Pataki Signs Bonacic's Legislation To Take Away Nyri's Ability To Use Eminent Domain Under Nys Law

John J. Bonacic

October 03, 2006

State Senator John Bonacic (R/I/C - Mt. Hope), today announced that Governor George Pataki has signed his legislation (S.8349-a) into law which will prohibit NYRI from using eminent domain under State Law.

At a May 11 press conference in Narrowsburg, Bonacic announced that NYRI, "was not just taking on a few small communities, they are taking on me and the New York State Senate." Bonacic also announced that he and the region would be "going on the offense" against NYRI. Since that statement was made, Bonacic has been on nearly constant offense trying to damage the $1.6 billion project’s chances of success.

"Since NYRI came out, our region has been united in trying to stop it. Today, Governor Pataki joined the battle, and stood up for private property rights. The Governor’s approval of my legislation stands for the simple premise that big business should not be able to take people’s homes for their private profit," Senator Bonacic said. The Times Herald Record reported on June 24 that Bonacic’s legislation could "mean significant delays" for NYRI, adding "Some even believe the bill has the potential to kill the project altogether".

"State laws should be made to help people, not hurt people. NYRI was going to use a loophole in State law to hurt people. We put a stop to that in New York. It was not easy. Tremendous opposition from special interests and opposition from the City of New York all stood in our way. However, the Governor heard our voices," Senator Bonacic said.

The Bonacic legislation has strong bipartisan support. It is co-sponsored in the Assembly by, among others, Assemblymembers Aileen Gunther and Kevin Cahill, both Democrats. The bill passed the Senate and Assembly on June 23. Bonacic then spent time gathering support for the legislation and then asked for a meeting with the Governor on the legislation.

"Rather than rush the bill to the Governor, as some felt should be done, I wanted to ensure that the Governor would clearly hear the voice of our region and upstate. The Governor has demonstrated he understands that a private enterprise should not be able to take people’s land and then raise their electric rates. State law should not allow that," Senator Bonacic said.

The Senator also commended the organizations and municipalities who are working to stop NYRI. "Thanks to the hard work of the anti-NYRI organizations and the hard work of local elected officials, thousands of people learned about the legislation. The anti-NYRI groups and many of our local officials worked hard on this and deserve the region’s thanks."

Building additional power lines is among the last choices the State’s Independent Systems Operator (ISO) has said should be considered to meet what will eventually be greater power needs in the metropolitan area. The State ISO has also said New York City has enough power to meet its needs for the next decade, and recommended building power plants near the City to meet future power needs. The ISO is responsible for monitoring and making recommendations about the State’s current and future power systems.

The Senator cautioned the NYRI fight is not over. "As a State we have taken unprecedented steps to make our feelings on this issue known to the Federal Government. Never before has a private enterprise, financed out of a foreign country, come in and said it intended to take our citizens lands for that company’s profit. It would be unprecedented for the Federal government to roll over the positions of local towns, of several counties, of the State Legislature, and of the Governor and try and jam this power line down our throat," Senator Bonacic said.

"Now we must turn to our Federal officials and ask them to pick up the ball and carry it over the finish line. When NYRI started this, they thought our small communities would be their punching bag for this $1.6 billion power project. They hired the former head of the Public Service Commission. They hired the lobbying firm associated with Mayor Giuliani. They hired the former top aide to Assembly Speaker Silver. Instead of being NYRI’s punching bag, we fought back. We have done what I said in May must be done - we have gone on the offense and we have stayed on the offense. Our Federal officials must now fight NYRI in the halls of Congress and in the Federal agencies. I believe Senator Clinton and Senator Schumer can effectively carry us over the finish line. Our actions are consistent, our determination is unyielding and our message is simple: These lines do not belong in our backyard," concluded Senator Bonacic. TO SEE RELATED NEWS STORY: CLICK ON: