Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Big solar, plus APA court decisions

Solar panels

I sifted through the new Office of Renewable Energy Siting’s regulations and talked to some state and nonprofit sources about large-scale solar projects and the permitting process. Some of you have had questions about solar capacity factors and decommissioning, among other things, in my time covering these solar facility permits. We try to answer some of them for you here.

The Adirondack Park Agency lost two separate court decisions —one involving a marina permit on Lower Saranac Lake and another involving an herbicide permit on Lake George. The Court of Appeals case involving a private marina was the first to come out, and in an unanimous opinion judges criticized how the APA has been applying its wetlands regulations. We learned Judge Robert Muller, of the state Supreme Court in Warren County, issued a decision on a Lake George herbicide permit suit that scolded APA for being “one-sided” in its application review and said the agency should have held an adjudicatory hearing.

We’ve heard little from the APA about what these decisions mean for permit reviews going forward, or whether the agency will contest any of the court decisions.

In the meantime it seems private citizens and lake associations are getting the backing of the courts in their contest with APA over more stringent environmental reviews. Should these decisions not be contested, we’ll have to see how they impact the APA’s review of future applications. The agency is slated to meet on Thursday, March 16.

LOBBY DAY: A group of hearty Adirondack Park advocates braved the snow to stump in Albany for budget and policy measures. David Gibson, of Adirondack Wild, recounted some of the asks to lawmakers and provided some photos of the day.

This first appeared in Gwen’s weekly “Adirondack Report” newsletter. Click here to sign up.

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Gwen is the environmental policy reporter for Adirondack Explorer.

4 Responses

  1. Nathan says:

    APA needs to be overhauled for ignoring hearings, favortism and possible corruption of big money approvals that are questionable at best and at worst total corruption. The APA is to protect the park and be accountable to following enviromental protection standards.
    Hearings were required so its a community based honesty and think tank of all different assests and impacts of projects.
    The APA has become distrusted by residents, enviromental groups and certainly seems to approve big money interests regardless of the outcry.
    NYS DA needs to investigate the APA.

  2. Wally Elton says:

    The APA (and DEC) must not be allowed to ignore court decisions it doesn’t like.

    • JohnL says:

      Then, by the same token, the New York State legislature and Gov Hochul should not be allowed to work in contravention of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Bruen? Yet they did and do.

      • Boreas says:

        Indeed! The entire political landscape is ushering in the Golden Age of Lawyers. If no one mounts a legal challenge, the scofflaw wins!

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