The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY)
Chairman Becker warns of climate action plans
During the 2023 State of the County address Madison County Chairman John M. Becker addressed what he considered problematic applications of New York State’s Climate Action Bill, home rule and state mandates laws that he said could leave the county, and state, in ruins.
“At the rate inflation is going and mandates coming from Albany we need to do more,” Becker said. “We need to reevaluate how the county is going to continue to pay a competitive wage and afford new equipment and machinery, especially under the state’s new climate law while at the same time working to provide our outstanding services that our residents are used to.”
During the spring Becker will create Madison County 2030, a working group bringing local business leaders, taxpayers as well as officials together. This panel will take a look into trends, efficiencies drawbacks, and costs. It will review current business and government models and what the county, and upstate New York, may face beyond 2030.
“If we continue down the path we are currently on no one’s going to be able to afford their property taxes,” he said.
Becker also addressed what he felt was the danger behind the potential state takeover of New York’s home rule laws and their bolstering of the state’s climate action agenda.
“After listening to the governor’s state of the state address we will have to work hard to protect our home rule from being taken over,” Becker said.
Home rule law was adopted in 1963 in New York State and it allows counties, towns and village zoning power independent of state authority.
The state’s own report on home rule says that its specific purpose is to regulate the quality of life and communities. Home rule is also part of the fourteenth amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which was ratified in 1868.
The Fourteenth Amendment protects U.S. citizens from government overreach against their lives, freedoms or property. It includes clauses that establish due legal process, citizenship, and equal protection. It forbids the states from depriving any person of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law” and from denying anyone equal protection under the law.
“Hochul said in the state under home rule can overrule all local zonings and codes and assessment to assign an electrical power plant either near or in a residential neighborhood,” Becker said. “First and foremost one of our state’s most precious resources is agriculturallyzoned farmland. It is just the sighting of electrical power plants.
“The process of sighting housing is next,” he continued. “Our governor is pro
posing usurping home rule again and placing housing wherever the state would like. in the name of equity. In the name of equity, New York State infringes on one person’s rights to balance out another. There has to be a better way.”
Becker spoke to the disconnect between New York City and its impact on the application of the state’s climate action plan. He believes home rule and its position under the climate action law will benefit New York City to the detriment of upstate.
“I have always been a proponent of New York City,”
Becker said. “They are a part of our state as a big economic engine. But most of upstate New York is carbon neutral. NYC is only 10 percent carbon-free. It seems again this decision is one-sided. New York state is going to cover vast swaths of farmland with renewable energy resources to only meet New York City’s goals. We’re back to equity, infringing on upstate for downstate power.
“There are two New Yorks. two different lifestyles, rural and urban,” he continued. “The urban community needs to figure out their power problems without infringing on the rest of us. There are many, many questions to come out of the climate law.”
Becker warned of the cost of the state’s climate action plan.
“John Howard, head of the state public service commission, said ‘Who will pay? It will be you, the electric rate payers, and all the municipalities.’ Don’t think that your taxes will not be going up. This is all in the name of green energy,” Becker said.
And the plan has safety concerns, Becker said.
“This will be the fight, this will be the hill…new York State versus the people,” he said. “Any new home or garage must have an electric car charger in it. Any new home built after 2028 has to be fossil-fuel free, no gas no propane, no fuel oil planned costs of replacing residential equipment that sees combustion, fossils fuels or heating and cooling or hot water after 2030.
“Commercial equipment follows soon after that, and by 2035 replacement of fossil fuel appliances are prohibited,” he continued. “After 2035, which will be upon us very quickly, there will be no fuel-burning cars rucks or SUVS sold in New York State.”
Becker questioned the practical application of the climate bill.
“Just a few weeks ago Buffalo suffered a storm of massive proportion,” Becker said. “Cars were stuck in highways, power outages took days to fix and people were left without heat. People froze to death. What happens when we all are on the grid and there are no gas generators for alternative heat sources?
“What happens when you’re stuck in a highway in your vehicle and it dies? People will die,” he continued. “We need to come up with a better solution that not only addresses reduction of greenhouse gases but addresses the cost and the protection of our land and people.”
“In conclusion, we need to keep up the never-ending work and the never-ending fight here in Madison County. for all of our citizens,” Becker said. “In the words of President Abraham Lincoln, ‘The best way to predict the future is to create it.’ President John F. Kennedy once said, ‘Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” Thank you and God bless Madison County.”