Astorino, left, gathered supports to announce the possible suit
PEEKSKILL – Saying that a full environmental review of the impacts of closing the Indian Point nuclear power plant was not conducted, Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino announced on Wednesday that he wants to sue to keep it open or delay its closure.
He argues that Governor Cuomo’s “secret deal” with Entergy and Riverkeeper cannot move forward because the environmental review was not conducted.
“Whether you are for nuclear power or against it, there is no debate that the public had a right to know about the impact of closing Indian Point before the deal was reached by three men in a room,” Astorino said. “If our laws are to have any meaning at all, then the process has to be fair, open, and reviewable.”
Astorino said an environmental impact statement on the closure of IP would determine the financial toll stemming from the loss of billions of dollars in economic activity, millions in annual property tax revenues and thousands of jobs; expected increases in utility bills as the result of the loss of 25 percent of the electricity currently used to supply customers in Westchester and New York City; the credibility of plans to replace the lost source of energy; new public health and societal risks associated with CO2 emissions from replacing zero-emission nuclear power with fossil-fuels; and the environmental and financial consequences of leaving behind “a nuclear-waste cemetery for the entombment of spent fuel rods for at least 60 years.”
Buchanan Village Mayor Theresa Knickebocker, said closing the plant located in her municipality will have a significant adverse impact on village taxpayers because the facility’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement amounts to $3 million, roughly half of the village’s property tax levy.” She said the impact to the village would be “staggering” and adding insult to injury, the village received no advanced warning from the state.
Peekskill Mayor Frank Catalina said the city backs the lawsuit 100 percent.
John Hochreiter, superintendent of the Hendrick Hudson school district, said the impact of the closure was felt immediately, “so much so that we abandoned our plans to move forward with a $14 million capital improvement referendum.”
Astorino needs county Board of Legislators’ approval to move forward with legal action. Legislator John Testa, who represents the area, said he supports the lawsuit. “The consequences couldn’t be more serious,” Testa said. “Putting this before the court means the issues can be reviewed in a thorough manner before an impartial umpire.”
Marsha Gordon, president of the Business Council of Westchester, said the “economic and environmental impacts of an early shutdown of Indian Point must be thoroughly evaluated and the state must come forward with policy and programs to mitigate the impacts on the local economy, tax base and electric consumers.”