Governor Cuomo’s Article 10 Process Is Rigged

As part of his 2018 State of the State message, Gov. Cuomo on Jan. 2 revealed his “comprehensive agenda to combat climate change.” Cuomo says it’s a “fundamental transformative change” – and it is. It forces a major overhaul of the State’s energy production and consumption, totally contrary to free market economics. It’s as if the governor has his own little socialist state he can do what he wants with. The word demagogue comes to mind: “a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.” Cuomo plays on the popular prejudice (meme, or ‘collective cognitive imperative’ as psychologist Julian Jaynes calls it) that human production of the trace gas carbon dioxide is causing global climate change. This notion (anthropogenic climate change) has been pushed by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for a quarter of a century. President Donald Trump rejected the notion, pulling out of the Paris Accords, reflecting the views of easily half the American people. So clearly there’s a debate, scientific and public.

But for the governor and his ‘energy czar’ Richard Kauffman, head of NYSERDA, the science is settled. They allow no questions. Ask them if their drastic plan to ‘stop man-made climate change’ will affect the 11-year Sun’s cycle and varied coronal mass ejections and climate-changing sunspots? Will Cuomo’s plan to cut New York’s CO2 emissions affect the incoming cosmic rays that nucleate the climate-changing clouds of our lower atmosphere? Does Cuomo consider the Milankovich Cycle which shows Earth’s varied climate-changing orbit around the Sun? What effect will Cuomo’s elimination of the fossil fuel industry in New York have on the Pacific Decadal Oscillation or the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation, very real climate-changing phenomena? The demonization of carbon dioxide, a highly dubious notion reflecting the NRDC and the Sierra Club, becomes tragic in the hands of the politically ambitious demagogue.

Energy Czar Kaufmann, along with Audrey Zibelman as (then) head of the Public Service Commission (PSC) crafted the mis-named ‘Clean Energy Standard’ (CES) as an environmental-financial “imperative” (to use Kauffman’s term). The CES dictates that carbon dioxide emissions are dangerously heating the planet. Call it Cuomo’s First Law. As Basil Seggos, Cuomo’s newly-appointed head of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) told state senator Cathy Young’s recent budget hearing on environmental conservation, “The time for debate about climate change is over.” Young’s committee, Republicans and Democrats, sat mum for Seggos’ lecture. No State-wide elected official is willing to challenge Cuomo’s climate change mythology. Not that anyone is qualified to make such a ‘debate is over’ statement, but is Seggos a scientist? No, he’s a lawyer — and a National Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC) Associate. This is important. Also important, he is a member of Cuomo’s ‘Siting Board’ that approves huge wind turbine projects, with Cuomo’s First Law foremost in mind.

To “combat climate change” Gov. Cuomo uses his First Law to overhaul the State’s energy system in favor of so-called ‘renewable energy,’ especially wind and solar. Neither industry would exist in New York without perpetual subsidies. This brings us to Cuomo’s 2nd Law: “We are gonna need to finance the transition,” Cuomo intones. How is “we” going to do this? heavy taxation, hidden fees, borrowing, and backdoor borrowing: grants, subsidies, awards for ‘green energy’ projects.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, in his recent budget remarks, takes aim at the State’s “backdoor borrowing” the governor uses to bypass State-mandated debt ceilings. Such borrowing by State agencies, according to the State Constitution, must be approved by the voters and by the Legislature. Such uncontrolled borrowing endangers New York’s credit rating, DiNapoli worries. But it’s worse than that. Cuomo’s backdoor borrowing is done through his many agencies such as the DEC (Seggos), NYSERDA (Richard Kauffman), the Dept. of Economic Development and Empire State Development (DEC and ESD, Howard Zemsky), the New York Green Bank (Kauffman), John Rhodes’ Public Service Commission’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), and even County IDAs. Kauffman’s NYSERDA is set to implement a new carbon tax on CO2 emissions aimed at the fossil fuel industry, including natural gas. It’s a win-win for the CES pool, penalize the fossil fuel industry and use the money to further subsidize the required billions of dollars for Cuomo’s ‘renewable energy’ program.

On January 17, the NY State Siting Board, sitting in Albany, gave the go-a-head to the Cassadaga LLC: 48-industrial wind turbines for Arkwright, Charlotte, Cherry Creek and Stockton in heretofore rural Chautauqua. It didn’t take the Siting Board long (18 minutes) because they weren’t even there, voting through proxies. The 5-member Siting Board consists of Kauffman (NYSERDA), Boris Seggos (DEC), Howard Zemsky (ESD), Howard Zucker (Dept. Health). Only PSC head and Siting Board chair Rhodes was present.

The entire Siting Board consists of Cuomo’s major enforcers for his First Law. On trial for corruption, Cuomo’s bully Joe Percoco, has nothing on Energy Czar Kauffman, who allows no critique of the governor’s CES. When Brad Jones, head of the New York Independent Systems Operator (NYISO) questioned aspects of the ‘Clean Energy Standard,’ Kauffman upbraided him publicly: “… we must combat the harmful effects of climate change … conversion to non-fossil fuels … must happen … Your recent filing … reveals an alarming lack of developed analysis and understanding into the imperative to address climate change by transitioning …” How dare Jones question Cuomo’s First Law? And Basil (the-time-for-debate-about-climate-change-is-over) Seggos is hardly an impartial juror. Siting Board member Howard Zemsky (DEC and ESD) has happily directed $5.4 billion for various Cuomo projects. He is a major CES devotee. And Howard Zucker, at Health, ruled against high volume horizontal fracking for health reasons, but sees no health problems with industrial wind turbines just a thousand feet from rural homes. John Rhodes owes his career to Cuomo, who picked him out of the NRDC to run NYSERDA then promoted him to the head of PSC after Audrey Zibelman quit.

After the vote, Rhodes said “…this order provides clear guidance for future projects.” Not at all surprising to those who understand Cuomo’s First Law. In his comments, Public Service Commission administrative law judge explained: “When…you consider the goals and policy objectives of the State for renewable energy and put all those together, that’s when I determined the project was in the public interest.” In other words, conforming to the Governor’s climate fear-mongering CES is “in the public interest” contrary to all other concerns. And all State employees (DEC, DPS, Agriculture, etc.) at the Sinclairville 7-day hearing in June knew Cuomo’s First Law and accordingly failed to put up a spirited case on the public’s behalf. Why bother to risk your career if the jury is rigged? And the takeaway message for wind turbine-targeted communities is: don’t bother with Article 10. The process is rigged.

Roy Harvey is a Mayville resident and a retired Chicago television producer.

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