Coalition On Article X (COAX) is a diverse, state-wide grassroots coalition who have come together to act as advocates for the Townships of NYS, whom have lost “Home Rule” to Albany bureaucrats in critical community planning and zoning decisions due to the revised ‘Article X’ contained within the recently passed Power NY Act. As such, our specific purpose is to work to protect and reinstate “Home Rule” regarding the siting of energy facilities, and to involve the public, elected and appointed officials in this cause.
Beginning in 1894, the people of the State of New York have voted repeatedly to approve Constitutional provisions granting broad “Home Rule” powers to local governments and corresponding restrictions on the NYS Legislature to preserve these powers. These powers are many, and we see the stripping away of “Home Rule” under the auspices of expediting the siting of energy facilities as a very slippery slope, which only further accelerates the Obama administration’s “transformation of America” to bigger government, and the silencing of the peoples’ voices.
While it is our firm belief that a REPEAL of this legislation would be the best solution to the problems created by this blatant power grab by Albany, at the very least, we believe that serious amendments need to be made to the bill. Our positions and concerns contained within this bill, include:
1.) The new “Article X’ contained within the Power NY Act, has stripped us of “Home Rule” — taking away our local municipalities’ right to decide what’s best for our communities, and put it into the hands of a distant, unelected Siting Board. The said Board will have only nominal local representation that will not even have a vote on the final decision. This is simply unacceptable.
2.) The said Board will have the authority to site electric-generating facilities of 25 MW or more. The previous number of 80 MW was already too low, and now the number has been so minimized that Big Corporate LLCs have been given what amounts to a free pass to decimate the most valuable asset NYS has — it is lush, priceless, historic landscapes. The designation of 25MW is radically too low, as was the previous 80 MW amount. It must be changed.
3.) The said Board will have the authority to ignore “any local ordinance, law… or any local standard or requirement… if it finds that… such is unreasonably burdensome… whether located inside or outside of such municipality.” Furthermore, while the law provides for the set-aside of funds for pre-hearing research on behalf of the affected communities, said funds are controlled by the Board and will be allocated as the Board sees fit.
4.) State Environmental Quality Reviews must continue to be required. As it is, Big Corporate LLCs work to lower their costs by short-cutting regulations any way they can. Anyone that has been in business or politics for any amount of time knows this to be a sad reality. To give multi-national corporations, who are clearly interested only in their profits, a free pass to rape and pilfer our NYS countrysides by eliminating SEQRA from the process is, at best, a short-sighted, naive mistake.
5.) Because most peoples’ largest financial asset is their private property, which has the potential to be severely negatively impacted by the proximity of energy facilities, we believe the values of properties within a two-mile radius of any energy facility sited by this newly-formed, unelected Board should be guaranteed.
6.) Local communities need full taxation rights to these projects. As it is for Big Corporate, so it is for us — We need the money!
7.) If we are going to have this rammed down our throats, the very least our government should do to best serve all NYS citizens, is guarantee that said energy installations must provide reliable, dispatchable, baseload power that have a Capacity Value of at least 90% – as do our current, reliable conventional sources of natural gas, hydro, coal and nuclear. With NYS in such dire financial straits – as is the entire country – we can ill-afford to waste our taxpayer dollars on anything less.
8.) Any new facilities proposed in NYS must guarantee that said power supply is for use within NYS, and NOT for export overseas. We abhor, and will not abide by any law which further enables the transfer of our wealth overseas – which has been occurring at a frightening pace thanks to President Obama’s politically-driven energy policies.
We again wish to emphasize the utmost importance of restoring and protecting NYS citizens’ long-held “Home Rule”. ‘Article X’ contained within the Power NY Act follows a disturbing trend in New York State to remove powers from local jurisdictions, and therefore from the affected electorate, and transfers such powers to a faceless, unelected bureaucracy which has no constituency.
We believe that New York’s diverse communities are best served by maintaining the principles of “Home Rule”, including those set forth in the NYS Constitution, Local Government Bill of Rights, Statute of Local Government and the Municipal Home Rule Law.
Political Liaison Committee, COAX