About Gwendolyn Craig

Gwen is an award-winning journalist covering environmental policy for the Explorer since January 2020. She also takes photos and videos for the Explorer's magazine and website. She is a current member of the Legislative Correspondents Association of New York. Gwen has worked at various news outlets since 2015. Prior to moving to upstate New York, she worked for a D.C. Metro-area public relations firm, producing digital content for clients including the World Health Organization, the Low Income Investment Fund and Rights and Resources Initiative. She has a master's degree in journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. She has bachelor's degrees in English and journalism, with a concentration in ecology and evolutionary biology, from the University of Connecticut. Gwen is also a part-time figure skating coach. Contact her at (518) 524-2902 or gwen@adirondackexplorer.org. Sign up for Gwen’s newsletter here.

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  1. JB says

    APA seems to have a formula in place–and one that has hopefully managed to escape the Cuomo administration’s crusade against local oversight in solar siting (see Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act)–that is ostensibly helping to fold local environmental and rural character concerns into the utility-scale solar planning process. But these projects are not the same as residential development projects and should not be regulated as such. Construction of a 24-acre solar farm, as complicated as that is, is not a one-and-done deal. There are decades of ongoing maintenance that will be needed.

    Does APA have the gusto to oversee these projects on a continuing basis? At first glance, it may appear so. For example, the Draft Permit Application for this project states: “Other than as described in the Maintenance and Vegetation Management Plan, the application of any pesticides or herbicides within the lease parcel boundaries shall require prior written Agency authorization.” (https://www.apa.ny.gov/Mailing/2022/05/Regulatory/P2021-0296-DRAFTPermit.pdf) …However, buried in the referenced “Maintenance and Vegetation Management Plan”–immediately following the reassuring discussion about “pollinator friendly seed mix” and “rotational grazing” (and the not-so-reassuring plan for mass application of herbicide to help the seed mix establish)–we find that APA’s stipulation against unregulated herbicide use is essentially an empty facade: “Since weed seeds remain viable in the soil for number years, site and weed management is a long-term process. Treated areas will be monitored annually and re-treated if necessary, using typical weed management practices and procedures.” (https://www.apa.ny.gov/Mailing/2022/05/Regulatory/P2021-0296-MapsPlans&Sims-Final.pdf) …In other words, Pivot Energy can use as much herbicide as they’d like, for as long as they’d like. (Of course, by the time most of us have had a chance to review documents like these, the public comment period is already closed.)

    There is not really an established set of Best Practices for this industry, especially for anything like the Adirondack environment, and it shouldn’t really be the responsibility of APA staff to write them. But someone needs to. And once such guidelines exist, we need to ensure that APA has the capability to enforce them.

  2. Pat Smith says

    Most of the legislation written by the state regarding solar has been crafted to take to take away much of the local government control over siting, maintenance, PILOT and host agreements ect. The push to use open, easily accessible farmland is enormous. Even if the land is unused now it will be needed in the future. Please research 2050 food supplies and world populations. It has been recognized for years that around 2050 the world will not have enough productive farmland left to feed everyone.

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