REP. CLARKE, CHAIRWOMAN MALONEY, AND REP. OCASIO-CORTEZ CALL ON GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY OFFICE TO EVALUATE THE IMPACTS OF PEAKER POWER PLANT POLLUTION
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 22, 2021
Washington, D.C. — Today, Rep. Yvette D. Clarke, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, and Committee Member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro, head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), requesting that GAO examine the impact of peaker power plant pollution on frontline communities and evaluate replacement strategies.
Peaker plants, which burn dirty fuel when electricity demand peaks, are less efficient and more expensive than typical baseload power plants, and are more likely to be located in low-income neighborhoods and in communities of color. Millions of Americans across the country live near peaker plants. New York City alone has 89 peaker units, including 49 in Rep. Clarke’s home borough of Brooklyn, 28 in the vicinity of Chairwoman Maloney’s district, and 16 in Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s district.
“Addressing the use of peaker plants, which can emit twice the carbon and up to 20 times the nitrous oxides of a typical plant while operating significantly less efficiently, represents a high-impact opportunity to reduce climate risks and tackle a life-threatening environmental justice issue,” wrote the Members. “We request GAO’s assistance in reporting on key data to assess damage, uncover health burdens, calculate economic costs, and identify alternative solutions to the use of peaker power plants.”
In their letter, the Members underscore that GAO’s evaluation will be critical
to expose the health burdens associated with peaker power plants, calculate economic costs, and identify equitable alternatives to meet peak electricity demand.
In July 2021, the Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, a key White House environmental justice policy. One expert testified that 3,000 deaths per year in New York City are attributable to particulate matter and that peaker plant pollution is among the primary culprits.
In August 2021, Rep. Clarke —original sponsor of the Promoting Energy Alternatives is Key to Emission Reductions (PEAKER) Act of 2021— and Chairwoman Maloney met with environmental justice leaders and “Asthma Alley” residents ahead of the Committee’s field roundtable on peaker power plants in Queens, New York. Immediately following the roundtable, Chairwoman Maloney provided testimony against a peaker plant proposal in Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s district at a public hearing. In October 2021, New York State denied a Clean Air Act permit needed to go forward with the proposal.
Click here to read the full letter.
Yvette D. Clarke has been in Congress since 2007. She represents New York’s Ninth Congressional District, which includes Central and South Brooklyn. Clarke is Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus Taskforce on Immigration, a Senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and a Senior Member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.