Senator James L. Seward and members of the New York State Senate Majority Conference voiced their opposition to a Department of Energy hearing on the designation of a National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETC) being held in Rochester today. The senators, who are unable to attend the hearing because of senate session, have submitted written testimony and called on the Department of Energy to schedule another hearing at a location closer to the proposed path of the power line.
The designation of a NIETC would allow large portions of upstate land to be set aside for the construction of a massive power line, like the one proposed by New York Regional Interconnect. The line would begin in Herkimer County and wind southerly through Chenango and Delaware Counties and end in Orange County.
"Those of us who have been fighting for our constituents against NYRI and its stealth approach to winning approval for its Frankenstein towers find it unbelievable that a hearing is scheduled so far from those it would directly affect," said Senator James Seward (R-C-I, Oneonta). "I call on our federal representatives to ensure that a hearing takes place in the center of the proposed line and to guarantee that the state will make this decision."
"By holding a public hearing in Rochester, more than 130 miles from the planned start site of the proposed power line in Marcy, the federal government is doing a great disservice to the people of New York State," said Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C, Rome). "These hearings must offer the people in the communities that will be directly effected by the power line an opportunity to voice their opinions and give their input."
"The fact that the Department of Energy has scheduled a hearing hundreds of miles away from the people that will be most effected is unconscionable, and must be immediately rectified," said Senator Tom Libous (R-C-I, Binghamton). "An informed decision cannot be made without hearing from the people who will be looking at the power line from their kitchen windows. On behalf of our constituents, my colleagues and I are calling for another hearing to be scheduled as soon as possible at a location within the proposed path of the line."
"The federal government’s plan to hold a hearing hundreds of miles from the New York Regional Interconnect’s proposed power line seems to be a planned attempt to limit citizen participation," stated Senator John J. Bonacic (R-C-I, Mount Hope). "The people closest to the planned power line should have a right to he heard as it severely impacts their lives and property."
Referencing the United States Constitution and its emphasis on states' rights and local control, the senators also disputed the authority of the federal government to designate an energy corridor that has the potential to exist all in one state and stressed to the Department of Energy that the decision should be allowed to be made by the state.
The senate is also expected to act today on a resolution in opposition to the designation of a NIETC in New York State and is seeking the support of neighboring states to do the same. A similar resolution was recently passed in Pennsylvania.
The New York State Senate has already provided $1 million to counties along the route of the proposed New York Regional Interconnect power line to help reimburse them for legal expenses related to fighting the proposed project. Last year, a senate-initiated bill was passed that would deny the power of eminent domain for a company seeking to build a power line, such as the one proposed by New York Regional Interconnect.