BY CHERYL SLAVIN
Two representatives from the Stony Point Action Committee for the Environment (SPACE)—Susan Filgueras and Laurie Cozza—joined Annie Wilson of the Environmental Justice League, Wyldon Fishman of the New York Solar Energy Society, Steven Ludwigson of Boilermakers Local 5, and James Slevin of Utility Workers of America Local 1-2 at the office of New York State Energy Czar Richard Kauffman last week to discuss the negative impact that the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Line would have on the New York economy and environment. Rockland Legislator Doug Jobson and representatives from the Sierra Club also participated in the discussion.
The main argument presented against CHPE is that the power line—which would originate at HydroQuebec in Canada and stretch 330 miles down the Hudson River to New York City—is both unnecessary and detrimental to New York State. The union representatives stressed that construction and operation of the power line would not, in fact, bring any significant job creation to the citizens of New York. Most of the jobs associated with CHPE would actually be filled by outside operators. Others presented evidence that New York State’s electrical needs were actually shrinking, eliminating the need for a project the size of CHPE. The entire group argued that the state’s energy and employment needs could be much better met through the renovation and reactivation of New York power plants such as Bowline and Lovett, along with a greater use of solar and other power alternatives.
Additionally, the Rockland representatives presented maps, charts and photographs to demonstrate the extreme detriment to Stony Point if the CHPE line were permitted to run overland at Stony Point and Haverstraw as is currently planned. Filgueras pointed out that the proposed line would run, by force of eminent domain, through private residential property, private commercial property along the shore line as well as beach areas already damaged by Hurricane Sandy and slated for renewal through the Community Reconstruction Zone Program. Laying the line through Stony Point would also damage the Waldron Revolutionary and 1812 Cemetery and the Stony Point Battlefield. The economic impact on the Town would be devastating, along with the irreparable loss of historical and environmental sites.
Filgueras reports that Kauffman’s response did not inspire much confidence in the group. His “poker-faced” reply to each of the arguments was, “I want you to know that I’m listening, and listening hard.” He later added somewhat vaguely that “Canada is a large trading partner with New York for electricity,” and therefore the state needed to “make those pieces fit.” As she has continued to do, Filgueras offered an open invitation to Kauffman, Governor Cuomo and Tom Congdon, Deputy Secretary for Energy, to visit Stony Point and walk the CHPE line to see up close the impact it would have on the community.
So far there has been no environmental impact statement done for the overland portion of the CHPE project. Filgueras and others have continued to advocate to the Public Service Commission that one needs to be done before any further action can be taken. By contrast, the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a public hearing about the project in November; the public comment period for that hearing is slated to end on January 17. Interestingly, the PSC, at its regular January 16 meeting will be reviewing an application by CHPE for a declaratory ruling that CHPE’s owners are subject to a lightened regulatory regime, which would allow them to bypass the usual regulatory oversight necessary when transferring ownership. Although open to the public, there will be no opportunity to speak at the meeting.
Filgueras and SPACE continue to enlist the support of elected officials to oppose CHPE. In addition to Jobson, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Assemblyman James Skoufis, and Stony Point Supervisor Geoff Finn among others have been instrumental in advocating on behalf of the community. SPACE also urges the public to continue to get involved and speak out, either by contacting their elected officials, including the governor, or by filing comments with the PSC or the DEC directly. For more information about how to do so, visit the SPACE website at stonypointer.org.