History Expects the Sixth Seal in NYC (Revelation 6:12)

According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.

A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale. (ANI)

Babylon the Great Pulls Out of the German Horn (Daniel 7)

President Donald Trump listens during a roundtable about America’s seniors, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Monday, June 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)   (Associated Press)

Trump announces major US troop cut in ‘delinquent’ Germany | Newser

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump said Monday he is ordering a major reduction in U.S. troop strength in Germany, a move widely criticized by members of his own party as a gift to Russia and a threat to U.S. national security.

“We’re putting the number down to 25,000 soldiers,” Trump said at the White House.

The U.S. currently has about 34,500 troops in Germany — far fewer than during the Cold War, when Germany was the central focus of American and NATO efforts to deter invasion by the former Soviet Union. In recent decades, Germany has hosted key American military facilities and provided a transit point for troops deploying to and from the Middle East, including during years of conflict in Iraq.

Trump faulted Germany for failing to pay enough for its own defense, calling the long-time NATO ally “delinquent.”

“We’re protecting Germany and they’re delinquent. That doesn’t make sense,” the president said, referring to Germany’s failure thus far to attain a goal set by all NATO members in 2014 to spend at least 2% of gross national product on defense by 2024. Germany says it hopes to reach 2% by 2031.

“Until they pay, we’re removing our soldiers, a number of our soldiers,” Trump said. His plan, however, did not sound fully defined.

“When we get down to 25,000 we’ll see where we’re going,” he said.

Since his election in 2016, Trump has pushed for the 2% as a hard target, and he has repeatedly singled out Germany as a major offender, though many others are also below the goal.

In his White House remarks to reporters, Trump suggested his troop withdrawal decision was intended to punish Germany, noting that the presence of American troops is a boost to local economies.

“Those are well-paid soldiers,” he said. “They live in Germany. They spend vast amounts of money in Germany. Everywhere around those bases is very prosperous for Germany. So Germany takes, and then on top of it they treat us very badly on trade.”

In addition to the 34,500 U.S. troops in Germany, there also are approximately 17,500 Defense Department civilians.

The administration has contemplated a partial troop withdrawal from Germany since last year, and in recent weeks it became apparent that Trump was ready to move forward, although no decision had been announced.

The decision was not discussed in advance with Germany or other NATO members, and Congress was not officially informed — prompting a letter from 22 Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee urging a rethink.

“The threats posed by Russia have not lessened, and we believe that signs of a weakened U.S. commitment to NATO will encourage further Russian aggression and opportunism,” Rep. Mac Thornberry of Texas wrote in a letter to Trump with his colleagues. Sen. Jack Reed, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, slammed Trump’s move as “another favor” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Liz Cheney, a Republican from Wyoming, said last week that Trump appeared to be making a serious mistake.

“America’s forward presence has never been more important than it is today, as our nation confronts the threats to freedom and security around the world posed by Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the Chinese Communist Party,” Cheney said. “Our presence abroad is critical to deterring these adversaries, bolstering alliances, maintaining peace through strength, and preserving American leadership. Withdrawing our forces and abandoning our allies would have grave consequences, emboldening our adversaries and making war more — not less — likely.”

American facilities include Ramstein Air Base, a critical hub for operations in the Mideast and Africa and headquarters to the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa; the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, which has saved the lives of countless Americans wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan; and the Stuttgart headquarters of both the U.S. European Command and the U.S. Africa Command. There’s also the Wiesbaden headquarters of U.S. Army Europe, the Spangdahlem F-16 fighter base and the Grafenwoehr Training Area, NATO’s largest training facility in Europe.

Trump indicated last summer that he was thinking of moving some troops from Germany to Poland, telling Poland’s President Andrzej Duda during an Oval Office meeting, “Germany is not living up to what they’re supposed to be doing with respect to NATO, and Poland is.”

