March 28, 2017 The news has been full of people awakening to an unexpected reality, all the way from the water warriors to the President of the United States. In this issue, we explore a few of the new ways North Americans have suddenly found themselves awake and on unfamiliar ground. But first the news.
A Symposium: Water Law for activists
On Friday, March 25th, the Atlantic Sierra Chapter and Cornell Law School’s Environmental Law Society held a conference on matters regarding water and water law, for the benefit of activists and the general public. The proceedings were videographed and are peresented here.
At both events you will have the opportunity to meet installers, ask questions and learn whether solar is right for you. Our volunteers will be on hand to discuss their experience going solar for anyone interested in hearing how their neighbors have gone solar.
At the event you will be able to sign up and get your home assessed FREE of chargethere’s nothing to lose by signing up and there is no commitment once you do.
If you want to come to the event and just meet installers before making any decisions that’s okay- this event is free and open to the public. We’ll bring the education, Damiani Heavily have the drinks and atmosphere, we’re just missing you!
New York Sate of Climate Action
WHAT: New York State of Climate Action WHEN: Monday, April 3, 7-9pm WHERE: St. Thomas Episcopal Church 2000 Highland Ave.Rochester, 14618 Enter the red door on Highland Ave., and follow the signs to the Great Hall. PRESENTED BY: Rochester People’s Climate Coalition Contact: Sue Hughes-Smith, 917-848-7028, firstname.lastname@example.org
To Change Everything, We Need Everyone. This was the rallying call of the 2014 People’s Climate March in New York City, and it continues to inspire the climate movement across the United States. In New York State, Governor Cuomo was influenced by tens of thousands of NY residents who spoke out against “fracking” for natural gas, such that he and the Department of Environmental Conservation made it illegal in our state in Dec. 2014. “We need everyone” to speak out for renewable energy and the jobs that it will create, and against the public health hazards and climate crisis created by fossil fuel use, processing and transport.
The Rochester People’s Climate Coalition will kick off a climate-focused Earth Month with this forum that brings two New York State experts to town:
Mark Dunlea is chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund and helps coordinate the statewide campaign to transition to 100% renewables in NYS by 2030. He will provide an update on state efforts around renewable energy, including a new study just announced by the Governor. He will also discuss state legislation for a carbon tax; the Attorney General’s effort to investigate the fossil fuel industry role in promoting climate denial; divesting the state pension funds from fossil fuels; and Governor Cuomo’s $7.6 billion bailout of the nuclear industry.
Elizabeth (Betta) Broad is the Outreach Director for the New Yorkers for Clean Power campaign, working to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy in New York State. She will provide information on some of NYCP’s current priorities including on-the-ground organizing and expansion of electric vehicles, community solar, renewable heating and cooling and energy efficiency. She will also give an update on her work with Citizens for Local Power to create a Community Choice Aggregation program in the Mid-Hudson. A resident of Kingston, she serves on the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, the Kingston Climate Smart Commission and the Ulster Climate Smart Committee.
Following the main speakers and Q&A on their presentations, local organizations will provide concrete opportunities for everyone to take action to make a difference at local, state and federal levels.
See our Facebook Event Page for the “New York State of Climate Action“
Rochester People’s Climate Coalition (RPCC) is composed of over 100 local business, non-profit, labor, faith, and grassroots and organizations. RPCC unites these local organizations to address the urgent need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, transition to a clean energy economy, and prepare for the impacts of global warming. Through coordinated, collaborative efforts, we will create a more environmentally just and sustainable community.
Proposed SEQR Regulations: developers and SEQRA-adverse agencies win, the environment and public lose
[The Daily Public Editors Note – After a decades old war by certain sectors of the “pay to play” private development community on the State Environmental Quality Review Act SEQRA, it looks like new rules are going to bring this critical environmental and social protection tool to its knees. It is after all, the Age of the anti-regulatory Trump-o-mania, and it is revealing and sad that his home state, New York, which once was a national leader in environmental protection, is now leading the way to the abolishment of environmental safeguards. The proposed new SEQRA rules makes NY way ahead in the game of de-regulating environmental concerns in favor of more unfettered development and profit taking. We know where our leaders stand. These new rules will effect how buildings, infrastructure, and energy pipelines are built. Abolishing protections and environmental and community character are, well, almost vanished.
Today we bring you a piece by one of New York’s most accomplished SEQRA attorneys and one of our most important fighters for SEQRA, Art Giacalone. Your comments on this article are encouraged and welcomed. You can see the original article at Mr. Giacalone’s Blog “With All Due Respect” -Jay Burney, The Daily Public]
[The Banner Editor’s Note – Dear Reader, we urge you to take the time to read Art Giacalone’s entire article, either at his blog With All Due Respect, or at The Daily Public’s article. We have space here for but a mere introduction to his warnings on this matter.]
