St. Lawrence Cement spent $58 million (U.S.) dollars over more than six years in a failed effort to build a massive, coal-fired plant that would have overwhelmed the small but historic City of Hudson (NY) — population 7,500. This is the story of how one small town stood up to a giant corporation, and won... A narrative of the fight published by OUR TOWN can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking here.



First inklings of cement plant proposal

  • SEP 14
    In Canada, St. Lawrence Cement quietly announces plans for a 2.2 million ton, $300 million coal-fired cement plant in Hudson and Greenport, New York, near the banks of the Hudson River. SLC is a subsidiary of Holderbank (now Holcim), which at the time was the largest cement manufacturer in the world.

Americlean victory preps community for SLC fight

  • JAN 6
    James Dolan Jr. and Hudson Mayor Richard Scalera hold hearing "seeking ideas" for a $600k Canal Corridor (HUD) grant application
  • JAN 9
    First telephone poll about cement plant carried out by Market Strategies, Inc. for SLC
  • JAN 25
    At Partnership meeting, residents discover from Jim Callendar and Bernadina Torrey that unnamed recipient of proposed grant would be Americlean, based in Canada | Afternoon research by Sam Pratt reveals Americlean's main business is processing dry cleaning waste, not coat hangers and polybags
  • JAN 27
    First press release | Common Council, Dolan, Scalera, and consultant Bill Loewenstein get earful from residents, who insist on forum with Americlean
  • JAN 29
    Pratt has testy phone conversation with Americlean exec | Residents write letters and emails to company
  • JAN 31
    Ad proposed by Byrne Fone, paid for by 12 residents, appears in Register-Star (at right)
  • FEB 3
    Coincidentally, front page Wall Street Journal article warns of perils of perchloroethylene | Fred Lebrun blasts Athens Gen in Times-Union
  • FEB 10
    Members gather at Hudson waterfront, garner coverage of Americlean on Channel 10 (ABC)
  • FEB 16
    Members meet at 32 Warren Street to review lists of questions for public hearing
  • FEB 17
    Members go door-to-door in Hudson's 1st and 3rd wards with Americlean hearing flyers
  • FEB 18
    Resident Jack Harrell brings chemist Monona Rossol to quiz Americlean at 7 pm hearing | disastrous appearance by VP Brett Walker is widely covered by Albany TV | Mayor says he's "totally embarrassed" by the public's behavior
  • APR
    After City adopts citizen demand to eliminate perc from plan, Americlean formally withdraws
  • MAY
    Following more polls, residents receive a long series of colorful SLC postcards
  • JUN 25
    Scoping hearing on SLC moved from a small upstairs room at 401 State Street to the Supervisor's chambers after 100 turn up
  • JUN 30
    50 residents submit to DEC 13 pages of scoping comments under Friends' name
  • JUL 23
    Atlas union chief Al Cook, resident Allon Schoener and Pratt meet with Dirk Cox of SLC | Company reluctant to hold joint public forum
  • AUG 6
    FoH moves its online discussions to a secure email listserv called "Clover"
  • AUG 12
    Sam Pratt, Peter Jung and Claudia Bruce form initial Friends of Hudson board
  • SEP
    Friends of Hudson becomes a project of The Open Space Institute, a 501c(3) organization
  • OCT 15
    Albany law firm Young, retained, with Jeff Baker as lead counsel
  • 0ct 27
    Pratt receives annual "Quality of Life" award from Hudson Teachers Association
  • DEC 31
    Camp, Dresser & McKee, the nationally-known engineering firm, is retained by FoH
  • "SLC World" -- company newsletter touting project: PDF