Duda has been trying to woo more American forces, even suggesting Poland would contribute over $2 billion to create a permanent U.S. base — which he said could be named “Fort Trump.” In the current plan, at least some Germany-based troops are expected to be shifted to Poland.

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Associated Press writer David Rising in Berlin contributed to this report.

Admitting the Hard Reality of the Antichrist’s Influence in Iraq

The United States is again considering escalating the conflict in Iraq, threatening to repeat a familiar mistake rooted in overconfidence. Instead of focusing support behind the anti-corruption and economic reforms millions of Iraqis demand, the United States is intent on continuing its use of threats and military force to achieve short-term victories against unwanted Iraqi Shia Islamists – despite the long-term diminishing effect these have on US influence.

Signs of impending escalation began with the leak of classified communication in late March regarding Pentagon plans to eliminate Kata’ib Hezbollah, a hardline, anti-US Islamist organization in Iraq. The United States views Kata’ib Hezbollah and several other Iraqi Islamist groups operating within Iraq’s security services as Iranian proxies engaged in “terrorist” opposition to the US military presence. Also in late March, a senior Iraqi official described being informed by the US that it would “strike 122 targets in Iraq simultaneously” in the event of any American death.

If implemented, such plans would represent a continuation of recent disproportionate and counterproductive acts of US escalation in Iraq. In early January, A US drone strike killed the high-ranking Iraqi security official and founder of Kata’ib Hezbollah, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and Iranian Brig. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. This dramatic escalation prompted broad condemnation from Iraqi officials, diminished US influence over key political actors, and incited more attacks on US installations in the country.

Despite pushback against further attacks from Lt. Gen. Robert P. White, the top US commander in Iraq, the risk of escalation remains high.  The US has now consolidated its forces in the country into more defensible positions and installed Patriot missile systems. US officials describe these actions as “precautions.”

The US administration’s next move remains unclear. It may turn out that pushback from US military brass, together with the upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic and domestic Iraqi political developments, has, for now, overridden the clear desire within the administration to escalate. Regardless, the fact that this type of action is being seriously considered shows that, after 17 years of military involvement in the country, the US has yet to admit the hard reality of its involvement there: US attempts to sideline or eliminate unwanted Shia Islamists from Iraqi politics and society have consistently failed. Moreover, such attempts serve to empower these actors and push large segments of Iraqi society in a more anti-US direction.

To understand how the logic of escalation fails against these actors, US policymakers need only recall how similar attempts to forcefully sideline Iraq’s Shia Islamists have backfired since the 2003 invasion.

The Original Islamist Enemy

Before al-Muhandis and Kata’ib Hezbollah, the United States had another Iraqi Islamist actor in its crosshairs: cleric Moqtada al-Sadr. Following the 2003 invasion, the United States saw Moqtada as an illegitimate actor that needed to be sidelined, or better yet eliminated. When prominent Iraqi official Ali A. Allawi attempted to explain Moqtada’s popular appeal for millions of largely poor Iraqi Shia, the head of the US Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), Paul Bremer, responded that he: “didn’t care a damn about the underclass and what [Moqtada’s movement] represented.”

Failing to appreciate the deep well of nationalist resistance that Moqtada had tapped in Iraqi society, the CPA adopted a policy Allawi described as “isolation and confrontation” that made the subsequent period of US-Sadrist violence all but inevitable. Helped in large part by the popularity he accrued for his willingness to stand up to the US military following the invasion, Moqtada surged in popularity. Today, he is arguably the most influential man in Iraq, with his Alliance Toward Reforms bloc controlling more seats in parliament than any other.

Designating a Government

Following the failed confrontation with Moqtada, the United States continued its attempts to sideline popular Shia Islamists in Iraq using terrorist designations. The tactic began in July 2009 with the designation of Kata’ib Hezbollah and Muhandis, and has accelerated under the Trump administration.

