This informative letter with proposed resolution, compiled and signed by 166 citizens, residents and landowners of Wyoming County New York, was sent to the sixteen Wyoming County Supervisors as well as NY's congressional delegation. An excerpt of the letter appears below along with the resolution the signers were hoping to see adopted by the County. The full letter can be accessed by clicking on the link at the bottom of this page.
There have been a number of legitimate opportunities on the development table in recent years. These include plans for an organic farming enterprise, a yogurt production facility, methane digesters, cogeneration facilities and others. What are needed now are the imagination, boldness, creativity and self-reliance to seize these and other opportunities – not only as they present themselves to you, but opportunities that may be aggressively sought out by you for economic development. Fortunately, at least one of these opportunities has gained some traction – a plan to use the Beaver Meadow facility as a weight-loss camp for the nationally-syndicated Biggest Loser program. It is important to build a solid economic base on a variety of enterprises – not just a single one. We have seen many fads over the years: aluminum siding and storm windows, asbestos shingle siding, lava lamps, etc. Note the tendency for everyone to move with herd mentality to adopt, and then later to reject the fad-de-jour. Massive installations of wind equipment now appear with such a sense of urgency that it may be easy to forget that our wind resource has been present since the last ice age. A sound economic base for the County would seemingly rely on diversity rather than on a single industry. If health-effects, welfare effects, bird kills, water contamination or property-devaluation or something else should eventually become “show-stoppers” for the wind industry, a prudent development plan would seek diversity to lessen the potential for future economic shocks.
As Town Supervisors it is important to consider the financial viability and economic aspects of proposed actions. But it is also necessary and important to consider the health and welfare of our citizens as well. It is a well-established principle of environmental protection that public health and welfare are paramount. This is one reason that Congress relied on the U.S. Public Health Service – and not on economists – when creating the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the early 1970s. We believe that your actions should be guided by a complete picture of quality of life in Wyoming County. Over the past several years, citizens of the Town of Orangeville have asked serious questions about the health, welfare and other adverse effects of Invenergy’s plan. Many important issues remain unresolved, even though the environmental protection cranks have been turned mightily by Invenergy. Many of us believe that simply abiding by the letter of the law is no substitute for embracing the intent of the law. For example, operations at airfields in the Towns of Attica and Warsaw will be directly affected – pilots say dangerously – by the nearby location of Invenergy’s turbines proposed for the Town of Orangeville… …locations that interfere with lawful existing uses of private property. It would seem a likely and legitimate role for the Board of Supervisors to resolve hardships posed on one Township by the actions of another adjacent Township – regardless of how well-intended proposed action is believed to be. Similarly, citizens of the Town of Attica have expressed deep concern over the effect that construction will have on the pristine water quality that they have enjoyed for years. The Attica Reservoir drainage basin will be affected by actions in the Town of Orangeville – perhaps seriously. The County Board of Supervisors is uniquely positioned to help resolve these inter-township issues. Please do so.
Invenergy is an uncontested third party from outside the area and is unapologetic about usurping the voices and concerns of Wyoming County residents. They are attempting to use the authority of Town Supervisors to underwrite their lobbying efforts in Washington. The letter that they wish our representatives to sign is not of local origin – it is written by and for the wind company that stands to benefit immediately from any extension of the PTC. Rather than yield to the suggestions and urgings of a Chicago-based company, we undersigned citizens would prefer that you yield to the suggestions and urgings of your own constituency. By means of a polite resolution, just say NO to Invenergy’s attempt to make all of us complicit in their quest for profits. A sample resolution is attached for your consideration as Attachment #2.
WYOMING COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS RESOLUTION NO. XX (June xx, 2012) RESOLUTION AFFIRMING THE PRINCIPLE THAT TOWN SUPERVISORS AND OTHER PUBLIC OFFICIALS IN WYOMING COUNTY SHOULD REMAIN INDEPENDENT OF LOBBYING EFFORTS THAT PROMOTE PRIVATE INTERESTS.
WHEREAS, a private corporation, Invenergy, is petitioning a Letter(s) of Support from one or more Wyoming County Town Supervisors; and
WHEREAS, Said Letter of Support is clearly designed to promote the private interests of Invenergy by supporting U.S. Congressional extension of the Production Tax Credit as it applies to wind energy; and
WHEREAS, tax subsidies are best designed to stimulate the adoption of new technologies into the marketplace; and WHEREAS, the Production Tax Credit has already been in effect for twenty years having been established in 1992 and during which period has conveyed billions of public tax dollars to private concerns ; and
WHEREAS, extension of the Production Tax Credit is highly controversial and has been proposed and defeated repeatedly in the current Congress; and WHEREAS, said controversy will involve intense efforts by well-paid lobbyists from the industry that has the most to gain or lose; and
WHEREAS, it is inappropriate to use public office to engage in this controversy in a context that purports to represent the interests of a divided citizenry; and
WHEREAS, taxpayers of Wyoming County are already burdened with significant taxes and are firmly opposed to further wealth transfers from the public sector to the private sector; and
WHEREAS, there is a general belief among taxpayers that twenty years of public support is long enough for any industry to become established; and
WHEREAS, evidence from the U.S. Department of Energy and other sources demonstrate that the wind industry is growing rapidly and, with the exception of hydropower, now dominates the amount of electric power provided by all other forms of renewable energy; and
WHEREAS, in the instant case involving Invenergy, the amount to public tax subsidies will likely exceed $8 million dollars per year if enabled by extension of the federal production tax credit ; and
WHEREAS, if passed, said federal production tax credits are likely to remain in force for a period of ten or more years thus increasing the value of the Invenergy subsidy to exceed $80 million dollars; and
WHEREAS, a proper role of government is to promote the general health and welfare of its own citizens; and
WHEREAS, actions in one Township have a direct effect on the health, welfare and safety of citizens in neighboring and adjacent Townships; and
WHEREAS, existing lawful uses of airfields in the Town of Attica and the Town of Warsaw will be seriously compromised and rendered less safe by the proposed actions of Invenergy; and
WHEREAS, citizens in several townships are concerned about the risks to the drinking water supply of many citizens provided by the Attica Reservoir; and
WHEREAS, serious citizen concerns over health, welfare and safety of Invenergy’s proposed development remain unresolved; and
WHEREAS, a proper role of the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors is to promote harmonious interactions between and among its Townships; and
WHEREAS, a general principle of good government is to abstain from using public office to promote private agendas; and
WHEREAS, Said principle is expressed in many ways including Codes of Ethics, Guidelines on Conflicts of Interest, and the Hatch Act which, by 1940 amendment, extends a limitation on political lobbying beyond the sphere of federal employees to include employees of state and local governments receiving federal funds; and
WHEREAS, the spirit of the Hatch Act in promoting government neutrality and in limiting the exertion of undue influence on politics may be extended to promote a spirit of neutrality with respect to private interests; now therefore
BE IT RESOLVED, That the Wyoming County Board of Supervisors directs its Town Supervisors to refrain from any action or actions that give the appearance of using public office to promote economic interests of any single private corporation; and be