Letter to the Editor - The Millerton News - 7-19-18

Air quality and Cricket Valley are of great concern

We appreciate the extensive coverage The Lakeville Journal and Millerton News provided about the construction of a natural gas-powered electrical generating facility in Dover Plains. Hopefully many readers closely followed your series about Cricket Valley Energy Center (CVEC). 

More attention needs to be given to the air quality impact this enormous enterprise could have on western Connecticut once its turbines are operating and plumes of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and particulates emerge from its 28-story (282 feet) exhaust stacks. The Sherman Conservation Commision hosted an informative forum about CVEC in April. The Kent Conservation Commission (KCC) then approached their selectmen about the need for baseline air quality measurements in Connecticut before the plant opens in 2020. But we want to make it very clear that at no time did KCC make a plea to Kent selectmen to take action to help stop the plant as was stated in your article. 

CVEC licensing applications have been approved according to N.Y. state environmental guidelines in 2012. Under current federal rules, Connecticut did not then have the final say in what was approved by New York state. An effort to stop the construction of the plant at this stage would be neither attainable nor appropriate. It is better to put efforts now into the goal to call upon the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) and the Connecticut Department of Public Health to live up to their responsibilities as environmental watchdogs. CVEC plans to carry out air quality monitoring in Dover, but their findings will not be measuring what happens over here in Connecticut, just a few miles downwind! Connecticut should not accept the judgment of CVEC authorities for what is good enough for Connecticut citizens. 

Air quality and the dispersal of contaminants is complex and needs precision measurements. For these reasons we are calling upon Connecticut authorities to institute as soon as possible a system of scientifically designed monitoring stations that can record air quality under a wide variety of variables. Currently, Connecticut does not have a high air quality rating, but we want to know with some certainty if it becomes worse when CVEC goes on line. 

The monitor currently closest to Dover is atop Mohawk Mountain, high above the settled communities of Kent and Cornwall. Smog, or low-level ozone, the most detrimental of the noxious pollutants that are produced by generating plants, tends to be ground-hugging, so monitors need to be located along the river valleys where communities cluster.  

Finally, we would like to inform your readers that several Connecticut town Conservation Commissions are forming a multi-town task force to organize and formalize requests to the Connecticut DEEP and the Connecticut Department of Public Health. Once the task force is formed it can have its own Facebook group page to be checked for progress and updates. Also, the Kent selectmen issued a special e-newsletter to inform Kent residents about CVEC. 

Carol Franken

Wendy Murphy

South Kent, Conn.