Currently, more than a dozen seated deputies within the Shia Islamist-dominated Fatah Coalition, Iraq’s second largest parliamentary bloc, belong to a party whose leadership hold US terror designations. The justification for these designations, which cite many years-old attacks on non-civilian targets alongside allegations of overly close relationships with Iran, could equally apply to the leadership of the bulk of the remaining parties in the bloc. In fact, similar designations could implicate the bulk of the leading Alliance Toward Reforms bloc, led by former anti-US. militant par excellence Moqtada al-Sadr.

The inconsistent way in which these designations have been handed out is intentional – a way for the United States to implicitly threaten other Iraqi Islamists and pressure them to distance themselves from Iran.

It has not worked.

Not only has the increased use of terrorist designations had the effect of muddling their purpose by implicating huge swathes of Iraq’s government, it has produced the familiar counterproductive effect of driving these groups closer together and of hardening their anti-US biases. Perhaps the clearest evidence of this is provided by Asa’ib Ahl Al Haq, one of Iraq’s most powerful militias and popular political parties – a group that some analysts suggested was capable of integrating into the more moderate political mainstream. However, since receiving its own US terror designation within hours of the Muhandis-Soleimani strike, moderation seems unlikely. Leader Qais al-Khazali, whose pragmatism previously allowed for flirtations with disarming his militia and a possible acceptance of an ongoing US military presence within Iraq, is now one of the loudest voices calling for a complete withdrawal of US forces.

Rather than dissuading Islamist groups from attacking US forces, terrorist designations and the  threat of targeted-killing they convey have pushed these actors underground, where they are more dangerous.

The logic behind the use of designations is further undermined by its clear lack of success in persuading Iraqis to reject these groups. Al-Muhandis’ status as a US-designated terrorist for a decade prior to his death did little to prevent his rise to become one of the most important figures within the Iraqi government, nor did it prevent hundreds of thousands of Iraqis from taking to the streets to protest his killing and demand a US withdrawal. It also did not prevent then Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi from declaring a national day of mourning and marching in his funeral procession. Most concerning for the ongoing fight against ISIS, it did not stop one of America’s most important counterterror partners, Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, from describing his killing as “treacherous and cowardly.”

These are not the signs of an effective effort to marginalize one’s adversaries.

The Hard Reality

The argument presented here is not in any way intended to trivialize the often-despicable behavior and questionable ideology of many Iraqi Islamist factions – which warrant condemnation. Nor is it an effort to excuse the violence some have committed against US forces or deny the right of those forces to defend themselves. Rather, it is intended to clarify the hard reality that marginalizing Iraq’s hardline Islamists is not a task that can be achieved through conventional force or threat of force.

Countering these groups must rely on the many millions of Iraqis of more moderate political persuasions to provide balance. To support these other Iraqis, the United States should take steps to restore its dramatically reduced civil and diplomatic presence in the country and increase support for the economic and anti-corruption reforms that so many Iraqis crave. Rather than play into the anti-US narratives used by hardline Islamists to justify their hold on power, the United States can help expose the corruption and decay within many popular Islamist parties and allow their tendency toward infighting to run its course.

Achieving these goals will serve as a lasting defense against acts of violence on US citizens while helping Iraqis to secure the peaceful, prosperous future they deserve.

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Geopoliticalmonitor.com or any institutions with which the authors are associated.

Iran edging closer to the nuclear bomb (Daniel 8:4)

Iran edging closer to nuclear bomb, Israeli defense officials assess – report

Officials said to tell Gantz Tehran hasn’t increased uranium enrichment during pandemic, but is still just 2 years away from bomb

By TOI staff14 Jun 2020, 11:10 am

Israeli defense officials believe Iran hasn’t increased the pace of its nuclear enrichment in recent months, but nevertheless could be just two years from producing an atomic weapon, a report said Sunday.

The Walla news site quoted the unnamed senior officials as saying Jerusalem estimates the Islamic Republic continues to enrich uranium at a four percent level, the same as when the coronavirus crisis hit earlier this year.

However, the report said Defense Minister Benny Gantz has been presented with an assessment that Tehran is just six months away from producing all the components of an atomic bomb, and two years away from assembling such a bomb.

