Thursday, April 10, 2014

Renewable New York -- Planning for a Clean Energy Future

By Jannette M. Barth, Ph.D.

Renewable New York is a newly formed grassroots organization dedicated to helping New York State transition to a 100% renewable energy infrastructure. It was founded by individuals who recognize that fossil fuels must be phased out quickly and replaced with the superior alternative: renewable energy combined with energy efficiency and conservation.

Renewable New York
will work to advance the goals of The Solutions Project, a national effort to move each state to an energy infrastructure that is 100% supplied by wind, water and sunlight. A team of scientists under the direction of Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford University has described how New York can successfully, affordably and productively transition to renewable energy by relying solely on technology that exists today, creating new jobs in the process.

The Solutions Project plan for New York can be found here:

A brief summary of the plan is here:

A distinguished group, including five coauthors of the Solutions Project plan, has agreed to serve as Special Advisors to Renewable New York.

Renewable New York recognizes that there are many groups and individuals in New York State already successfully working to increase the production and use of renewable energy and to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Renewable New York seeks to assist with these efforts, in part by assembling a database of programs already underway so others can benefit from past efforts. For this reason, Renewable New York is asking organizations throughout the state to send us information about your projects so that we can post them online on our forthcoming website. (Please email with the name of your organization, contact information, a link to your website, and a brief description of your organization’s efforts.)

We’d also like to hear from individuals with particular relevant expertise in energy conservation and sustainable energy. A timely response will insure that your efforts are included when our website first goes online.

Renewable New York understands that the 2030 Plan for New York State as described in the Jacobson et al. study is just one feasible way to make the transition. The 2030 plan is a plan, not necessarily the plan. All of our ideas need to be thrown into the mix. It is fully expected that this plan will be adjusted as progress is made. The most immediate need is for us all to pull together to ensure a speedy transition to a sustainable future.

Please forward this message to list serves and other contacts.
 ~  ~  ~

DEADLINE to Submit Public Comments on the draft New York State Energy Plan is April 30, 2014.

Help N.Y. State achieve critical goals on climate, energy efficiency and renewable energy by submitting your comments here:

Live Cameras on Great Blue Heron Nest at Cornell

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York

Camera #2: To see the nest from a different angle as well as other heron activities around the pond, Click here.

HINTS: Keep BOTH cameras displayed on your screen at the same time. A human will sometimes pan the second camera over the pond to see what the other heron is doing, such as fishing, nest repair or hanging out nearby.
Also, turn up the Sound Volume on your computer. There's a party going on in the background! 

Status updates: In 2013, the male heron returned to Cornell's Sapsucker Woods on April 4 and the female arrived on April 8. 
As of today (April10, 2014) there has been no report of the arrival of the herons, but keep an eye out for them.
About Great Blue Herons: They usually lay 2-6 eggs and share incubation duties for 25-30 days. Incubation begins with the first egg, and the young hatch asynchronously (not at the same time) over 2-5 days. After hatching, it'll take 7-8 weeks before they fly from the nest for the first time.
Live streaming video is from cornellherons at

Originally posted here on April 10, 2014 and will be updated later with other activities.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fundraiser for Watchdog Group after Another Successful Year

Buffalo's Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) and are celebrating another successful year. Their watchdog research on corporate power, undue influence, and corruption received national media coverage and delivered big impact.

Some highlights from the year: 
  • Senator Schumer's recusal. They reported on the role of Senator Charles Schumer's brother in crafting the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal. After initially praising the merger, Schumer recused himself from oversight of the merger as a result of our investigation. [AP]
  • Front group exposed. They exposed a gas industry front group and greenwashing effort called the "Center for Sustainable Shale Development." The president of the Heinz Endowments was a major supporter of the initiative, and resigned from his position at the foundation after they reported on his ties to the gas industry. The Heinz Endowments has since severed ties with CSSD. [Tribune-Review]
  • Conflicts of interest in the Syria debate. Their report on the "military-industrial pundits" – pundits with defense industry ties who were pushing for war with Syria – received major coverage in the Washington Post and elsewhere and caught the attention of two of their favorite investigative journalists: Glenn Greenwald and John Cusack. [Washington Post]
  • Wall Street Higher Ed Watch. They teamed up with the Higher Ed Not Debt campaign to develop a new tool on LittleSis that will support campus-based research on Wall Street's role in higher education.
  • Open Buffalo. They helped plan the winning Open Buffalo proposal, and they're looking forward to contributing to Open Buffalo's efforts to build a more equitable, just, and democratic city!
  • Introducing: the Oligrapher. They developed a new tool on LittleSis that graphs the cozy ties of the powerful individuals and organizations profiled in the database (to see an example, go here).
CELEBRATION & FUNDRAISER: You can show your appreciation for PAI's work and also meet the watchdogs in person at a celebration and fundraiser, whimsically entitled "Pie for PAI" (free pie will be served by PAI). A $20 donation is suggested, and there will be a cash bar.

WHEN & WHERE: Thursday, April 17, 6 PM, Allen Street Hardware (backroom), 245 Allen Street, Buffalo.

If you can't make it to the event but still want to support PAI, you can always make a donation online.


UPDATE - April 10, 2014:  Meet Kevin Connor: Change Agent ~ Artvoice report by Harper S. E. Bishop

Volunteer for RIVERKEEPER Spring Shoreline Cleanup

WHEN: Saturday, April 26 from 9AM to 12PM

Riverkeeper organizes the largest Shoreline Cleanup in Buffalo Niagara with over 1,500 volunteers at 40 waterfront sites throughout Western New York. This event re-connects people to their greatest natural asset, fresh water.

This is your opportunity to join the effort to protect and revitalize our waterfront by cleaning up trash that is harmful for fish and wildlife!

Volunteer Registration: CLICK HERE to register online for one of 40 Sites for our Spring Shoreline Cleanup. On the morning of the cleanup, volunteers will meet the Site Captain at the designated meeting place at their site.

Site Captain Registration is closed.  

Questions? Contact Jarrett Steffen by email at or by phone at 716-852-7483 ext. 19.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lake Erie: When It Rains, It Poisons

Harmful algal bloom hits shore of Lake Erie's Pelee Island. NOAA.
Climate change could bring more runoff and toxic algal blooms to Lake Erie.

The news coming out of Lake Erie is rarely good. In short, you can’t swing a dead bass near this southernmost Great Lake without hitting some kind of environmental disaster. But according to scientists at an online seminar yesterday, climate change could unleash even more havoc on this freshwater ecosystem, in the form of huge blooms of toxic algae.

Along with fouling beaches and bullying native species, invaders like zebra and quagga mussels are gobbling up the lake’s beneficial algae. This makes room in the ecosystem for another algae called microcystis, which produces a toxin that poisons the water for fish, humans, and unfortunate dogs alike. To make matters worse, fertilizers containing phosphorous pour into the lake from surrounding farmland, encouraging the growth of algal blooms. And now scientists say climate change is pecking away at the lake’s annual ice sheet. With less ice, evaporation on the lake could increase during the winter and allow algal blooms to flourish longer each year.

That Lake Erie is under attack from all sides is nothing new, of course. Barry Yeoman enumerated the lake’s troubles back in 2011 (see “Lake Erie Deathwatch”). But as we come to understand just how difficult it is to influence global climate policy, local scientists are becoming increasingly worried about what a warmer world will do to already struggling ecosystems such as Erie.

“Overall, Lake Erie is receiving a higher frequency of storms of one inch or greater,” says climatologist Molly Woloszyn. That means climate change isn’t just affecting the amount of water entering the watershed, but also the manner in which it gets there. Heavier rains are more likely to wash away farmers’ fertilizers, flushing them through the watershed and into the lake.

To adapt to these new weather patterns, a recent report from the Ohio Lake Erie Phosphorus Task Force recommends that farmers reduce fertilizer use by 40 percent and adopt practices to prevent agricultural pollution, such as not applying fertilizers when the ground is frozen or when heavy rain is on its way. Additionally, anti-erosion techniques like cultivating crops that keep their root systems intact year-round could help cut down on runoff. Unfortunately, because the task force has no way to enforce these guidelines, any phosphorus reduction would be voluntary.

Nobody wants to bet against an ecosystem that’s been left for dead more than once, but the outlook for Erie is as dreary as ever. Problems as big as climate change force local governments to learn to pick their battles. But if the plan is to curb farm runoff, fend off toxic algae, and improve water quality in this once-great lake all in one swoop, I’d say dive in.

The original post is here.

