Esty Introduces New Government Transparency Legislation
NEW FAIRFIELD, CT – In response to concerns raised by local residents and officials in western Connecticut over the construction of a new, 1,100-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in Dover, New York, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-05) introduced the Notify Officials, Towns, Individuals, and Cities (NOTICE) of Electric Generating Facilities Act, legislation to increase transparency in power plant construction.
Families and local leaders in Sherman, Sharon, and New Fairfield expressed significant concerns following the news of the construction of the Cricket Valley Energy Center, a natural gas power plant slated to open in 2020. Residents of the three towns were unaware of the construction until the facility broke ground, as the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is not required to notify bordering Connecticut towns under current law. Esty’s legislation would require the notification of a proposed power plant to municipalities within 30 miles of the proposed development.
“Families in Sherman and New Fairfield breathe the same air, drink the same water, and enjoy many of the same natural treasures as those in Dover – they should have the same right to provide input before power plants are built in their neighborhoods,” Esty said. “My bill would ensure that Connecticut residents have an opportunity to share their thoughts on important developments affecting the health, environment, and economies of their towns. Working together, we can ensure that residents have timely access to important information affecting their communities and strengthen our region’s future on both sides of the state line.”
“As First Selectman of New Fairfield, CT, I support the NOTICE Act, which would provide for direct notification to municipalities within a 30 mile radius of a proposed power plant,” said New Fairfield First Selectman Pat Del Monaco. “The Act would guarantee local officials and the public the opportunity to assess and provide comment on potential impacts on crucial natural resources including air and drinking water. Full transparency and public participation are critical to ensuring the thorough review and environmental safety of a large power generating facility.
“I want to thank Congresswoman Esty for introducing this important legislation,” State Senator Michael McLachlan, (R-24) said. “The Cricket Valley Energy Power Plant essentially is being built in the back yard of Connecticut residents living near the New York border. State lines should not be a reason developers can cite for not informing residents who would be impacted by a project. If the residents of New Fairfield and Sherman had known about Cricket Valley sooner, they certainly would have provided input. This legislation will ensure that all residents affected by a project of this type will receive the information they need in a timely fashion.”
“The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area supports the NOTICE Act, as the proposed legislation would assist us in our mission to preserve the region’s historical, cultural and natural resource assets,” said Dan Bolognani, Executive Director of the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area. “As we have a mandate to work across multiple states, we understand the need to be sensitive to, and mindful of the region’s treasures, regardless of which side of the state line they fall on. The NOTICE Act would be a welcomed ‘good neighbor’ policy and would provide a much-needed opportunity to understand and mitigate potential future impacts to our air, water and other resources.”
“Rivers Alliance of Connecticut writes to state our support for the NOTICE Act,” Margaret Miner, Executive Director of the Rivers Alliance and a Litchfield resident, said. Since 1999, when we sponsored a high-level conference on the siting of power plants, our position has been that early and wide notice is important to achieving the best result for all concerned. Power plants tend to be sited close to water resources and, all things being equal, close to borders of political entities (towns, states, and so on). Therefore, as a water-protection organization and an advocate for high-quality power generation, we believe the NOTICE Act is important as a guarantee of transparency, fairness, and outcomes that are based on state-of-the-art science.”
“Newtown Forward supports the NOTICE Act as it will increase fairness and allow for greater transparency in the review process for power plant facilities,” said Vanessa Villamil, Climate Change Subcommittee Co-Chair of Newtown Forward. “Newtown Forward believes this bill to be essential and therefore we proudly endorse it. When more voices are heard we all win.”
“Notification of communities in close proximity but across state jurisdictional boundaries is especially important when air and water quality impacts are a concern,“ Tim Abbott, Regional Land Protection & Greenprint Director, Housatonic Valley Association added.