The sources were quoted as saying that if Iran decides to hasten its enrichment, Israel would have to “reconsider” its reaction to the development and to the crumbling of the 2015 nuclear deal, with “all options” put on the table.

They said that full attention was not being currently paid to the subject by US President Donald Trump’s administration, which is preoccupied with his reelection campaign.

Still, the officials added that Trump’s term was very positive toward Israel and included security cooperation at levels not seen for decades. Some officials were said to fear that a change of power in Washington would set back Israel in its struggle against Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report earlier this month that Iran was breaching the landmark pact and has for months blocked inspections at two sites where nuclear activity may have occurred in the past.

The Vienna-based agency noted “with serious concern that, for over four months, Iran has denied access to the agency… to two locations.”

Iran insisted Thursday that it was ready to resolve any issues with the UN nuclear watchdog, expressing “disappointment” over the IAEA’s report.

The Bushehr nuclear power plant outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran. (AP Photo/Mehr News Agency, Majid Asgaripour)

Iran argues that the requests for access are based on “fabricated information,” accusing the United States and Israel of trying to “exert pressure on the agency.”

Israel has claimed that its intelligence services have new information on Iran’s alleged previous nuclear weapons program.

The IAEA has said that its access requests were based on “concrete information” that had been validated. The report is expected to be discussed at a meeting of the agency’s board of governors starting Monday.

In a separate report, also to be discussed during the board meeting, the IAEA warned that Iran’s enriched uranium stockpile is now almost eight times the limit set in the nuclear deal the country signed with world powers in 2015.

Iran has been progressively breaking restrictions laid down in the 2015 deal in retaliation for US withdrawal from the accord in 2018 and its subsequent re-imposition of sanctions.

AFP contributed to this report.

The Nations Trampling Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Hezbollah, Hamas, Iran: How Israeli annexation may trigger a multi-front war within weeks – Middle East News – Haaretz.com

Chuck FreilichPublished at 03:25

Israel stands before one of the most difficult periods it has ever known, just about a perfect storm.

The political and judicial crisis surrounding Benjamin Netanyahu’s trial has barely begun. Having successfully defused the political obstacles to his ongoing rule, the premier is now conducting an unbridled campaign to undermine the judicial system and rule of law, in order to save himself from a likely prison sentence. No norm, no institution, is sacrosanct.

The campaign is abetted by Netanyahu’s silent co-conspirators in the Likud and feckless coalition partners from Benny Gantz’s Kachol Lavan party. The fundamental pillars of Israeli democracy will be shaken to the core.

Concomitantly, the coronavirus epidemic has caused an unprecedented economic crisis in Israel. Unemployment stands at a horrifying 25 percent, governmental stimulus packages have had a disappointing impact on the economy so far, and the global economy is in a severe depression.

In the coming weeks, as unemployment benefits run out and the public begins to fully appreciate the depths of the crisis, the fundamental pillars of Israeli society will also be severely shaken. It is not for nothing that Netanyahu sought to include Kachol Lavan in a coalition of “national unity,” to share the political blame.

Netanyahu supporters hold a poster comparing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criminal trial to that of French officer Alfred Dreyfus, unjustly convicted of treason in 1895. Jerusalem, May 24, 2020Credit: AFP

Israel also stands before a number of national security challenges, some self-made, which threaten to change the face of the region, greatly exacerbate Israel’s already severe international isolation and delegitimization, and lead us to the precipice of war, possibly beyond. The fundamental pillars of Israel’s national security will be severely tried.

The right may be correct in its estimation that Israel faces a unique, one-time opportunity to unilaterally annex the West Bank, or parts thereof, and that the regional and international responses will be muted, akin to that following U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and annexation of the Golan Heights. The Arab world has never been weaker, less capable of mounting an effective response, Iran is busy with its own COVID-19, economic and leadership crises, and the international community is preoccupied by these issues, as well. Above all, annexation enjoys the approval of the Trump administration.

