New Yorkers Present Overwhelming Opposition to Astoria NRG Fracked Gas Plant

Public hearing for the controversial project on the first day of Gov. Hochul’s administration offers test for new Governor


Climate and Energy

For Immediate Release

Today, more than fifty advocates overwhelmed the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s first of four public hearings on NRG’s proposal to build a fracked gas power plant in Astoria. As of two hours into the hearing, only a single speaker (NRG’s Director of Government Relations) had spoken in favor of the project. The comment period for the project has also been extended until September 13th.

The proposal to build a new fracked gas plant in the heavily-populated borough has drawn the attention of key elected officials, including Senator Schumer, Representative Ocasio-Cortez and Mayor de Blasio who have all come out against the Astoria NRG plant in recent months. Senator Schumer testified this afternoon in opposition to the plant, with other elected officials planning to speak later this week.

The public hearings for the controversial project followed a full day of public hearings on the Danskammer power plant proposal upriver in Newburgh. Activists see the project as a test both of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) and of incoming Governor Hochul’s administration.

“New York’s climate movement is speaking — and Governor Hochul must listen,” said Food & Water Watch Senior New York Organizer Laura Shindell. “NRG’s proposal to build a new fracked gas power plant in Astoria is nothing more than a foolhardy profiteering scheme to make investors rich at the expense of Astoria residents’ health. Residents and activists turned out today to make clear our demands that Governor Hochul begin her administration with a commitment to public health, state climate law and morality. She must direct her Department of Environmental Conservation to deny NRG their permits to build this polluting plant that no one wants.”

“In 2019, climate advocates across the state demanded that the legislature pass the CLCPA. This bold and aggressive climate law mandates that 70% of our electricity must come from renewable sources by 2030, and that we withdraw from fossil fuels completely by 2050. How do we expect to achieve these ambitious goals by building yet another dirty fracked gas power plant in 2021? Governor Hochul and the DEC need to act on behalf of New Yorkers, not greedy fossil fuel corporations like NRG,” said Elaine O’Brien, Core Group Member of Queens Climate Project.

“NRG, one of the top 15 most polluting energy companies in the US, wants to build a completely unnecessary and dangerous fracked gas power plant in Astoria,” said Allison Considine, New York Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club. “Governor Hochul and the DEC have the opportunity and the duty to uphold the CLCPA and defend the health and well-being of New Yorkers, both against harmful air pollution in Queens and against new fossil fuel infrastructure that will worsen the climate crisis. DEC must take common-sense action and deny NRG’s permit to make clear that the days of building new fracked gas plants are in the past.” 

“From record-breaking heat waves this summer to unprecedented wildfires and floods, the evidence of catastrophic climate change that scientists have been warning us about for decades is showing it’s face more and more with every heating day,” said Eric Wood, Regional Coordinator with NYPIRG. “Approving the Astoria NRG fracked gas power plant application will only delay New York’s progress in fighting the global climate crisis and meeting our climate goals.”

“The climate science on fracked gas is clear. The public health science on fracked gas is clear. And today we heard the demands of the local community loud and clear — no NRG Astoria power plant,” said Lee Ziesche, organizer with Sane Energy Project. “Governor Hochul has the chance to start off her administration with bold climate leadership by listening to the community and the science, and rejecting this dirty fracked gas project.” 

“NRG has been poisoning my family and my neighbors for decades. They must be forced to shut down immediately and barred from building another fossil fuel plant,” said Sebastian Baez, organizer with the Democratic Socialists of America. “We are far behind on meeting our renewable energy goals, and we will never meet them by allowing corporations like NRG to keep polluting our neighborhoods. Governor Hochul has a legal and moral responsibility to the people of Astoria, Queens, and New York who spoke today to protect our neighbors’ health and safety, significantly improve our air quality, and mitigate climate change by firmly and categorically rejecting all permits for NRG. Anything less is deadly climate denial.” 

“Not only is this plant toxic and unnecessary it is preventing us from moving forward, toward the future we deserve: a New York City that protects the hearts, lungs and health of the most vulnerable; a city that uses the best available technology and creates thousands of green jobs,” said Georgi Page, lead organizer for 350Brooklyn’s City Action committee. “This Astoria NRG Plant is a dangerous waste of scarce resources and it’s time we stand together to embrace a more sustainable future.”

The No Astoria NRG Plant Coalition is organized by NYC DSA, Food & Water Watch, Queens Climate Project, Sierra Club, Sane Energy Project, NYPIRG, New York Communities for Change, and 350Brooklyn.

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]