This first post on waterfrontonline.blog is a trial run. There’s no real news here. I’m just letting you know that I will once again be digging in to environmental and political issues in New York’s Finger Lakes.
Between 2009 and 2016 I wrote roughly 100 stories on regional environmental issues for websites and various local newspapers. I’ve launched my own site to better keep tabs on imminent threats to the lakes (and to gather those old stories in one place).
In our region, there is no more important environmental front than the battle for clean water — safe drinking water for hundreds of thousands and the basis of our wine and tourism economy. The lakes are stressed by invasive species, agricultural runoff, giant waste dumps, power plants, salt mines and waste water treatment plants. Just last week, a waste water treatment plant in Penn Yan reportedly released about 35,000 gallons of sludge into the Keuka Outlet, which flows into Seneca Lake.
State regulators who are charged with protecting the lakes are constantly bombarded by bids from private interests to bend regulations in their favor at the expense of the lakes. Local politicians, deep-pocket lobbyists and law firms tend to side with the special interests, leaving lake health defense to often ragtag groups of local citizens.
It’s not wise to underestimate the activists. They were instrumental in winning the state ban on fracking in 2014, and they have all but derailed major natural gas storage and pipeline proposals.
Last week I attended the annual meeting of the Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association in Watkins Glen. I was encouraged by both the robust turnout and the cooperative spirit with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, which I have been prone to bash. However, the DEC is in constant need of pressure from citizens and the media to follow through on its mission. I will try to do my part.
To borrow favorite words of Preet Bharara, our state’s former top federal prosecutor (dismissed in March): Stay Tuned.