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Cuomo joins chorus of opposition to Circular enerG incinerator

Governor Andrew Cuomo has joined the list of officials voicing opposition to the incinerator proposed for Romulus. The Governor issued a statement on Tuesday, which was an unexpected measure.

The proposed facility, led by a group from Rochester, is going through an Article 10 process, which could circumvent local law and zoning.

A potential piece of state legislation would prevent this type of proposal from going through an Article 10 process, but that legislation has not been signed into law yet.

Below is Governor Andrew Cuomo’s complete statement:

“The Circular enerG trash incinerator project is not consistent with my administration’s goals for protecting our public health, our environment, and our thriving agriculture-based economy in the Finger Lakes. Importing and burning municipal solid waste in one of the State’s most environmentally sensitive areas is simply not appropriate. I’m confident that the Article 10 siting board will carefully consider these impacts and reject the project application if one is ever filed. If the legislature proposes other solutions, we will consider all options to protect against this proposal that is at odds with New York’s renewable energy plan and that threatens important natural resources, environmentally sensitive areas, and economic drivers in the Finger Lakes region.”

The proposed private incinerator would burn 2,640 tons of waste, transported from around the state by truck and/or rail, at an incinerator facility built at the Seneca Army Depot in Romulus. The facility would be constructed just 3.9 miles from Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, 3,200 feet from a K-12 school and a residential facility for at risk youth.

If built, the facility would add hundreds of trucks to rural roads each day and include a 260-foot smoke stack that could be seen for miles. Tons of toxic ash would be produced daily along with air emissions that contain dioxins, lead, mercury, and other toxic chemicals that are harmful to the health of humans, plants and animals and have an impact on the region’s booming wine and tourism industries.

The town of Romulus, Finger Lakes residents and advocates have openly opposed the proposal due to concerns related to the health of the community, the environment and the economy.
Legislators recently introduced bi-partisan bills in the state Senate (SB 8109) and Assembly (AB 10277) that would preserve Home Rule by giving local municipalities authority to decide whether they want those kinds of facilities in their communities. The bills are currently in Assembly Energy Committee and Senate Energy Committee awaiting a vote.

“The Finger Lakes is a peaceful, pristine region that residents and business owners have spent years cultivating. It’s flourishing wine and tourism industry has become an economic engine for New York State, contributing nearly $3 billion to the state economy and supporting 60,000 jobs,” said Joseph Campbell, President of Seneca Lake Guardian. “We are here today to urge Governor Cuomo to reject a proposal that would essentially reverse all the crucial investments the state has made in the region and to call on legislators to support legislation that would give local communities the authority to reject harmful proposals like Circular enerG’s trash incinerator.

“As the State Senator representing Seneca County and a significant portion of the Finger Lakes area, I have spoken with countless local citizens, local business owners, and community leaders regarding the proposed incinerator. They have made it very clear to me, if this project is approved, it will have a devastating impact on Romulus and the entire region. Allowing a proposed solid waste management facility disguised as a power plant to move forward under the Article X process is unfair to our local communities and existing businesses. It is also contrary to the Power Act of 2011, which is intended to ‘encourage investments in clean power plants and to afford communities more opportunities to participate.’ By introducing this legislation, we are calling on our legislative colleagues and the Governor to put an end to this loophole that allows garbage burning to be considered a clean energy solution. This project must not be allowed to circumvent local zoning laws and the state laws designed to protect our lakes, our farmland, and our air from harmful pollutants. This is an unacceptable loophole in the law and passage of this legislation will put an end to it,” said Senator Pam Helming.

“This is a critical effort that provides a stronger voice for the people and communities directly impacted by Circular enerG’s incinerator proposal”, said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb. “As a resident of the Finger Lakes, I appreciate the value of our natural resources and recognize that environmental protection is essential to the future success of our area. I’m proud to support this bipartisan bill and urge both the Assembly and Senate to pass it.”

Senator Tom O’Mara, Chair of the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee, said, “I appreciate the opportunity to sponsor this legislation with Senator Helming and join her in the fight to ensure that our local decision makers are given the authority they should rightfully have on proposals and projects like this one.”

“I am proud to be a part of this growing coalition to express my steadfast opposition to this ill-advised and dangerous proposal which will do absolutely nothing to enhance the quality of life of the residents of the Finger Lakes Region. This project must be stopped, and I will continue to be a vocal and outspoken critic of this project and ensure the voices of our region are heard and known loud and clear by Governor Cuomo and others across our state,” said Assemblyman Phil Palmesano.

“The Finger Lakes has been Wine Country for over 150 years and is responsible today for over 75% of all the wine produced in New York. No one in the Finger Lakes, not residents, not school teachers and school children, not our elected representatives and not property owners and business leaders want more trash and we certainly do not want or need to burn other people’s trash on the folly that it is a renewable energy solution. We call on Governor Cuomo to reject this harmful proposal and urge legislators to restore home rule,” said Will Ouweleen, owner and winemaker at Eagle Crest Vineyards and co-founder of Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition.

We are here today to appeal to Governor Cuomo to reject a dangerous proposal that would create the state’s largest incinerator in the heart of the Finger Lakes and negatively impact the region’s thriving wine and agri-tourism industries. Circular enerG is a new company with no prior experience in incineration and has made little effort to engage the community on this proposal,” said Michael Warren Thomas, Host of “Grapevine Radio”. Incineration is not a solution to waste management. This trash incinerator would not lead to the closing of any landfills in the Finger Lakes region but would instead result in more trucks headed to area landfills every day with tons of toxic incinerator ash. The Finger Lakes would rather see more zero-waste developments and clean energy reproduction, like solar. That is a vision of our future that environmental organizations, local businesses, and elected officials would embrace.”

Also on FingerLakes1.com