Testimony by New York State Senator Duane before the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Hearing on the Title V Permit Renewal for Con Edison's East Side Steam Power Plant

December 5, 2008

My name is Thomas K. Duane and I represent New York State's 29th Senate District, which includes the East Village and Stuyvesant Town neighborhoods immediately adjacent to the Con Edison East River steam power plant located at 701-827 East 14th Street. I appreciate the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) decision to hold this important hearing and thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony.

I share the concerns raised by the Sierra Club and Manhattan Community Board 3 about emissions from the steam power plant's older units, No. 6 and No. 7, that burn oil and natural gas. I believe that the most environmentally friendly and economically responsible way for Con Edison to run this facility is to use natural gas to power this machinery whenever possible. As natural gas is a cleaner burning fuel than oil, this will help to improve the air quality in Lower Manhattan and reduce the respiratory problems and high rates of asthma in this community, especially among young people.

As you may know, the area in which the power plant is situated is densely populated, bounded to the north by Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village and immediately to the south by Campos Plaza and Riis Houses, both of which are New York City Housing Authority developments for low income residents. The prevalence of asthma and other active respiratory illnesses among children in the area was documented in the Campos Plaza Healthy Breathing Survey conducted in 2007 by the Real World Foundation's Asthma Free School Zone Project. The survey of Campos Plaza households found an alarming 35% rate of respiratory illnesses, including asthma, in children fourteen years of age or younger.

Air pollution in the New York City region is only expected to increase over time as a result of global warming, traffic congestion and growing energy demands. With this in mind, it is only prudent that this plant's older units be required to burn natural gas, which creates less air pollution than fuel oil. Further, it is my understanding that for economic reasons, in recent years, this plant has been using natural gas as an alternative to more expensive oil so it should not be a hardship for Con Ed to continue to operate the plant in this manner.

Apparently, under the New York State Implementation Plan approved in 2005 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, DEC has the authority to set new emission restrictions for individual stationary sources in planning for statewide attainment of National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Therefore, I urge DEC to fully exercise its authority in this Title V permit review by requiring Con Ed to operate the plant primarily with natural gas as a condition of the agency's approval.

Again, thank you for allowing me to testify today and for your consideration of my recommendations.

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