Orange lawmakers support Danskammer project despite public opposition

GOSHEN — The Orange County legislature on Thursday threw its support behind a controversial plan to revamp the Danskammer power plant in the Town of Newburgh.

Nearly 200 people from throughout the Hudson Valley packed the legislative meeting room in Goshen to influence lawmakers voting on a symbolic resolution supporting Danskammer Energy’s proposal to turn the existing peaker power plant off the Hudson River into a natural gas-fired, baseload generation plant.

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The public participation portion of the meeting ran for an hour and a half and was heavy with opposition to the proposal.

Legislators Laurie R. Tautel and Kevindaryan Lujan tried to table the measure, but the motion was swiftly defeated.

The resolution passed 12-7. Two lawmakers abstained.

Applause after the vote was quickly drowned out by shouts of “Shame,” and chants of “How dare you.” People lifted their anti-Danskammer signs and yelled at legislators as they marched out of the room.

Protestors who spoke Thursday consisted of activists from Food and Water Watch and the Sierra Club; environmental organization leaders from Newburgh; elected officials from Dutchess and Ulster counties; and Orange County residents. They voiced concerns about air quality, environmental effects, and urged lawmakers to think progressively about energy development, tourism and the state’s ambitious renewable-energy goals.