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State Finalizes Rules Eliminating Coal-Fired Power in New York

State’s Leadership Helps Adirondack Park, Sets Expectations for Upwind States

ALBANY, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council – a national leader in the struggle to end acid rain and curb climate change – today thanked the NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation for acting to eliminate the coal-fired power plants in New York.

The DEC announced it would soon enact a regulation setting strict limits on emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants. The limit is tight enough that power plants cannot meet it while still burning coal.  They will have to switch to cleaner fuels or renewable energy sources in order to meet the new standard, state officials noted. The rule goes into effect next month and will eliminate all coal-fired power generation in the state by the end of 2020, officials said.

“We thank Gov. Andrew Cuomo for this tremendous step forward in New York’s battles against acid rain and climate change, and for advancing a nation-leading agenda for clean water and air,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “At a time when the federal government is encouraging the burning of coal in power plants, New York is leading the way toward eliminating coal as a fuel entirely. This kind of leadership is sorely needed. The Adirondacks will not survive a return to heavy coal use in this country.”

Back in the 1980s, decades of acid rain damage had taken a heavy toll in the Adirondacks, where roughly 25 percent of our largest lakes and ponds became too acidic to support their native life, he said. Every presidential administration since 1990 has made progress at curbing the air pollution that causes acid rain, allowing recovery to begin.

“At the start of the Trump administration, we had the finish line in sight,” he explained. “But the administration is busy ignoring or eliminating the laws and rules that are supposed to protect us and pollution levels are creeping back upward again.

“Because the Adirondack Park’s forests, fish and wildlife have not yet recovered, they are in a vulnerable, compromised state where a little more pollution now will cause much more damage than it did decades ago,” he said. “We cannot return to the days of heavy coal use. We are thrilled to see New York setting an example for others to follow by foreclosing the possibility of a return to burning coal at its power plants.”

Back in the 1980s, New York made about half of its electric power from coal. After a statewide Acid Rain Law went into effect in 1985, its use of coal declined. It fell to less than 1 percent in 2017. New York consumed about 242,000 tons of coal in 2017, or less than half of its consumption in 2016, according to the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority. By contrast, Pennsylvania power plants burned 24.3 million tons of coal; Indiana’s burned 35.5 million tons and Ohio another 28.5 million tons. Each of those states has only a fraction of New York’s population.

“We are pleased to see that New York is rapidly cleaning up its emissions from coal. In-state plants are the closest to the park and the highest percentage of their pollution falls on the Adirondacks, so it’s great that they are cleaner than other states’ are,” Janeway said. “But we need the federal government’s help to solve the problems of controlling acid rain and greenhouse gas emissions. New York can’t do it all on its own. We just aren’t that big a part of the problem anymore.” 

The DEC’s move to tighten rules for carbon dioxide emissions will help the state to meet its previously stated goals to produce 50 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent by 2040, Janeway said. 

The Governor said the regulations were filed with the Secretary of State on May 9, 2019, and will be fully effective on June 8.

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 to ensure the legacy of the Adirondack Park is safeguarded for future generations. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

 

For more information:

John Sheehan, Adirondack Council, 518-441-1340 cell

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, May 10, 2019

 

 

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