The following post is a submission for Earth Day from one of Astorino Watch’s readers.
No Happy Earth Day for Mr. Astorino
As communities throughout Westchester gather to honor and protect our planet on Earth Day, April 22, they should pause to consider our County Executive Rob Astorino’s scorecard on the environment.
Environmental groups like Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper, in partnership with Governor Cuomo, the NY Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Health fought for over a decade to shut down the aging nuclear reactors at Indian Point. They cited Indian Point’s history of operational, safety, and environmental problems, as well as the grave risk of a nuclear accident to the 20 million people living within a 50 mile radius of the reactors. Further, the reactors’ antiquated cooling systems were responsible for the killing of billions of aquatic organisms, leading to a precipitous decline in numbers of fish in the Hudson River. An agreement was reached in January 2017 to close the plant by 2021.
Mr. Astorino was not ready to embrace the benefit to public safety and the environment that the closing of Indian Point provided. In April he announced that he intended to file a lawsuit seeking to invalidate the agreement reached between NY State and Entergy to close the reactors.
Greed over Green
In 2015, Astorino made a secret deal with Houston-based Spectra Energy, granting it a license to build a pipeline carrying fracked gas through Blue Mountain Preserve, a public park. He bypassed legislative and county review processes to do so. Why? Could Spectra Energy and its subcontractors’ contributions of $43,000 to Astorino’s campaign have been the reason? Today, our Blue Mountain county park stands denuded of trees and vegetation, drains clogged and ditches filled with standing water.
Earth to Astorino
In his statements, Astorino has shown that protecting the environment is not a priority. He has frequently spoken up for fracking, calling it a “great economic opportunity,” despite its contamination of groundwater and impact on climate change. Astorino has refused to acknowledge the threat posed by Spectra Energy’s AIM (Algonquin Incremental Market) pipeline, which carries explosive fracked gas for export and passes within a few hundred feet of Buchanan Elementary School and close to Indian Point’s irradiated spent fuel rods.
When asked at a town hall recently his opinion of President Trump’s assertion that climate change is a Chinese hoax, Astorino refused to condemn that absurd claim.
This year, Westchester’s citizens will have another chance to celebrate Earth Day on November 7, when voters will head to the polls to vote on a County Executive. With our vote, we can make a choice for a county leader who puts our environment and our health above campaign contributions.