By Madison Langweil
High- and low-pitched voices of all ages spoke out last Wednesday evening to the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment to provide commentary on the Danskammer Proposal. A majority of the public commenters opposed the plan for expansion of the fracked gas plant while a few others were confident in its potential.
Danskammer Energy proposes to revamp the current energy facility with new technology and increase the station’s capacity from 532 megawatts to 600 megawatts. The company is optimistic that the plan would generate economic growth and help the environment. Many community members living close and far to the facility voiced their overall opinions on the plan.
“I don’t want my children exposed to the increased airborne toxins and pollutants and particulate matter that will be produced by this proposal, Andrew Moore, resident of Chelsea in the Town of Wappingers with his wife and kids, said. “Moving from a peaker use to a full-time operation produces a great increase of greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change, which will impact our children’s future.”
Newburgh is subject to environmental injustices such as Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), harmful chemicals, in the backyards of residents. Many of the commenters didn’t want to worsen their community’s health nor environment, which many believed the proposal will exacerbate.
“Newburgh’s population already has five times the national rate of asthma and the highest rate in the state,” says Ann Logan, resident of upper West Side of Manhattan with asthma. “It’s time we stopped dumping health problems on those of color and those who are economically a little bit less well-off than the upper West Side simply because they usually have less clout to fight the projects that will affect them the most.”
Almost double in poverty rate than New York, Newburgh with a rate of 25.4% persons below the poverty line, could decrease that number with the 400 jobs the proposal would create.
“In my opinion, the re-powering of the Danskammer plant checks all the boxes – a more efficient, safer and much-needed power-producing plant, creation of local union jobs, additional tax revenue and a great community partner,” says Chris Cerrone, resident of the Town of Marlborough.
The $500 million project must align with the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act), passed in 2019. Scenic Hudson, not-for-profit environmental organization, suggests alternatives like a utility-scale battery storage facility that would have a comparable increase in jobs, help with air quality and support the Climate Act.
The Siting Board will take the time to review public commentary and consider all variables including: air and water quality, electrical capacity, public health and safety, and emissions impact on local communities.