Citizens start building a case

  • JAN
    Thomas Chizmadia, Holnam vice president for public relations, visits area editorial boards
  • JAN 11
    Ribbon-cutting at SLC testing lab by Mayor Kenneth Cranna raised some local hackles
  • JAN 22
    Meeting with Clover Reach members in Claverack to discuss involvement in plant issue
  • FEB 9
    "Scoping" review completed by DEC staff of issues to be included in SLC application
  • FEB 21
    Meeting at the home of Irma Brownfield and Frederick Rostock in Claverack with Dr. Ira Marks about health impacts of plant
  • FEB 22
    Register-Star headline: "St. Lawrence foes pick up momentum"
  • MAR 1
    Greenport Town Board votes to welcome SLC
  • MAR 6
    Friends enlists 8 other groups on letter asking DEC for more than minimum 30 days comment period once SLC application deemed complete
  • MAR 7
    First draft of SLC Draft Environmental Impact Statement delivered to NYS DEC
  • MAR 10
    Hudson residents raise SLC issue at Chamber's Patterns for Progress meeting at Kozel's
  • MAR 12
    First major public presentation on Friends' SLC concerns is held at Time & Space Ltd. | Videos shown include "Danger Downwind"
  • MAR 13
    New York Times article on reindustrialization of Hudson River Valley hits front page
  • MAR 17
    SLC announces creation of Community Forum moderated by Sandor Schumann
  • APR 1
    Company p.r. rep caught attempting to take sign-in sheet from Friends event at St. James Church in Chatham
  • APR 23
    Lawn signs painted at Earth Day bazaar
  • MAY 10
    Anti-plant protestors picket on corner of 6th and Warren during visit by U.S. Rep. Sweeney
  • MAY 24
    St. Charles Hotel too small for first Forum meeting as residents grill SLC reps | Future meetings moved to Community College
  • MAY 27
    John Muzio and Frederick Rostock help move group into office donated by Steve Kingsley of Hudson Michael Realty at 554 Warren Street
  • JUN 28
    Friends of Hudson hosts Tivoli meeting on SLC
  • JUL 30
    Members paint more lawn signs at Kipp Farm, home of Diana Jelinek and Ed Lebar
  • AUG
    Intense debate over accepting SLC donations ensues as 3 StageWorks board members resign
  • AUG 2
    Plant supporter restrained after physically attacking Friends director at Forum
  • AUG 9
    SLC pledges $130,000 for Greenport park
  • AUG 25
    Company flies Forum members to Midlothian, Texas to visit parent company's "model" plant
  • AUG 30
    Plant supporters threaten Travis Kline, an EPA expert from Claverack, at Forum meeting
  • OCT 29
    Information session on SLC by Columbia Action Now! (CAN!) at Chatham firehouse
  • FALL
    Friends' billboards on health add to those of the Hudson Valley Billboard Project featuring Annie Leibowitz, Peter Hujar et al.
  • NOV 23
    Mystery vandal rips down 2 anti-SLC billboards
  • DEC 22
    Columbia Memorial Hospital doctors organize task force to study SLC proposal
  • DEC 31
    Binders with over 3,000 signatures against the cement plant proposal sent to 14 officials

Public outcry nears critical mass

  • JAN 1
    Newspapers report PG&E-Scenic Hudson deal, paving the way for Athens Gen approval
  • JAN 12
    Friends organizes River Roundtable, bringing together groups to discuss mutual concerns
  • FEB 8
    Chamber of Commerce nominates Friends director for Crystal Apple award
  • FEB 12
    EPA New England chief urges caution on SLC
  • FEB 23
    Friends files brief with on Lehigh expansion
  • MAR 10
    500+ members celebrate in Friends' first annual party in St. Mary's Academy gym
  • MAR 12
    Hudson Supervisor Daniel Grandinetti comes out against SLC
  • MAR 18
    Friends of Hudson supports remaining Athens Gen opponents in Corps hearing in Albany
  • MAR 22
    Letter from 20 business leaders protests SLC
  • MAR 30
    CMH doctors come out against SLC
  • APR 30
    SLC "balloon test" alarms residents | Friends receives $5,000 grant from the National Trust
  • MAY 10
    Organization passes 2,000 member and 5,000 petition-signer milestones
  • JUN 20
    Members flood hearing at Columbia-Greene Community College (CGCC)
  • JUN 29
    EPA: SLC design is not "state-of-the-art"
  • JUN 30
    National coverage in The New York Times
  • JUL 2
    Hundreds of well-informed letters submitted to DEC Administrative Law Judges
  • JUL 5
    Research by Don Christensen reveals SLC land title problems at Hudson waterfront
  • JUL 7
    Second annual picnic at Sportsmen's Club | "Run for Clean Air" organized by Lenny Collins
  • JUL 11
    Friends files 89-page party status application
  • JUL 20
    International TV coverage on Lou Dobbs' Moneyline on CNN
  • JUL 24
    Members confront Governor Pataki about SLC at the dedication of a new park in Valatie
  • AUG 5
    State Comptroller H. Carl McCall speaks out against SLC in Greenport
  • AUG 16
    Friends, Olana, HVPC conclude 3-week Issues Conference, making cases for party status
  • SEP 7
    Friends' attorneys file issues and reply briefs
  • SEP 28
    about Issues Conference to secure party status
  • OCT 2
    Engineering study: SLC emissions of fine particulate matter would exceed key limits
  • OCT 22
    Friends director addresses 100+ person meeting in Lenox, Massachusetts
  • NOV 10
    Organization takes on two full-time and one part-time staffer for new Warren Street office
  • NOV 17
    Storefront office open in Hudson with show of Tom Teich's Hudson river photos
  • NOV 29
    Three Hudson officials blast SLC in letter
  • DEC 2
    Scores visit new office during the Opera House's annual Hudson WinterWalk
  • DEC 7
    140-page decision by ALJ supports 88% of Friends' arguments
  • DEC 13
    Hudson Planning Board tables deal with SLC
  • DEC 18
    Friends announces expanded board, officers
  • Transcript of 11-hour DEC hearing: HTML
  • July legal brief to DEC (Part I): PDF
  • July legal brief to DEC (Part II): PDF
  • Petition for DEC party status: PDF
  • September brief to DEC: PDF
  • Early member guide to Coastal review process: PDF
  • Early member guide to OGS comment process: PDF
  • Goldberger issues ruling for DEC: PDF
  • Letter from John Faso about Swiss environmental regulations: HTML

