Former Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich addressed an audience nearly 300 strong in Orange County Wednesday night, joining opponents of a gas power plant.
Two-time presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich was the guest speaker at a forum in Warwick about the CPV Valley Energy Center in Wawayanda.
“When I look at this project in Orange County, it cries out for a detailed federal investigation,” says Kucinich. “There are too many things that have gone wrong, in my view, as someone who understands and looks at these kinds of projects with a jeweler’s eye, I can tell you that there’s something really wrong with the way this whole thing has been put together here and basically presented to you as a fait accompli..”
He impressed upon the audience that the plant — even though site preparation is under way — is not a done deal, and gave examples of projects elsewhere in the country that were well on their way and halted after citizen opposition. Kucinich was asked why he came to speak at the Warwick forum:
“To support the people who have courageously taken a stand to challenge not just the fracking infrastructure here – the pipeline the compressor station and a $900 million gas-fired power plant - but also to say, look, we really a re-appraisal of what our energy policies are here and we’ve got to stop ruining the environment,” says Kucinich. “And we’ve got to stop making people pay for simply wanting to have a good quality of life. This is destructive of the quality of life in this community.”
Sustainable Warwick sponsored the forum at Sanfordville Elementary School and billed the event as informing the public about the pros and cons of the power plant. Chair of Sustainable Warwick Jeff Howard says he reached out to staff from CPV, or Competitive Power Ventures, to present the plant’s benefits.
“They said because there was pending litigation that they could not do it,” says Howard.
In an e-mailed statement, CPV spokesman Tom Rumsey says, “CPV respectfully declined to participate in the Sustainable Warwick event based upon the pre-event publicity that portrayed it not as a forum for the open exchange of information, but as a rally for a small, but highly vocal group of people who oppose the project based upon individual agendas.”
A Sustainable Warwick member presented what he researched to be the pros. Nonetheless, the forum focused mainly on reasons to oppose the plant, citing environmental and health concerns plus, as Kucinich noted, economic feasibility. Todd Diorio is president of Hudson Valley Building Trades and says the CPV project is highly beneficial for the area.
“It’s a very large project for the area. It’s putting a lot of people to work. They have met every single environmental test that they needed to meet and have jumped through hoops for five years or however long it’s been going through approval, says Diorio. “So it’s a great project for the area. There’s a lot of local… 90 percent of the guys on that project are local, live around Orange County or the surrounding counties.”
Goshen attorney Michael Sussman, who also spoke at the forum, has a case representing four residents who live near the site.
“There’s litigation that’s been ongoing since the spring. We’re now in the appellate process in the second department Court of Appeals in Brooklyn appealing Justice Slobad’s order which granted the motion that CPV made to dismiss the case claiming that there was not requirement they do a supplemental environmental impact statement,” says Sussman. “We disagree with that and we’re appealing that.”
Wawayanda resident Tom Denny attended the forum. When asked how familiar he was with the CPV project, Denny says:
“About a 3 out of 10,” says Denny.
“And now, what do you think?” Dunne asks.
“Sounds pretty scary,” says Denny.
The statement from CPV’s Rumsey also says, “The CPV Valley Energy Center project commenced permitting in April 2008 and conducted well more than 100 public meetings giving presentations, answering questions and responding to concerns. There have literally been hundreds of opportunities for public participation and examination of legitimate scientific concerns over the seven years of permitting. We look forward to continuing constructive conversations with the community.”
The project is described as a 650-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas power plant with two 275-foot-high stacks. The plant will generate enough electricity to supply about 650,000 homes. It will sit on a 122-acre parcel on Route 6, on the north side of I-84 and west of 17M. CPV says gas for the facility will come from the nearby Millennium pipeline and the company is awaiting approvals from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for the pipeline connection.
Another group of concerned residents, Protect Orange County, is working to prevent the CPV power plant from being built and holds weekly pickets at the site, deeming it an environmental crime scene. Activist, actor and Warwick resident James Cromwell, who says he helped bring his friend Kucinich to the forum, believes momentum against the plant is building.
“They cannot do this to the environment. They cannot do this to the people of their community. They cannot do this to the world if we stand up,” says Cromwell. “We have to stand together, stand up, put our bodies on the line, and it will make a difference.”
Cromwell and five others, known as the Wawayanda Six, were scheduled to be arraigned Thursday on charges of disorderly conduct after using civil disobedience to block access to the site in December.