There is, however, a much more plausible and severe scenario.

The Palestinians have already announced that they no longer consider themselves bound by the Oslo Accords and are ending security cooperation with Israel. Assuming that they respond to annexation, as is their wont, with a surge in violence and terrorism, the IDF will be forced to restore order and possibly even retake control of areas beyond those planned for annexation.

The resulting atmosphere of chaos and crisis may then create the historic circumstances necessary to realize the right’s true two-stage endgame: annexation of the entire West Bank, to put an end, once and for all, to Palestinian aspirations to establish a state there, and creating unrest in Jordan, whether in direct response, or due to a subsequent outflux of refugees from the West Bank, leading to the fall of the monarchy and establishment of a Palestinian state on its ruins.

Protesters from the Islamic Action Front and others march with Jordanian flags and other banners as they chant slogans during a protest marking the Land Day in the Jordanian capital Amman, March 29, 2Credit: AFP

An initial decision on only limited annexation may thus set in motion a course of events that rapidly deteriorate into a game changer and lead to renewed Israeli control over more than 2.5 million Palestinians. Over and above the challenges this will pose to Israel’s future character as a Jewish and democratic state, annexation will present an intolerable economic burden. The cost to Israel’s economy will be in the billions, precious resources needed desperately for unemployment, health, education, infrastructure and everything else.

Moreover, annexation will make it hard for Hamas to continue maintaining the relative calm that has prevailed of late and an escalation with Hezbollah, and even Iranian forces in Syria, is also quite possible. Just weeks from now, Israel could find itself in the midst of an unprecedented multi-front confrontation. Hezbollah, alone, has an arsenal of 130,000 rockets.

Palestinian Hamas militants attend a military drill in preparation to any upcoming confrontation with Israel, in the southern Gaza Strip March 25, 2018Credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA/ REUTERS

The hard-won and invaluable security ties with Jordan and Egypt will suffer, the peace treaties with both will be put to a severe test and Israel’s actions may force them, contrary to their best interests and wishes, to abrogate them. Growing cooperation with the Saudis and other Gulf states, to which Israel correctly attaches great importance, will be set back and may come to a halt, despite the common Iranian enemy. For Iran, annexation will provide an unexpected opportunity to strengthen the “axis of resistance.”

Iran’s military presence in Syria continues to grow, despite Israel’s best efforts, and its cyber attacks recently crossed a dangerous new threshold. Most alarmingly, Iran has essentially lifted the restrictions it took upon itself under the 2015 nuclear deal and the U.S. and Iran appear headed on a collision course.

Both sides have already traded a series of military blows in the last year and a crisis point may be reached in October, if not before, around the recently announced U.S. intention to seek an extension of Security Council sanctions on conventional weapons sales to Iran, due to expire that time. However events play out, the ramifications for Israel will be significant.

The need for consensus may prevent the European Union from imposing comprehensive EU-wide sanctions on Israel, but this is no longer assured and, in any event, individual member states have already informed Israel of their intention to adopt unilateral punitive measures, should this prove necessary. Israel’s high-tech industry, its national growth engine, will be undercut, as will its scientific and other academic capabilities.

Israeli troops take part in a drill in northern Israel. Lebanon-based Hezbollah is beefing up its forces in neighboring Syria. May 13, 2020Credit: Tsafrir Abayov,AP

Sooner or later, the U.S. will elect a Democratic president, whether Joe Biden or a future successor. From personal experience, I can attest to just how tough Biden can be, even while being a true friend of Israel’s. Long term demographic trends in the U.S. favor the Democratic party, which is also home to an overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community.

During the past two years, there has been a precipitous drop in support for Israel among Democrats and three leading presidential candidates even spoke of tying U.S. military aid to Israel – the heretofore sacrosanct bedrock of the “special relationship” – to changes in its West Bank policies. All of this preceded talk of annexation, which has already caused a severe backlash, even before it’s gotten underway.

