In April, we learned that in during the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) SEQR Scoping comments regarding the Lincoln Park Grid Support Center (a gas-fired peak energy power plant in the Town of Ulster), state officials wrote that “If the air data indicates that the project’s potential impact area includes the Potential Environment Justice Area (in the City of Kingston’s Rondout) the applicant will be required to incorporate environmental justice into the permitting process and prepare a public participation plan as described in the attached environmental justice fact sheet.”
In the DEC’s Commissioner Policy #29 Environmental Justice and Permitting, the “policy amends the DEC environmental permit process by identifying potential environmental justice areas; providing information on environmental justice to applicants with proposed projects in those communities; enhancing public participation requirements for proposed projects in those communities; establishing requirements for projects in potential environmental justice areas with the potential for at least one significant adverse environmental impact; and providing alternative dispute resolution opportunities to allow communities and project sponsors to resolve issues of concern to the community.”
In the the City of Kingston, there are two “Potential Environmental Justice Areas“. One in Uptown and in the Rondout, downwind of potential emissions produced by the gas-fired power plant that is being proposed.
It was reported that the other comments about the environmental review of the project from the state include:
- Finding that the project is located within an area of potential historical or archeological significance and may have visual impacts on the Hudson River National Landmark Historic District.
- Requesting an evaluation of whether the project is consistent with the state energy plan and suggested the developer consult with the state Department of Public Service.
- Noting that the project site has the potential for a “high abundance and diversity of amphibians and other vernal pool associated wildlife.” State officials added that there are also potential impacts on habitat for the Northern Long-eared and Indiana bats due to planned tree removal.
- A reminder that some of the property appears on federal wetlands maps and that the developer will need to conduct surveys to establish precise boundaries.
Since then, the City of Kingston has not heard another word on how the project sponsor intends to respond to the DEC’s request. On Tuesday of this week, Mayor Steve Noble sent a letter to the DEC’s Region 3 Regional Director Kelly Turturro to follow-up.
” … I ask that the DEC send a written notice to the applicant requesting that it immediately commence compliance with the requirements of the Department’s Environmental Justice Policy, as specific in the Department’s March 20, 2018 Comments on the Draft Scope. The City of Kingston, in which the PEJA area is located, specifically requests that the Department direct the Applicant to prepare and submit an enhanced participation plan for review and approval, so that it can be implemented before the public comment on the DEIS is opened. In this way, the intent of the Commissioner’s Policy is honored, and Kingston’s identified environmental justice community will be provided with sufficient time, tools and the opportunity to clearly voice, and have their comments be considered, on the proposed Lincoln Park Grid Support Center. “
For today, you can reach out to our Mayor and thank him for taking a proactive approach on this. Without having done so, it isn’t clear whether or not the applicant would have complied. This will most certainly help.
Send your thanks to: firstname.lastname@example.org
We’ll follow-up as we learn more.