Sunday, July 13, 2014

REPORT: Catching the Wind -- State Actions Needed to Seize the Golden Opportunity of Atlantic Offshore Wind Power

State Action Needed to Accelerate Wind Power, Benefit Ratepayers, Create Jobs, Cut Pollution. 
By Environment America .

The Atlantic coastline is at the epicenter of America’s energy and environmental challenges, with state leaders currently facing critical decisions to meet the region’s growing energy demands and protect our communities and wildlife from the impacts of climate change. The cities, metropolitan areas, and sprawling suburbs that stretch along the East Coast have a massive, pollution-free energy source ready to meet these challenges –– offshore wind.

Responsibly developed offshore wind power offers a golden opportunity to meet our coastal energy needs with a clean, local resource that will spur investments in local economies –– creating unparalleled job growth and avoiding the need to export hard-earned energy dollars outside the region.

For over twenty years, Europe has been reaping these benefits of offshore wind power –– including over 58,000 jobs –– and countries around the globe are rapidly mobilizing to tap their offshore wind resources using today’s commercially available, advanced technologies.

Thanks to the leadership of the federal government, forward-thinking state leaders, resolute wind industry pioneers, and engaged stakeholders, this immense clean energy resource is finally within reach.

This report documents the unique benefits of Atlantic offshore wind power and highlights key progress made to date, while identifying the critical actions state leaders must take to build on this foundation and finally bring this game-changing clean energy solution online. The report was authored by the National Wildlife Federation with input from Environment America and many other partners.

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Invitation: People's Climate March in New York City

By PeoplesClimateMarch Org .

This is an invitation to change everything.

In September, world leaders are coming to New York City for a UN summit on the climate crisis. The UN Secretary­ General is urging governments to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming pollution.

With our future on the line and the whole world watching, we'll take a stand to bend the course of history.

We'll take to the streets to demand the world we know is within our reach: a world with an economy that works for people and the planet; a world safe from the ravages of climate change; a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities.

To change everything, we need everyone on board.

Sunday, September 21 in New York City. Join us.

Already over 300 different groups representing youth, parents, faith communities, labor unions, and more have signed on in support of the march. 

Buffalo Area Residents & Students: Sierra Club Niagara Group and local allied groups are organizing Buses to NYC and offering Scholarship Tickets to students and qualified participants.

To show your support and get in line for the Buffalo Bus to NYC, 

Questions? Email sierraclub.climatemarch @  
Watch this Video!

 Mass Mobilization of PEOPLE is a way to shock the system into ACTION. 


For more information visit

Sierra Club Opposes Expansion of Hazardous Waste Facility in Niagara County

Sierra Club Niagara Group is opposed to the expansion of Chemical Waste Management (CWM) Hazardous Waste Site in the towns of Lewiston and Porter in Niagara County.

The commercial facility located on a 710 acre site, treats, stores and disposes of hazardous waste and industrial non-hazardous waste.  For nearly 40 years, the residents of Niagara County and the nearby Great Lakes have been unduly burdened with the only hazardous waste landfill capacity in the state.

Help Stop the Expansion: No more hazardous waste should be brought into our community!

Attend the Public Hearings:
Wednesday, July 16 at 1:00 pm and at 6:30 pm in the auditorium of the Lewiston-Porter High School at 4061 Creek Road (Route 18) Youngstown, NY [Map]

Send Comments:  Written comments can be sent at any time from now until September 5. For information on where to send comments, visit the Sierra Club Niagara Group website.

Recent News Reports:
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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Web Chat: Organizing for the Climate March in New York City

WHAT: WEB CHAT - Organizing ahead of the People’s Climate March in New York City

WHEN: Tuesday, July 8th, 8:30pm

WHERE: Online! We'll send you a link after you RSVP.

Click here to RSVP for the People’s Climate March web chat.

Can’t make the web chat but still want to help lead local efforts around the march? Click here and we’ll get in touch with you.

This web chat will cover the basics of how communities are organizing ahead of the march and outline some of the resources we have to help you take the first steps to get involved.

