Sunday, December 8, 2013

Gas Fired Power Plant Proposed For UD's STAR Campus

A proposed 279 MW gas fired power plant at the University of Delaware's STAR Campus in Newark would impact our health and the air we breath as bicyclists, and active Delawareans in general. Jamie Magee, a lifelong Newark resident and founding member of the Newark Bike Project, had this to say about the findings:

As someone who played outside daily in the 70s and 80s close enough to smell the Chrysler plant on some days, I feel a little insulted when supporters say the TDC project will be "better than Chrysler." Chrysler's problematic past is not one of the options right now. But to the extent that this comparison is made every week in editorials, I'm glad to finally see the following very factual rebuttal of that claim. Sadly, TDC's own projections of one of the worst pollutants, NOx, will in fact be HIGHER than that of Chrysler...

It has been found recently that vocal supporters of this project - most of whom it appears live outside of Newark - have been lying about source emissions as compared to the former Chrysler plant. Citizens and advocates are also dismayed given what we know about climate change, and the role fossil fueled power plants have in it. The University of Delaware tells us that STAR will be a center of innovation, including alternative energy and environmental sustainability "setting the stage for the campus as a vibrant healthy community by design". How a gas fired power plant with multiple smokestacks and visible fumes fits into this equation is not clear.

It's worth noting that Delaware City, adjacent to a refinery, is a noted cancer hot spot in the State. NOx, a pollutant with known negative human health effects, will be among the emissions from the power plant. The news has been kept very tightly under wraps by the City of Newark, the company proposing the power plant and the University of Delaware. City officials kept details of this proposed project private and have been in secret communications with Data Centers LLC, the West Chester, PA company behind the project, for over a year. View the timeline HERE.

Also gleaned from UD's STAR website:

An improved rail system will provide convenient, "green" transportation to the site for our clinical, academic, government, and business partners up and down the Eastern Seaboard in years to come.

As an earlier investigation showed, there appears to be no interest in bicycling as a form of "green transportation" on the campus. Plug-in cars are still largely dependent on fossil fuels as their ultimate source of power, and does nothing to address numerous socio-economic problems related to car dependency. Sadly, if you choose to ride your bike to work at Bloom Energy, or take it on the train to the Campus, there isn't even a bike rack to safely lock your bike. Maybe this will change in the future through the work of advocates, but it shouldn't have to be this way. Bicycle facilities, including bike lanes and pathways, should be on the drawing board well before actual construction.

Let's put a stop to STAR becoming industrial park instead of the Science, Technology, & Advanced Research center it was supposed to be. Let's help UD live up to its own mission of sustainability. Please Sign the petition today, and forward this link on to others!

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