It is absolutely true, as a recent article contends, that the state’s Office of Renewable Energy Siting, a key aspect of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s effort to bring clean power to New York safely and efficiently, hired a consulting firm to write new green energy rules. It is an utterly common practice for the state to farm out the writing of technical legal language. No state agency has the staff to handle it in-house.
But the idea that Tetra Tech worked its own particular interests into how the rules are written is a stretch. The company does far more work for oil and gas companies and in the petroleum field, as well as in non-renewable electric distribution than it does in renewable resources.
The lawsuit argues that local law is more powerful than state law, so local zoning preventing large-scale renewable plants should not be ignored. That’s ridiculous. We learned that in Civics 101.
Not only that, but the change in the status of so-called home rule from Article 10 to ORES is slight. Either way, the state preempts local laws and imposes uniform standards, including environmental ones. But Article 10 was arcane and thorny, and ORES moves projects along more quickly, a necessary change if we are to combat the climate crisis.
People are dying of climate crisis-induced heat in the Pacific Northwest. Wildfires rage, and California farmers are selling water because they can’t grow crops. Other communities have said yes to renewables and the economic benefits they bring. They see the future clearly.