News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.


Mike Zagata

What Was Objectionable In State Of Union Speech?


What Was Objectionable

In State Of Union Speech?

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi rips up a text of the State of the Union Address as President Trump was accepting applause at its completion Tuesday, Feb. 4.

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to

This past week we had an opportunity to observe our President highlight his accomplishments and lay out his agenda for next year.  Every president does this annually in the State of the Union Address.  As is almost always the case, depending on party affiliation, there will be things covered that draw applause and some that draw frowns – and once in a while both sides are supportive.

I watched the address and here’s what I heard the President claim to have done for us: increase wages more for the lower half of wage earners than for the upper tier; reduce unemployment, especially for minorities, to historic lows; stimulate a blue-collar boom; create “Opportunity Zones” in our economically depressed cities (we could use one); re-negotiate trade deals with Mexico, Canada and China that will benefit American workers, including farmers; take steps to assure we are an “inclusive” society; and defend our borders.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

These actions should not come as a surprise because they were part of the promises he made while campaigning.  When was the last time a candidate you supported actually kept those campaign promises?

The latter half of the Address was devoted to listing the actions he was committed to take, with the support of Congress, on our behalf in the coming year.  The list included things normally supported by Republicans and things normally supported by Democrats.

Some of those things are: Education Freedom Scholarships & Opportunities Act (freedom for students in impoverished school districts to choose the best school); ensure that every high school offers vocational and technical education; permanent funding for historically black colleges and universities; health coverage for people with pre-existing conditions; reduce the cost, not the quality, of healthcare and prescription drugs; ensure that Medicare benefits are secured for our senior citizens and not allowed to be depleted by providing those benefits to illegal aliens; complete the wall along our southern border; further curb the opioid epidemic; increase funding for neo-natal research; end late-term abortion; provide paid family leave via the “Working Families Act”; join the international initiative to plant one trillion trees to restore forests and combat climate change; re-build our infrastructure; provide high-speed internet to rural America; increase support for law enforcement, afford families who lose a loved one due to a criminal protected by a “sanctuary city” the right to sue that city; revise our out-dated immigration laws; defend religious freedom and the second amendment; plant our flag on Mars with the help of the newly created “Space Force”; negotiate peace talks between Israel and Palestine; end the war in Afghanistan; invite Iran to the peace-talks table; and fight terrorism.

It seemed to me the President had addressed traditional Republican-oriented programs and offered several olive branches to the Democrats.  In response, the Democratic Speaker of the House publically tore up the speech reflecting her disdain for its contents and the President.

How much longer are those of us being impacted by this obvious hatred by those Democrats going to allow it to continue?  We are all, Democrats and Republicans alike, suffering as a result of this acrimony and it needs to stop.  Grow up and work together on behalf of the American people who elected you.


ZAGATA: How To Reduce CO2, Trees Or Panels?


How To Best Reduce CO2

– Trees Or Solar Panels?

As I’m sure many of you did, I read with great interest about the proposal to build a 3,000 acre solar farm near West Laurens. It’s a great opportunity for the affected landowners – much like the Marcellus gas and the Constitution Pipeline would have been for many New York landowners.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

Why is the solar farm being greeted with enthusiasm while the potential to drill for natural gas, the cleanest burning fossil fuel, was greeted with loud protests? Let’s see if we can come up with one or more good reasons for the difference in receptivity.

Those who protested the gas drilling and pipeline voiced their concern that the gas would go to New York City and thus Upstate wouldn’t benefit. Guess what, the electricity from this solar farm will go to the city.

The environmental impacts – more on that later – will be borne by Upstate residents just like they were when the city flooded our valleys to build reservoirs to supply its residents with drinking water. Then they came back and bought the remaining land so the local towns would have no way to grow their tax bases.

Why would they do that, you say? It’s all about the money.

If development were to occur in the Catskills, the EPA might force the city to install a filtration system for its drinking water at a cost of about $7 billion to construct and $600 million per year to operate and maintain. That happened in 1996 and the city avoided doing that by signing the Watershed Agreement to get the EPA off its back.

So much for where the energy is going. What about the environmental impacts?

With directional drilling, many wells can be drilled from the same pad. That greatly reduces the surface impacts. The pipeline right-of-way (ROW) would require clearing a few hundred acres of vegetation during construction for the ROW.

However, that ROW would immediately be re-vegetated and thus would still provide habitat for early successional (grasses and brush) wildlife species and sequester carbon from the air. Then, via photosynthesis, that carbon, existing as carbon dioxide (CO2) in the air, would be converted to sugar to help build wood fiber and oxygen.

Recent research findings tell us two important things about that early succession. First, it is in short supply and DEC, Audubon and The Nature Conservancy are advocating forest cutting to create more of it. Why? Because 43 species of migratory songbirds are in trouble due a loss of that habitat type.

Second, early successional/young forests sequester more carbon per acre than older, mature forests.

The solar farm in question would put 3,000 acres, and that’s just one of many solar farms to come, under glass, gone – thus no longer would wildlife, except maybe for a meadow vole, call it “home.”

