Wetlands issue is way bigger than lakes

CHAUTAUQUA LAKE — Let’s pick up where we left off six weeks ago.

You, faithful reader of this column, already understand some effects of the state’s designating parts of Chautauqua Lake as wetlands.

For one, any wetlands-designated part of Chautauqua Lake would soon look like a weed farm.

When those weeds spread to adjacent parts of the lake, would the state seek to designate them — and their adjacent lands — as wetlands too?

However this ended, it wouldn’t end well.

Yet we’re mistaken if we think that, at base, this is about one lake or even lakes in general.

It’s way bigger than lakes.

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Wetlands designations would be the most recent way that the state government has harmed this part of New York.

Years and years before this column began running as a regular column, you may recall something you occasionally read under this columnist’s byline: Despite all of the tremendous efforts of many people in both the private and public sectors, we in this part of New York have never fully emerged from the recession.

Of the 1970s.

No one born since 1960 has any recollection of sustained local economic prosperity.

Thus, by 2025 we’ll have senior citizens with no recollection of sustained local economic prosperity.

When you first read 2025 here, it was a long time away.

Not anymore.

It’s no secret that this challenge has arisen not only here but also all across Western, Central, Northern, and Upstate New York, primarily because of policies pushed in Albany beginning decades and decades ago by members of both–yes, both–major political parties.

Are such policies nowadays more the doing of members of one major political party than the other? Yes, they are. That’s no secret either.

Indeed, in New York, no member of the other major political party has been elected governor since 2002, state attorney general since 1994, United States senator since 1992, or state comptroller since 1990.

Nor has that party’s presidential candidate carried New York since 1984.

Nor has that party controlled the state Senate since 2018 or the state Assembly since 1974. It’s not even close in either chamber.

Thus, we can’t rely solely on members of that party to meet the challenge.

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Beyond wetlands, we could go on and on with how the state government has harmed New York, yet let’s–for today’s column–consider harmful energy policy. For example, government shouldn’t push for electricity-powered–as opposed to other-fuel-powered–items such as cars, trucks, buses, stoves, ovens, furnaces, or hot-water heaters.

One premise behind this push is that using electricity doesn’t produce emissions. Nevertheless, generating electricity with fossil fuels does. Generating electricity sufficient to meet current demand without burning fossil fuels is a long way off.

Besides, producing batteries to power, for example, vehicles also creates pollution.

As for electric buses in particular, school districts have heard that replacing current non-electric buses with similar non-electric buses will cost $140,000 apiece. Meanwhile, electric buses will cost $440,000 apiece with–get this–little decrease in bus emissions.

Furthermore, school districts’ electric-bus costs won’t end at $440,000 apiece. There’s also the cost of charging stations. To the extent they don’t fit into school districts’ current bus garages, such districts will need expanded–if not new–bus garages.

No, the answer isn’t to have the state government write checks for these things. Whoever writes such checks could use the money for other things or let taxpayers keep it.

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Here’s the fundamental point of today’s column. When it comes to the whole range of ways that the state government keeps on harming New York, just when are the people of New York going say “no”? What does it take?

The question goes to the people, not elected officials.

Sometimes circumstances constrain elected officials–or at least they perceive circumstances constrain them–from making waves.

When either happens, the people–not elected officials–may need to lead the opposition.

So it may well be with, for example, wetlands designations of lakes, including Chautauqua Lake.

Yet whoever leads the opposition to such designations, the time is now, because, as the press has reported, state-government-executive-branch officials have expressed their determination to proceed with such designations.

As for Chautauqua Lake in particular, the time to say “no” is now, before any wetlands-designated part of it looks like a weed farm.

To whatever extent some parts of the lake already look like weed farms, the situation is all the more urgent.

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Dr. Randy Elf’s paternal grandparents had a cottage at Cheney’s Point on Chautauqua Lake for 40 years.

(c) 2024 BY RANDY ELF


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