When a government agency talks about “streamlining” environmental regulations, and increasing “speed and efficiency” and “regulatory certainty for applicants and municipalities,” you can be certain that the effect (if not the conscious intent) will be decreased environmental protections and a reduction in the public’s ability to meaningfully participate in the decision-making process. That is precisely what will occur if the current version of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s proposed amendments to the State Environmental Quality Review Act’s regulations are adopted without significant changes.
The last thing New York should be doing is weakening its environmental review process when – on the national level – the Trump Administration is intent on repealing environmental regulations, weakening environmental enforcement, and allowing more fossil fuel production. [For example, see this and this.] If you agree that NYS should be strengthening, not undermining, its environmental laws, I urge you to analyze the proposed amendments to the SEQR regulations, submit written comments by May 19, 2017 to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Division of Environmental Permits, Attn: James J. Eldred, Environmental Analyst, 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233-1750 or by e-mail to: email@example.com, and, if possible, participate at the public hearing to be held on March 31, 2017 at 1:00 pm at 625 Broadway, Albany, New York, Public Assembly Room 129.
A discussion of ten of my biggest concerns follows below. If you agree with any or all of the comments I raise, or if you have other concerns relating to either the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS), or the proposed amendments to the SEQR regulations, please let the DEC know. Also, if you click here you can read my “sticky notes” reflecting my initial thoughts on the proposed amendments: seqr-regs-proposed-revisions-ajg-sticky-notes-02-22-17
[Note: I use “SEQRA” to refer to the legislation, that is, the State Environmental Quality Review Act, enacted in 1975 and found at Article 8 (Environmental Quality Review) of New York State’s Environmental Conservation Law, and “SEQR” when referencing SEQRA’s implementing regulations found at 6 NYCRR Part 617 (State Environmental Quality Review).]
1. THE primary motivation behind the proposed amendments appears to be a desire to add categories of projects and activities not subject to review under SEQRA. The DEC’s SEQR rulemaking continues the same trajectory it has been on for decades: substantially increasing the types of actions and projects that do not have to undergo any SEQRA review (“Type II actions”), while identifying no new categories of activities presumed to have a significant adverse environmental impact and require an environmental impact statement (“Type I actions”).
Under SEQR, there are three categories of “actions” or projects: “Type I actions” which carry with them a presumption that they are likely to have a significant adverse impacts on the environment and, therefore, may require the systematic environmental analysis embodied in an “Environmental Impact Statement” [EIS]; “Type II actions” which are actions or projects the DEC has determined will not have a significant impact on the environment, and, therefore, are not ever subject to review under SEQRA; and, “Unlisted actions” which are all actions not identified as a Type I or Type II action, and which, therefore, must undergo the SEQR review process (but, do not carry with them a presumption that an EIS may be required).…—Arthur Giacalone, “GreenWatch: SEQRA Almost Gone,” The Daily Public, 3/10/17
Katie Quinn-Jacobs and Elisa Evett drove carefully up and down the roads in the upscale Ellis Hollow community counting the houses. They couldn’t quite believe it when they realized that 330 homes were within a 2 km radius of the Borger Station, a major gas compressor facility. Ellis Hollow, a bedroom community for Cornell University, has been living with a sleeping giant in its midst for decades. The 23,000+ horsepower Borger Station gas compressor, a facility consisting of two older Dresser Clark 5800 hp turbines and one newer Solar Taurus Model 12,126 hp turbine, has been running below capacity for years moving an un-specified volume of gas through the Dominion Pipeline from November to March to meet the demands of National Grid gas customers during the winter months. In fact, this is unassuming looking compressor facility is actually permitted to emit more than 250 tons/year of nitrogen oxides, thus putting it well over the 100 tons/year threshold and categorizing it as a Title V or major facility.
But changes are coming to Ellis Hollow due to the recent approval of the Dominion New Market expansion which will allow 100,000,000 cubic feet of additional gas to be pushed through this 50+ year old pipeline each and every day. Some time in the next few months, the slumbering giant will awake belching forth not only many tons of nitrogen oxides, but also greenhouse gases, along with fine particulates, and toxic compounds such as formaldehyde and benzene in levels that have been shown to be a threat to health – especially children’s. A community center that is home to a day care center, swimming pool, and several summer camps, is just down the road from Borger. Ironically, the residents of Ellis Hollow who will be breathing this toxic cocktail, don’t even have access to gas for their own home heating!
