Stefanik should vote the talk on environment

To the editor:

Elise Stefanik talks like an environmentalist but doesn’t vote like one.

There is no area where the contradictions between what Ms. Stefanik says and what she does is more evident than her positions on environmental protection. The most egregious example is the contrast between her sponsorship (along with then-congressman Chris Gibson) of a “non-binding resolution” stating that climate change is real and partially caused by humans, and her vote in favor of the so-called “Ratepayer Protection Act” sponsored by the Appalachian coal industry. Specifically she voted to allow Midwestern coal-burning power plants to continue burning coal instead of converting to cheap natural gas, even though burning coal in the Midwest results in acid rain and other pollutants here in the Adirondacks. Chris Gibson was one of the few Republicans to vote against this bill.

When Elise Stefanik was challenged as to how she could vote in favor of a bill so obviously counter to the interests of her constituents, she blithely repeated Republican marketing slogans. She claimed to be looking out for jobs and protecting electricity ratepayers. Additionally, she claimed to believe that the states should make these decisions, not the federal government (Obama).

Let’s look at these slogans/reasons one by one.

1 Jobs: Although surely a few jobs might well be lost in the coal industry if power plants are forced to switch to natural gas earlier than they had planned, none of those jobs are anywhere near the North Country. Importantly, mercury and sulfur pollution from the coal-fired power plants negatively impacts the fisheries in the North Country. This not only costs local jobs, but it affects the quality of life here. Many local residents like to fish.

2. Electricity ratepayers: The ratepayers who might be affected are in the Midwest or other states that heavily rely on coal-fired power plants. None are in the state of New York. Why should Midwestern electricity ratepayers expect to lower their electricity costs slightly by dumping their pollutants in our lakes and streams?

Environmental issues are extremely important to the economy of the 21st District and the North Country in general. Both agriculture and outdoor tourism, two pillars of the North Country economy, are highly susceptible to disruptions caused by global climate change or pollution of our lakes and streams.

Pressure from us, her constituents, and, importantly, the local newspapers, has forced her to at least pretend to be sensitive to environmental issues. If we keep up the pressure, she may actually vote the way she talks.

Peter Hahn

Ray Brook