Editor’s Note: The following is an opinion column written by In Shik Lee, a Dryden homeowner.

It comes in response to another column printed earlier in the Ithaca Voice today, “Opinion: Ithaca needs, and deserves, access to natural gas.”

To submit a guest column, contact me today at jstein@ithacavoice.com.


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Why I Shop Downtown

I am extremely concerned by Mr Kremer’s letter in which he blames our resistance to the gas pipeline through our properties as the cause for Tompkins County’s current economic situation.

I am concerned that he blames the “opposition” by the residents of West Dryden Road to the 7 mile gas pipeline in my front yard for the “region’s energy pinch and the directly related economic under performance”. I am not opposed to economic development. Neither are my neighbors. We ARE opposed to short sighted economic development.

I am concerned that on behalf of New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA), Mr Kremer can say this opposition is shortsighted, if we are trying to protect the rights of property owners. We are concerned for the build out of infrastructure on our property which is unnecessary and goes against the county’s climate policy.

As for shortsightedness, I am opposed to yet more short-sightedness of Iberdrola/NYSEG a foreign corporation looking only at their bottom line for share holders and acting with business as usual ideologies and tactics which allow them to continue to make decisions without thinking about the greater “local” good into the future. NYSEG representatives announced just this past Friday that Tompkins County is their leading candidate for a county-wide sustainable energy project, and yet they will impose Eminent Domain on us for more gas and more greenhouse gases!

I am opposed to our town board’s short sightedness of changing laws to accommodate large corporations’ needs rather than the protection of its constituents, under the guise of time saving for the board. If the Town Board is so quick to give away our rights for review process and to reduce my property value, will the Town of Dryden be giving little me homeowner in Dryden a tax holiday so that NYSEG, Lansing and Ithaca developers and contractors can reap big profits?

I am opposed to other people getting more wealthy at my neighbors’ and my expense. If all these entrepreneurs and corporations want to make money using my property, then they should pitch in to help pay for the rights to use my property for which I pay heavily every year and for the liabilities I will incur. I am opposed to Iberdrola condemning my property and taking it by Eminent Domain under the guise of other people’s sense of gas entitlement. $1 per property owner for 7 miles of access just won’t cut it !

And prosperity for whom? This pipeline is designed to transport a minimum of 2 million gallons of gas per hour through my front yard to serve contractors who already have plenty of money, developers in NYC, shareholders to multi-national corporations, companies who already get a myriad of tax cuts. This is enough gas to power another Tompkins County! This gas does not serve the Town of Dryden’s economic development and it does not serve me or my neighbors. If corporations want to continue use up our country’s fossil fuels, continue to go in the wrong direction, and we let them, where will the incentives be to use the viable smart alternatives available?

So, Ithaca, Lansing, Dryden and Tompkins County need, and deserve, access- NOT to natural gas to spur development, but to incentives and alternatives- to wean us off the fossil fuels and giant corporations who do their work without thinking about the impacts on the local ratepayers and to our environment. In fact local experts working with Sustainable Tompkins and Solar Tompkins have demonstrated that smart affordable construction and renewables can make this pipeline unnecessary and affordable. Further, the sustainable sources of heating and power will leave more money in local people’s pockets, whereas pipeline build-out will result in increased gas rates to pay for the pipeline.

Smart economic planning would support the development towards a local clean energy future.

But that would be thinking into the future. That would be long sighted thinking.

Think about it. Do you really think they are building out this infrastructure to help us, the lowly rate-payers throughout this county who will have to foot the bill for this pipeline?, or just paving the way to guaranteed future income for themselves?

On April 16th, the Dryden Town Board is scheduled to vote on an amendment that decimates current Town Law Protections, by removing Special Use Permits requirements and environmental reviews for ALL PUBLIC UTILITIES! These utilities are no longer your Grandma’s local utility company.

Come out to support me and the other Concerned Residents of Dryden at Dryden Town Hall and show your concern on April 16th, 7pm. This is not just happening to me and my neighbors on West Dryden Road, this is happening to all of you!

— In Shik Lee,
Homeowner on West Dryden Road

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.