State Senator John J. Bonacic (R/I/C - Mt. Hope), on Monday sent letters to U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton asking for their help in forcing a new member of FERC - the Federal Energy Regulatory Commision, to recuse himself on all matters relating to NYRI.
In an interview in last Thursday's Arizona Daily Star, Marc Spitzer, who took office on Monday, July 24, as one of five FERC Commissioners, called the NYRI project a "no-brainer." Spitzer was quoted as saying, in response to a question of asking about FERC's challenges:
"We need to build power plants and transmission lines. Nobody wants those things in their back yard, but everybody wants electricity and they want moreof it.
There is a proposal to bring clean, cheap energy to New York City from Niagara Falls. It's a no-brainer, but there is opposition to the transmission line. New York City is on the cusp of blackouts as we speak." 7-20-2006 Arizona Daily Star (online at:http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/138626 ). (emphasis added).
NYRI is not in fact proposed to run between Niagara Falls and New York City, but from Marcy to New Windsor, but it is evident that Spitzer is talking about the NYRI proposal. "Commissioner Spitzer needs to recognize that, when you sit in a policy-making role, you can't pre-judge things. He's no longer some State Agency Director from Arizona; he's a national policy-maker and needs to recognize that his words are very troubling to this region," Bonacic said.
Commissioner Spitzer is a former utilities regulator from Arizona.
According to records of the U.S. Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Commission, Spitzer was unanimously confirmed on July 14, 2006, along with two other new commissioners. (See:http://energy.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=PressReleases.Detail&PressRelease_id=235031&Month=7&Year=2006&Party=1)
"Commissioner Spitzer has prejudged NYRI. He cannot now sit in judgment of it when he has already come to a conclusion. He must fully abstain, not only from voting, but from inquiring about it or taking any action in relation to NYRI," Senator Bonacic said.
Bonacic also challenged Commissioner Spitzer's allegation that NYRI will bring "clean" and "cheap" energy to New York City. "Clean Energy is not energy which damages our natural resources to help New York City's power supply. Cheap energy is not energy which lowers rates downstate but raises rates upstate," Bonacic said.
Since NYRI was unveiled earlier this year, Senator Bonacic has taken a leadership role in trying to battle the plan. "I have said from the start my goal was to stop NYRI. The process of stopping NYRI includes slowing them down, making the process more expensive, and working at the State and Federal levels to have rulings made against them," Bonacic said. Steps taken by the Senator include the following:
* Was first Legislator at any level to develop a "legal offense fund" to fight NYRI.
* Was first Legislator at any level to bring top local officials to Albany to meet with State Public Service Commission to discuss NYRI, get an understanding of the PSC process, and express concerns to the PSC.
* Was first Legislator at any level to demand a public meeting on NYRI in Sullivan County. Bonacic's office attempted to personally serve the written demand on NYRI's Albany offices but when that was attempted, it was discovered that NYRI's Albany address - the one used on NYRI's website, was an empty office. The doorman said he hadn't seen anyone in NYRI's supposed office for weeks.
* Sponsored legislation which would take away, under State Law, NYRI's ability to use eminent domain. Support is currently being developed across the region for the legislation, which must still go to the Governor.
* In cooperation with Senators Seward, Libous, Meier, and Larkin organized a regional coalition of impacted counties to form to fight NYRI. A regional coalition has now been formed. That coalition is developing a regional plan to fight NYRI.
"Each of these steps has been taken in a calculated way to slow down NYRI with the goal of stopping them. I learned from Marcy South a long time ago that we need to be unified as a region, throw as many roadblocks up as possible, and not accept false promises of the various benefits which will allegedly come our way from this power line. I will continue to take steps I believe will meet my goal of slowing down and ultimately stopping NYRI's march through our region. Taking Commissioner Spitzer out of the NYRI loop is one more of those steps" Senator Bonacic said.
"I have asked our two U.S. Senators to meet with Commissioner Spitzer and demand he recuse himself from anything to do with NYRI. For the process to be fair, the leadership of the agency must be unbiased. Clearly that is not the case with this new Commissioner," concluded Senator Bonacic.