Letter to the Editor: Don’t Sacrifice Forest for Solar Panels

Nobody thinks we should pit solar energy against land and water protection [“Woodlands deal is up to Cuomo,” Editorial, Dec. 27]. So why are some groups doing just that? Instead of working to get both, they’re demanding solar at the expense of land and water.

It started with a proposal to build a solar panel array on pristine forest land in Long Island’s pine barrens. The obvious question: Why put them there and not on previously cleared land?

With the support of an overwhelming majority of environmental and civic organizations, legislation to preserve the forest passed in both houses of the State Legislature. Meanwhile, we spent weeks working with the planning department and environmental protection and law departments of Brookhaven Town to find suitable, previously cleared land for the solar array. We got very close to an agreement.

Alas, some folks spent their time differently. The Citizens Campaign for the Environment and the New York League of Conservation Voters, along with lobbyists for the solar industry, lobbied Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to veto the legislation, and he did.

To his credit, the governor has vowed to keep working for a solution, and that’s promising. But it’s only a solution if it provides the solar energy we need without destroying the environment.

By Richard Amper, Pine Barrens Society Executive Director

Check out the original publication of this letter to the editor here