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Nicole Dillingham

DILLINGHAM: Fold Fracking Ban Into Governor’s Budget

LETTER from NICOLE DILLINGHAM

Fold Fracking Ban

Into Governor’s Budget

Editor’s Note: Since the print edition went to press, the Governor’s Budget, agreed to Wednesday, April 1, included a fracking ban.

To the Editor:

The emergency now unfolding due to the coronavirus is not the only global crisis we are facing. The threat of global warming also requires state-wide, indeed global, response. The damage climate change is causing should not be ignored in the hope that it will magically disappear. Perhaps we have learned this much.

Our governor has taken a leadership role in response to the current pandemic. He has also taken a leadership role in responding to the climate crisis. The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) was passed last year setting ambitious goals to reduce fossil fuel use for electricity generation (70 percent non-fossil fuels by 2030; 100 percent by 2040).

The Governor now proposes a budget amendment to expedite implementation of the CLCPA known as the Accelerated Renewable Energy & Community Benefit Act. Adoption of the budget amendment will lead to accelerated state-wide permitting of renewable energy projects, specifically solar, wind, and related transmission infrastructure.

While CLCPA implementation is critical, this amendment as written raises concerns for erosion of Home Rule. I do not believe Michael Zagata (at one time an executive in the fossil-fuel industry, and briefly a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration) is the best qualified to advise on the merits of Home Rule. He fought Home Rule for years in the fracking debate. His attachment to it now is disingenuous.

Without a state-wide fracking ban, individual municipalities could permit fracking without regard to risks to neighboring towns. Similarly, Home Rule in renewable-energy development without state-wide support will be ineffective. The two must work together.

Those who claim that there will be no benefit to host communities as a result of expedited solar and wind development are also wrong. The budget amendment specifically provides that host communities will benefit through payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreements and negotiated reduced electric rates. Landowners who lease their land will also receive substantial rental income. Finally, mitigation of climate change clearly will benefit all.

Conversion to renewable sources for electricity generation is a crucial state-wide initiative, like the state-wide ban on fracking. At the same time, the budget amendment should strengthen protections for prime agricultural land, wildlife habitat, tourism, recreational land use, and historic preservation, all matters of intense local concern.

Host communities should be accorded deference in siting based on these key local considerations. New York can and must lead in conversion to non-fossil fuels, while supporting existing state policies to protect Home Rule and local economic drivers.

NICOLE A. DILLINGHAM, J.D.
Board President, Otsego 2000, Inc.

Rig Driver Ejected In 1st Fatal XNG Crash

Rig Driver Ejected In

1st Fatal XNG Crash

Gas Leaks, 80 Homes Evacuated Near I-88

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The wreckage of an XNG truck lines strewn along I-88 west of Binghamton after it crashed at 1 a.m. Monday, Sept. 23, as the driver, who died in the crash, swerved to avoid a deer. (Photo courtesy Broome County Sheriff’s Department)

For Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham, a key player in shifting gas-carrying XNG trucks out of Otsego County, said the truck crash west if Binghamton that killed a 52-year-old driver was a predictable tragedy.

This was the first fatal accident involving an XNG truck since the “virtual pipeline” emerged after state regulators blocked the proposed Constitution Pipeline in 2016.

“It’s very sad,” Dillingham said. “But those trucks were never fully tested, they’re prone to roll-overs and, if the conditions were right, they could explode.”

At 1 a.m. on Monday, Sept. 23, Broome County Sheriff’s deputies were called to the scene of a tractor-trailer accident on Interstate 88 eastbound at Exit 2 in the Town of Fenton.

Zakrevsky: I Was Told, Don’t Pipe Any Gas To Cooperstown

HE FEARED FOR BASSETT’S FUTURE

Zakrevsky: I Was Told, Don’t

Pipe Any Gas To Cooperstown

By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal & Hometown Oneonta

Otego Now President Jody Zakrevsky addresses a “Town Hall” meeting in Cooperstown’s Village Hall Ballroom Monday, April 8. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

COOPERSTOWN – When Otsego Now CEO Jody Zakrevsky arrived a year ago, he was told not to bring natural gas to Cooperstown, he said to a Cooperstown audience Monday, April 9, in one of several “Town Hall” meetings he’s convening around the county.

