February 2022 Environmental Action Update



New EA Interns:  Clearwater’s Environmental Action welcomes two new interns for the Spring semester. Sophie Wanzer is a Junior at Vassar College studying Chemistry. She will be helping to update our Low Impact Hydropower report in preparation for a possible consensus building process leading to a guidance document on this topic. Chelsea Villalba is finishing up her Master’s degree in Social Work, Community, Policy, and Political Social Action at SUNY Stony Brook and will be helping draft Clearwater’s public comments for the NYS Climate Action Council’s Draft Scoping Plan.  

Update on Newburgh PFOS Cleanup:  On Wednesday, Feb 2 Stewart Air National Guard hosted the Restoration Advisory Board (RAB). They provided updates as to how the remediation of PFOS is going.  Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonic acid (PFOS) are fire-fighting chemicals, which were used at the base and ran off into surface water and seeped into groundwater that lead to Washington Lake, Newburgh’s drinking water reservoir.  The remediation is on schedule and they are currently taking additional hydrogeological and stormwater samples.  Here are the RAB Presentation Slides. They are also encouraging Newburgh residents to allow scientists to study the relationship between PFAS exposure and health in a study conducted by the NYS Department of Health and SUNY Albany. They are looking for 500 adults and 150 children to participate. Please let friends from Newburgh know and contact matt@clearwater.org for information on how the can become part of the study.

Update on Proposed Danskammer Fossil Fuel Burning Expansion:  Danskammer Energy has filed for both an internal Administrative Hearing and an Article 78 Lawsuit challenging the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) for denying their Title V Air Permit based upon the State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA or the Climate Act).  The Article 78 filing argues that CLCPA does not give the DEC authority to deny their permit and that the DEC therefore acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner that does not comply with State Law.  The DEC and the Governor have argued that the emission reduction targets in the CLCPA would make the expansion of a fossil fuel burning facility incompatible with the Climate Act.  Clearwater and our allies in the Stop Danskammer Coalition agree.  The Astoria Gas Plant was also denied a Title V air permit at the same time that Danskammer was denied.  There have been no new fossil fuel generating facilities brought online since CLCPA has been enacted.

Here is the link to offer comments, which includes the links to register for the public hearing on Feb. 15 and to submit written comments related to Danskammer’s request for an administrative hearing, due Feb. 22: https://www.clearwater.org/event/danskammer-virtual-public-comment-hearing/?instance_id=438

Note: The deadline to sign up to speak is 4:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 11.

Climate Action Council issues Draft Scoping Plan:  The CLCPA, which was signed into law in 2019, is one of the most ambitious climate laws in the world. The law created the Climate Action Council (the Council), which is tasked with developing a draft scoping plan that serves as an initial framework for how the State will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and achieve net-zero emissions, increase renewable energy usage, and ensure climate justice. On December 20, the Council voted to release the Draft Scoping Plan for public comment.  January 1, 2022 marks the beginning of a 120-day public comment period to receive feedback from the public as the Council works to develop and release a final scoping plan by the end of 2022.  Draft Scoping Plan Overview [PDF]  Read the Draft Scoping Plan [PDF]   Mark Dunlea presented an excellent overview to the United For Clean Energy Convergence on Feb. 6.  See:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKFa1iM_Yhw 

Municipal Solar Mapping Project:  The Fall 2021 of the training was hugely successful with 12 municipalities completing the 5-session course using Scenic Hudson’s How to Solar Mapping Toolkit and Worksheet.  This tool helps empower municipalities to take a leadership role in implementing the goals of NY’s Climate Act.  The Spring 2022 Session will begin on March 16 for five alternating Weds. evenings at 7 p.m.  Outreach will focus on priority communities and members of Town Boards, Planning Boards, Environmental Commissions, Economic Development Committees and Climate Smart Committees in the Mid-Hudson Region.  Please ask your municipality to participate.  Contact: mannajo@clearwater.org for more details and registration information.

Events of Interest:  

Sat., Feb. 12 at 5 pm (via Zoom).  Former State Senator Jen Metzger will explain the NYS Climate Action Council’s Draft Scoping Plan to implement NY’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act.  Sponsored by Climate Reality Project, New Yorkers for Clean Power, Clearwater and others. 
See Clearwater’s calendar for registration and additional information.

Thurs., March 17 from 6 – 9 pm (Virtual) Decommissioning Oversight Board.  The Indian Point Closure Task Force and Indian Point Decommissioning Oversight Board will be meeting on March 17, and every two months thereafter for 2022.  Meetings will be held virtually unless health guidelines allow for in-person meetings.  More details will be provided as they are made available.