Sunday, April 29, 2007

Don't Tread on Us . . .

Sometimes "what goes around comes around," as someone astutely pointed out on Story Chat referring to Mr. Picente's complaint that the Federal National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor designation for Oneida County is unconstitutional. Just like Oneida County shoved a huge garbage dump onto the small (in population) Town of Ava, the Federal Government may be about to shove the NYRI power line onto politically insignificant Oneida County.

Shame, shame on us for thinking it was OK for someone else to sacrifice their environment for our needs . . . and dismissing their complaints as "NIMBY" sentiments . . . or merely standing mute while it all happened. . . NOW we will know how it feels. Maybe we will learn a lesson from the experience, and change our ways.

If we were somehow forced to become our brother's keeper, our decisions would be different. People would still find ways of accommodating their needs, but the negative impacts would be kept at home. For example, if Oneida County could not dump on Ava, it might have retained its incinerator in Rome and improved on it, keeping the negative impacts within the region receiving the benefits. If Downstate was unable to force Upstate to supply it with power, the Shoreham nuclear plant would be operating, there would be less opposition to offshore wind farms, or there would be controls on local growth . . . again keeping the negative impacts in the area receiving the benefits. We would be good neighbors to other regions.

While there are always winners and losers in government decision making, we seem to have lost the ability to accommodate each other's needs . . . We've become selfish . . . Or maybe it is simply that we do not have to look out for others' needs any more. People in population centers can simply use the government that they control to bludgeon their less populous neighbors into taking their garbage, or generating their power. It was not always that way. Our government has changed.

Congressman Hinchey also calls the federal move "unconstitutional." Maybe it is. But the conversation needs to be much broader than federal power corridors. It needs to address what is meant by "equal protection of laws," and, ultimately, it may require the Supreme Court to revisit some old decisions.


Anonymous said...

The federal government taking New York sovereign land is unconstitutional since we are an original colony and have the right of pre-emption. The United States was not created until 1789. The Power line case is very similar to constitutional issue raised by the Federal government through the Executive Branch in its attempt to take NYS state land into trust for the New York Indian Tribes. Separation of Powers principles also prohibit these acts.

Anonymous said...

Well, New York taking Iroquois land was against federal law to start with. What goes around, comes around.