What about carbon sequestration? Gone! Not only would that land no longer be good for wildlife, but it would cease sequestering carbon. Has anyone done the math to determine if the solar energy produced on those acres will at least replace the loss of the carbon that was being sequestered? Where have all the protesters gone? It is likely the county will be happy, as the land will no longer be taxed as agricultural land but at a much higher rate as industrial land.

That about the landowners who lease their land? You might be tempted to ask why the company isn’t offering to buy their land. It’s quite simple.

After about 20 years, the expected useful life of the solar panels, the company will walk away, and the landowner will be faced with the cost of disposal of the hazardous wastes associated with 3,000 acres of toxic solar panels. That will be a tidy sum and could be even greater if the solar farm were declared to be a Superfund site.

Remember, those Albany scientists that want to over-build our renewables energy capacity by three-fold despite what that will cost to those of us who use that energy?

Recall that solar energy has a reliability factor of about 25 percent. (It can be depended on 25 percent of the time – that means that 75 percent of the time you can’t depend on it).

Wind is slightly better with a reliability factor of 35 percent. So, with solar the un-reliability factor is 75 percent and with wind it’s 65 percent. During that time the energy being produced is zero. It doesn’t matter if I overbuild by a factor of three or a factor of five – 3 x 0 = 0 and 5 x 0 = 0. That’s how much energy will be available to keep your pipes from freezing during the un-reliability periods.

You might be tempted to say that we may be able to use Lithium-ion batteries to store the energy. Aside from the environmental impact of mining those materials, consider that we get them from countries that are not friendly.
If you’re old enough to remember the oil embargo in 1973-74, then you know what the OPEC countries were able to do to our economy and way of life. It wasn’t pretty. Do we really want to repeat that mistake again?

I asked earlier about the glaring absence of protesters because their absence would seem to be revealing.

One might ask if their concern was really about the environment or if we’re looking at a social agenda geared towards changing the way we live that would have little or no positive impact on the environment. Indeed, it could be quite negative – both economically and environmentally.

That should concern you.

Read the story about Crescent Dunes, a Nevada solar power project, in the Jan. 16, 2020, issue of The Wall Street Journal. The Obama Administration, against the recommendations of its own scientists, went ahead and made $737 million in loan guarantees for this project and it went belly up – that’s $737 million of your tax money and another $140 million of private investor funds that went up in smoke.

Combine that with the fact the Chenango County solar farm is only producing 10 percent of the energy promised and you have no choice but to question where we’re headed.

The environmental impacts are only now being recognized and no one seems interested in the adverse economic impacts. Renewables are today’s “poster child”, but how will they fare with age?

ZAGATA: Rising to the Fly


Rising To The Fly

By MICHAEL ZAGATA • Special to

Fishermen understand why the brook trout they catch are often smaller than the brown trout they catch. It’s because the brown trout are more discerning about “rising to the fly” and thus falling victim to the fishermen’s net, while brook trout are prone to rise to the first fly they see.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

There is a lesson there for all of us with regards to how we cast our votes. It is natural to rise to the sound bites that offer promise or free stuff, even though common sense tells us it isn’t really free. Someone has to pay for it, but we tell ourselves that’s OK as long as it isn’t us. But, are we kidding ourselves?

If not us, who?

Recently I watched a news clip featuring presidential candidate Senator Elizabeth Warren where she stated that, if elected president, she would create as much relief (public financial assistance) for as many people as possible as fast as she could. That is a very attractive “fly” and represents the approach of the other Democratic candidates as well.

Translated into financial terms, that means she would increase our taxes and/or increase the national debt without doing the things that increase our economy and allow us to pay for those social programs. We would pay for those social programs with higher taxes and more debt – and we pay annual interest on that debt.

Contrast that approach with that of our sitting President, a Republican, who believes in creating jobs via growing our economy. That means giving more people the opportunity to have a job, shed the stigma of poverty, and growing the tax base while lowering individual taxes and reducing, not growing, the national debt. The contrast is stark. To quote an old adage, “give a man a fish and feed him for a day; give him a fishing pole (job) and feed him for life.”

Like the brook trout, we are seeing many seemingly attractive flies cast upon the water by the candidates. Are we going to rise to the first one or are we going to take the time to weigh the consequences of the various alternatives using the information we have learned from life’s lessons? A case in point is the push to continue on the trend being forced on us by the Left to pursue socialism.

Those of us over 50 have seen first-hand that communism and socialism have failed the people governed under their paradigms. Today’s young people haven’t, with the exception of Venezuela, had that opportunity. To them that “fly” appears attractive.

As fly fishermen know, presentation is everything! Then it’s just a matter of setting the hook and landing the “fish.”

As an example, let’s talk about free college tuition. It looks very attractive to someone about to enter college even though tuition, itself, only represents part of the cost.

Historically, a student entered college, got a part-time job and took out a student loan. After graduating, that student got a job and part of their income was used to pay back that loan. Once it was fully paid, normally within five years, he or she could take the monthly amount that formerly went to pay down the loan and use it for something else – it became a windfall.

