VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT
In 1969, our country moved from demonstrating against the Vietnam War to marching for environmental protection.
That year, Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which required federal agencies to do an Environmental Assessment (EA) and/or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to granting a permit allowing a “project” to go forward.
If it was determined the project wouldn’t cause any “significant” environmental impact, a Negative Declaration (Neg Dec) could be issued.
If it was determined, via a science-based review, that there would be significant impact, the applicant was required to do things to mitigate or offset that impact.
If the impact couldn’t be addressed, the project was either dropped or revised in a manner that would allow the agency or agencies to grant the permit(s).
In 1975, New York State passed its own version of NEPA known as SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review [Act]. It too was a science-based law that directed the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct the science-based environmental review prior to a project moving forward.
President Obama and our Governor have bastardized those processes by fast-tracking projects that fit their energy “agenda” and by using those laws to stop projects that don’t – even if doing so jeopardizes our energy security.
President Obama granted a 30-year exemption from the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to allow wind power companies to push his renewable energy agenda.
Those companies can now each kill up to 4,200 eagles over a 30-year period and that’s after we spent millions to help the bald eagle population recover so it could be removed from being listed as an Endangered Species.
It seems that with the Left, the end justifies the means. If an inconvenient law gets in the way, ignore it. Does that also apply to you and me?
Then Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold reacted to President Obama’s ruling with the following statement:
“Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, (the Department of the Interior) wrote the wind industry a blank check. To essentially give power companies a 30-year hunting license to kill eagles and other birds is unconscionable.
“I think we’re opening a Pandora’s Box that will kill millions of birds (also protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act) over the next 30 years, maybe tens of millions. I don’t understand why we’re making this devastating and senseless compromise.”
Something has happened within Audubon since then as Audubon, initially founded as a bird-protection organization, is supporting the wind-power project near Windsor, Broome County – much to the dismay of our local Audubon Chapter. Will we ever learn the political motivation behind that decision?
Why is it that Audubon, now a much broader environmental protection group, is willing to condone wind and solar power while knowing full well the environmental impact associated with mining the metals used in lithium ion batteries in countries lacking our mining protection laws?
Just as New York mirrored the federal government’s NEPA legislation with its SEQR law, our Governor is now following in President Obama’s footsteps. He is using the SEQR process to fast-track renewable energy projects that are consistent with his “renewables” agenda and to stop projects, especially those associated with fossil fuels, that aren’t.
Is he putting New York’s energy security at risk by doing that?
In 1974, the U.S. relied upon OPEC for its energy and OPEC brought us to our knees by cutting off the supply. Do we really want to repeat that situation by relying on China, Russia and the Congo for the materials used to make the lithium ion batteries needed to store the energy from wind and solar power?
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – before we drink the Kool Aid, we need to know what’s in it!