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Minority of rural residents forced to bear impact of state’s extremism with energy goals

Posted 9 March 2020 at 8:25 am

Editor:

Panic is setting in Governor Cuomo’s Office and the higher echelons of New York State Government as the realization sets in that the self-imposed and ill-conceived goals of the Climate Leadership and  Community Protection Act (CLCPA) cannot be met through the Article 10 process.

Those goals being 70 percent of State electricity to come from zero carbon sources (industrial wind and solar) by the year 2030 and 100 percent by 2040. The Article 10 process is “taking too long” because those of us who will be forced to live among those installations and endure the consequences, realize the dangers and are in adamant opposition.

Witness the resistance to Heritage Wind, Lighthouse Wind, Bear Ridge Solar and Ridge View Solar, in the Towns of Barre, Yates, Somerset, Cambria, Pendleton, Hartland and Newfane. A minority of New York State residents are being forced to bear the consequences of this disastrous act. Extremism is the order of the day.

Governor Cuomo is now doubling down and making an end run around Article 10  by proposing legislation in conjunction with the budget process that strips local communities of any voice in the siting of Industrial Wind and Solar projects. A bad law is being replaced by one that is worse.

This is an unprecedented abuse of the legislative process and a striking disregard for the rural and semi-rural residents of Upstate New York. We do not need another ill-conceived and ineptly executed law, rushed through with the budget process. Think of the Bail Reform and the Green Light laws. This legislation should be stopped in its tracks and a reassessment of the role of Industrial Wind and Solar in the New York State energy mix must take place.

For decades, the public has been told of the evils of fossil fuels (oil, coal and natural gas) while ignoring the benefits. Worst-case scenarios predicting gloom and doom, disinformation and half-truths have dominated the discussion. Some history is in order.

Approximately 200 years ago a largely an agrarian society existed, and the majority of the population was engaged in subsistence farming. Then came the Industrial Revolution. Human ingenuity coupled with cheap, reliable, abundant energy – oil, coal and natural gas (fossil fuels) – facilitated huge changes in society. Today less than 5 percent of our population supplies food in surplus, and we have a vibrant expanding world-wide economy including a prosperous and growing middle class.

None of this could have taken place without fossil fuel based cheap, abundant and reliable energy.

Consider the “Population Explosion” fears of the 1960’s  when the “experts” made dire predictions of food shortages and riots and the eventual demise of civilization. World population in 1960 was approximately 3 billion and now it is in excess of 7.5 billion. Human ingenuity coupled with cheap, reliable, abundant energy (fossil fuels) brought us through this “crisis.”

Consider the peak oil scare of 1980’s where the “experts” predicted a decline in oil production and therefor a shortage of cheap, reliable, plentiful energy. One of the solutions was Industrial Wind and Solar installations to be foisted on rural New York communities. Human ingenuity again came to the rescue with advanced methods of fossil fuel extraction. We now have assurance of cheap, reliable, abundant energy well into the foreseeable future. Our grandchildren will thank us for this.

In the 2000 presidential election, we were told the earth was at a tipping point and unless drastic actions were taken to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, in 10 years food shortages would develop, rioting would occur, the oceans would rise by several feet,  and life would not be the same. No such thing has occurred.

None of the above is to deny that the earth is in a warming cycle. Setting aside arguments over the cause, it is environmentally sound and good public policy not to pollute. i.e. We must practice stewardship of the land. Practical solutions are at hand.

Conservation, efficiency, sustainability, reuse, repair, recycle preservation of wetlands woodlands and grasslands and acceptance of natural gas as bridge fuel are among them. Case in Point: The Nature Conservancy has estimated that “conserving and restoring carbon storing power houses like forests, grasslands and wetlands can deliver up to 37 percent of the emissions reductions needed to curb climate change by 2030.”

Further research by them indicates that an acre of mature forests can remove 100 tons of carbon each year from the atmosphere while releasing pure oxygen. Do the math! This approach is much more palatable to those of us who live in rural areas of our state.

Contrast this with the 242 megawatt Baron wind farm in northern Steuben County spread across 4 townships and consisting of 68 wind turbines (492 feet tall), requiring the construction of 16 miles of access roads, 31 miles of underground cabling, an electrical substation, 4 Met towers (328 feet high), two temporary staging areas and a 6,000 square foot  operations and maintenance building. This is just what the developer Innogy admits to. Industrial solar installations would experience similar carnage. Much more is to come as dozens of additional Industrial Wind  and Solar installations are planned for rural New York.

Industrial Wind and Solar Installations will not supply the cheap abundant, reliable energy our modern society needs to function. Industrial Wind and Solar are space-hungry, require huge subsidies, are expensive, are environmentally damaging and threaten the health and well-being of those who are forced to live among them. Our energy policies need serious redirection.

James C. Hoffman

Town of Somerset