Declaring war against natural gas is not enough. New York State has now extended the conflict to grassroots opposition to government-enabled wind and solar projects that cause demonstrable tort.
“We start with the most aggressive climate change program in the country because my friends, the clock is ticking, and it’s ticking faster and faster…. New York has to be the State that stands up and says once and for all, we have to do more and we have to do it faster….” (New York Gov. Cuomo, February 21, 2020)
Frustrated with the slow development of wind and solar projects in the state (grassroots opposition prevailed at Sommerset/Yates, for example), New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed draconian measures to green-light controversial renewable-energy projects.
New York’s plan for net carbon free, 30% by 2030 and 100% by 2050, is impractical on infrastructure and economic grounds. It is virtue signalling rooted in hyperbole and wishful thinking. More than an attack on the rich and capitalism, it is an affront to consumers and economic harmony.
Roger Pielke in Forbes, has unmasked the impossible means to a flawed end such as that as New York State under Cuomo.
So the math here is simple: to achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions by 2050, the world would need to deploy 3 Turkey Point nuclear plants worth of carbon-free energy every two days, starting tomorrow and continuing to 2050. At the same time, a Turkey Point nuclear plant worth of fossil fuels would need to be decommissioned every day, starting tomorrow and continuing to 2050.
Riding Roughshod on Neighbors
Governor Cuomo is now attempting to shoehorn projects (wind, solar and battery facilities) by overhauling siting and timelines and by offering new incentives to crony developers.
The Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act, sanctioned by the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), attempts to noose objecting communities and agencies into a mass renewables world, free of natural gas, nuclear, and the other energies deemed politically incorrect.
Environmental requirements would be smoothed despite local hurt. The Act would establish a new Office of Renewable Siting under the Department of Economic Development (DED) for one-stop permitting and environmental review. It would also provide stricter time constraints. “Municipalities may advise the Office on local laws, but the Office is not required to apply them, if they are found to be unduly burdensome.”
“Unduly burdensome” is fine for naturally economic projects without demonstrable harm (normal dense-energy private projects) but not for sprawling, open-air, noisy industrial wind turbines.
The Act also revamps and directs the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Empire State Development (NYSERDA, ESD), and other public authorities to establish new incentive programs for developers, landowners, and host communities. This process would establish to reduce risk in the competitive process, almost providing “ready made” opportunities.
Another chilling feature of the Act involves “mitigation” of endangered species, which it suggests can be parceled up in a bank, yes, an endangered species mitigation bank, at the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Try to imagine how favored developers could mitigate impacts through “mitigation credits” at the DEC bank.
Additionally, DEC may choose to “outsource” the banking function to a non-profit. Of course, this could be one of the ignoble participants in deal-making (Cape Wind), in counting dead wildlife, such as the Massachusetts Audubon Society. (“Did Audubon Mass sell its soul to the wind industry?,” asks writer Christine Morabito?”)
National Law Review Summary
Here is how one legal publication summed up Cuomo’s new initiative in part:
The proposal would apply to large and mid-sized renewable projects, energy storage, and transmission, as well as directing the state’s agencies and public authorities to establish incentive programs to deliver shovel-ready, permitted sites to developers.
The bill signals a shift in thinking about renewable energy siting, from a bureaucratic energy regulatory issue sometimes hindered by fierce local opposition, to an economic development process focused on steering the train of jobs and economic benefits anticipated from renewables over the next decade as a result of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA), while continuing to ensure all environmental requirements are met.
The bill will need to be approved by the legislature during the state budget negotiations that will occur over the next month.
The business advocacy organization, NYCOM (New York Council of Mayors) noted three contentious areas of Cuomo’s renewables siting initiative:
Objections Pouring In
Senator George Borello (R-Sunset Bay), long a champion of keeping offshore wind projects out of Lake Erie, for one, complained:
Now, in order to advance an extreme environmental agenda, he is proposing to eliminate home rule in order to force these renewable energy projects on communities.
This is bypassing local zoning and crushing any opposition. In order to meet his environmental targets, these projects will need to be constructed on a massive scale and with a density that will literally change the face of upstate New York, transforming it into a barren industrial wasteland. Countless acres of farmland will need to be blanketed with solar farms. Our beautiful shorelines will be marred by the sight of massive mechanical wind turbines towering over the water.”
In a Leaving-New-York State of Mind
We have frequently heard President Donald Trump expound on the evacuation of residents from New York, and his relocation of State of Residence to Florida, at rallies and in the media. While continuing to express his love for New York, he has also asked residents of Upstate New York to leave, calling it a “ghost town.”
“I love those people,” Trump said of Upstate New York residents. “Those people are my voters. They’ve been treated very badly… If New York isn’t gonna treat them better, I would recommend they go to another state where they can get a great job.”
President Trump is not the only one finding New York problematic. Hexed by high taxes and bad policies, the US Census data of this January 2020 indicated that “people are leaving New York at a faster rate than any other state in the nation.” For four years running New York’s population decreased, births and immigration could not correct the dropped population numbers.
Communities have repeatedly stood up and said NO to wind and solar plants. They have created zoning or bylaw changes and hired lawyers. Cuomo’s dream of 100% net zero carbon by 2050 is of course, unattainable. Empire Center’s Ken Girardin recently broke the news that the state last year generated slightly less electricity from wind, hydroelectric and solar than produced in 2017.
Warnings from a New York Resident
David Amsler, Farmersville, NY has written to Ms. Jill Fink Farber, Deputy Attorney General for Regional Affairs, January 7 2020 (Copy of letter on Facebook, Concerned Citizens of Rushford) of having lost huge value in his property, losing a dream, and his regrets.
We had a very nice place on a hill in Farmersville, 34 acres with a large pond, house with three other buildings in which we had invested over $260,000 and had every intention of living out our lives there. Due to my wife’s Parkinson’s we had been planning to make a considerable additional investment there to accommodate her, when we learned of the Alle-Catt wind farm proposal.
One of the proposed turbines was to be on the top of the hill across the road from us, and noise from it that reflected to the house by the other structures and our hill behind us, would have made for miserable conditions. Add to that was the fact that my wife’s Parkinson’s’ required much rest which the wind turbine noise would have prevented.
With the possibility of any additional investment made there being a waste if the turbine was located on the hill, and given the conflicted town board’s eagerness to allow such destruction of others’ values, and to enhance their own profits, we decided to move…..our only regret in moving is that we did not get completely out of New York State.
What is clear is that the Act is framed to curtail some very successful efforts by objectors to thwart, delay and kill wind projects on and offshore, in New York State. It is also clear to developers that solar, wind, transmission, and battery stations projects are now low risk and will receive ever-more government facilitation.
Cuomo’s latest action is another log on a fire of public discontent. It continues to be a maze of confusion; net zero carbon myths, the war on carbon, climate hysteria, and unpopular policy, replete in New York. The prognosis points to immediate 180 degree turns.
Gov. Cuomo himself stated: “Politicians are good listeners. Because if they’re not, they aren’t politicians for very long.”