If horses can fly, rivers can speak!
Pegasus, the flying horse of Greek mythology, has landed among us with a modern name, the Pegasus Transmission Niagara Reinforcement Interconnection. Company officials say Pegasus will reinforce our energy supply and provide badly needed money to our state, county and local governments.
According to the plans initially released, this incarnation of Pegasus apparently wants to bury some of the worlds biggest power lines along the entire length of the Upper Delaware River. One might wonder how this could be achieved. Given the financial, technical, and geological impediments, one cant help fearing that much of the line would wind up above ground on giant towers. This would devalue real estate and devastate the river valley economically and aesthetically.
Horses do fly! In recent decades another Pegasus landed among the good people living in another pristine American landscape, Montana. Pegasus Gold, Inc. was a pioneer in new methods of extracting gold from low-grade ore. The process was hailed as a high-tech marvel at the time; but when gold prices plummeted and the company went bankrupt, the people were left with cyanide and other toxic sediment in their water. Hundreds of millions of dollars in clean-up costs will have to be paid by the local taxpayers and their children. Might the same kind of disaster happen in the Upper Delaware Valley? Will one days high-tech solution turn out to be tomorrows taxpayer fiasco? Is it a good idea to mix water and electricity in a frequently flooding river valley?
Recently our Pegasus removed itself from the New York Independent System Operators queue, where power companies are listed pending completion and approval of impact studies on their proposals. The removal is listed as due to a material change to request. Details of that change have not yet been released, and as of now we do not know whether it could involve a complete change of venue, or merely an alteration of plans that still would affect our region. Until we do know what the change entails, it behooves us to remain vigilant.
The possibility of the Pegasus power line is only one of the challenges facing our environment in the river valley. Other issues are ridge-top development, clear cutting, large tract housing and the loss of historical landmarks.
Rivers can speak! On April 3, 2005, the Upper Delaware Preservation Coalition was to hold a public meeting to discuss Pegasus and these other issues. A sense of urgency motivated ordinary citizens to take action. In a kind of mythological event in our own time, the powerful river crested in a giant wave at the exact place and time of our humble gathering. Flood records were broken and many roads were closed and badly damaged for the second time in under six months.
We have rescheduled this meeting and we invite you to attend. Dads invite the children, its soon to be their world! On Sunday, June 19 at 1:00 p.m. a local grass-roots preservation effort of ordinary citizens will come together at the Inn at Lackawaxen, in Lackawexen, PA. Tree-huggers are joining with conservative local businesspeople. Home-rule advocates are working with environmentalists. Vegans, hunters, professors, fishermen and artists have formed an unlikely coalition. Technology is being leveraged, skills and resources are being pooled, money is being invested, lawyers are building our organization, and common ground is being discovered everywhere in our community.
We are at the crest of a wave in many ways. Did you know that in 15 years, there will be no glaciers remaining in Glacier National Park? Do you know that Japan has almost all of its old-growth forest fully intact and carefully protected? Its not just a question of aesthetics and prosperity. Its a question of survival.
[Pat Carullo is often on the river in his kayak. He uses technology, art and nature in his work for the community. He is one of 18 founders of the UDPC ((UDPC.net)), a local preservation effort.]