Energy Designation May Allow Use of Eminent Domain

Energy Designation May Allow Use of Eminent Domain

By ELIOT BROWN
Special to the Sun
October 3, 2007

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

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A D V E R T I S E M E N T

http://oasis.nysun.com/oasis/oasisi-i.php?s=6&w=300&h=250&t=_blank

A new action by the the U.S. Department of Energy may enable the use of eminent domain to clear the way for a large power line project in upstate New York despite the objections of state officials.

The Bush administration yesterday designated much of the mid-Atlantic region a "National Interest Electric Transmission Corridor," which will allow the federal government to supersede local and state authorities to approve energy projects that might otherwise have been rejected. The energy corridor designation, created by a federal law enacted in 2005, is aimed at relieving congestion on the energy grid and expanding capacity in such high-demand markets as New York City. The designation, which covers much of New York State, could move forward a stalled project to build large transmission lines between the city of Utica and Orange County, a 200-mile development proposed by a private energy firm, New York Regional Interconnect Inc. The $1.6 billion project has faced considerable opposition from local and state officials, and yesterday's announcement prompted a flood of statements condemning the action.

"This designation will allow the federal government to preempt New York's legitimate oversight and process for reviewing and siting transmission projects within our state borders," Governor Spitzer said in a statement.

At the core of the debate is the potential for NYRI to initiate private land takings to clear a route for the project. While power authorities are allowed to impose eminent domain for public works projects, the stiff opposition from elected leaders and the Spitzer and Pataki administrations has prevented its approval. "States should be in control of their energy outcome," the chief executive officer of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Paul Tonko, said.

The Bush administration has pushed for the ability to move along projects such as the NYRI proposal, diminishing the ability of local opponents to block large-scale projects.

The designation of the area represents a major victory for NYRI, which said its project would decrease transmission congestion and increase the reliable delivery of electricity for New Yorkers.

"Transmission congestion brings about very, very big economic impacts to consumers in New York," the project manager for NYRI, William May, said. "This is a project that not only helps alleviate the cost of congestion, but improves availability."

With the potential for the federal government to now step in and approve the project, Mr. May said the company has invested considerable resources in Washington lobbying efforts, spending about $255,000 between July 2006 and June 2007, according to disclosure reports. The chairman of an energy industry advocacy organization, Jerry Kremer of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance, said the new designation could help spark energy production in a state that has seen little new activity despite a growing demand.

"Nothing is happening in New York state, and we felt that it was imperative that somebody intervene to get the ball rolling," Mr. Kremer said.

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Scaled-down plan calls for 999 Sullivan homes

