|Madeline Shaw with her children and grandchildren, along with Pramilla Malick and James Cromwell|
SlateHill N.Y. Half of the group known as the Wawayanda-Six were called into a local town court this evening for missing a deadline to pay a fine emanating from a civil disobedience action to halt construction of a controversial 650 MW fracked- gas power plant project being built by Competitive Power Ventures, in Orange County.
Represented by prominent civil rights attorney, Michael Sussman three of the six defendants refused to pay the $375 fine after being found guilty by Judge Timothy McElduff despite irrefutable testimony by prominent scientists that the project did constitute an imminent harm necessitating their actions. The other three paid their fines last week.
The controversial project is at the center of a major pay-to-play corruption scandal involving Governor Cuomo’s former top aides. While a trial based on criminal charges is set to begin in October, and one former aid has already pled guilty, construction continues.
Yesterday the community along with prominent scientists and public figures held a press conference urging Cuomo to immediately halt the project. The scientists claim that the project will increase the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by at least “ten percent” and depend on fracking in nearby Pennsylvania creating both an environmental and climate emergency. Cornell University Professor, Anthony Ingraffea” said the the plant was approved due to “ignorance, deception, and corruption”, and explained how the company lied in their air permit applications.
One by one: grandmother, Madeline Shaw; mother and activist, Pramilla Malick; actor and activist James Cromwell; each announced their refusal.
While attorney Michael Sussman plans to file a motion for a stay, all three now must report to the court on July 14th from where they will be sent to the Orange County jail.
Asked by the press how this sentence will impact their personal lives, Madeline Shaw, two generations of family standing behind her said, “I have to do this. My family bought our house in 1949. I will have to move because of this project. This is about our health, our children’s health, our grandchildren’s health”.
Pramilla Malick, founder of Protect Orange County said, “This is going to be a great hardship for my children and my family. But I cannot bring myself to feed the corruption that tramples on the lives of so many people”
James Cromwell commented, “I hope the people of this Orange County, people of this state, all over this country see the injustice of this decision and realize that we must are stand together to stop this”
Sussman referenced a news story that reported that CPV was not needed and compared the actions of these individuals to the great civil rights movement, “CPV is not needed to meet the energy needs of the State of New York. These people are very courageous, but we need more people, as we did in the civil rights movement, to put their bodies on the line. There is no greater issue of our time. We have dramatic undisputed testimony that the higher court must see.”