Says proposed power plant not compatible with climate goals
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on Wednesday (Oct. 27) denied a crucial permit for the proposed expansion of the Danskammer power plant on the banks of the Hudson River north of the City of Newburgh, effectively killing the project.
The DEC said it would not approve a Title V Air Permit for Danskammer, which it needed to build a new natural gas-fired plant to replace its existing one.
“Our review determined the proposed project does not demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos in a statement. “The proposed project would be inconsistent with or would interfere with the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits established in the Climate Act. Danskammer failed to demonstrate the need or justification for the proposed project notwithstanding this inconsistency.”
The DEC also denied a permit requested for a similar natural gas power plant proposed for Astoria, Queens, for the same reasons. New York has set an ambitious goal to decarbonize 70 percent of its energy grid by 2030, and reach zero emissions by 2040.
Danskammer officials, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment, have 30 days to tell the state if they plan to appeal.
The Danskammer proposal would have transformed the part-time “peaker” plant into a full-time, $500 million, 536-megawatt facility powered by natural gas obtained through a process commonly known as “fracking.” In its ruling, the DEC said it had received more than 4,500 public comments about the proposal to expand the plant’s operations.
In denying the permit, the agency said Danskammer “has failed to show either a short-term or long-term reliability need for the project. Nor has Danskammer identified adequate alternatives or GHG (greenhouse gas) mitigation measures.”
Opponents of the plant had argued that the Mid-Hudson Valley’s power grid is already adequate, even in the wake of the closing of the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, and that Danskammer’s plans to possibly convert the facility at some point into a renewable hydrogen powered-plant were not realistic.
The ruling noted that in addition to the greenhouse gas emissions that the plant would have generated, the DEC considered the “upstream” emissions created by the out-of-state fracking process that is needed to extract natural gas from deep within the earth. “The project itself would result in a substantial increase in GHG emissions from just this one single GHG emission source in 2030,” it said. “Moreover, the project would constitute a wholly new and fossil fuel-fired electric generation source.”
The decision was hailed by environmental leaders and elected officials, including Gov. Kathy Hochul. “Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, and we owe it to future generations to meet our nation-leading climate and emissions reduction goals,” she said in a statement.
Haley Carlock, a representative for Scenic Hudson, thanked “the thousands of people who submitted comments to the DEC asking it to steer the state in this climate-friendly direction.”
Chris Bellovary, a staff attorney for Riverkeeper, said that the state “made a clear decision to decarbonize its economy, and the department’s determination upholds that decision.”
Matt Salton of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, based in Beacon, said: “We must now focus on climate solutions, including the rapid implementation of renewable energy infrastructure, with storage and efficiency.”