One may have to be close to the currents in American public opinion to fully appreciate the pent-up fury on the Democratic side, the feeling that Israel is repaying the U.S. for decades of support in the UN Security Council and every other international forum, massive aid, a de facto security guarantee, strategic planning and coordination, and more, with a slap in the face. Israel’s dependence on the U.S. is almost complete and existential. Israel’s rift with the U.S. Jewish community will be difficult to heal.

The combined effects of the above, are such that Israel is rapidly approaching a near perfect storm, and with its eyes wide open. It is possible, of course, that events will not be quite as severe as feared, but much of the above will materialize. Wise people do not play roulette with their national future.

It is up to one person, Prime Minister Netanyahu, to stop the imminent train wreck. Unfortunately, he is unlikely to do so. It is a shame. Israel was a nice country.

Chuck Freilich, a former deputy Israeli national security adviser, teaches political science at Columbia and Tel Aviv universities. He is the author of “Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change” (Oxford University Press, 2018). Twitter: @FreilichChuck

The Growing Pakistani and China Nuclear Horns (Daniel)

China, Pak possess more nuclear weapons than India: Defence think-tank SIPRI

The nine nuclear-armed countries—the US, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—together account for an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons as of January 2020.

Updated: Jun 15, 2020 08:04 IST

By Rahul Singh | Edited by Meenakshi Ray , Hindustan Times, New Delhi

China and Pakistan possess more nuclear weapons than India, according to a new yearbook released by a leading conflict and armaments think-tank on Monday.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)’s Yearbook 2020 pegs the number of nuclear warheads in the Chinese arsenal at 320, while the nuclear forces of Pakistan and India are estimated to have 160 and 150 weapons, respectively.

The figures have been updated till January 2020.

India and its neighbours were ranked in the same order by SIPRI last year too when China possessed 290 nuclear warheads, Pakistan 150-160 and India had 130-140 warheads at the start of 2019.

The findings come at a time when India and China are caught in a border confrontation along the contested line of actual control in eastern Ladakh. Also, there is a noticeable military buildup on both sides of the border—stretching from Ladakh to Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

China is carrying out “significant modernisation” of its nuclear arsenal and developing a “so-called nuclear triad for the first time” made up of new land and sea-based missiles and nuclear-capable fighter jets, the SIPRI said in a statement announcing the launch of the yearbook.

“India and Pakistan are slowly increasing the size and diversity of their nuclear forces,” it said.

The yearbook, which “assesses the current state of armaments, disarmament and international security”, found while there has been an overall decrease in the number of nuclear warheads in 2019, all nuclear weapon-possessing countries continue to modernise their nuclear arsenals.

With 6,375 and 5,800 warheads, Russia and the United States together possess more than 90% of global nuclear weapons.

The nine nuclear-armed countries—the US, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea—together account for an estimated 13,400 nuclear weapons as of January 2020.

“This marked a decrease from the 13,865 nuclear weapons that SIPRI estimated these states possessed at the beginning of 2019. Around 3,720 of the nuclear weapons are currently deployed with operational forces and nearly 1,800 of these are kept in a state of high operational alert,” SIPRI’s statement said.

It also highlighted low levels of transparency in reporting on nuclear weapon capabilities.

“China now publicly displays its nuclear forces more frequently than in the past but releases little information about force numbers or future development plans,” the statement said.

“The governments of India and Pakistan make statements about some of their missile tests but provide no information about the status or size of their arsenals,” it added.

India was the third-biggest military spender in the world last year after the US and China, according to a SIPRI report released in April. It was the first time that two Asian countries featured among the top three military spenders.

New Delhi’s defence spending grew by 6.8% to reach $71.1 billion in 2019, said the report on Trends in World in World Military Expenditure.

