August 16, 2018

NY Gov. Cuomo Faces Growing Pressure to #StoptheDanScam: Alarming Report Shows New Danskammer Power Plant in Hudson Valley Would Generate Toxic Pollution, and Only Benefit Wall Street Investors Tied to Trump

Investors in the Danskammer Plant Are Closely Connected to Trump and His Allies, Including to Sebastian Gorka, a Former Trump Advisor and a Well-Known Fascist Sympathizer.

Newburgh, New York – Governor Cuomo is facing a major test of his commitment to fighting President Trump and climate change. Environmental advocates, watchdog researchers, and community leaders are calling on Cuomo to use his power to stop a new fracked-gas power plant proposed for Newburgh by Danskammer Energy that would generate toxic pollution and generate massive profits for right-wing investors closely tied to the Trump administration.

A new report today by the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) and New York Communities for Change (NYCC) urges Cuomo to #StoptheDanScam and halt the new Danskammer plant

The report reveals that the plant is a money grab by ultra-wealthy Wall Street investors connected to the far-right Trump agenda who will reap enormous profits from polluting the air, destroying the environment, and overcharging consumers for electricity.

The developers of the new Danskammer plant need to apply for permits through the state’s Article 10 power plant siting law, which Cuomo controls.

Cuomo can block the new Danskammer plant by not approving the permits.

On May 24, Danskammer Energy proposed a new fracked-gas power plant in the town of Newburgh, in New York’s Hudson Valley. According to the report from PAI and NYCC, the new Danskammer plant would produce pollution that would negative impact both local and regional air quality, and cause large emissions of climate-heating pollutants.

The current Danskammer power plant, which sits by the Hudson River, began operating in 1951 originally as a coal fired plant, one of the dirtiest in the state. The plant was identified as a top polluter by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2010.In 2012, Danskammer was flooded by Superstorm Sandy, shut down, and subsequently went into bankruptcy. It was then sold and converted to a gas-fired facility in 2014-15. Currently, the plant has a production capacity of 511 megawatts but only operates when demand for electricity is very high – during “peak” demand – which is irregular. The new proposal would raise the plant’s capacity to 525 – 575 megawatts by installing new gas-fired turbines.

Danskammer Energy is owned by Tiger Infrastructure Partners, a private equity firm advised by Thomas A. Saunders III, a key Trump ally who played a crucial role in helping to advance the career of Sebastian Gorka, the former Trump advisor who has well-documented fascist sympathies. Saunders is also the chair of the Heritage Foundation, a powerful far-right think tank that has played a role in influencing and staffing the Trump administration.

To maximize profit from the new Danskammer plant, Tiger Infrastructure plans exploit an opaque system of mixed federal and state regulation administered by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), as the report shows. The NYISO is a private entity directed by members with close ties to companies whose profits are connected to the market that NYISO regulates. The structure of the pricing mechanism allows power generators such as Tiger Infrastructure to overcharge the public for the electricity they generate.

“This report reveals how dirty the Danskammer fracked gas plant really is. With ties to fossil-fueled Trump and Wall Street, it’s on Cuomo to stop this plant that would poison our communities and further fuel climate change,” said Thanu Yakupitiyage, U.S. Communications Manager. “To prove he’s a real climate leader, Cuomo must reject this dirty fossil fuel project, and put the health and safety of New Yorkers ahead of corporate interest. Ahead of the September 6 New York Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice march, it’s time for Cuomo to walk the talk on building a fossil free New York.

“If Governor Cuomo is serious about opposing Trump and fighting climate change, he can prove it by stopping the new Danskammer plant. He can block the plant from opening simply by denying permits to its developers. If Cuomo allows the new Danskammer plant to move forward, he will be complicit in Trump’s agenda of environmental destruction and white supremacy. It’s up to Cuomo to show real leadership in this moment,” said Derek Seidman, a research analyst at the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI), and lead author of the report.

“I don’t want my kids—or, anyone else—to suffer from diseases and illnesses that will spread locally through the opening of the new Danskammer plant.  Governor Cuomo shouldn’t allow Wall Street investors with connections to Trump to profit from the use of dirty, fracked gas and harm to our community and environment,” said Michael West, a long-time resident of Newburgh.

“If Cuomo were truly a progressive, he would be outraged by Wall Street fleecing New Yorkers at the expense of our air and people’s health. Governor Cuomo should join us in saying no to the new Danskammer plant and no to greedy investors who are directly connected to Trump’s reactionary agenda and harmful policies,” said Jose Gonzalez, a research analyst at New York Communities for Change (NYCC).

“We don’t want a corporate shakedown by well-connected investors for an unneeded gas plant that will pollute the air while inflating our electricity bills just to guarantee their profits,” said Sandra Kissam, Chair of Orange Residents Against Pilgrim Pipelines (Orange RAPP). “It’s time for Governor Cuomo to stand up to these big money elites and prohibit these polluting gas plants.

Recently, Cuomo has tried to position himself as a progressive leader in the fight against climate change. But his record is mixed, and he’s often been slow up to take action on major issues. He didn’t ban fracking in New York until 2014, after being followed around the state relentlessly for years by anti-fracking activists.

Earlier this year, Cuomo made a promise, captured on video, that he would not approve any new gas-fired power plants. But the Cuomo administration previously approved the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure in New York e that will lock in local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions for decades to come.

These past approvals of fossil fuel projects across the state have included large facilities in the Hudson Valley similar to the Danskammer proposal: the Cricket Valley Energy Center in Dover and the Valley Energy Center in Wawayanda, also known as the CPV plant, because it is tied to Competitive Power Ventures, the gas plant developer at the center of a corruption scandal that ended in the conviction of former top Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco.

Today’s report on Danskammer comes just three weeks before New Yorkers will Rise for Climate, Jobs, and Justice on September 6, in coordination with a global day of action, calling on Cuomo and all elected officials to halt all fossil fuel projects, including fracked gas plants like Danskammer.


For a full copy of the report, visit: