The Finger Lakes Community Preservation Act was motivated by Circular EnerG's plans for a waste-to-energy facility at the old Seneca Army Depot
ROMULUS — The Finger Lakes region will be free of new waste-to-energy facilities, now that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed the Finger Lakes Community Preservation Act into law.
Support for this legislation is a clear sign that garbage incinerators are not welcome in this region, according to state Sen. Pam Helming, R-Canandaigua.
Business leaders, residents and government officials had come out in droves against a plan by Circular EnerG to build an incinerator at the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus, Seneca County, although Helming noted the legislation is not solely against this particular project, although it was definitely the motivation.
The intent is more about protecting the larger Finger Lakes watershed as a whole, Helming said.
“It’s a great day,” Helming said. “It’s a great example of what can be accomplished when we set aside our politics and work together.”
Cuomo said Friday in a prepared statement the law is intended to preserve communities, sensitive ecosystems and the region’s economy by protecting farmers and wineries from adverse environmental impacts.
“The Finger Lakes region remains one of New York’s must-see destinations with some of the most beautiful natural resources in the world,” Cuomo said in the statement. “We are not willing to put the region’s economy, public health and quality of life at risk.”
Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, R-Canandaigua, praised the signing, noting in a prepared statement that preserving the region’s unique natural landscape will bolster economic health and quality of life, while keeping the small business, viticulture and hospitality sectors successful.
“This is wonderful news for our home region, and I commend all of the community organizations, local and state officials and grassroots volunteers who made this critical bill a reality,” Kolb said.
Helming and Kolb had introduced companion bills in the Senate and Assembly, respectively. A year ago, the legislation passed in the Senate but stalled in Albany.
The proposed $365 million Circular EnerG incinerator project calls for the transportation of thousands of tons of additional trash from around the state daily by truck and/or rail for burning for conversion to electric power. The facility, which would include a 260-foot smokestack, was planned for between Seneca and Cayuga lakes near the Romulus K-12 school.
It was not clear as of press deadline Friday if the project is still a go. The company was seeking approval through the state’s Article 10 process, a streamlined approval process for the siting of new and repowered or modified major electric-generating facilities.
The legislation says that waste-to-energy facilities will be prohibited from being built and operated if the facility is within the Oswego River/Finger Lakes watershed; there is at least one landfill or other state Department of Environmental Conservation-permitted solid waste management facility operating or located within a 50-mile radius of the proposed facility; and it is within 10 miles of a state-designated priority water body.
Helming said that when she entered politics, her aim was to protect Canandaigua Lake and other Finger Lakes.
“A garbage incinerator would devastate the surrounding communities and negatively impact our health and our environment,” Helming said.