Statement on Potential Torne Valley Power Plants
Thom Kleiner, Supervisor, Town of Orangetown February 15, 2001
I am here today in my capacity as Supervisor of the Town of Orangetown and as chair of the Rockland County Association of Town Supervisors. I join my colleague, Ramapo Supervisor Christopher St. Lawerence, in opposing the construction of two new power plants in Ramapo’s Torne Valley which will have a detrimental impact on our atmosphere and on our water supply.
The concerns which you will hear from Ramapo residents and officials should not be viewed as parochial ones. What happens here in Torne Valley affects all parts of this county. The effects of environmental issues such as this do not respect town boundaries. What directly affects one town or region inevitably affects us all.
Energy issues have been making headlines in recent weeks, especially in California where rolling blackouts are creating havoc. Because of this situation I do not take my position in opposition lightly. Providing energy is a critical service, but the current crisis should not cause us to overreact. Rockland County, the smallest county in the state, already has two power plants, and Torne Valley should not be the site for another.
Rockland County residents are faced with a barrage of environmental problems that have a direct impact on our health. Rockland’s women have the highest Breast Cancer rate in the state. An alarming number of our children suffer from asthma. Rockland’s air is already out of compliance with existing air quality standards, the addition of these plants would only exacerbate the problem.
Orangetown is particularly concerned about the impact the power plants will have on our water supply; we currently depend on the Ramapo River Basin Aquifer for 50 % of our water needs. Rockland residents often find themselves in drought conditions. The addition of power plants in the Torne Valley, a sole-source aquifer, will put our already strained resources under additional pressure. The power plants will limit the recharge capability of the aquifer by as much as 131,000 gallons annually. This, combined with the added danger of contamination from the plants, poses an unacceptable risk for residents of Rockland.
Finally, I am concerned about the lack of local control over this important issue because of the exclusive grant of decision making authority Article X grants to the siting board. The local community should have a much greater role in the decision to site a power plant, a use that will have an incredible impact on the community and region. Home rule, one of the tenets of New York State government, gives local government the ability to determine its own destiny with regard to land use. The powers granted under Article X appear to minimize that local control.
After considering all of the available evidence on the negative environmental consequences a power plant would pose in the Torne Valley, and after considering community opposition to the project, I urge you to reach the same conclusion that the elected leaders of Ramapo and others throughout the region have reached: The Torne Valley is not an appropriate location for a power plant.
Thank you for your consideration.