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Mike Zagata

ZAGATA: Better Living Through Plastics

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Better Living

Through Plastics

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Governor Cuomo is about to extend the temporary ban on fracking in New York and make it permanent via his budget Bill. Some will cheer that action, but those who understand its unintended consequences won’t be among them.

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

Indeed, they will live in fear of another pandemic where we don’t, as a result of his ban, have access to the materials needed to combat any medical illness – not just virus attacks.

Remember, fossil fuels like oil and natural gas aren’t just used for fuel.

How can a rational individual make those statements? Well, here’s how. Hydro-fracking for oil and natural gas, in addition to traditional production techniques, provides the raw material for all plastics and most pharmaceutical drugs/medicines.

Plastics are essential in the manufacture of those things needed to combat disease and save lives. They are used in thousands of products that increase the quality and safety of everyday life.
The list includes, but is not limited to: those much sought-after ventilators, face masks, goggles, IV bags and tubes, nearly all medical PPE (Personal Protective Equipment), heart stents, surgical gloves, syringes, insulin pens, catheters, inflatable splints, incubators for premature babies, dialysis tubing, artificial hips and knees, plastic pill casings (medicine), plastic implants for hearing, plastic cups and pitchers, eye patches, inhalation masks, disposable gowns, urine continence and ostomy products, tamper-proof caps, Petri dishes for microbiology cultures and thousands more.

Please read the list carefully and determine what your life might be like if you were no longer able to get one or more of the items you need to maintain the quality of your life.

One or more versions of the hydrocarbon methane (natural gas) are used as feedstock during the manufacture of most of the drugs we rely on to save, or maintain the quality of, our lives. Picture your world without them.

On a more morbid note, think about body bags. Consider that, if all natural gas
drilling was banned, we would be wrapping our meat at the grocery store and those who perish from the coronavirus in newspaper instead of plastic. What would that look like today in New York City?

Beyond medical uses, plastics have numerous other applications including, but not limited to: Motorcycle, skiing and cycling helmets, window safety glass, seat belts, nylon/polyester air bags and seat belts for safety in cars, cushioned foam dashboards, shock absorbing car bumpers, firefighter PPE (including jacket, pants, and boots), space suits, fishing waders. bullet-proof glass, clothing, eyeglasses, etc. Are those things you want to be without?


Think about what’s going on right now in our hospitals.

Can the healthcare providers and patients afford to rely on the wind and sun to provide the energy necessary to run the ventillators? What happens when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining – about 40 percent of the time between the two?

We all want a quality and healthy lifestyle along with a quality environment. We’re beginning to understand that without an abundant supply of oil and natural gas at this moment in time, both are at risk.

We’ve done a great job in this area of basing our economy on tourism and discouraging manufacturing. This summer will tell us if that was a wise decision.

ZAGATA: Did Anyone, Or Everyone Kill U.S. Pandemic Team?

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Did Anyone, Or Everyone

Kill U.S. Pandemic Team?

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

A friend of mine commented that he was upset with the president because he had eliminated the Pandemic Response Team (PRT).

I didn’t know there was such a thing and I’m guessing that neither did the President.

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

However, the fact that my friend was blaming the President for eliminating it, and then a year or so later having us face a pandemic with the corona virus, prompted me to attempt to explain how the national budget process works.

Explaining the budget process will allow the reader to place blame where it belongs. That is, if indeed, there is blame to be placed.

The President, also referred to as the Administration, submits a budget to Congress for legislative approval. All budget legislation must start in the House of Representatives. Once passed by the House, it is sent to the Senate for approval and, if approved, it becomes law. That’s the simplified version.

Here’s what really happens.

The President sets a target for his spending called the budget. For example, President Trump made it clear that he wanted to rebuild our military and thus his final budget should reflect that.

Then two things happen. The director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) takes the President’s budget and allocates funds to the various agencies within the Administration. By “agencies,” I mean things like the Department of Defense, Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, EPA, Department of Homeland Security, etc. In general, the heads of those agencies make up the President’s Cabinet.

The OMB then directs the Secretaries (heads of the various agencies) to figure out how much money they need for the next year.

The agencies then prepare their agency’s budget by asking each of their internal departments to submit a budget and then adding them together into one budget for each agency.

The agency budgets are then submitted to the OMB. That’s where the lobbying begins as each agency head wants the budget they submitted to be fully funded.

However, the actual budget is supposed to balance against the amount of revenue the federal government expects to take in from taxes (that we pay) and other revenue sources.

When that doesn’t happen, the government will have a budget deficit that will add to our national debt. You and I aren’t allowed to do that – when our checkbook is empty, we’re broke. The federal government just prints more money and then raises our taxes to pay for it.

