Sunday, October 08, 2006

Environmental Justice ...

The O-D had an interesting editorial today about the new state law not being the end to NYRI.

"And until the state creates an effective energy plan to guide our future, we cannot be assured that other companies won't come along with proposals that are just as threatening to our communities' quality of life."


BUT ....

The editorial misses the mark when it focuses on "incentives" for locating transmission lines where they will minimize the impact on communities, and proposes that the Thruway be considered as a corridor.

The Thruway idea is a knee jerk reaction . . . It may be worse than NYRI's proposal. The Thruway cuts right through Utica near downtown and through all the Mohawk Valley villages and towns. Today is a georgeous day for a drive on the Thruway to Amsterdam. The "Noses" area near Fonda is particularly scenic. Now imagine the "Noses" with powerlines . . . NO WAY. A Thruway route would just shift negative impacts from from one group of people to another.


If there was more generation capacity Downstate, there would be no "bottleneck" requiring powerlines
Upstate. Remember, Downstate shut down the completed Shoreham Long Island nuke plant before it went on line . . . and if some Downstate legislators have their way, the Indian Point nuke plant in the Lower Hudson Valley will be shut down as well. These moves create the need for powerlines.

State policy makers made a grave error when they encouraged the break up of "vertically integrated" power companies (companies that both generate and deliver power). The idea was that the breakup would allow people to purchase their power from the generator of their choice -- and that the competition would encourage efficiency and lower electric prices. However, it not only did not produce efficiency (requiring administrative functions to be duplicated among generators and delivery companies), it made it more difficult for the state to require companies to consider generation vs transmission as alternatives when dealing with reducing environmental impacts.

"Environmental Justice" (EJ) is the issue.

Environmental Justice is the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies." (emphasis supplied).

EJ is the issue because facilities with negative environmental impacts are being kept out of the more affluent areas that need them (i.e., Downstate) and are being placed in the relatively poorer and less politically powerful areas that don't need them (i.e., Upstate).

Upstate will become the dumping ground for all kinds of negative impacts from Downstate-needed facilities until the Legislature recognizes the EJ dimension of what is happening.

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