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Groups Oppose Pipeline to New Power Plant

Environmental groups say pipelines have the potential to leak toxic fumes and methane from the wells to the power plant. (John S. Quarterman/Flickr)
Environmental groups say pipelines have the potential to leak toxic fumes and methane from the wells to the power plant. (John S. Quarterman/Flickr)
August 2, 2017

NEW YORK - Environmental groups are hoping their testimony at a public hearing in Middletown this evening will stop construction of a pipeline needed to fuel a gas-fired power plant.

Critics of the 650-megawatt plant say it will commit the state to a future of toxic emissions, methane leaks and fracked gas. According to Pramilla Malick, chair of Protect Orange County, the project requires constructing a network of gas infrastructure including more pipelines and compressor stations, all of which are prone to leaking toxic chemicals and methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

"This will increase New York state's greenhouse-gas emissions from the entire power sector by in excess of 10 percent," she said, "which is huge and completely inconsistent with the governor's clean-energy plan and climate-change goals."

Tom Rumsey is vice president of External Affairs for Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), the company building the Valley Energy Center. Rumsey countered that it has been permitted for less than half that amount of CO2 emissions.

"Infrastructure development and growth is never without impact, but it can and is being done responsibly," said Rumsey.

The builders of the project have called CPV Valley Energy Center "environmentally responsible," with highly-efficient technology and state-of-the-art emission controls.

However, Malick pointed out that the problem with natural gas isn't just the plant itself. She said there is the potential for leaks every step of the way, from the gas well to the burners.

"At a very conservative leakage rate, the greenhouse-gas emissions of this plant would be 4.7 million tons of CO2 equivalent annually," she said.

Malick claimed the plant would not be taking coal-fired plants offline, and said the state doesn't need the additional generating capacity.

The deadline for written comments on the water-quality permit for the pipeline is Friday. Malick said busloads of New Yorkers will travel to Albany on Aug. 10 to deliver a final plea directly to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

(Corrected to remove a misstatement and updated to add comments from CPV. 8-10-2-17)

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY