Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus, Riverkeeper, Inc. and New York State Assembly members Aileen Gunther and James Skoufis have submitted a formal request to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos for the suspension or revocation of the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) power plant permits. The petition was filed on Fri., Apr. 6 with the DEC. The request for suspension or revocation is based on the information obtained during the trial and conviction last month of Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to the Governor. Orange County Legislator James O’Donnell also attended the event.
“Even if air quality standards are being met (as the State claims), the criminal conviction demands a harder look at the underlying suitability of the plant operator,” Neuhaus said. “If you have a bribery conviction, that means someone had to receive the bribe. The bribery conviction alone has tainted the entire permitting process. The fact that there was a hung jury on another CPV executive involved in the Percoco case does not diminish our concern regarding this corruption. Merely avoiding a felony conviction is not the standard we seek for power plant operators.”
Testimony at the trial associated with CPV indicated that some company officials were uncomfortable with hiring Percoco’s wife. Others however overruled those CPV officials and caused the payment to be made.
In a joint letter to the State DEC co-signed by Neuhaus, Richard Webster, Legal Program Director for Riverkeeper, Inc. and Assembly members James Skoufis and Aileen Gunther, they requested “that the DEC find that CPV is an unsuitable permittee in the State of New York and revoke or suspend the air permit for CPV.”
Richard Webster stated: “CPV has shown itself willing to subvert state processes, we therefore believe CPV is not a suitable entity to hold permits in the state of New York.”
The filing of the petition is the legal process to seek a State determination on the suitability of the operator of CPV. It is the DEC Commissioner who must make that determination.
“When the health of our community is at stake, we rely on the experts at DEC to render a fair and unbiased decision on a project,” Gunther said. “Unfortunately, as we all know, this project was different. And here we are weeks later and CPV is still testing their diesel fuel. This is unacceptable. We’ve seen the plumes of smoke, we’ve heard from our neighbors who have had trouble breathing, and we have had enough.”
Skoufis said, “CPV’s permits need to be immediately revoked or suspended, period. Anything short of that is reckless and unacceptable in light of the recent corruption trial.”