Asked afterward who told him, he said the leadership of Otsego 2000, board President Nicole Dillingham and Executive Director Ellen Pope.  “They advised me there would be strong opposition,” said Zakrevsky.  “At the time, I took their advice.”

Dillingham disagreed, “We had a cordial meeting to discuss our work, and his work.  We never told him what he could do.  That’s absurd.”

Otsego Now is the county’s Industrial Development Agency; Otsego 2000 is the Cooperstown-based environmental group.

There are two options to serving Cooperstown with natural gas, Zakrevsky said in an interview the morning after the “Town Hall” – running a line from Oneonta’s NYSEG system; or the preferred option, running a line down Route 28 from Richfield Springs’ Tennessee line, which has a greater gas supply.

County Board Advised: Slow Down Otsego Now

County Board Advised:

Slow Down Otsego Now

Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham suggests to the county Board of Representatives at its March 6 meeting that its economic-development arm, Otsego Now, do nothing on developing Oneonta’s D&H railyards until the city’s Comprehensive Master Plan update is complete and until the county’s Energy Task Force delivers its recommendations in perhaps two years. Also at the March meeting, the county reps approved the state’s Climate Smart Community Pledge, opening the door to state grants for green initiatives.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL VIDEOTAPE

OF COMPLETE MARCH MEETING

Otsego 2000 Is Challenging DGEIS Brownfield Findings
from Nicole Dillingham

Otsego 2000 Is Challenging

DGEIS Brownfield Findings

To the Editor:

The flood of editorials trying to divide our community regarding heavy industrial development in Oneonta are discouraging.

They may help sell newspapers, but they lack integrity. This is not a choice between jobs or no jobs. It is not even a choice between development or no development. It is purely a choice about what kind of jobs and what kind of development is suitable.

To answer this question, state law (known as SEQRA) requires the owner/developer, Otsego Now, to inform the City of Oneonta and the public of its plans; the city as lead agency is required to analyze its environmental impacts. The city hired Delaware Engineering to conduct the required environmental review.

Its review resulted in a flawed draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (“DGEIS”). It is a “ghost.” It is 113 pages of headings and charts, but entirely lacking in substance.  The city paid as much as $200,000 for this empty vessel. It did not get their its worth.

After Delaware Engineering was hired and scoping required by SEQRA was completed, Otsego Now disclosed for the first time in a grant application submitted July 26, 2018, that it planned to construct a gas decompressor station in the Town of Oneonta, fueled by high volumes of compressed natural gas transported from Pennsylvania by tractor-trailer, to deliver gas to the railyards.

Otsego Now’s plans also called for expansion of the DeRuyter pipeline and construction of miles of new pipelines to bring gas to the site. Mayor Herzig confirmed by letter, dated Oct. 15, 2018, that he was “completely unaware” of these plans when environmental review began.

As a result, the plans to construct gas infrastructure to supply gas to the railyards were not disclosed to the public as part of the SEQRA process. The DGEIS completely ignored these new plans, although by the time the Common Council voted in January 2019 to accept the DGEIS, both Mayor Herzig and Delaware Engineering were fully aware of these facts.

The failure to discuss the plans for construction of gas infrastructure in the DGEIS is a serious error.  SEQRA requires that all related projects be considered as part of a coordinated environmental review. This clearly did not occur.

Due to this omission, the DGEIS must now be supplemented and the public given full notice of all plans for construction of infrastructure to supply energy to the site.

A revised GEIS must also consider alternatives to heavy industrial development, such as an Eco-Park, constructed to the highest energy conservation standards and powered by renewable solar and/or geothermal energy.

It is significant that Mayor Herzig, the new Downtown Revitalization Initiative, and the new City of Oneonta Comprehensive Plan, all call for green and renewable energy to be used where possible. Why not at the railyards? This question should be answered, before this option is rejected.

There are additional questions which must be answered. It is common knowledge that the railyards is contaminated from prior industrial use. When soil is disturbed during excavation and construction it can release harmful particles, causing health risks for people breathing the air. How will this brownfield contamination be remediated and at what cost?

Also, the DGEIS calls for building directly on delineated wetlands that drain into the Susquehanna River and serve a crucial role in retaining flood waters. If this site is paved over, how will wetland mitigation and stormwater control be handled and paid for?

Further, the DGEIS calls for extensive road work in the city and the town. What costs and impacts will this have on residents?

Finally, the DGEIS must disclose the true costs of the proposed development to ratepayers and taxpayers. The gas supply cost is estimated as $17.5 million for the decompressor alone, and $50-100 million for expansion of the DeRuyter pipeline. Additional millions will be spent for miles of pipelines to bring the gas to the Railyards. Otsego Now is also considering an electric power plant at the site.  What will the total costs be for these developments?

Otsego Now has a terrible track record for cost control. State comptroller records show that Otsego Now has spent as much as $76,000 per job created, much more than similar agencies in neighboring counties. This includes tax exemptions granted of $43,000 per job, and expenses of $33,483 per job gained. How many jobs will the Railyards development create? Can we afford these costs for construction of a heavy industrial park in Oneonta? We must insist on rational development based on facts, not false choices.

Just this month, Oneonta proudly issued a Downtown Revitalization Initiative and a proposed new Comprehensive Plan, celebrating its environmental assets and boasting of its two universities and advanced medical facilities.

For its part, the county has appointed an Energy Task Force, with representation from the city, to investigate energy needs and supply in the region. Shouldn’t Oneonta await the results of this work before shackling Oneonta to a future out of sync with its own planning documents, burdening the City for decades to come with infrastructure costs it cannot afford? Hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on planning at the City and County level. The plans produced must not be merely shelved and then ignored.

For more information please see the Otsego 2000 comments on the DGEIS which can be found on our website at www.Otsego2000.org.

NICOLE DILLINGHAM

Board President

Otsego 2000

Cooperstown

Energy Taskforce Sets Out Ambitious Plan in First Meeting

Energy Taskforce Sets Out

Ambitious Plan in 1st Meeting

Barbara Ann Heegan, right, studies her notes in preparation for the first meeting of the county’s new Energy Taskforce had its first full-member meeting in Town Hall on Wed., Feb. 27. Members and advisers bring a wide range of expertise, including the energy sector, economic development, conservation, academia, and governmental agencies.Most of the 21 members and 15 technical advisers attended, with a few calling in online, due to weather.  (Jennifer Hill/AllOTSEGO)

by JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.ALLOTSEGO.com

WEST ONEONTA – In the first convening of the 38-member Otsego County Energy Taskforce Town Hall Wednesday evening, County Board Rep. Meg Kennedy, a founder of the group, announced its end goal: an ambitious plan “that will address the current and future energy needs of Otsego County” by October 2020.

Calling the plan’s timeline “ambitious,” Kennedy said the Taskforce aimed to complete a draft of the plan by June 2020, have a public commentary period the following month, for a minimum of 30 days, and go through a SEQRA review of the plan that August, all  before the Otsego Board would vote on adopting the plan in October of that year.

Gas Recompression Station, XNG Rigs Under Discussion When County Board Meets

Gas Decompression Station,

XNG Rigs Under Discussion

As County Board Convened

Otsego 2000’s Nicole Dillingham is one of the directors of the Big Three environmental groups – along with the OCCA’s Leslie Orzetti and Otsego Land Trust’s Pat Szarpa – who spoke to the county Board of Representatives at its Dec. 5 meeting on the proposed gas decompression station at Pony Farm, XNG trucks and other issues. Also, the county budge was passed, including a $1/2 million in raises for managers and reps.
CLICK FOR VIDEO OF COUNTY BOARD MEETING
Ajello Speaks On Anniversary Of Losing Home In Tax Sale
CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO OF COUNTY BOARD MEETING

