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Parties respond to latest SLC P.R. stunt

After a lackluster presentation to the media about economic impacts by St. Lawrence Cement consultants Ernst & Young on Thursday (Aug. 29), opponents of the company's massive coal-fired proposal issued the following immediate comments. As the company did not immediately release its full report, these parties are reserving more detailed comment until their own analysts have proper time to digest its claims:

* This morning’s presentation failed to address or explain the following statements from St. Lawrence Cement’s own application:

-- “In total, there is no net new spending in the regional economy in the future.” St. Lawrence Cement Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS), April 27, 2001, Section 3.4.2, Page 3-15
-- “There would be no appreciable change in the workforce necessary” for the new plant.” DEIS, Section 3.4.4, Page 3-18
-- “The proposed project would result in little net change to SLC employment.” Page 3-15

* Jim Cashen, lawyer, labor arbitrator, Chamber of Commerce board member, and president of Friends of Hudson:

“I was disappointed that after waiting two years, they still did not provide the full report to those of us who attended. Until we see that report, it is impossible to know what ‘inputs’ they used, the sources of that data, and whether they have addressed the net impacts on both Greene and Columbia County.”

* Warren Reiss, General Council, Scenic Hudson:

“SLC has once again embarked on a public relations disinformation campaign. Their new rosy claims of economic benefits fly in the face of their prior projections contained in their own application. What’s changed? Not the project, just the accounting methods and the spin. SLC’s economic claims, just like their pollution claims need to be fully examined within the review process, as ruled by two judges -- not in an press conference.”

* Margaret Davidson, board member, The Olana Partnership:

“We are very concerned at Olana that this massive project will limit our future ability to contribute to the local, regional and state economy. Our own projection is that Olana’s recently-approved plan to build a new museum and visitors center, and to restore the house and landscape, will contribute a total annual impact of $24.7 million statewide including $12.2 million in Columbia County. SLC’s puts those benefits at risk.”

* Elizabeth Nyland, a marketing research consultant who has held senior positions at firms such as American Express, Chase Manhattan, and others, and a member of Concerned Women of Claverack:

“I attended the SLC forum two years ago on economic impacts. At that time, we were told there would be ‘case studies’ -- plural. But today, the company’s consultants presented a partial case study in one Michigan community. They didn’t do what they said they were going to do. What happened to the others? And why did they switch to a different accounting model for this analysis?”

* Don Christensen, financial analyst, published author, and Hudson resident:

“This strikes me as just another smoke and mirrors attempt by SLC to spin their numbers in the press. They’re pointing to a shining example in Michigan, just like they pointed to the Midlothian plant in Texas -- a public relations exercise which has backfired on the company. Meanwhile, their application continues to say: No new net spending, no real change to jobs.”

* Sam Pratt, executive director, Friends of Hudson:

“Any honest analysis of economic impacts needs to take into account the regional picture. According to SLC, 80% of the existing employees in Catskill would transfer to the Greenport plant, but would continue to live exactly where they already live, and make purchases in the same businesses they already frequent. Moreover, SLC has said that they will continue to use the same vendors at essentially the same levels they already do. If there is no real change in employment, and no real change in spending patterns, there cannot be any spin-off benefits to the region. SLC admits that in their application, but not in their public relations campaign.”

Note:In addition to their consulting work for SLC Ernst & Young was also awarded the accounting contract with SLC parent company Holcim earlier this year.