Niagara Gazette


December 28, 2012

GUEST VIEW: Covanta railroading Falls residents?


Niagara Gazette — There is no known agreement to reduce truck traffic, though that is reportedly the basis of city approval for rail.

Project No. 2: A new 190-foot high smoke stack with a new gas-fired burner and pipeline to add steam generation for the new Greenpac paper mill. Rail is not required to supply either Greenpac or current customers.

Project No. 3: A “special waste” processing facility. What is, “special waste?” 

Show us the numbers

The IDA has not produced evidence that Covanta would rely on tax breaks for these projects.

The promises we’ve read about in the papers are not attached to numbers or commitments in Covanta’s applications.

Press quotes from the company spokesman are also contradicted by its regulatory reports.

To what extent are taxpayers funding companies that deplete or depress our assets? That recipe has already led us to the rank of worst in the nation for property taxes-to-value.

Who’s in control?

The New York State DEC has sole authority over a variety of other Covanta permits. Company-requested permit modifications for this project were not even published ahead of local approvals.

Questionable information surrounding the company’s local applications makes it important for DEC to conduct real public hearings for Covanta permitting in the next few months.

In contrast to other municipalities, we’re told there is no agreement from Covanta that would require any Niagara Falls concurrence with future waste volumes, truck traffic, or mix of waste actually burned (as opposed to “permitted.”)

If given the choice between ruling for Niagara Falls, or ruling for New York City, which would the state favor? That’s why a formal agreement between the City and the operator seems imperative.

There remain some opportunities to negotiate protections while maintaining proposed construction and permanent jobs. But it will take political courage, collaboration and effort. I hope we have it.

Amy H. Witryol is a Lewiston resident

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