The Climate Coalition—a self-described “confederation of individuals, environmental groups, climate and clean energy advocates”—is urging New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to suspend the closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. Closing the plant, the group argues in a letter and petition delivered to the governor on April 22 (the 50th anniversary of Earth Day), would be particularly unwise, given the ordeal that the state is currently undergoing as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The plant is located in Buchanan, N.Y.
What it says:“Postponing the shutdown of Indian Point and preventing a surge of new, toxic fossil fuel pollutants from spewing into the air while people are perishing from respiratory failure is probably the most critical, preventative thing you can do to ease suffering and additional deaths,” says the letter, which was signed by more than 200 individuals, including famed climate scientist James Hansen. “We already know for sure that air pollution is linked to higher coronavirus death rates.”
The coalition recommends the creation of a commission to review the environmental impacts of the closure of Indian Point, an event the group claims would increase emissions, hurt residents’ health, destabilize the grid, and set back New York’s climate agenda, including a commitment to reduce emissions by 85–100 percent by midcentury. “Keeping the 2-gigawatt Indian Point facility operational would avoid the need to generate more electricity from burning fossil fuels, increasing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions,” the letter says. “Postponing the shutdown of Indian Point is the right thing to do for many reasons.”
The letter concludes, “This decision is a matter of life and death for New Yorkers today, as well as for billions of people and species already direly impacted by climate change. You say you are a leader that listens to scientists. Millions of New Yorkers—and others around the world—need you to be just that: a leader with the courage to resist business as usual and embrace the scientific knowledge that enables you to protect people and the planet for real. You have the political capital, the talent, and the smarts to be that leader. We’re counting on you.”
Indian Point-2 is scheduled to close at the end of April, with Unit 3 following in April 2021. Owner and operator Entergy Corporation agreed to retire the units in a deal with Governor Cuomo’s office in early 2017.