Article

State's environmental reviews often lack teeth

But the process has become a handy tool for developers rather than a safety net for anyone needing protection.

Gordian Raacke's April 3 letter suggests that New Yorkers need not fear exploitation or direct impact from wind power development, because here in this state we're protected by the state Environmental Quality Review Act process. As a proponent of commercial wind energy, it's not surprising that he would hope we all find some measure of comfort in such knowledge and back off, but we'd be foolish indeed if we did.

SEQRA is meant to address and mitigate impacts from any action that would likely pose risks to the local environment and its residents. In the case of wind development, especially wind development that's too close, the impacts needing mitigation would be noise, shadow flicker, risks to people's safety from massive spinning blades, etc.

But the process has become a handy tool for developers rather than a safety net for anyone needing protection. Those who've had experience with it know that all too often it's simply a matter of word play. Whoever is the most clever stringing their words together wins the game.

Many good examples can be found in the Prattsburg, Steuben County, wind project's final generic environmental impact statement, where... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Gordian Raacke's April 3 letter suggests that New Yorkers need not fear exploitation or direct impact from wind power development, because here in this state we're protected by the state Environmental Quality Review Act process. As a proponent of commercial wind energy, it's not surprising that he would hope we all find some measure of comfort in such knowledge and back off, but we'd be foolish indeed if we did.
 
SEQRA is meant to address and mitigate impacts from any action that would likely pose risks to the local environment and its residents. In the case of wind development, especially wind development that's too close, the impacts needing mitigation would be noise, shadow flicker, risks to people's safety from massive spinning blades, etc.
 
But the process has become a handy tool for developers rather than a safety net for anyone needing protection. Those who've had experience with it know that all too often it's simply a matter of word play. Whoever is the most clever stringing their words together wins the game.
 
Many good examples can be found in the Prattsburg, Steuben County, wind project's final generic environmental impact statement, where "solutions" that essentially do nothing to remedy substantial problems are accepted over and over, and where terms like "when feasible" and "where plausible" repeatedly discount any real measures that might otherwise be taken.
 
The Steuben County Industrial Development Agency, the group responsible for accepting or rejecting the mitigations, apparently didn't even require cleverness. It seems that as long as something was written, anything at all, they accepted it.
 
Just one example in the 300-page document follows: It's stated that the wind project "could create indirect visual impacts on structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places." Developer's proposed mitigation: 400-foot turbines (50 to 60 of them) will be uniform in design and have a low-reflective finish ... accepted.
 
This is the SEQRA document that Prattsburg residents are to rely on and feel assured by and that will supposedly protect them and their interests.
 


Source: http://www.timesunion.com/A...

APR 13 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/2152-state-s-environmental-reviews-often-lack-teeth
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