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Fate of Indian Point

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Albany/HV: Fate of Indian Point
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The fate of the Indian Point Nuclear Plant in Westchester County is up to federal officials. But that hasn't stopped state lawmakers from weighing in on its potential closure and what it would mean for the reliability of electric power in much of the state. Our Josh Robin has the story.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Nuclear opponents got their message out. So did supporters of the two Indian Point plants.

Someone leaning on a light switch was to blame, but the takeaway was clear: Close the plant, the lights go out.

"If you shut down both plants when demand for electricity is high, believe me, the public service commission, the mayor of New York, the governor, they all get very nervous,” said Jim Steets.

Governor Cuomo actually says he's more nervous about an active Indian Point. It is 25 miles from New York City, near two active seismic zones, risking a Fukashima-type disaster.

Washington is weighing renewal for two licenses, expiring next year and 2015. One estimate predicts blackout risks by 2016 if they are closed.

Less controversial replacement projects are in the works, but face licensing and other challenges.

"The state legislature has the ability to invest state resources in renewables and alter the laws regarding the planning process to enable transmission lines to be built more rapidly," said Assemblyman Jim Brennan.

Those lines are key to replenishing the power lost in a shutdown. But chances are they won't be built fast.

"We talk about putting a power plant up and you see how controversial that is. Put a transmission line from 300 communities from upstate to downstate," said Gavin Donohue of Independent Power Producers.

"But when you measure that against the cost and the danger, it's an easy decision to make," said Richard Brodsky of Indian Point Opponents.

But even the harshest Indian Point critics admit nuclear power has one benefit: It doesn't burn fossil fuels. And some fear if it's closed, the nNew York City would have to rely on plants that make its pollution even worse.

Norris McDonald says some opponents appear more concerned for aquatic life in the Hudson than city residents.

"They're pitting fish eggs against kids and elderly with asthma," said Norris McDonald, African American Environmentalist Association.

Of course, as opponents may say, a disaster at Indian Point could inflict widespread damage that doesn't discriminate.

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