Hundreds of New Yorkers Join Hearing to Oppose Danskammer Power Plant Project

Advocates overwhelmed State Siting Board hearings, citing public health risks and environmental concerns with Danskammer proposal

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Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Yesterday, nearly 200 advocates overwhelmed the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment’s public hearings on Danskammer LLC’s proposal to expand their fracked gas power plant in Newburgh. Currently a peaker plant, Danskammer hopes to expand their fracked gas plant on the bank of the Hudson River into a fully-operational power plant.

For more than a year, Danskammer has failed to satisfy New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) emissions reductions standards, which mandate the current plant’s imminent closure. Ultimately, the company’s proposal was accepted on the condition that they transition the plant, over time, to run on green hydrogen — an energy source that is still unproven in the United States. If approved, the plant would be the first power plant in the state to move forward under New York’s CLCPA.

175 advocates and concerned community members spoke at the set of two public hearings on Wednesday, citing public health risks and environmental concerns with the Danskammer proposal. There were only thirteen speakers who advocated on behalf of the plant.

“A Danskammer plant expansion would be a nightmare for Newburgh, the Hudson Valley and New York,” said Food & Water Watch Hudson Valley Organizer Emily Skydel. “To meet New York’s CLCPA requirements and boldly address climate change, we must move rapidly off fossil fuels — more fracked gas is simply not a part of that solution. Bringing more fracked gas into the Hudson Valley will only mean adverse health effects in our communities and a deepened reliance on fossil fuel infrastructure. Governor Cuomo and the Siting Board must say no to Danskammer.”

”Danskammer has proposed to increase the volume of fracked gas that will come into this State and retain the option to burn diesel fuel at a time where New York has pledged to move off of fossil fuels. The Applicant’s proposed long term capital investment in fossil fuel infrastructure is incompatible with the state’s ambitious goals,” said Eric Wood, Hudson Valley Regional Coordinator for NYPIRG, the New York Public Interest Research Group. 

“The fact that Danskammer is choosing diesel fuel as their back up option to run the plant underscores the absence of their commitment to moving New York to a 100% renewable energy future.”

“The data shows that we do not need a new Danskammer plant to keep electricity reliable and affordable, and the turnout of people today speaking out against the plant demonstrates that we clearly don’t want it,” said Hayley Carlock, Scenic Hudson Director of Environmental Advocacy and Legal Affairs. “If built, this plant would increase air emissions, significantly worsening local air quality and increasing risk of diseases like asthma. It would also be entirely inconsistent with the CLCPA, which requires aggressively moving off fossil fuels to cut carbon emissions and bans any fossil fuel plants from operating past 2040. There are sustainable alternatives to the Danskammer project, such as battery storage, that would help transition New York to a clean energy future and bring benefits to the local community.”

“A new Danskammer will drastically worsen air quality if approved,” said Jess Mullen of New Paltz Climate Action Coalition. “How do we know that? By Danskammer’s own calculations in their proposal. And we can also look at other communities like Dover Plains, where the Environmental Health Project has air monitors set up in each direction around the new fracked gas plant there. Not surprisingly, when the plant is operating, there’s a huge spike in VOCs and PM 2.5. This is fine particulate matter that gets into the lungs and hearts of residents. We know the science, and a new Danskammer will be a public health nightmare for the Hudson Valley.”

“The proposed Danskammer expansion is actually a new fossil fuel plant that would be located in a flood-prone area on the shores of the Hudson, just north of Newburgh, which is an Environmental Justice community that is already burdened with PFOS contamination in their drinking water, high lead levels and higher than average asthma and other respiratory illnesses,” said Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. “If approved, this plant will burn fracked gas for decades to come, adding to the pollution burden. It is in direct contradiction to New York’s aggressive CLCPA which calls for 70% renewable energy generation by 2030 with stringent greenhouse gas reductions. The NYISO has verified that this plant is simply not needed. Using the site for battery storage is a much wiser investment of resources — one that will help us transition to a renewable energy economy. Rather than allowing a facility that will exacerbate the global climate crisis and worsen public health, the Siting Board should deny this application and tell the developers to come up with an alternative that is a real climate solution.”

“When will policy makers finally understand that we will not survive climate change if we keep building new fossil fuel infrastructure? Danskammer is a travesty, a crime against future generations. It should be shut down immediately,” said Jordan Dale of 350 NJ-Rockland.

New York must stop investing in dirty fossil fuels,” said Allison Considine, New York Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “Permitting new fracked gas plants like Danskammer would contravene New York’s climate and equity goals, and ensure decades more harmful air and climate pollution, at a time when we should be ramping down dirty energy. To uphold the mandate of the CLCPA and demonstrate a commitment to building the clean, renewable energy economy New Yorkers deserve, New York State must reject Danskammer’s permit and reject all new fossil-fuel power plants.”

“Danskammer’s proposal would increase emissions in the local vicinity. The state has committed to deep decarbonization, so this is something no community should be facing.”said Christopher Bellovary, Riverkeeper Staff Attorney. “The issue looms even larger for Newburgh, located just 5 miles downriver, which is already dealing with PFOS contamination to its drinking water and a high incidence rate of asthma. Beyond a public health concern, the proposal also poses environmental justice concerns.”

“The new Danskammer plant if built would threaten the lives of over 28,000 City of Newburgh residents, many of whom are already suffering serious health issues caused by PFAS in their water supply for decades,” said Tamsin Hollo of the Newburgh Clean Water Project. “This is environmental injustice in action: to target a poor, mostly Latinx and Black community to generate profits for an Park Avenue private equity firm. Frankly, I’m disgusted by the ever-changing fairy tale the Danskammer team tells; the latest twist being their completely unsubstantiated claim to use a hydrogen technology they, by their own admission, know nothing about. They don’t have a commitment to this community. They simply will go to any lengths to use us to line their own pockets. As a limited liability company, when the profits dry up, they will abandon the plant and leave residents to clean up their toxic mess.” 

Contact: Phoebe Galt, Food & Water Watch [email protected]