FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 21, 2007
Schumer Personally Calls Energy Secretary To Demand Public Hearings Along Proposed NYRI Corridor
DOE Summarily Rejected Initial the Request to Move Public Hearing to Areas Potentially Impacted By NYRI Route
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer personally called Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman to demand the Department of Energy immediately schedule public hearings on the proposed high-need national energy transmission corridor in the communities that would be affected by a proposed new energy transmission line.
Last week, the DOE announced it would hold just one upstate hearing on the corridor, which could clear the way for the New York Regional Interconnect Power line (NYRI), in far-away Rochester, more than 200 miles from affected communities. Schumer today blasted the decision as inexplicable and noxious and renewed his call on the DOE to hold at least one hearing, if not more, in either in Utica, the Oneonta/Norwich area or Middletown.
In response, Schumer wrote to the Energy Department asking them to relocate the Rochester hearing to at least one of the potentially affected communities. The DOE promptly resisted the request, so Schumer made the case directly to the Secretary. On Friday, Schumer took his appeal directly to the Secretary of Energy, calling him personally "I told Secretary Bodman flat out that this hearing should be held in the communities that could be impacted by their actions. New Yorkers shouldn't have to travel hither and yon to voice their legitimate concerns about this proposed project," said Schumer. The establishment of such a corridor could clear the way for NYRI to be built by allowing the company to go around state regulators and simply receive approval from the federal government to build the power line.
"This is a slap in the face of the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who could be affected by this proposed power line," Schumer said. "By holding this hearing in Rochester, the DOE is playing the old 'out of sight, out of mind' game. They cannot get away with it and I will continue to fight to make sure that the voices of these communities are heard loud and clear." The U.S. Department of Energy yesterday announced that it will conduct a public meeting in June in Rochester to discuss the draft National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors. This will be the only meeting in upstate New York to consider the proposal. Rochester is more than 136 miles from Utica, the closest point on NYRI's proposed route and nearly 300 miles from the lower Hudson Valley. "NYRI's currently proposed routes are inappropriate; they would cut a jagged edge through too many communities and priceless, pristine areas. NYRI's 'my way or the highway' approach is unacceptable, as is their attempts to do an end-around the more thorough and public state PSC siting process," said Schumer. The draft National Corridors cover geographic areas where millions of consumers are currently adversely affected by transmission capacity constraints or congestion, according to the DOE. The draft Mid-Atlantic Area National Corridor includes counties in Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, Virginia, all of New Jersey, Delaware, and the District of Columbia. The draft Southwest Area National Corridor includes counties in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Schumer, along with Congressman Michael Arcuri, joined a bi-partisan coalition of elected officials on a letter asking that the hearing be moved. The group asked to Secretary Bodman to extend the comment period on the NIETC Corridor designation and hold additional hearings in congressional districts affected by the proposed corridors.