The New Market expansion is composed of two new compressors in Horseheads and Georgetown, a major addition to another compressor in Minden, NY and the addition of two coolers and three micro-turbines to the Borger facility. Significant grassroots opposition was mounted in via phone banking, letter writing and public testimony at hearings in Horseheads, Georgetown, and Minden, but because the pipeline already exists and the affected communities are rural, poor and relatively sparsely populated, they were not able to gain the kind of political capital needed to get the attention of Governor Cuomo. The so-called upgrades at Borger in and of themselves may not significantly increase emissions and affect air quality in Ellis Hollow, but the increased volume of gas will, although it’s unclear by how much. In fact, neither Dominion nor the NY DEC will answer questions about how these changes might affect the air quality
Because the changes at Borger didn’t require a new permit from the Town of Dryden or from the NY DEC, most residents were unaware of the expansion until a feisty group of mothers and grandmothers got involved. In recent months, Katie and Elisa coordinated a team of women organizing under the banner of the non-profit organization Mothers Out Front. The community organizing team worked to get the word out to local residents and to enlist the cooperation of local authorities to oppose the gas expansion and to help conduct health studies and air quality monitoring in order to establish a pre-expansion baseline. Although they haven’t been able to stop the project, they have made headway in enlisting the help of the Dryden Town Board and local residents in advocating for questions to be answered and data to be collected so the community can be informed.
Dryden: SOLAR ENERGY NOW
March 30th, 7:00 PM Dryden Town Board Meeting Town Hall 93 E Main St. Dryden, NY 13053
There are two new proposed solar farms in Dryden. They are a small part of a big change—a turn away from fossil fuel burning toward energy from the sun.
If you are a Dryden resident and can attend the Board Meeting at the Town Hall on March 30th, 7:00 pm, we would most welcome your presence.
Time is short and they need to know that lots of people stand behind this important decision. Without this we have no hope of achieving carbon emission reduction goals set by the town, Tompkins County, or NYS. The decision will be made by the Board on March 30th. Please sign now whether or not you are a Dryden resident If you are a Dryden resident and can attend the Board Meeting at the Town Hall on March 30th, 7:00 pm, we would most welcome your presence. Whether or not you are a resident of Dryden, please go to “Solar Energy Petition ” and add your name to our message to the Dryden Town Board to go forward now . Time is short and they need to know that lots of people stand behind this important decision. Without this we have no hope of achieving carbon emission reduction goals set by the town, Tompkins County, or NYS. The decision will be made by the Board on March 30th.
We, the undersigned, ask the Dryden Town Board to continue their support of large scale solar development. With global warming delivering climate change to our doorstep, the need to stop fossil fuel build-out is critical.
Because the siting of solar development is contingent on nearby connection to the electric grid, we need to make the available sites work.
Homeowners and others are concerned not only about the visual impact of large acreage solar, but also the impact on wildlife and recreation. Therefore we also ask that, while continuing to support this project, the Town Board members consider the concerns of residents and require the developers to mitigate the visual impacts with performance specifications for good screening of the panels along property lines adjacent to houses, roads, and the cemetery. If allowable within the constraints of fencing requirements, access by wildlife would be beneficial.
In addition, we applaud the fact that, because some of the land in the current proposals is owned by Cornell University and is partially tax exempt, this new solar use will bring added revenue to the town through additional property taxes.—Solar Energy Petition
How will Cornell get to a Carbon Neutral goal by 2035?
Come and find out. It’s an ambitious plan worth learning about.
Public forum on “Options for Achieving a Carbon Neutral Campus by 2035” Tuesday, March 28 Hotel Ithaca 222 S. Cayuga St. Ithaca, NY
This event is free and open to the public.
MEDIA: Media members are asked to RSVP to Lindsey Hadlock in Cornell’s Media Relations Office at 607-255-6121 or firstname.lastname@example.org (Cornell University has television, ISDN and dedicated Skype/Google+ Hangout studios available for media interviews.)
ITHACA, N.Y. – Cornell’s Senior Leaders Climate Action Group (SLCAG) will host a public forum Tuesday, March 28, to discuss its report, “Options for Achieving a Carbon Neutral Campus by 2035,” from 4:30 to 6PM at the Hotel Ithaca, 222 S. Cayuga St. The event is free and open to the public.
Released in the fall, the report builds off Cornell University’s existing Climate Action Plan, further outlining solutions to reduce energy demands and increase clean energy supply. Following the presentation, there will be a question-and-answer session for community members.