Scaled-down plan calls for 999 Sullivan homes




Times Herald-Record
September 18, 2007
Wurtsboro — A Monroe developer says he's pressing forward with a plan to build nearly 1,000 homes in Mamakating and Thompson, plus an industrial park.
Simon Gelb now says he's going to build 649 homes in Mamakating and 350 homes in Thompson in his proposed Kingwood subdivision about two miles from Exit 112.
That's a substantial reduction from his original proposal of 2,000 homes. It still would be one of the largest subdivision plans in the county. At full build-out, the equivalent of a village would rise in a three-mile area of what's currently an undeveloped forest between Rock Hill and Wurtsboro.
"There is a concern," Thompson Town Councilman Bill Rieber said. "It is a major development with regional significance."
Initially, Gelb had planned homes in the Town of Fallsburg as well, but his revised plans don't call for any at this time.
Gelb has presented plans to Thompson and Mamakating's planning boards. Both municipalities are fighting over who will be the lead agency in an environmental review. The commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation will likely determine this month who gets to lead the study.
"I am looking forward to the environmental review process and hearing the concerns of the community," Gelb said. "The project will preserve very substantial amounts of open space and provide very significant new commercial tax ratables, as well as a significant number of new jobs for local residents, so the project will be an asset to the local community." <!-- D(["mb","u003c/div>u003cdiv>Environmentalists say the project is too big, and could potentially do harm to the protected Basha Kill preserve.u003c/div>u003cdiv>"The Basha Kill (Area Association) has been closely monitoring this for a couple of years," Basha Kill Area Association President Paula Medley said.u003c/div>u003cdiv>Gelb would build a water and sewer treatment plant. He would develop 724 acres of the 1,830 acres that he owns. That would leave 1,106 acres of open space, of which 309 acres are wetlands. Aside from the homes, Gelb would built a light industrial park on 222 acres in Mamakating.u003c/div>u003cdiv>"Whether it is 1,000 or 700, it is subdivision sprawl in the Catskills," said Mort Starobin, a Manhattan developer who has a summer home in an enclave of historic homes called Mamakating Park Historic District. Those 40 homes and Camp Lacota abut the proposed development.u003c/div>u003cdiv>"If we lose this one, we are not going to stay in the area," Starobin said. "If we want subdivision sprawl with the taxes, we will move closer to the cityu003c/div>u003c/div>",1] ); //-->
Environmentalists say the project is too big, and could potentially do harm to the protected Basha Kill preserve.
"The Basha Kill (Area Association) has been closely monitoring this for a couple of years," Basha Kill Area Association President Paula Medley said.
Gelb would build a water and sewer treatment plant. He would develop 724 acres of the 1,830 acres that he owns. That would leave 1,106 acres of open space, of which 309 acres are wetlands. Aside from the homes, Gelb would built a light industrial park on 222 acres in Mamakating.
"Whether it is 1,000 or 700, it is subdivision sprawl in the Catskills," said Mort Starobin, a Manhattan developer who has a summer home in an enclave of historic homes called Mamakating Park Historic District. Those 40 homes and Camp Lacota abut the proposed development.
"If we lose this one, we are not going to stay in the area," Starobin said. "If we want subdivision sprawl with the taxes, we will move closer to the city
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Sullivan goes green with new initiatives

Sullivan goes green with new initiatives

var isoPubDate = 'September 28, 2007'




September 28, 2007

Monticello — The Sullivan County Legislature yesterday adopted a set of environmental initiatives, including a provision that will require the new county jail to meet "green" building standards.

The list of 15 green initiatives covers everything from open space to purchasing hybrid cars for the county fleet and marks progress on behalf of the county to be environmentally thoughtful.

It is topped by a policy that requires future county facilities to meet LEED certification standards or equivalent practices. That means the new county jail, to be built starting in 2009 at an estimated cost of $100 million, would include efficient heating and cooling systems and renewable building materials. LEED, short for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a system of guidelines for sustainable construction created by the U.S. Green Building Council.

County Manager David Fanslau said the green-certified jail and other sustainable purchases could cost 3 percent to 5 percent more. But the long-term savings are greater, he said.

"There's really a cost recovery over time, especially for buildings," Fanslau said, noting that a large chunk of money can be saved in energy efficiency alone.

The unanimously adopted plan also calls for the county to purchase recycled materials, such as paper; buy hybrid cars to replace old vehicles where possible; preserve open space and farmland and conduct regular energy audits in county buildings.

The county's first publicly funded foray into sustainability was in 2002, when Sullivan County Community College installed geothermal heating in almost all its buildings. Since then, the college has saved roughly $150,000 a year in heating and electricity costs, college President Mamie Golladay said.

The county's "Green Vision Statement," as it is called, was created after a series of green symposiums hosted by Sullivan Renaissance, an environmental advocacy group.

"We're hoping the county will be the leader and others will follow," said Sandra Gerry, founder of Sullivan Renaissance.

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Hinchey Says Farm Service Agency Will Undermine

For Immediate Release                                                                                                Contact: Jeff Lieberson

September 27, 2007                                                                                                     202-225-6335 (office)
202-225-0817 (cell)

 

Hinchey Says Farm Service Agency Will Undermine
Family Farms With New York Office Closures

 