Ajello Speaks On Anniversary

Of Losing Home In Tax Sale

Maria Ajello, formerly of the Town of Richfield, speaks Wednesday, Oct. 3, to the Otsego County Board of Representatives on the third anniversary of losing her home on Filburn Road after the 2015 tax sale. Widow of a Vietnam veteran, Mrs. Ajello tried to pay back taxes the day of the sale, but was denied. She has protested at every monthly county board meeting since. Her testimony begins at 21:35 on this videotape. It was an eventful meeting, with Otsego 2000 setting the stage to sue the county over natural gas, the announcement of an energy task force, and county Rep. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, reporting he met with XNG reps on the so-called “bomb trucks.”   AllOTSEGO.com and its sister publications, The Freeman’s Journal and Hometown Oneonta, videotape the meetings monthly as a public service.
Otsego Now To County: Get Ready To Be Sued

Otsego 2000 To County:

Get Ready To Be Sued

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Nicole Dillingham addresses the county board this morning. (AllOTSEGO.com photo)

COOPERSTOWN – The county Board of Representatives heard a message this morning: Prepared to be sued.

First, Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham appeared at the county board’s monthly meeting with a letter, prepared by Attorney Doug Zamelis of Springfield Center, demanding it withdraw a grant application for a gas decompression plant in the Town of Oneonta.

KUZMINSKI: Let’s Build On Sustainable Assets, Not Unsustainable Liabilities

Column by Adrian Kuzminski,

Friday, September 21, 2018

Let’s Build On

Sustainable Assets,

Not Unsustainable Liabilities

Adrian Kuzminski

Otsego County needs a new direction for energy and economic development. An important step to that end was taken last week when the county board’s Intergovernmental Affairs Committee endorsed the idea of setting up an energy and economic development task force.
Kudos to them! A county-wide task force would give us two things we don’t have now: long-term economic planning and a wide range of interests and expertise systematically participating in local decision-making.
We’re increasingly recognizing how vulnerable we are. We depend on long supply lines for food, energy and necessities. As climate change accelerates, those supply lines become less reliable.
We read, almost daily, of one disaster after another regionally, nationally, and internationally: mega-hurricanes, severe droughts, enormous wildfires, melting polar ice, mass extinctions, etc.
No place is immune from climate change, not even Otsego County. Nonetheless, our quiet corner of the planet looks more and more like a refuge compared to many in other places, and that may be our greatest asset.
In fact, climate change may have some advantages for us: milder winters, a longer growing season, plenty of water.
We may be more resilient as well – thanks to a lower population density – than overdeveloped areas, including coastal cities in the South and drought-prone regions in the West, which now bear much of the brunt of climate change.
We need an economic plan that builds on sustainable assets, not on unsustainable liabilities.

Parker Fish/The Freeman’s Journal – Flanked by Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham, left, and county Rep., Liz Shannon, D-Oneonta, Irene Weiser reported on the Tompkins County Energy & Economic Development Task Force to the county board’s Intergovermental Affairs Committee Tuesday, Sept. 11.

Our sustainable assets include, above all, an uncrowded, serene, clean, safe, attractive and relatively stable environment – something increasingly rare in a world of accelerating climate change.
We have an underutilized rural base, including agriculture, forestry and the potential of value-added products. Farming has not recovered from the death-blow to the dairy industry, it’s true, but if local boutique and organic farmers had more financial support and better distribution systems, they could be more competitive and develop new local products.
We have a high-quality health care system, and we often forget it is our major industry. Even so, it has yet to realize its full potential as a magnet for medical and nursing care.
Bassett Healthcare, as an integrated medical system, provides a superior level of care that could be coupled with additional facilities for assisted living, similar to those in other locales around the country. An aging population will demand it, and we could supply it.
We have, in Oneonta, institutions of higher learning that could be further developed and better folded into the community. Curriculum innovation and more partnerships between the colleges and local institutions and businesses – after the model of the Hartwick College nursing program – could make it possible for more students to stay on in our communities after graduation, as we see in other college and university towns.
Tourism has become the main interface between Otsego county and the world. Our cultural attractions – events, concerts, festivals, galleries, and museums – could be expanded even further. But tourism works only insofar as the powerful symbiosis between our cultural assets and the historical aura and natural beauty of the area is maintained.
Tourism needs to be kept proportional and diversified, so as not to overwhelm the fabric of local life.
And, perhaps most important of all, we have a steady in-migration of people looking for second homes, or retirement living, or the opportunity to conduct internet-related businesses and raise families in a new setting, away from the urban madness.
These new immigrants are attracted by the natural assets they find here, as well as good schools, good healthcare, a lively cultural scene, and a vibrant civic life worth being a part of.
They want sustainability, which we can offer, in contrast to the increasingly unsustainable systems they’re looking to escape.
If I were to make an optimistic prediction about the future of our communities in response to the growing ecological and economic crises, I would look to a synthesis of high-tech internet with a rural, family-oriented lifestyle.
Such a synthesis would realize participation in the global economy with the virtues of small town and country living.
If this is to be our future, if these are the people we want to attract, then we need universal broadband to sustain the economy, as well as renewable energy to preserve a clean and beautiful local environment.
That’s where our investments ought to be going.