Forum: The STATUS of LAKE ERIE - Reserve Seats Now

[Click Image to Enlarge]

WHEN: Saturday, April 5, 2014 at 9:00 AM

WHERE: Frank Lloyd Wright's Fontana Boathouse, Buffalo, NY

The STATUS of LAKE ERIE is the topic of the forum to be held on the Buffalo waterfront at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fontana Boathouse with its magnificent view of Lake Erie. An expert panel of speakers will address a variety of Lake Erie issues including toxic algae, dead zones, invasive species, CAFOs and water quality. There will also be a brief talk on the Boathouse’s history and a tour of the nearby Great Lakes Laboratory Field Station. The program is below:

[Click Image to Enlarge]

Advance Registration is required due to limited seating.

RESERVE your seat for the STATUS of LAKE ERIE forum:
  •  write a check for $5 per person made out to ADK
  •  mail it to Cheryl Peluso, 3618 Howard Rd, Hamburg NY 14075
  •  any questions, leave a message at 648-9027 or email
Once the check is received your name will be added to the reserved seat list and Cheryl will email an acknowledgement of receipt . Upon arrival at the event, give your name at the door and you'll be admitted.

Sponsored by the Niagara Frontier Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club.

Presentation: Solar Electricity for Your Home

How can a Homeowner put Solar on their Roof?

Presentation on Home Installation of Solar Electricity

The Sierra Club Niagara Group and UB Office of Sustainability are sponsoring an informational session on Home Installation of Solar Panels to generate Electricity.

Hear about the benefits of a solar panel installation on your home.

Have your “how to” questions answered.

Presentation by local installers: CIR Electric, Frey Electric and Solar Liberty.

Date: Monday March 24 at 7 PM

Place: UB Gateway Building, Rm. 208, 77 Goodell (corner of Goodell and Ellicott), Buffalo, NY

For more information Go to 


Advocating in DC for Great Lakes Protection

By Roger Germann
Executive Vice President, John G. Shedd Aquarium

Our lakes may still be frozen but last week there was a wave of Great Lakes activity in Washington, D.C. More than 100 Great Lakes advocates from all over North America gathered together in one place for the Great Lakes Day meeting hosted by the Great Lakes Commission (GLC). I joined several of my fellow Great Lakes champions who headed east to represent Shedd Aquarium, an official Observer for GLC, at the annual event.

It's a pivotal time for the lakes. Resources are strained, but Great Lakes issues remain. Leaders including John Goss, Asian carp director for the Obama Administration, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy led important discussions about the future of our region. Representatives from Canada to Chicago came together to celebrate recent successes while also advocating for crucial funding support from federal, state and provincial governments. But, most importantly, we publicly strengthened our unified resolve to create solutions for the serious issues affecting the Great Lakes.

Of course, the hottest topic both in sessions and in hallway discussions remained how to prevent Asian carp from entering the Great Lakes. Progress has been made. Recently, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers released the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study (GLMRIS). However, the study is a starting point and there is more to be done to address the Asian carp issue, along with preventing the spread of other aquatic invasive species in and out of the Great Lakes basin.
In a show of solidarity, something not often seen in Washington D.C., the Great Lakes Commission passed four resolutions, with Asian carp at the top of the list:
  1. Asian carp solutions Resolution: Taking immediate action on a suite of near-term measures to reduce the risk of interbasin transfer of Asian carp and other invasive species at the Chicago Area Waterways System (CAWS).
    There's an urgent need to implement short-term risk reduction options to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp, and Congress is looking to the Commission for next steps. The Commission recommended several near-term measures, including continuing the Asian Carp Control Strategy Framework, such as electric barriers, and implementing additional control measures outlines in the GLMRIS report such as habitat alteration and controlled harvesting. Read more about the proposed near-term measures

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Presentation: UB Entry in Solar Decathalon Competition

WNY Sustainable Energy Association 


UB Solar Decathlon Presentation! 

Monday, April 7th at 7pm 
Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center 
341 Delaware Avenue 
Buffalo, NY 14202 
(716) 854-1694 

Free and Open to the Public! 

Please save the date and attend the WNY Sustainable Energy Association’s Reitan Speaker Series at Hallwalls for a night of innovation and Green Building design. UB Professor of Architecture Martha Bohm, UB Clinical Assistant Professor of Architecture Brad Wales, along with their graduate students will unveil the renderings of GRoW House. 

This is a first time entry for the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning in the US Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon bi-annual competition that will be held in Irvine, California in 2015. The UB Solar Decathlon design entry incorporates the latest green design technology and renewable energy implementation that will enable the inhabitants to Grow, Relax and Work; GRow House! 

Join the WNY Sustainable Energy Association for this informative and exciting presentation at Hallwalls!