Above Photo: by Robert S. Donovan
Slate Hill N.Y.- The residents of Orange County have long been calling for a federal investigation into the numerous irregularities in the approval process for the CPV Valley Power Plant and related Minisink Compressor Station. (This 650 MW fracked-gas power plant is now under construction in Orange County, N.Y.) We applaud the launch of this probe and hope it serves to explain these irregularities and restore the integrity of the review process. When corporate manipulation of government compromises the environmental review process for projects with potential health and safety implications, the consequences can be catastrophic.
We knew from the beginning that something was very wrong when a small local town Planning Board was allowed by the state to assume lead agency status for the environmental review of the $900 million CPV power plant project. An undertaking of this magnitude could adversely impact dozens of townships, hundreds of thousands of residents, and resources of statewide significance. Over a lengthy near 10-year approval process, numerous substantive issues were systematically and repeatedly ignored under the watch of multiple regulatory agencies and elected officials, who are responsible to protect public health and safety, as well as our environment. We are grateful to Congressman Dennis Kucinich for coming to Orange County and publicly calling for a Federal investigation earlier this year.
Since last year, Protect Orange County’s citizen letter writing campaign has implored Governor Cuomo to suspend the permits for this ill-conceived project and launch his own investigation into the matter. While the announcement that his office has now suspended regulatory dealings with CPV is welcome news, all permits have already been issued for this project and construction has begun. Indeed, much damage has already been done; historic sites, protected farmland, wetlands, and endangered species habitat have been recklessly destroyed. The human costs to the community already living with what we believe is a related project, the Minisink Compressor Station, is even more alarming. At this point, the Governor must immediately rescind all state permits for this project and issue a Stop Work Order before the harm becomes irreparable. For too long we were lone voices in a regulatory wilderness of indifference and evasion.
We urge U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara to cast as wide a net as possible and scrutinize every approval issued and every decision maker involved at every layer of government. We must know whether any decision makers benefitted directly or indirectly from these approvals. A thorough and complete investigation is critical to protect public health and safety we well as restore public confidence in our state government.
Residents Impacted by this project will soon hold a press conference in front of Preet Bharara’s office after presenting documentation on some of these irregularities. Date and time TBA. Information will be posted on our website protectorangecounty.org