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For Immediate Release
February 20, 2019

SUNY Chancellor should rethink power company role

UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., today urged SUNY Chancellor Kristina Johnson to “reconsider her role” as a member of the Board of Directors for AES Corp.

Kowal said he was “deeply concerned” about several Feb. 19 media reports about Johnson’s directorship at AES, a Virginia-based power company that operates a coal-fired power plant in Puerto Rico that media reports say produces toxic coal ash.

“The chancellor has been a proponent of renewable, clean power at SUNY, and she was quick to launch an effort to help the people of Puerto Rico after the island was devastated by Hurricane Maria,” said Kowal. “She even traveled there after the storm to help rebuild.

“At the same time, she’s a board member of a company that has come under fire in the media for its coal-burning plant in Puerto Rico,” Kowal continued. “UUP strongly urges the chancellor to rethink her directorship at AES.”

UUP is a strong supporter of green energy initiatives and spotlighting environmental concerns.

The union is a member of New York Renews, a coalition of labor unions, faith and community groups, and environmental organizations. UUP is also a member of the national BlueGreen Alliance, a coalition of labor unions and environmental organizations working together to create good jobs and a clean environment.

UUP is very proud of its members who have traveled to Puerto Rico as volunteers to help residents rebuild after the deadly storm, which claimed nearly 3,000 lives and left much of the island without power for months.

News outlets such as PBS News Hour Weekend, New Republic, and The Huffington Post have reported on the AES coal plant and its questionable methods for discarding toxic coal ash produced by the plant.

According to the Physicians for Social Responsibility, coal ash can contain heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium and selenium. If ingested, these toxicants can cause a range of health problems, including cancer, kidney and lung disease, and heart damage.

The Environmental Protection Agency regulates coal ash because it can pollute ground water, drinking water and the air.

UUP is the nation's largest higher education union, with more than 42,000 academic and professional faculty and retirees. UUP members work at 29 New York state-operated campuses, including SUNY’s public teaching hospitals and health science centers in Brooklyn, Long Island and Syracuse. It is an affiliate of NYSUT, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Education Association, and the AFL-CIO.


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