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April 29, 2014

In Your Opinion: Research Zagata's background for yourself

The Daily Star

---- — Research Zagata’s background for yourself

The Star recently published a guest column by Michael Zagata supporting the proposed Constitution Pipeline. Mr. Zagata, a Davenport resident, was once commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, a fact duly noted in the column.

Unmentioned is the fact that, just before becoming head of the DEC, he was vice-president of Transco Energy, which runs a huge pipeline system supplying natural gas to the Northeast. 

Also unmentioned: 

— Transco is now owned by Williams, the very same company that wants to build the Constitution!

— When Mr. Zagata was at the DEC, he acquired an option to buy shares in Williams, and had to recuse himself from matters regarding that company.

— His 22-month tenure as DEC chief was fraught with controversy over his support for industry, cutting the department’s legal staff and weakening of environmental regulations and his forced resignation in January 1997 for personal abuses of his position — for which he was publicly rebuked by the governor who appointed him.

— In 2004, the DEC’s general counsel took the extraordinary step of issuing a public “warning” to Mr. Zagata, reminding him “of the lifetime ban on lobbying New York on issues an individual was involved in as part of their state job,” according to the Associated Press. 

— Last but not least: Mr. Zagata owns a substantial parcel in Davenport about a mile from the proposed pipeline and has a personal financial stake in the outcome, since it could open our area to fracking.

All of this can be found online with a few hours of research. It’s as easy to check as it is to hide. People can make up their own minds about Mr. Zagata and the pipeline, but at least they should know something more about his background than he is willing to disclose.

Bob Rosen

East Meredith