Contrast that with the new paradigm of “free” education. That same student would go to college and maybe get a part-time job, but wouldn’t need to take out a student loan – at least not for the tuition portion of their college education. Following graduation there would be no loan to pay off. Hurrah!

But is that person really ahead? As a result of everyone getting a “free” education subsidized by the government, the government will be faced with having to raise more money – and it does that by raising taxes.

In reality, that student will be faced with higher taxes, not for the five years it would have taken to pay off the student loan, but for life. Was it really a good deal or was it in the “presentation” without evaluation?

EKLUND: Praise For Fracking? Let’s Call In Fossil-Fuel Fiction

Praise For Fracking? Let’s

Call In Fossil-Fuel Fiction

To the Editor:

Normally, I would not respond to such pithy paeans of praise to the poison profits of pipelines as recently described by Mr. Zagata (Nov. 28-29) in this space. However, since my name and likeness, along with friend and fellow environmental activist Nicole Dillingham, were used as poster people for the piece, I feel I must.

First I must admit surprise at Zagata’s entry into fossil-fuel fiction arena, an area more usually occupied by the ever-zealous Dick Downey. Don’t worry, Dick, I find your efforts at fiction much more entertaining.

I have never been a paid activist and to claim that I and the thousands of others who gave of their time and energies were is an outrageous lie. Indeed most of the people I worked with used their personal means of transportation and funded their travel expenses out of their own pockets, a situation which may seem quaint to the former short-term head of the DEC.

As for the single “informant” who Zagata would have one believe speaks for all, there are no citations of payment, to anyone, in any amount, or on any continuing basis. Is the anecdotal evidence factual or just something Zagata pulled out of a “frackhole”?

Likewise his claim of a billion-dollar loss to the area. From whence do these figures derive? Or is this just another use of the tiresome tactic used by the fossil-fuel industry of throwing out eye-popping numbers in an attempt to appeal to the greed of those who would ignore any cost to the common weal?

I believe it was Mr. Zagata’s fellow fabulist, the aforementioned Dick Downey, who recently linked the opioid crisis to lack of methane gas. To link the tragic opioid cancer occurring in America regardless of whether there is methane available or not is reprehensible.

The opioid epidemic was caused by Big Pharma as recently shown by the “real” billions of dollars settlements agreed to by some of the more egregious offenders.  Ulster County, an area with ample access to methane gas, was recently named as the leading county in New York State for opioid-related fatalities. Of course, Big Pharma, like the Fossil Fuel Industry, throws millions of dollars into disinformation campaigns in an attempt to disguise their profit from poison business, one at the expense of individuals, the other at the expense of the planet.

I recall a conversation I had with Mr. Zagata a number of years ago in which I expressed surprise that (at the time) the DEC might support fracking.

I questioned how it was that the DEC tightly controlled the effluvia emanating from farming practices in order to prevent the contamination of waterways, but was willing to condone the rendering of millions of gallons of previously potable water owned by the public into permanently toxic waste.

His reply was less than illuminating. However, as this latest commentary demonstrates, he is still remarkably well versed in the aspects of barnyard effluvia.

The tiresome trope of people leaving New York State due to lack of methane gas, with acknowledgement to Clemens, is an example of twisting stats to a pre-formed idea. Might I suggest that a large number of people leaving are simply part of the “boomer” effect?

Ever since the advent of air conditioning, northerners have been seduced by the charms of winter weather below the Mason-Dixon Line.

New York being one of our most populous states had/has one of the largest populations of boomers reaching retirement age. It has been a time-honored tradition that they move south long before the advent of fracking. Another factor causing migration is the total lack of modern up-to-date communication abilities throughout most of rural New York.

The linking of diminishing church attendance is at the “are you kidding me?” level. More likely, people have stepped away from the church after having become dismayed by so many wrapping themselves in a holy banner in the service of Mammon.

Yes Mr. Zagata, I include you. At a time of year when many celebrate the story of a child born to parents fleeing oppression and hiding in a primitive manger is upon us, your assertions do little to help and much to harm. To suggest that the adherents of this faith, the same ones who are descendants of people who suffered persecution for their beliefs, are not up to dealing with a lack of methane gas is laughable. Unless of course, you are of the opinion that Mary and Joe would have been more comfortable in that manger if only they had a pipeline.


New Lisbon

ZAGATA: Democratic Intrigues Weave Tangled Web


Democratic Intrigues

Weave Tangled Web

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to

Speaker Pelosi proudly informed us that she is a Catholic and thus doesn’t hate the President, but she conveniently ignored her pro-choice voting record – even defending the taking of a life about to be born. I think I’d be happier, as a fellow Catholic, if she admitted she hated the President but defended the lives of the unborn.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

I’d also have more respect for her as a person if she didn’t let her political ambition, i.e. retain the title of “Speaker,” interfere with her judgment as she clearly didn’t want to proceed with impeaching the president. However, that’s what her base wanted and she couldn’t/wouldn’t risk losing her throne.

