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Lawyer says state can't dissolve Peace Bridge Authority

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A local environmental lawyer says "the public deserves the truth" so it can reach informed decisions about the Peace Bridge. He says the Buffalo and Fort Erie Bridge Authority cannot be dissolved by Albany.

Attorney Arthur Giacalone says the way in which the Peace Bridge Authority came about was cited in a 2006 decision by the nation's second-highest court.  

"Not only did the U.S. Court of Appeals arrive at the conclusion that the Peace Bridge is the product of a compact between New York and Canada and approved by the U.S. Congress, they cite the provisions of both the Canadian Parliament and the U.S. Congress being involved. Clearly, the state has no right to interact with, on an equal level, a neighboring nation," Giacalone says.  

But legislators are pushing a bill to dissolve the authority, saying its sole purpose was to build a bridge, pay off its bonds, and go out of business. Giacalone says that's "absolutely false." He says they're ignoring language that charges the PBA with operating and maintaining the bridge.   

"The legislation says that, from time to time, the Peace Bridge may issue bonds and they can make their maturity date 50 years in the future. So clearly there was no intent to have the Peace Bridge go out of existence," he says.

Giacalone says what derailed expansion plans years ago was not the Canadians, but the EPAs call for an environmental review and a health study of Buffalo's West Side, where residents have high rates of asthma.

"And now [Governor Andrew] Cuomo and company want to again ignore those issues and just bully ahead and get the project done just so they can say they did it, with no longer asking, 'Does it make sense to do it?' That needs to be asked and not just, 'Let's rush to make a decision' so someone looks good politically," Giacalone says.   

Giacalone says Cuomo's supporters are ignoring facts to justify his tactics.

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