Sunday, March 1, 2015

TALK: Energy Democracy! What can We Learn from Germany?

Sierra Club ~ Niagara Group
Climate and Clean Energy Writers

will feature a presentation from:

Aaron Bartley
Executive Director of PUSH Buffalo

Energy Democracy!  
What can we learn from Germany? 

Aaron recently traveled to Germany and witnessed entire communities that produce, maintain, distribute, and sell their own renewable energy. Let's hear what he learned and how PUSH Buffalo sees it applying to WNY!
 
Monday, March 2, 6:00-7:30 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church
695 Elmwood at Ferry (Garden Entrance), Buffalo

For a printable flier, click here.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Clean Air Coalition Campaign Featured in Slate Magazine

America’s Unfair Rules of the Road

How our transportation system discriminates against the most vulnerable.

* * *
Race and transportation have long been intertwined, whether it be federally funded highways that plowed through, or isolated, minority neighborhoods; Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott; or segregated streetcars and trolleys. And there has been tremendous progress within the past century, particularly when Brown v. Board of Education struck down “separate but equal,” leading to the eventual desegregation of public transportation. In the 1990s, two pieces of legislation, the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, increased community involvement and awareness of civil rights issues in transportation planning. But discrimination, while certainly less overt, remains today.


ROSAPARKS

Race and transportation have long been intertwined, from federally funded
highways that plowed through minority neighborhoods to Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
Photo by Glenn Asakawa/Denver Post Staff
Sometimes, as in Buffalo’s case, communities feel cut out of the decision-making process. Those in power make decisions about transportation planning, resulting in ill-planned bus routes, transportation more likely to benefit those with cars than those without, and bleak environmental costs. In some cities, roads continue to pull apart neighborhoods, prioritizing commuters over communities. Nationally, the United States remains a country where many forms of transportation are effectively still segregated—whites and minorities ride different kinds of transportation, resulting in an unequal ability to reach jobs, education, and a better life.

Read more at Slate Magazine

Community Power for Health & Justice - Fundraiser March 1st


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Community Meeting: Stop the 'Bomb' Trains

Western NY Drilling Defense Community Meeting:

Stop the 'Bomb' Trains!
Crane Branch Library - upstairs - 633 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo  
Thursday, March 5, 2015 at 6 p.m.

RSVP on Facebook & Invite Friends: click here.

[Click image to enlarge]
Every week trains loaded with volatile crude oil fracked in North Dakota's Bakken shale travel through New York communities at 30 to 40 miles an hour. The DOT-111 tankers used to haul oil are defective and prone to explode in derailments. Bakken oil trains from North Dakota are traveling across New York State and through the City of Buffalo.

With very little public awareness and no study of environmental impacts, the oil industry has made New York a dangerous pipeline for crude oil that snakes thousands of miles by rail, barge and ship from oil fields in North Dakota and elsewhere, to refineries on both coasts. Because they present an immediate danger to public health, we must work to halt the transport of oil trains. Join us in stopping the 'bomb' trains!

We will also be discussing next steps in the anti-fracking campaign in New York, including increased focus on renewable energy. These meetings are open to all!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

EVENT: Promoting Renewable Energy and Sustainability

Zephyr Teachout and Josh Fox in-person presenting:

“A SOLAR HOME COMPANION”

March 1, 2015 at 7:00 pm

The Buffalo History Museum

Lightly parodying NPR/Garrison Keillor’s popular “A Prairie Home Companion”, the show is like an old fashioned variety show, with music, stories, film sequences, and Americana, but with a new twist: this show teaches its audience how to go renewable and how to organize for a sustainable future.

Free and Open to the Public

Seating is limited. Make your reservation here:

RSVP copy2solar 4

climate change josh fox

Conceived and directed by Oscar-Nominated and Emmy-Winning filmmaker and activist Josh Fox, The Solutions Grassroots Tour:  “A Solar Home Companion” combines classic storytelling and great music with roll-up-your sleeves organizing to look at the impacts of fossil fuel development and provide a vision for developing renewable energy like no other event on the planet.

This program is being sponsored in Buffalo by: Sierra Club Niagara Group; UB School of Architecture and Planning, WNY Environmental Alliance; Western NY Drilling Defense 
and others.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

FRACKING NEWS


Despite Fracking Ban, New Yorkers Saddled with 
Radioactive Fracking Waste

New report lifts the veil on how NYS has enabled Pennsylvania to dump more than 460,000 tons of fracking waste inside our borders.

