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Environmental Group Now Opposes Champlain Hudson Power Express

New York City

Hydroelectric power, dams, carbon-free energy, Climate Mobilization Act, building emissions, co-ops, condos.

Riverkeeper opposes the construction of new dams to provide carbon-free electricity for New York City.

Nov. 21, 2019

As co-op and condo boards embark on the daunting task of reducing their buildings’ carbon emissions to comply with the city’s new Climate Mobilization Act, there are some causes for optimism. One is the prospect of cheap loans for energy-efficient building retrofits. Another is the prospect of abundant electricity from a sustainable source –  the proposed 335-mile Champlain Hudson Power Express, which could deliver 1,000 megawatts of carbon-free hydroelectric power from Canada to New York City.

Earlier this week, Crain’s reports, the environmental group Riverkeeper reversed itself and withdrew its support from the transmission line, which is crucial to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s goal of slashing building emissions. Riverkeeper contends that the power line could lead to the building of more dams in Canada, as state-owned Hydro-Quebec struggles to meet the growing demand for carbon-free energy. 

Riverkeeper is joined in opposition to the project by other environmental groups and by businesses and labor unions that would prefer to see the city invest in local energy infrastructure rather than buy juice from Canada. 

"Riverkeeper opposes any such additional dam construction leading to greater river and habitat destruction as well as additional negative impacts to the health, quality of life, and cultural identity of Canada’s indigenous communities," the group said in a statement on its website. Riverkeeper noted it supported the Champlain Hudson Power Express in 2013 as an alternative to the Indian Point nuclear plant. At that point, the organization stated it had received assurances that the hydroelectric project would not lead to the construction of additional dams. Indian Point is scheduled to shut down in 2021

Instead of drawing hydroelectricity from Canada, Riverkeeper recommended the de Blasio administration back the proposed Empire State Connector Project, which would siphon 1,000 megawatts of electricity from upstate wind and solar arrays into the five boroughs. 

“Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to treating climate change like the existential threat it is and reaching our goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 requires pursuing every available source of clean, renewable energy for New York City," said mayoral spokeswoman Julia Arredondo. She adds that shunning carbon-free hydropower from Canada would be “a mistake.”

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