Citing Climate, New York Nixes Two Natural Gas Power Plant Plans

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has denied permits to two proposed natural gas upgrades to existing power plants, citing concern about climate change and greenhouse gas emissions associated with the plants. 

The agency denied permits to a major expansion of the Danskammer Energy Center in Newburgh, New York, and upgrades to the Astoria Gas Turbine Power plant in Queens. In both cases, the agency “determined the proposed project does not demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act,” according to a statement.

“The proposed project would be inconsistent with or would interfere with the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits established in the Climate Act. [The companies behind these projects] failed to demonstrate the need or justification for the proposed project notwithstanding this inconsistency,” the agency said. 

The move shows that states like New York are getting serious about greening the grid, and aren’t willing to rubber-stamp fossil fuel plants if it comes at the expense of fighting climate change. It also follows months of activism by community members who spoke out at public meetings and filed thousands of comments opposing the power plants. 

The decisions cite the Climate Act, a law enacted on Jan. 1, 2020 that requires the state to push its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030. According to the agency, the projects “would result in substantial direct greenhouse gas emissions” that would make it more difficult for the state to reach its climate goals.

“The Project is also inconsistent with other longer-term requirements of the Climate Act, given that it would be a new facility which would use fossil fuels to produce electricity,” the agency found. “To achieve the State’s climate change and clean energy policies as outlined in the CLCPA, the State needs to continue to accelerate its ongoing transition away from natural gas and other fossil fuels. Constructing and operating a new fossil fuel-fired power plant accomplishes the exact opposite and perpetuates a reliance on fossil fuels.”

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