This year the NYS legislature introduced and overwhelmingly passed a bill that will allow an unelected group of Albany bureaucrats to site energy plants anywhere in NYS they choose WITHOUT municipal approval. The bill was signed into law by Governor Cuomo in August 2011 and the law is called the Power NY Act of 2011. Part of this law is entitled Article X and this section essentially strips all NYS municipalities of home rule when it comes to siting electrical power plants. This, of course, includes wind factories. A group called COAX, Coalition on Article X, has formed this summer to fight Article X action. COAX is attempting to convince all county leaders and town leaders in the state that this new law removes of freedoms each municipality used to enjoy as a home rule state. COAX has sent the letter below to all county leaders to educate them on the Power NY Act and Article X and asking them to pass resolutions against this new law. As of 12/30/11 seven counties have passed resolutions opposing this law - Jefferson, Herkimer, Ontario, Cortland, Wayne, Wyoming, and Oswego. There is considerable more information on the COAX website at this address: http://coaxny.org Please read the legislator letter below to become better informed.
Dear County Legislature Chairman,
We are contacting you to make you aware that both branches of the NYS Legislature on June 22, 2011 passed a bill entitled Power NY Act of 2011. Part of this bill is called Article X. On August 4, 2011 Governor Cuomo signed this bill into law, unfortunately.
The Power NY Act of 2011 was sponsored by Sen. George Maziarz (R - Niagara Co.) and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill (D - Ulster Co.). The NYS Senate voted to approve it by a 59 to 3 margin and the Assembly voted to approve it 120 to 14. Every New Yorker should revile the bill and its passage process. This bill (1) was passed with zero transparency, (2) deliberately kept under the radar by the legislature because the assembly and senate knew how outraged the towns and counties would be once they learned the contentious details, (3) the bill was passed in only one day with (4) NO public input! Is all this clandestine process ethical? How would all this pass new Gov. Cuomo’s ethics standards after listening to him rant for months about new improved NYS ethics in his term as Governor?
THE BAD NEWS:
Article X, as passed by the legislature and since approved by the Governor, strips ALL towns in NYS of their municipal home rule regarding the siting of electrical power plants. The Article X bill abrogates New York’s Consolidated Law - Municipal Home Rule. The new Art. X expedites a state-led program for permitting electric generating facilities while preempting local requirements. This law is a strike against freedom and democracy as it transfers power from local municipalities into the hands of unelected bureaucrats who are completely disconnected from the municipality they are victimizing! THIS IS WRONG. As one person put it – NYS has neutered municipal home rule.
Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver said this about Power NY Act 2011:
“……we will help give New Yorkers an increased voice in the development of power plants in their communities”. Reading the Art. X section will bring one to reality and instead of having an increased voice in the development of power plants in their community – New Yorkers will eventually realize they no longer have a voice of any kind regarding developing power plants in their community. The removal of voice is what Power NY Act 2011 does. Who is Speaker Silver trying to fool when he says the Power Act will give New Yorkers an increased voice when precisely the opposite has taken place! Leaders of the state legislature somehow managed to convince the majority that the Power NY Act was beneficial and without them having time to do their homework they were sold a bill of goods based on false rhetoric and passed the bill.
The Power NY Act of 2011 reauthorizes & revives Article X of the Public Service Law, which expired on January 1, 2003, governing the siting and approval of power plants in New York State. The new version expedites a state-led program for permitting electric generating facilities while preempting local requirements. The law usurps local control on siting projects in communities. Those involved in the electric generating business will celebrate this passage of this law because it now gives them a free pass to avoid municipal rejection and now opens the door for the most disruptive conditions their industry is known for.
Article X creates a new “Board” that is now the supreme authority on locating proposed new electrical power plants. The seven-member siting Board will consist of five state agency officials (Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Economic Development, Department of Health, Department of Agriculture and Markets and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority), as well as two ad hoc members who are required to reside in the community in which the proposed facility is to be located.
