Press Releases

Proposed Regs Would Shut Last 2 Coal-Fired Power Plants in N.Y.

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council – a national leader in the fight against acid rain – today praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Dept. of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos for proposed air pollution regulations that would close the last two coal-fired power plants in New York by 2020.

“The proposed emissions regulations for New York power plants will produce a double benefit for the Adirondack Park,” said Adirondack Council Deputy Director Diane W. Fish.  “By essentially closing the two nearest sources of coal-fired smokestack emissions upwind of us, the state will reduce acid rain in the Adirondacks, while also reducing New York’s carbon emissions that contribute to rapid climate change.

“We thank Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Seggos for taking this step to better protect the Adirondack Park’s water, air, wildlife and wilderness, while breaking New York’s reliance on coal to produce energy,” said Fish.  “This sets a shining example for the whole nation to follow.”   

New York’s proposed regulations are aimed at reducing carbon pollution from all power plants.  Coal-fired power plants produce large amounts of carbon, while also emitting acid rain-causing pollution such as sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides, as well as mercury.

“Coal-fired power plants won’t be able to meet the proposed carbon emissions standards,” said Fish.  “That means they will have to stop burning coal to make power by 2020 if these regulations are approved.  That’s great news for the Adirondack Park.  These aren’t the biggest power plants upwind of us, but they are the closest coal-fired plants.  So a higher percentage of their pollution reaches here.”

The proposed regulations will be the subject of a series of public hearings in Albany on July 16, in Long Island City on July 18 and in Avon on July 24.

Fish said the proposed regulations were a stark contrast to federal clean air policy under the Trump administration. 

Last fall, the Trump administration rolled back the nation’s efforts to combat climate change when it announced the repeal of the federal Clean Power Plan.  In addition to reducing the effects of climate change, the Clean Power Plan would have brought 10 to 12 percent deeper cuts in acid rain, as Midwest coal plants would have had to close to meet the requirements of the plan.

In addition, the Adirondack Council is currently suing U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt for refusing to order the nation’s 36 dirties coal-fired power plants in the Midwest to turn on their already-installed pollution controls.  Co-plaintiffs include the State of Maryland, Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Environmental Defense Fund.  New York (through the attorney general’s office) is pressing a similar suit on the state’s behalf.

The now-idle smokestack devices on Midwest coal plants would reduce nitrogen oxide pollution, which in turn would prevent as many as 400,000 annual smog-induced asthma attacks and tens of thousands of premature deaths in the Northeast, according to EPA’s own research.  Nitrogen oxide emissions are also a significant source of acid rain.

New York’s Adirondack Park has suffered the worst acid rain damage in the United States.  Surveys conducted in the 1980s and 1990s showed 25 percent of the park’s 2,800 largest water bodies had been acidified to the point where their native fish couldn’t survive.  High-elevation forests died away on summit slopes, soils became depleted of calcium and toxic metals such as mercury contaminated the food chain.  Some of the mercury contamination is deposited here by coal-fired smokestacks, while other mercury is released when acidic water reacts with otherwise-harmless chemicals found in forest and wetland soils.

Climate change is a significant threat to the Adirondack Park as well.  The park sits at the border between the Canadian/Siberian taiga (spruce/fir forests and wet, mossy ground) and the mixed hardwood forests of Appalachia.  Thus, it contains plant and animal species from both regions.  It is the southernmost region of the United States where winter sports dominate the year-round culture.  As winter retreats northward, scientists predict that the Adirondack Park’s climate will resemble present-day Richmond, Va., by 2100 without significant reductions in greenhouse gases.

The Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park.  The Council envisions a Park with clean water and clean air, comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant communities.

The Adirondack Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action.  Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

For more information:
John Sheehan
518-441-1340 cell
518-432-1770 office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, May 17, 2018

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