mailmanWill Rogers said, "Common sense ain't common". And WC Fields said, "Horse sense is the thing a horse has that keeps it from betting on people". Let's put our heads together and use whatever sort of sense we have, to figure what's best for our community.

Wherever we live, we try to use our best judgement to make good decisions for ourselves, our neighbors, our kids. Right now, Governor Cuomo is pushing to shut down the last coal-fired power plants in the state. That includes Cayuga. Cleaning up the toxic ash, cleaning up the air: That sounds good, right? Meanwhile, Cayuga's owner, Heorot Power Holdings, wants to convert one of the coal-fired units to natural gas. That fits in with Cuomo's plan. Maybe it's a good idea, maybe not.

The converted power plant would burn fuel hauled in by truck. The coal units at Cayuga are just over 150 megawatts each. Heorot claims at most 60 trucks a day might deliver fuel, but it doesn't take rocket science to show that running a 150MW steam turbine at full capacity would require 100 trucks per day. That's a tractor trailer every 6-8 minutes on local roads. We are told that the trucks are explosion proof, and maybe they are, but with tired drivers, heavy loads, and worn equipment, they sometimes crash. XNG, which hauls gas from Forest Lake, PA to Manheim, NY, has had several accidents this past year. One truck flipped over just this week (July 11th). Heorot says that it will also want to convert the second 150MW coal unit to gas. Two hundred compressed-gas tractor trailers a day would be needed to fuel those units running full tilt. Or they'll need to seize our property for a pipeline.

Is gas clean? When burned, coal does generate more particulates and more carbon dioxide than natural gas. Locally, the air might be a little cleaner. But gas combustion produces fine particulates (PM2.5) which can be absorbed directly into human tissue. Burning gas emits volatile organic compounds, linked to cancer. It generates nitrous oxides, which damage crop yields. Wineries up the lake, and homes down on Rte 34B, would probably get most of this pollution.

Local scientists at Cornell, Dr Howarth and Dr Ingraffea, have shown that gas is leaking in transmission from well-head to pilot light, somewhere between 2% and 12%. Methane, gas's main ingredient, has 96 times the atmospheric warming impact of carbon dioxide in the twenty years left to stem global warming. Only at about 2% leakage can gas be considered cleaner than coal.

Blackstone, which owns Heorot, is run by Trump advisor, Steven Schwarzman. Cuomo's campaign chair, William Mulrow, is a managing director at Blackstone. It's not hard to connect all those dots. Whether we use horse sense or common sense, clearly what Cuomo and Heorot want may not be best for Lansing residents.

Dennis Higgins
Otego, NY