Air permits for the Jamestown Board of Public Utilities' proposed "clean coal" power plant project are now heading to federal and state environmental groups.
Despite numerous pleas to look at alternative energy sources and to slow the process down, the City Council Monday night agreed that the permits be sent to the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Ward 3 Councilman Michael Taylor, who voted against forwarding the permits, said he still has a lot of questions about the BPU's $145 million project.
"Right now, I'm weighing all sides before I make a decision to support or not support this project. At this time, there is more information that I need on behalf of my constituents, and I am going to stand with them before I support any measures to move forward."
That statement drew a round of applause from the crowd in Council chambers, many of whom spoke against the BPU's plans.
Critics believe that the city and the BPU should study wind power and nuclear power as possible alternatives. Councilman Anthony Dolce assured the crowd and Taylor that Monday night's vote was only a procedural matter.
"I think there is some misunderstanding. We are not voting to appropriate or borrow any money. We are simply moving the air permitting and scoping documents to the state level for their review. This is a necessary process."
Dolce said the state might ultimately tell the BPU that it "can't do the project," Dolce said.
He did, however, contest the allegation that the BPU has rushed the whole process, saying the project has been "discussed, and discussed and discussed," for the past couple of years.
Mayor Sam Teresi said that Monday's Council action was "simply taking action on basically two procedural matters necessary to keep the environmental review and the permit application process [moving] forward that will ultimately bring the BPU and the City of Jamestown to a point of making the ultimate feasibility determination on this study."
Teresi said the ultimate decision to move ahead with building the plant is a long way off.
In the end, the two resolutions passed 7-1, with Taylor casting the lone no vote.