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Source: YNN Buffalo

Community at odds over greenhouse gas initiative

Area lawmakers are calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to repeal environmental legislation that they say could force one plant in the Town of Somerset to relocate, taking more than 75 percent of the town's tax revenue with it. YNN's Meg Rossman has more on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and the negative environmental impact one group says the area could face if lawmakers get their way.

BY MEG ROSSMAN

Posted: August 17, 2011
Originally Published: August 16, 2011

SOMERSET, N.Y. — "There is a need for preservation and protection of environment policies but the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program is not the answer."

In fact, Somerset Town Councilman Daniel Engert and state lawmakers say the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is threatening the livelihood of the Town of Somerset.

Tuesday, they called on Governor Andrew Cuomo to repeal legislation taxing AES Somerset and 16 coal-fired plants across the state.

"This is a devastating policy on local communities," Engert said.

Originally passed by George Pataki, RGGI was designed to reduce pollution from power plants, like AES Somerset; an initiative supported by Brian Smith of the Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

"It's provided significant benefits to New Yorkers in reducing pollution, saving New Yorkers money and creating good, green jobs," Smith said.


AES Somerset is currently taxed $10 million every year under the program and according to officials, is looking at leaving the area as a result.

Smith said RGGI is not the problem.

"It's been the decrease cost in natural gas along with the decrease cost of coal that are causing the problems, not RGGI."


But, the town's largest taxpayer is currently on the market and Engert said if RGGI isn't cut soon, residents in the Town of Somerset could be facing a major tax increase.

"The future is uncertain at this point of the plant," Engert said.

A resolution asking for a withdrawal is currently making its way across the state. Engert said more than half of the townships in Niagara County have signed on.