The OMB meets with representatives from the White House in an attempt to allocate money to meet the President’s priorities and still provide adequate funding for each agency while balancing the budget.

It is during this process that the Pandemic Response Team (PRT) might have been “cut” from the budget.

However, the amount of money involved is so small that it is very doubtful anyone ever said explicitly to cut the PRT – PRT was likely part of a bigger program, some of which could be cut with very little “pain.” Once the OMB completes this process, the Administration’s “approved” budget is sent back to the agencies. The amount of money approved for each agency is the amount that agency is allowed to seek from Congress – starting with the House. It is called the “pass back” budget.

Each agency then appears before the House Appropriations Committee to make the case for their budget. Members of the Committee ask the various agency heads, or their representatives, questions about their budget, including what’s in it and what’s not. This provides the second opportunity for the PRT to be included in the budget or axed.

Because the House is now controlled by the Democratic Party, the Democrats may also be responsible for the lack of funding for the PRT.

It is during the Appropriations process that the budget is carefully scrutinized and where lobbying is done on behalf of the various programs either included in, or left out of, the budget by the Administration’s budget. Thus, this is the part of the budget process where the PRT was likely not funded.

In other words, if the President’s budget doesn’t include something, anything, that Congress feels should be funded, the House Appropriations Committee can add it into the budget bill that it passes and sends along to the Senate.

Once passed by the Senate, it goes to the President for signature and, at that point, he could veto the entire bill. We know this because each year the President submits a “balanced” budget and Congress ads “pork” that leads to an unbalanced budget and deficit spending.

That is indeed how the process works. I lived it as Audubon’s director of Federal Relations. To place blame based on a lack of understanding of the budget process or unverified sources is simply not appropriate and serves to fuel the divisiveness leading to our current political climate. Now, if ever, is the time to come together irrespective of party affiliation.

ZAGATA: NYC Looking Upstate To Solve Its Problems

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

NYC Looking Upstate

To Solve Its Problems

By MICHAEL ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Most of you will recall the contentious debate between those who wanted the right to frack for natural gas beneath their property and those who wanted fracking banned. A foundation paid lawyers to visit towns and help them draft language prohibiting the practice of fracking within their jurisdictions under the aegis of “home rule.”
Concerned citizens, fearing ground water contamination, pressured the Governor to ban the practice. The Governor, of anti-fossil fuel persuasion, used the DEC and DOH to further his agenda and, for now, those against fracking succeeded.
Home rule and environmental protection were credited with that success.

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

The question is, however, what will happen to home rule and environmental protection when proposed energy-development projects fall within the definition of being “renewable”? After all, they fall within the purview of things “blessed” by our Governor.
Well, now we have the answer and it is called the “Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act.” It was introduced by the Governor as part of his amended budget and it will affect our way of life in upstate New York.
It amends the Public Service Law, the Economic Development Law, the Real Property Tax Law, the General Municipal Law, the Public Authorities Law, the Environmental Conservation Law, the state Urban Development Corporation Act and the state Finance Law, in relation to accelerating the growth of renewable energy facilities to meet critical state energy policy goals.
What does that mean to those of you who used home rule and environmental protection to stop fracking and wind power projects in the past?

Based upon an article posted in www.eenews.net, Michael Gerrard, a professor of environmental law at Columbia Law School who runs a legal initiative supporting renewable projects in rural towns, said New York “has been slow to override” local opponents who have often succeeded in persuading towns to restrict development.

Cuomo’s plan appears to be a formidable solution, he said. “I think it would be one of the strongest state-level renewable-siting laws in the country.”

According to Anne Reynolds, Alliance for Clean Energy New York, “Many New York residents hold a dimmer view of renewables: A few large wind farms have already been delayed or cancelled because of locals (shame on us) who see them as a blemish on their landscapes and a threat to wildlife, property values and even groundwater.”
Sound familiar?

The DEC and the Public Service Commission would no longer be responsible for reviewing wind and solar power applications. Yes, you read that right. That authority would be transferred to an economic development entity. What happened to the State Environmental Quality Review Act? What kinds of projects are we talking about?

Under Cuomo’s bill, new transmission infrastructure (that translates to new power lines like the one you fought a few years back), cited by state officials as a critical way to bring Upstate renewable power down to New York City-area centers of demand, would get streamlined treatment.

In addition, regulators would undertake a comprehensive study of the grid’s future distribution and transmission needs. Please remember the bill’s title – Accelerated Renewable Energy and Community Benefit Act.” Exactly what community is being benefited – it certainly isn’t any from Upstate!

