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November 28, 2007

Giuliani faces NYRI hurdle

By Tom Grace

Cooperstown News Bureau

Some activists who oppose New York Regional Interconnect’s proposed power line say they will campaign against Republican presidential contender Rudolph Giuliani.

Giuliani’s law firm, Bracewell & Giuliani, represents NYRI Inc., which proposes to build a $1.6 billion, 200-mile electric-transmission line from Marcy in Oneida County to New Windsor in Orange County.

Proponents of the project say it will help provide electricity to the New York City area during times of peak demand, although they acknowledge it will raise the price of wholesale electricity in upstate New York.

Opponents, who last year turned out in force for several meetings about the project, say it is unnecessary and would be an eyesore.

New York’s presidential primaries are scheduled for Feb. 5, and the idea of opposing Giuliani, a former New York City mayor, has been introduced at meetings of Stop NYRI Inc., according to the organization’s co-chairwomen, Chris Rossi and Eve Ane Shwartz.

If Giuliani were to become the GOP presidential nominee, the opposition might extend to the general election, Rossi said.

``We want to make this an issue in the presidential race, but it’s hard to connect with people who aren’t directly affected by NYRI,’’ she said. ``We’ve been thinking the best way is to emphasize that this project depends on a private corporation being able to use federal eminent-domain laws to take land.’’

Under the 2005 federal Energy Policy Act, private corporations are permitted in some situations to condemn land for their power-line projects. This power could be used well beyond upstate New York, making eminent domain a broad-based issue, she said.

Hank Nicols, former chairman of Otsego County’s Democratic Party, said he believes that the use of eminent domain by private firms could become a national issue.

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