Already, we’re seeing individuals organize their own communities. Artists are making beautiful art and organizing art convergences. Parents are organizing other parents through PTAs and summer camps. Students are organizing other students to come out. It’s all about thinking about what communities you’re part of and digging in.

Sign up for the web chat or sign up to be a local leader, and find out how you can plug in to make September 21st a historic day.

Here’s to making history,
Anna 350 and the PCM team

Friday, July 4, 2014


"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

- Declaration of Independence, 1776

Friday, June 13, 2014

Fracking Waste: A Radioactive Legacy for New York?

        New York Landfills Import Hazardous Fracking Waste -- TAKE ACTION to Protect Our  Environment and Health
By David Kowalski .

Marcellus Shale contains radioactive materials, including uranium and its decay products, radium and radon. Normally, the radioactive material is safely buried deep underground. However, shale gas drilling and fracking bring radioactivity in solids and liquid wastewater to the surface, posing a risk to the environment and public health if not properly managed.

Radium and radon can cause cancer if ingested or inhaled. Radium causes leukemia and bone cancer. Radon, a gaseous decay product of radium, is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers.

In 2009, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) found radium levels in Marcellus Shale wastewater that are thousands of times greater than that allowed in drinking water by the Environmental Protection Agency, and up to 267 times the limit for safe discharge into the environment.

Exemption from a key federal regulation allows gas industry solid and liquid waste to pass as “non-hazardous.” However, it is becoming more widely appreciated that the waste can contain radioactive materials, in which case it should be regulated as "hazardous" waste and be managed accordingly.

Drilling and fracking waste in the form of sludge from Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale has triggered radiation alarms at municipal landfills. The sludge contains flowback fluids, frack sand and other fluids. Sludge must contain at least 20% solids according to the DEC, implying that it could contain as much as 80% flowback fluid and other fluids containing soluble radioactive material.

Liquid leachate from landfills is sent to wastewater treatment plants unequipped to monitor or remove radioactive materials, threatening drinking water sources.

Waste from drilling and fracking in Pennsylvania has been imported by 6 New York landfills  (see Map at bottom of page), including one in Niagara Falls that is not permitted to receive radioactive waste.

In West Virginia, tons of waste from Marcellus natural gas wells are going to municipal landfills, and radioactivity is leaching into surface water.

In the first four months of 2014, nine loads of Pennsylvania shale gas drilling waste were rejected by local landfills because of higher-than-normal radioactivity. Some of this radioactive drilling waste was shipped from Pennsylvania to West Virginia landfills that are not required to monitor radioactivity.

The gas industry has not identified methods to safely dispose the hazardous, radioactive waste and is shipping it to municipal landfills. It would be costly for industry to properly dispose the waste at a facility licensed to handle radioactive waste, but this is exactly what must be done to protect the environment and public health.

The industry is also failing to cleanup the hazardous, radioactive material in fracking wastewater. A peer-reviewed scientific paper reported radium levels of 200 times background in Pennsylvania’s Blacklick Creek sediments downstream of a specialized fracking wastewater treatment plant. A large portion of the radioactivity in the fracking wastewater appeared to have been removed before discharge into the waterway, but it is not clear where that radioactive material was disposed.

Avner Vengosh, the Duke University researcher who led the scientific study, said that "once you have a release of fracking fluid into the environment, you end up with a radioactive legacy." Contamination by radium, which has a half-life of 1602 years, will persist in the environment for many thousands of years.

Radioactive materials are present in a variety of gas-bearing formations, not just the Marcellus. Radioactivity can be present in the wastewater not only after high-volume fracking, but also following low-volume fracking, which is currently permitted in New York.

The DEC permits spreading fracking waste called 'brine' (salty wastewater) obtained from low-volume fracking wells and gas storage facilities on roads for de-icing, dust control and road stabilization as well as on land for dust control. Spreading applications of fracking brine have been approved for use in portions of at least 23 municipalities in 7 western New York counties: Erie, Niagara, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Genessee, Wyoming, and Seneca. Also, the New York State Department of Transportation Region 6 received approval to spread brine from natural gas storage on State roads in portions of Steuben, Allegany, Chemung, Schuyler, and Yates Counties.

