Secondary menu

There are several seven sides to every story: Editorial views on SLC from the region's papers

HUDSON -- In the past five years since the first quiet annoucement of the St. Lawrence Cement proposal here in the mid-Hudson Valley, newspapers covering the issue have one-by-one staked out editorial positions on the widening controversy.

These include a preponderance of papers strongly opposed to the plant, several calling for a tougher review process, and only one adamantly (and repeatedly) in favor of the massive, coal-fired facility. Below is a sampler of seven of those positions:

(1) THE NEW YORK TIMES has written two prominent editorials, stating recently that SLC "would unleash a plume of pollutants endangering everyone downwind" and that "to build a coal-burning cement plant right on the Hudson makes no sense at all."

(2) After several fence-straddling editorials, THE POUGHKEEPSIE JOURNAL in Dutchess County concluded last summer that "The facility would do the area far more harm than good."

(3) 20 miles east in Massachusetts, THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE of Pittsfield has editorialized three times against SLC, stating that "This is the wrong plant in the wrong place," and dressing down the company's hired Harvard medical consultants.

(4) Back in Columbia County, THE INDEPENDENT decided that overall, the company's proposal is "not in the best interests of the people of Columbia County," after which St. Lawrence Cement withdrew all advertisements, estimated to have been worth some $50,000 annually. Nevertheless, this year the paper reiterated that it is "on record as being opposed" to the proposal, a plan which SLC has shown no sign of being willing to modify.

(5) In Litchfield County, THE LAKEVILLE JOURNAL noted that among residents of the Tri-State region, "a growing number are becoming concerned," and decried New York State's decision to deny Connecticut agencies and officials a seat at the table in the review process.

(6) Farther downwind, THE BOSTON GLOBE has just issued a lead editorial calling on its own governor, Mitt Romney, to bend his New York counterpart George Pataki's ear about the plant, arguing that "a new coal-burning plant in the Northeast is a nonstarter."

(7) Lone among all these media outlets, THE REGISTER-STAR has editorialized literally dozens of times in favor of one of its largest advertisers -- St. Lawrence Cement. Nearly every move by the company (and every assault on its credibility) has occasioned a cheerleading editorial from Publisher Jules Molenda, who has found 1,001 ways to say, "We applaud the folks at St. Lawrence Cement."

NOTE: During the period in which the plant has been under consideration, the daily circulation of The Register-Star has dropped from 10,000 to 5,700, according to published sources, a drop of over 42%. Other Capital Region newspapers averaged a drop of under 3% by comparison.