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State Doing Battle
With Powerline Plan

By Andy Simek
SULLIVAN COUNTY — June 27, 2006 – The State Legislature has taken steps to slow down and possibly stop New York Regional Interconnect’s (NYRI’s) proposed $1.6 billion powerline project.
The New York State Senate passed a bill this Friday that will take away NYRI’s ability to procure land under the declaration of eminent domain.
This bill, if signed by Governor Pataki, will force NYRI to consult with each individual landowner along the 190-mile stretch of land the project is due to span for contractual agreements to build on their land.
Governor Pataki has not yet received the bill for approval and has not yet made any comments as to whether or not he will veto it.
The bill was raised in response to NYRI representatives filing for the use of eminent domain to procure private land for the powerlines.
Several New York State politicians feel this is wrong for various reasons, one of which being that eminent domain is designed to help the public, whereas politicians opposed to the lines feel it would be helping a privately owned business.
Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther said in a statement on Friday that “it is important to ensure that eminent domain is not used to help private developers force people out of their homes and off their land to make a profit,” she added, “especially for a project that would damage the environment, harm the economy and pose potential health risks to residents.”
Senator John Bonacic agreed and said, “The people of our region don’t need the threat of eminent domain over their heads along with higher energy prices.”
Bonacic added that “it is my hope that the Assembly takes up this important property owners’ rights measure. We cannot allow big business to destroy those rights for their own greed.”
NYRI could not be reached for comment on the bill, but if it is passed, they will still have a chance at overriding the state’s decision on the national level.
Under last year’s Energy Policy Act, they might be able to obtain federal eminent domain, which would give them all the authority needed to build wherever they see fit.

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