Sunday, September 12, 2010

Letter from LORAX to the PSC

An email sent earlier this week to the PSC:

Dear Secretary Brilling,

I know that you have been receiving a lot of letters and complaints concerning recent activity by O&R (Orange and Rockland) in the Chester, NY area of Orange County. I won't take time to go into details of the various specific concerns and impacts caused by the work (seemingly targeted at lines in the 69kV to 138kV range).

But what does concern me and the members of LORAX is that such activity can continue in light of the history over the last 3 or 4 years of O&R's (and its contractor's) pattern of behavior executing its TVMP in Rockland and Orange Counties.

It is sad and totally unnecessary that this destruction continues unabated even as the PSC has an open review case 10-E-0155 on the matter.

The pattern of misinformation, lack of training and oversight, disregard for state environmental regulations, and the over-zealous and wanton destruction of our valuable natural resources has been commented upon in public meetings and by municipal and county resolutions since at least 2008 (for O&R) and 2009 (for Con Edison).

The fact that Federal regulations do not require the level of destruction (wide-swath clear cutting) being undertaken has been discussed and agreed upon - even by your own DPS staff who oversee the transmission utilities.

The fact is that there is no statistical or scientific proof that such over-clearing of transmission line "air gap" safety zones is actually required based upon the outage history (or lack thereof) in our lower NY state region.

The fact is that in our densely populated counties many property owners now face major environmental problems which they must mitigate at great expense to themselves, often ranging into the thousands of dollars.

The impacts and costs of mitigation continue to grow as these TVMPs continue unchecked and under-supervised by PSC DPS staff. As Legislator Abinanti remarked at the recent PSC Case meeting in Greenburgh, [I paraphrase roughly:] "The clear cut destruction along the transmission ROWS in Westchester alone has done more to undermine all of the county's hard-fought environmental regulations and progress. The negative impact literally swamps any benefits from any of these green / sustainability initiatives."

It is not enough to merely listen -- having heard all of the reports and seen the documentation, action must be taken to minimize further impacts!

It is time that the PSC step forward and explain to the public exactly what reasoning prevents a moratorium from being implemented NOW.

Why won't the PSC simply stop the on-going activity via an immediate stop-work moratorium (excluding "emergency actions") while the case review continues??

The fact that the PSC will not take such action in the face of wide-spread public and governmental outrage is why our state legislators need to take action in the next session to force the PSC into being a public oversight commission, not just a "shill" for the utility companies.

Remember: it only takes 10 minutes to fell a mature Oak, but it takes 100 years to grow one back. Its time for the PSC to do the right thing for the residents of NYS and for our shared environment.




Mark Gilliland
GEF LORAX Working Group, Chairperson

cc: PSC Members

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