Albany – A new report from Environmental Advocates of New York sheds light on the practice of potentially radioactive out-of-state fracking waste getting dumped in New York despite Governor Cuomo’s ongoing implementation of a ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

“Fracking wastes are notoriously toxic and radioactive,” said Liz Moran, water and natural resources associate, and report author. “Despite knowing the public health concerns, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) enables New York landfills to accept Pennsylvania’s fracking waste with little oversight. If fracking isn’t safe for New Yorkers, then waste from other states’ fracking operations isn’t safe for New Yorkers either.”

Key Concerns

To date, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection reports that at least 460,000 tons of solid fracking waste and 23,000 barrels of liquid waste have been dumped in seven New York landfills. Comparatively, the DEC says the state does not accept this type of waste.

Additionally:
  • In 2013, radiation detectors in Pennsylvania were triggered more than 1000 times by the same kind of fracking waste accepted by New York, signaling dangerous levels of radiation – while not a single radioactive detector was set off by New York landfills.
  • Leachate (toxins from solid waste that leach into collection pools) from landfills ends up in New York’s wastewater treatment plants, none of which are capable of ridding water of radiation or other dangerous chemicals.
  • The DEC has failed to implement standardized oversight, regulation or testing, and has fallen far short of the strong public health safeguards that guided the state Department of Health’s fracking review.
Read more at Environmental Advocates of New York

See also an earlier report, Fracking Waste: A Radioactive Legacy for New York? 


New - and Worrisome - Contaminants Emerge from 
Oil and Gas Wells

Researchers find alarming levels of ammonium and iodide in fracking wastewater released into Pennsylvania and West Virginia streams.

Two hazardous chemicals never before known as oil and gas industry pollutants – ammonium and iodide – are being released into Pennsylvania and West Virginia waterways from the booming energy operations of the Marcellus shale, a new study shows.

Treatment plants were never designed to handle these contaminants.

The toxic substances, which can have a devastating impact on fish, ecosystems, and potentially, human health, are extracted from geological formations along with natural gas and oil during both hydraulic fracturing and conventional drilling operations, said Duke University scientists in a study published today in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The chemicals then are making their way into streams and rivers, both accidentally and through deliberate release from treatment plants that were never designed to handle these contaminants, the researchers said.

Read more at DailyClimate.org


New Report: Oil and Gas Industry using Flawed Research to Promote Fracking

BUFFALO, NY – The oil and gas industry is using flawed research to give the impression of a scientific consensus that fracking is safe and beneficial, according to a new report released today by the Public Accountability Initiative (PAI).

The report, titled “Frackademia in Depth,” assesses over 130 studies that the industry has put forward to help make the scientific case for fracking, analyzing them for the strength of their industry ties and their relative academic quality (whether they were peer-reviewed).

PAI found that only 14% of the studies had been subject to peer review, while nearly 76% had some degree of connection to the oil and gas industry through funders, authors, and issuers.

PAI also found that the list included reports that had been discredited and retracted by the institutions that published them, including a 2012 report from the University of Texas that an independent panel convened by the school decried as “falling short of contemporary standards of scientific work” after PAI revealed undisclosed conflicts of interest and shoddy scholarship.

The extensive list of studies analyzed in the report was originally compiled by Energy in Depth, a nationwide industry outreach effort, and used to convince legislators in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania to lease mineral rights under a county park for fracking. The list opens a telling window onto the body of fracking research that the oil and gas industry deems fit for public consumption.

“Though the industry says that the science is settled in favor fracking, their own best evidence does not support that claim,” said Robert Galbraith, a research analyst at PAI and co-author of the report.

Read the report at PublicAccountability.org


ExxonMobil slammed with $2.3 Million Fine for 
Fracking-related Water Pollution
The EPA found a roundabout way of holding natural gas drillers accountable for Clean Water Act violations.

The EPA just hit XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil and the nation’s largest natural gas company, with a cool $2.3 million fine for Clean Water Act violations related to its fracking activities in West Virginia.

This is big: you rarely hear about frackers being held federally accountable for polluting water supplies, thanks to Bush-era legislation commonly known as the “Halliburton Loophole.” Basically, it ensures that fracking is exempted from the portions of the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act that would typically make it accountable to federal oversight; as such, the EPA is mostly prevented from regulating both the process and the chemicals it injects into the ground.

The EPA’s approach is a clever workaround of those restrictions. As CleanTechnica’s Tina Casey explains, the pollution targeted by the EPA wasn’t caused by fracking itself, but instead by other, ordinary violations committed by XTO: the company, it charges, dumped sand, dirt, rocks and other dirty fill materials into streams and wetlands without a permit, in violation of the Clean Water Act.

In total, the company damaged 5,300 linear feet of streams and 3.38 acres of wetland — making the $2.3 million fine comparatively large, particularly when you consider the extra $3 million it agreed to pay in restoration costs.

