Minority Leader Brian Kolb Blasts DEC’s 11th Hour Attempt To Advance New Regulation Restricting Use Of Wood Boilers, Says The Agency’s Actions Have Rural New Yorkers “Steaming Mad”

Leader Kolb demands the DEC stop acting like a “thief in the night,” and reverse its last-minute attempt to fast track a new regulation that would hurt rural New Yorkers and the agricultural community
December 19, 2010

In response to an 11th hour effort by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to fast track a controversial new regulation during the waning days of 2010, Assembly Minority Leader Brian M. Kolb (R,I,C-Canandaigua) has written to the Agency demanding that it reverse course. The DEC’s new regulation would restrict the use of wood boilers, negatively affecting the quality of life and pocketbooks of rural New Yorkers and farmers.

“There is a saying that in life, timing is everything. The DEC scheduling a meeting for December 22 – a mere three days before Christmas – to consider what they know is a highly controversial new regulation that negatively impacts rural New Yorkers and farmers is more than just bad timing. I believe it’s nothing short of a deliberate attempt to disenfranchise rural New Yorkers from letting the DEC know how much they oppose the new regulation and stop this Albany snowball before it gets rolling. Folks who rely on wood boilers are steaming mad at the DEC, and rightly so,” Kolb said.

“This may come as news to Albany bureaucrats kept warm and toasty in public buildings whose heating bills are paid by taxpayers, but out in the real world, wood boilers are used extensively throughout rural communities. Restricting their use, as the DEC’s new regulation ultimately proposes, would not only hurt financial bottom lines, it would remove a low-cost renewable energy source rural New Yorkers count on to heat their homes and businesses during winter’s cold,” Kolb said.

“Besides being bad public policy, the process the DEC has employed in trying to lay the groundwork for a regulation they know is extremely contentious three days before a major holiday only reinforces the image of a State Agency with something to hide. The DEC needs to stop acting like a thief in the night by trying to fast track this regulation,” Kolb said.

“The prudent thing – the right thing – for the Agency to do would be to reverse course. At the very least, it should hold off until we have a new Governor sworn-in and a new DEC Commissioner appointed and approved who can then carefully consider the regulation’s practical impact,” Kolb said.

“The DEC had all year to advance this regulation. Now, with just 12 days until 2011 and a new Administration coming in, they finally decide to act. Is anybody minding the store over at the DEC? I think some adult supervision for this Agency is sorely needed and should be front and center on the Legislature’s agenda come January, 2011,” Kolb stated.

In correspondence that was hand-delivered to Acting DEC Commissioner Peter Iwanowicz on Friday, December 17, Kolb wrote the following: “Not only is this an ill-advised public policy, the questionable manner in which it is being advanced demonstrates why so many New Yorkers do not trust their state government. I am specifically referring to the DEC’s decision to hold a meeting of its Environmental Review Board, ostensibly to discuss the highly controversial regulation, a mere three days before Christmas. Only in Albany could this somehow be considered a good idea.”

Kolb’s correspondence to the DEC continued: “I, along with many others who oppose this new regulation, feel the meeting’s timing is no coincidence. It is difficult to believe it was anything other than intentional that the meeting was scheduled so close to a major holiday and religious observance to ensure a minimum of public notice and media coverage of the policy being discussed. If this is indeed the case, then shame on the DEC. It should be the policy of all agencies of New York State government to encourage the active input, participation and comment of the public and media alike in the policy-making process. Your proposed meeting does not serve that goal.”

Kolb’s letter concluded: “With a New Year, a new Governor and a new Legislative Session – during which the DEC’s budget will be subject to legislative oversight and approval – almost upon us, I urge you to reverse this last-minute attempt to promulgate a new regulation that would have negative consequences for rural New York and our entire agricultural community.”

Click here to read New York State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb’s letter to the DEC that was hand delivered on Friday, December 17, 2010.