May 082016

Alternative energy and why it matters

by Michael Sussman


The alternative energy movement is very complex. at once, in new york, we have to stop the expansion of a hydro-fracked based infrastructure, comprised of power plants, compressor stations, pipelines, which will continue to adversely dominate energy production and distribution for several generations. on the otherm. we must create a climate which increases [radically] the production and distribution of energy from alternative sources. This must be done with a cognizance of the impact of each individual decision on the entire grid. in doing this, we should apply the concept of generalizability — what is acceptable here is likely going to be acceptable in other places and if our choices are counter-planetary, then we can hardly criticize others’ equally regressive choices. these issues are made more difficult because of several conjoining factors: first, large corporations have control over the resources needed to expand energy supply and this is not an arena in which people without huge economic power can easily play; second, the science is not easily understood and can be manipulated by those whose primary motive is self-interest; third, people take energy for granted and are primarily concerned about the price they have to pay to access basic energy needs and fourth government has always been primarily aligned with monied interest, most particularly in the energy industry, which is, understandably seen as a component of national security.

into this context comes the fight against CPV, a power plant now being built in the Town of Wawayanda, right near the City of Middletown. As proposed, the plaint is dependent on fracked natural gas. CPV is sponsored by international monied interests who want to foster greater dependence on fracked natural gas, a policy supported by our current president.

On the other hand, NYS has banned fracking because of its injurious environmental and health effects. Yet, to date, the same Governor who took that progressive action [under substantial political pressure] has failed to generalize the decision to deny approvals to expansion of the fracking dependent infrastructure. To his credit, he has blocked several pipelines which were intended to be part of that infrastructure, but the CPV plant is currently being built.

CPV’s construction and operation will inherently induce more fracking in Pennsylvania and other states. Our state has determined that this is contrary to the public interest, and consistently, should oppose any new plants which rely on fracking. Applying this principle, CPV should be disallowed.

Other factors need consideration: during the last 18 months, the speaker of the NYS Assembly and the leader of the NY State Senate have been convicted of influence peddling. To put it simply, make sizable contributions to me and i will get legislative preference for you….In Silver’s case, he was on the salary of a law firm and engineered a regime of legislation favorable to its interests. In Skelos’ case, his son gained employment from several interested companies.

Again, enter CPV: preliminary reports have CPV lobbyists employing the wife of Cuomo’s Chief of Staff and funneling other monies to him. The structure seems very similar to that which doomed Silver and Skelos. Obviously, state approvals were critical for CPV. A friend who has studied this quite intensely advised me on Friday that the state review of the CPV project was cursory when compared with other rejected projects.

Local politicians have been prosecuted in NY for such actions as accepting bids for projects at lower than standard rates and saving their communities money. Why? These bids were seen as favors intended to advance the political careers of these elected officials.

Well, consider CPV’s “marketing” strategy: it promises communities “gifts” in exchange for greasing the approval process. Is this not a similar form of corruption, one intended to make approvals dependent less on scrutiny of the project than on currying favor with elected officials and playing Santa Claus to their towns? Is this not a form of bribery which distracts from the real issue – whether the proposed project is or is not in the public interest? Can we not see that the more “bribes” are offered the less likely is the project to really benefit the public interest?

I have involved myself in the anti-CPV struggle because we have to stop, not expand, production processes which threaten the planet and re-direct ourselves to energy sources which are renewable. In February 2016, our congressman told us at a meeting that he supports CPV because it is a “bridge” – he is wrong – a 30-40 year bridge to hell is what this project is…

Like the Congressman, our county elected officials have done NOTHING to protect residents from the impacts predictably deriving from CPV – they are either ignorant, bought off or cowardly.

‪I am urging each of you to study these issues, form your own conclusions and act – for your sake, for the planet’s sake and for the sake of our children. We gather every Saturday morning at the site – 11 AM, 3300 Route 6 in Wawayanda. We need your help to succeed and stop this plant.