Fossil Fuels

Queens Residents Push Back Against Overhaul of Power Plant Near ‘Asthma Alley'

The fear is the area — which has earned the "Asthma Alley" nickname for its high rate of hospitalizations for the condition — will only get worse if the plant overhaul still leaves it dependent on fossil fuels

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A plan to overhaul a fossil fuel-powered plant in Queens is getting pushback from not only locals, but also the U.S. Senate majority leader.

Sen. Chuck Schumer joined calls to opposes NRG Energy's plan to overhaul the Astoria power plant, a move that he says would continue to emit dangerous pollutants in an area already known as "Asthma Alley." Opponents to the plan claim the plant would still rely on fossil fuels and continue to emit dangerous pollutants.

At a press conference on Friday, Sen. Schumer blasted a plan for the power plant thathe says is burning dirty fuel.

"We know how bad COVID was this year. (If) we do nothing to stop global warming, every year will be COVD and get progressively worse," Schumer said.

New York State Senate Deputy Leader Michael Gianaris put it more bluntly: "Who the hell thinks it's a good idea to build a fossil fuel plant in today's day and age?"

The fear is the area — which has earned the "Asthma Alley" nickname for its high rate of hospitalizations for the condition — will only get worse.

"Half the hospitalizations in New York City for asthma are here, so it’s doing more than its fair share of energy production and people in neighborhood are paying for it with their health," said Astoria resident Noah Teachey.

"This is about choosing people over pollution, people over pipelines, choosing people over profits," said State Sen. Jessica Ramos.

They want the state to invest in a clean infrastructure, with renewable energy sources.

A spokesperson for NRG said the project will help the environment overall, and is necessary to keep the lights on. A statement read in part, "opponents of our plan continue to offer a false choice between renewables and natural gas. New York needs both. Simply put, no combination of renewable technologies available today can, by themselves, reliably power Queens, let alone New York City."

The company said that the past week — with brutal heat and blinding rain that led to subway flooding — is an example of how dependent the city is on reliable energy sources.

"Given unprecedented heat waves already experienced this summer, New York cannot afford to gamble with the reliability of electric supply to the city," the company said.

New York's Department of Environmental Conservation will make the final decision on the proposal. There is no fixed date, but meanwhile, opponents are encouraging members of the public to submit comments to the DEC before the end of August.

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