“We’re saying on Valentine’s Day, Governor Cuomo, break up with fossil fuels and shut down this project.”
Pramilla Malick was one of many residents of Orange County who spent their Valentine’s Day outside the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse where the corruption trial of Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to New York Governor Cuomo, is going on.
Percoco is on trial for taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes from the company that’s building the CPV fracked gas power plant in Orange County.
“The day those indictments were announced, this project should have been shut down,” said Malick. Being in court and hearing the evidence confirms what she and many impacted community members have been saying for years, that this project would not have received approval without corrupt influence.
Governor Cuomo banned fracking in New York in 2014, but the state is expanding its use of fracked gas for heating and energy, building pipelines, compressor stations and power plants like CPV all over the state.
“Governor Cuomo, please listen to us,” said Orange County resident Scott Martens. “We keep coming down here. We keep coming up to Albany. We keep shouting out to you, tweeting to you, doing everything we can, calling you. Over and over again. Please listen to us. We’re victims here and we need to be heard.”
Martens and his wife Melissa joked about their big Valentine’s Day protest plans. Fighting this plant has become their life. Every Saturday they’re at the weekly picket outside the plant. It’s the longest running anti-fracking protest in the state.
Yet most of the mainstream media coverage of the Percoco trial has focused on how it may impact the Governor’s political career and little on how the plant will impact the Orange County community.
“40 years of VOCs and particulate matter, everyday, all day, that we have to breathe,” said Melissa. “My son will be older than I am now by the time this places runs its course.”
The CPV fracked gas power plant will emit 700 tons of known carcinogens, neurotoxins, and endocrine disruptors a year. It also requires 100–150 fracking wells a year to supply the gas it needs. Since New York banned fracking, families in Pennsylvania will be exposed to all the risks Governor Cuomo said were too great for the people of New York.
The plant will also greatly contribute to climate change meaning it also threatens the city it’s supposed to power, New York City.
“New York City has recently announced it’s divesting from fossil fuels,” said Marie Inserra of Resist Spectra. “Why then is this plant able to continue with this destruction? This plant should not be part of the plan for NYC.”
Resist Spectra has been fighting to stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion, a fracked gas pipeline that was put in dangerously closely to critical infrastructure at the Indian Point nuclear power plant.
“If Cuomo wants to be an environmental leader, he’s got to step up and stop fracking infrastructure,” said Tina Bongar of Resist Spectra.
City Council member Jumaane Williams, who recently announced he is running for Lieutenant Governor was also at the rally.
“I think in 2018, what we’ve learned are the people of the State of New York and across the country are tired of lip service and want something new,” said Williams. “So when I hear from the Gubernatorial Mansion things about fracking, things about wanting renewable energy, but then there is an approval process for this new fracking plant, again, it sounds like lip service.”
For those living in the sacrifice zones of fracked gas infrastructure projects like CPV, the time for lip service from Governor Cuomo is over. Their message is clear, real climate leaders don’t build fracked gas infrastructure.
‘Three groups in this state have already escalated to direct action, Protect Orange County, Resist Spectra and We Are Seneca Lake,” said Kim Fraczek of Sane Energy Project. “We are growing as a movement and it’s time for us to take over their home.”
“There’s 68 days till April 23rd, that’s the day after Earth Day,” said Fraczek. “We are organizing now with thousands of people and we will take over the State Capitol Building and not leave till he makes a commitment to halting all fracking infrastructure in this state.”