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JOINT NEWS RELEASE: TOP, FRIENDS, HVPC

DEC Commissioner’s ruling provides road map for stopping St. Lawrence Cement cement project

POUGHKEEPSIE AND HUDSON, N.Y. (12/9/02) -- Opponents of the coal-fired St. Lawrence Cement proposal for Columbia County are taking cheer from the first ruling of DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty, issued late Friday afternoon.

An initial review by three key challengers of the project --Friends of Hudson, the Hudson Valley Preservation Coalition, and The Olana Partnership--has found that many significant impacts of the proposed plant will be subject to full adjudication in the hearings to come.

"The Olana Partnership is cautiously optimistic about the ruling,” said President Sara Griffen. “It appears that all the visual and air impact issues concerning Olana that TOP hoped to be adjudicated were included in the ruling."

“We are pleased DEC Commissioner Crotty has upheld the administrative law judges' decision to require full adjudicatory hearings on all key aspects of the Hudson Valley Preservation Coalition's case against this massive plant proposed by St. Lawrence Cement,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. "The decision upholds our core argument that this proposed industrial city threatens the quality of life and environmental integrity of the Hudson Valley, which has been declared by Congress as a National Heritage Area. We believe there is ample reason for the state to deny permits for this plant once the full hearings are held.”

“In addition, we are pleased the commissioner declared that hearings must be held to determine whether increased mining activities associated with the new plant warrant a full review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act,” Sullivan added. “However, we are disappointed that she has determined that local meteorological conditions will not be the basis for review of air pollution from the facility. The company will be able to model impacts based on conditions in Albany, and this could result in underestimating public health threats posed by the 20 million pounds of air pollution which the plant would produce annually."

Friends of Hudson director Sam Pratt noted that the review process has taken a series of turns that St. Lawrence Cement had strenuously opposed. “First the company expressed confidence that no intervenors would be recognized, but then we all received party status,” Pratt recalled. “Next they predicted there would be no issues for adjudication, but then two judges ordered just such a trial. Finally, they boasted that the Commissioner would uphold all aspects of their 300-page appeal, but now the Commissioner has provided us a strong basis to prevail at trial. Friday’s ruling gives us a basis to stop SLC on noise, visual, mining, and other key issues. Her second ruling should provide even more, as the central air pollution issues have not been decided yet.”

It is unknown when the second half of Crotty’s ruling will be issued. The Commissioner instructed Administrative Law Judges Helene Goldberger and Maria Villa to convene a self-contained hearing on the mining issues as soon as possible.

Click here to read the full ruling online.