By JOE LoTEMPLIO
---- — PLATTSBURGH — Green Party candidate for Congress Donald Hassig wants to see more controls over factory emissions, and he is willing to get arrested to make his point.
“I like getting arrested,” Hassig, 56, said during a visit to Plattsburgh. “It feels good. It feels like you’ve gone as far as you can with free speech.”
Hassig was in the area Friday to plead his case for more emission controls for Alcoa, a major aluminum production facility in Massena.
Hassig claims that emissions of sulfur dioxide from Alcoa contribute to acid rain in the Adirondacks, damaging lakes and rivers.
He wants the plant to re-install wet scrubbers, which he says were taken out years ago, to capture the emissions.
“We have to make environmental protection our top priority,” Hassig said.
“Making the economy and ways to make more money the top priority is a mistaken path.”
Alcoa’s manager of corporate affairs, Lori K. Lecker, said the company is following the rules.
“Massena operations is in compliance with the requirements of our air permit and the Clean Air Act,” Lecker told the Press-Republican.
Hassig, of St. Lawrence County, has been arrest
ed four times since he announced his candidacy last year and has been thrown out of two fairs: Clinton County Fair and the New York State Fair in Syracuse.
His arrests have been for trespassing and usually have occurred when he refused to stop preaching in public places after people complained and felt threatened.
“There should be no limit to free speech,” he said.
“When there is, I don’t feel like an American at all.”
Hassig also wants pending Farm Bill legislation to include protection for farm animals, and restrictions on how big farms can be.
“Farming is becoming big business, and it’s bad for animals,” said Hassig, a former farmer himself.
“I want to go back to the way it used to be with a lot of small farms. It’s better for the animals.”
Hassig also said that mega-farms can create hazards by adding chemicals to liquify manure.
“I like the smell of manure. It’s an earthy, solid animal smell, and it’s a good smell,” he said.
“But when they liquify it, there is a totally different smell, and it is a horrible smell, and it makes me think of animals being abused.”
LAGGING IN POLL
Hassig is the third-party candidate in race for the 21st Congressional District seat, which also features incumbent Democrat Bill Owens of Plattsburgh and Republican Matt Doheny of Watertown.
Neither of those two candidates wanted to comment on Hassig’s positions.
In a recent poll on the race conducted by Siena College, Hassig was way back, with only 6 percent of the projected vote.
“If I wound up getting 10 percent in this race, I think that would be very cool,” he said Friday.
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