Major Setback for Indian Point

High court denies exemption from environmental review

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

New York’s highest court on Nov. 21 ruled that the state can require that the Indian Point nuclear reactors pass an environmental review. Entergy, which operates the reactor, had argued the power plant was exempt.

Riverkeeper, the Hudson River environmental organization, argued that the decision “effectively stops the Nuclear Regulatory Commission from relicensing Indian Point,” which would mean the plant would have to shut down. That has long been the goal of Riverkeeper and other groups who say the plant should not operate in such a densely populated area, or near the Hudson River.

Officials from Entergy said the company remained confident its plant would be relicensed. The licenses have expired but the Indian Point Energy Center continues to operate during the relicensing process.

Indian Point (file photo)

Indian Point (file photo)

In its lawsuit, Entergy argued that the reactors do not need state environmental certification as required by the federal Coastal Management Program because they were built before the program began and are therefore  “grandfathered” in.

The state argued that no such exemption exists, and the New York Court of Appeals agreed. In a unanimous decision, its seven justices overturned a lower-court decision that favored Entergy.

The federal law creating the Coastal Management Program stipulates that any company such as Entergy that needs a federal license because its operations could affect “land or water use or natural resource in the coastal zone” must first obtain environmental certification from the state.

While the Indian Point reactors underwent a federal environmental impact assessment before their original licensing, the high court ruled that the relicensing is “a new project, with different impacts and concerns” than 40 years ago.

Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper and a Cold Spring resident, noted that in 2015 New York State declared Indian Point “inconsistent” with more than a dozen of its policies designed to protect the Hudson River. “Without that coastal zone approval, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission cannot relicense Indian Point,” Gallay said. “It is a complete stopper. It’s time to close Indian Point.”

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the ruling vindicated the state. He described Indian Point plant as an “antiquated” facility that “does not belong on the Hudson” and said it “poses a threat not only to the coastal resources and uses of the river,” but to New York City and “millions of New Yorkers living and working in the surrounding community.”


4 thoughts on “Major Setback for Indian Point

  1. This is good news that’s long overdue. Even so, somehow it seems unlikely to change the reality of life in the shadow of this nuclear plant that continues to operate without a license. Entergy has already shown that they do not give up easily, so it wouldn’t surprise me if they figure out a way to forestall the inevitable — the complete closure and decommissioning of Indian Point plants 2 and 3.

  2. I have lived in Cold Spring for 47 years. Shut down Indian Point, and what do you get? Big power bills. Not to mention the cost to reestablish a way to get power to Westchester and New York City. Riverkeeper is a bully, grabbing up any land along the Hudson and using it for anyone but the people who live at the shores. Cold Spring has such a Riverkeeper spot at the park by the train station. You cannot use the park for a peaceful place to see the Hudson River or picnic or just sit and reflect. Why? Because of a local kayak business the monopolizes most of the park. That’s good for the village, right? Not the case. People don’t buy anything that goes toward the village money-wise. You may say the company pays taxes. Yes, it does, but the building that houses the kayaks and other apparatus would still have to pay taxes regardless of its usage.

    Indian Point has checks and balances and rules above and beyond any other nuclear plant on earth. The media always blows every little thing that happens there. If the wind blows to much, it’s the plant’s failure. If a transformer on a street nearby blows, it’s the plant’s fault. Riverkeeper, I call you out: Clean up the lower Hudson River, below Indian Point. Good luck. Leave Indian Point alone. It ain’t broke; there is nothing to fix. Gov. Cuomo is clueless. He’s a politician. He will say what is popular.

  3. The power from Indian Point goes to New York City. Philipstown power is not from Con Ed. Please review the Emergency Evacuation Plan for Philipstown that is sent to households within the Indian Point Plant impact area. Note that there is no “Return to Your Home” plan. If the plant suffers a Three-Mile Island, Ukraine or Japanese event, what actually happens within the impact area after it is evacuated. How prepared are you?

  4. I know Philipstown does not get its power from Indian Point. The emergency evacuation plan will dissolve quickly and no one will do anything but get to their family ASAP. Throw out the plan, it will not work!