Why we say ‘no’ to new fossil fuel projects like the CPV power plant and Valley Lateral Pipeline
The CPV plant in Middletown (Photo by Pamela Chergotis)
Riverkeeper fights every day for a clean, safe and secure energy future, without which our precious drinking water supplies and the iconic Hudson River will never truly be protected. This means opposing all new fossil fuel infrastructure projects, which are unnecessary and threaten both the climate and the Hudson; promoting the enormous opportunities associated with energy efficiency and renewable power; and, ensuring on-time closure of the increasingly dangerous Indian Point nuclear power plant, whose most recent leak due to a failed reactor vessel seal occurred less than a month ago. While fighting to win a landmark 2017 agreement to close Indian Point, Riverkeeper simultaneously campaigned for safe replacement energy and against a broad range of dangerous and unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure projects including construction of two proposed crude oil pipelines along the NYS Thruway; expansion of the Global Oil terminal to handle tar sands crude at the Port of Albany; the siting of 43 new tanker and barge anchorages to allow more crude oil transport down the Hudson; the sudden increase in “bomb trains” carrying crude oil by rail along the Hudson; and, the proposed “Constitution” and “AIM” natural gas pipelines. While New York famously said “no” to fracking in 2014, the growing body of evidence that fracking harms public health and negatively impacts our climate show why we must fight the importation of fracked gas as well. And, for the same reasons we’ve fought the projects listed above, we vigorously oppose the Valley Lateral Pipeline, which would fuel the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) fracked-gas power plant in Orange County. Over the past two years, we’ve: Filed comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) opposing the Valley Lateral Project, in March 2016, and arguing that the CPV plant is not needed to replace Indian Point; Supplied New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation with information and arguments that helped prompt the state to deny a key water quality permit required to build Valley Lateral; Filed legal papers with FERC opposing its outrageous decision to overrule the state’s water quality permit denial for the Valley Lateral project; Successfully mobilized our supporters to encourage New York State to appeal FERC’s decision and to seek a stay of construction pending legal review; After a federal appeals court denied the state’s request to stay Valley Lateral’s construction, we highlighted the project’s illegal disturbance of highly vulnerable eagle habitat through a series of Facebook live videos that have more than 13,000 views to date; and Filed an amicus brief with the federal appeals court hearing the Valley Lateral Case, on December 22, 2017, seeking to reinstate New York’s legally authorized decision to deny the water quality permit needed to construct this project. Not only do we oppose the CPV plant and the Valley Lateral Pipeline, we’ve proved that CPV isn’t needed to close Indian Point. Even NYISO — New York State’s grid operator — confirms that, in 2021, when Indian Point closes, non-fossil fuel power sources coupled with energy efficiency improvements are already set to take up virtually all the slack resulting from the plant’s shutdown. Analysis by an independent consultant working with Riverkeeper and NRDC shows that, when Indian Point’s 2,000 megawatts go offline in 2021, measures already in place put us less than 50 megawatts away from full replacement energy. As we showed in this Huffington Post blog, energy efficiency improvements other states are already achieving can easily get us the rest of the way there. We are going to push like crazy for more energy efficiency, and environmentally sound solar and wind projects, so that New York State’s lofty energy goals are fully translated into action through a strategy that involves both market incentives and reasonable mandates. But, make no mistake: the power needed to replace Indian Point is already baked into the system — without CPV. And, let’s not forget just how dangerous Indian Point really is. There are few left who dispute that Indian Point needs to close because it harms the environment, creates a grave risk to the safety of more than 20 million people, and leaves a toxic legacy of nuclear waste that will be stored on site at least for the foreseeable future and perhaps, forever. Most recently, problems with the seal between the reactor vessel and the reactor head have recurred for at least the eighth time, as documented by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Riverkeeper and thousands of New Yorkers have campaigned for years to ban fracking, lock in a closure date for Indian Point, and build a future in which clean, safe and reliable energy powers New York’s homes, businesses and public institutions. Whether your goal is healthy air and water, more jobs or a stable climate, new fossil-fuel pipelines and fracked-gas plants like CPV have no place in the kind of sensible energy policy we need here in the Empire State. Paul Gallay is an attorney, educator and non-profit executive working to protect community character and improve environmental sustainability. As president of Riverkeeper, he fights for a cleaner Hudson and safer drinking water for more than nine million New Yorkers. He is a graduate of Williams College and Columbia Law School and has held a number of teaching positions, including his current appointment with the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Text “Riverkeeper” to 21333 to receive periodic updates and actions.