Is New York State really this corrupt?

To the Editor:
Around 8 p.m. on Sept. 2, at the start of the Labor Day weekend, the Department of Environmental Conservation circulated its decision to permit the Port of Coeymans, owned by Carver Laraway, to expand.

While the port’s application was based on an abandoned plan for an important wind power business, in fact it supports the expansion of a major waste-management and incineration business in the upper Hudson Valley. The economic, human, and environmental consequences of that waste business were not examined by the DEC, the Army Corps of Engineers, or any other New York State department.

This DEC decision is a travesty that exposes the corrupt flaws in New York State’s environmental protection laws. Why, for example, is there a clause in the Environmental Conservation Law that allows local governments to override a county law concerning air quality?

Thanks to that clause, the Albany County Clean Air Law cannot limit the burning of waste at the Lafarge Cement Plant in Coeymans because Coeymans Local Law was revised to allow it.

Why was the environmental impact study submitted by the Port of Coeymans not legally required to be done by an independent agency, but is instead wholly the work of consultants hired by the port to do its bidding?

Why is the DEC forbidden by law from commissioning an independent study of the cumulative impact of the Port of Coeymans waste-management complex, which has expanded one small segmented decision at a time?

Why has the DEC never forced the port to pay the fines it should each time there is another violation of environmental laws and regulations?

What is the DEC afraid will happen to it if it enforces the law to its full extent?

More locally, why has the town supervisor of Coeymans, George McHugh, ensured that all local laws now line up to support the collection and incineration of waste in Coeymans, but has never declared the number of beneficial connections he and his board have with Carver Laraway and his multiple businesses?

Why is Mr. McHugh now acting as the lawyer for the neighboring town of New Baltimore, where Carver Laraway wants to buy the Shady Harbor Marina?

And where are the politicians who should represent the people here? Why are Michelle Hinchey and Paul Tonko silent on this issue? Do their environmental credentials suddenly fall away at the gates of the Port of Coeymans? If so, why?

I have huge respect for the professional staff of the Department of Environmental Conservation. I have no respect for this decision or the laws that have allowed it.

It has forced me to ask: Is New York State really this corrupt?  

Barbara Heinzen

New Baltimore

Editor’s note: See related story.

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