Officials call for investigation of CPV power plant
Corruption conviction gives critics ammunition
WAWAYANDA, NY — The conviction on March 13 of former Cuomo aide Joe Percoco on corruption charges related to the Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) power plant in Wawayanda has led to new criticism. That, coupled with a stream of complaints about recent bursts of emissions from the 650-megawatt facility has some elected officials calling for the revocation of plant’s permits to operate.
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther issued this statement: “Last week, I sent a letter to Attorney General Schneiderman requesting that his office look into a potential breach of CPV’s air-quality permit. The emissions being released by CPV are in direct violation of DEC’s order that no emissions be released that ‘are injurious to human, plant or animal life or to property.’ As a registered nurse, the health of my constituents is of upmost importance.
“In light of today’s news [the Percoco verdict], I am now also calling on the Attorney General to pursue legal avenues to revoke any and all permits associated with corruption ties to the CPV power plant.
“As a public servant, I always put the health of my constituents and the environment we all share before profit. I believe everyone in public service should be held to the same standards.”
Other elected officials joined in. Assemblyman James Skoufis said, “In light of the guilty verdicts, I am unequivocally calling on the governor to immediately withdraw all state permits related to CPV and initiate a full, comprehensive investigation into the project’s approvals. I’ve requested these actions be taken since 2016, but now there is no acceptable alternative.
Steve Neuhaus, Orange County Executive, said, “The state should revoke any and all permits granted to CPV. You cannot act illegally in the permit-approval process and then keep the permits. When the arrests happened, I called upon the State to review all of the permits that were issued. Now that a conviction has been handed down, State officials must do more. They should introduce and pass legislation creating a presumption of invalidity for any project in which criminal conduct by public officials occurred and for which permits were issued.”
CPV executives have said there was nothing wrong with the permitting process, but testimony in the trial showed that Percoco got $300,000 from CPV, mostly in the form of a job for Percoco’s wife, that paid $90,000 per year, and at which she worked approximately 40 hours over three years. Percoco at the time was a close aide of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and kept an office near the governor’s office even after leaving state employment.
Critics for years have charged that without corruption, the plant could never have received the necessary permits because of all of the negative impacts to human health and the environment that they say the plant will produce. Also, they charge that the plant goes against Cuomo’s stated goals and policies regarding energy and the environment.
Pramilla Malick, chair of Protect Orange County, said, “This is a vindication of years of efforts by members of Protect Orange County to alert officials to red flags and improper activities. This is a project built on bribes and lies, something we had long known, but the trial brought some daylight to the dirty deals we sensed.”
Laura Shindell of Food and Water Watch said, “If Gov. Cuomo cares about squashing corruption in New York, he must show that he cares more about the health and welfare of the residents of Orange County than profit-hungry corporations and their politically-connected cronies. Gov. Cuomo must shut down the CPV power plant—a polluting, toxic mess his administration created.”