These are indeed strange times. The Democrats are trying to impeach the President for something he denies while choosing to ignore the fact the former vice president, Joe Biden, bragged on tape about doing the very thing the President is being accused of doing.

The Democrats are also accusing the President of attempting to interfere in the 2020 election by trying to find out if the former vice president and his son participated in Ukrainian corruption while ignoring that Hillary Clinton and the DNC hired a foreign operative to assemble a now-discredited dossier to embarrass then candidate Trump.

Is it one’s Party that determines whether or not something is legally and morally wrong or is it our conscience?

With 43 percent of NYC’s population falling below its definition of the poverty line, it is abundantly clear why politicians pander to the Left and pandering includes funding them with our tax dollars. You and your tax dollars are paying for the activist groups that oppose jobs and economic growth. Is that something you plan to continue doing?

The Mayor is spending taxpayer dollars to send the homeless to other cities and states while knowing full-well that when the time limits for the programs that are paying for these relocations expire, those unfortunate people will become an economic burden to those cities and states – but to  the Mayor they will be “out of sight out of mind.”  How convenient!

“New York City spends about $95 billion a year, and 13 percent of it goes for human services” for the 43 percent of its population below the city-defined poverty line. Some of these contracts, such as the one to Lutheran Social Services of Metropolitan New York, can amount to hundreds of millions of dollars. Smaller contracts go to community-based organizations, and every member of the New York City Council gets to dole out $2 million to favored groups.” That wouldn’t amount to
buying votes now would it?
The same thing is happening at the federal level. Our government covers the cost of the environmental groups when they sue a federal agency. That’s one of the reasons California continues to burn, yet those groups have no skin in the game and are not held accountable for the results of their intervention.

Do you remember when Sen. Jeff Flake decided to ask the FBI for a full investigation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh after two women screamed at him in a Senate elevator that they were rape survivors? Well, it turns out Ana Marie Archila was co-executive director of the “Center for Popular Democracy” and then executive director of “Make the Road,” both liberal groups, when she screamed at Senator Flake. In February, Archila was Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s guest at the State of the Union address.

The thread continues, as it seems “Make the Road” was involved with the successful effort to block Amazon from establishing a headquarters in Long Island City and providing 25,000 high-paying jobs. Deborah Axt, the group’s co-executive director, said, “This is a huge victory. We are thrilled,” when Amazon withdrew. How can they be thrilled when 43 percent of The City’s population falls below the poverty line?

Have you been following the debacle surrounding the inability of National Grid and Con Edison to provide natural gas service to new customers in Westchester County and Long island due to a lack of gas? According to one article, Governor Cuomo sent them a letter claiming they, not the Public Service Commission which he controls, should have better prepared for increased demand in years past rather than imposing a moratorium when its application for the pipeline project got blocked by him.

“The ‘moratorium’ is either a fabricated device or a lack of competence” Cuomo wrote.

He went on to say, “Gas can be trucked, shipped, or barged.” Remember that uproar locally about “bomb trucks” on Route 205 – imagine the outcry about having them on the Long Island Expressway. How long would it take to get the necessary permits – decades while people’s pipes are freezing.

He also proposed “other infrastructure or additional unloading facilities being installed” – again, it would take decades to get the necessary local approvals and state permits. He went on to say, “Electric service and demand response measures could be proposed” – being proposed and actually making them operable are two very different things. He further suggested “heat pumps” which require electricity to operate the pumps – and guess where that electricity comes from – and “renewable sources”.

According to the governor, who controls both the PSC and the DEC, “the choice was never between the pipeline or an immediate moratorium.” And then he accused the utilities of trying to bully the state and threatened to take away their franchises to do business in New York – and he did that from his very own Bully Pulpit.

ZAGATA: Fracking Ban Cost County $1B A Year

The View From West Davenport

ZAGATA: Fracking Ban

Cost County $1B A Year

Before getting into what is likely to be a controversial discussion, let’s take a minute to talk about fracking – correctly called hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking is a process by which water, sand, and chemicals are injected underground at high pressures to crack open rock formations consisting largely of sand grains that are very tightly packed together, i.e. they have tiny interstitial spaces which are filled with tightly held natural gas.

The idea behind this practice is to create fissures into which that trapped gas will “flow” and then be transported to the surface where it can be gathered into pipelines and transported to customers who burn the gas to produce electricity, heat homes and cook food.

Following a bogus claim that the practice caused water coming from a faucet in Dimock, Pa., to burn when lit, opposition mounted. Activists deliberately misled the public about why the water burned – the water well had been drilled into a pocket of natural gas associated with a coal formation. As you well know, Pennsylvania has abundant coal formations. What you might not know is:

The same thing has happened in the Town of Maryland, without any drilling or fracking.

Opposition mounted and many towns were visited by lawyers claiming they would help the towns draft moratoria preventing fracking. What they didn’t tell the towns is they were being paid by a foundation opposed to fracking. Paid activists were sent out to build opposition to fracking. How do I know that – because I was approached by one in Greene, Chenango County, who admitted she was a paid activist.
Governor Patterson, lobbied by groups opposed to fracking, put a temporary moratorium in place in 2008.

