Newburgh, N.Y. - Nearly 100 residents of Newburgh and the surrounding area, along with Food & Water Action, Nobody Leaves Midhudson, Raiz-Planned Parenthood, Newburgh Clean Water Project and Orange Residents Against Pilgrim Pipeline, held a rally and march in Newburgh on Tuesday evening to demonstrate growing opposition to the plan to expand the Danskammer fracked gas power plant.
The protesters chanted slogans like, “Cuomo, Danskammer has got to go!” and held a banners that said “Stop Danskammer!” and “pueblo unido jamás será vencido” which in english translates to “the people united will never be defeated”
The current Danskammer owners, Wall Street private equity firm Tiger Infrastructure, are proposing a massive expansion of the existing fracked gas plant, which currently operates at 5% of its capacity. The proposal to run the plant year-round, which sits along the Hudson River, would add toxic emissions to our air and worsen the effects of climate change.
Despite the false narrative that natural gas is cleaner and better for the climate, drilling and fracking and its associated infrastructure have greatly contributed to climate and air pollution. Fracking-related air quality degradation has resulted in anywhere from 1,200 to 4,600 deaths in just over a decade.
“This plant, if approved, will put the entire Hudson Valley region at increased risk, especially for those living closest to the plant, including black and brown communities in Newburgh. Residents have already suffered years of toxic dumping, they shouldn't be burdened with this dirty project too. Enough is enough,” said lifelong Newburgh resident & Food & Water Watch activist Mark Sanchez-Potter.
“We’re still dealing with the poison from Stewart airport, is that not enough? Now we’re dealing with coronavirus. Our senator and congress member need to stand up for us. They’re sitting there in their office still getting paid while we’re getting poisoned. We need the surrounding communities to help us,” said Juan, a Newburgh resident and Nobody Leaves Midhudson member.
“As black, indigenous, non-black communities of color, we are worthy and it is our right to live again in an environment where we can breathe clean air, where we can drink clean water, and where we can plant our foods in soil without poisons. Parenting the children we choose to have in safe and sustainable communities is reproductive justice. Choosing to not raise children but still living in a safe environment is reproductive justice,” said Aura Lopez Zarate, Newburgh resident and Raiz Organizer for Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. “This means that the children of our loved ones who live in Newburgh, the children we might choose to have one day and OURSELVES should be able to live in a place without the risk of being born with/ developing asthma or other chronic diseases; that will potentially take our lives when the next COVID-19 happens, which we are still living through.”
“We’re here to make noise, we’re here to be heard. We don’t want to leave that legacy for our community, for our families. I stand with the unions we all do. We all support a living wage but not at the expense of poisoning our community members. No community member should be standing for poisoning their neighbors and ruining their neighborhoods. So I stand here with not only the Newburgh council members but all of the council members and residents across the Hudson valley who are against this,” said Kevindaryan Lujan, Orange County Legislator representing Newburgh.
“It’s always the same communities targeted, low income working class cities. Oil and gas companies feel entitled to take advantage of communities like Newburgh and like my city of Peekskill. There are so many communities like ours across the country. Our leaders know. It’s their job to know this and yet they choose to look away when projects like Danskammer come to the table,” said Vanessa Agudelo, Peekskill City Council Member.
“When the community being affected doesn’t stand up who will? That’s why I’m here today,” said Newburgh City Council Member Omari Shakur.
Activists rallied outside the offices of Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and State Senator James Skoufis, urging them to come out publicly against the plant by adding their names to a statewide elected official sign on letter that will be delivered to Governor Cuomo and the Public Service Commission later this week. There is also a national bill, the Fracking Ban Act, introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, which would stop new gas projects like Danskammer. Activists have been calling on Representative Maloney to sign onto that bill as well.