Where’s the Environmental in Today’s Environmentalism?

17d9481Jim Willis
Editor & Publisher, Marcellus Drilling News


Self-described environmentalists reveal the big lie about so much of the movement when it comes to natural gas and fracking.  They couldn’t care less.  The cause is the cause and there is no environmental logic required.

Editor’s Note:  This an edited combination of two related pieces featured on Marcellus Drilling News, where our friend Jim Willis notes the hollow character of the Finger Lakes Action Network, which is more about protest than the environrment.

It would be hysterically funny if it weren’t so pathetically sad. So-called environmentalists don’t want an electrical generating power plant in Tompkins County, near Ithaca, NY, to switch from burning coal to natural gas because they’re afraid it will mean more fracking.

Talk about cuckoo birds. When members of a group called the Finger Lakes Action Network first announced they planned to protest at the Cayuga power plant it was picked up in the Syracuse Post-Standard.

Plans to switch the Cayuga Power Plant from coal to natural gas will draw a protest Saturday from environmentalists who fear the plant will use gas extracted by hydrofracking.

The Finger Lakes Action Network will protest outside the plant in Lansing beginning at 10 a.m. The plant sits just north of Ithaca on Cayuga Lake.

“Repowering the plant with fracked gas and continuing to allow it to dangerously burn fossil fuels presents great risk to the life and land around it,” the group said in a news release. “Converting the coal-fired power plant to one which burns fracked gas will take us one step closer towards fracking in the Finger Lakes region and means the increased presence of fracking industry.”

Cayuga Operating Co. said last July it planned to close the coal-fired plant by early this year because it was no longer profitable. The state Public Service Commission ordered a study of options for the plant, and in March the company filed an application to switch to natural gas.

Both the Sierra Club and New York State Gas & Electric, which distributes the power produced by the Cayuga plant, have recommended against “repowering” the plant.

The final decision rests with the Public Service Commission, which is expected to decide this year.

Kat Stevens, spokeswoman for the Finger Lakes Action Network, said the plant should just be closed rather than switching it from one fossil fuel to another.

“The plant should be completely shut down and more sustainable options should be explored to provide a just transition for the town of Lansing,” Stevens said.

Hydrofracking is not allowed in New York, but the state Department of Environmental Conservation has been studying it for nearly five years. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he will decide by the 2014 elections.

Obviously, according to their own statement, the Finger Lakes Action Network protesters want the plant shut down completely – don’t burn coal or natural gas – nasty, dirty fossil fuels according to them. We say fine – then you unhook your homes and businesses from the electrical grid and generate all of your own electricity from solar and wind. And while you’re at it, switch over to horse and buggy and quit driving oil-powered vehicles. Show us how it’s done.  And, by the way, also show how you’ll achieve these kinds of carbon emissions:

Environmental Emissions Reductions

Another problem, according to the Lansing Star, is this; if that plant shuts down, it will remove one of the largest sources of tax revenue for the local Lansing school district. But the antis, blinded by their twisted “renewables-only” energy philosophy, don’t care…

Lansing School Superintendent Chris Pettograsso asked the Board Of Education Monday to publicly share their opinions about the possible closing of Cayuga Power Plant, the district’s largest taxpayer.  The NYS Public Service Commission held a public hearing at Lansing Middle School Auditorium July 29th, and has been soliciting public input through today (August 16th).  Pettograsso said cuts to programs and employees will be necessary if revenue from the power plant disappears on top of decreasing state aid.

“Over the years we’ve been generating lists of possible areas we would have to make reductions in that aren’t mandated,” she said.  “We have that list, so we know where we’ll be looking. We already know that without that loss we have tax rate concerns already.”

Pettograsso defended the district’s stand, refuting Ulysses Supervisor Elizabeth Thomas’s statement to the PSC that not every town that has a football team has a power plant, and other towns manage their budgets without power plant revenue.  She said some news outlets are reporting that as fact in spite of Lansing School Business Administrator Mary June King pointing out to the PSC that the other districts in the county receive about 75% of their revenue from the state, while Lansing receives about 25% in state aid.

“For me that was a silly statement, because — of course not,” Pettograsso said.  “But every town has tax revenue, and is $1.25 million tax revenue went away, likely you would be looking at athletics.  And likely you would be looking at other areas that are not mandated that you would need to cut.  We’re not talking about the power plant.  We’re talking about tax revenue that we’ll lose.  And we’re talking about families that we care about that are employed by the plant.  And those families possibly having to leave Lansing.”

She urged school board members to talk openly about the plant closing.

“I share your frustration,” said school board member Walker Reynolds.  “There are all these red herrings out there.  This isn’t about fracking, and it’s not about U.S. energy policy and it’s not about whether you need a power plant to have a football team.”

Reynolds said Lansing has an exceptional school district, and that it is a false comparison when critics of plant repowering equate it to neighboring districts.  he said a PSC ruling to close the plant would be the same as saying “We’re OK with taking an exceptional district and letting it become average.”*

Yeah, show us how you’ll replace that revenue, too, you natural gas using hypocrites.

Environmental Hypocrites

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6 thoughts on “Where’s the Environmental in Today’s Environmentalism?

  1. It is time we stop referring to “protesters” as “environmentalists.” Not a one of them is anything close to a person who owns cares about the environment.

  2. I am an environmental studies major and have always been an outdoor enthusiast, but as of late I have refused to refer to myself as an “environmentalist” (especially at school in Middlebury) because today, that equates to unrealistic urbanites who have found a cause and won’t let go. I find that what bugs me most is that they shoot down every option without providing an alternative. Thank you for pointing that out! Great piece!

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