St. Lawrence Valley Environmental Coalition MISSION STATEMENT

 MISSION STATEMENT

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to advocate for the natural environment in the Lower St. Lawrence Valley area with regard to the allocation of New York Power Authority (NYPA) funds from the St. Lawrence Aquarium & Ecological Center project;

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to promote use of a significant portion of said NYPA funds for environmental education, improvement, protection, monitoring, implementation, research and other projects and programs that will increase public awareness and appreciation of the area’s natural resources and enhance and conserve such resources;

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to work cooperatively with the St. Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency, the St. Lawrence County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) and others to ensure that said NYPA funds are used in a way that yields the most local economic benefit with the least environmental harm.

 

Fundamental Principals for Allocating NYPA Settlement Funding

As part of the 2003 NYPA relicensing settlement for continued operation of the St. Lawrence – FDR hydropower project, 14 million dollars and 20 megawatts of power were allocated for two interrelated functions: sustainable economic development and environmental management of the towns affected by the project.  Originally intended for an aquarium and research laboratory, which would serve both the economic and environmental objectives of the funds, presently the fate of these funds is being negotiated behind closed doors by representatives of four towns and the Industrial Development Authority (IDA).

We members of the St. Lawrence Environmental Coalition are very concerned about the progress and likely outcome of these negotiations, and believe that the public that is the intended beneficiary of the settlement should also be concerned. We advocate the following principals to meet the intended function of the settlement.

1. Creation of an Endowment.  There is a great risk that these funds will be exhausted on short-term infrastructure projects, unsustainable hiring, and funding of programs that do little towards sustainable economic development and environmental management. This settlement is intended to cover the next five decades. An endowment will assure that our children and grandchildren will continue to reap the benefits of the settlement.

2. Funding Projects that Incorporate Economic and Environmental Benefits. The hydropower project had some negative economic and environmental impacts on the project region, and the intention of the settlement was to support projects that attempt to mitigate some of these impacts. There are many promising ways by which economic development and environmental management benefits can both be achieved by supporting worthy industrial, agricultural, and tourism projects in the region.

3. Open Process of Funding Decisions. Too many decisions in New York are made by a powerful few people in a backroom, without public scrutiny, resulting in allocation of resources to ‘pet projects’ that don’t serve the widest public good. A committee with a representative composition of stakeholders that have expertise on the economic and environmental concerns of the region, appointed via a transparent process, is needed to evaluate potential projects, using publicly advertised criteria and an open process of project proposal submission.

If you agree with these principals, please let your St. Lawrence County town, village, and county officials, IDA, and NYPA know now; a decision on how to allocate the settlement is likely to be made soon.  For more information, contact us.

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