On May 13, Assemblyman Steve Englebright held a 10½ hour-long hearing on the implementation of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA).
Witnesses, including myself, gave him an earful on the state energy plan crafted by industry, which is silencing community voices and guided by nonsensical slogans.
Several speakers questioned the environmental benefits of large-scale wind and solar. Many pointed out that an energy policy relying on “100% renewables” could not reliably power New York.
The final three panels highlighted problems with the CLCPA, including the catastrophic accelerated siting process that steamrolls over local laws in order to rubberstamp permit applications. Upstate home- and landowners are being victimized by an abusive process that ignores residents’ legitimate health concerns and property rights, and makes a mockery of environmental and project review.
BCCR (Broome County Concerned Residents) has repeatedly warned against the dangers of Bluestone Wind, a colossal 124 MW project in Windsor and Sanford. It will transform almost 10,000 acres of pastures and undisturbed forest into a maze of turbines, access roads and connection lines. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimates that 80 bald eagles and 24 golden eagles will be killed if Bluestone Wind moves forward. Already, 120,000 trees have been cut!
In the name of reduced state emissions, we are sacrificing 3,000 tons of carbon this forest sequestered annually. Bluestone Wind’s turbines will be a whopping 640 feet tall. Put on an average baseline elevation of 700 feet, these monsters will loom over our homes with a height comparable to the Empire State Building. Impacts from noise and vibrations, wind shear factors and turbulence are all based on the manufacturer’s computer modeling. Real health impacts are denied or ignored.
As a stakeholder in the project, I can speak firsthand about the tilted playing field created by Andrew Cuomo’s accelerated siting laws. His 2020 budget amendments further skewed project review in favor of developers. In my testimony, I explained how Bluestone Wind’s lawyers used the CLCPA as a cloak to hide inconvenient environmental and human truths, and how they aggressively blocked, rather than facilitated, an equitable review. Citing the “existential climate crisis,” we local residents are shamed for trying to safeguard our homes and families!
Developers for wind and solar projects routinely cherry-pick communities based on poverty and education level to avoid local resistance. There is no environmental justice, nor long-term job creation.
Now, finally, environmentalists and lawyers, energy experts, concerned citizens and health professionals are voicing concerns and demanding that projects receive thorough review. Next —if, after careful assessment, where citizen voices are heard and local laws respected, projects are still deemed worthwhile – we must mitigate their negative impacts honestly and transparently.
Can big wind and solar utilities really move us to a carbon-free electric supply in a meaningful way, or are they merely lining the pockets of developers and a few leaseholders? We ask our lawmakers to reject the accelerated siting of such projects. The permit process must be just and equitable for all stakeholders.
Anne Lawrence is a Windsor resident
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