Cricket Valley Power Plant Update

Michele MacKinnon

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has." - Margaret Mead

 

There has been a gradual turning of the tide in favor of those opposing the construction of Cricket Valley Energy Center (CVEC), in Dover Plains, New York. The plant, which the EPA classifies as a major source of air pollutants, is a mere five miles from Kent and is upwind of the Connecticut towns of Sherman, New Milford, New Fairfield, Brookfield, Danbury and Ridgefield.

 

Questionable permitting tactics in New York

Suspicions regarding New York State’s permitting process for power plants were confirmed in early March, when Joseph Percoco, a former aide to New York Governor Cuomo, was convicted of corruption. Percoco received bribes from Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), a Pennsylvania company building a power plant in Wawayanda, NY with about half Cricket Valley’s generating capacity. CPV quadrupled its lobbying efforts in New York State and Washington, DC after news of the bribery charges broke, paying out $430,000 last year. The River Reporter stated, “Critics for years have charged that without corruption, the plant [CPV] could never have received the necessary permits because of all of the negative impacts to human health and the environment that they say the plant will produce.” On May 16, the same newspaper reported “Since the plant began a testing operation using diesel fuel in February, hundreds of residents have filed complaints about health issues such as nosebleeds and headaches.”

 

The CVEC / CPV connection

There are claims CPV received favorable treatment from New York state agencies while the efforts of those opposed to the plant were thwarted. An editorial in The River Reporter revealed CPV was granted a ‘lightened regulatory statute’ designation that allowed CPV permitting to dispense with State Environmental Quality Review Act, health impacts verification and other requirements.” Likewise, as reported in our May issue, Cricket Valley enjoyed an “expedited permitting process” and “lightened regulatory regime.” Could it be that questionable dealings extend beyond CPV to other power plants and pipeline expansions?

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Cautious optimism for opposition efforts

On August 1, New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied CPV’s air state facility permit application. The denial was due to CPV’s failure to obtain a Title V Clear Air Act permit, required before CPV begins full operation. Operating without the permit can result in significant fines for CPV. Despite the permit denial, Pramilla Malick, chair of Protect Orange County, NY cautioned everyone to continue fighting against CPV, saying, “This may be kicking the can down the road to get through the elections.” CVEC opponents cheered the news, noting CVEC will bring double the environmental and health issues of CPV.

Developments closer to home

An air quality monitoring task force has been formed with representation from several land trusts and towns. The goal of the task force is to collect professional air quality readings before CVEC begins operating in 2020. It is hoped these baseline readings will assist should CVEC emissions become a matter of concern once the plant is operational. The age and location of current air quality monitors are insufficient to capture readings from CVEC’s nearly 300-foot-high smokestacks.

 

Sherman’s Conservation Commission is sending a resolution to New York and Connecticut governors listing their many concerns and calling for a halt to CVEC’s construction. It will strengthen efforts if other towns follow suit and town residents express their concerns as well.

 

In January, New York and Connecticut filed and won a joint lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency for its failure to act on interstate smog pollution blowing into New York and Connecticut from upwind states. New York, however, has failed to act to prevent smog from blowing into Connecticut.

 

Voice your opposition to CVEC now

Concerned citizens in New York & Connecticut must continue partnering to stop CVEC, as well as the new fracked gas powered plants coming online in Bridgeport and Oxford, and the proposed new plant in Killingly. You can see in this promotional video that fracked methane is being called “clean and renewable” which is false advertising.  similar projects. Don’t rely on others to protect your personal and environmental health. Ask candidates in the upcoming elections from both states what their positions are regarding pollution and the new gas powered plants in Connecticut and New York. Environmental scorecards of Connecticut’s legislators may be viewed here. Over 1,000 concerned citizens have signed a petition calling on Governor Cuomo to stop Cricket Valley. By some estimates, 5000 signatures will be needed to demonstrate a sufficient level of citizen concern. Follow the Facebook group “Stop Cricket Valley NY/CT” for ongoing updates. Email them at stopcricketvalley@gmail.com to request email updates.

 

 

Cited sources:

http://hudsonvalley.news12.com/story/38833680/activists-rejoice-after-dec-fails-to-renew-cpvs-air-permit

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/13/nyregion/percoco-corruption-bribery-trial-cuomo-guilty.html

 

https://riverreporter.com/news-news-stories/officials-call-investigation-cpv-power-plant

 

https://riverreporter.com/opinion-editorial/corruption-and-cpv-power-plant

 

https://riverreporter.com/news-news-stories/former-cpv-executive-pleads-guilty

 

https://ag.ny.gov/sites/default/files/filed_complaint.pdf 

 

https://ag.ny.gov/press-release/attorney-general-underwood-announces-win-new-yorkers-smog-lawsuit-against-trump-epa

 

https://www.change.org/p/governor-andrew-cuomo-stop-cricket-valley-from-starting-up-polluting-our-air-and-poisoning-our-planet

 

Michele MacKinnon, is a UCONN Certified Advanced Master Gardener, garden educator and speaker from Sherman, CT.

 

To contact MacKinnon please email beehappygardener@gmail.com