This will be the third time the city has imposed its will on Upstate – twice before for water (Adirondack Forest Preserve and Catskill Watershed) and now for energy. If you think this is fairy dust, consider the 3,000 acres solar farm being considered for West Laurens – and that’s just the beginning.

If you recall, I warned about the environmental impacts associated with renewables, but many readers dismissed those warnings because they had already drunk the Kool-Aid.

Well, those predictions have come true and may likely be far worse than originally thought, as already completed renewable projects have fallen short of their projected energy production predications and that, along with the fact that 40 percent of the energy will be lost before reaching New York City due to line drop, will mean even more solar and wind farms on our landscape.
That translates into more scars on our landscape and more wildlife evicted from habitats.

ZAGATA: $1B In Fracking Royalties? To Penna., Not New York

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

$1B In Fracking Royalties?

To Penna., Not New York

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

As Americans, it’s our right to advocate for things we believe in and against things we don’t like or want. However, with that right comes a responsibility – a responsibility to take the time to thoroughly educate ourselves about the pros and cons of whatever it is we want to advocate for or oppose. That means thinking in advance about both the intended and unintended consequences.

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

As examples that will evoke emotion across the board, let’s use the Constitution Pipeline or fracking. Some were for and some were against one or both. In the short term, those against them “won” – or did they? Were there unintended consequences that adversely impacted them and the rest of our community?

During the heat of the debate, several of our local religious leaders inserted a letter opposing fracking and/or the pipeline in their newsletters. Since then, several of our churches have closed. Others face weekly shortfalls in contributions and struggle to meet their budgets. Their capital campaigns continue to fall short of their goals.

Why is that? Simply put, our area is economically depressed, and people simply don’t have “extra” money. One might say it happens because the parishioners don’t like their pastor, but that doesn’t appear to be the cause as all our churches are being impacted.

Please don’t take me the wrong way. I’m not saying the fracking ban or the lack of the pipeline project are the sole cause of our difficulties. They aren’t, but the Pennsylvania county south of Binghamton benefited directly from the $1 billion in royalties paid to its landowners and several towns would have benefitted from the tax revenue from the pipeline and its compressor stations to the tune of millions of dollars annually.

Based upon the state of our economy, nearly any amount of new revenue coming into our area would have been a help.
Put another way, our area is suffering from a shrinking population and a shrinking economy. Any lost opportunity to change that means there will be less money to share in the community. When that happens, it is the people on the bottom rung of the economy, the poor, who suffer most.

Did those who contributed to that lost opportunity think about what the overall impact would be and who would be hurt the most? Did they take the time to fully educate themselves about the pros and cons and the fact the state Department of Environmental Conservation and its Department of Health are legally charged with protecting our environment and health and have the expertise to do so?

There were folks who opposed those two opportunities who didn’t have any skin in the game, so to speak. They had jobs paid for by us and others outside our area by their taxes and would seem to be immune from the loss of new economic growth due to the bans. But were they really immune? As New York State’s population continues to shrink, local school districts’ and colleges’ enrollments are down. That could lead to a loss of some of those “immune” jobs.

Every time someone leaves the state, and about one million have left over the past eight years, our taxes, by definition, must go up to maintain the same level of services. There are fewer people left to share the tax burden, and, therefore, those of us that are left must pay more. As a result, more will leave.

Had fracking taken place or the pipeline built, there would have been a way to grow the tax base and thus reduce the need for our local governments to increase our taxes. Ironically, it seems that “renewables” may offer our local governments a way out – if they are willing to ignore the potential for adverse environmental impacts – something they weren’t willing to do with fracking or Constitution Pipeline.

You see, the land where the solar and wind farms will be sited is now largely classed as agricultural land and doesn’t generate the tax revenue that it would if classed as industrial land. Those considering leasing their land for solar or wind farms would do well to find out in advance if, as a result of allowing an “industrial activity (energy production), their land will be reclassified as “industrial”.

What Was Objectionable In State Of Union Speech?

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

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 www.AllOTSEGO.com

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?

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

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

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Rising To The Fly

By MICHAEL ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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
LETTER from BOB EKLUND

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.

BOB EKLUND

New Lisbon

ZAGATA: Democratic Intrigues Weave Tangled Web

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Democratic Intrigues

Weave Tangled Web

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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

COLUMN

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

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

VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Democrats Keep Placing

Blame On The Other Guy

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

Regulation Coming

Home To Roost

By MIKE ZAGATA • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

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

Column

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

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

COLUMN

THE VIEW FROM WEST DAVENPORT

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.

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