Copake joins lawsuit against NYS siting office
Natasha Vaughn is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media the town of Copake has joined with 13 other municipalities, community groups and conservation organizations in a lawsuit filed against the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting. The case was filed June 29, in the state Supreme Court of Albany County against the office over the 94-C siting process for industrial solar and wind facilities. The lawsuit argues the process violates the state environmental review, which requires all state and local government agencies to consider environmental impacts equally with social and economic factors during discretionary decision-making. “The existential threat of climate change is real. However, New York state cannot fail rural communities, ignore home rule and erase natural resources and precious farmland with the current rubber-stamp renewable energy siting process,” Copake Town Supervisor Jeanne Mettler said. Copake’s concerns about the 94-C siting process stem from the proposed Shepherd’s Run Solar Farm, a 60- megawatt, 255-acre facility proposed by Chicago-based Hecate [HEK-uh-tee] Energy for the town of Copake and hamlet of Craryville. The project is controversial in part because of the project’s scale. In 2017, Copake passed a zoning law that limited the size of solar energy projects to 10 acres. The lawsuit seeks to overturn regulations setting standard uniform conditions applicable to all renewable energy projects in the state. The plaintiffs allege the siting office failed to acknowledge its regulations for siting power plants could result in “even one significant adverse environmental impact and as a result failed to prepare an environmental impact statement.” Mettler said, “In Copake, you cannot put a shovel in the ground without the planning board demanding SEQRA review. To think that this massive industrial installation could be allowed without strict environmental review is shocking,” “The office is aware of the litigation and will not comment on it at this time,” said siting office Assistant Public Information Officer Nathan Stone. Alex Campbell, the project developer for Hecate Energy, said, “Hecate does not have a comment at this point, since it’s a breaking development, but we will continue to monitor the lawsuit.” Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.