Sunday Opinion: Natural gas pipeline feud, no to hydrofracking

Morning, everyone.  Here’s a look at the North Country’s weekend opinion pages.  It’s an energy edition this week, as editorials focus on natural gas development in Upstate New York.

The Plattsburgh Press-Republican is commenting on a funding dispute between Franklin and St. Lawrenc Counties over the costs of a new natural gas pipeline.

This pipeline will cost in the neighborhood of $20 million to install. The obligations are divvied up this way: Enbridge St. Lawrence Gas, the owner, would pay $14 million; the state, $4.5 million; Franklin County, $1,425,000; and St. Lawrence County, $450,000. But St. Lawrence has been unresponsive about its share, and Franklin County legislators are understandably miffed.

They see the failure to commit to the project as a sign that St. Lawrence County legislators want to enjoy the benefits natural gas will bring without having to make any of the sacrifices for the common good, like a homeowner installing a swimming pool and a neighbor using it all the time.

Meanwhile, the Glens Falls Post-Star is urging lawmakers in Albany, and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, to reject plans for more aggressive hydrofracking development in central New York.

Yes, we all crave cheaper fuel. And yes, jobs are vitally important, particularly in economically depressed areas like central New York. But hydrofracking companies have not developed a process that even remotely suggests that the environment and the water supply can be protected.

Until the industry can prove that its methods won’t harm New Yorkers, the state should continue to withhold all approvals for hydrofracking activities.

The Post-Star’s recent editorial rejecting nuclear power caused a stir; we’ll see if this commentary draws the same attention.

The Watertown Daily Times goes in a different direction, writing that big ideological rifts within the Republican Party could derail their national agenda in Washington DC.

Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, attributes the difficulties to a change in leadership style that allows more input from the rank-and-file as well as new leaders finding their way.

However, McClatchy Newspapers notes that Michael Munger, a political science professor at Duke University, sees it as a “battle for the soul of the Republican Party” between big-government conservatives who supported higher spending under President Bush and small-government tea partiers.

The Republican intraparty differences could present a greater obstacle to the party’s agenda than Democratic opposition.

The Adirondack Daily Enterprise has praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo for his lean budget proposals.  But the paper says property taxpayers in Tupper Lake should be prepared to pick up some of the slack to avoid more teacher layoffs.

This school budget will be a major challenge for the community, but on the bright side, major players are getting off to a good, early start by declaring in mid-February that students are their first priority.

Teachers publicly came to the table three months earlier than they did last year, and in a spirit of cooperation rather than defensiveness. In turn, board members and administrators said they value the faculty and don’t want it reduced.

But if faculty concessions aren’t enough by themselves, what else is there? Pensions? Not likely. Administrator pay and benefits? As the highest-paid employees, they might want to be ready to give something up, even if it doesn’t reduce the overall budget much.

Taxpayers should also expect to give some more, for the sake of the community’s future.

Tags: , ,

Leave a Reply