Washington, DC -- Charging that the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency (FSA) is undermining and abandoning New York's family farms, Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) today blasted the agency over its continued efforts to close eight county offices located throughout the state.  Hinchey has been vigorously fighting the FSA's proposal to close offices in New York, as well as across the country, since the agency provides critical services to local farmers and offers personalized attention and advice on an array of federal agricultural programs.  The congressman learned this week during a call with FSA Administrator Lasseter that Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner is poised to soon approve the FSA closure plan for New York, which includes the closure of offices in <!-- D(["mb","u003c/span>u003c/font>Albany, Broome, Herkimer, Oswego, Rensselaer, Suffolk, Sullivan, and Yates countiesu003cfont coloru003d"black">u003cspan styleu003d"color:black">.u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp styleu003d"text-indent:27.0pt">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" coloru003d"black" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt;color:black"> u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp styleu003d"text-indent:27.0pt">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" coloru003d"black" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt;color:black">"Although the Farm Service Agency's mission is to assist local farmers and serve as a federal liaison for them, the agency is systematically abandoning and undermining family farms throughout New York and the country," Hinchey said. "The 43 FSA field offices in New York provide important assistance to our state's u003c/span>u003c/font>struggling u003cfont coloru003d"black">u003cspan styleu003d"color:black">farmers and have traditionally helped to ensure the survival of family farms, upon which millions of people depend for food and other agricultural products.  Our state's small farmers are already stretched to the limit, and they certainly don't have the luxury of traveling additional hours out of their home counties to access needed federal services.  These closures will essentially reduce farmers' access to assistance, further weakening family farming in our state and across this country.  My colleagues in Congress and I are going to keep pressing this issue in order to help family farmers throughout New York and the country."u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp>u003cfont sizeu003d"3" coloru003d"black" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt;color:black"> u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp styleu003d"text-indent:27.0pt">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt">In early July, Hinchey was informed of the proposal by the Farm Service Agency to close and consolidate eight of its 43 New York field offices.  In response, Hinchey led 14 of his New York congressional colleagues in sending a letter to FSA Administrator Teresa Lasseter in an attempt to convince her to halt the field office closures.  Hinchey and his colleagues argued that Lasseter should discontinue the office closure process due to serious questions regarding the management and allocation of FSA's resources and concerns about the ability of the FSA to continue to operate effectively with less offices.  Hinchey's letter also highlighted the strong language contained in two pieces of legislation that passed the House of Representatives this year -- the Farm Bill and the Fiscal Year 2008 Agriculture Appropriations bill -- that blocks the FSA from closing any field office. The Senate is expected to approve similar measures before the end of the year.  After receiving no response to this letter, Hinchey called Administrator Lasseter this week to urge her to halt efforts to close local FSA offices.  Hinchey was told that FSA is moving forward with its closure plans.",1] ); //-->Albany, Broome, Herkimer, Oswego, Rensselaer, Suffolk, Sullivan, and Yates counties.

 

"Although the Farm Service Agency's mission is to assist local farmers and serve as a federal liaison for them, the agency is systematically abandoning and undermining family farms throughout New York and the country," Hinchey said. "The 43 FSA field offices in New York provide important assistance to our state's struggling farmers and have traditionally helped to ensure the survival of family farms, upon which millions of people depend for food and other agricultural products.  Our state's small farmers are already stretched to the limit, and they certainly don't have the luxury of traveling additional hours out of their home counties to access needed federal services.  These closures will essentially reduce farmers' access to assistance, further weakening family farming in our state and across this country.  My colleagues in Congress and I are going to keep pressing this issue in order to help family farmers throughout New York and the country."

 

In early July, Hinchey was informed of the proposal by the Farm Service Agency to close and consolidate eight of its 43 New York field offices.  In response, Hinchey led 14 of his New York congressional colleagues in sending a letter to FSA Administrator Teresa Lasseter in an attempt to convince her to halt the field office closures.  Hinchey and his colleagues argued that Lasseter should discontinue the office closure process due to serious questions regarding the management and allocation of FSA's resources and concerns about the ability of the FSA to continue to operate effectively with less offices.  Hinchey's letter also highlighted the strong language contained in two pieces of legislation that passed the House of Representatives this year -- the Farm Bill and the Fiscal Year 2008 Agriculture Appropriations bill -- that blocks the FSA from closing any field office. The Senate is expected to approve similar measures before the end of the year.  After receiving no response to this letter, Hinchey called Administrator Lasseter this week to urge her to halt efforts to close local FSA offices.  Hinchey was told that FSA is moving forward with its closure plans. <!-- D(["mb","u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp styleu003d"text-indent:27.0pt">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt"> u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp styleu003d"text-indent:27.0pt">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt">Hinchey also previously submitted comments at the FSA's public hearings in Broome and Sullivan counties over the summer, urging the agency to keep open those counties' offices, as well as the six other New York offices slated for closure.  The congressman outlined the critical benefits and convenience that these offices provide to local farmers in the congressional district he represents.  u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp styleu003d"text-indent:27.0pt">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt"> u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp styleu003d"text-indent:27.0pt">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt">"The FSA is racing to close these field offices now because agency officials know full well that there are several legislative measures making their way through Congress that would block the closure plan," Hinchey said. "First the agency made personnel cuts, and now it is trying make office cuts.  The Bush administration is driving the FSA to cut assistance to small family farms while continuing to direct federal resources to massive, corporate farms.  Family farms are an integral part of the fabric of America, and it is imperative that we do everything to protect them."u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp styleu003d"text-indent:27.0pt">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt"> u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp styleu003d"text-indent:27.0pt">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt">The FSA is responsible for the management of farm commodity, farm loan, conservation, and emergency programs.  The agency's county offices are open across the entire nation to provide direct assistance to local farmers.  u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp alignu003d"center" styleu003d"text-align:center">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt">",1] ); //-->