In 2011, Governor Cuomo, who has gone back and forth on the issue, “asked” DEC to do another study and the agency concluded that fracking could be done safely, and the Administration initially began crafting regulations for the practice.

The Haves And The Have Nots



The Haves And

The Have Nots

Possibly the most important outcome of the recent meeting to discuss the future of the Schenevus Central School District is a quote from the superintendent: “The District’s revenues are inflexible.”  She went on to say, “the District does not have property wealth or the income wealth to raise taxes enough to cover the deficit.”

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

Finally someone in a position of authority has admitted the truth!  We live in Appalachia and Upstate New York is in a death spiral.  Ironically, Schenevus is where the first gas well to be fracked is located.  Would that have made a difference to the school district if it had been allowed to go forward?  We’ll never get to find out, but fracked gas has undeniably made a positive economic difference in Pennsylvania.  That we do know.

As it started snowing, I thought about the claims of those who protested the use of fracking on the grounds they wanted to protect the surface and ground water.  You might be wondering what snow has to do with protecting our water sources.

It’s really quite simple.  As soon as a snow flake falls, those same people clamor to have the roads salted.   Thousands of tons of salt are spread on our roads each winter and that salt ends up contaminating our rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater – yet you don’t hear a peep about it from the folks who shouted down fracking.

Why is that?  Maybe it’s because they don’t have to make a living here like the 30 percent of our population that’s below the poverty line.  Maybe it’s because they don’t care if our young people have to leave to find work.  Maybe it’s because they don’t care if Upstate New York is losing its population at an alarming rate.

If you doubt that, look at the number of students who graduate from Oneonta High School – less than half the number that graduated in the 1960s.  The same is true for Laurens, Morris, Jefferson, Worcester, Franklin, Treadwell, etc.

The smaller schools are facing the need to merge which means a loss of identity and jobs – something we can’t afford to have happen.  It has to go that way as the schools’ enrollments are too small to offer a diverse education and their tax base is declining. Those of us who choose to stay face, in order to maintain the current level of government “services,” an increase in our taxes every time one of our neighbors decides to leave New York.

As the superintendent from Schenevus so eloquently said – we simply can’t afford not to merge some of our schools.  (A paraphrase.)

Look at what’s happening to the towns within the New York City watershed.  The city has bought up about 90 percent of the developable property within the towns.  Thus those towns have very little opportunity to grow their tax base while at the same time they are facing a 2 percent tax cap and a 3 percent cost-of-living increase.

They are in an economic vise with no way to escape.  Why – because New York City will do, and has done, anything to avoid the need to filter its water.  Meanwhile, the deer and beaver keep pooping in the woods.

Our area needs a source, or sources, of reliable energy now – energy that can be tapped when and where it is needed.  We simply can’t afford to wait until technology catches up with our current need.

Natural gas is a reliable bridge that will allow us to start reversing the downward economic trend now before the downward spiral is irreversible.  That doesn’t mean we don’t care about our planet – we do.  We also realize that it takes prosperity to have the free time and available capital to protect our environment.  Protecting our environment isn’t a priority for the lesser-developed countries – survival is.

Fossil fuels are non-renewable and thus we’re going to run out of them.  One would have to be a fool not to recognize that and begin now to take the steps necessary to have reliable energy available when we run out of fossil fuels.

We can’t just flip a switch and make that happen – just as we can’t flip a switch and have solar energy available 365 days a year – at least not in Otsego County.


ZAGATA: Democrats Keep Placing Blame On The Other Guy


Democrats Keep Placing

Blame On The Other Guy

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to

If you’ve been following the governor’s response to the inability of folks on Long Island or Westchester County to acquire natural gas from Con Ed or National Grid to heat their homes, you must be flabbergasted by the newest twist of events. The governor is now blaming the Public Service Commission and the DEC, two agencies he controls, for the energy shortfall. Come-on man – bite the bullet and take responsibility for the problem you created.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

Along those lines, I read with interest in last week’s issue of this paper a call for the Democrats to take over the majority control of the Board via this year’s election. I admire the author for his candor, but I take issue with his approach to bettering the quality of our lives. Using quotes from the McEvoy Memo as a basis, here’s what will happen to our County if the Democrats win a true majority. I’m doing this at the same time another paper released a six pages list of about 1,800 names of people who are delinquent with their taxes. What does that tell you about our economy and the agenda of those who have habitually opposed the energy and infra-structure needed to grow our economy?

Let’s break down some of his quotes into manageable bits:

• “There is a fundamental sentiment that current and past leadership has done little more than
manage the slow senescence of our region. Our current economy is a reflection of the ills of decades of declining population, unhealthy demographic trend lines, and systematic under-investment in our physical, energy, information, and human infrastructure.” You must be kidding me. A Democrat had the audacity to write that – in spite of the fact they have repeatedly opposed anything that would change the status quo.

