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Lost in the COVID-19 breeze

When that wind turbine or solar panel array goes up in the field behind your house remember the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act that was passed as part of the state budget this spring. This was at a time when most of us were more concerned with COVID-19 rather than any activity in the Legislature in Albany

The press release announcing the bill’s passage first sings the praises of the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act telling us it will “…. dramatically speed up the siting and construction of clean energy projects to combat climate change and help jumpstart the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 health crises.”

Next the press release gives obligatory fawning praise to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for working tirelessly to defeat COVID-19 and “proclaims” him the nation’s leader in addressing climate change, of course while not mentioning the thousands he had sent to their deaths by returning elderly COVID-19 patients to nursing homes, which was occurring at the same time. The press release go on to announce the establishment of the Office of Renewable Energy Siting that “….will consolidate the environmental review of major renewable energy facilities and provide a single forum to ensure that siting decisions are predictable, responsible, and delivered in a timely manner along with opportunities for input from local communities.”

What does this Albany bureaucratic gobbledygook really mean to the citizens of New York? To begin, it gives the state more power than ever over approvals for wind and solar projects. It abolishes siting boards that included two members from a community impacted by a project. Public comment will be sought for projects and local governments can make claims that a project breaks local law but the new law says that local laws can be overridden if the new office feels it is unreasonably burdensome regarding “environmental benefits”

Further if the Office of Renewable Energy Siting does not make a ruling within a year of a project application being made the projects permit “shall be deemed to have been automatically granted.” While we should be upset by this shocking example of government overreach on the part of the governor, it should come as no surprise based his previous actions. Upstate New York is now on track to become the supplier of “clean” renewable energy power to New York City and environs whether we like it or not.

Remember those wind turbines that few of us want to see along the Lake Erie shoreline? Well under the new law we would have no say in the matter. If Cuomo’s goal of having 70% of electricity coming from renewables is to be met by 2030 it means that much of upstate New York’s open land and waters will be filled with wind and solar farms that will degrade our quality of life, be detrimental to our health, lay waste to animal habitats, and endanger wild bird and bat populations.

Cuomo will let nothing get in the way of his pet projects, including the rights, property and quality of life of New York State citizens.

He is a man with little self-awareness and understanding of others. As his megalomania and totalitarian impulses grow, he forgets that the first task of governments is to protect the lives, liberties, rights and property of its citizens and not to protect the governor’s pet projects.

It is frightening to realize that after his buildup by the press during the COVID crises that both he and his acolytes have dreams of the presidency.

His election to that office would be a tragedy not only for our nation but the world.

This is what happens when a state is burdened with single party government led by a governor suffering from a growing megalomania. Remember, political parties can be voted out of office. We can elect leaders that better reflect our ideals, and laws can be changed, or replaced with new laws.

If you are truly interested in our future write, email or telephone the governor and our assemblymen and state senators and let them know that we will not allow our rights to be usurped by the governor and those around him.

Thomas Kirkpatrick Sr. is a Silver Creek resident. Send comments to editorial@observertoday.com

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