New York Environmental, Political and Faith-Based Organizations Urge Governor Cuomo and the Siting Board to Reject Danskammer

Groups demand that Cuomo reject fracked gas power plant proposal

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Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release    

Thirty organizations representing hundreds of thousands of members from across New York submitted a joint letter today urging Governor Cuomo and the Siting Board to reject the application for a new gas-fired power plant at the Danskammer site in Newburgh. These organizations include Food & Water Watch, Hudson River-Sloop Clearwater and Mothers Out Front.  

In the letter, organizational leaders and local groups from Newburgh and the surrounding communities ask Governor Cuomo and the Siting Board to reject, for the fifth and final time, Danskammer LLC’s application, and to order a revised plan for the gradual decommissioning of its existing fossil fuel infrastructure in support of the mandated emissions reductions targets of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA). 

Opposition to Danskammer has also been expressed by 27 Hudson Valley municipalities that have passed resolutions against the proposed Danskammer plant.

The state has already deemed Danskammer’s application deficient twice, because it contains insufficient information to demonstrate the project’s consistency with the CLCPA. Despite having now filed three supplements to its December 2019 application purporting to address these deficiencies, it remains clear that there is no way the proposed natural gas-fired power plant could possibly be consistent with the greenhouse gas emissions requirements of the law.

This most recent attempt by Tiger Infrastructure, the Wall Street private equity firm behind the project, will be their fifth proposal to massively expand the fracked gas plant. If successful, the plant — which currently operates at less than 5% of its capacity — would run year-round, adding toxic emissions to our air and worsening the effects of climate change.

In their latest supplement, Danskammer argues that they will meet CLCPA targets by eventually running on renewable natural gas (RNG) and transitioning to a hydrogen plant.

“Danskammer LLC still has not adequately answered questions from the Siting Board on how their proposal complies with the CLCPA,” the letter reads. “The supplement is a misleading and veiled greenwashing attempt, given that there currently does not exist a single 100% hydrogen facility power plant in the United States and that RNG relies on methane sources like sewage and animal manure from factory farms, only exacerbating the climate crisis.”

“In 47 pages, Danskammer managed to evade any explanation of how they would transition to this fairytale hydrogen power source,” said Emily Skydel, Hudson Valley Organizer at Food & Water Watch. “Governor Cuomo and the Siting Board should know greenwashing when they see it, and deem Danskammer incomplete once and for all.”

“The clock has expired on permitting new applications for fossil fuel infrastructure proposals here in New York,” said Eric Wood, Hudson Valley Regional Coordinator for NYPIRG. “It’s time for Danskammer to go home and not come back until they have plans for clean renewable energy and battery storage on the toxic dump where they want to build their powerplant, not myths of clean, efficient hydrogen. Governor Cuomo and the Public Service Commission have shown strong leadership in delaying Danskammer’s application, now it is time to once and for all deny it.” 

“Building a methane-burning fossil fuel plant on a flood-prone shoreline of the Hudson is a foolhardy use of resources that would be much better invested in renewable energy infrastructure — in this case as a battery storage facility located on the site at a higher elevation, which would create both jobs and revenue for the host communities,” said Manna Jo Greene, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater’s Environmental Action Director. “The proposed expansion directly contradicts the goals embodied in New York’s much needed climate law. Proposing hydrogen fuel as an alternative is wishful thinking — not a current reality.”

Sandra Kissam, Chair of Orange RAPP, with members in the Town of Newburgh, stated, “Our Governor keeps calling for New Yorkers to be vigilant in protecting against COVID 19. But the toxic air emissions from a Danskammer rebuild would increase chances of contracting the virus, and with severe or even life-threatening symptoms.”   

“As our own legal filings move forward, we are united in solidarity with communities in the Hudson Valley who recognize that we cannot build more fracked gas infrastructure and meet our state’s climate goals,” said Shay O’Reilly, Senior Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club. “It’s time for Governor Cuomo and the Siting Board to reject false promises from these companies that are only interested in selling our future to line their pockets.” 

In light of the passage of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, these organizations argue that Danskammer’s application continues to violate the emissions standards embedded in the CLCPA and that they have not adequately answered the agency’s questioning to warrant the application “complete.”