Cuomo’s Love For Lobbyists Breaking Our Hearts Say New Yorkers: ‘Love NY Don’t Frack It Up’ Rally at Percoco Trial
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New York, NY - Impacted citizens and environmental activists were joined by actor James Cromwell, gubernatorial candidate Terry Gipson, and NYC Councilman Jummane Williams for a Valentine’s Day Rally in front of the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in lower Manhattan to ask Governor Cuomo to ‘Love NY Don’t Frack it Up.’ As the corruption trial of former Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco continues, testimony reveals the intimate relationship between CPV lobbyists and Percoco, one of the most influential officials in the Cuomo administration who Cuomo has described as his “father’s third son”. The controversial CPV power plant in Orange County is at the heart of the trial. Competitive Power Ventures executive Peter Galbraith Kelly paid Percoco’s wife almost $300,000 for a low show job as a way to gain help and influence for the power plant. Residents living close to CPV say they are the victims of the pay-to-play corruption which now burdens them with life and death risks and demand the permits be rescinded.
The campaign began with the release of an early morning video Valentine to Governor Cuomo from the children of Orange County asking him to protect their homes and “not frack it up”.
Protesters chanted “Broken hearts, filthy air, fracked gas damage everywhere” holding bright red broken hearts, a giant box of Percoco ziti, and a banner that read “Cuomo Break up with fossil fuel corruption”
Pramilla Malick, Chair of Protect Orange County the group leading the opposition to the plant for 6 years, has been at the trial nearly everyday, and publicly asserted corruption behind the project approvals years before the indictment. She said this is American democracy on trial. “ If
this company is allowed to get away with what was testified to, what the documentary evidence shows, we do not have a democracy in this country anymore”
“Valentine’s Day is the best day to send a message to Gov Cuomo that it’s time to break up with fossil fuels. We’ll give them 50 ways to leave their lobbyists.” Malick remarked. After the rally Malick delivered a large Valentine’s card from Orange County to Governor Cuomo’s NYC office. The card was signed by dozens of concerned citizens.
Scott Martens, father of two from Minisink Valley believes this corruption is about poisoning the public, especially vulnerable populations. He stands with the people of PA, where “CPV will need 150 new fracking wells per year”.
Melissa Martens, holding her one year old son, spoke of her concern for the health of children in their early developmental years, “We have 40 years of toxic VOC’s and particulate matter we will be forced to breathe all day every day”.
Former NY state senator Terry Gipson, who will challenge Governor Cuomo in the primary addressed the rally by stressing that the “p” in his name stands for “progressive”. He acknowledged how hard it is to stand up against big monied interest. “ We should not allow fracked gas in any form, not from a truck, not from a pipeline, not from a power plant. It should not be here in any way shape or form.” said Gipson. He also stated that “we don’t need a trial to tell us that power in our state has been given over to corporations”, like CPV. He pointed out that Cuomo has received more money from corporations than any governor in the history of NYS.
NYC Councilman Jummane Williams says “Nobody can deny, money is buying things in Albany”. He questions why CPV was approved despite NY stance on fracking. “Now we have the opportunity to step up and do the right”
Ted Glick , from Beyond Extreme Energy explained “Natural gas is at least as bad as coal when it comes to methane and climate change.” He called for 100% renewables now.
Laura Shindell from Food and Water Watch spoke to the integrity of our political system and our democracy and called upon Gov. Cuomo to break up with fossil fuels. “It’s a toxic relationship and it is the residents of Orange County and NY state that are the casualties.
Kim Fraczek of Sane Energy called out Cuomo for expanding fracked gas infrastructure in 2017. “ He must be held responsible”, speaking to direct action planned at the state house to demand Como halt all fracking infrastructure in this state. Sane Energy plans to descend on
Albany April 23 We’re getting pissed off. Their not listening to us.
Tina Bongar, with Stop The Algonguin Pipeline Expansion, who lives near the AIM Pipeline has long been asking for the state to conduct an independent risk assessment of the 42 inch high pressure pipeline’s proximity near Indian Point’s spent fuel rods. She said the New York Independent Systems Operator (NYISO) recently testified in a public hearing that neither CPV nor Cricket Valley are necessary to close Indian Point. The Percoco trial testimony shows that one of the policies Percoco was to influence for CPV was to get the Cuomo administration to support the closing of Indian Point which the company believed was critical for it to be able to get financing for the project. Testimony also showed that Percoco set up meetings between co-defendant and CPV executive Braith Kelly, and NYISO representative Thomas Rumsey, who has since replaced Kelly at CPV.
Michael Schweinsburg President of the 504 Democratic, the largest Disability rights organization in the city, pointed out the dangers the plant poses to people with existing respiratory illnesses and said “on behalf of people with disabilities I beg the Governor to shut down this disgusting project.
Actor and activist James Cromwell, a fierce opponent of corruption, has long fought against the harm CPV will bring to his community and who was arrested in 2016 while protesting the plant said, “ The only way to stop corruption is to vote for those people who don’t accept money from PAC’s, from large corporations and from dark money. Those are progressives.”
In response, a spokesperson for the Governor’s office reportedly responded that “A May 2016 order from chief counsel Alphonso David directed all state agencies to cease all communications and regulatory actions with Competitive Power Ventures. This order remains in effect.”. However Malick questioned how this was possible when CPV received several permits since then including interconnection to the state grid as well as renewals of several state permits that were issued on January 24th of this year. She said she was concerned about how regulatory oversight over the plant could be administered with such a policy and said all permits should have been suspended the day the indictments were announced.
The trial of Joseph Percoco and CPV executive Braith Kelly is expected to continue through next week.
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