Congressman Higgins successfully advocated to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that it cease the investigation phase at the former Bethlehem Steel property in Lackawanna so that the remediation phase can begin. The conclusion of the investigatory phase is necessary for the site to be eligible for state brownfield redevelopment incentives, which are necessary for the proposed windmill development at the site.
The EPA quickly issued the release after the Congressman requested it, which will allow the proposed wind power development to proceed. If the release had been further delayed, it is not likely that the turbines would have been installed this year. As there is a two-to-three year waiting list for wind turbines, a further delay in EPA approval would likely have effectively scuttled the project.
“We in Western New York need to continue to be aggressive in removing the barriers that impede development in our community,” said Congressman Higgins. “I am thankful to the EPA for working expeditiously to clear the way for new activity at the old Bethlehem site.”
In a letter dated August 10, 2006, Congressman Higgins outlined the proposal for construction of a 20 megawatt, $35 million windfarm at the Bethlehem Steel site and called for the EPA to expedite the RECRA Facility Investigation (RFI) release.
On August 16, 2006 Congressman Higgins sent a staff member to the EPA regional offices in New York City to meet with top EPA officials and again request expedited approval.
Today, August 21, 2006 the EPA notified Tecumsch and Congressman Higgins that they have determined that the investigatory requirements at the Bethlehem site have been finalized, freeing up the land for the new windmill project.
“Western New York was built on a history which embraced using our natural resources, such as our proximity to fresh water and the mighty Niagara Falls, to improve our economy and the quality of life for local residents,” said Congressman Higgins. “Now we have the opportunity to see what is natural to our environment breathe new life and a new future into a site begging for redevelopment.”