 

Hinchey also previously submitted comments at the FSA's public hearings in Broome and Sullivan counties over the summer, urging the agency to keep open those counties' offices, as well as the six other New York offices slated for closure.  The congressman outlined the critical benefits and convenience that these offices provide to local farmers in the congressional district he represents. 

 

"The FSA is racing to close these field offices now because agency officials know full well that there are several legislative measures making their way through Congress that would block the closure plan," Hinchey said. "First the agency made personnel cuts, and now it is trying make office cuts.  The Bush administration is driving the FSA to cut assistance to small family farms while continuing to direct federal resources to massive, corporate farms.  Family farms are an integral part of the fabric of America, and it is imperative that we do everything to protect them."

 

The FSA is responsible for the management of farm commodity, farm loan, conservation, and emergency programs.  The agency's county offices are open across the entire nation to provide direct assistance to local farmers. 

<!-- D(["mb"," u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003cp alignu003d"center" styleu003d"text-align:center">u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt">###u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003c/div> u003cdiv> u003cp>u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt"> u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003c/div> u003cp>u003cfont sizeu003d"2" faceu003d"Arial">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial">------------------------------u003cWBR>-------------------------u003c/span>u003c/font> u003cbr> u003cb>u003cfont sizeu003d"2" coloru003d"navy" faceu003d"Arial">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial;color:navy;font-weight:bold">Jeff Liebersonu003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/b> u003cbr> u003cfont sizeu003d"2" faceu003d"Arial">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial">Communications Directoru003c/span>u003c/font> u003cbr> u003cfont sizeu003d"2" faceu003d"Arial">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial">Office of Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY22)u003c/span>u003c/font>u003cbr> u003cfont sizeu003d"2" faceu003d"Arial">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial">202-225-6335 (office)u003c/span>u003c/font> u003cbr> u003cfont sizeu003d"2" faceu003d"Arial">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial">202-225-1265 (direct)u003c/span>u003c/font> u003cbr> u003cfont sizeu003d"2" faceu003d"Arial">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial">202-225-0817 (cell)u003c/span>u003c/font> u003cbr> u003cfont sizeu003d"2" faceu003d"Arial">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:10.0pt;font-family:Arial">u003ca hrefu003d"mailto:[email protected]" targetu003d"_blank" onclicku003d"return top.js.OpenExtLink(window,event,this)">[email protected]/a>u003c/span>u003c/font> u003c/p> u003cdiv> u003cp>u003cfont sizeu003d"3" faceu003d"Times New Roman">u003cspan styleu003d"font-size:12.0pt"> u003c/span>u003c/font>u003c/p> u003c/div> u003c/div> u003c/div> ",0] ); //-->  

###

 

-------------------------------------------------------
Jeff Lieberson
Communications Director
Office of Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY22)
202-225-6335 (office)
202-225-1265 (direct)
202-225-0817 (cell)
[email protected]

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Group sues Meredith over wind law

Group sues Meredith over wind law

Patricia Breakey
Delhi News Bureau

The members of the Meredith Defense Fund are bringing legal action against the Meredith Town Board to overturn the town's law governing wind power.