The momentum begins to shift

  • JAN 4
    Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal threatens court action to stop SLC
  • JAN 8
    FoH files suit to block $200,000 agreement between Greenport Town Board and SLC
  • JAN 17
    SLC's brand new Camden, New Jersey plant is fined $20,550 for violations of reporting and monitoring requirements
  • FEB 3
    281-page appeal of the judges' ruling shows "the process" isn't going as SLC had hoped
  • MAR 2
    Annual FoH members' party at St Mary's draws nearly 500
  • MAR 23
    Actress Kaiulani Lee presents show on Rachel Carson, while husband and renowned activist Andrew Kimbrell teams up with Miriam MacGillis at FoH-sponsored events
  • APR 4
    Friends' lawsuit forces G'port to nix SLC deal
  • APR 27
    Members join Rotary in river cleanup
  • JUN 6
    FoH helps organize annual Second Ward cleanup day
  • JUN 14
    Local newspapers reveal slew of pro-SLC letters are phony
  • JUN 25
    SLC jobs rhetoric is undermined as State Department of Labor report reveals near-full employment, tight local job market
  • JUL 6
    Annual FoH picnic at Polish Sportsmen's Club. Hand-painted signs auctioned | Tom Tom Club concert for FoH, co-organized by Club Helsinki, draws over 700 to the Basilica
  • JUL 9
    Berkshire Eagle editorial: "Wrong Cement Plant in the Wrong Place"
  • AUG 12
    SLC Harvard expert admits he wouldn't want to live near plant, as Dr. Marks is barred from company's "public dialogue" on health
  • AUG 20
    "Model" Midlothian plant, visited by SLC forum, is fined $223,000 by Texas regulators
  • AUG 27
    Assemblyman Manning cites health risks in a call for full adjudication of SLC proposal
  • SEP 13
    Kaz-sponsored poll finds SLC opponents now in majority, 50 to 43%
  • SEP 21
    Member Ken McCarthy organizes 200-person dinner in Tivoli to benefit Friends of Hudson
  • OCT 7
    The New York Times blasts the SLC proposal in a scathing editorial, "The Hudson at Risk."
  • DEC 7
    DEC Comissioner Crotty issues First Interim Decision, calling for adjudication of noise, traffic, mining | Crotty postpones decision on pollution, visuals, community character et al
  • DEC 8
    Open house for Winter Walk at Friends' office
  • DEC 9
    20 members sing Christmas carols outside City Hall before meeting on possible deal with SLC to prevent company from packing the hall
  • DEC 15
    Poughkeepsie Journal editorial: "Cement plant needs full review"
  • DEC 16
    Spain opens investigation into insider trading by Holcim president Thomas Schmidheiny
  • Factsheet summarizing economic issues: PDF
  • March legal brief to DEC challenging SLC motions: PDF
  • Chronogram article by Joe Brill: LINK
  • Pratt article in Clearwater newsletter: PDF

