Chair Archive

Chair's Report

October, 2008

Chair: Tom Ortmeyer

Just after the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, Thomas Friedman wrote an opinion piece comparing the $43 billion infrastructure China had invested since 2001 in preparing for the games with the Unites States’ investments in security during the same period—as he states “They’ve been building better stadiums, subways, airports, roads and parks. And we’ve been building better metal detectors, armored Humvees and pilotless drones. The difference is starting to show.” He goes on to state “[I]t’s clear that the next seven years need to be devoted to nation-building in America.”

There is no doubt that one of today’s key issues is energy, and that there will be enormous investment in energy sources over the next decades. How does this impact us in the Laurentian Chapter? Clearly, the historic Supreme Court decision in Environmental Defense et al. v. Duke Energy Corp. et al. (April, 2007) regarding the Clean Air Act will provide a beneficial impact throughout the Adirondacks and beyond. However, a July 11 Federal Appeals Court ruling makes it equally clear that the final outcome of this issue is not yet clear. It is certainly worthwhile to support the club in its involvement in this continuing saga.

The increasing presence of wind generation near the park is another issue. There are significant wind farms just outside of the blue line, and there may well be more in our area in the near future. I personally find much to like about modern, well designed, appropriately sited wind farms. However, the New York Times has recently reported that wind generation already has been curtailed within the state due to transmission line constraints. It is clear that more transmission lines are needed in New York if we are to meet our state’s renewable energy goals.

The third issue is base load generation. For a number of reasons, I believe that new base load generation will be provided by either coal or nuclear power plants. There is a boom in new power plants nationwide, and those currently under construction or ordered are all coal plants—some with the modern “clean coal” technology, and others without the latest technology. Neither one solves the carbon dioxide problem. There is a need for new base load generation in New York, and I think we need to engage in a dialog on where and what type of generation should be built—for the good of the state and the good of the Adirondacks. The most likely location in New York for a new nuclear plant is Oswego, where a site is under active consideration. It is less clear where a new coal plant (or plants) would likely be. This is perhaps the biggest issue facing us, and I believe we all need to be involved in making that decision.