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Town supervisors in Yates, Somerset say some environmental groups are not looking out for rural residents

Posted 2 April 2019 at 9:16 pm

Editor:

The New York League of Conservation Voters now joins the Sierra Club in their condescending call for speeding up the process for large-scale wind and solar projects in order to meet Governor Cuomo’s unrealistic and politically contrived renewable energy goals for New York State.

The title of their latest propaganda report, “Breaking Down the Barriers to Siting Renewable Energy in New York State,” says it all. Rural, upstate NY towns should beware and take careful notice. The “barriers” that these Albany and NYC urban elitists insist to be broken down are the very planning and zoning safeguards that are lawfully and democratically put in place through our comprehensive plans and our local laws intended to reflect the will and desires of our communities but also to dutifully fulfill our obligations to protect the health, safety and welfare of our communities.

The NYLCV joins a growing list of “environmental” and “conservation” groups that are overwhelmingly centered in urban centers like NYC and Albany who arrogantly believe that they know better than rural New Yorkers how best to help build a more sustainable future. This latest “report” claims that if only rural upstate New Yorkers were more educated, then we would understand that industrial-scale wind and solar are the only answers to climate change challenges. How nice it is for these organizations to have so much to preach to upstate rural communities from the comforts of their urban ivory towers that will never be impacted by large-scale industrial encroachment.

A case in point is Apex Clean Energy’s Lighthouse Industrial Wind proposal for the towns of Somerset and Yates which is a blatant attempt to usurp home rule. Both towns, through diligent research of peer-reviewed scientific journals, extensive planning committee meetings and multi-year consultations with a diverse array of local and national experts have duly enacted local laws designed to preserve the rural characteristics our constituents value most.

The NYLCV, the Sierra Club, Apex Clean Energy, and any other group bent on telling rural NY towns what to do, would do well to remember that NY is a home rule state. Using terms like “speeding up the process” and “breaking down barriers” is not going to fool upstate rural towns who know when their home rule rights are under assault. Demanding that the state’s Article 10 proceedings should overrule local laws is elitist and dictatorial. All NY municipalities retain the authority to, “…adopt and amend local laws…,” for the, “protection and enhancement of its physical and visual environment…,” and the, “government, protection, order, conduct, safety, health and well-being of persons or property therein.” (NYS Constitution, Article 2)

In the recent Cassadaga Wind Siting Board decision, PSC Chairman John B. Rhodes unequivocally stated, “I find it noteworthy and positive, that the project is consistent with all local laws and ordinances.” Chairman Rhodes stated that efforts to increase renewable energy in New York State must, “…protect and accommodate the concerns of local communities.” NYLCV, Sierra Club, Apex – did you hear Chairman Rhodes?

Governor Cuomo was clearly paying attention to the overwhelming opposition of wealthy Long Islanders when he said in his January 10, 2017, State of the State address, “I’m calling on LIPA [Long Island Power Authority] to approve a 90-megawatt wind farm. They will not be visible from the beach. They will be 30 miles southeast of Montauk. Not even Superman standing on Montauk Point could see these wind farms.”  Governor Cuomo, will you pay attention to the concerns of upstate rural communities?

Daniel M. Engert, Supervisor – Town of Somerset, NY

James J. Simon, Supervisor – Town of Yates, NY