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Legislators opposed to fast-tracking energy projects  

Credit:  The Post-Journal | May 11, 2020 | www.post-journal.com ~~

The state legislators representing Chautauqua County are opposed to the new policy included in the 2020-21 state budget that calls for speeding up the permitting and construction of renewable energy projects.

During the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce legislative breakfast held last month, state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, and Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown, spoke about their opposition to the new fast-tracking method of energy project siting, effectively removing local control in the decision making process and any input from municipalities, citizens or local environmental groups.

Borrello said the new Article 23 policy basically says the state government has the ultimate authority on approving renewable energy projects, which silences local opposition.

“It ensures those impacted by this will have no opportunity and say,” he said. “It bulldozes local zoning laws. It allows someone in Albany to OK a project without even seeing it.”

Goodell said when Gov. Andrew Cuomo stopped all non-essential construction work during the novel coronavirus outbreak that green energy projects were exempt.

“So for those living near a wind mill construction, out-of-state workers are still flocking in and working,” he said.

Goodell said it is a disadvantage to state residents when politics supersedes policy in the state budget. “It’s very unfortunate when policy takes a second seat to politics and that is what is happening here,” he said.

Borrello said he understands the need to address climate change, but fast-tracking renewable energy projects is not the answer.

He said “rich Wall Street financial investment companies” are making money through tax credits for renewable energy projects.

“They’re reaping the financial benefits,” he said. “It’s the greatest investment scheme of the 21st century.”

In March, the Chautauqua County Legislature approved a motion opposing the state’s attempt to potentially speed up the process for renewable energy projects.

The new siting proposal was a part of the governor’s 30-day state budget amendments in February when Cuomo proposed speeding up the permitting and construction of renewable energy projects.

In March during the county legislature meeting, Mark Odell, R-Brocton, said if Cuomo’s proposal is approved it would limit local public input into renewable energy projects, which includes wind turbine farms. He opposes the governor’s attempt to fast-track renewable energy projects.

“This is very inappropriate,” he said.

Lisa Vanstrom, R-Jamestown, said the proposal would curtail town, village, city and county government officials from being involved in projects that would be constructed in their local municipalities.

“I disagree with the governor’s overreach,” she said.

Source:  The Post-Journal | May 11, 2020 | www.post-journal.com

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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