FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM MARCH 4, 2021 • THE QUEENS COURIER 17
A better energy future for Astoria can’t include NRG’s proposed power plant
BY SEBASTIAN BAEZ
Growing up in
Astoria, I, like many of
my neighbors, suff ered
from childhood asthma.
Many of us in Astoria
used to play sports on the fi elds next
to energy company NRG’s power plant.
Generations of kids, seniors and everyone
in between breathe poisoned air, yet we live
in an age of readily deployable zero-emission
technology. It is unacceptable to have
to breathe any pollutants from energy production
Sadly, yet predictably, NRG wants to continue
profi ting off Astoria residents. For
decades, Astoria has powered much of
NYC’s peak energy demand and paid the
price in elevated air pollution and health
complications. Fortunately, the current
NRG Astoria plant must shut down because
it’s too dirty for New York’s emissions standards,
meaning we have a once-in-a-lifetime
choice in determining what follows.
NRG can choose not to replace the plant
and we could avoid deaths, hospital visits
WHAT TO MAKE OF
Th ere is more to “Flushing Bay
Promenade set to undergo major renovation
as part of LaGuardia AirTrain project”
(Carlotta Mohamed — Feb. 26).
New York City is spending $200 million
on a clean up project to bring back
wetlands on the shore and upgrade the
sewer system for Flushing Bay. Much
of this work will be performed on the
same waterfront shoreline as the proposed
$2.05 billion LaGuardia AirTrain.
How much of this environmental remediation
work will have to be done over
a second time due to construction of
the LaGuardia AirTrain? Has this issue
been addressed as part of the LaGuardia
AirTrain Federal Aviation Administration
Draft Environmental Impact Statement?
Are the two projects compatible? Will
taxpayers be stuck paying twice for the
In our new COVID-19 world, airlines
— just like Amtrak, Long Island Rail
Road, Metro-North Railroad and New
Jersey Transit — have to re-evaluate anticipated
future ridership growth projections.
Anticipated ridership fi gures for
the LaGuardia AirTrain also need to be
More people are going to telecommute
from home on a permanent basis.
Th ere will be fewer face-to-face meetings
and conferences, with increased usage of
Th e growing crime rate and decline of
quality of life in New York City will make
working, shopping, dining, visiting or
living in Manhattan even less desirable.
Many Manhattan-based corporations are
and the signifi cant human and economic
toll of polluted air. NRG’s proposal
wouldn’t eliminate carbon emissions and
air pollutants; it would contribute to preventable
aggravated asthma, strokes, premature
death and other respiratory ailments.
What’s worse, a recent study found
an association between long-term air pollution
and COVID-19 mortality. We don’t
want chokeholds around our necks made
only a little looser with this proposal — we
want to truly breathe.
We are facing a climate emergency. We
only have 10 years left to transform our
energy infrastructure and avoid the worst
of climate change according to top scientists,
yet NRG’s proposal would contribute
to life-threatening heatwaves and fl ooding
in our communities. And despite NRG’s
supposed support of clean energy, their
record is fi lthy. NRG has:
• sneakily submitted their proposal during
the pandemic’s darkest days last April;
• spent over $600,000 on lobbying to shove
this proposal down our throats;
• snuck $450 million — just from their
Astoria plant — straight from New
considering relocating employees to satellite
offi ces in the surrounding suburbs.
Fewer tourists will be fl ying into the Big
Apple. Th e same is true for those from
out of town needing to conduct business
As the middle- and upper-class residents
continue to move out of New York
City, there may be fewer travelers using
In 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo said
the cost was $450 million with a completion
date of 2019. Th e Port Authority has
budgeted $2.05 billion of funding within
the $37 billion 2017–2026 10-Year
Capital Plan for the LaGuardia AirTrain.
Th is doesn’t include several hundred million
more which is necessary to relocate
the NYC Transit Flushing Casey Stangel
Th ere is no funding within the MTA’s
$54.8 billion 2020–2024 Five-Year Capital
Plan to pay for this cost. No one can predict
the fi nal cost and completion date.
For the Port Authority, state of good
repair, safety and security projects clearly
should be higher priority than any system
expansion project such as the LaGuardia
AirTrain. It may make more sense to postpone
the LaGuardia AirTrain to the next
Larry Penner, Great Neck
MY VACCINE EXPERIENCE
My wife Eva and I have received our
fi rst dose of the COVID-19 Pfi zer vaccine
at the Aqueduct Racetrack in South
My wife is 67 and I am 71 years old and
we’ve had a hard time trying to get an
appointment for the vaccine. But thanks
to our senior group at Commonpoint
Queens in Little Neck, we were fi nally able
to get an appointment.
When we showed up for our appointment
we were greeted by National Guard
members, who were extremely helpful in
checking us in by verifying our ID and
Th ey then showed us where to go and
to stand in line and told us to wait six feet
apart. Th e line went fast and when it was
our turn, we were asked questions by a
nice young woman who was helpful and
kind and gave us an appointment card
before directing us to the next station,
where a nurse gave us our vaccine shots.
Th e kind and considerate nurse then
directed us to another area, where we had
to sit for about 20 minutes to make sure we
had no immediate health issues from the
vaccine. Aft er that, we were getting ready
to leave when I saw two National Guard
soldiers and said to them, “You guys are
doing a great job keeping us safe.” Th e soldiers
thanked me for the kind words.
As my wife and I got in our car to go
home, we agreed that the experience went
really well. It is my opinion that, based
upon our experience, no one should be
afraid to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr., Bellerose
letters & comments
Yorkers’ utility bills despite operating
under 1 percent of capacity since 2010,
• pocketed $218 million in tax credits only
to close two plants and lay off 136 workers
We can’t hurt our health and bank
accounts with this unnecessary proposal.
We must invest in renewable energy, truly
better health and plentiful, long-term jobs
right now. We can hire new workers and
retrain those impacted by plant closures to
install and maintain rooft op solar and battery
storage throughout Astoria. Phasing
out peaker plants while keeping the lights
on with long-duration battery storage is
already underway in Queens.
Even better human and fi nancial health
would come from Public Power. Th is would
guarantee democratic control of battery
storage and aff ordable, zero-emissions electricity
and affi rm the rights of energy workers
with prevailing wages, project labor
agreements and a true seat at utility boards.
Th is is what a healthy, working-class-centered
recovery for Astoria and Queens
Ultimately, this is an issue of justice. It’s
justice if the next generation of Astorians
has a chance at breathing truly clean air.
It’s justice if our seniors and medically vulnerable
live to see a genuine improvement
aft er suff ering for years. And it’s justice if
the people who seek work in our community
right now get to build this truly better
neighborhood for tomorrow.
With grassroots groups and every
local legislator opposing NRG’s proposal,
it’s clear that NRG isn’t welcome here in
Astoria and New York City. We need — and
demand — a much better way of producing
Tell Governor Cuomo and the
Department of Environmental
Conservation to reject NRG’s proposal by
leaving a public comment at bit.ly/noNRGplant.
If you’re an Astorian and have
questions about the plant or want to get
involved, visit the link to connect with
neighbors organizing against NRG.
Sebastian Baez is a lifelong Astoria resident
and member of the No Astoria NRG
Fracked Gas Plant Coalition.
MR. FROSTY // PHOTO
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