By Tom Ellis, June/July 2021 Newsletter
HUDSON RIVER VALLEY: Residents of Hudson River valley, but especially Ravena and Coeymans, won a great victory on May 5 when the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) commissioner issued a short statement revoking its prior authorization for the Lafarge cement company’s to burn tires at its Ravena cement kiln.
The DEC statement said the “Lafarge facility currently lacks the infrastructure to burn TDF [tire derived fuel], and has not, nor has it ever, completed the steps necessary to burn tires pursuant to this permit.”
Lafarge has waged a lengthy tire burning campaign. DEC issued a negative declaration in 2005 allowing Lafarge to evade preparation of the legally required environmental impact statement (EIS). The sheer size of the project–to burn up to 4.8 million whole tires a year, Lafarge’s then-high mercury emissions, and Lafarge being located directly across Route 9W from the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk middle and high schools, made an EIS legally and morally required.
The commissioner’s May 5 statement contained the usual lies about DEC using “every tool at our disposal to ensure all of New York’s communities are protected…and…why we rigorously review every permit application and require compliance with stringent standards using the latest and best available science.” Nevertheless, DEC finally made the correct decision here. Special thanks go to Jim Travers who first raised concerns about the tire burning and Judith Enck who organized several events that enhanced regional opposition.
DEC surely responded to growing pressure including Clean Air laws enacted by the Coeymans Town Board and Albany County Legislature, growing awareness and community organizing across the region, and vigorous opposition from Coeymans and Ravena residents.