NY State DEC Denies Key Permits for Danskammer Energy Center in Newburgh, Energy Project in Queens
John Jordan | October 27, 2021
ALBANY —The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced today (Oct. 27) that it had denied key air permits for the $500-million Danskammer Energy Center project in Newburgh and the Astoria Gas Turbine Power project in Queens.
The two projects were widely supported by business and labor sectors, but were opposed by environmental groups and some politicians. After receiving more than 4,500 public comments on the project, the DEC denied the required Title V air permit for the Danskammer Energy Center in the Town of Newburgh in Orange County.
In a prepared statement, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “Our review determined the proposed project does not demonstrate compliance with the requirements of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. The proposed project would be inconsistent with or would interfere with the statewide greenhouse gas emissions limits established in the Climate Act. Danskammer failed to demonstrate the need or justification for the proposed project notwithstanding this inconsistency.”
In the department’s 14-page decision, Daniel Whitehead, director, division of environmental permits for the DEC, stated that Danskammer has the right to request an administrative adjudicatory hearing regarding the denial of its Title V Application. If Danskammer wishes for such a hearing to be held, it must submit a request in writing within 30 days.
The Danskammer Energy project, which had been valued at $500 million, was in the Article 10 process before the New York State Board on Electric Generation Siting and the Environment. Earlier this year it received a major endorsement from the New York State AFL-CIO. The proposed project would convert the aging Danskammer plant into a 535-megawatt energy facility. The project cannot move forward without the Title V air permit.
The project was opposed by many politicians and environmental groups. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul said of the DEC denials of the Danskammer and Astoria Gas Turbine projects, “I applaud the Department of Environmental Conservation’s decisions to deny the Title V permits for the Danskammer Energy Center and Astoria Gas Turbine Power, LLC in the context of our state’s clean energy transition. Climate change is the greatest challenge of our time, and we owe it to future generations to meet our nation-leading climate and emissions reduction goals.”
Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said specifically of the DEC’s Danskammer permit denial: “The denial of an air permit for the proposed Danskammer fossil fuel plant shows loud and clear that Gov. Kathy Hochul and DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos are champions in efforts to confront the climate crisis and environmental injustice—the cornerstones of New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. Scenic Hudson is grateful to both, and while we hope this step will end plans to construct such a needless and harmful facility, we will continue doing all we can to ensure it never gets built.”
“We are delighted to see the DEC made this decision,” said Dan Shapley, Interim Riverkeeper and Vice President of Programs at Riverkeeper in a report in the Albany Times Union. “We’re glad to see the state is standing firm in the face of the reality that we need to reduce emissions, not increase them. This is a really important decision and a great day for our future.”
Representatives of Danskammer Energy could not be reached for comment at press time.
The Astoria Gas Turbine project is being proposed by a subsidiary of NRG Energy. The project is expected to replace 50-year old power generators in 2023 with state-of-the-art technology reducing the total generating capability of the site and lowering on-site peak air emission rates by up to 99% per hour. A recent study showed the project would create 510 jobs per year during construction, 73 jobs per year during operations, and contribute more than $325 million into New York’s economy through 2040. Like the Danskammer project, the Astoria Gas Turbine project cannot move forward without the state Title V air permit.