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Wind Development in the River Valley Needs Comprehensive Review

January 19th, 2017 | Posted by Lee

Save The River’s mission is to always be concerned about the health of the St. Lawrence River and to seek policies and actions to protect it. We believe there is a direct connection between the health of the River and the health of the creatures who swim, fish, drink and stop over in its waters and the health of the communities that line its shores. If one is threatened, all are in danger.

We base our efforts to preserve, protect and restore the River on research. It was research that informed our fight to stop winter navigation. And it was years of research that supported our successful advocacy for a new water levels plan.

Now, with the River valley facing wind energy development on an unprecedented scale, research into the potential impacts is desperately needed.

Save The River does not oppose energy from wind or other non-carbon sources. We believe the clear threats to the River from traditional methods of energy production – coal, oil, gas – make it imperative that we shift to renewable energy sources and conservation measures. Appropriately sized and sited wind projects are a necessary part of a sustainable energy future.

HOWEVER, we do believe the scope, scale, number and geographic spread of industrial wind projects proposed in the River region in both New York and the province of Ontario dwarfs the current ability of residents, local governments and state agencies to understand the potential impacts of so many turbines in such a biologically diverse and ecologically sensitive area. The state and local officials who will decide if one, two or more of these projects get built require far more research specific to the area and the species and resources to be impacted than they now have or are likely to see presented in individual permit applications.

Decision-makers do not have an adequate base of knowledge on which to permit even one of the currently proposed industrial wind projectsBut they can!

Fortunately, even though the several projects proposed are individually owned and will be individually permitted, there is a mechanism in New York State law that can put the research needed into the hands of the public and decision-makers – a Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“GEIS”).

Since 2010 Save The River has called for a comprehensive, region‐wide, cross‐border assessment of the cumulative environmental impacts of the many projects proposed in the River valley.

A GEIS will give the Article 10 Siting Boards and the town, village and county boards and the residents they represent the information they need to make informed decisions on the range of environmental and cultural impacts that are very likely to be compounded by multiple projects.

And you can help make this happen!

As these projects move forward in the application process it is important that the agency heads in Albany hear from all of us who want to make sure that solutions to problems like climate change are balanced, and based on reasoning and research. The Governor’s goal of sourcing 50% of the state’s energy needs from alternative sources by 2030 is a necessary step, but it is important that we make certain the state is not trading one set of negative impacts for another.

Contact the heads of the Public Service Commission and the Department of Environmental Conservation and tell them a Generic Environmental Impact Statement that includes all the industrial wind projects being proposed for the eastern shore of Lake Ontario and along the St. Lawrence Valley must be prepared prior to any project being permitted.

Save The River’s letter is here.

Contact:

Basil Segos, Commissioner
Department of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-1010
phone:  (518) 402-8545
– or – email the Commissioner
Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess
Secretary to the Commission
New York State Public Service Commission
Empire State Plaza
Agency Building 3
Albany, NY 12223-1350
phone:  (518) 474-6530
email: secretary@dps.ny.gov


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