Billie Kunzang, Meredith Defense Fund president, said the group of four women filed an Article 78 to attempt to annul Local Law #4.

Meredith Supervisor Frank Bachler said he was served with the papers just before the Meredith Town Board meeting Tuesday.

"It's too bad," Bachler said Thursday. "This is going to raise our taxes and it's unbelievable how much we have already spent on legal fees this year."

Bachler said the town has spent about $21,000 on attorney fees in 2007.

"We have tried to be careful about the way we wrote the law because we suspected we would have a lawsuit either from a developer or from a group like this," Bachler said. "I am very comfortable that we have a good law that was carefully put together."

Bachler, who isn't running for re-election, added that "after Dec. 31 it won't be my problem, but it will be the town's problem."

Meredith Defense Fund members are Kunzang, Rosemary Throssell, Melissa Wakin-Mostert and Viviana McCarthy.

Kunzang said the group hired Albany attorney Peter Henner because "nothing was being done on the legal front to hold Meredith officials accountable."

McCarthy said 82 residents of Meredith are also listed in the action as plaintiffs.

The group said they filed the Article 78 for the following reasons:

ä The town board's failure to comply with the provisions of municipal home rule law.

ä Failure to comply with the State Environmental Quality Review Act.

ä Conflict of interest.

ä Determination to enact Local Law #4 is arbitrary and capricious and the law is fully unconstitutional.

Kunzel said a hearing will be held in Otsego County Court in Cooperstown on Dec. 7.

Meredith town attorney Rosemary Nichols said Thursday that she had not yet seen the paperwork.

"We knew it was coming," Nichols said. "The Delaware County Clerk is very efficient and they sent me a notice as soon as the hearing was scheduled."

Nichols said the hearing will be before Acting Supreme Court Judge Michael Coccoma.

Throssell said she joined the Meredith Defense Fund because "I couldn't stand by. (The town board members) need to be investigated. It's about how they acted despite tremendous input from the residents of Meredith."

Bringing the action "is not something residents wanted to do, to file a lawsuit," McCarthy added.

Kunzang said the issue of wind turbines is "bigger than whether you want them or not. It's the effect they will have on the quality of life."

In Stamford, an Article 78 has also been filed against that community's town board. The Western Catskill Preservation Alliance filed there to have Stamford's law thrown out, Ron Karam, alliance president, said Thursday.

He said the group is challenging the process that was used to create the wind ordinance. The lawsuit was argued July 13, and a decision by New York State Supreme Court Judge Kevin Dowd is expected soon, he said.

Karam said if the group wins, it will ask the Stamford Town Board to adopt a moratorium on accepting applications for wind projects until the ordinance is re-written with tighter restrictions.

He said the key argument in the Stamford suit was based on case law that indicates when there is a known potential project, such as Invenergy's proposal to install a wind farm, the town must do an environmental impact study before an ordinance is passed.

___

Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at [email protected]

Copyright © 1999-2006 cnhi, inc.

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Wind power proposals generate opposition in Catskills

Daily Freeman - News - 09/23/2007 - Wind power proposals generate opposition in Catskills
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09/23/2007
Wind power proposals generate opposition in Catskills
By Robert M. Miraldi , Freeman staff

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In April 2006, a small group of concerned citizens in the small, picturesque Catskills town of Bovina formed an organization called the Alliance for Bovina. The group had three co-directors and only a few dozen members, yet still managed to turn away a proposed commercial wind farm that would have installed massive wind turbines and generated millions of dollars.

In October of 2003, in Waymart, Pa., a landowning couple entered into an agreement with a commercial wind developer, receiving nearly a quarter million dollars to allow the operation of wind turbines on their property.

Depending on your perspective, one of these is a horror story and the other is an example of practical living in a world increasingly searching for alternative energy sources.

Besides Bovina, residents of another Delaware County town, Andes, banded together last April to turn away a massive wind energy project.

In Bovina, the Town Board ultimately rejected the wind proposal because of strong community opposition to the project. Tom Craveiro, codirector of the Alliancefor Bovina, said in a statement that the town was determined to "preserve the scenic, rural and agricultural character" of Bovina.

