Sunday, August 22, 2010

PSC Public Hearings: Important Lobbying Notes, Schedule Info & Alternative Submission Methods


There are three important changes in vegetation management which all of us can lobby the PSC to include in any updated guidelines based upon  findings from the current case (Case 10-E-0155): 

1) environmental analysis – wetlands, water courses, habitats, impact of loss of tree buffers on air, noise, visual pollution, etc. Like any SEQRA review, the goal should be towards minimizing detrimental impacts. (Analysis should be segment-by-segment, not state-wide.)

2) notification – a minimum of 60 days verified notification for homeowners/property owners, a minimum of 30 days for a town-hall like public meeting to review and receive feedback on planned vegetation management. (During clearing operations, a dedicated 7/24 emergency complaint hotline should be available for property owners and municipal officials.)

3) mitigation – mandatory replanting, stomwater and erosion controls, etc. must be built into the vegetation management plans from the start. Mitigation costs should not be borne by individual residents or property owners for impacts caused by utility line clearing. (Full mitigation for past clearing activities during 2007 thru 2010 in Rockland and Westchester must be mandated by PSC, as well!)

Another change in PSC guidelines that the LORAX Working Group has been advocating is the adoption of an eco-friendly "tiered management" approach to vegetation management along transmission lines:

This means that the farther from the centerline of the transmission towers one goes towards the edges of the right-of-way (ROW), the taller the vegetation that can safely remain standing. So, at a distance of 50 feet from the centerline, a tree perhaps 35ft tall is "safe". At 100 feet from the centerline, a tree 80ft tall is "safe".

Thus, rather than mindlessly clear cutting the entire ROW corridor (resulting in significant environmental, health and property value impacts), a more natural "tiered" landscape remains that does not compromise line safety. Tiered management reduces habitat loss, erosion, air quality impacts, etc. It also reduces the foothold for invasive plants and expanding deer populations.

Finally, with a focus on the need for greater environmental awareness, vegetative buffers must be maintained. The PSC guidelines from 2005 (Case 04-E-0822) should be modified to require that riparian & wetland buffers, view-shed buffers and road-crossing buffers (to name a few) must be maintained and enhanced, not clear cut.
Plan to come out and make your voice heard by the PSC!
Scheduled local hearings:

• Monday, August 23 - 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Ramapo Town Hall, 237 Route 59, Airmont.

• Monday, August 23 - 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Yonkers Public Library, Riverfront branch, 1 Larkin Center.

• Tuesday, August 24 - 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Greenburgh Public Library, 300 Tarrytown Road, Elmsford.

Other ways to comment:

• 800-335-2120, press "1" and refer to case 10-E-0155.

• www.dps.state.ny.us/comment.html. In the search box, enter case number 10-E-0155.

• Write to Jaclyn A. Brilling, secretary, Public Service Commission, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350 and refer to case 10-E-0155.

7 comments:

-mg- said...

The Journal News had an article about these hearings:

http://www.lohud.com/article/20100819/NEWS01/8190367/State-seeks-comments-on-utility-tree-cutting

-mg- said...

My presentation to the PSC (pdf).

-mg- said...

Article in New City Patch covering the Ramapo meeting:

http://newcity.patch.com/articles/save-our-trees-the-public-speaks-out-again
st-measures-to-protect-power-lines

Anne Jaffe Holmes said...

The PSC hearings this week have been an inspiring example of how a grassroots effort initiated by a small group of passionate and dedicated individuals can strategically link up with local, County and State government officials to bring pressure to bear on an intolerable situation. The Lorax Working Group has done a brilliant job of researching the legal and environmental issues involved in vegetation management of transmission lines, and pulling together the support of government at all levels to give the PSC a wake up call it can't ignore. We are fortunate also to have elected officials such as County Legislator Thomas Abinanti and NYS Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins, and many local town and village officials who stood up in support of the legitimate concerns of their constituents and communities.
There is no doubt that the PSC will be making some changes, but we must continue to keep the focus and pressure on the PSC to ensure that they not only adopt the necessary revisions to the transmission line vegetation management plan, but that they also consistently enforce the new requirements with Con Edison and other utilities. As several speakers pointed out at the hearings, the PSC has not been doing the job it was created to do. Our ultimate goal is to both improve the TVM regulations and also to re-establish the proper functioning of the PSC. Final resolution of this issue will also require mitigation of the extreme damages done to properties through inappropriate clearing activities with costs borne by the utility.
Thanks go to all who participated and lent their voices to this effort, most especially the dedicated members of the Lorax Working Group.
Sincerely,
Anne Jaffe Holmes

-mg- said...

Article in the Yorktown Patch about the Greenburgh meeting:

http://yorktown.patch.com/articles/save-our-trees-locals-speak-out-against-clear-cutting-3

-mg- said...

Article in the Harrison Patch.com:

http://harrison.patch.com/articles/area-residents-to-utility-companies-save-the-trees

-mg- said...

As reported in Larchmont patch.com:

http://larchmont.patch.com/articles/save-our-trees-locals-speak-out-against-clearcutting