Those who oppose the Competitive Power Ventures gas-fired plant in the Town of Wawayanda will keep fighting, but those who own the plant knew that all they needed to start operations was approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

That approval was granted on Monday. And while opponents can still hope that efforts in Albany will somehow shut down the plant, everyone knows that once power starts being generated it is very hard to stop it.

The only force that has caused plants to cease operations in the last few years is economic, when the money it takes to run the plant is more than the money the owner and operator make.

Several local officials have joined the fight against the CPV plant, but they all joined this effort too late to have any effect and did too little to make a difference.

If those local officials are truly interested in the future of the regional and state environment, about the threats posed by other plants fed by fossil fuels and are truly dedicated to transforming our energy sources to alternatives with less pollution, then they will not wait when it comes to the other issues facing us.

That means opposing pipelines that bring oil and gas to plants in the region. Plants can’t run without fuel, and at a time when every dollar should be invested in alternative sources, it makes no sense economically or environmentally to invest more in the fossil-fuel infrastructure.

That means opposing the plans to resurrect the Danskammer power plant in the Town of Newburgh. If the state is committed to a future powered by solar, wind and hydro, then it has to guide investment there, not in an aging plant whose reopening will benefit only those who own it.

And it means fighting a proposed plant that looks less polluting than these, a battery-powered electric-generating plan with natural gas backup in Kingston. As Mike Hein, the Ulster County executive, so clearly explained:

“Ulster County is now faced with a fossil-fuel project that includes gas engines, hundred-foot smokestacks, and air pollution impact. If this project is allowed to proceed, the result will be a lose-lose outcome that will negatively impact our quality of life.”

The fight for a clean energy future for New York is easy to understand and just as easy to distort. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has committed the state to a path that would phase out fossil-fuel plants over the next decades. While some want the state to go faster, some argue that it should slow down, although they never actually come out and stay that, taking a short-term approach with concerns about replacing the energy that would be lost.

With enough investment and enough regulatory encouragement, we can replace the energy that would be lost. There is more than enough evidence for that conclusion. So what we need are leaders who look to the future when it comes to long-term plans but look to the present when it comes to expedient short-term solutions.