ROMULUS, N.Y. (WENY) – New York State lawmakers have introduced bills that would stop developers from building garbage incinerators in the Finger Lakes.
The bills were introduced by Democratic Senators Rachel May and Senator Michael Cusick and Republican Pamela Helming. The bills also received strong support from Republican Assembly members Phil Palmesano and Brian Kolb.
The legislation would prohibit trash incinerators in the Finger Lakes Watershed, which would eliminate Rochester-based start-up company Circular enerG's proposal to build one at the former Seneca Army Depot.
35 groups and elected officials representing Finger Lakes businesses and wineries applauded the bill introduction, calling it an important way to protect the Finger Lakes economy.
“We urge Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins to do everything in their power to pass this bill quickly, and for Governor Cuomo to sign it into law. The Finger Lakes deserves immediate protection from any corporation looking to exploit its land and natural resources. This toxic incinerator could have devastating effects to our region’s economy, public health and quality of life and we urge Albany to act immediately to get this bill passed,” said Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Seneca Lake Guardian.
Circular enerG's proposed incinerator would reportedly bring thousands of tons of trash from around the state daily by truck or rail for burning. If built, the facility would be between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes.
Local officials and environmental groups have long protested the proposal, saying the building would cause harm to the environment by producing toxic emissions and residual ash containing harmful chemicals.
Currently, the Seneca Army Depot is home to nesting bald eagles and the largest white deer population in the world. The proposed incinerator would also be 3,200 feet from a school and residential facility for at-risk children.
Officials and residents from the town of Romulus said the incinerator would also be harmful economically. They say the incinerator would put the wine and tourism industry at risk, which currently generates $2.8 billion and supports nearly 60,000 jobs.
“Trash incinerators have no place in the Fingers Lakes. Circular enerG attempted to deceive our community into believing this was a renewable energy project and steamroll their proposal through despite widespread opposition. We are grateful to Senators May and Helming and Assembly Members Cusick, Palmesano, Kolb, Woerner, Lupardo, Thiele, Glick and Finch for recognizing the need to protect our growing region and are hopeful the legislature will pass this bill to secure a future in the Finger Lakes that is a free of predatory companies like Circular enerG,” said Joseph Campbell, President of Seneca Lake Guardian.
“The Fingers Lakes is home to a flourishing wine and tourism industry, renowned for its pristine landscapes and bucolic scenery. This trash incinerator puts the years of work our community has made to develop these industries in jeopardy. We look forward to working with legislators to ensure this legislation gets passed swiftly and keep incinerators away from our community,” said Will Ouweleen, Secretary of the Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition (FLXWBC).
The bill was unanimously passed in the Senate last year, but failed to come to the Assembly floor before the end of the Legislative session. This year, Assembly members Barbara Lifton, Phil Palmesano, Brian Kolb, Carrier Woerner, Donna Lupardo, Fred Thiele, Deborah Glick and Gary Finch are all co-sponsoring the bill.