Congress: Reps must know the issues

To be fair, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed was not quick to catch on to the seriousness of the need to repower the NRG Energy Inc. plant in Dunkirk.

Reed, in a visit to the OBSERVER in June 2012, admitted he was in favor of the hydropower options and did not understand the urgency facing the city facility. His opponent at the time, Nate Shinagawa, did.

Shinagawa, as a Democrat, was a strong supporter for keeping the Lansing and Dunkirk plants in operation.

More than a year later, Reed’s office now understands what Shinagawa already did. These plants are vital to both areas’ economies.

Which brings us to the Democrats’ current opponent to Reed, Martha Robertson. Robertson, without contacting NRG, spoke in favor of a biomass option for the Dunkirk and Lansing power plants to keep them running.

While NRG was very diplomatic in its response, Democrats – especially those in this area who know how vital the repowering is – must be wondering if Robertson really gets it.

NRG, in a response to the OBSERVER, noted that it had tried the biomass option in 2010. It was not efficient or economical.

In other words, it is not worth pursuing.

Most of those area Democrats who back Robertson and were at a rally in May in Dunkirk announcing her candidacy also were at the Public Service Commission hearing at Fredonia State last month.

A majority of those Democrats back the repowering, not the suggestion made by Robertson.

So Robertson’s pitch to the commission did our region and plant no favors. Reed’s office took awhile, but they now understand the impact of NRG here.

Unfortunately for this region – with two candidates from the East near Corning and Ithaca – matters of importance here, such as Lake Erie, seem to get lost.

It is, however, no excuse. Both Reed and Robertson still need to think about – and research – the issues in Chautauqua County before they speak on such important matters.