• “We could finally pursue critical green initiatives.” Who is it that has opposed the proposed wind farms? Who was it that opposed the proposed biomass plant? What is a “green” initiative? What we should be pursuing are initiatives that are supported by good science that will, for every dollar invested, improve the quality of our environment. Wind farms and solar farms may or may not do that. In order to site them, either agricultural or forest land must be cleared. That agricultural or forest land was sequestering carbon via the process of photosynthesis and won’t do that after being cleared. Will the electricity generated by wind or solar farms that will occupy that land produce enough electricity to reduce the need for fossil fuels by enough to offset that loss? If not, we shouldn’t do it.

• “With the goal of protecting our natural and agricultural land.” Do we want to protect/preserve or manage? We protected for decades and found out that by favoring mature forests we were inadvertently evicting those species of birds and other wildlife that depended on grasslands, brush and young forests. The Audubon Society and The Nature Conservancy are now supporting forest management, not preservation, via the “Young Forest Initiative” is an effort to restore the population levels of about 43 species of migratory birds. In addition, research has shown that young forests sequester more Carbon than older, mature forests.

• “Increasing our appeal to tourists.” Lake George attracts more tourists annually than we ever will and, guess what, they found out you can’t build an economy in upstate New York on tourism alone. There isn’t anything to do during the “shoulder” months and thus full-time employment isn’t an option. Folks leave looking for full-time jobs and those who live here complain about the short-term renters.

• “Doing our part to fight climate change.” What does that mean and what will it cost? Are we talking about the “Green New Deal”? If so, we simply can’t afford it. Are we talking about adopting what the city of Seattle did to address climate change?
They implemented a mandate to force residents to switch from using heating oil to an alternative energy source (not yet sure what that will be) by levying a high tax on fuel oil. The average cost of the proposed conversion was $10,000. If we can’t afford to pay our taxes, can we afford to pay more to heat our homes and cook our food?

One thing we could do is attempt to find ways to encourage organic farming where we might cut the emissions and environmental pollution from chemicals and synthetic fertilizers. Unfortunately, it takes about 40% more land to produce the same yield obtained when those chemicals are used. That being the case, the trick is to clean up these practices in ways that don’t require converting more land to agriculture to produce the same amount of food or forcing large parts of the world to go hungry. It seems there are always trade-offs.

• “Smart invasive species control.” Just exactly what is that and, once you define it, how do you expect to pay for it? Please read the list of invasive species, including Japanese Knot Weed, and list just one that we have eradicated. Unfortunately, herbicides are the most cost-effective and effective way to control, not eliminate, invasives.

• “Continuing to resist fracking and other extractive land uses.” Do you use oil or natural gas to heat your home or cook your food? If you do, you simply can’t support this agenda item without being a hypocrite. Do you drive on salted roads in the winter? If you do, then you can’t support banning extractive land use as salt is mined.

Final quote: “imagine an Otsego County where the agenda is being set by a Democratic chair.” In all honesty, I’m having a hard time doing that. I hope a majority of the readers agree.

Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

ZAGATA: Regulations Coming Home To Roost


Regulation Coming

Home To Roost

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to

For several decades our nation’s environmental policies have, for the most part, been driven by emotion or what “seemed,” according to popular opinion, to be the “right” thing to do. As a result, many of those policies lacked a scientific basis and the unintended consequences are, like lost chickens, coming home to roost.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

New York State’s ban on fracking may well be such an example. There are some in the environmental community who use natural gas to cook or heat their homes, yet they demand that gas not come from fracked wells in Pennsylvania. Let’s take a closer look at what that means to the release of carbon and the impact on climate change.

The gas they demand comes largely from the Gulf of Mexico, about 1,200 miles to the south of New York. It is transported from the Gulf of Mexico to New York via pipeline at about 800 psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure.

To maintain that pressure inside the pipe the gas must be run through large reciprocating engines or turbines that compress it. This gas compression is done about every 40 miles along the pipeline at compressor stations and, guess what, natural gas is the fuel that powers the engines or turbines used to compress the gas to increase the pressure in the pipe.

In other words, not all the gas that enters the pipeline from the wells in the Gulf of Mexico arrives at the other end of the pipeline – much of it is burned as fuel to maintain the pressure inside the pipe and move the gas along the pipeline.

To maintain the pressure along the 1,200 miles the gas is being moved, it takes about 30 compressor stations. To move the gas from Pennsylvania to New York, a distance of about 80 miles, it would take two. Therefore, if we divide 30 by 2, we can quickly see that it takes about 15 times more gas for fuel to power the engines/turbines to move the gas in the pipeline from the Gulf of Mexico than it would take to move it from Pennsylvania to New York.

The people who oppose using the fracked gas from Pennsylvania are contributing to the 15-fold increase of released carbon by demanding we burn more gas than necessary to transport the gas they are using and thus are driving climate change. How’s that for irony?

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), California’s largest utility, has announced it is utting off power to about 1.5 million Californians. How can that be, and what drove them to do that?
We’ve all read about California’s catastrophic wildfires, but how many of us understand what triggered them? It was a combination of things, including population growth and home construction being allowed in a fire-dominated ecosystem. However,
good intentions may have been the primary cause.
Every time the U.S. Forest Service, the state’s Forest Management Agency of PG&E, attempted to manage the forest and brush by reducing the fuel load, they were sued by a well-intentioned advocacy group. That too went on for decades allowing the accumulated fuel of dead and dying wood to build up.
When fire came, and that was certain to happen, it came with a vengeance. Entire communities were consumed.

