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Astorino Blames Cuomo For Indian Point Closure, Saying 'The Joke's On Us'

County Executive Rob Astorino is flanked by county and local officials at a press conference where he denounced Gov. Andrew Cuomo for Indian Point's closure.
County Executive Rob Astorino is flanked by county and local officials at a press conference where he denounced Gov. Andrew Cuomo for Indian Point's closure. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

TARRYTOWN, N.Y. -- Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino said the closing of Indian Point in Buchanan is typical behavior from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Astorino, who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in 2014, held a press conference in Tarrytown at the Double Tree on Monday following Entergy's press conference of its own at the hotel to confirm it was closing the nuclear power plant in 2020 and 2021.

Unit 2 will shut down by April 30, 2020, and Unit 3 will shut down by April 30, 2021.

The closures come after Entergy reached a settlement agreement with New York State.

As part of the shutdown agreement, the state has agreed to drop all legal challenges against the plant.

"This lacks transparency," Astorino said. "It was three people in a room - the governor, Riverkeeper and Entergy. They got to cut a good deal for themselves while leaving tax and ratepayers to hold the bag. The joke is on us."

The economic impact of Indian Point's closure will be staggering, as the county and municipalities deal with the loss of tax revenue.

"New York State is chasing away a business that pays taxes so that taxpayers can end up footing the bill. The state is so backwards," said Astorino, who has not ruled out another run for governor in 2018. "We all have to make up the difference. The last middle-class person will have to turn off the lights."

The county receives $4 million from Entergy and $750,000 from a tax on nuclear power plants that pays for five employees.

"How do you make up that money with a property tax cap?" Astorino, who has pledged to not raise county taxes, said. "What happens when the money goes away and property values decline? It's a vicious cycle of exodus."

Astorino said Entergy was a major supporter of non-profits and he wished they had stayed in New York forever.

"It is very hard to do business in this state if you're getting beaten to death by the state," Astorino. "The governor has been antagonistic, so they cried uncle and gave up."

At an earlier press conference, Entergy blamed declining profits and lawsuits for the closure and said the state had nothing to do with it. Entergy had spent about $200 million on trying to get the plant's license renewed.

"The governor has to try and fix the problem that he's created," Astorino said. "We will never be made whole. This is not fairy dust, this is tax dollars he's dealing with."

If Indian Point is so unsafe, why did Cuomo live and raise his children in the area, Astorino wondered. He also said the governor was spending $10 billion to bail out upstate nuclear power plants.

"Are lives in the southern part of the state more precious?" Astorino said. "I have big concerns about this. We will work with our own elected officials, none of whom were at the table. Andrew Cuomo is not an expert on nuclear safety."

Astorino said he had spoken to Bill Mold, president of Entergy, but has not spoken to Cuomo. Astorino said he was not invited to Cuomo's State of the State address in Purchase Tuesday. They last spoke to each other in 2014.

County Legislator John Testa, whose district represents Indian Point, said the plant was safe and that Entergy has been a good neighbor to the community.

"The numbers just don't add up," Testa said. "Where is the power going to come from? Are we going to have brownouts like in California? This is devastating."

Testa said he had been receiving calls from concerned constituents since the announcement Friday afternoon and that he did not receive any information until Sunday night.

"People who live in this area don't even think about the plant," Testa said. "A lot of people work there. There are a lot of unanswered questions and I'm trying to get answers. I plan to get involved with the stakeholders and keep our residents up to date with the facts."

Michael Kaplowitz, chairman of the County Board of Legislators, said Entergy's plan to close the planet was more a "political manifesto."

"This is incomplete," Kaplowitz said. "Everyone is taking a stance and talking past each other. There are too many questions. If the plant is not profitable, why aren't they leaving today?"

Kaplowitz said the sour relationship between Cuomo and Astorino is not helping matters.

"They have made the issue much cloudier," Kaplowitz said. "We need to get more details."

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