NYRI update – Clinton and Schumer

Can Washington be trusted with the NYRI issue?
Last week I was traveling through the state on my way east to Lake Champlain and getting a little pleasantly lost on the way. Having to take Route 20 near the Cherry Valley is not too bad a way to waste an hour, nor is getting stuck on the wrong side of the Mohawk because of bridge repair in Canajoharie. (I finally also went into Fonda and Fultonville and saw the “3 Truck Stops, 4 Motels and 7 Restaurants” as the water tower proudly used to say.) Surprisingly, actual people live and work in Sharon Springs and Canajoharie and Fonda and Fultonville. They have cars and trucks and shops and other businesses. A little worse for wear, but still alive. Although these are not the precise towns that NYRI would go through, they are quite similar to the areas that would be affected. The fact is that you don’t see these vistas and towns from the Thruway. They are just names on a green sign if you don’t stop to look at them. So most people blowing through the main transportation corridors in New York probably have no idea what the fuss is about.

Anyhow: on to the news. Brave Hillary Clinton has finally put her foot down and said enough is enough! She has put on her shining armor!

A day after Sen. Chuck Schumer unveiled a federal bill to stop New York Regional Interconnect and months after power-line foes asked their senators to step in, Sen. Hillary Clinton has joined the fray. The Democratic presidential front-runner said yesterday that she would support a new Schumer bill that would make it harder for power-line developers to bypass state regulators and win federal approval. “NYRI should not be allowed to short-circuit the state’s rigorous review and citing process,” Clinton said in a news release. “We simply cannot let the legitimate and serious concerns of local communities along the proposed route be ignored or steamrolled in this way.”

Here is a more detailed article describing Schumer’s bill. The main bit is that it seeks to deprive FERC of eminent domain powers. However, Act Now to Stop NYRI (a new blog featuring more or less daily news updates) points out that Schumer’s bill does not question the concept of NIETC’s (National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors, aka “National Economic Sacrifice Zones”).

I do so love Hillary’s split-year reaction times on issues of statewide concern. But can Washington be trusted with the issue? Some local activists don’t seem too sure. One thing I’d like our senators to ask publicly is why large swaths of Texas are exempt from Bush’s Energy Policy Act. I’d also like some more acknowledgement from above that we need real, region-to-region conversation about what to do about these conflicting demands and conflicting economic realities and what kind of energy generation and transmission policies New York needs for the rest of the 21st century.

Stop NYRI, Inc. has composed an eye-catching new graphic for the benefit of those who still think this local dispute has nothing to do with them. (“Are you in the Red Zone?”)

CNY Snakepit has gloomy observations about the brief NYC blackout the other week and what it could do to delude people into thinking more upstate powerlines are the answer. I am not so gloomy about this particular incident, since it’s painfully obvious that Con Edison’s aging equipment is the major problem in these recent NYC blackouts. Yeah, let’s send them more electricity they can’t handle. (Or is it obvious? NYRI opponents, in my view, need to go on the offensive in the downstate media with all the facts before NYRI starts trying to play best friend to hot and tired people on stuck subways.)

On the philosophical front, Fault Lines wonders,

One must question if it is even within the power of the Federal Government to sacrifice one geographic area’s economy for the benefit of another. It seems to be contrary to all that our Founding Fathers stood for.

The probably-meaningless 60-day comment period ends tomorrow, July 6.