This isn’t the first time the EPA has pursued this roundabout policy of holding frackers accountable. Last year, it nailed fracking giant Chesapeake Energy for the same violation, resulting in a record $6.5 million settlement.

Read more at BuffaloNews.com

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Climate Expert, Katherine Hayhoe, to Speak at Houghton College

 One of Time Magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ in 2014.

Dr. Katherine Hayhoe is an atmospheric scientist, an expert on climate change, a communicator and an evangelical Christian.

Time Magazine called her an "environmental evangelist" and a "smart person who defies stereotype."

Dr. Hayhoe will present a lecture on Climate Change from the perspective of evangelical Christian faith on Tuesday, Feb. 17 at 8:30PM in the Center for Fine Arts (Recital Hall) at Houghton College. She’ll also present a shorter talk in the Chapel on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at 11:05AM.

Both events will be free and open to the public.

“Within the Christian world there can be a lot of tension between faith and science, with many evangelicals accepting a false dichotomy that the two are opposed,” commented Brian Webb, sustainability coordinator for Houghton College.

“Hayhoe bridges this communication gap by not only bringing her expertise as a world renowned climate researcher, but also as a scientist who is vocal about her Christian faith. Ultimately, her work integrates the two areas by showing how responding to climate change is an inherently Christian thing to do.”

Katharine Hayhoe is an Associate Professor in the Public Administration program at Texas Tech University and Director of the Climate Science Center. Her research focuses on developing and applying high-resolution climate projections to evaluate the future impacts of climate change on human society and the natural environment. 

Dr. Hayhoe has published over 70 peer-reviewed publications and served as lead author on key reports for the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Academy of Sciences. She is also lead author for the 2014 Third U.S. National Climate Assessment, which provides critical input to planning and policy at the state and national level to reduce the human influence on climate and adapt to future change.

“Hayhoe’s visit is timely for us here at Houghton given that we’re about to go live with the largest solar array on a college campus in NY State within days of her visit. These are just two examples of how Houghton students are beginning to understand the connections between our faith and issues of environmental justice and sustainability,” Webb said.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Heat and Cool Efficiently with a Geothermal Heat Pump -- Upcoming NY Geo Conference

Are you concerned about how to keep your home warm as fossil fuel supplies continue to dwindle and the price rises?

Do you wonder if there is an alternative to high electric bills from air conditioning in the summer?

Geothermal Heat Pumps (GHPs) are the most efficient way to heat and cool buildings and are
becoming increasingly important as we recognize the need to reduce energy use in the face of climate change and volatile fossil fuel prices.

GHPs, when combined with renewable electricity such as solar PV panels, are the best way to get to net-zero energy consumption. Net-zero means that the total amount of energy used by a home or building is roughly equal to the amount of renewable energy created on the site.

Net-zero is coming on strong in New York state.

UPCOMING CONFERENCE on GEOTHERMAL ENERGY:
The NY Geothermal Organization (NY-GEO) will hold its Annual Conference in Saratoga Springs, just North of Albany, March 17th and 18th
In addition to great speakers and workshops, the conference will feature a Top Job Competition, where 7 contractors will compete for the "2014 Top Geothermal Job" title.

Another highlight is the location - Skidmore College plans to be 50% geothermal by 2020 and we've got some great "hands on" tours planned for you to see geothermal in action! 

The first day of the conference will be mainly technical in nature, featuring engineer, contractor and product showcase tracks. The second day will focus more on policy and support for geo, and it will include tours of the Skidmore's geothermal facilities as well as the Top Job competition.

You are able to sign up for either or both days as fits your interest and schedule. Visit http://ny-geo.org/pages/geopalooza

Please see this flier, register today, and help us spread the word in your company and/or your community.

Feel free to call Bill Nowak with any questions.

Bill Nowak
Executive Director, NY-GEO
518-3136-GEO

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Our Warming Planet: Visiting Scientist to Lecture on Melting Ice Sheets and Sea-Level Rise


LECTURE: “The Quest for the Earth’s Fastest Ice”
by
Professor Jesse V. Johnson, University of Montana
  • WHEN: February 20, 2015 at 2:00PM
  • WHERE: UB Center for the Arts (Screening Room, 112), North Campus, Amherst
Free and Open to the Public
LECTURE TOPICS:
The massive ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland are changing on a scale not seen since the end of the last ice age. As a warming climate pushes Earth’s frozen regions to a new state having less ice, important questions related to sea level emerge. 

The speed at which the ice can flow will be shown to be instrumental in any predictions of the future state of the ice sheets, motivating the quest for Earth’s fastest ice. Contemporary research using computational modeling to explore the hidden realms of the ice-sheets will be highlighted as a potential basis for determining the past, present, and future of ice flow.

To learn more about the lecture and Professor Johnson, click here.