Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announced last week he had filed two lawsuits to ensure the pending closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan fully complied with state environmental regulations.
Astorino opted to take legal action against New York State, Entergy and Riverkeeper despite not getting the support of the county Board of Legislators.
“When the Democrats on the Board of Legislators decided to abandon their responsibility of protecting our local communities, I decided to act on my own,” Astorino remarked. “The stakes are too high not to ensure every possible step is taken to make sure our county and local communities are not left defenseless against the power of the state and wealthy special interest groups. Even those who applaud the closing of Indian Point should be deeply concerned about how it is being done and the environmental and economic aftershocks to come.”
Citing clear and numerous breaches in the state’s environmental laws, Astorino said the lawsuits detail how the “three men in a room” deal to close Indian Point reached by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Entergy and Riverkeeper in January that stunned local leaders failed to meet the obligations of the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
Astorino claimed the state was putting the public at risk by not examining whether sufficient energy sources will be available to replace the electricity generated by Indian Point; whether the loss of jobs and economic activity will devastate local municipalities; whether the public will be exposed to health and safety dangers from leftover spent radioactive fuel rods; and whether anticipated increases in electric bills will cause economic hardships to residents and businesses.
“Our lawsuit has nothing to do with the debate over nuclear energy,” Astorino said. “It has to do with safety and the rule of law.”
Board Majority Leader Catherine Borgia (D/Ossining) said Astorino was violating the county’s charter by using outside counsel.
“The county executive’s political ambitions are clearly more important to him than the taxpayers of Westchester,” Borgia stated. “He has once again made known his intent to use taxpayer funded resources, without Board of Legislators approval, for a frivolous lawsuit he knows we can’t win. The surrounding communities are better served by bringing all sides together to work on real economic and environmental mitigation solutions; and that is what Democrats are focused on.”
Meanwhile, Scenic Hudson, which was a party to the agreement to close Indian Point through one of its partners, Riverkeeper, issued a statement reiterating its support to shut down the plants.
“Closing Indian Point is a win for the Hudson River, residents of Westchester County and indeed all New Yorkers,” said Scenic Hudson Director of Environmental Advocacy Hayley Carlock. “It will put us on the path to reversing decades of serious damage to the Hudson River and its wildlife, with sustainable, safe and economical energy resources replacing the facility’s power.”