The promise of wind energy.

We must transition now!

Sustainable Tompkins submitted the following statement to the Tompkins County Planning, Energy, and Environmental Quality Committee on October 15, and the Lansing Star.  The committee heard from the Chamber of Commerce president that they are in full support of the build-out of gas pipelines in our community.  Gay Nicholson joined 4 other members of the local group opposing the Dryden pipeline in speaking to the committee about our concerns:

In 2008, our Tompkins County legislature adopted a goal of reducing county greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050 as part of its Energy Element amendment to the county comprehensive plan.

For any county goal to be meaningful, we have to make sure there is alignment with our other goal-setting, policymaking, and budgeting activities. We especially need greater coordination between our energy and climate goals and our economic development strategy. Tompkins County needs to insist on full-cost accounting and risk assessment whenever proposals to expand fossil fuel-dependency are brought forth.

TCAD is our county’s official economic development agency and is supported by county taxpayers. Yet it continues to advocate for “business as usual” fossil-fuel dependent development in our county such as the repowering of the Cayuga plant and the addition of gas pipelines.  This creates a number of risks for county taxpayers and residents, and is in direct conflict with the goals of our county comprehensive plan.

It seems ethically irresponsible to oppose fracking in our county, but embrace an expanding and long-term dependency on fracked gas.  It seems financially irresponsible to force ratepayers to invest in gas-dependent pipelines and power plants when gas prices are forecast to rise in coming years, and become uncompetitive with renewables, efficiency investments, and demand management.  Lastly, it seems ecologically irresponsible to accelerate the pace and scale of climate disruption by procrastinating on the necessary transition away from a dependency on fossil fuels.

County taxpayers face both direct climate impacts and a growing tax bill at the federal, state, and local level to pay for climate damage. The poor and working classes are always the most impacted by severe weather and rising taxes. Let’s focus our policymaking and economic development efforts on reducing their vulnerability and their dependency on fossil fuels. We can develop our local economy in a much more responsible manner.