A U.S. Court of Appeals Wednesday ordered the Federal Power Commission to reopen its hearings on a controversial Consolidated Edison power facility, on the grounds that the plant's effect on Hudson River aquatic life has not been adequately considered.
In a unanimous decision, the three-judge court sided with the Hudson River Fisherman's Association, an environmentalist organization, stating that previous studies of the impact of Con Ed's Storm King plant on fish life had been based on erroneous assumptions.
Rejects Reopening Licensing
The court ordered the reopening of hearings on the plant's effect on fish populations, while rejecting without prejudice a broader petition seeking to reopen the entire licensing procedure.
Consolidated Edison has already begun construction of the plant's water tunnel, including excavation at the base of Storm King Mountain. Thomas Bush, a spokesman for the utility, said yesterday that all work was "proceeding normally" despite the court decision.
"We are studying the decision and determining our course of action," Bush said.
To complete the plant, the utility would need 300 acres of Harvard's Black Rock Forest, land donated to the University in 1949 by Ernest G. Stillman '08.
The University's stated policy has been that it would not sell the land to the utility unless under direct threat of legal action from Con Ed. Daniel Steiner '54, general counsel to the University, said yesterday that "there's a lot less pressure on us now than there was a few days ago."
An attorney for Scenic Hudson Preservation Conference, an organization that has been fighting the Storm King plant for over a decade, said yesterday that he would go to court next week in an attempt to stay construction pending the outcome of the newly-ordered Federal Power Commission hearings.
Albert K. Butzel '60, the attorney, said he believed environmentalists have an excellent case to present to the FPC. Butzel said he would feel confident in saying the Storm King plant would never be completed, "if it weren't for the fact that Con Ed is on the other side."
The Federal Power Commission has held hearings on the Storm King facility twice in the past, most recently in 1970, and has twice issued licenses for the plant.