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Government Affairs Albany Update

April 17, 2003

Major Electricity Transmission Cable for NYS Approved

The Public Service Commission (PSC) voted on April 16th to approve PSEG Power Cross Hudson Corporation's (PSEG) application for a certificate to construct and operate a new substation and a new, electric transmission line with the capacity to carry 600 megawatts (MW) of electricity from a power plant in New Jersey to New York City. Under Article VII of the Public Service Law, which governs the siting of major transmission facilities, a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility and Public Need was granted by the PSC. Article VII is the counterpart to the now defunct Article X law for the siting of power plants.

PSEG filed its application to construct and operate the transmission line and the substation on October 12, 2001. Public hearings, a review of reasonable alternatives, and a review of technical and environmental issues by interested parties were held to review the application. A Joint Proposal resolving all issues and recommending approval of the certificate was submitted on February 11, 2003. There was no opposition to the Joint Proposal, which was supported by a variety of parties including the Department of Public Service, Department of Environmental Conservation, the City of New York, New York City Economic Development Corporation, the Hudson River Park Trust, and PSEG.

The new transmission line is needed to satisfy growing demand for electricity in the New York City load pocket. The line will also help satisfy the electricity reliability requirement that New York City have installed generation capacity equal to 80% of in-city peak demand as determined by the New York State Reliability Council (NYSRC) and the Independent System Operator (ISO).

Under the terms of the certificate, PSEG will construct and operate an electric generator lead transmission line connecting its Ridgefield, New Jersey, generating facility with a Consolidated Edison substation in Manhattan. The proposed line will be approximately eight miles in length, rated at approximately 600 MW, and designed to operate at 345 kilovolts (kV) alternating current. Approximately one-half of the line will be embedded in the Hudson River. The submarine cable system will be buried in the bed of the Hudson River. A transition station will be constructed on the New York side of the river to provide for a conversion from submarine cable to underground cable.

Tort Reform Lobby Day - April 29th

The New Yorkers for Civil Justice Reform, a broad-based coalition dedicated to tort reform, has announced that April 29th will be its Tort Reform Lobby Day. The Business Council is a member of the coalition and will participate in this lobbying event. The day will begin at the Crowne Plaza in Albany at 7 a.m. with a continental breakfast. At 8 a.m. leaders of the coalition will discuss the topics, issues and needs encompassing tort reform and "how to be a tort reform advocate". Legislative appointments will commence at 9 a.m. and will continue until 3 p.m. This is an important event designed to help the business community lobby the legislature directly on the need for tort reform. The coalition is calling on all effected constituents — doctors, home-builders, roofers, small business owners, insurance agents, farmers, architects — and the thousands of other industries and individuals that are hamstrung by New York's inability and unwillingness to institute tort reform. With this issue being championed by many in the Legislature this year, including Senate Majority Leader Bruno and Assembly Minority Leader Nesbitt, momentum for reform needs to be continued and strengthened.

For more information on the event and to obtain a registration form contact the New Yorkers for Civil Justice Reform at (518) 436-1072.

New York State School Report Cards for the 2001/02 School Year are Now Available Online

The latest school report cards were recently released by the State Education Department. The data show continued general improvement, but significant gaps still exist for poor and minority students. Annual high school graduation numbers are remaining stable as more of the testing requirements are phased in. Also, the percent of students who received a Regents Diploma (as opposed to simply a high school diploma which requires the passage of 4 Regents exams for graduation in 2002) increased to 54.8% in 2002, from 39.6% in 1996. The Regents Diploma is the optional higher level designation to which students can aspire. It requires students to pass eight Regents Exams (rather than the five now required for a high school diploma).

To see individual school report cards go to:
www.emsc.nysed.gov/repcrd2003/

"Chemical Security Act"

Senator Balboni (R-Mineola) has introduced S.4156, the "Chemical Security Act of 2003." To date, there is no companion bill. Key provisions of this bill are modeled on federal legislation (the federal "Chemical Safety Act," first introduced by Senator Corzine in the 107th Congress, and reintroduced as S.157 in the current Congress). The federal legislation has been widely opposed by the business community.

Senator Balboni's proposal authorizes the state Office of Public Security to designate facilities and substances that are "high priority" based of the severity of the threat posed by a terrorists attack, and require such facilities to conduct vulnerability assessments and to develop and implement response plans. In addition to improved site security, S.4156 requires facilities to "eliminate or significantly lessen the potential consequences of an unauthorized release" of chemicals caused by a terrorist attack. In doing so, facilities are required to consider use of "inherently safer technologies" (e.g., material substitution, process redesign, product reformulation, and reduced storage and use of hazardous chemicals); increased use of secondary containment and other mitigation equipment; and the use of "buffer zones" between high priority facilities and residences, schools, shopping centers and other population centers.

In addition, the bill gives the Director of Public Security the authority to issue orders compelling compliance, and authorizes the Attorney General to bring suit to require necessary actions to address terrorist risks not addressed by a facilities plan.

We look forward to hearing your comments on this proposal; The Business Council will be reaching out to Senator Balboni to express our concerns and discuss alternative approaches.