Letter: Here is why Endicott needs the battery plant

Your Turn
Linda Jackson, Guest Columnist

September 20, 2020
Press & Sun-Bulletin (page 12-A to page 13A), Binghamton NY.

I have taken the concerns of our Village of Endicott residents seriously since I took office in January. (See my January channel 12 interview!).

One development that has been controversial is the proposed SungEel plant to recycle lithium-ion batteries. The U.S. has very limited capability in this area, and recycling is one way to reduce overall cost in building clean energy technology. The company was incented by New York state to locate here and be part of the overall development in clean energy technology. The company must achieve 86 new jobs to achieve the incentive.

At first, I was skeptical about this project from feedback I was receiving from the community.

In February, we went to the State Office Building to meet with politicians and the Department of Environmental Conservation. I took our residents’ concerns, and demanded answers. I was questioned as to why I was asking questions now, after two years. This project had already been welcomed by the former village mayor and the Endicott school board in letters dated May of 2019.

We researched the project, sought a second opinion on safety and worked with the DEC. The DEC also met with community members on several occasions. In August, the DEC issued a report on all of the questions that have been raised, and requested some further analysis from SungEel. The DEC will also entertain any new information that is presented. They are maintaining its permit for this project. The project is very safe.

The DEC letter also does a good job in refuting a significant level of misinformation. I urge you to review the work of the DEC and take an objective view of this opportunity.

I released a report from the DEC that proves why this company is not an incinerator. The company has explained that the lithium is too valuable to “burn up.”

Even though this area has been an industrial zoned area for over 100 years, many do not want any industry here at all now — no matter how safe it may be. They want to replace all industry with another kind of business, yet no one has come up with any alternatives, since IBM left, to fill this void.

It is essential that we create good-paying jobs. We cannot sustain our progress without a growing tax base and improving opportunities for all of our residents. The Huron Campus companies, and BAE, provide a great base to work from. One of our growing industr y sectors is clean energy technology. Employment estimates are very significant, and other companies are expected to locate in our area.

Many are upset in how Endicott has become so run down since IBM left. If these companies do not come here, no new industrial business comes here, and we lose the industry we currently have, our economy will continue to plummet. We cannot afford to go backward because of fear tactics. We run the risk of becoming a ghost town, like the steel towns! Clean energy is our future.

Linda Jackson is the mayor of Endicott.

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