Adrian Kuzminski, a retired Hartwick College philosophy professor and Sustainable Otsego moderator, lives in Fly Creek.

questionnaire 2017 — dillingham

Nicole Dillingham

COUNTY BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES, DISTRICT 9

COMMUNITY OF RESIDENCE: Springfield Center

EDUCATION: B.A. University  of Illinois, J.D. Northwestern School of Law

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Law, Small Business Owner

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT:

  • Board president, Otsego 2000 (sponsor of Glimmerglass Film Days, Otsego Outdoors, and the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market)
  • Volunteer legal services for Susquehanna Animal Shelter
  • Aceing Autism (Board member and coach for children with autism)

FAMILY: Married to Gaylord Dillingham, four daughters, five grandchildren

PHILOSOPHY OF GOVERNMENT:

Government should serve and protect its residents, encourage economic growth, control public spending, and make sure all sectors share in services such as Broadband, good schools, and clean air and water.

MAJOR ISSUES FACING OTSEGO COUNTY: 

Poor management, blocked decision making, inability to work with State agencies to secure needed grants, high property taxes, lack of creativity in anticipating and solving problems.

MY QUALITIES: 

Integrity. Leadership. Strong advocacy skills. I prefer bi-partisan cooperation with a focus on working together to protect and grow our communities.

STATEMENT:

My opponent is a 12-year incumbent who has shown a fundamental misunderstanding of the value of our community. He was pro fracking, pro use of fracking waste as a road deicer (which leads to water contamination through run-off), and  pro taking of private property by eminent domain for pipelines. At the same time, he was against strengthening Home Rule, against the Land Bank which helps eliminate blighted properties, and is against controls on dangerous CNG trucks on our undivided state roads. District 9 also has the lowest level of proposed infrastructure projects pending before Otsego Now. This record shows disdain for the assets which now exist in our region and are our path to a successful future.

I have the energy and experience to bring about positive change in my District and at County through advocacy for programs and grants available through State agencies. We must support our existing businesses and farms, protect the clean air and water we are lucky to enjoy, make sure our roads are safe for our citizens, and protect our many historic assets which are valuable now and will be even more valuable in the future. I will put my experience as a lawyer and an advocate to work for Richfield, Springfield and the County.

Beekman Boys, Christ Church Village Hall Among Honorees
OTSEGO 2000 PRESERVATION AWARDS

Beekman Boys, Christ Church,

Village Hall Among Honorees

Recipients of Otsego 2000’s Historic Preservation Awards for Otsego and Schoharie counties are, front row, from left, Maureen Culbert, Mary Ann Larkin and Kathy Merrick.  At right are the Beekman Boys – Brent Ridge, foreground, and Josh Kilmer-Purcell.  Second row, from left, are Cindy Falk, Paul Hager and Otsego 2000 President Nicole Dillingham.  Back row, from left, are Jeff Katz, Jim Dean and Bill Waller.  (AllOTSEGO.photo)

SPRINGFIELD CENTER – For its ongoing restoration of 22 Main, the Village of Cooperstown was among honorees at Otsego 2000’s annual Historic Preservation Awards presentation and reception yesterday evening at the renovated Chapin Chapel here.

Accepting the honor on the village’s behalf were Mayor Jeff Katz and Trustees Jim Dean and Cindy Falk.

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