GENEVA — Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon announced her opposition Thursday to two proposed industrial projects that have drawn widespread opposition in the Finger Lakes: a garbage incinerator in Romulus and a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) storage facility in Reading.
Nixon, who hopes to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the state’s Democratic primary this fall, blasted Cuomo for failing to definitively reject either project.
“California Gov. Jerry Brown would never ever allow a giant garbage incinerator to be sited in the middle of Napa Valley,” Nixon said, referring to that state’s premier wine region. “Why in the world would our governor sit idly by and allow this incinerator to be sited in the heart of the Finger Lakes?”
A Rochester company that has so far failed to secure local support for its proposed $365 million incinerator in the former Seneca Army Depot in Romulus is now seeking permits from a Cuomo Administration siting board. The governor hasn’t taken a public position on the project, which is loudly opposed by the local winery industry.
Nixon, an actor best know for her role in TV’s “Sex and the City,” said she favors pending legislation that would disqualify waste incinerators from the state’s Article 10 electric generating plant siting process. Cuomo signed a 2011 bill that made incinerators eligible for the process.
Nixon, 52, also criticized Cuomo for not killing Houston-based Crestwood’s LPG storage project at the southern end of Seneca Lake, even though the company’s permit application process has dragged on for almost nine years.
“It should never, ever have gotten this far,” Nixon said at a hotel press conference on the lake’s north end. “And when I am elected governor, I will drive a stake into the heart of this project.”
For several years, an administrative law judge within the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation reviewed evidence that the salt caverns to be used for LPG storage were not secure. But his investigation of that and other safety, environmental and economic issues has not yielded a definitive Yes or No from the Cuomo Administration on Crestwood’s permit application.
Nixon launched her campaign for governor last month. She’s expect to try to obtain a spot on the Democratic gubernatorial primary ballot by gathering at least 15,000 signatures from party members.
She could also win a spot on the ballot by getting 25 percent of the delegate votes at the party’s convention. But that path could be dicey, Newsday reported earlier this week, given Cuomo’s grip on the state party apparatus.
Nixon has been hammering Cuomo on environmental and economic development issues.
Before her visit to Geneva to highlight environmental issues in the Finger Lakes, she made stops in Hoosick Falls, which has been plagued by contaminated water, and Orange County, home of the controversial CPV natural gas power plant that has been mired in a bribery scandal tied to a former Cuomo advisor.
Polls show Nixon tailing Cuomo by a wide margin among Democrats, although the gap may be narrowing.
A Siena College poll conducted April 8-12 showed Cuomo leading Nixon 58-27, a 31-point edge. A Siena poll conducted Mar. 11-16 had shown Cuomo with a 47-point advantage.
Nixon’s performance is seen by many as a gauge of Cuomo’s support from the Progressive wing of his party.
In September 2014, an underfunded and relatively unknown challenger exposed Cuomo’s vulnerability to challenges from the left with a strong performance in that year’s Democratic primary for governor.
Though Cuomo won with more than 60 percent of the total vote, Zephyr Teachout carried many upstate counties, including Albany County and much of the capital region.
Teachout had taken a definitive stand against high-volume fracking for natural gas, while Cuomo had vacillated on the issue. Three months after Teachout rattled him in the primary, Cuomo announced a statewide ban on high-volume fracking.