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Erie County’s Mills opposes Cuomo’s renewables push

Photo by Greg Fox People hold signs during the Rally to Save Lake Erie in October.

An Erie County legislator is taking a stand against a recent 30-day budget amendment proposed by state Gov. Andrew Cuomo that would speed up the permitting and construction of renewable energy products by creating an “Office of Green Energy Siting.”

Legislator John Mills has introduced a resolution opposing the plan due to its exclusion of local zoning laws and public input, and its ability to fast-track wind and solar projects, including the installation of wind turbines in Lake Erie. The resolution passed unanimously Thursday afternoon.

“It is ridiculous that Governor Cuomo would push this amendment through without gathering public input or considering the impact it will have on our local municipalities,” Mills said. “It is also concerning that this could clear the way and greatly simplify the process for large companies to install wind turbines in Lake Erie, which poses a threat to our fresh drinking water among other environmental assets. I have spoken with a number of citizens, environmental groups, and elected officials who share concerns about this proposal as well as any potential project that would place wind turbines in our lake. This resolution sends a message to New York State that environmental projects must be closely reviewed, and that local municipalities need to be part of the decision-making process.”

The budget amendment would accelerate the development of alternative energy systems and remove local control and discussion in the decision making process, including municipalities, environmental, birding, and citizens groups. The proposal could also speed up the process for installing wind turbines in Lake Erie, which Legislator Mills has been strongly opposed to.

The Association of Erie County Governments also introduced a resolution opposing the proposal, stating Cuomo’s amendment is “ignoring and bypassing the legislative process of formulating policy through public input, public hearings, and public debate in favor of a rushed and secretive process.”

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