Guest Post:  Where is Freedom Going?

This is a guest post written by Gary R. Schoonmaker.  Gary sent me four essays he wrote describing his concerns about the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act’s impacts on freedom of choice and the implementation of the Act.  Because I think he raises some important issues I am publishing his essays in this post.

Gary R. Schoonmaker is a lifetime citizen of New York State; a licensed Landscape Architect with over 18 years experience at an electric and gas utility in New York State; and involvement in many environmental organizations in Central New York. He designed and built an energy efficient home in 1978 which had an air-to-air heat pump and now has solar panels; and has over 40 years experience in real estate development.  I published a post describing his comments on the Climate Act last spring.

Where is Freedom Going?
The threat to Freedom in the United States is serious, but here in New York State the situation is dire!!! What has happened to the desire for freedom here? Are we really so willing to submit to the tyranny of the Democrat legislature and governor; to be taken care of by the nanny state that we will leave our freedom in the rear view mirror?

We are being told that the government knows so much better than we do what is best for us! When did we get to the point that we are willing to accept that? There are many examples over the last few years, but my principal concern today is with the Climate action initiatives. The state is on a path to do away with any but electric cars and using electricity for everything. Why is it reasonable that the state can dictate such a policy? What happened to our free will/agency as citizens/human beings?

No natural gas or propane appliances – stoves, furnaces, dryers; no gasoline operated vehicles or equipment; no wood burning at all. When did we give them the authority to dictate those conditions where we have no choice?

Our ancestors who worked so hard to give us this country/State would kick our butts for letting this happen!! My ancestors have lived and worked in New York State since before 1650 and I shudder to think what Hendrick would say if he was to show up and see what we have allowed our representatives to do. Frederick helped finance the American side in the Revolutionary War; do you really think he would support us giving up our freedoms to choose for ourselves what kind of transportation, heating, or other appliances are best for us?

If we allow this situation to continue, we have ceased being citizens and become subjects.

Which is more stable: A one legged stool or one with three or more legs?

The Climate Action Council is moving quickly to implement a program to terminate the use of any energy in the State of New York except electricity. That would leave us with an energy stool sitting on one leg. Have you ever tried to sit on a one-legged stool?

Right now, we have a stool with multiple legs: we have electricity yes, but we also have natural gas, propane, gasoline, etc. Why, when so many people are clamoring for diversity, and financial advisors recommend that no one put all their money in a single investment; does the State legislature and Governor think it wise to get rid of all forms of energy except electricity? I won’t argue in this article about the efficacy of the climate change arguments, but just ask that you consider the wisdom of the proposed action.

If a fire had to be put out, would it be wise to only have water? Today, fire departments have a large number of options, depending on the type of fire they are asked to fight. Would it be advisable for the Legislature to dictate that the fire department only be able to use water? If the logical answer is no, then why is it wise to allow the legislature to dictate that we citizens only be able to use electricity to address our individual energy needs?

Beyond the logic is one significant threat that accompanies the sole use of electricity. There are two possible situations where this threat manifests itself: solar flares and an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). Either of these threats can destroy the electrical grid as well as each and every unprotected appliance/vehicle. That is a threat today, but the threat to our survival is magnified many times if the only energy we are allowed to have is electricity, because as opposed to today, we would have no backup for heat, cooking or transportation.

Can you say 1850?

Is there some kind of media blackout around the Climate Action Council’s Activities?

The New York State government (Legislature and governor), passed a law in 2019 called the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act). That act set a goal of “net-zero carbon emissions for the entire state economy by 2050”. In order to implement that goal the legislation commissioned a Climate Action Council to develop a draft Action Plan and then a Final Action Plan. In January 2022, the draft action plan was published and public hearings were subsequently held across New York State. If this is news to you, I expect you are in the majority of citizens of New York State.

When I heard about the public hearing in Syracuse, it was only a couple of days before they were to be held and I had seen nothing on the news or in newspapers about them. I heard about it on a local Saturday morning radio program discussing how to maintain your home. I got online and researched what they were talking about and couldn’t believe what I was reading.

I labored about what to do, if anything, and finally decided to go to the public hearing and express my deep concerns for what they were proposing. Imagine my surprise when I got to the only public hearing in Central New York to find there was not a single news crew covering the event. Maybe there was a reporter there (I didn’t see one), but no one was doing tv or interviewing any of the presenters as far as I could see. You know how these things usually are, reporters crowding around fighting to ask questions or get a quote for a story they are writing.

After waiting for over three hours, I got to make my two minute presentation. Many of the other people were from universities or environmental advocacy groups. There were a few people from business or unions there advising caution, but the vast majority of presenters were supportive of the State’s climate initiative.