THE "BOARD" MEANS THE NEW YORK STATE BOARD ON ELECTRIC GENERATION SITING AND THE ENVIRONMENT, WHICH SHALL BE IN THE DEPARTMENT AND CONSIST OF SEVEN PERSONS: THE CHAIR OF THE DEPARTMENT, WHO SHALL SERVE AS CHAIR OF THE BOARD; THE COMMISSIONER OF ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION; THE COMMISSIONER OF HEALTH; THE CHAIR OF THE NEW YORK STATE ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY; THE COMMISSIONER OF ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TWO AD HOC PUBLIC MEMBERS, BOTH OF WHOM SHALL RESIDE WITHIN THE MUNICIPALITY IN WHICH THE FACILITY IS PROPOSED TO BE LOCATED, EXCEPT IF SUCH FACILITY IS PROPOSED TO BE LOCATED WITHIN THE CITY OF NEW YORK, THEN ALL AD HOC MEMBERS SHALL RESIDE WITHIN THE COMMUNITY DISTRICT IN WHICH THE FACILITY IS PROPOSED TO BE LOCATED.
The Board will be tasked with determining if the contemplated project should receive a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need ("Certificate"), which must be obtained before commencement of any site development or facility construction.
Opposition to Art. X
As a direct result of the passage of the Power NY Act of 2011 – several people concerned about the loss of municipal home rule have banned together and formed an organization called COAX – Coalition On Article X.
COAX’s mission statement is as follows: As a diverse, grassroots, statewide coalition we will act as advocates for the Towns of New York State that have lost their home rule to Albany bureaucrats in critical community planning and zoning decisions.
COAX’s purpose: Our purpose as Coalition on Article X ("COAX"), is to protect and reinstate "Home Rule" regarding siting of energy facilities and to involve the public, elected officials and appointed officials in this cause.
The COAX web site (www.coaxny.org) will disclose how your senator and assemblyman voted on this important issue. The web site contains the entire text of Article X. The web site documents what’s wrong with Article X and suggests what needs to be done.
What we are asking of every NYS county legislature chairman:
- Pass this information to every town supervisor and town clerk in your county. (This is extremely important) We ask that each town supervisor pass this information to all town board members, planning board members and zoning board members and other town officials that may be interested.
- Pass this information to all legislature members in your county.
Town supervisors – please become familiar with Art. X then encourage your town board to pass a resolution AGAINST Article X and make your senator, assemblyman and the Governor aware that your town opposes Art. X and wants this legislation repealed. Please do this as soon as possible and notify COAX when the resolution is passed. A sample copy of a resolution is enclosed.
What we want.
· We want Art. X repealed.
· We want NYS towns and counties to put laws in place to prohibit new above ground power lines emanating from state sited power plants which do not have town or county approval and limit the vehicle weight on town roads.
· We want the towns and counties to pass resolutions against Art. X
- We want the Assn. of towns to lead the fight against Art. X repeal.
· We want the Assn of counties to assist in the fight to repeal Art. X.
Despite all the flowery unsubstantiated euphemisms freely strewn about by our politicians and the beneficiaries of this draconian legislation, two facts remain: 1) this is a retraction of Home Rule right of NYS citizens, and 2) the real objective here is to implement more expensive, less efficient electricity (like wind and solar energy),upon communities that may not want such an imposing industrial complex that may not fit the character of the municipality that it victimizes.
If power plants were not harmful to a community then why is Art. X needed in the first place? Such measures translate to talk is cheap, and there is business as usual in what used to be the great state of NY. The power industry will adore the state legislature and Governor for this “free pass”
The dark way the Art. X was revived is an embarrassment to the state and reeks of poor ethics. In my view this is simply the beginning of NYS ramrodding more unwanted land use down our throats. They're telling us its good for the economy and will create jobs as all these horrible actions always do - there is little other reason for selling us this trash. Telling New Yorkers the Power Act will bring jobs is simply another example of false mouth-watering appeal. We must take a stand against this or the downstate machine will rape upstate in other ways. Next year they'll take the next step and amend Art. X to pass legislation that would allow them to site landfills, chemical plants and hydro fracking upstate and where Albany chooses without municipal or public input. What’s next?