New York must say ’no’ to a new NRG plant
BY AMANDA SEPTIMO AND
Much of the world is on fi re this summer,
and July was the hottest month ever
recorded on Earth. In the South Bronx,
toxic smoke blowing in from massive
wildfi res in the West now adds to pollution
from power plants, highways, waste
transfer stations and truck traffi c to and
from warehouses that we’ve been living
next to for decades here in “Asthma Alley.”
There’s no more time to waste. We urgently
need cleaner air and good green
jobs, and we need to do everything we can
to slow down the climate crisis.
The last thing we need is another massive
power plant burning fossil gas — and
potentially even more dangerous and
carbon-intensive hydrogen gas — in our
backyard. And yet the NRG corporation
is proposing building such a fracked-gas
plant in Queens, close to dense residential
neighborhoods and just across the East
River from Black and brown communities
in the South Bronx, Hunts Point and Rikers
Island. Once again, corporations look
to have environmental justice communities
bear the brunt of their pollution.
More than 50 years old, the existing
power plant in Astoria, Queens, serves as
a “peaker”; it fi res up and spews pollution
on the hottest days, when energy demand
for air conditioning spikes, and when air
quality and pollution are already at their
worst. The new proposal would replace
the old plant with yet another fossil fuelburning
peaker. The plan, which its corporate
proponents suggest would be an
improvement, would invest hundreds of
millions of dollars in continuing environmentally
damaging, outdated fossil fuel
Ultimately, we pay the price through
bills to ratepayers for overheating our
communities and the planet, and for damaging
our families’ health.
Now, as environmental injustices
compound the effects of the COVID-19
pandemic — including when fi ne-particle
pollution makes COVID infection
more dangerous and deadly — we need
to work to address the decades of neglect
and disinvestment that have led to avoidable
health disparities, starkly delineated
by race. We must further New York City
and New York State goals to help address
the climate crisis by pursuing the objectives
outlined in the Climate Leadership
and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).
That means saying no to another frackedgas
NRG’s plan for an expensive new gasburning
plant is not just dangerous, but
Clean and renewable technologies are
now proven and available — including solar
energy installations, offshore wind
farms, newer and better transmission
lines, and battery facilities that can store
the clean energy and release it to the grid
when it’s needed.
Even ConEd has recognized that
building more gas-burning peaker plants
is not the way to go. The giant utility company
recently received state approval to
construct new, effi cient transmission
lines that will help bring energy from
offshore wind turbines and upstate solar
panel farms into New York City — a
project explicitly designed to allow for
the retirement of old, dirty and expensive
peaker plants like the NRG Astoria
Queens and Bronx community members
and elected offi cials have repeatedly
asked NRG to retire the current plant and
come up with a clean alternative to store
and generate renewable energy at the
site. Unfortunately, NRG has refused and
continues to push for a new plant that’s
wrong for our communities, wrong for
our environment, and wrong for our future.
We don’t need another report or study
to tell us that the climate crisis and environmental
racism are affecting our
health right here, right now in the South
Bronx and other environmental justice
communities in NYC. That’s why we’re
joining our allies in Queens and thousands
of other New Yorkers and calling
on the New York State DEC to say no to
NRG’s misguided project.
Amanda Septimo represents the 84th
District in the New York State Assembly.
Dariella Rodriguez is the director of Community
Development at The POINT CDC
in Hunts Point.
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BRONX TIMES REPORTER, A 12 UG. 27-SEPT. 2, 2021 BTR
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