New nuke plant in N.J.?

April 17, 2008 10:59:08 AM PDT
N.J. will review plans for the first new nuclear plant in the U.S. since 1973.

A proposal released Thursday by Gov. Jon S. Corzine's office calls for reviewing siting, permitting, financing and waste disposal issues involved with bringing a new nuclear plant to the state, along with other technologies with minimal or no carbon dioxide emissions.

The proposal is included in a draft energy master plan that will be subjected to public hearings in weeks ahead before getting final approval.

The plan is part of Corzine's effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

"A business as usual energy policy risks enormous economic and environmental consequences," Corzine wrote in the plan. "In contrast, an energy policy that focuses on producing and using energy as wisely as possible greatly reduces these consequences and positions us to be a strong competitor in the global economy."

The plan doesn't specify a site, but PSE&G spokesman Joe Delmar said it's investigating adding a fourth nuclear plant to its Lower Alloways Creek site in Salem County and expects to make a decision by year's end.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission would have final approval.

Environmentalists decried the proposal. Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club said nuclear power is dangerous and creates hazardous waste.

"Instead of going forward into the 21st century we're stuck in the 1970s," Tittel said.

The Democratic Corzine last year signed legislation making New Jersey the third state to enact a comprehensive greenhouse gas reduction law. The measure signed by Corzine requires the Garden State to significantly cut emissions of global-warming gases.

California and Hawaii have similar laws.

The legislation requires the state to reduce global warming gases to 1990 levels by 2020 and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 2006 levels by 2050.

Corzine also wants to provide 20 percent of the state's electricity through renewable energy such as wind and solar power.

Tittel said the plan doesn't emphasize wind and solar enough.

The plan discusses ways to promote more energy conservation efficiency, meet electricity demands, find ways to get electricity needs from renewable sources and invest in clean energy technologies and businesses.

"Few initiatives will more significantly shape New Jersey's environmental future and positively affect generations to come than the work we're now doing to embrace and implement progressive clean-energy policies and programs," said Lisa Jackson, the state environmental protection commissioner.

About 100 nuclear power plants operate in the United States, but an order has not been placed for a new reactor since 1973, six years before the accident at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania helped spark opposition to nuclear power.