Government Affairs Albany UpdateMay 18, 2001
- Legislative Leaders support "Right to Organize"
- Energy Committee to Review State Energy Plan (SEP)
- Federal Energy Plan Released
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.
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.
For more information on the State Energy Plan proceedings and/or for a copy of the plan itself, access the NYSERDA website at; http://www.nyserda.org/energyinfo.html
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.
Oil and Natural Gas
- Congressional authorization to explore portions of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska.
- Streamlining the oil refinery permitting process by adding more regulatory certainty.
- Easing restrictions on exploration on public lands, expediting the permitting of hydroelectric dams and other energy-related projects.
- Congressional approval of legislation designed to help bring more gas to market, while improving pipeline safety and safeguarding the environment.
- The building of 38,000 new miles of natural gas pipeline and 263,000 miles of distribution lines.
- Directing the EPA to review raising Corporate Average Fuel Economy Standards (CAFÉ).
- Congressional authorization to give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) power of eminent domain for new electrical transmission lines.
- Examining the formation of a seamless national electricity grid.
- Easing of regulatory barriers on emissions due to "new source reviews" on plants that expand or upgrade.
- Easing the relicensing and expansion processes for existing nuclear facilities.
- Considering a revival of the exploration of technology for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel.
- Continues the pursuit of a national nuclear waste repository.
Tax issues - Funding
- Tax credits for the purchase of fuel-efficient hybrid automobiles, solar homes, clean-coal technology studies, and renewable energy source studies.
- Proposing $2 billion in clean-coal technologies.
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. The full text of the National Energy Policy can be found on the White House web page at; http://www.whitehouse.gov/