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Gov. Phil Murphy stepped in Thursday to halt a vote to begin building a controversial natural gas-fired power plant in Newark’s Ironbound neighborhood and called for officials to more thoroughly review the environmental impact of the project.

The decision comes after a coalition of environmentalists, doctors, and local activists — who have been fighting the project for more than a year — implored the governor to stop the plans, saying the plant would harm an area already overburdened by air pollution.

The Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission was slated to vote Thursday on granting a contract to begin work on the $180 million facility, designed as a backup to keep its main sewage treatment plant running should there be a power outage because of disasters, especially amid climate change.

But the commission dropped the vote from its meeting after Murphy interceded.

This doesn’t mean the project is killed. The governor’s office said Murphy asked the commission to “pause the process and postpone the vote” to further review the plans.

Though opponents don’t dispute a backup is needed, they say the current plans for the new facility would bring more pollution to a neighborhood made up largely of Black and brown residents that already has three natural gas plants and suffers from poor air quality.

Instead, opponents have been asking the commission to rework the project with only alternative, clean-energy sources.

[Brent Johnson]

More: Murphy steps in to halt vote on controversial power plant in Newark

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