Slate Hill NY: Six citizens from both New York and New Jersey impacted by a controversial fracked-gas power plant in Orange County were arrested today as they blocked the construction site. They say the project creates unacceptable health and safety risks to the public.
The CPV Valley Energy Center, a 650 MW Gas-Fired power plant is now under construction by Maryland based venture capital firm Competitive Power Ventures despite intense local opposition and a lawsuit pending in the State Supreme Court of New York.
Earlier in the morning Attorney Michael Sussman, representing affected residents and opponents, held a press conference at the CPV site announcing the basis of an appeal filed at the Supreme Court of The State of New York. In a statement Sussman said that the project is “a past generation facility” and questioned Governor Cuomo’s contradictory approval of the power plant given the official state policy banning fracking:
“This very same Governor has presided over the expansion of an energy-creating infrastructure which promotes fracking in neighboring states and approves power plants, like CPV, which are highly dependent on the natural gas so produced. This policy decision is inconsistent with the values which informed last year's announcement, short-sighted and must be reversed.”
Actor James Cromwell, member of Protect Orange County, was arrested when he locked himself to two other impacted residents, grandmother Madeline Shaw of Slate Hill and Pramilla Malick, a mother of 4 from Minsink, NY. Three others -- Naomi Miller of Wawayanda, Terri Klemm of Branchville, NJ, and Maureen Murphy-Smolka of Sparta, NJ -- joined hands along side of them to block entrance to the site. All six were arrested.
Members of the group arrested live as far away as 35 miles. They are calling on Governor Cuomo and state agencies to rescind permits for the power plant and halt the gas infrastructure build-out until further health studies are conducted. They note that the degree, kind, and range of health effects from fracked gas infrastructure are only beginning to be understood. Their opposition reflects of a wave of protests against fracked-gas infrastructure throughout the state reaching critical mass almost one year to the date the Governor announced a ban on fracking.
James Cromwell was one of two people recently ejected from a local award dinner honoring the project sponsor, Competitive Power Ventures, after disrupting the event. The story made national news, bringing the environmental and health questions about CPV to the attention of NBC News viewers and People Magazine readers.
Court appearances are scheduled for January 4th, 2016 and Januray 21, 2016 in at the Town of Wawayanda Court.
Following are statements from all arrested on their reasons for engaging in this act of civil disobedience:
James Cromwell: “I am here in support of the people of this town, this country, and people all over the world who have a right to live in an environment that is not being polluted poisoned and devastated by an industry that cares more about its own profits than the well-being of all sentient beings.”
Naomi Miller: “In the context of the global climate movement we see this as a red line that we cannot cross if we hope for a healthy future for our children and grandchildren.”
Madeline Shaw: “I am doing this for my children and grandchildren. Orange County deserves better than this. This is a toxic and explosive hazard that we can’t live with.”
Pramilla Malick “CPV and Governor Cuomo are locking us into a toxic, dangerous, and unlivable future. We are being locked out of our homes and our way of life. Our entire community is being held hostage by the fracking industry.”
Terri Klemm: “We all have concern and the responsibility to act when something of this magnitude threatens our environment.”
Maureen Murphy-Smolka “I am very concerned about the impact this project will have on our regional air and water quality. These are shared resources and that no state should have the right to destroy.