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By Nathan Mayberg
ALBANY October 13, 2006 A bill co-authored by New York State Senator John Bonacic which would curtail New York Regional Interconnect’s (NYRI) ability to take land by eminent domain, was signed last week by New York State Governor George Pataki.
The bill amends the transportation corporation law by prohibiting transportation corporations that are gas corporations from exercising the right of eminent domain if they commence and end in New York State, raise electric rates in any part of the state, or have applied for and did not receive an early designation as a national interest electric transmission corridor under the Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005.
The law all but ends the company’s plans as currently presented, to take land stretching nearly 200 miles throughout the Hudson Valley in order to built towers for electric generation and transmission at the state level.
Pataki spokesman Peter Constantakes described the NYRI plan as “unacceptable” and not being well thought out. He said the Governor would like to see a better plan from NYRI, especially one that does not include the use of eminent domain. He said the current plan used eminent domain in a non-judicious manner.
In addition, Constantakes said the NYRI plan placed the burden on communities inside the Hudson Valley and could potentially raise electric rates in that zone.
However, he warned that the state could be superceded by the actions of the federal government.
That is why NYRI will now look to Washington D.C., where it will lobby for the designation of an area inside the Hudson Valley, including the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, as a National Interest Electronic Transmission Corridor.
The United States Department of Energy is currently soliciting public comment on its National Electric Transmission Congestion Study. The comments are being taken in order to help the agency determine which areas in the country will be designated as national interest corridors. If the agency labeled the NYRI proposal as such a corridor, it would be a crucial boost to the company’s efforts.
On Wednesday, United States Congressman Maurice Hinchey sent a letter to the department, vigorously opposing that possibility. “I believe that including this proposed route in any National Corridor is not in the public interest, is not appropriate given existing federal designations in that corridor and is not needed to protect the long-term reliability of New York State’s electricity system,” he stated.
“The Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River corridor is one of New York State’s most important natural resources. This corridor’s federal designation under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act recognizes the River Valley’s outstanding scenic, recreational, historic, environmental and cultural assets and specifically provides for this corridor’s protection for present and future generations by the National Park Service. Furthermore, the River Management Plan for this corridor, which was approved by the Department of Interior and the National Park Service, explicitly prohibits the construction of electric transmission lines of this size, recognizing them as incompatible with the protection of this corridor. This prohibition recognizes that such projects are a threat to this tremendous natural resource and would be injurious to the long-term environmental and economic well being of the Upper Delaware River Valley.”
Bonacic commented on the signing of the bill by Pataki, by stating “If I was an investor, I wouldn’t be investing in NYRI. But it’s not over, I hope Senators (Charles) Schumer and (Hillary) Clinton listen to the voices of the eight counties and kill it in Washington.”
Bonacic called on citizens to contact the senators and urge them to oppose the corridor proposed by NYRI.
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