The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation has deemed an Orange County power plant’s air permit applications complete, and a public comment period has begun. Plant opponents say the CPV plant should never have been allowed to operate in the first place.
The DEC on Wednesday released the draft permits for a 45-day public comment period. A DEC spokesperson says the agency has conducted its initial review of Competitive Power Ventures Valley Energy Center’s Title V and Title IV air permit applications and determined that these applications are complete and that the draft permits are ready for public notice and comment. First-term New York state Senator Jen Metzger of the 42nd District, a Democrat, says she remains deeply concerned about the 680-megawatt natural gas power plant that has been operational since fall 2018.
“The application being complete and the application being accepted are two different things,” Metzger says. “And it’s important, I see this as a really important opportunity, now that it is complete, to get more public input into this project.”
DEC staff in August denied CPV’s request to renew its Air State Facility permit, citing the permit had failed to meet current regulatory requirements, and held two same-day public hearings in Goshen on its denial. Now, in addition to the public comment period, DEC will hold a public hearing, which longtime CPV plant opponent and Protect Orange County chair Pramilla Malick hopes is near the Wawayanda plant.
“Yeah, we absolutely insist on the City of Middletown for a location for a public hearing because that is where the highest density of impacted residents live,” says Malick. “And the last public hearing that the DEC held was in Goshen. It was extremely difficult for impacted residents to get there. It is not, there is no public transportation there.”
DEC has not yet decided on a date or location. Tom Rumsey is senior vice president for external affairs for CPV. In a statement, he says, “As the regulatory process moves forward, we will continue to work with regulators and policy makers at every level of government and take great pride in the role we play lowering emissions, improving reliability, and helping New York meet its green energy goals.” Again, Metzger.
“This is, continues to be a huge concern in our district,” says Metzger. “And we did do this health impact study. We had nearly 80 respondents reporting various health problems that could be associated with the power plant. We’re very concerned about that. We’ve shared that data with the DEC commissioner and the commissioner of health, and we’ll be submitting it as part of the formal record during the hearing as well.”
She says the most frequent issues reported were chronic headaches and cough. Malick, who ran against Metzger in the Democratic primary for Senate, says her group did its own study documenting more than double the number in Metzger’s study of sick people. Malick wants the state Department of Health to conduct a health impact assessment. In a joint response, DEC and DOH say they are reviewing the survey data collected by a local group as well as from Metzger’s office, and say community members may direct their health concerns to the health department at 518-402-7500. Meantime, DEC says it continues to maintain a presence at the facility and rigorously monitors all operations to protect public health and the environment, and will bring swift enforcement action if violations are detected. Again, Malick.
“This power plant should never have been allowed to operate in the first place. They should never have received a single permit,” Malick says. “So we will, once again, engage in the process and hope that regulatory officials and political leaders do the right thing this time for the people of Orange County and for the planet.”
Metzger pans out to a broader energy context
“Fossil fuel generation is yesterday’s solution,” Metzger says. “It is really going backwards and we really need to move forward and shift away from fossil fuels and invest in clean energy.
DEC’s written comment period closes July 12.