Spreading of any fracking wastewater on roads or land should not be permitted without first testing for radioactive materials. If radium and radon are present, aerosols and dust containing radium could be inhaled along with radon gas. Radium in liquid runoff that makes its way into drinking water and fish could be ingested.

Radium and radon in waste from shale gas drilling and fracking pose a serious threat to the environment and public health. Cancers induced by ingestion or inhalation of these radioactive materials can take years to develop.

Regulation of radioactive waste in gas drilling is just as lax now as it was shown to be in investigative reports of 2011. The public should demand that the New York State Legislature pass laws to protect our water, land, air and health from the dire consequences of long-lived radioactive contamination.

NY State Senator Tkaczyk sponsored a common-sense bill to ban transportation of fracking waste from Pennsylvania and elsewhere into New York and ban disposal. However, the bill was defeated in the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee in a straight party-line vote (7 Nays by Republicans to 6 Ayes by Democrats).

A key bill sponsored by Senator Avella (S674), and the 'same as' bill sponsored by Assemblyman Sweeney (A1046), would close the loophole that allows fracking waste to be designated as "non-hazardous," despite the fact that it can be hazardous in ways described above. Fracking waste needs to be monitored. If it contains radioactive or toxic materials, it should be regulated as "hazardous" waste and be stored, transported, and disposed in ways that protect the environment and health. As stated in the bill, "If not treated properly, hazardous waste can, among other concerns, lead to contaminated air, drinking water, soil, and food."

TAKE ACTION: Contact your NY State Senator (Click Here) and Assembly Member (Click Here) and ask them to co-sponsor the bills (S674 and A1046) to protect our environment and health.

Public input is more important than ever given heavy campaign contributions to state legislators from the natural gas industry.

In the absence of New York State laws, the public has little choice but to call for municipal bans on fracking waste in order to protect our environment and health.

An abbreviated version of this article was published in The Buffalo News on May 29, 2014.

Sources of Pennsylvania drilling/fracking waste disposed at 6 New York landfills
Credits: Karen Edelstein, NYS Coordinator for FracTracker Alliance

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Conservationist of the Year - Sam Magavern

By David Kowalski
Conservation Committee Member
Adirondack Mountain Club - Niagara Frontier Chapter (ADK-NFC)

The ADK-NFC Conservation Committee honored Sam Magavern with the “Conservationist of the Year” award at the Chapter's Annual Meeting and Picnic on Saturday, June 7, 2014.

       Sam Magavern    photo/Artvoice
Sam Magavern is the founder and co-director of the Partnership for the Public Good, a local think tank that provides research and advocacy support to help revitalize Buffalo-Niagara in many areas, including our natural environment. The group works to cultivate our regional assets, including Lake Erie, Niagara Falls, the waterfront, and natural areas. The Partnership also tackles some of the most serious problems of the region such as air pollution, poor water quality, and numerous brownfields.

Magavern, in collaboration with his law students and others, has authored a number of important reports on behalf of the environment, conservation and the public good. Three of these reports are briefly described below.

A recent report, The Niagara River Greenway: Fulfilling the Promise, served to restore progress in developing the Niagara River Greenway by ensuring that Greenway funds are used only for their intended purpose — creating a world-class system of parks, trails, and conservation areas along the Niagara River.

"No one has articulated and publicized the problem and its solutions as effectively as Sam Magavern and his 'think tank,' the Partnership for the Public Good," wrote Larry Beahan, ADK-NFC Conservation Committee member, after reviewing the report.

Sam Magavern is now a commissioner on the Niagara River Greenway Commission, and he currently serves as chair of the Citizens' Advisory Committee. He welcomes public input on Greenway matters and can be contacted at

A 2008 report, Greening Buffalo: What Local Governments Can Do, describes the Partnership's vision on promoting 'green' initiatives such as mass transit, energy-efficient buildings, recycling, and the conservation of energy, water, and habitats. Such initiatives are not only friendly to our environment, but also will generate business, helping to revive the economy of the Buffalo-Niagara region and provide new jobs.