Friends build community

  • JAN 31
    Forum with New Jersey and Texas cement activists
  • FEB 9
    Francesca Tanksley benefit concert in Hudson
  • FEB 28
    A model of the St. Lawence Cement proposal, commissioned by Richard Katzman of Kaz, Inc., goes on display for a month in the window of Vincent Mulford's shop at 417 Warren Street to show the plant's relation to its surroundings
  • MAR 8
    Annual party at St. Mary's gymnasium in Hudson again draws more than 500
  • MAR
    DEC adjudicatory hearings in Greenport on whether to "undgrandfather" SLC mine
  • MAR 12
    Public hearings on Glens Falls Lehigh plant in Catskill held in Germantown
  • MAR 18
    U.S. Army Corps holds two days of hearings at
  • MAR 19
    Columbia-Greene ommunity College
  • APR 3
    Dutchess County EMC decides to review plant's impacts | "Ungrandfathering" hearings continue at Greenport Town Hall
  • APR 13
    James Howard Kunstler lectures on planning at Hudson River Theater
  • APR 20
    Members mail hundreds of letters before Corps' comment deadline
  • APR 25
    Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection joins other groups in calling for stricter air standards
  • MAY 1
    Premiere issue of The Hudson Valley Record
  • MAY 31
    1,000 attend Patti Smith benefit concert at the Basilica Industria, where the Americlean project was once to be sited
  • JUN 16
    DEC judges issue ruling, recommending that SLC mine be"ungrandfathered"
  • JUL 6
    Friends Community Quilt unveiled and raffled at annual picnic at Sportsmen's Club
  • JUL 12
    Concerned Women of Claverack Tag Sale again raises funds for FoH and HVPC
  • JUL
    Three separate newspaper editorials question the coal-fired St. Lawrence Cement project
  • AUG 9
    FoH included in Copake Charity Auction
  • AUG 13
    Friends, HVPC debate SLC in Rhinebeck
  • AUG 23
    Scottish activist and author Alastair McIntosh speaks in Hudson
  • AUG 28
    Friends volunteers staff popular booth at Columbia County Fair
  • SEP 2
    Pratt receives activism award on national radio show, etown, in Colorado
  • SEP 24
    DEC sends tough letter on noise to SLC
    OCT DEC noise and traffic hearings in Greenport | SLC doubles maximum round trips
  • OCT 11
    Friends of Hudson table at Hudson Arts Walk
  • DEC 6
    Friends' office open for Winter Walk
  • DEC 22
    Assemblyman Pat Manning speaks out about SLC in Capital District Business Review
  • Full-page advertisement against the plant: PDF
  • Legal brief to Army Corps: PDF
  • Factsheet summarizing main issues with project: PDF
  • 16-page "Record" publication: PDF

