reinstating the clean energy investments can help save $1.5 billion from not having to import coal, and reduce costs in health care.[14]

Proposed coal plants



Coal lobbying groups

Coal power companies

Existing coal plants

New Jersey had 9 coal-fired generating units at 7 locations in 2005, with 2,237 MW of capacity - representing 11.5% of the state's total electric generating capacity.[1][15][16]

Here is a list of coal power plants in New Jersey with capacity over 400 MW:[1][17]

Plant Name County Owner Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions SO2/MW Rank
Hudson Hudson Public Service Electric & Gas 1968 660 MW 3,508,000 tons 19,709 tons 62
Mercer Mercer Public Service Electric & Gas 1960, 1961 653 MW 2,358,000 tons 14,517 tons 93

These 2 plants represent 58.7% of New Jersey's coal energy generating capacity, 4.7% of the state's total CO2 emissions, and 13.2% of its total SO2 emissions.[3]

For a map of existing coal plants in the state, see the bottom of this page.

Major coal mines

There are no coal mines in New Jersey.[18]

Spending on Coal Imports

In May 2010, the Union of Concerned Scientists released a report titled Burning Coal, Burning Cash: Ranking the States that Import the Most Coal.[19] The report found that New Jersey ranks seventh in a list state-by-state spending on international coal imports in 2008, with a total of $92.9 million spent on international coal .[19] According to the report, Indonesia was the largest international source of coal burned in the northeastern state, with $64.7 million worth of coal purchased from the country.[19] Venezuela ($28.3 million) was another source of coal.[19]

However, only 26.8 percent of the $347 million spent on coal for New Jersey's power plants was for international imports in 2008.[19] The remaining amount was spent on coal from Pennsylvania ($92 million), Virginia ($77 million), West Virginia ($74 million), Alabama ($6 million), and Wyoming ($5 million).[19]

In 2008, sixteen U.S. states imported 25.4 million tons of coal from outside the country at the cost of $1.8 billion, an amount the equivalent of 1,700 barges over the course of a year, or over four per day.[19] These imports amounted to three percent of the coal burned in the U.S. for electricity.[19] The report noted that while coal imports into the U.S. have tripled over a ten year period ending in 2008, the country exports more coal than it imports.[19] Alabama (with $489 million) ranks number one for state-by-state spending on international coal imports, followed by Florida (with $307 million).[19]

Coal is the source of 14.1 percent of the state's power.[19] The majority of New Jersey's electricity comes from nuclear (50.3 percent) and natural gas (32.5 percent).[19] While coal accounts for only a small percentage of the Garden State's electricity generation, the report notes that "retail customers buy 26 percent more power than New Jersey generates. That means the state imports significant amounts of electricity— some likely produced from coal."

The UCS report ranked states dependence on coal by six categories. Of the six categories, New Jersey was in the top ten for only this one category ('Spending on International Coal Imports').[19] The state otherwise ranked as follows:

  • Expenditures on Coal as Fuel for Power Plants (2008): NJ ranks #24 with $347 million
  • Amount of Coal Used to Fuel Power Plants, by Weight (2008): NJ ranks #26 with 4,328,000 tons (total & net imports)
  • Spending on Net Coal Imports per Capita (2008): NJ ranks #28 with $40
  • Spending on Net Coal Imports as a Share of Gross State Product (GSP) (2008): NJ ranks #28 with 0.07%
  • Net Coal Imports as a Share of Total State Electricity Use (2008): NJ ranks #28 with 17% net imports/electricity use

Citizen groups



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "EIA" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Estimated Emissions for U.S. Electric Power Industry by State, 1990-2006, Energy Information Administration, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 New Jersey Energy Consumption Information, eRedux website, accessed June 2008.
  4. Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  5. "As Jackson heads to the EPA, NJ DEP and Governor Corzine Release Nation’s Boldest Global Warming Plan ," Environment America, December 15, 2008.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Maria Gallucci, "Koch Bros. Influence Felt in New Jersey as Governor Weighs Carbon Market Exit" SolveClimate News, April 11, 2011.
  7. Maria Gallucci, "Call for NJ Governor to Repay $65 Million to Carbon Fund" SolveClimate, May 31, 2011.
  8. "New Jersey Pulls Out of RGGI, Bans Coal Plants" Environmental Leader, May 27, 2011.
  9. Stephen Lacey and Joe Romm , "Christie Stunner: NJ Gov Met With Pollutocrat Koch Before Pulling Out of Successful Carbon Pollution Reduction Program" Climate Progress, Sep. 8, 2011.
  10. David Voreacos and Justin Doom, " Christie Greenhouse Changes Violate N.J. Law, Court Says," Bloomberg, Mar 25, 2014.
  11. Jacqui Patterson, "Day VIII Clearing the Air Road Tour—Hammond, IN—State Line Plant" NAACP Climate Justice Initiative, April 14, 2010.
  12. State Coal Profiles, Energy Information Administration, 1994 - cached copy at
  13. Aging Nuclear Power Plants May Affect Emissions Pact, New York Times, Sept. 14, 2005.
  14. Minhaj Hassan, "Sierra Club says N.J. has great opportunity to wean itself from coal, other fossil fuels" State Street Wire, March 1, 2011.
  15. Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
  16. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  17. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  18. Major U.S. Coal Mines, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  19. 19.00 19.01 19.02 19.03 19.04 19.05 19.06 19.07 19.08 19.09 19.10 19.11 19.12 Jeff Deyette and Barbara Freese, "Burning coal, burning cash: Ranking the states that import the most coal", Union of Concerned Scientists, May 18, 2010.


Existing coal plants in New Jersey

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