The citizens’ organization Protect Ghent has posted a strong letter from Congressman Chris Gibson (R-Kinderhook) to in support of a more stringent review of NYSEG's proposed power line. Gibson notes that the line potentially would impact three towns he represents: Chatham, Ghent and Stockport. The Congressman hits all the key points that concerned residents have been raising when he writes that:
Specifically, I am concerned about the loss of active agricultural lands in one of our state's more rural areas, the projects potential impacts on important historic and archeological resources, and its visual impacts on our parks, recreation areas, open space and scenic byways, all of which contribute to the unique community and neighborhood character of Columbia County in general, and my District in particular, which the residents have cultivated and protected for decades.
Possibly alluding to the power company’s end-around of local zoning, Gibson further notes that he is “deeply concerned with NYSEG’s apparent disregard of the input of an concerns expressed by local elected officials in my district.”
Gibson’s letter concludes by urging the Commission to place “the agriculatural, environmental and social concers set forth above on at least an equal footing with cost concerns or administrative convenience. The law requires it, and our residents deserve nothing less.”
Perhaps not coincidentally, five days following Gibson’s June 17th letter, the PSC sent NYSEG notification that its application was incomplete. The agency found that due to “deficiencies” in the company’s filing, it does not comply with their requirements to begin a public hearing process.
By getting out in front of this issue in the heart of his District, Gibson also accomplishes a secondary task: forcing the region’s often-hesitatant Democratic establishment to play catch-up. Protect Ghent also reports that members have solicited similar help from Democrat Didi Barrett, who was recently elected to the State Assembly, and are hopeful that they will get her support as well. (The Columbia County Democrats seem more interested in trying but failing to gin up partisan outrage over small stuff like vanity license plates, rather than leading on substantive issues that might actually change people lives.)
Further details and action steps can be found at Protect Ghent’s website.