When I got home, I watched the local news and saw not a word about the hearing that had just finished up regarding one of the most consequential plans to affect New York State since the Erie Canal. CRICKETS!! Over the following weeks, I saw no reports about any of the other hearings either. How is that possible? After the hearings, there was an opportunity to provide written comments so I sent in a six-page document elaborating on my two-minute presentation at the hearing. I still heard nothing in news programs about the Climate action plan. So, I decided to send my written comments to local and national news outlets and commentators. I received no response from any of them, nor was there any report about the plan, the council, or the comments. The closest I got was a brief acknowledgement on the Saturday morning radio program that had started me on my journey. To their credit, they have continued to talk about the plan off and on.

But beyond them….very little recognition of the building tyranny!

Is there really a legitimate Constitutional basis for New York State’s Climate Action Plan?

There are many ways to address this question: first, is climate change really an existential threat to New York State; and even if it is, does the State have the constitutional authority to take such draconian measure as are being proposed? While I personally do not believe that climate change is anything more than the natural order of the earth (Remember your elementary school studies where we were told that New York State was covered by thousands of feet of ice just 10,000 years ago?), I will leave that subject to others to debate. I don’t believe that it is in the governments’ authority to dictate the proposals being promoted in the Climate Action Plan (CAP).

It is part of our national fabric that freedom is a primary right of citizens. Everybody claims it personally and collectively, and yet the CAP is a direct assault on our personal freedom to choose and make our own decisions. Can anyone disagree with that? The Preamble to New York State’s Constitution states: “We the people of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, DO ESTABLISH THIS CONSTITUTION.” The CAP unilaterally prohibits people from choosing what cars to drive, what heat to have in their homes, and how to cook their food, for a start. How is that securing the blessings of freedom for the people of the State of New York?

They are effectively destroying businesses that now sell natural gas, propane, gas appliances, firewood, and all associated businesses like auto repair, the list is endless! When we transitioned in the past, (think horses to autos, or kerosene to electricity etc…) people chose the change themselves. If you thought the change would be good for you, you invested your resources to make the change. If you had to buy a car, or wire your house you paid for it because you chose to do so. If you wanted to forgo the “modernization” you could do so also. Even today, we are still free to choose to light our houses with candles or kerosene, or ride horses instead of driving a car. Under the State’s CAP, we lose the ability to make those choices for ourselves (although perhaps we could still ride a horse, but who knows for sure?). So, who pays for the businesses that go out of business? In the past changes, businesses either adjusted or went out of business because their customers made personal decisions to not buy their products. But under CAP, businesses are being put out of business by an action of the State. Both the New York State and United States Constitutions prohibit the taking of private property for public use without just compensation. Can anyone really argue that closing down businesses (private property) for the CAP (a public use) doesn’t qualify for just compensation? The CAP does not plan for that, but it should!

I am not a constitutional attorney, but it seems pretty clear that the State constitution does not grant the government the right to unilaterally void the freedoms of our citizens. On the contrary, the constitution explicitly states that it was created to secure the blessings of freedom for the people of the State of New York.

The Climate Action Plan does exactly the opposite!

Concluding Remarks from the Pragmatic Environmentalist

In my opinion, the Climate Action Council did not do a good job justifying its actions.  They have not provided adequate documentation documenting the costs of the control strategies that they have recommended and only now appear to be willing to acknowledge that it will be expensive.  From what I have seen lately the real costs will be far in excess of what they are acknowledging now because the devil is in the details,  More importantly, the Scoping Plan has not addressed reliability in enough detail to determine if the conglomeration of control strategies that they have cobbled together will actually work.  Finally, the Hochul Administration has not updated its cumulative environmental impact statement to consider their latest estimates of the solar, onshore wind, offshore wind, energy storage, and whatever resource has to be deployed to provide zero-emissions dispatchable electricity.  Combine that with the fact that the life-cycle of those resources have not been considered the Scoping Plan is an insult to environmental protections.  Ultimately, the ideological insistence on zero emissions has taken alternative strategies off the table that would likely  be less costly, maintain current standards of reliability, and have fewer environmental impacts. Against that backdrop there is absolutely no justification to implement the draconian policies described by Schoonmaker.

Author: rogercaiazza

I am a meteorologist (BS and MS degrees), was certified as a consulting meteorologist and have worked in the air quality industry for over 40 years. I author two blogs. Environmental staff in any industry have to be pragmatic balancing risks and benefits and ( reflects that outlook. The second blog addresses the New York State Reforming the Energy Vision initiative ( Any of my comments on the web or posts on my blogs are my opinion only. In no way do they reflect the position of any of my past employers or any company I was associated with.

One thought on “Guest Post:  Where is Freedom Going?”

  1. Roger, all of your friends and allies have truly appreciated your focus and thinking on New York’s misadventures. Great work.



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