Natural Resources

Fall 2011 Natural Resources Law Class at UB

Gone with the Wind October 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidhay @ 2:58 pm

The New York State Power Authority recently scrapped its plant to construct wind turbines off the shores of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.  NYPA cited the high costs of constructing and maintaining the windmills as the reason for pulling the plug on the project.  According to NYPA, the wind project would have cost the taxpayers between $60 to $100 million dollars per year.  The benefits from the windmill farms were not favorable enough to offset the high costs of the windmill farms according to the power authority.  You may ask yourself, “Why did NYPA propose and accept bids for the Great Lakes Offshore Wind (GLOW) project if they were not prepared to spend the money ?”

The obvious answer is that the project was proposed before 2008 and New York State now lacks the money due to the recession.  However, the GLOW project was proposed in 2009 when New York was arguably in worse financial shape than it is now.  The correct answer is found in the differing philosophies of the leadership of New York State.

The GLOW project proposals were initiated in December 2009, by then NYPA President Richie Kessel.  Former Governor David Patterson, who was arguably not very frugal with state expenses, appointed President Kessel to his position.  Fast forward to January 2011 when Andrew Cuomo was sworn in as governor of New York State.  Governor Cuomo’s fiscally conservative policies were evident in his first budget, which consisted of many state budget cuts.  He also directed his agencies to do more with less and cut their budgets.

On July 27th it was announced that Richie Kessel was stepping down as NYPA President, effective September 6th, 2011.  On September 27th, 2011, just three weeks later, NYPA announced that the GLOW project had been scrapped due to cost.

This does not mean that Governor Cuomo and his agency heads hate clean energy; rather it shows that the governor and NYPA will not spend tax revenue on projects that are not worth the return.  This will also allow the state to invest that $60-$100 million per year into other economically feasible green projects.


Entertainment or Beauty? October 4, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — davidhay @ 12:22 am

A few weeks ago our class briefly talked about Niagara Falls and the commercialization that took place there in the early 1900’s.  The brief discussion centered on the topic of whether the government or private parties should control the land surrounding Niagara Falls.

There is currently a new and interesting debate surrounding Niagara Falls, which is whether to allow famous tightrope walker Nik Wallenda cross the Horseshoe Falls from the American side to the Canadian side.  Recently, Governor Cuomo signed legislation into law that would allow Wallenda to tightrope walk on the American side within a year.  We now wait for the Canadian parks department to approve or disapprove the event on their side of Niagara Falls.

The detractors of the event say that allowing this to happen will turn Niagara Falls into a spectacle and thus take away from its natural beauty.  The supporters of this event highlight the vast amount of people that will come to Niagara Falls to witness the act and spend their money.  (Wallenda’s walk over the Three Rivers in Pittsburgh drew thousands of spectators in 2009.)

I personally believe that this will be good for the City of Niagara Falls because it will bring some much needed positive attention to a city that has been declining economically for years.  The event would be televised by the Discovery Channel, which would draw even more attention to mighty Niagara Falls. I do not think that this event would significantly take away from the natural beauty of Niagara Falls because it is just a one-time occurrence.  The fear that a stunt, performed once, will ruin the beauty of Niagara Falls is an illegitimate fear in my opinion.  However, stunts over Niagara Falls on regular basis would turn the great Niagara Falls into a sideshow.  Fortunately, the legislation permitting this is only good for one year and I doubt the Governor would routinely let this happen.

It is my hope that the Canadian officials will approve this walk so that we can see Nik Wallenda traverse the beautiful Horseshoe Falls.  If not, Wallenda still plans to do the walk on just the American side.  Either way, Niagara Falls will still contain the same natural beauty as it did before the anticipated walk.