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December 05, 2016
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editorial

Baseline studies for Highland?

The townspeople of the Town of Highland and the Sullivan County Legislature are to be lauded for their efforts to push for a study of the potential health impacts of the proposed Highland compressor station. Any addition to our body of knowledge about the impacts of natural gas infrastructure in a world in which natural gas is being promoted—mistakenly, in our view—as part of the solution to our energy needs rather than as part of the problem, is a step in the right direction. But we need to be clear about what we are hoping to accomplish with such a study, and what cannot be accomplished.  Read more

Slaughterhouse dreams fade away

For the past 10 years or so, the Sullivan County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and others have been trying to launch what could be called a boutique slaughterhouse in Liberty, NY. But after a wild ride of ups and downs, the project has finally met its demise.

The red meat facility was first proposed by the Sullivan County Agricultural Local Development Corporation in 2004, but that agency made no real progress, and the IDA adopted the project four years later.  Read more

What’s wrong with Tusten ZBA law?

The Tusten planning board in March approved a special-use permit that allowed developer Phillip Geras to move forward with his plan to convert a former seasonal hunting camp into a year-round apartment building with 10 units.

At the public hearing about the project, Wanda and Geoffrey Gangel, who live next to the building in question, brought up some points that they interpreted to mean that the project would be in violation of several aspects of the town’s zoning code. The planning board did not agree with their arguments and granted the special-use permit.  Read more

Another healthcare surprise

The track record for newly created entities providing healthcare in New York State in compliance with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, is not a very good one.  Read more

Pesticides in your toothpaste

As the end of the New York State legislative session draws near, environmental groups in Albany are pushing to have triclosan banned from most products sold in the state.

The New York State League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) is one such group. According to its website, the presence of triclosan, which was first registered as a pesticide in 1969, has been found in New York waters, and it “impairs muscle function in both animals and humans, including heart muscle.”

So what is it, and how did it get into our soaps and toothpaste?  Read more

Embracing the sunshine

In some places in Sullivan County, it’s clear that the county is already home to some large-scale solar installations. The one outside the Travis Building in Liberty, NY, which went online in 2012, generates 49.9 kW of power with 208 panels.

Another system, which was powered up behind the Sullivan County Community College in 2016, cranks out 2.15 MW of electricity with more than 7,000 panels.  Read more

A gift to the nuclear power industry

State officials are in the midst of a round of meetings regarding the state’s proposed Clean Energy Standard (CES), which will determine how much renewable electricity will be distributed to customers by utilities in years to come. The proposed plan calls for the state to generate 80% of electricity from renewable power by 2050, which is certainly a laudable goal.

Incredibly, however, the proposed CES mandates that rate-payers keep the state’s four nuclear power plants alive by paying higher-than-market prices for the expensive electricity produced by the plants.  Read more

Fixing the state with a constitutional convention

Lawmakers in Albany have shown for years that they are not interested in bringing real ethics reform to state government, despite the fact that 41 legislators have been convicted or accused of committing crimes in the past 12 years. If lawmakers don’t feel like taking action on a specific matter, there are not many ways for constituents to force them to do so. However, there is one political action in which the voices of the electorate could carry more weight than politicians, and that’s in a constitutional convention.  Read more

Making it easier to vote

There is a real possibility that if the rules for primary elections were standardized across the country, and people could choose to vote in either primary and independent voters were allowed to participate in the process in all states, Bernie Sanders would be the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee and Hillary Clinton would be playing catch-up. But political parties are not run by the state government, and they make their own rules.  Read more

Let’s move into the 21st century

A lot of politicians like to talk about open and transparent government, especially when they are on the campaign trail, but at a last week’s meeting of the Sullivan County Legislature, a couple of its members suggested that openness can be taken too far.  Read more