By Arthur “Jerry” Kremer
Not so long ago, the state of New York was where big things got done and the rest of the world copied the Empire State.
Not anymore: Today it’s the state where energy projects go to die. “No Yorkers” seemingly block everything by saying “not in my back yard.” They may like renewable power but don’t want it next door – and politicians routinely cave in to them.
No York has a weak economy and a higher cost of living. It loses new job opportunities regularly. Ironically, the governor, who is working to dramatically decrease carbon emissions in the state, has given in to No Yorkers’ obstructionism so much that even initiatives they should welcome are threatened. Despite investing billions of dollars in wind, solar, biomass and other power generation, it’s clear that, in No York, renewable energy will be incapable of meeting our growing need for power anytime soon.
In the meantime, we need more natural gas – the cleanest fossil fuel. The state of New York happens to have abundant natural gas in the Southern Tier, where we could really use the jobs and the cheaper in-state energy supply. But No Yorkers continue to fabricate arguments against it, and the state has blocked this promising resource.
How about pipelines to bring in natural gas? The Constitution Pipeline, several years in the making and millions of dollars spent, was denied a final water permit by the No York Department of Environmental Conservation.
What about zero-carbon wind power? No, the state objects to the siting of fields of rotors anywhere they might be seen, including off the shores of Lake Erie, so don’t expect meaningful amounts of electricity from wind power anytime soon.
Solar? Ask Skidmore College. Officials there spent almost a decade and untold dollars to bring large-scale solar to a field the school owned. No Yorkers repeatedly thwarted zoning changes, claiming it would harm the rural character of surrounding farmlands and cause traffic jams.
In the midst of all of this obstruction, the state is also trying to shut down New York’s biggest existing clean power plant, downstate’s Indian Point – the largest of the in-state nuclear energy fleet that the same administration considers an essential bridge to a renewable energy future.
We can’t let a hysterical minority of No Yorkers drag down our economy, discourage investment, freeze development, take away jobs, increase our energy prices and actually damage our environment.
It’s time for us to insist on abundant, clean, affordable, reliable energy produced in New York, for New Yorkers, by New Yorkers – and it can happen if real New Yorkers speak up and speak out.
Arthur “Jerry” Kremer is chairman of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance.