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4 out of 5 speak out against St. Lawrence Cement project

78% of speakers blast SLC; U.S. Army Corps urged to conduct own full, federal review

Allies set up web pages to send comments directly to Corps by April 1st comment deadline

GREENPORT, N.Y. -- 96 out of 120 speakers (79%) at hearings this week before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers took stands challenging the coal-fired St. Lawrence Cement facility proposed for Columbia County.

Among those speaking out against the project were Village of Athens Trustee Andrea Smallwood, Hudson Alderman Robert O’Brien, Hudson Alderman Christopher J. Nedwick, and Hudson Supervisor Daniel Grandinetti (who could not attend, but his statement was read by his wife, Karen). Letters were also submitted by Congressman Maurice Hinchey and also Dutchess County Legislator Edward Haas, who each called upon the Corps to conduct its own full, Federal-level Environmental Impact Statement.

During the three sessions, the two leftmost sections of the hall at Columbia Greene Community College were dominated by opponents, wearing varying shades of red; the rightmost section was more sparsely populated by supporters, almost all wearing bright blue t-shirts provided by the company.

St. Lawrence Cement also provided meals and transportation to those attending on their behalf, many of whom left shortly after the beginning of each session. Among the 22% overall who spoke in favor of the plant, the majority identified themselves as employees of St. Lawrence Cement.

“Plant opponents not only turned out in force, but also made exceptionally high-quality presentations,” said Friends of Hudson executive director Sam Pratt. “Though this is my fifth year of challenging SLC, I personally learned a lot of new information from the carefully-researched and passionate presentations from opponents. The commitment and knowledge of those who support clean, sustainable development in our region over blighting heavy polluters, was fully on display on Tuesday and Wednesday.”

Pratt added that “It was also wonderful to see St. Lawrence Cement’s ‘us vs. them’ campaign debunked, as the Corps heard from plenty of lifelong as well as longtime, full-time residents opposed to the plant.”

A joint statement of opposition to the project signed thus far by 24 groups representing over 135,000 members in the region was submitted to the Corps as part of Friends of Hudson’s presentation.

Meanwhile, two major environmental organizations based in New York State, NRDC and Environmental Advocates, each set up "action pages" at their websites which allow people to file written comments with the Corps up to the April 1st deadline for public input. Both sites send additional copies to Governor Pataki, and the EA site forwards comments to other interested officials and decision-makers as well. Sierra Club and The League of Conservation Voters have also sent email alerts to their members.

Environmental Advocates' site: click HERE.

NRDC site: click HERE.