Hudson Valley Opposes a Proposed Fracked Gas Plan

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Crony capitalism, environmental injustice, and a total lack of concern for the impacts of local communities and the planetary climate. Residents of the Hudson Valley push back.

Twenty municipalities in the Hudson Valley passed resolutions opposing the $400 million plan to build a new fracked gas power plant in Newburgh. Danskammer proposed the plant in May 2018. The plant will generate 525 to 575 megawatts of power. Danskammer Energy plans to build a new gas-fired power plant next to an existing plant that would run year-round. The area is next to the Hudson River and flood-prone.

The current plant in Newburgh runs less than 10 percent of the time, state legislator Nick Page stated in an opinion piece. The expanded plant would run much more (60 to 90 percent of the time). Page points out that the methane which escapes during gas extraction and transportation traps 87 times more heat than does carbon dioxide. “This fugitive methane makes natural gas a more environmentally harmful energy source than coal,” according to Page.

New York passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act in 2019 which sets climate change goals, including an 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, 70 percent renewable energy by 2030, and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. Danskammer’s expansion plans are in direct opposition to the act.

“Communities up and down the Hudson River Valley know that environmental justice and climate action require us to stop building new dirty power plants,” said Food & Water Action local leader Mark Sanchez-Potter. “Fracked gas is not clean energy, and that is what New York must be building right now. Governor Cuomo supports the new climate law, proudly banned fracking in New York, and has rejected new fracking pipelines. He must say no to Danskammer.”

The Hudson Valley community opposes the plant

When the company announced plans to expand, community opposition began to spread in the area. Opponents pointed out that the plant would cause local air pollution and increase greenhouse gas emissions. Before the Beacon City Council held a meeting where they voted for a resolution opposing the plant, more than 80 residents rallied in front of the city hall, calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to reject it.

Beacon, New York resident Amber Grant, a member of the City Council, said that building another fossil fuel plant in the area contradicts that state’s goals: 

“It's in direct contradiction to our stated goals to increase the use of renewable energy sources, there has been no demonstrable need for this energy source, and there is no upside for Beacon,” she said.

Danskammer’s parent company’s ties to the Republican Party

The parent company behind Danskammer has ties to the Republican party. Tiger Infrastructure Partners acquired Danskammer in 2017. Tiger Infrastructure leaders are “major fundraisers and donors to top Republican politicians,” according to a report by the Public Accountability Initiative and New York Communities for Change. Tiger Infrastructure CEO Emil Henry hosted fundraisers for Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush at his home and has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Republican Political Action Committees and candidates opposed to climate change action.

Top Danskammer advisor Thomas Saunders is chair of the Heritage Foundation and a Trump ally. Tiger Infrastructure Senior Advisor William Laverack, Jr. donated $250,000 to a Super PAC that supported Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012. He donated through a limited liability corporation that hid his identity.

How you can take action

There is something you can do to let your voice be heard. Sign the Food & Water Watch petition urging Governor Cuomo and the Public Service Commission to reject the plant and other fracked gas infrastructure. The developers must apply for permits through the state’s Article 10 power plant law, which Governor Cuomo controls.

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