As a result, PG&E was sued as a spark from one of its electric transmission lines may have ignited one of the fires. The groups that sued PG&E to keep the company from removing that fuel were, however, not held to be responsible. That may change going forward.

A year has passed and we’re now into another fire season. To avoid being held culpable for any fires this year, PG&E made a pre-emptive move. They cut off power to about 1.5 million customers. The lack of science-based forest management policy has indeed come home to roost for those affected Californians.

For New York to fulfill its rush toward renewable energy sources, including solar and wind, it must think about how to avoid having the “chickens” come home to roost. The “chickens” will be the expanded electric transmission lines that will
be needed to move the electricity generated by all the new wind and solar farms.
What new unintended consequences will we be asked to face as a result?

Revisiting Clinton Playbook



Revisiting Clinton Playbook

Think back to the days of the Clinton Presidency and the words “I did not have a sexual relationship with that woman.” Stains on her dress would seem to indicate otherwise – but it was her fault because she was a woman.

Then Hillary runs for the presidency and she and the DNC hire a foreign agent to work with the Russians to dig up dirt on her opponent – Donald Trump.

After losing the election, they claimed the President colluded with the Russians to affect the outcome of the election – in other words, they tried to blame the new President for doing exactly what they had done – attempt to impact the election outcome.

When folks started to look at the origin of the fake dossier, the Clinton playbook kicked into action – blame someone else and deflect attention away from you.

Guess what, my fellow readers – former Vice President Joe Biden may be using that same play – deflect attention away from your perceived or real wrongdoing by attacking someone else. The person being attacked is, and this should be no surprise, President Trump.

You see, the former vice president is on record that he used his position to threaten the Ukrainian government with withholding $1 billion in loan guarantees if that government didn’t fire the prosecutor who was investigating corruption of the leadership of Burisma Holdings – a very large gas company owned by a Ukrainian official.

His son, Hunter, was placed on the board of that company and paid $50,000 per month to do something – exactly what no one seems to really know.

This was happening at the very same time Joe was serving as the Obama point-person on the Ukrainian government assigned to root out corruption. That’s a no-no and “Joe” bragged to his colleagues about having done it by stating, “I said: ‘We’re leaving in six hours. If the prosecutor’s not fired, you’re not getting the money,’” Mr. Biden recounted at a 2018 event sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations. “Well, … he got fired.”

Whether or not his threat was the actual cause for the prosecutor being fired and whether or not his son was the target of the investigation, we’ll likely never know. What we do know is that if it looks like
a skunk and smells like a skunk, it likely is a skunk.

To deflect attention from even the perception of wrong-doing, the former vice president went on the attack, accusing President Trump of an abuse of power for allegedly asking the new Ukrainian minister to investigate if there was any wrongdoing with regards to The Biden Affair. It is no surprise the media jumped at the chance, bolstered by cries of “fowl” by the Democrats, to attack the president.

However, before choosing sides on this, let’s dig a little deeper. There were at least a dozen people listening in on that phone call. Our president may be a lot of things, but stupid isn’t one of them.

Do we really think he would ask a foreign leader to investigate a political opponent with that many people listening in – especially after being dragged through a two-year investigation over alleged “collusion”?

A few days after the feeding frenzy in Washington, we’re learning the “whistle-blower” didn’t actually have first-hand information – he wasn’t on the call. Could it possibly be this person has an axe to grind – maybe an agenda involving starting yet another investigation to distract both the Congress and the president from working on behalf of the American people?

As a taxpayer, I’m fed up with the waste of time and money. There are things that need doing, and it’s time the Democrats work with the president on things like infrastructure, the drug epidemic, violent crime and illegal immigration. Enough is enough.

Beyond that, however, I am ticked off that our media and politicians assume the American public is that gullible. Let’s be sure we do our homework before going on the attack or agreeing with the media – and that applies whether it’s a Democrat or Republican that’s being accused.

Mike Zagata,
DEC commissioner in
the Pataki Administration
and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in
West Davenport.

