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State Budget-New York

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his 2018 executive state budget proposal during a news conference at the Clark Auditorium in Albany, N.Y., Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink)

Hans Pennink

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has come out against a proposed $365 million waste-to-energy facility in the town of Romulus, Seneca County. 

Cuomo released a statement Tuesday calling the plans for a trash incinerator "not consistent with my administration's goals for protecting our public health, our environment and our thriving agriculture-based economy in the Finger Lakes." 

Circular enerG wants to build the 180-foot-tall incinerator at the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus. The incinerator would burn trash that is hauled to the site and produce energy. 

A state siting board that normally reviews power plant projects will be tasked with reviewing the proposal and determining whether it should go forward. 

Company officials view the project as an alternative to landfills — another hot-button issue in the Finger Lakes region. But opponents question the potential environment impact of the project. An estimated 2,600 tons of trash a day would be brought to the trash incinerator for it to be burned and transformed into energy. 

Cuomo said importing the trash into the Finger Lakes, which he called "one of the state's most environmentally sensitive areas," is "simply not appropriate." 

He expressed confidence that the state siting board will consider the impact of the project and reject the proposal. 

State lawmakers are also hopeful that the project will be rejected. A bill has been introduced that would remove trash incinerators from the Article 10 state siting process. 

"If the (state Legislature) proposes other solutions, we will consider all options to protect against this proposal that is at odds with New York's renewable energy plan and that threatens important natural resources, environmentally sensitive areas, and economic drivers in the Finger Lakes region," he said. 

Cuomo released his statement prior to a press conference in Albany about the incinerator project. The speakers at the press conference included Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who represents a portion of Seneca County. County residents were also in attendance. 

Kolb, R-Canandaigua, supports the bill that would ensure trash incinerators aren't included in the Article 10 siting process. He urged both chambers of the state Legislature to pass the measure. 

"The governor's recognition that this project poses a significant threat is encouraging, but we must move forward with a legislative solution that future generations can count on," he said. 

Cuomo's public opposition to the project comes as he is locked in a competitive Democratic primary. The governor is seeking a third term, but first he must face Cynthia Nixon in the primary. 

Nixon has already spoken out against the proposed trash incinerator in the Finger Lakes region. She released a statement last month announcing her opposition to the project. She also supports the bill to remove trash incinerators from the Article 10 siting process. She urged the state Legislature to act on the bill before the end of session in June.

Cuomo's opposition to the trash incinerator was hailed by at least one state legislator representing Seneca County. 

State Sen. Pam Helming said she has spoken with elected officials, business owners and residents who oppose the incinerator project. She relayed that feedback to the governor's office and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. 

"We sent a loud and clear message to Albany and made our voices heard," she said. "Today, these efforts paid off. The governor's announcement is terrific news for our entire region, and I appreciate his leadership in working to stop this proposal." 

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