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Government Affairs Albany Update

May 18, 2001

Legislative Leaders support "Right to Organize"

At Wednesday's AFL-CIO "Right to Organize" rally in Albany, Governor Pataki, Senator Bruno and Speaker Silver pledged to support legislation that would make it easier for workers to authorize a union to represent them by simply signing a union authorization card. Unfortunately, no one mentioned that this would abolish the employee's almost sacred right to vote in a secret ballot election free from coercion and pressure tactics from organizers and other employees who want a union.

The bill would give the New York State Employment Relations Board the authority to appoint a collective bargaining agent, without a secret ballot vote, if presented with union authorization cards showing that a majority of employees are interested.

The good news is that only a very small number of New York State employers, not subject to the federal National Labor Relations Act, would be affected.

Energy Committee to Review State Energy Plan (SEP)

Over the past several weeks we have notified Business Council members of the upcoming review of the New York State Energy Plan (SEP). This is the only statutory energy master plan compiled by the State of New York. This year we have invited the lead agency in the SEP process, NYSERDA, to address the Energy committee on Monday, May 21st at 1:30 p.m. We have blocked off a considerable amount of time during the meeting to hear from the representative of the State Energy Planning Board. We will have extensive Q & A on this issue at the meeting.

The State Energy Plan projects the demand for electricity, natural gas, coal and petroleum products for a twenty year period. It also projects electricity needs, long range and emerging energy trends, security and diversity of fuel supplies, and a myriad of pertinent energy strategies. The Energy Plan provides the state with in-depth energy information, facts, figures, forecasts, and projections for all major fuels and their uses. The SEP is being conducted by the staffs of the Energy Planning Board with NYSERDAs serving as the coordinating agency.

Your recommendations, concerns and issues will serve as a basis for what The Business Council files for inclusion in the SEP, therefor we need to receive your input for developing our recommendations on the SEP.

The Business Council will submit detailed information, suggestions, and recommendations to the State Energy Planning Board. The comments for the SEP are due one month from now (by June 18th). If you cannot attend the Energy Committee meeting on May 21st but you have questions on the SEP. Comments and suggestions will be taken by the representative of the SEP Board on May 21st. Additional comments can be sent the SEP Board by the June 18th deadline or to The Business Council.

Federal Energy Plan Released

On Thursday, May 17th, President Bush unveiled his National Energy Policy. The 170-page study, entitled the Report of the National Energy Policy Development Group, was compiled under the direction of Vice President Dick Cheney. The plan is broken into eight chapters with over 100 recommendations that address all three key aspects of the energy equation: demand, supply, and the means to match the two. In addition to the Vice President, members of the group included the Secretaries of the federal departments of State, Treasury, Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Energy as well as the directors of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Emergency Management Agency.

The president stated that under his plan the nation should; 1). address demand by promoting innovation, technology, efficiency and conservation, 2). expand and diversify the supply of all sources of energy (oil, gas, clean coal, solar, wind, biomass, hydropower [and other renewables], and nuclear power, and 3). emphasize the modernization of the networks of pipes and wires that deliver energy commodities.

The president stated that there are many factors in America's growing energy needs such as the failure of some states (i.e. California) to build new power plants over the last decade, a severe shortage of oil refineries, a patchwork of regional electricity markets that provide limited interconnections outside of their own territory, a dependence on foreign sources of fuel (i.e. 52% of our oil), and restrictions on energy exploration and production due to environmental restraints.

Recommendations include:

Oil and Natural Gas



Tax issues - Funding

A number of the proposals put forward under the plan require Congressional approval. Some proposals, such as the encouragement of oil and gas development and exploration in Latin America and Asia, are diplomatic and global in nature.