Magavern's latest report is titled Building the Blue Economy: Opportunities for Community-Based Organizations in Stormwater Management. With a combined stormwater-sewage system like that in Buffalo, stormwater management is key to protect water quality and public health. To address the problem, the report presents innovative 'green infrastructure' methods, which can deliver environmental benefits and create community jobs, including entry-level jobs. The report was prepared in collaboration with PUSH Buffalo.

Sam Magavern has chaired the boards of several non-profits, including a land conservancy.  He teaches at the SUNY Buffalo Law School and the Cornell University ILR School. He is a graduate of Harvard University and UCLA Law School.

About the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK-NFC): ADK-NFC, with some 1000 local members, subscribes to and supports the mission of The ADK, both in the Adirondack Forest Preserve and in Western New York. Components of the mission include conservation, advocacy, recreation, education and stewardship. Join us to support this mission and to share our joy and knowledge of outdoor activities. Visit our website at

Monday, June 9, 2014

National Dump the Pump Day - Thursday, June 19th

By queenseyes at Buffalo Rising

National Dump the Pump Day is June 19, 2014. On that day, drivers are asked to leave their vehicles at home, and walk, bike and take public transportation to work. Take the metro if you live and work along the Main Street route. Or hop on a bus if you like.

Not only does National Dump the Pump Day get us thinking about our over-dependence on the automobile (and gas), it also shines a light on the benefits to us and the planet. Take, for example, the impact on your wallet. Did you know that by downsizing from two cars to one car, a family can save an average of $9900* a year on expenses? That’s a lot of money! Between gas, insurance, maintenance, and other expenses, the bills add up.

If you like the idea of leaving your car home for a day, then try it on National Dump the Pump Day. You will be joining like-minded people who are in tune with cost savings, health benefits and earth initiatives. Try it out. See what you think. Tell some friends. And see how easy it can be to avoid the pump altogether.

*Public Transit Association’s Transit Savings Report

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

CONFERENCE: Focus is Justice in Huntley Plant Transition

Clean Air  -- Organizing for Health and Justice

Presents a Conference 

Just Transition: Good Jobs and Healthy Communities

Conference seeks Justice in Huntley Power Plant Transition

The conference will feature some of the nation’s leading experts in movement building, coal finance, just transition, renewable energy, and sustainable and democratic community development.

The conference kicks off at 10:00am on June 7th and will conclude with a happy hour at 5:30pm. It will be hosted at the NYS United Teachers offices at 270 Essjay Road in Williamsville.

Participation is free, but registration is required and space is limited. Register today at

Presenters include:

Les Leopold, the director of the Labor Institute, strategic consultant to the Blue-Green Alliance, and author of author of How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Financial Elites get away with siphoning off America’s Wealth.

Jean Pogge is the CEO of Delta Institute that is leading the Fisk and Crawford Reuse Task Force, a committee that will work to solicit community input and economic development and job creation alternatives for the land on which the Fisk and Crawford power plant used to be.

Sean Sweeney is the Director and founder of the Global Labor Institute, a program of the Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations and works with Trade Unions for Energy Democracy.

After the release of the recent report by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis that painted a dim future for the Huntley coal plant, Clean Air held a series of community assemblies in the city and town of Tonawanda, Grand Island, and Riverside to vision a “just transition” in case of the plant’s closure. Nearly 100 impacted residents, workers, and climate change activists came together to vision a resilient future for our region if the NRG Huntley coal plant were to retire. The conference will build on the ideas and relationships that were generated at the assemblies.

Together, we can ensure that if the plant retires workers are protected, new revenue is secured for our schools and local governments, and the property is redeveloped to meet our community’s needs. Questions? Call Clean Air at 716-852-3813.

To view a news report on the upcoming conference, click here