Letter: Do We Need the Energy?

Our Hudson Valley is once more under attack by corporate polluters. This time it’s the gas industry. Wall Street investors who bought the Danskammer electric power plant in Newburgh in 2017 want to return it to full capacity with a $400 million upgrade. It currently only operates during periods of peak demand.

The American Lung Association gives Dutchess County a grade of “D” for air quality. We have 5,157 cases of pediatric asthma, 22,764 cases of adult asthma, 12,892 cases of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and 172 cases of cancer.

The Danskammer electric power plant in Newburgh (Photo by Tom Konrad)

A major source of air pollution is the 40,000 cars driving up and down Route 9 daily. The Danskammer plant will burn methane, or “natural” gas. At full operation 1.5 miles across the river and 3 miles from Wappingers Junior High School, it will put the equivalent of more than 300,000 more cars on the road.

The gas industry and its friends say we need the energy. We don’t. The New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) calculated in a 2017 report that we will need only 600 megawatts in additional generation capacity by 2027. Additionally, by upgrading transmission lines and improving their efficiency, the state could gain 1,000 megawatts, without putting any poisons in the air.

The reason Danskammer is being rebuilt is so that investors can make money for themselves, allies and friends.

Two years ago, a massive public outcry stopped the oil industry’s attempt to anchor barges in the Hudson River. A similar effort will be needed to stop this attack upon our health and wellbeing.

Charles Davenport, Wappingers Falls

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