Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No, Really, I'm Against It

Still convinced that all those rallies and hearings are going to stop NYRI? Then you probably want to talk to our senators, since they're really, really against the NYRI program too...except when they're not.

Despite their fiery condemnations of the power-line project known as New York Regional Interconnect, the state's two U.S. senators have been all but silent on the law that could pave the way for its construction.

The rhetoric: "I have made my opposition to the plan very clear and will continue to work with all the communities concerned to fight it," presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said this week.

"We will somehow not let NYRI go through," Charles Schumer, the Senate's No. 3 Democrat, said in May.

The reality: Clinton and Schumer have not said whether they support or oppose changing a two-year-old federal law that critics say virtually assures that power line projects like the 1,200-megawatt NYRI get built.

Likewise, they have not said whether they back a campaign by local members of Congress to repeal or amend the provision. Those efforts are doomed without Senate support.

Ultimately, both Senators Schumer and Clinton will give NYRI the nod because it benefits downstate, that magical place filled with enough votes to actually make a difference to their careers. Upstate? We're a blip on the screen at best.

It probably doesn't help things that they're both beholden, along with our own Congressman Arcuri, to the left-wing part of the coalition behind the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (NYAREA). You remember them- they're the organization that revealed their overwhelming support for the NYRI powerline plan at the Department of Energy hearings in New York. While business interests in NYAREA have been pressuring politicians on the right to move the plan forward, union groups have been tackling the left. A handy one-two punch.

Oh, and Congressman Arcuri might want to give his sister a call and ask why her union, The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, is supporting NYAREA and the NYRI plan. From his public comments it seems the two have never discussed the issue.

Odd, that.

Update: It took less than 24 hours for this post to get multiple hits from both Mammen-Pritchard, Congressman Arcuri's public relations company, and the IBEW headquarters in Falls Church, Virginia. Just as a point of reference, the IBEW is Mr. Arcuri's top campaign contributer.