Much credit should be given to the officials of Cambria, Pendleton and the Niagara County Legislature for their recently declared opposition to the 900-acre solar wind “farm” proposed by Cypress Creek Renewables. Many of us who reside in the rural and semi-rural parts of New York state do not want to see the industrialization of our beautiful countryside and the associated physical and environmental damage that will occur by such projects. Further, we believe that local laws, comprehensive plans and policies in place should govern, and they should not be usurped by the state.
Home rule is clearly under assault in small town and rural America under the guise of “saving the planet.” We in the towns of Somerset and Yates are experiencing this assault as we continue our five-year-long fight to prevent the industrialization of our community by Apex's Project Lighthouse Wind, a 47-industrial wind turbine installation with units approaching 600 feet in height.
There are other more effective ways to “save the planet,” for those so inclined, that are compatible with the rural lifestyle and compatible with the rural environment that we now enjoy. One of the most attractive involves working with the natural processes rather fighting them with ineffective man-made solutions such as industrial wind and solar installations misleadingly referred to as “farms.”
It has recently been concluded by the Nature Conservancy that protecting and replenishing carbon-storing power houses like forests, grasslands and wetlands can deliver up to 37% of the emissions reductions necessary to curb climate change predicted by the year 2030. Further research by them indicates an acre of mature forest can remove 100 tons of carbon each year from the atmosphere while releasing pure oxygen. This is equivalent to cancelling the pollution of 20 cars each year per acre of mature forest. Multiply this by the thousands of forested acres in Niagara and Orleans Counties or the tens of thousands of forested acres in rural New York and it can be concluded that rural New York is currently contributing significantly to the protection of the environment. No need for industrial solar and industrial wind to pollute the countryside, threaten our health, destroy wildlife and disrupt a way of life, particularly when there is also a wealth of clean hydro power available in the area.
It is time for those concerned about the environment to mutually agree on courses of action that are beneficial to the environment and actively pursue them. Protection of forests, grasslands and wetlands is one of them that is paying, and will continue to pay, huge dividends. The townships of Somerset and Yates along with other rural municipalities have policies in place that protect this valuable resource. These should be strengthened!
Perhaps the Sierra Club, the Adirondack Mountain Club, Mothers Out Front and other like organizations will join in the preservation of open space. Preservation of open space is a win-win situation for everyone.
JAMES C. HOFFMANBarker