UPDATE: 29 people arrested on Saturday, November 16th, to #StopCricketValley fracked gas power plant.
Tractor blockade at entrance that lasted seven hours & four people who climbed the 275-ft smokestack came down at sunset after being up there for twelve hours.
The plant was shut down for the day and workers sent home.
The Cricket Valley Energy Center (CVEC) is a 1,100 megawatt plant under construction in Dover Plains, New York. It will receive out-of-state fracked gas through the Iroquois Gas Transmission System, a pipeline project co-owned by TransCanada and the Virginia-based fossil fuel powerhouse Dominion Resources.
CVEC has generated intense opposition from community members. The project should raise alarm for a number of reasons aside from its destructive impact on the climate. The plant is largely backed by private equity investors, many headquartered outside the U.S., who see it as merely another medium through which to cash in – even if this happens at the expense of surrounding communities and the environment.
New York State banned hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, or fracking, in 2014 because of health risks associated with drilling, but Governor Andrew Cuomo has continued to approve gas infrastructure like the Cricket Valley plant which poses many of the same risks. Local residents are particularly concerned that its location in the Harlem Valley, a narrow north-south corridor, will engulf the region with pollution.
“Our farms need clean air and water just like our schoolchildren down the road from the gas plant,” said Ben Schwartz, who is an area farmer. “The much cleaner solar-power plant, approved for construction across the road from Cricket Valley, plans to sell its electricity to Dover residents, unlike the gas plant.”
In addition to the local air pollution, the farmers are concerned about climate impacts. Methane, the main component of the Cricket Valley’s planned fuel supply, is 86 to 100 times more potent a heat-trapping gas than carbon dioxide during its first 20 years in the atmosphere. Independent researcher are finding alarming methane leakage rates from gas infrastructure, debunking the industry myth that gas is better for the climate than coal.
“We need a Green New Deal with renewable-energy jobs which protect our families’ health and homes and repair our environment from the cheap fossil-fuel era,” said Phil Erner, another area farmer, who also used to teach university physics. “While this era is ending whether we admit it or not, to continue business-as-usual in the meantime is causing much needless suffering.”
“A new, 650-megawatt power plant on my side of the Hudson River just had its air-permit renewal denied by New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation, who cited expected climate impacts,” said Creek Iversen, a third farmer. “Cricket Valley, at 1100 megawatts, should be next.”