“Indian Point Suit ‘Dead in the Water’ Says Westchester Legislative Chairman” by Lanning Taliaferro
“Michael Kaplowitz talked to reporters at a press conference in White Plains Thursday morning.
WHITE PLAINS, NY — Michael Kaplowitz, chairman of the Westchester County Board of Legislators, said Thursday the lawmakers would not support the County Executive’s plan to sue New York State in an attempt to force an Environmental Impact Review on the closing of the Indian Point nuclear facility.
Rob Astorino said yesterday the secret deal broke environmental law because a review is required before, not after, the plant closes.
“While I appreciate his focus on Indian Point and understand there’s work to be done, a majority of my colleagues agree that a lawsuit as suggested is not appropriate and will not be supported,” Kaplowitz told reporters at a press conference Thursday morning. “It’s dead on arrival. There is no path to nine votes.”
Indian Point is closing by 2021 under a deal brokered by the plant’s owner, Entergy, with New York State and Riverkeeper, who had multiple lawsuits and other legal proceedings fighting the plant’s operation and Entergy’s application for renewal of its licenses. As a result, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board closed the Indian Point relicensing hearing in March, after 10 years of fighting.
Kaplowitz said he had talked to Astorino today, before the press conference, to tell him he had spoken to more than nine county legislators who did not support the idea of a lawsuit under SEQRA. Nine votes would be necessary to authorize the suit.
There are three basic reasons lawmakers don’t agree with Astorino, Kaplowitz said: the cost/benefit ratio; the worthiness of the purpose; and the timing.
“It’s an absolute potential waste of time, time better spent helping Hendrick Hudson school district and village of Buchanan taxpayers who are facing financial armageddon,” he said, pointing out that the school district stands to lose one-third of its annual tax revenue, while the village will lose 46 percent. “The library, the Town, the County, all who are getting hammered, provision has not been made for any of them. Every day we don’t spend trying to come up with transitional help and a long term plan is wasted opportunity.”
The closure “is going to create economic paralysis in that corner of the county. A lawsuit simply slows everything down,” he said.
Instead, he urged the governor’s task force, the local task force, and everyone else who’s a stakeholder, begin talking about a plan for the future that includes new uses for the property and the region’s need for reliable energy sources.
Kaplowitz said that several energy-related companies have already expressed interest in re-using some or all of the 240-acre property, including solar operators, fuel cell battery storage operators and two companies interested in putting 1,000 megawatt natural gas plants on the site.
Entergy, the company that owns Indian Point, stated unequivocally in January that it was making a business decision to close the nuclear plant because the costs outweighed the profits, he pointed out.
“When cars came in the horse trade disappeared and nobody sued to stop cars and bring back horses,” he said. “You cannot sue an entity to require they stay in business.”
As for suing, the state, he said, “it’s an attack on the very entity, the state through its agencies, that would be there for transitional help, and would be putting dollars and a plan behind assistance to the communities. To ask for help with the left hand and sue with the right creates a mixed message.”
While he said he thought Astorino had acted in good faith, the legislative leader repeatedly called for an “adult” approach to the problem, which he warned is massive.
“We’re trying not to get in the middle of a cat fight between the governor and Mr. Astorino,” he said.
Kaplowitz said he’s frustrated when the County Executive takes unilateral action, calling several of them “misguided rockets that ultimately don’t hit the target” compared to successful ideas done in collaboration with the legislature.”
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