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Unanimous support for NJ landfill energy bill

August 26, 2010


New Jersey lawmakers voted unanimously for legislation aimed at opening access to old landfills and quarries for use developing renewable energy facilities.  The NJ State Senate passed a bill this week that permits development of solar photovoltaic arrays and wind turbines on dozens of uncapped landfills that are otherwise at risk of leaking into the environment.
The bill, S-2126, was passed unanimously.

Senator Jim Whelan, who sponsored the measure, said the crisis in the Gulf of Mexico had highlighted the need for more clean, sustainable forms of energy. “By opening up closed landfills for solar farms and wind energy facilities, we stand to make New Jersey a national leader in the clean energy industry. This bill is good news for the environment, and will result in new jobs and new economic activity for struggling communities throughout the State.”

If signed into state law, the bill would even allow development of renewable energy facilities in areas preserved under the Pinelands Comprehensive Management Plan. The preservation area includes nearly 80 unused landfills, only two of which have been capped.
The Pinelands Commission, which manages the national reserve, would review any application for a development to check it is inline with standards laid out in the Management Plan.
The bill states that wind energy facilities are a permitted use in old landfills and quarries not already under the protection of the Pinelands management plan.
All developments will have to avoid impacting engineering devices or controls located on landfills or quarries, or ecologically-sensitive areas located nearby.
Senator Whelan said the legislation would represent a “win-win” for New Jersey communities facing “chronic” budgetary problems. “Not only do we have to look for environmentally-friendly forms of development, but we have to look at the bottom line for towns which are quickly running out of options.”
Environmentalists at the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club welcomed Senate Bill S-2126, stating that renewable energy projects would mean caps being built on landfills to help stop them leaking into the environment.
The group also welcomed the clean electricity and jobs potential of the bill. “This is an important bill for green jobs and the environment,” New Jersey Sierra Club Director Jeff Tittel said. “These landfills are polluting the environment. By putting solar farms on them, we’ll take an environmental blight and turn it into a positive for the people of New Jersey.”
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