Setting the Record Straight: Sierra Club Position on Proposed Newark Power Plant
The Real Story Behind Sierra Club's Position on Proposed Newark Power Plant
There has been a lot of confusion about the Sierra Club's position on the proposed Data Centers, LLC’s (TDC) Power Plant in Newark even though we have been actively opposing the project. This is mostly the result of intentionally misleading statements by representatives from TDC and proponents of the project who have implied or stated that we support this proposal. We feel it is time to set the record straight.
The Sierra Club, Delaware Chapter met with 2 representatives of TDC on June 6th 2013 at the request of Michael Bednar, who emailed our staff about setting up a meeting about what was then a vague project to build a data center. At the meeting we learned of their plan to self-power the data center with a 248MW gas power plant (the real number is now known from TDC’s DNREC air permit application to be 279MW). They also showed us the proposed location on a map and apparently did not know until we told them about the railcars filled with tar sands oil directly next to the site. They asked for our endorsement.
Once we realized the nature of the plan, we told them that we would not possibly "endorse" a power plant and immediately set about to let neighbors in Newark know of the plan. We shared this information with our members, Newark residents, the News Journal and Newark City Council. Until that point no Newark Councilpersons or residents knew of the power plant even though the University, the State of Delaware and City staff had been meeting with TDC for over a year.
We have been and will continue to be actively working to support Newark residents as well as UD students, parents and alumni in opposing this project which would further decrease air quality, put thousands of residents and school children within 1 mile of the STAR Campus directly at risk of both acute and long-term health impacts, promote the use of fracked natural gas and emit tons of climate disrupting Co2 into our atmosphere.
Some proponents of the power plant have repeatedly implied that the Sierra Club is in support of this project because it includes the utilization of CHP (Combined Heat and Power), some going as far as to say that there is a conflict between National Sierra Club policy and local chapter actions. This is simply untrue. One favorable paragraph about CHP in a past policy paper has been taken out of context and repeatedly used; while Sierra Club supports CHP in some industrial energy efficiency upgrades, we do not support new fossil fuel-based power generation in a residential area, regardless of whether it includes CHP.
There has also been a video circulated by Delaware Business Daily featuring Jim Black talking about the proposed power plant on the former Chrysler site. Mr. Black is listed in the title and content of the video as a “Former Delaware Sierra Club Officer”. Sierra Club is a volunteer-led organization with an Executive Committee elected by our members. While Mr. Black was briefly on this committee, he has been off for well over a year and abolutely does not speak for the Sierra Club.
The “better than Chrysler” argument from power plant proponents is also misleading. The Chrysler property was over 270 acres and employed thousands of people long-term. TDC is leasing only 43 acres of this. A comparison of the pollution from Chrysler to what is predicted from TDC must take size into account. Per acre, TDC will produce about 3x the ozone-forming nitrogen oxides that were emitted by Chrysler. These are the air pollutants that cause regular "Ozone Action" bad air quality days in New Castle County in the Summers and cause childhood asthma and other respiratory problems. A large amount of the property is still available for development. If UD and special interests manage to push this huge, polluting project through despite overwhelming citizen opposition, what’s next?
To get involved with our work on this and other issues contact Stephanie. Learn more about our position at delaware.sierraclub.org, on facebook at the Delaware Sierra Club page or on twitter at @desierraclub. For the real facts on the TDC proposed power plant in Newark, obtained through countless hours of research & FOIA requests by residents, visit NoNewarkPowerPlant.org.
Friday, November 15, 2013