Sullivan County Democrat
O n l i n e  E d i t i o n National Award-winning, Family-run Newspaper
  NEWS ARCHIVES Established 1891 Callicoon, New York  
home  |  archives
Barbara Gref | Democrat

IN THE SULLIVAN West High School lobby, power line opponents flocked to sign petitions against tyhe New York Regional Interconnect and the over inflated federal role that could approve it.

DOE is Draining Citizens' Power

By Barbara Gref
LAKE HUNTINGTON — June 12, 2007 — By now the argument is old: Around here, the New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI) power line project is unwarranted, unwanted and unwelcome. That much is well known.
But a new anger and fresh suspicion took clearer shape Saturday as a renegade public hearing stoked a simmering resentment against the federal government’s perceived embrace of the power line project.
The federal Department of Energy [DOE] and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission [FERC] prepare to decide whether it’ll designate a special path for a massive electricity transmission line through much of mid-New York State, the public in that area is incensed that no official public hearings are taking place in the affected region.
Because of a fear that there won’t be enough electricity in certain parts of the country, eight National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors have been proposed. One of them is the Mid-Atlantic Area National Corridor which, if approved would open wide the door on an federal approval of the NYRI lines.
Official DOE earings have been set but none in the immediate area.
So on Saturday, congressman Maurice Hinchey arranged his own public hearing for the region in order that it be submitted to the federal Department of Energy as it deliberates about the siting of a National Interest Electricity Transmission Corridor through this part of New York.
The snubbing of the public in this part of the state has added more fuel and more than a little cynicism to a growing battle which has now become a state versus federal fight.
The fact that there is no public hearing within the region “lends credence to the impression that decisions have already been made,” said Laurie Ramie, speaking on behalf of the Upper Delaware Council, a coalition of towns along the protected section of the federally designated Wild and Scenic River.
At the three-hour hearing held in the Sullivan West High School auditorium, a long parade of speakers approached the microphone and were told by Hinchey to address their comments to the Department of Energy. Though invited, the agency sent no representatives, and instead a dais set with a white cloth, three empty chairs and three unopened water bottles sat as a reminder that the DOE was nowhere in sight.
That did not stop a roster of speakers – from the seats of power, from a cadre of environmental organizations and from the grassroots – from voicing their many reasons for objecting to the ruination of scenic views and park land, the seizure and devaluing of private property and a system of power distribution that they see as wasteful and antiquated because the source of power (in this case Canada and upstate New York) is so far removed from the end user (New York City).
In a hierarchy of political power, Tara Sullivan of Governor Eliot Spitzer’s office spoke first. She was followed by a speaker from the offices of Senator Hillary Clinton. State Senator John Bonacic and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther came next. Later in the day, a woman whose Otisville church steeple would be compromised by the powerlines voiced an emotional concern as did a man who feared the lifelong investment he and his neighbors have made in their homes would soon evaporate
They all pledged to keep up the fight. They all derided the federal government for usurping the state’s authority to make decisions about power generation and transmission. There was no shortage of backlash against the perceived federal power play.
“I can talk into this camera, but I don’t think FERC is listening,” Bonacic boomed. “They didn’t come into the district and look into the eyes of the people… [But] like I said a year ago in Callicoon, we will not go away.”

top of page  |  home  |  archives