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Holding company withdraws its flawed proposal to create a pumped storage hydroelectric facility at the Ashokan Reservoir in the face of fierce community opposition

April 13, 2021 - Premium Holdings, a power company from Southern California, proposed to create an enormous underground hydroelectric plant adjacent to the Ashokan Reservoir. Had the project moved forward, the company would dig into valleys in the towns of Olive or Shandaken and dam streams to create reservoirs as part of “pumped storage” for electricity to be generated using associated water transport tunnels. Today, Premium announced that it was withdrawing the proposal for the Ashokan project, but maintained that it would consider submitting a revised proposal for a similar project around the Neversink Reservoir or the Roundout Reservoir.

Mountainkeeper released the following statement, attributable to Kathy Nolan, Catskill Mountainkeeper's Senior Research Director.

Thanks to our wonderful community in the Catskills for speaking up clearly and forcefully to chase away this poorly conceived project! We must seek and advance truly sustainable approaches to our energy needs and realize what is at stake in areas preserved for their importance to water quality, recreation, natural habitats, and other "eco-system benefits." The New York City reservoirs are an important and sensitive engineering and ecological system--while we're thrilled that the sponsors are pulling out of the Ashokan proposal, we remain concerned and engaged around the potential for this type of project to pop up at another reservoir.

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Read & listen to Allison Dunne's story about the victory on WAMC

From: Kathy Nolan, Mountainkeeper's Senior Research Director
Re: An update on a proposal for an unnecessary and ill-conceived major hydroelectric dam that would threaten our pristine Ashokan Reservoir and surrounding communities

On February 18th, a notice in the Federal Register alerted communities in the Catskills near the Ashokan Reservoir to a preliminary application filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) by Premium Energy Holdings of Southern California for a large and poorly thought through “pumped storage” project. It would draw from the existing Ashokan Reservoir, plus a newly created dam and reservoir at one of three alternative sites near the Ashokan, for generating hydroelectric power. If you're looking for a deep dive on the proposal, check out this presentation by journalist Ginger Strand.

A lot has happened in the few weeks since then…

 

Ban on Fracking Adopted throughout Delaware River Watershed!

EPIC BATTLE! HISTORIC WIN! Next up: rules to ban imports/exports

Advocates elated by historic DRBC vote instituting fracking ban and the start of rule process to ban fracking wastewater imports and water exports for fracking

February 25, 2021 – The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) permanently banned fracking throughout the Delaware River Watershed today, affecting four states and water supplies for millions, after eleven years of raging debate and public discourse. The Delaware River Frack Ban Coalition and many members of the public - reported by DRBC to be at 400 during the meeting - joined the virtual DRBC meeting, where a vote on banning fracking in the watershed had been advertised. The DRBC voting members - the Governors of the four states that are part of the Delaware River Watershed (New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Delaware) and a federal representative for President Biden from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - voted to enact the regulations that were pending since the public comment period closed in March 2018. All four states voted to approve the ban; the Army Corps representative abstained.

“Today's vote is a historic victory for all the people who call the Delaware River Basin home and drink the clean water that flows from the Catskills to the Delaware Bay. No longer will they face the threats of water pollution, air pollution, and the disease that comes with fracking. As the Delaware River Basin Commission advances regulations regarding fracking wastes and water withdrawals, we will fight to ban those activities as well; the best way to protect the Basin against fracking's impacts is to prevent them.  Catskill Mountainkeeper has been fighting for this day for over a decade, and we're not alone. We've been fighting alongside tens of thousands of individuals, and hundreds of organizations to keep the dirty, dangerous oil and gas industry out of the Basin. These advocates have persevered against long odds and shown up in every way--at  hundreds of community meetings, hearings, rallies, canoe protests, and in four state capitals to make today a reality,” said Wes Gillingham, Associate Director, Catskill Mountainkeeper.

 

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