Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Engage Mid-Hudson: Bad for You, Bad for Me

 I sent this email to David Church, Orange County (New York) commissioner of planning, and Thomas Madden, planner for the Town of Greenburgh.  Church and Madden led an Agenda-21-inspired regional planning charade called "Engage Mid-Hudson." The plan is packed with lies and superstition.  Church and Madden are front men for Andrew Cuomo and Barack Obama, who are pushing for regional plans that aim to destroy Americans' living standards through ill-considered environmental regulation.  Cutting carbon emissions by some predetermined amount is based on ignorant, junk science advocated in places like The New York Times by badly educated "environmental scientists" who are ill equipped to evaluate the limits of their own training.  Ms. Muller is the public relations officer for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which funded 10 regional organizations with $10 million each to draft half-baked regional environmental plans. The Engage Mid-Hudson plan is here.

Dear Messrs. Church and Madden and Ms. Muller:

I am writing an article for The Lincoln Eagle, an 18,000-circulation monthly paper in Kingston, NY, concerning Engage Mid-Hudson’s regional green plan (executive summary attached) that was released in May.  I have a few questions for you.  Please address these concerns either in writing or by telephone:

(1)    “(The plan) was developed through a consensus-building process. “  At the initial meeting there were a number of protestors who voiced concerns about the plan. The plan does not address their concerns. At one point in the initial meeting you threatened to evict those who were disagreeing, although you rescinded that threat.  You did not appoint any who disagreed to officer positions, reserving your organization’s formal appointments  for connected retired IBM employees like Herb Oringel and other corporate-and-government insiders.  Although you ultimately were cordial in the initial meeting, the plan is misleading because it does not mention the sharp disagreement that was made evident to you and that you have failed to address.  This is also evident on your group’s website, which asks for reactions to the plan but does not permit a negative reaction. 

There is no consensus, and your plan’s claim that there is is a falsehood.  In particular Lynn Teger’s group Citizens for the Protection of Property Rights in the Mid Hudson Region was excluded from the process. If you wish to contact Ms. Teger, she can be reached at teger.lynn@gmail.com . If you do not wish to contact her for her group’s input, I would appreciate an explanation as to your selective choices as to who got to be invited to your charade.  IBMers, yes. Property rights activists, no.  There is no consensus because major opponents of your “non-binding”  plan were excluded.

(2)    You claim that carbon emissions cause global warming.  Yet, here is a graph of 5 million years of climate change, and current temperatures are well below those of five million years ago, when there were no human carbon emissions.  How is it possible that the climate is now cooler than it was before humans existed if climate warming  is anthropogenic?  If you do not know the answer, please explain why you claim to know the sources of climate change in your report, but really you, your consulting firm, Francis Murray, Andrew Cuomo,  climate scientists, and the environmental movement are ignorant about it.

(3)    You make the claim that you aim to “reduce the region’s overall contribution to climate change.” Please produce empirical evidence of any kind that specifically shows that the Catskills and Hudson Valley region make any significant contribution to climate change.  On what factual evidence other than hearsay from your consulting firm and the ignorant parties previously noted do you base this claim?
(4)    How much did you pay Ecology and Environment, Inc. to frame this plan?  The plan is a knock-off of other ICLEI-and-Agenda 21-based plans; a monkey could have copied it off other plans for free.  Please explain why 300 people who supposedly participated in this planning process came up with a model that already exists in hundreds of plans around the world.
(5)    In the 1930s, there were the dust bowl storms, which were worse than any storms occurring now.  Please provide me with evidence of this claim:Critically, climate change can impact the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. The Mid-Hudson Region is already challenged by extreme weather events, particularly flooding, as evidenced in the recent hurricanes Irene and Sandy. “  Was Sandy the first hurricane or storm to affect the region? I think not.  In 1821 a hurricane made landfall in New York, flooding Manhattan to Canal Street. 
(6)    Your report lacks evidence of an understanding of cost-benefit tradeoffs.  Even if windstorms increase by 50%, is that a rationale to curtail living standards by 50%? Please clarify how you calculated the tradeoffs in the report’s many far-fetched, extreme claims, such as that there is a need to reduce automobile use or to force people in rural settings to move to urban ones.

(7)    You write that the region needs to “become radically less energy and fossil fuel intensive while strengthening the regional economy.” Please provide data or empirical evidence that the region needs to become less energy and fuel intensive.   There is no evidence that the regional economy can become stronger without fossil fuels. You implicitly make the claim that it is possible, but there is no empirical evidence that it is.  Please provide some.  You wild, unverified claims amount to superstition, not intelligent policy making.
(8)    The reduction in available farmland was caused by a massive building binge that was funded through sub-prime mortgage lending.  Earlier, the Federal Reserve Bank expanded the money supply over a century, in part to fund energy-intensive centralized agriculture, suburban development, and the automobile industry.  Could you please mention that Andrew Cuomo in 1993 had proposed expansion of home building to include sub-prime borrowers, which led to increased use of farmland for home building and ultimately harmed the financial industry? First, Cuomo advocated massive expansion of private home ownership.  Now he is attacking private home ownership.  Can you please reconcile these wild vacillations in the direction of Mr. Cuomo’s maelstrom?
(9)     You write that you aim to “foster economic development” and “make all growth smart growth.”  The term “smart growth" is vacuous and nonsensical.  Historically, economic growth occurs in the absence of government regulation.  I do not believe that you or your crew of IBM bureaucrats have the slightest idea as to how to foster economic growth.

The best way for New York to grow is to abolish Engage Mid-Hudson and fire three quarters of New York’s vampire government.  Would you please explain your track record in fostering economic development in a state that has lagged the national economic performance for decades? To be precise: What do you know about economic development?  Is Orange County successful in developing economically compared to North Dakota or other carbon energy-developing states?
(10) You make the claim that tourism can strengthen the area’s economy. Do you have any evidence that you know how to develop tourism?  You remind me of the film Roger and Me in which Flint, Michigan attempts to turn itself into a tourist mecca. They succeeded in further damaging their blighted economy--which was not as blighted as New York’s.
(11) Engage Mid-Hudson has no authority to pass legislation or regulation, yet you write in terms of targets. How can you implement targets if you have no authority?

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