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New, bipartisan letter calls for full trial of cement plant issues

Ten elected officials representing Columbia County have sent a letter to Governor George Pataki, urging his administration to hold a full trial (or "adjudication") on the coal-fired St. Lawrence Cement proposal.

The letter is signed by Assemblyman Pat Manning, 4 Columbia County Supervisors, 3 Hudson Aldermen, and two members of local Town or Village boards. These include Republicans, Democrats, Conservatives, and Independence Party members, as well as an official unaffiliated with any party.

“These officials are taking a responsible and balanced approach to the issue, and about half of them are speaking out for the first time on the cement plant,” noted Friends of Hudson Executive Director Sam Pratt.

“The bipartisan nature and the geographical distribution of the signers are encouraging signs,” Pratt added. (The signers are spread all over Columbia County, as well as Manning’s much larger Assembly district; the signers are also inviting other elected officials from the region to join in the coming days.)

Adjudication would require sworn testimony and cross-examination of witnesses from both sides. Two judges within the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation have already ordered such a trial on 8 key issues -- but the cement company filed a 300-page appeal of that decision to DEC Commissioner Erin Crotty, a Pataki appointee.

“We continue to be guardedly optimistic that the administration will do the right thing: namely, to deny SLC’s appeal, so that the facts can come out in the full trial already ordered by two judges.”

The community has been awaiting a decision on this appeal, the subject of today’s letter from the 10 officials, since February 2002. Click HERE to read the text of the November 25th letter.