Preservation of local character is often the most common sentiment among those who oppose wind power. It is a rather cut-and-dried argument: Amid the majestic beauty and grandeur of the Catskills, who would want to spoil the view with industrial wind turbines up to 350 feet high?

The answer is complicated. On one hand, commercial turbines are typically built a good distance from homes, often out of sight and earshot. They have become quieter as the technology has improved. They provide a step in the right direction in response to global warming, because they don't pollute.

On the other hand, industrial wind turbines are eyesores that invade the scenery. And while they are quieter than ever, those who live near them say they are noisy machines that create a mind-numbing, grinding noise when the wind is whipping. Additionally, they create a "flicker effect" when the sun shines through the spinning blades, making them oversized strobe lights.

The complaint that perhaps comes up most often is that the mighty spinning blade of an industrial turbine can kill large numbers of birds each year. However, people often overlook the fact that house cats, glass windows and electric wires kill more birds in a year than wind turbines could in a decade.

A more realistic environmental detriment is the number of bats killed by the turbines annually. While people aren't as sympathetic toward bats, the truth is they serve an extremely important environmental role. Bats are vital to keeping down insect populations and also serve to spread seeds.

The loss of birds is a detriment to the environment for many of the same reasons, including minimizing insect populations. The difference is that birds reproduce on a much more proficient scale than bats. Typically, a female bat will only produce one bat cub a year. At that rate, the population would see a steep decline in only a short period. Scientists are still trying to identify what it is that draws bats to the turbines. The educated guess is that they are searching for nesting sites.

Regardless of whether people understand the intricacies of the environmental and aesthetic issues, they are still loathe to endorse the idea of a wind farm in their backyards.

Even so, New York state is making it ideal for wind farm developers to build here. Compared to other states, New York provides generous incentives and tax rebates for those investing in renewable energy sources. This applies to homeowners as well as development agencies. Increasingly, residential wind turbines are becoming more popular, but they do not cause the same issues as large-scale commercial turbines.

A residential turbine rarely extends beyond 100 feet in height and the technology has advanced to the point where they make little to no noise. Companies like PacWind Inc., based in California, have created turbines that they say are not a detriment to bats or birds. These turbines don't typically stand 450-feet high, however.

Unfortunately for towns that don't want 450-foot commercial turbines, the federal government has provided tax subsidies and rebates that have proved too tempting for developers.

In April 2006, an ad hoc coalition of local community groups concerned with commercial wind farms from upstate New York spoke to the Assembly Committee on Energy and the Subcommittee on Renewable Energy. According to the coalition, before handing out these rebates so generously, the state and federal government needs to consider "population density, background noise, cultural and historic resources," and needs to find a way to "maximize efficiency while minimizing impacts."

Unfortunately for citizens, they are often unaware that a wind farm is even being proposed in their town until the process is well along.

"Typically, a wind factory representative will prospect a small town, informally approach the Town Board with its plan, and then quietly canvas the area, asking people on the ridge tops to sign leases, further pledging them to secrecy," the coalition said. "In almost every case, they manage to sign up a member or two of the local governing body, thereby ensuring friendly votes. ... Local officials, seduced by vague promises of substantial revenue, too quickly ally themselves with the developers. In most cases, the majority of landowners and residents are unaware of the projects until quite some time has gone by."

As far as Ulster County officials are concerned, there has been no mention of commercial wind coming to the Shawangunk Ridge in recent years. If and when the companies come knocking, will the sleepy hamlets of the Hudson Valley have the restraint, wherewithal and gall to turn them away?

If it were up to the Alliance for Bovina and the aforementioned coalition that spoke before the Assembly Committee on Energy, there would be a statewide moratorium on commercial wind energy. According to the coalition, there are simply too many issues unbeknownst to these small towns, as well as too little regulation from the state.

For instance, the only environmental studies being conducted on the effects of wind farms comes from the wind developers themselves. Town officials who see a quick and easy way to infuse capital into their local economies often accept the findings of environmental studies from the developers.

In fairness, many public officials have more reticent when it comes to an invasion of cellular telephone towers. But many do not. Since the state has made little effort to implement restrictions on wind farms, it is up to the little man, critics say.