The forum panelists will be:
- Lance Collins, SLCAG Co-chair, the Joseph Silbert Dean of Engineering;
- Bill Sitzabee, SLCAG Co-chair and interim vice president for infrastructure, properties and planning;
- Todd Cowen, professor of civil and environmental engineering and the Kathy Dwyer Marble and Curt Marble Faculty Director for Energy, Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future;
- Robert Howarth, the David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology;
- Katie Keranen, assistant professor of earth and atmospheric sciences;
- Joel Malina, vice president for university relations;
- Paul Streeter, vice president for budget and planning;
- Jefferson W. Tester, the Croll Professor of Sustainable Energy Systems and director of the Cornell Energy Institute; and
- Sarah Zemanick, director of the Campus Sustainability Office.
A copy of the report can be found on the Sustainable Campus website
Further reading : Cornell to host carbon neutrality forum March 28
As I have moved about the Southern Tier since Jan. 20, 2017, I have heard several people refer to some kind of listening process as a key in organizing. Then they usually say if it weren’t so atrociously time consuming, they’d be all over it. I would like to address this concern.
All things GREEN: Energy, Environment, and Economy
- NY State Support for Clean, Renewable Energy will Benefit Health, Climate and Economy
- Wacky Winter Weather: Record Warmth in Buffalo and U.S. – Linked to Global Warming?
- CAMPUS ACTIVISM: Protest with Dignity, Not with Rage – Says Bill McKibben, Environmental Author & Educator
TUESDAY, March 21, MEETING 7:00pm-9:00pm Network of Religious Communities 1272 Delaware Ave. Buffalo. Open to the public Join fellow Sierra Club members at a Climate Action meeting. Learn about upcoming rallies and marches. Join us to protect the planet and our future together! For more info: Sierra Club Climate Action Meeting Facebook event page
Save The Date: DISTINGUISHED LECTURE: “Climate Change Denial in the Age of Trump,” Dr. Michael Mann, Climate Scientist and Author of “The Madhouse Effect,” illustrated by cartoonist Tom Toles.
APRIL 28 8:30AM-10:45AM University at Buffalo Davis 101, North Campus Amherst. Free & Open to the Public. For more info see: Distinguished Lecture: Climate Change Denial in the Age of Trump
Check Re–energize Buffalo Newsletter for more info and a TWITTER feed
Come Earth Day, April 22, the extraordinary story of Standing Rock will hit the big screen at the Tribeca Film Festival. “AWAKE, A Dream from Standing Rock” is a documentary that captures the indigenous-led resistance against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Josh Fox, who shed light on the impacts of fracking in his documentary Gasland and its sequel, Gasland 2, is directing this film alongside James Spione (“Silenced”) and Myron Dewey, who owns Digital Smoke Signals, a social media film company that tells stories through indigenous eyes. Actress Shailene Woodley (“Big Little Lies”) is the film’s executive producer.
The documentary’s trailer was released Friday (March 24). “What’s going on here at Standing Rock isn’t just about Standing Rock,” one man says in the trailer. “It’s not just about stopping a pipeline. This is about the survival of humanity.” The trailer revolves primarily around the events of November 2 where militarized police pepper sprayed, deployed tear gas and shot non-lethal ammunition against water protectors along Cantapeta Creek during a water ceremony.
“AWAKE” is set to premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival, which takes place in Manhattan from April 20-30, but the film will also be available online beginning April 22. Viewers will be able to pay what they like to watch online. All proceeds will go toward the Indigenous Media Fund and Pipeline Fighters Fund. Watch the trailer above.—WATCH: This Documentary on Standing Rock Will Premiere at Tribeca Film Festival,” COLORLINES, 3/27/17
CALGARY – President Donald Trump’s administration approved TransCanada Corp’s Keystone XL pipeline on Friday, cheering the oil industry and angering environmentalists even as further hurdles for the controversial project loom.
The approval reverses a decision by former President Barack Obama to reject the project, but the company still needs to win financing, acquire local permits, and fend off likely legal challenges for the pipeline to be built.
“Transcanada will finally be allowed to complete this long-overdue project with efficiency and with speed,” Trump said in the Oval Office before turning to ask TransCanada CEO Russell Girling when construction would start.
Further reading: Bold Nebraska Responds to Trump Action on Keystone XL
“We’ve got some work to do in Nebraska to get our permits there,” Girling replied.
“Nebraska?” Trump said. “I’ll call Nebraska.”…—Jeff Mason, “Trump OKs Keystone XL pipeline, but obstacles remain,” Alaska Dispatch News, 3/24/17