Filing Claims Recent State Law Violates NYRI’s Constitutional Rights and Should Be Invalidated
ALBANY, N.Y., Feb. 1 LAWFUEL – US Legal News – New York Regional Interconnect Inc. (NYRI) today filed in federal district court in Albany a lawsuit that seeks to invalidate a recently passed state law that attempts to revoke eminent domain authority under New York’s Transportation Corporations Law.
NYRI’s lawsuit claims that the law (Senate Bill S8349-A), enacted at
the end of last year, attempts to discriminate against NYRI, and therefore violates NYRI’s rights under the U.S. Constitution. NYRI also contends that the new law infringes on a number of rights protected by the constitution, including NYRI’s rights to equal protection and due process.
The law being challenged by NYRI amended a law that has been in place
for almost 100 years. The original law allowed electric and gas
corporations to use eminent domain to obtain property rights for utility
facilities if the corporations first establish a public need for the
facility. Therefore, under the old law, NYRI would not have been able to
use eminent domain to obtain property rights unless it first established a
public need for the facility through New York’s Article VII transmission
siting process. The new law, however, is aimed only at NYRI, and tries to
take away its ability to use eminent domain for a proposed new electric
“It’s unconstitutional for the legislature to pass a law that targets
one person or company or singles them out for different treatment,” said
NYRI counsel Leonard Singer, partner in Couch White the Albany law firm
that filed the lawsuit on behalf of NYRI.
NYRI is not the only opponent of the new law, which has been met with
widespread opposition. Senator Jim Wright, the Republican chair of the
Senate Energy Committee and Assemblyman Paul Tonko, the Democratic chair of the Assembly Energy Committee, both voted against the law. Other opponents
of the new law include State regulators, New York City Mayor Michael
Bloomberg, the Energy Association on behalf of the State’s investor-owned
utilities, the Independent Power Producers of New York and a number of
“The ramifications of this new law go far beyond NYRI,” said Singer.
“The new law has a chilling effect on economic development and investment
in the State, creating a negative impact on New Yorkers for years to come
if we don’t act now to invalidate it.
“If the State can target NYRI, it can target any company, which would
clearly be a grave threat to New York’s economic health,” Singer continued.
NYRI claims that the law destroys well-established laws and procedures for siting projects. When existing laws cannot be relied upon under the new law, the uncertainty creates large risks for investors, which will result in the drying up of development capital for important infrastructure projects.
Electrical transmission projects, such as NYRI’s, are not the only
projects likely to be affected by the current law. The chilling effect on
investment could equally starve investments in other critical
infrastructure projects, such as generation facilities, or any economic
development projects that could potentially face local controversy.
New York Regional Interconnect, Inc. (NYRI) is a group of investors,
engineers, legal advisors, economists and environmental scientists
proposing to build a transmission line that would bring energy from areas
with abundant supply to areas with high demand. NYRI is working with state
leaders and communities to enhance public understanding of energy issues,
support conservation and promote responsible energy production. NYRI is led
by Richard Muddiman, President and CEO; William May, Project Manager; and
Leonard Singer, General Counsel.
NYRI is owned by a consortium of investors led by American Consumer
Industries (ACI), an investment holding company that specializes in
environmentally sensitive power generation technologies and applications.
SOURCE New York Regional Interconnect Inc.