DOVER PLAINS – Four protesters who scaled a 275-foot smokestack at the Cricket Valley Energy Center in an effort to shut down construction at the fracked gas power plant last year have been sentenced to probation. The four climbers had been charged with criminal trespass and were facing 30 days in jail.
“Local businesses around this criminal plant suffer or have closed because of the pandemic that affects our health and economy,” says Ben Schwartz, owner of White Pine Community Farm in Dover. Schwartz claims that the energy center will also cause neighbors to lose property values and impact the air quality of the area, including the Dover schools which are less than one mile from the plant that uses fracked gas.
“As a farmer, I am entrusted with the health and the soil, the land, and therefore the people,” says Creek Iversen of Kingston. Iversen is the owner and director of Seed Song Farm. “However, when the representatives we elect to take care of these things fail us, we have to stand up in their place, as we did at the Cricket Valley fracked gas power plant, and we will keep standing up until it’s shut down for good!”
Monica Hunken, another one of the defendants sentenced to probation said, “Cricket Valley Energy is a blight in the farmland and a trespass in the native Schaghticoke land. It must be stopped. To be punished with a year probation for peacefully defending our communities is absurd. We are not the criminals. Cricket Valley Energy, LLC is.”
Bill Kish, the defendant who blockaded the driveway with a tractor while the four climbed the smokestacks remarked on the results of his case. “I just finished with court and I now have an Adjournment in Contemplation of Dismissal which says I have to perform 16 hours of community service and I have an order of protection against me by an individual named Scott Curry that says I need to stay a thousand feet away from him and Cricket Valley Power Plant.” Kish said the restraining order is “insane” because it will not allow him to protest on Route 22 near Cricket Valley. The farmer is planning an appeal of the order with his attorney, David Dorfman on “Constitutional grounds.”