Monday, September 25, 2023

Public Discussion to be Held on Proposed Fracking Plant at Danskammer

The Hudson River environmentalist group Scenic Hudson will hold a presentation and public discussion next month to explain a proposed fracking gas power plant at Danskammer in the Town of Newburgh. The long-running power plant has been the source of controversy and lawsuits. It is also located on one of the area’s most historic and sacred sites.

The public discussion will take place at the Newburgh Library on Thursday, August 11, 2022 at 6:45pm. Among the topics of discussion will be how the plant would impact Newburgh residents’ health, eco-friendly alternatives, Danskammer Point’s significance to indigenous people, and how to stop the proposed plant.

Last October, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied permits for Danskammer Energy’s proposed fracked gas power plant. This shut down the proposed project for the time being.

“The Project would be inconsistent with or would interfere with the attainment of the statewide greenhouse gas emission limits,” the DEC wrote in a statement, referring to Article 75 of the Environmental Conservation Law. “Moreover, Danskammer has not demonstrated that the Project is justified as it has failed to show either a short term or long term reliability need for the Project. Nor has Danskammer identified adequate alternatives or GHG mitigation measures.”

Danskammer went on to challenge the DEC’s denial of its air permits in court. Last month, the Orange County Supreme Court dismissed Danskammer’s lawsuit and maintained that the DEC has the authority to deny permits that are inconsistent with the laws.

The court did not touch on the question of whether or not the denial was appropriate for the proposed fracked gas power plant. Factual issues are being explored in pending administrative hearings.

The Danskammer plant was built by Central Hudson Gas & Electric in 1952. Since then, the ownership has changed hands multiple times. It is now owned by Danskammer Energy, LLC and continues operating. It burns natural gas as primary fuel and oil as a backup. It is located in the northern end of the Town of Newburgh on River Road.

Danskammer is a Dutch word for “dance chamber,” which derives from the days of Henry Hudson’s voyage up the Hudson River. According to historical records, in the year 1609, Henry Hudson’s crew saw Native Americans dancing around a fire at the current site of Danskammer. The crew believed they were seeing “the Devil’s dance chamber.”

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