SIERRA CLUB AND HUDSON RIVER FISHERMEN FILE SUIT TO CHALLENGE DEC’s RAVENSWOOD WATER WITHDRAWAL PERMITTING PROCESS
The Sierra Club and the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association filed suit Friday, December 6, 2013, in New York State Supreme Court in Queens County against the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and TransCanada Ravenswood LLC. The suit is an Article 78 proceeding challenging the DEC's failure to conduct an environmental review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) as part of the process in issuing a water withdrawal permit to the Ravenswood Generating Station. Ravenswood has applied for a permit to withdraw 1.5 billion gallons of water per day from the East River in New York Harbor. The Ravenswood water withdrawal application is the first application to be considered by the DEC under the state’s new water withdrawal permitting law and regulations. In addition to violations of SEQRA, the suit asserts that the DEC has failed to comply with the requirements of the state’s Water Resources Protection Act, the public trust doctrine, the federal Coastal Zone Management Act, the NYS Waterfront Revitalization of Coastal Areas and Inland Waterways Act, the New York State Coastal Management Plan and the New York City Waterfront Revitalization Program.
Roger Downs, the Conservation Director of the Sierra Club’s Atlantic Chapter said, “The Ravenswood plant has killed billions of fish through its antiquated cooling intake pipes over the decades and presents a myriad of other impacts on the estuary and on other water users. To pass on this huge water withdrawal permit with no scrutiny of its environmental impacts is irresponsible and contrary to the requirements of SEQRA. It sets an unfortunate precedent for the handling of subsequent permit applications. DEC needs to conduct an environmental review for each water withdrawal permit application in order to fulfill the objectives of the new 2011 permitting law, which are to promote water conservation, ecological health and equity among all users.”
Gil Hawkins, the 2014 president of the Hudson River Fishermen’s Association said, “The impact of the Ravenswood’s fish kills in New York Harbor must be looked at before a permit to withdraw 1.5 billion gallons of water per day from the East River is issued to Ravenswood. Our association has worked for many years to protect the Hudson River watershed, of which the East River is an integral part, from pollution and fish kills. New York's new water withdrawal permitting requirements must be implemented responsibly or great harm may be done to the entire Hudson River system. Under the new regulations, sixteen large power plants located across New York State are scheduled to apply for water withdrawal permits this year, including the Ravenswood, Astoria, East River and Arthur Kill generating stations in NY Harbor, and the Indian Point, Danskammer, Bowline and Roseton Generating Stations on the Hudson River. The total maximum reported water usage of these 16 facilities is 10 billion gallons per day. The impacts of these withdrawals must be considered before permits are granted.”
For more information about the lawsuit, see here for the Petition and Notice of Petition (updated June 2014)
FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT FISH KILLS BY NEW YORK POWER PLANTS, READ Giant Fish Blenders: How Power Plants Kill Fish & Damage Our Waterways (And What Can Be Done to Stop Them), http://www.sierraclub.org/coal/fishchopper/