Testimony of Norris McDonald
African American Environmentalist Association
Board of Public Utilities
State of New Jersey
In the Matter of the Implementation of L. 2018, c. 16
Regarding the Establishment of a Zero Emission Certificate Program For Eligible Nuclear Power Plants
Public Hearings BPU Docket No. EO18080899
Middlesex County Administration Building
Freeholders Meeting Room
75 Bayard Street, 1st Floor
New Brunswick, NJ
October 11, 2018
My name is Norris McDonald and I am the founder and president of the African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA). We are the nation’s oldest African American-led environmental group and we are dedicated to protecting the environment, promoting the efficient use of natural resources, enhancing human, animal and plant ecologies, promoting increased African American ownership of energy resources and infrastructure and increasing African American participation in the environmental movement.
Earlier this year, we supported state legislation (the Act) that would establish a Zero Emission Certificate (ZEC) Program. We commend the Board of Public Utilities (Board) for holding these hearings in order to get public feedback for establishing an application process for participating in the ZEC Program. We will be supporting the applications of Hope Creek and Salem nuclear power plants specifically because the units make a significant and material contribution to the air quality in the state. The units also minimize harmful emissions that adversely affect the citizens of the state. Finally, if the unit were to be retired, the retirement would significantly and negatively impact New Jersey’s ability to comply with State air emissions reduction requirements. Most importantly, the application keeps the State on the right track to achieving ozone attainment.
Hope Creek and Salem are existing, licensed, and operating nuclear power plants that are invaluable assets in mitigating air pollution in New Jersey. The state is in nonattainment for ozone, which is a component of smog, and negatively affects the health of New Jersey residents. The ZEC Program is a Godsend to people suffering from asthma and other air pollution related illnesses. Our testimony will provide specific reasons for including Hope Creek and Salem nuclear plants in the ZEC Program.
Minority communities are particularly vulnerable to air related illnesses with the highest rates of asthma attack, emergency room visits and hospitalizations in the state. These vulnerable communities are helped by the ability of Hope Creek and Salem nuclear facilities to deliver incredible amounts of baseload electricity without producing any of the air pollution that hurts these areas.
The ZEC Program creates a framework whereby existing facilities, such as Hope Creek and Salem, can be considered credited assets in New Jersey’s ongoing goals to improve air quality. These power plants operated for many years without being recognized and rewarded for providing emission free electricity to the State of New Jersey. The implementation of the ZEC program fixes this oversight.
We encourage the BPU to adopt the broadest view of requirements when developing the program so that these valuable assets can continue to operate and support the state in meeting its clean air goals.
 On May 23, 2018, Governor Phil Murphy signed into law L. 2018, c. 16 (C.48:3-87.3 to -87.7) (“Act)