On Monday May 14, Governor Andrew Cuomo was the keynote speaker at the New York League of Conservation Voters’ (NYLCV) 2018 Gala. As reported on by LittleSis, employees of Millennium, a company building a fracked gas pipeline in New York, are on the NYLCV board, and the organization has received substantial funding from other fossil fuel companies like Williams, which is also proposing to build a fracked gas pipeline through NY Harbor.
NYLCV lauded Cuomo’s climate achievements, but to many New Yorkers, the fact that Governor Cuomo chose to speak to an organization backed by fracked gas pipeline companies while continuing to turn his back on pleas to speak with residents impacted by fracked gas infrastructure is further proof he is not a real climate leader.
The Governor’s willingness to spend time with fracked gas pipeline advocates is especially enraging for residents of Orange County, NY who have been trying to get Cuomo’s attention for years to shut down a massive fracked gas power plant in their community.
They’ve done everything engaged citizens should do: They’ve called his office, signed petitions, rallied in Albany and New York City, highlighted corporate fraud and bribery on behalf of the power plant company called Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), engaged local elected officials, and even ran for office themselves to bring representation to their community. But they’ve never once heard from Governor Cuomo’s administration.
They are however getting the attention of Michelle Smith Hook, a spokesperson for Millennium, the company building the Valley Lateral pipeline, which will connect the the CPV plant to the Millennium transmission line that runs along the southern border of New York.
Although New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) temporarily denied Millennium a key water quality permit they needed for the Valley Lateral pipeline, by citing lack of information on climate impacts in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), the denial was struck down in federal court because the DEC acted too late.
While the residents of Orange County are very worried about the climate impacts that the pipeline and power plant will have, they say the decision to temporarily deny the permit because of potential climate impacts, instead of out right denying it due to water impacts, was Cuomo’s administration playing politics.
They are still asking Governor Cuomo to do the right thing and pull the plug on the plant by rescinding air quality permits.
Cuomo’s gubernatorial challenger, Cynthia Nixon, has pledged to revoke all permits if elected Governor. She also met with impacted families and attended one of the weekly pickets that happens every Saturday outside of the CPV plant as did Howie Hawkins, the green party candidate for Governor.
So far in the campaign, Governor Cuomo has often tried to ‘one-up’ Nixon to prove he is a more progressive leader on climate. During a press conference in the Rockaways where Nixon was announcing her climate plan, Cuomo’s DEC announced they would be temporarily denying Williams Pipeline Co. a water quality permit for their Northeast Supply Enhancement fracked gas pipeline. Williams has since reapplied.
Since Cuomo also boldly promised to lead a ‘Dunkirk’ style citizen blockade of offshore drilling during a press conference to stand up to Donald Trump, then perhaps he can trump Nixon’s pledge to revoke the CPV permits by leading a citizen blockade of the Valley Lateral pipeline.
The pipeline is going into the ground now, and the plant is expected to be up and running this summer unless Cuomo gets serious and turns his climate rhetoric into climate action reality.