"Developers and investment bankers study demographics as well as wind patterns," said the coalition. "If there is a common thread that holds together those of us who are before you today, it is our recognition that we are among the vulnerable."


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©Daily Freeman 2007
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Enck wrings success from 'thankless job'

Enck wrings success from 'thankless job'
Spitzer deputy secretary for environment seen as moving force behind deal
 
By ALAN WECHSLER, Business writer
Click byline for more stories by writer.
First published: Thursday, September 6, 2007

http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=619650&category=BUSINESS&newsdate=9/6/2007

KINGSTON -- When the news conference was over, Judith Enck walked up to environmental advocate Eric Goldstein and handed him a 28-page contract to sign. When he did, she gave him a hug.

"So, we did it!" said Enck, Gov. Eliot Spitzer's deputy secretary for environment. She then moved on to get another signature.

During the hourlong news conference Wednesday announcing a deal between the developers of a controversial project in the Catskills and the environmentalists who opposed it, Enck sat quietly in the background, grinning but saying nothing.

Yet it was Enck whose name kept coming up. By all accounts, without her the deal never would have happened.

Even Spitzer, in disclosing the deal, said he never expected an agreement to be reached on the Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park, a massive project that originally called for two hotels and two golf courses in the mountains.

"There's times as a manager you give people thankless jobs that you know won't succeed," he said.

But perhaps he underestimated Enck.

A former advocate for New York Public Interest Research Group, Enck once spent a year in the late 1970s almost single-handedly campaigning to create a bottle recycling law in New York -- and that was as a college student.

For this project, she asked lawyers, environmentalists and other parties involved in the project -- at times almost 30 people -- to meet regularly at the state Capitol. They convened in early February and met as often as twice a week through the spring and summer. Sometimes the meetings lasted until 11 p.m.

"Both sides agreed we were better off doing this around the table," said Tom Alworth, executive director of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, an advocacy group. "When we walked in the room, it was like 'Let's give this a chance.' "

But it wasn't easy. Environmentalists wanted to reduce the project by half, and backers said it wouldn't make enough money that way. Weeks of deadlock passed.

"It's like dating for the first time," Alworth said. "You'd just begin to build a relationship."

Meetings were held mostly in the Capitol's Blue Room, a large space often used for news conferences. The lighting was bad and people had to speak up because their voices were lost in the large space.

A turning point came when, at one point, the developers were asked to consider, just for a minute, what might happen if they agreed to set aside their plan to develop the east side of the project. It contained the more controversial of the two hotels, since it was in the Catskill Park and closer to the wilderness.

They considered it. And the state threw them a bone, offering to expand Belleayre Ski Center via an old ski hill called Highmount. The state would buy Highmount and connect the trails to Belleayre, giving one of the proposed hotels a connection to the mountain.

But with the state's offer on the table, developers saw an opportunity, said Daniel Ruzow, a lawyer with Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP in Albany who represents the project backers.

Eventually the number of issues to be resolved was reduced to five, then three, then two, then one. On Friday, in a meeting that lasted until late into the evening, an agreement was finally hashed out.

"We have a lot of work ahead of us," Ruzow said. "But I'm very optimistic. We now have a new relationship with the environmental groups that is very constructive. We trust each other a lot more."

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Billboard shows casinos' bad side

Billboard shows casinos' bad side

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Top Photo
Catskill Mountainkeeper, a newly formed anti-casino organization based in Youngsville, put up this billboard on westbound Route 17, just east of Exit 116 in Bloomingburg.Times Herald-Record/MICHELE HASKELL

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August 29, 2007

Wurtsboro — The newest casino billboard on Route 17 doesn't say "Casinos Mean Jobs!" "Jobs Now!" or any of the other slogans that pop up on glossy billboards on the way to Sullivan County.

"What's the point of living in the Catskills if the traffic's as bad as in the city?" this huge billboard says, above a picture of a traffic snarl snaking through the green Catskill mountains.

"Say no to casinos in the Catskills."

Catskill Mountainkeeper, a newly formed nonprofit based in Youngsville, put up the 12-by-48 foot billboard this week on the westbound lane near Bloomingburg at the county's gateway. This is the first time a casino foe has anted up the needed $5,000 to $10,000 to get a billboard up on Route 17.

