Chairwoman Maloney, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez, and Rep. Clarke Call on Government Accountability Office to Evaluate the Impacts of Peaker Power Plant Pollution

Dec 21, 2021
Press Release

Washington, D.C. (December 21, 2021)—Today, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, Chairwoman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform, Committee Member Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rep. Yvette D. Clarke sent a letter to Comptroller General Gene L. Dodaro, head of the Government Accountability Office (GAO), requesting that GAO examine ​the impact of peaker power plant pollution on frontline communities and evaluate replacement strategies.


Peaker plants, which burn dirty fuel when electricity demand peaks, are less efficient and more expensive than typical baseload power plants, and are more likely to be located in low-income neighborhoods and in communities of color.


Millions of Americans across the country live near peaker plants.  New York City alone has 89 peaker units, including 28 in the vicinity of Chairwoman Maloney’s district​, 49 in Rep. Clarke’s home borough of Brooklyn​, and 16 in Rep. Ocasio-Cortez's district.


“Addressing the use of peaker plants, which can emit twice the carbon and up to 20 times the nitrous oxides of a typical plant while operating significantly less efficiently, represents a high-impact opportunity to reduce climate risks and tackle a life-threatening environmental justice issue,”  wrote the Members.  “We request GAO’s assistance in reporting on key data to assess damage, uncover health burdens, calculate economic costs, and identify alternative solutions to the use of peaker power plants.”


In their letter, the Members underscore that GAO’s evaluation will be critical ​to expose the health burdens associated with peaker power plants, calculate economic costs, and identify ​equitable alternatives to ​meet peak electricity demand.


In July 2021, the Committee on Oversight and Reform held a hearing on President Biden’s Justice40 Initiative, a key White House environmental justice policy.  One expert testified that 3,000 deaths per year in New York City are attributable to particulate matter and that peaker plant pollution is among the primary culprits.


In August 2021, Chairwoman Maloney and Rep. Clarke—original sponsor of the Promoting Energy Alternatives is Key to Emission Reductions (PEAKER) Act of 2021met with environmental justice leaders and “Asthma Alley” residents ahead of the Committee’s field roundtable on peaker power plants in Queens, New York.   Immediately ​following the roundtable, Chairwoman Maloney provided testimony against a peaker plant proposal in Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s district at a public hearing.  In October 2021, New York State denied a Clean Air Act permit needed to go forward with the proposal.


Click here to read today’s letter.



117th Congress