Poverty? Don’t Blame The Rich, But Ourselves



Poverty? Don’t Blame

The Rich, But Ourselves

Talk about getting things backwards and exposing your political bias at the same time, while totally ignoring the facts – and you’ve identified Oneonta’s mayor, as reflected in a column he writes elsewhere.
We have poverty because of folks like him who deny reality when it comes to renewables vs. fossil fuels, who even fight renewables like solar and who do everything they can to keep industry that would create jobs out of Oneonta – witness the 2008 proposed biofuels plant farce.
For once, let’s put the blame for our economy where it belongs. It’s not with corporations but could lie with Gary’s disdain for the “rich” – the very people who create jobs.
Our economy didn’t turn south with Trump’s election – it has been there for decades.
There wouldn’t be a need for OFO if it weren’t for folks like our mayor and his allies – folks would actually have jobs and earn a living wage.
Remember, unemployment is at its near all-time low right now and Donald Trump is president.
With regards to the Paris Accord on Climate Change, the mayor is right in that the U.S. withdrew. But it wasn’t President Trump who withdrew from the Kyoto Agreement – it was President George Bush and he withdrew, not for environmental reasons, but for economic reasons.
France is 80 percent nuclear when it comes to producing energy and President Bush knew the U.S. couldn’t compete economically because it would have been too costly for the U.S. to meet the stringent targets and not costly at all for France.
(We still have groups in the U.S. that profess a desire for clean air and oppose nuclear energy).
That situation hadn’t changed when the Paris Accord was proposed – the U.S. was still at an economic disadvantage.
But guess what happened in spite of the fact the U.S. wasn’t party to the Accord? The U.S. was the only country that met the Accord’s goals with regards to reducing carbon.
How could that be, you say. Well, ladies and gentlemen, it came about as a result of fracking and the tremendous increase in the availability of clean-burning, low-cost natural gas!
The mayor goes on to say that renewables, with the right subsidies, would be cost-competitive with fossil fuels.
He totally misses the point. It’s not the cost of renewables that makes them unable to compete with fossil fuels, but rather their unreliability.
Do you want to depend on the sun or wind to keep your pipes from freezing at night (sun’s not shining) and it’s 10 degrees below zero outside? The wind is generally calm on the nights when the temperature is coldest.
That’s the situation we face right now – today.
Is there research underway to help address the issues with renewables – yes. At some point I hope to be able to write an article proclaiming victory in our battle to find viable energy substitutes for fossil fuels.
But I can’t write that article yet.

Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and former environmental executive with Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

Life Without Fossil Fuels? Where Would We Start?



Life Without Fossil Fuels?

Where Would We Start?

Do you really want to stop using fossil fuels?  Your immediate answer may be a resounding “yes.”  However, that could change your life in a way you hadn’t anticipated.  That’s because so many of us grew up in cities and have no real tie to the land or to how the things we rely upon in our daily lives come from or how they are made.

Do eggs, tomatoes and bacon come from the grocery store?  That may be where you purchase them, but that’s not where they originate.  They are grown on farms, often located thousands of miles from the store where you purchased them.  When you purchase a tomato during the winter, it likely was grown in California.  The eggs you buy likely were hatched by chickens residing in huge poultry farms in the South that were fed with grains from the Midwest.  The bacon probably came from hogs grown in Iowa.

ZAGATA: The Cost Of A Free College Tuition



The Cost Of A Free

College Tuition

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to

You might read the headline and ask, “How can something that is free have a cost.  First of all, nothing is really free.  That includes the free lunches at school, the free grants the City of Oneonta receives from time to time to pay consultants or deploy flower pots, and free college education.

A public school education is free to the students who attend grades one through 12 yet, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, New York spent an average of $22,366 per pupil at its public schools in 2016 – 90 percent above the national average.

Are those things really free?  Governor Cuomo is running a $2 billion budget deficit this year alone and the federal government has accumulated a national debt of $82 trillion ($60 trillion of which is tied to unfunded pensions).

Mike Zagata: Do Renewables Make Sense Yet?


Do Renewables

Make Sense Yet?

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to

I see the left is at it again.  If you disagree with or question their agenda, then you are labeled as “evil.”

Now I’m being accused of being opposed to renewables.  If you’ve read my writings on the topic, then you know nothing could be further from the truth.  Anyone who is aware of the concerns regarding climate change and understands that fossil fuels are not renewable, i.e. we’re going to run out of them, would be looking for new sources of energy.  Renewables like solar and wind must, at some point in time, be part of that mixA

What I am opposed to is being asked to drink the renewables Kool-Aid without being told what’s in it.  That’s what happened to the cult members who died in Jonestown, Guyana – the results weren’t good.

Is Any Government Agency Efficient?


Is Any Government

Agency Efficient?

By MIKE ZAGATA • View From West Davenport

When Bernie Sanders starts a sentence by saying “The truth on this matter is,” it’s time to reach for your wallet to see if it’s still there.  He’s not alone in that regard, as there are lots of candidates trying to sell us on the virtues of socialism.  To learn how socialism has affected you, read the last three paragraphs.

book, “Our Revolution,” developed by the Stephen Colbert show, that has been circulating on Facebook.

The major differences between socialism and capitalism can be defined by the role of the government.  In general, capitalism affords economic freedom, consumer choice and economic growth. On the other hand, socialism, which is an economy controlled by the state and planned by a central planning authority, provides for a greater social welfare and is expected to decrease the business fluctuations likely to occur in a free market.

Capitalism is a market-based economy made up of buyers (people) and sellers (private or corporate-owned companies). The goods and services that are produced are intended to make a profit, and this profit is reinvested back into the economy.

The U.S. is considered to be a capitalist economy, along with most of the modern world.  Economists, however, are quick to point out that almost every society has a socialist aspect or program within it, i.e. Social Security.

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