Approval of a clean air and water amendment to the state constitution took a local turn earlier this week.
State Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, voted against the amendment, which passed the state Senate in a 48-14 vote. While Borrello said he agrees with the aspirational goal of protecting clean air and water, he worried about unintended consequences of such a constitutional amendment, including a myriad of litigation.
Rather than argue the amendment, Borrello used the opportunity to argue against industrial wind turbines on freshwater lakes throughout New York state. Last year Borrello co-sponsored legislation with former state Sen. Chris Jacobs calling for a moratorium on the construction or placement of wind turbines in any freshwater lake in New York. Borrello has also placed a petition opposing freshwater wind turbines on his state Senate website.
“I do agree absolutely that we need to be focused on clean water and clean air,” Borrello said during Senate debate this week. “But those are just goals. Right now we have a serious issue facing us here in New York state. Our governor is looking to place industrial wind turbines in our fresh water lakes. These massive structures made of steel and concrete and plastic and that are forged in foreign countries under horrific conditions will be placed in our Great Lakes – Lake Erie, where I live, Lake Ontario, and could be placed in every fresh water lake in New York state unless we act to stop this.”
Borrello argues that considerable amounts of dangerous and hazardous materials from Western New York’s industrial past have settled into the lake beds, and installing turbines could disturb those settled materials. Borrello has also said that turbine-created wind patterns have the potential to force the spread of pools of toxic algae through larger portions of the lake and vibrations from turbines could be damaging to Lake Erie’s commercial and recreational fish supply.
“So I encourage everyone who supports this bill, everyone who supports clean water, and fresh air, that we do not allow this crony capitalism agenda to harm our fresh water,” Borrello said on the Senate floor. “Lake Erie alone is the source of drinking water for more than 11 million people. … So those of you that are in support of this, I commend you and I also ask you to stand with us as we push back against this deadly and dangerous push to put industrial wind turbines in our freshwater lakes, which by the way is not done anywhere else in the world. I do not want to be the guinea pig for something that could be disastrous and have a disastrous impact on so many New Yorkers.”