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NY Congressman Presses President Obama On Hudson Valley Project

A proposed renewable energy project in Orange County was fuel for an exchange between a Hudson Valley congressman and President Obama. Their exchange made national headlines.  

The proposed project behind the much publicized exchange is from Taylor Biomass Energy, for a biomass gasification project based in Montgomery. Taylor management says the proposed project, which has been sitting with the federal Department of Energy since 2009, will generate clean, renewable energy and produce enough electricity to power approximately 27,000 homes, with an estimated cost over 20 years of around 5 cents per kilowatt. Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney is pushing for the project’s approval, and in a group meeting Wednesday, pushed President Obama to get it.

Maloney says he had a back and forth with the president, one that was characterized by at least one Democratic source, according to CNN, as rude and dismissive. President Obama met with Democrats on Capitol Hill. Maloney, however, disagrees with that assessment. Maloney says he asked the president for a commitment to prioritize the Taylor Biomass project. Maloney talks about the president’s response.

Some who witnessed the exchange tell CNN the president was testy and unkind, while others say they did not interpret President Obama’s response as dismissive. Reports said the president told Maloney, in effect, that he would now be able to tell his Hudson Valley constituents that he had stood up to the White House. Maloney says he thinks the exchange was all in good fun and that the president’s intent was misinterpreted. Maloney was pushing to have a Department of Energy $100 million loan guarantee approved for the Taylor Biomass gasification-to-energy facility.

He says the project would create 300 construction jobs and some 100 permanent jobs. The Montgomery Project, as it is known, would be located on 95 acres, at the site of the current location of the Taylor family’s Recycling Facility.

Yet some are not as eager as the congressman to get things going. Environmentalists with the New York Public Interest Research Group, Orange Environment, and Citzens’ Environmental Coalition are among those taking issue with touting the proposed project as green. The non-profit Partnership for Policy Integrity released a report in May, claiming the project will have air pollution limits no better than a heavily polluting garbage incinerator. 

Taylor Biomass says the project is environmentally beneficial as gasification will reduce overall emissions by converting the incoming biomass into a combustible gas that will be cleaned to remove contaminants. Plus, says Taylor, the project would reduce material headed for landfills, thereby cutting down on greenhouse gas emissions from landfills as well as truck pollution.

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