New York State Reaches Historic "win-win-win" Agreement With Mirant Over Lovett Plant
STONY POINT, NY (May 10, 2007) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo and state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis today announced an innovative agreement with Mirant that will result in immediate air pollution cuts of almost 50 percent from the Lovett coal-fired power plant and improve air quality throughout the region, and preserve the local economy. The agreement enforces and holds the company accountable to its 2003 Clean Air Act consent decree entered into by Mirant and the state.
At today's announcement in Stony Point, Attorney General Cuomo and DEC Commissioner Grannis were joined by State Senator Tom Morahan, Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, Jr., Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffe, Town of Stony Point Supervisor Philip Marino and Town of Haverstraw Supervisor Howard Phillips, Jr. Attorney General Cuomo praised them all for their hard work in helping to bring today's deal to fruition.
"We reached an agreement that, from all angles and perspectives, is a win-win-win," said Attorney General Cuomo. "Rockland County families can breathe easier knowing that the air will be cleaner, the local economy will remain fluid and a major investment toward energy efficiency has been made. My office worked diligently and thoroughly to hold Mirant accountable to its legal obligations - and went beyond by ensuring that local taxpayers are not hurt by the plant's compliance. And with this agreement, Mirant has taken important steps forward to establish a commitment to a cleaner Hudson Valley."
Governor Eliot Spitzer said, "The resolution of this case will mean cleaner air and fewer cases of respiratory diseases in the Hudson Valley and beyond. This is an outstanding example of the benefits of enforcing the Clean Air Act. Attorney General Cuomo and I are committed to making cleaner air for all New Yorkers a continuing priority of our efforts."
DEC Commissioner Grannis said, "Today marks another important step in the state's efforts to create a cleaner, healthier Hudson Valley. By requiring the Lovett power plant to shut down and securing a $1 million contribution from Mirant for clean energy projects, DEC has taken action that will improve air quality and help the residents of north Rockland County."
Town of Haverstraw Supervisor Howard Phillips said, "Without the Attorney General's help and assistance, this would have never come to fruition. The Attorney General worked diligently to protect taxpayers and ensure the environment for future generations."
Town of Stony Point Supervisor Philip Marino said, "I thank the Attorney General for his hard work. This agreement will hold Mirant accountable and allow us to enter a new day which will help to ensure Mirant is a good neighbor."
The agreement, which is subject to court approval, dictates that:
- Unit number 4 was shut down at midnight, May 7, 2007
- Unit 5 will continue to operate until April 30, 2008
- Mirant will provide $1 million to fund energy conservation and efficiency projects for North Rockland County.
- Under a separate agreement, also subject to court approval, Mirant will not challenge tax assessments for 2007 and 2008 for the town and village of Haverstraw and the town of Stony Point
Mirant New York, Inc. a subsidiary of Mirant Corp., based in Atlanta, entered into a consent decree with the state in 2003 to install new equipment that would reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by at least 75 percent and reduce sulfur dioxide emissions by at least 40 percent or shut down the units producing the pollution. One unit was to be shut down in April 2007 and the other in April 2008.
Sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide are linked to acid rain and smog, as well as asthma and other respiratory diseases. The American Lung Association recently gave the Lower Hudson Valley an "F" for air quality because pollution levels exceed federal standards.
At the Lovett plant, the State charged in 2003 that then-owner Orange and Rockland Utilities violated the federal Clean Air Act by making major modifications to the coal plant without also installing "best available control technology," as federal law requires. As current owner, Mirant was responsible for installing the enhanced pollution controls.
Attorney General Cuomo has made environmental protection a significant priority of his administration. Since taking office in January, Cuomo:
- Announced his intent to sue ExxonMobil and other parties to remediate damage done to Greenpoint Brooklyn and the Newtown Creek from one of the largest oil spills in history (17 million gallons) and the discharge of a large variety of other toxic pollutants into the creek and surrounding areas
- Obtained $1,575,000 from 29 private and public entities that disposed of waste in the North Sea Landfill (a State Superfund site in Suffolk County)
- Filed suit against a waste disposal company owner who dumped construction waste into a protected stream in Columbia County
- Led a multi-state legal challenge to the federal government for adopting a rule that refused to regulate mercury and other pollutants from existing portland cement plants, which resulted in the withdrawal of the rule and a commitment to issue a new one.