Permits denied for power plants in NYC, Hudson Valley

A man is seen fishing in front of the nuclear plant Indian Point on April 30, 2021 seen from Tomkins Cove, New York. (Photo by Kena Betancur/Getty Images)

State environmental officials denied required air permits Wednesday for natural gas power plants in New York City and along the Hudson River, saying both would be inconsistent with statewide greenhouse gas emission goals.

The denials of Title V air permits for NRG Energy’s Astoria Replacement Project in Queens and the Danskammer Energy Center in the town of Newburgh were announced separately by Basil Seggos, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The pair of decisions marked a victory for clean air advocates who argued the plants would produce unnecessary greenhouse gas emissions as state transitions to cleaner renewable energy. New York state is attempting to dramatically slash greenhouse gas emissions in the coming decades under its 2019 climate law.

"Both would be inconsistent with New York’s nation-leading climate law, and are not justified or needed for grid reliability. We must shift to a renewable future," Seggos tweeted.

NRG had proposed replacing an oil-burning power plant with a cleaner-burning natural gas plant. The company said that it was reviewing the state's decision and that the project would have provided immediate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

"New Yorkers deserve both cleaner air and reliable energy to ensure the lights stay on for our small businesses, homes, schools, and hospitals when they need it most," NRG Energy Vice President of Development Tom Atkins said in a prepared statement. "That’s what this project would have delivered."

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He said the current Astoria plant will continue to operate.

Danskammer Energy was seeking to build and operate a new natural gas-fired power generation facility at an existing power site about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of New York City.

An email was sent to Danskammer seeking comment.

The permit denials were praised by Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other elected officials, as well as by environmental groups. Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said the Danskammer decision was the "first real taste case" for New York's new climate law.

"This is a major victory both for the Hudson Valley and New York state," Sullivan said.