If New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo succeeds in his effort to close Indian Point nuclear power plant, carbon emissions will spike and the state will become more dependent on fossil fuels than it has been since 2000, a new Environmental Progress (EP) analysis finds.
- New York's dependence on fossil fuels will rise from 44 percent to 56 percent of its electricity mix;
- New York will lose 23 percent of its clean power;
- Power sector carbon emissions will skyrocket 29 percent, from 31 to 40 million metric tons;
- Twice as many emissions will be added as are required to be reduced under EPA's Clean Power Plan.
The replacement power for Indian Point is likely to come mostly from natural gas power plants, not renewables, including the CPV Energy Center, which is at the heart of a federal corruption investigation.
Indian point produces four times more power than all of New York's wind, and 236 times more power than all of New York's solar. New York is uniquely unsuited for solar, where it produces power just 15 percent of the year on average, according to New York's Independent System Operator
The Last Friday, Environmental Progress (EP) reported that two top former Cuomo aides under federal prosecution for influence-peddling had lobbied on behalf of Competitive Power Ventures (CPV), a natural gas company, to kill Indian Point.
In his indictment, the US attorney wrote that "the importance of the [CPV Valley Energy Center] to the State depended at least in part, on whether [Indian Point] was going to be shut down."
Politico reported last year that CPV's “is viewed by the Cuomo administration as a key part of its plan to find replacement power for the Indian Point nuclear center, should Gov. Andrew Cuomo succeed in his effort to get it shut down.”
Even even if Indian Point is eventually replaced by renewables, such as hydro-electricity from Quebec, that is power that could have been used to reduce rather than maintain New York's dependence on fossil fuels.
At an event with Al Gore in 2015, Cuomo said, "“Climate change is a reality and not to address it is gross negligence by government and irresponsible as citizens."
Cuomo has sought to close Indian Point for years. Last year, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission concluded that "Indian Point operates safely and continues to operates safely." In response, Cuomo said, "We know that we can find replacement power. Why you would allow Indian Point to continue to operate defies common sense, planning and basic sanity."
According to every major study, nuclear power is the safest way to make reliable power, including safer than natural gas. In New York state alone, 10 people died from natural gas explosions in 2014 and 2015.
After small amounts of tritium were found in a monitoring well, Cuomo said they were "alarming levels of radioactivity." But the tritium never made into water supplies, and was thousands of times lower than EPA limits.
Last April, climate scientist James Hansen condemned such fear mongering. "The last few weeks have seen an orchestrated campaign to mislead the people of New York about the essential safety and importance of Indian Point nuclear plant to address climate change."
Cuomo's attacks on Indian Point were in marked contrast to his reaction two days later to a toxic chemical found in the drinking water at Hoosick Falls, where the carcinogenic chemical PFOA was found levels four times higher than EPA limits.
In other contexts, Cuomo has been critical of fear-mongering. At the Democratic convention last summer, Cuomo said, "Fear is a powerful weapon. It can excite and motivate and it can get people to yell and scream. Fear can even bring you into power."
Cuomo's condemnation of fear-mongering was widely viewed as a reference to a 1984 speech by his father, Gov. Mario Cuomo (1983 - 1994).
In 1989, the elder Cuomo shut down a fully-constructed nuclear power plant on Long Island after protests against it by Sierra Club, Audubon and other anti-nuclear groups. Coal and natural gas was burned in its place.