Stop NYRI Campaign Meets at Colgate

Matt Usdin

Over the past year, you may have noticed the countless “Stop NYRI” signs that are prominently displayed throughout the town of Hamilton as well as much of Central New York. More recently, you may have noticed a growing number of these same signs along with other anti-NYRI paraphernalia around the Colgate campus. Over the past few weeks, the Colgate community has taken an active role in the Stop NYRI movement that is committed to fighting the proposed plan of New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI) to build a 400,000-watt power line that would run for nearly 200 miles throughout New York state.

Monday of Fall Break, Colgate’s Hall of Presidents served as the site for a public hearing regarding the controversial construction plan. The hearing, which represented the first of thirteen that will occur throughout central New York, attracted a large crowd of local residents, media and protesters. While hoping to raise awareness among local communities, the hearing also served as a forum for people to voice their frustrations toward the two administrative law judges who were present.

The Public Service Commission hearing, which lasted for over six hours, was largely filled with residents of central New York who would be greatly affected by the construction of the power lines. The Stop NYRI organization argued that the power lines would raise electric fares for local residents, stunt regional economic growth, bisect farms and villages, spoil the environment and could lead to health problems as a result of the high voltage.

“I am extremely worried about the prospects of the power lines running amongst our local communities, “Hamilton resident Susan Tallman said. “It is certainly a danger that I would like to see averted but I worry about the government officials approving the project.”

Colgate has also become involved in the Stop NYRI movement in other ways. On October 14th, the Loj hosted a discussion dinner that aimed to raise awareness amongst the Colgate community regarding the proposed power lines. Eve Anne Schwartz, co-chair of Stop NYRI, was the featured speaker at the dinner and urged the crowd to take an active role in the protests. Schwartz, whose farm in Earlville would be ruined by the proposed construction, represents one of the many residents of New York who have actively opposed the power lines.

In 2006, NYRI filed a series of applications with the Public Service Commission with hopes of being allowed to begin the construction. After three attempts, the PSC accepted the application for review. However, this acceptance does not mean that the lines are going to be built. The final decision concerning the application will not be made until August of 2009, at which time NYRI’s application will be accepted, rejected or modified.

In the time leading up to thefinal decision, Stop NYRI is encouraging as many people as possible to actively participate in protesting NYRI’s plan.

“We need people to write letters to the PSC and local officials that express that our communities can’t withstand these lines economically or environmentally,” Smyrna resident Molly Khouri said. “Just because the initial application is being reviewed does not mean that the building will be allowed.”

The series of public hearings will continue throughout the next month. For the November 7 hearing in Norwich, the Center for Outreach, Volunteerism and Education (COVE) is working to organize a group of vans that would enable students to attend.

“Since there is only one year left until the final decision is made, we really need to rally support against NYRI,” senior COVE representative Kelly Henderson said. “Its simple, we just need people to stand up and let it be known that you are against construction.”