The group is also gathering signatures to send to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, asking him to reject the St. Regis Mohawks' application for a $600 million casino at the Monticello Gaming & Raceway. The Wisconsin-based Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans want to build a casino in Bridgeville. That tribe was recently in Sullivan County, touting its planned casino on the Neversink River.

"Right now we think it is a critical period," Mountainkeeper's executive director, Ramsay Adams, said. "We also believe there are a large percentage of people who oppose another Atlantic City in Monticello."

The Mohawks and Empire Resorts, owner of the Monticello Raceway, didn't return telephone calls or e-mail messages yesterday.

The sign will be up for at least three months. For now, it will probably be the only anti-casino billboard among a chorus of the pro-casino type. "I don't see a billboard war on 17," Adams said.

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Mountainkeeper Leads Teens on 150-mile Environmental Hike

By MARC EPSTEIN
THE JOURNAL NEWS
teens trek
(Original publication: July 28, 2007)

YONKERS - Twelve teenagers tracing the route of New York City's drinking water got a guided walk along the Croton Aqueduct yesterday on the next to last day of a 150-mile hike.

The trip marks the 10-year anniversary of an agreement between upstate communities and New York City to protect the source of the drinking water, which travels more than 100 miles to serve 9 million people in New York City and its suburbs.

Bob Walters, former director of the Beczak Environmental Center in Yonkers, led the teens from Brooklyn and upstate Sidney on the Yonkers leg of their journey.

"It's great to have this gang visit on their journey to the city," Walters said.

The three-week trek, which also included about 50 miles of rowing, started July 7 in the Catskill Mountains and ends today at Central Park in Manhattan. The group camped outside Beczak on Thursday night before continuing its journey yesterday. The hikers stayed in Ossining earlier in the week.

The hike is run by Catskill Mountainkeepers, among other environmental organizations.

"Water is going to be an issue of the future," said Wes Gillingham, 47, of Livingston Manor, N.Y., who is leading the trip to help educate the 15- to 18-year-olds on New York City's water source. "I would like to see this happen every year."

"It's one of the core things that we need to do," Rebecca Miner said of educating people about the water supply. The 17-year-old heard about the trip from her chemistry teacher at Sidney High School.

Gabe Torres, 18, of Brooklyn said he went on the hike because people are wasting water. "In the city, a lot of people abuse it or don't use it for the right reasons. It seemed like something I should do," he said.

Reach Marc Epstein at [email protected] or 914-694-5077.

LINK IS HERE:
http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070728/NEWS02/707280349/1018/NEWS02
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Mountainkeeper Leads Teens on 150-mile environmental hike



(Original publication: July 28, 2007)

YONKERS - Twelve teenagers tracing the route of New York City's drinking water got a guided walk along the Croton Aqueduct yesterday on the next to last day of a 150-mile hike.

The trip marks the 10-year anniversary of an agreement between upstate communities and New York City to protect the source of the drinking water, which travels more than 100 miles to serve 9 million people in New York City and its suburbs.

Bob Walters, former director of the Beczak Environmental Center in Yonkers, led the teens from Brooklyn and upstate Sidney on the Yonkers leg of their journey.

"It's great to have this gang visit on their journey to the city," Walters said.

The three-week trek, which also included about 50 miles of rowing, started July 7 in the Catskill Mountains and ends today at Central Park in Manhattan. The group camped outside Beczak on Thursday night before continuing its journey yesterday. The hikers stayed in Ossining earlier in the week.

The hike is run by Catskill Mountainkeepers, among other environmental organizations.

"Water is going to be an issue of the future," said Wes Gillingham, 47, of Livingston Manor, N.Y., who is leading the trip to help educate the 15- to 18-year-olds on New York City's water source. "I would like to see this happen every year."

"It's one of the core things that we need to do," Rebecca Miner said of educating people about the water supply. The 17-year-old heard about the trip from her chemistry teacher at Sidney High School.

Gabe Torres, 18, of Brooklyn said he went on the hike because people are wasting water. "In the city, a lot of people abuse it or don't use it for the right reasons. It seemed like something I should do," he said.

Reach Marc Epstein at [email protected] or 914-694-5077.

LINK IS HERE:
http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070728/NEWS02/707280349/1018/NEWS02
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