The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)
Board of Supervisors opposes NYS Climate Council’s draft Scoping Plan
WAMPSVILLE, N.Y. » On May 10 the Madison County Board of Supervisors sent a message to the New York State Climate Action Council that they oppose the current Scoping Plan.
There are concerns that the plan does not consider the repercussions of taking over productive farmland to put up solar panels has on food supply, or the high cost of transitioning to allelectric power and heat sources has on county businesses and residents.
The New York State Climate Action Council, created as part of the 2019 Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) has drafted a Scoping Plan. The statewide Scoping Plan is meant to guide the State toward its nation-leading climate goal. The Council is currently taking public comment on the Draft Scoping Plan through June 10, 2022.
The resolution passed unanimously at the recent Board of Supervisors meeting, asks the Climate Council to slow down and extend the public comment period until the end of the year.
“Madison County does not believe that the plan has been vetted well enough by the public,” Madison County Board Chairman John Becker said in a news release. “This document is being drafted by individuals who do not understand that rural New York State is not the same as the cities. This plan will change our rural landscape forever.”
Madison County Supervisors are asking residents to read the draft plan and submit comments. The plan may be reviewed at climate.ny.gov/ Our-climate-act/draft-scoping-plan
“We are not against finding ways to limit our carbon footprint or creating more efficient ways to power our vehicles and our homes,” Becker said. ‘However, taking over valuable farmland for solar panels is not the answer. We are facing food and supply shortages already, and the land out west is drying up.
“The rich soils and abundance of fresh water in the northeast are becoming more valuable than ever. We cannot afford to cover even a marginal amount of our farmland by placing non-recyclable solar panels on it. Where is our food going to come from? We need answers to questions like this before implementing this plan.”
The board also expressed concern over the cost to businesses and residents to convert buildings and vehicles to electric from natural gas.
“Our neighboring states are not on the same page as New York State when it comes to this plan. If I have a factory that uses natural gas to recycle paper, I can no longer use natural gas. I am going to move my company to another state where I can use natural gas,” Oneida City Supervisor Matthew Roberts said. “This is going to be a huge detriment to our economy. Our businesses are going to disappear because they cannot afford to do business here anymore.” Resolution excerpts
The resolution specified a number of concerns. The first was that it ignored the practical needs of county residents.
“The draft Scoping Plan’s recommendations to prohibit new gas service to existing buildings and certain gas/oil equipment in new construction beginning in 2024 will be costly to residents and businesses and could leave New Yorkers in the cold during harsh winters,” the resolution read. “The recommendations included in the draft Scoping Plan released in December 2021 do not adequately balance the goal to accelerate renewable energy production with the need for food production.”
The board also stated their feelings that state government did not adequately represent local experts in their research.
“The Land Use and Local Government Advisory Group, which advised on two key sections of the report that will directly impact counties and municipalities and require their partnership, did not include any members who currently work in local government; and county and municipal leaders are best positioned to understand local needs and anticipate how meeting the Climate Act’s goals could disproportionately impact their communities and economies,” the resolution read.
The resolution called for more balanced action by the state.
“Madison County expresses frustration with the lack of local government representation on the Climate Action Council and its Advisory Panels and the lack of local input in the development of the draft Scoping Plan,” the resolution read. “Counties and other local governments should be engaged as active participants in the review and implementation of the Scoping Plan and provided with technical planning and zoning assistance in all areas where they are relied upon to implement the recommendations of the Scoping Plan.”
The resolution ended with a specific call to action on the state’s part.
“The state’s timetable for meeting its renewable energy production goals and transitioning away from natural gas is too aggressive and should be extended; and the timetable for comments should be extended to December 31, 2022,” the resolution read. “The state should level the playing field to incentivize landowners to protect productive farmland, which naturally captures carbon dioxide and should be conserved wherever possible.”