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Opinion

May 5, 2014

In Your Opinion: Dialogue, not attacks, needed on pipeline

Not everyone agreed with my suggestion that the proposed pipeline could help generate much-needed jobs and tax revenue. One person found some old news written by Democrats frustrated over losing the governorship. That was followed by a piece from an avid opponent of the pipeline and fracking. It stood out for its deliberate attempts to shift focus from the facts by using a tried-and-true technique — the personal attack.

Yes, I was vice president for Transco — of Environment, Health and Safety. During my tenure, Transco received national recognition from Ducks Unlimited and The Conservation Fund. I didn’t buy Transco/Williams stock while at DEC. Instead, I divested myself of my Transco stock before becoming commissioner to avoid a conflict of interest. 

I did cut the legal staff. There was no reason to have nine regional attorneys and nine attorneys in Albany to review their work. What we needed was one good attorney in each region who had the support from headquarters to do his or her job. Enough tit for tat.

I am responding because my attackers have not offered up anything positive to improve our economy. They live in towns where neighbors are struggling and yet don’t seem to care. They have their agenda and to hell with the needs of others. If they spent as much time researching the health and air quality benefits that result when power plants convert from coal to natural gas, they might possibly reverse course.

Mentioning fracking in an article about the pipeline is a deliberate attempt to confuse, scare and mislead. The two are not dependent upon one another. We would all be better off if we waited for DEC and DOH to do their jobs and give us the “science.” Then we could have a truly meaningful dialogue. 

Michael Zagata

Oneonta

Zagata is a former state Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner, Ruffed Grouse Society president and oil company executive.

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