Danskammer Energy Abandons Plans to Construct a New Methane Gas Plant in Newburgh, NY


Construction of a new gas plant is incompatible with New York’s landmark clean energy law


Kathryn McGrath,  kmcgrath@earthjustice.org

Danskammer Energy will not build a new methane gas plant in Newburgh, NY. Following years of legal setbacks, today the company withdrew its plans to construct a power plant which could have emitted nearly 2 million tons of carbon emissions per year and additional air pollution in the Hudson Valley.

In 2021, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) denied air permits for the gas plant on the grounds that the new plant would impede attainment of the mandatory emissions reduction targets in New York state’s landmark climate law. The proposed plant would have replaced the current Danskammer facility, a former coal plant converted in 2014 to burn methane gas that operates only a couple days a year.

Enacted in 2019, New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) mandates a transition to a clean energy economy that fosters healthy communities and good-paying jobs while reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40% by 2030 and 85% by 2050 from 1990 levels. The law also requires New York to achieve 100% zero-emission electricity by 2040.

Sierra Club and Orange RAPP, represented by Earthjustice in the DEC air permit proceeding, the Article 10 Electric Siting Board proceeding, and in state court, argued that clean energy resources (wind, solar, storage, efficiency, and demand response) could better meet the electricity needs of the Hudson Valley. The DEC air permit proceeding had been on pause for the last year, as Danskammer voluntarily took a step back after both a state administrative law judge and a state judge in Orange County both affirmed DEC’s authority to deny the permits as inconsistent with the clean energy goals in the CLCPA.

Melissa Legge, Senior Associate Attorney at Earthjustice, said: “Constructing methane gas power plants is simply incompatible with New York’s climate goals under the CLCPA. Danskammer’s decision today shows that they have accepted what environmental advocates in New York have known for years: the time for building new gas plants is over. It’s time to invest in clean energy and transition to a renewable-powered clean electric grid.”

Sandra Kissam, Chair of Orange Rapp, said: “The complete defeat of Danskammer’s ill-advised gas plant showcases what’s possible when uniting the experience and expertise of large organizations like Earthjustice, Food and Water Watch, Scenic Hudson and Clearwater with local grassroots groups relentlessly demonstrating their opposition.”

Josh Berman, Senior Attorney at Sierra Club, said: “New Yorkers can breathe easier knowing that developers have finally put to bed the last fracked gas power plant proposal in the state. With this, we hope that New York regulators can now turn their attention to accelerating the deployment of the clean renewable energy and energy storage resources needed to achieve the state’s critical climate act mandates.”

Mark Sanchez-Potter, a City of Newburgh resident, public school teacher, and active Stop Danskammer Coalition member, said: “Thank god this fight is over and the people won. The City of Newburgh and the Hudson Valley deserve a fossil-free future, which is the best outcome for our community. The fight for environmental justice continues and I am grateful to be a part of that. Power to the People!”

Johanna Fallert, Mothers Out Front, said: “As we celebrate this victory in the Hudson Valley, wildfires in California and New Mexico are raging out of control. We can pause for a moment, but the fight to mitigate climate change and advocate for a livable climate for ourselves and all children is not over.”

Eric Wood, NYPIRG’s Hudson Valley Regional Coordinator, said: “It’s relieving to see that fossil fuel energy companies like Danskammer are receiving the “No More Fossil Fuels” message from New Yorkers. It is a precedent setting victory that they withdrew their Title V application for their proposed gas expansion project. It would be great to see the proposed expansion site be slowly converted into something more productive and healthy for the region as the permit for the current Danskammer peaker plant phases out in 2025.”

Tamsin Hollo, Newburgh Clean Water Project, said: “It was vital to residents and future generations living here that this plant be stopped. Communities like ours are more likely to be targeted for damaging projects by predatory corporations, which has resulted in the health crisis we already see locally every day.“

Jess Mullen, Stop Danskammer Coalition Campaign Manager, said: “This victory sends a signal to the fossil fuel industry that New York will no longer sacrifice the health of residents, and walks the talk when it comes to battling the causes of the climate crisis.”

This is the latest proposed methane gas plant to be stopped in New York after the passage of the CLCPA. Earthjustice, UPROSE, and partners in the PEAK Coalition worked to defeat proposals to build new gas plants in Astoria and Gowanus in New York City. In 2021, plans for both plants were scuttled, and in 2022, NRG announced that it would sell the Astoria site to Beacon Wind to interconnect an offshore wind project.

Aerial view of Newburgh, a small city in the Hudson River Valley in Orange County, New York, on a cloudy autumn afternoon.
Danskammer Energy's methane gas plant in Newburgh, NY, could have emitted nearly 2 million tons of carbon emissions per year and contributed to air pollution in the Hudson Valley. (Halbergman / Getty Images)

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