The neverending battle rages on

  • JAN 10
    Well-attended Friends presentation on SLC in Great Barrington
  • JAN 10
    Friends co-sponsors "State of the Community" symposium
  • JAN 11
    Valatie meeting at Wilde house about Lafarge tire-burning plan
  • JAN 21
    Director Sam Pratt addresses business group at Kozel's
  • JAN 31
    Kinderhook meeting at Collins residence on Lafarge
  • FEB 5
    Friends' engineers deliver major study to regulators on "state of the art" pollution controls for cement plants internationally
  • FEB 7
    Informational meeting about Lafarge plan at North Pointe
  • FEB 27
    Senator Hillary Clinton tells Preservation Magazine that cement plant would be "a big step backward" for region
  • FEB 28
    Update on St. Lawrence for Berkshires members in Sheffield
  • MAR 2
    Public meeting on SLC?"host agreement" with Hudson; deal tabled as it never comes to vote in following months
  • MAR 5
    Publication of 5th Anniversary insert in The Independent
  • MAR 6
    Informational meeting in Stuyvesant about Lafarge plan is sponsored by local farmers
  • MAR 9
    New York's Dept. of State deals setback to SLC, deeming company's Coastal application incomplete in 10 key areas
  • MAR 13
    Annual party in St. Mary's gym draws 500 members
  • APR 17
    Benefit concert with Philip Glass nets $40,000 for Friends
  • APR 22
    State-ordered balloon test proves plant would be highly visible throughout the Hudson-Greenport-Claverack area
  • APR 26
    Friends retains engineer Paul Supple to review Lafarge tire plan
  • MAY 5
    J.P. Morgan report reveals SLC has spent $55 million so far on trying to get Greenport project approved
  • MAY 7
    Friends members catch SLC illegally bulldozing wetlands
  • MAY 15
    Opening of the Friends of Hudson 5th Anniversary Retrospective at Time + Space Ltd.
  • JUN 12
    Flag Day float (with Lisa Durfee as St. Winifred) wins "Best Columbia County theme" award
  • JUN 23
    US Army Corps, DEC cite SLC for wetlands violation
  • JUL 25
    Friends of Hudson sponsors lecture by local author Andrew Rieser on the Chatauqua movement
  • AUG 28
    Jeff Baker and Sam Pratt face off with unprepared SLC spokesmen at Rhinebeck debate
  • AUG 18
    Intervenors talk way into SLC?media event at St. Charles Hotel in Hudson
  • AUG 25
    Friends' membership passes 4,000 mark
  • SEP 4
    Friends of Hudson picnic at Federation of Polish Sportsmen draws 300 members and kids
  • SEP 9
    New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Erin Crotty deals "triple setback" to SLC by ungrandfathering its Becraft Mountain mine, and ordering trials on 10 major issues cited by opponents
  • SEP 11
    Copake Auctions charity event benefits Friends' legal fund
  • SEP 21
    Columbia Memorial Hospital doctors vote 55-0 to voice concern over health impacts of SLC design changes
  • OCT 18
    Director Sam Pratt addresses Hudson Rotary for 3rd time
  • OCT 21
    SLC shuts intervenors out of Greenport press conference
  • OCT 24
    Director Sam Pratt gives talk on cement industry at Yale
  • OCT 31
    Annual open farm day at Blackberry Hill in Livingston
  • NOV 16
    CDM report shows that redesigned SLC plant still far dirtier than Catskill
  • NOV 28
    NYT notes spread of anti-SLC signs into Litchfield County
  • DEC 3
    Surprise visit to Holcim HQ in Waltham, Mass., with Jay Rasku of Toxics Action Center rattles parent company
  • DEC 24
    NYS DOS announces the start of a 30-day public comment period for SLC... on Christmas Eve
  • DEC 27
    Lawyers for opponents call on DOS to extend comment period, provide documents to public
  • DEC interim decision by Erin Crotty: PDF

Victory at last

    Friends hold two dozen meetings in homes and public spaces to discuss pending Coastal decision, write letters
    Mailers, postcards, briefing papers and other materials circulated to spur public comment
  • MAR 5
    Final Friends gathering at St. Mary's Academy rouses troops for last round
  • FEB 24
    DOS extends deadline for public comment on coastal permit a second time, to March 18th
  • MAR 21
    United opponents summarize case, call on State to end project
  • MAR 28
    Review finds 87% of record 13,663 comments oppose project, along with more than three dozen organizations
  • APR 10
    New editorials by NYT, Independent support opposition
  • APR 19
    Secretary of State Randy Daniels and Hudson Common Council deal final blows to SLC
  • APR 19
    Opponents celebrate at Red Dot on Warren Street
  • APR 23
    Even bigger celebration at Vincent Mulford's "Tin Ballroom"
  • APR 24
    St. Lawrence Cement announces it is abandoning the Greenport project
  • Joint comments by intervenors opposing Coastal Consistency: PDF
  • April press release about SLC waste-burningPDF
  • Late editorial against the plant: PDF
  • Coastal Ruling by Secretary of State Daniels: PDF
  • Independent article PDF
  • Fax announcing the victory: PDF
  • Press release on SLC withdrawalPDF
  • Victory flyer PDF
  • Advance press release for final picnic PDF
  • Press release for NYS Preservation League Pillars award: PDF
  • SLC Annual Report '05: PDF
  • Metroland letter regarding Scenic Hudson's role: HTML

For further information: Sam Pratt