Decommissioning Indian Point is too little too late (Revelation 6:12)

Harckham and Galef Win Support for Jobs and Local Funding at Indian Point

Published on Thursday, 11 June 2020 06:43

Written by Office of Senator Harckham

Legislation offers necessary protections during decommissioning of nuclear energy facility

New York State Senator Pete Harckham and Assemblywoman Sandy Galef won strong support yesterday for workforce protections and local municipalities and taxpayers while the Indian Point Energy Center undergoes its decommissioning process, as three important bills passed in the Senate were also approved in the Assembly.

Harckham sponsored the legislation in the Senate, and Galef sponsored the bills in the Assembly.

“With less than a year until the third and last reactor goes offline at Indian Point, it is necessary to ensure that proper safeguards and guidelines are in place to protect the existing workforce and their families and guaranteeing revenue for local municipalities and schools,” said Harckham. “Sandy Galef, my legislative partner in this regard, and my Senate colleagues all understand the urgency involved in these issues, and I thank them for helping to move the legislation forward.”

“I am pleased to join Senator Harckham in announcing that these three bills have passed the New York State legislature and are now headed for the Governor’s desk,” said Galef. “These bills help to retain as much of the current workforce as possible while ensuring they are compensated appropriately, allow for a steady stream of revenue to the taxing jurisdictions through a PILOT, and compensate our communities for the storage of spent nuclear fuel. As Indian Point moves from active energy generation toward decommissioning each bill eases the transition, protecting workers, tax payers, and communities. I could not be more pleased to have these bills awaiting the Governor’s signature.”

The first bill, S.7846, addresses the possible negative impact to the workforce during the decommissioning by keeping workers at Indian Point at the prevailing wages commensurate with the wages being paid for the same work in this area. This stays in effect whether the plant’s present corporate owner, Entergy, or a new owner chosen to enact the decommissioning is in control of operations.

Also, the bill focuses on the obvious necessity of professional maintenance of the Indian Point facility during its decommissioning by requiring that new hires are selected from a list of qualified employees at the plant.

“We thank our state legislators for standing with the workers of Indian Point and creating legislation designed to protect jobs,” said Thomas Carey, President of the Westchester/Putnam Central Labor Body, AFL-CIO. “My family and I have had the opportunity for nearly 50 years to have worked at the plant, so I know personally the importance of these jobs to the community, and the region, and the significance of saving them.”

The financial implications to the local community from Indian Point’s closing are expected to be sizable. The municipal tax base and local school district funding have long been supported by the energy facility, and maintaining a good portion of that support is crucial, especially in light of unforeseen municipal costs incurred during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

To steady tax revenues for the Town of Cortlandt, Village of Buchanan and Hendrick Hudson School District during the transition, legislation (S. 8075) was passed to include spent fuel and the fuel casks at the nuclear facility as part of its real property tax assessment. Otherwise, market value of the non-operating plant will adversely affect the assessment and create an unmanageable revenue gap for these tax-funded entities.

Harckham noted that this is also arguably an environmental bill in that it incentivizes getting nuclear waste off of the site. 

The third bill. S.8204, deals with Indian Point’s PILOT (Payment in Liu of Taxes) agreement, which is set to expire in April 2021. The bill simply allows “formerly generating” energy plants to make these payments as well.

“Senator Harckham and Assemblywoman Galef worked hard with our community to draft these important bills that are designed to help generate badly needed tax revenue for our village, as well to protect jobs,” Buchanan Mayor Theresa Knickerbocker said. “At a time of crisis when our village faces a staggering loss of tax dollars and jobs, our legislators listened to us and delivered for our community.”

Finally, Harckham and Galef have introduced legislation, still yet to be voted on, to create a statewide board to oversee the decommissioning of Indian Point. This legislation would bring New York State to the table to oversee and monitor the decommissioning of any nuclear plant in the state.

Decommissioning is a multifaceted process of deactivating and removing a nuclear power plant: it requires years, if not decades, of meticulous work. With so much at stake during decommissioning, “it’s important for the state to have a vested interest in ensuring that it is done safely, efficiently and completely,” said Harckham.