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People’s column

Centers combine for special tribute

Editor, OBSERVER,

Hats off to the Chautauqua Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for reaching out to the Dunkirk Senior Center residents who reside in the Home and thank you to Julie VanValkenburg and staff for the well- organized car parade tribute for the residents. We had two cars that were there for our Dunkirk Senior Center members that have no family nearby.

GREG SEK and BARB BAJDAS,

Dunkirk residents

‘Global warming’ at a big price

Editor, OBSERVER:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the state is broke, yet he intends to tax New Yorkers $33 billion to address ”global warming.”

The NRG power plant in Dunkirk produced 520 MW of electricity and was set to convert to gas turbines by 2020 with the potential to nearly double that electricity output, reliably 24/7. Compare that with perhaps 30 to 50 MW that might be produced intermittently at great expense by the three combined wind projects for Chautauqua County with 100 industrial wind turbines impacting tens of thousands of acres and rural residents’ quality of life.

NRG idled operations in 2016. “We were informed that these (grid connection) costs could rise to nearly $114 million,” one NRG official told Power Magazine in July 2018. This was in the form of a “fine” imposed arbitrarily by Cuomo to kill the dual cycle gas turbine option for the region.

Two years later there is a large facility — a point of interconnection to the grid being built down the road from NRG on Route 60. It could have been built at the Dunkirk NRG site using existing facility components without purchase of land and forest clearing/wetland destruction. This POI will do nothing to address a major statewide power bottleneck on the entire grid.

At what unnecessary cost was this new construction undertaken?

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has recently said New York state’s financial favoritism to big wind does not comply with federal regulations. The commission says New York state subsidizes wind unfairly thereby undermining all reliable, inexpensive forms of power, jeopardizing grid stability.

Wind, solar and biomass energy is shown as a wasteful scam in the Michael Moore-Jeff Gibbs film “Planet of the Humans.” Our own electricity bills show more of this scam — the SBC item on all bills — amounts to a Cuomo slush fund outside the required purview of the legislative branch — amounting to millions per year.

Cuomo’s energy policy — if put to a cost benefit analysis will be seen as a policy of unethical conduct, malfeasance, hypocrisy, and state fraud at the expense of New York citizens.

KAREN ENGSTROM,

Mayville

Crisis adds urgency to food banks

Editor, OBSERVER:

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, our neighbors across New York state are struggling against unprecedented hardships, including hunger.

With schools closed, millions of children are missing critical meals. As businesses lay off or furlough workers, local families are forced to make difficult choices at the grocery store or rely on the emergency food system.

Our organizations are working to help families put food on the table. However, we cannot do this work alone. The only way to ensure no one goes hungry during, and after, the coronavirus crisis is through stronger government investment in our federal nutrition programs, namely the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

While organizations like FeedMore WNY, Food Bank of the Southern Tier and Foodlink are doing what we do best — feeding people in crisis — we are struggling to keep up due to a “perfect storm” of complications: a rapid rise in demand combined with a weakened food supply chain.

Our organizations have distributed an average of 48% more food due to this pandemic. We have had to adapt the way we distribute food to keep our community members safe and as healthy as possible. Each week, we see an increased need. However, we cannot expect food banks to completely shoulder the task of feeding our nation’s most vulnerable citizens during one of its greatest times of need. SNAP is proven to address food insecurity in times of need, and its strength is unparalleled. In fact, for every meal food banks provide, SNAP provides nine.

We know that U.S. Rep. Tom Reed wants to focus on supporting working people. Of the 37,903 families that depend on SNAP in the 23rd Congressional District, 70% are working, according to the USDA. These households desperately need help, which is why Congress should increase SNAP benefits by 15% so we can help feed these struggling families.

SNAP is also an economic multiplier. When families receive SNAP benefits to purchase groceries, those dollars are spent locally and stimulate local economies. Increasing SNAP benefits today will help ease any economic downswing that is sure to come. The Congressional Budget Office rated an increase in SNAP benefits as one of the most cost-effective ways to boost economic growth and create jobs in a weak economy.

Congress and the administration have already passed legislation that includes some much-needed support. However, they need to do more to help struggling families. We call on our lawmakers to increase SNAP benefits in any upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation for the duration of the economic downturn. These extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary help.

TARA A. ELLIS,

president & CEO, FeedMore WNY

NATASHA R. THOMPSON,

president & CEO, Food Bank of the Southern Tier

JULIA TEDESCO,

president & CEO, Foodlink

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