Monday, August 21, 2017

Report: Wind and Solar Power Reduce Pollution, Benefit Our Health and Climate, and Save Money

Wind and solar power are saving Americans an astounding amount of money

Not getting sick and dying from pollution is worth quite a bit, it turns out.

By David Roberts  | Vox.com | Aug 18, 2017

Wind and solar power are subsidized by just about every major country in the world, either directly or indirectly through tax breaks, mandates, and regulations.

The main rationale for these subsidies is that wind and solar produce benefits to society that are not captured in their market price (a.k.a. “positive externalities”). Specifically, wind and solar power reduce pollution, which reduces sickness, missed work days, and early deaths. Every wind farm or solar field displaces some other form of power generation (usually coal or natural gas) that would have polluted more.

Subsidies for renewable energy sources are meant to remedy this market failure, to make the market value of renewables more accurately reflect their total social value.

This raises an obvious question: Are renewable energy subsidies doing the job? That is to say, are they accurately reflecting the size and nature of their benefits to society?

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab published a comprehensive report on the health and environmental benefits of wind and solar in the US between 2007 (when the market was virtually nothing) and 2015 (after years of explosive market growth).

Below are the main conclusions:
  • From 2007 to 2015, wind and solar in the US reduced SO2, NOx, and PM2.5 by 1.0, 0.6, and 0.05 million tons respectively;
  • Reduction of those local air pollutants helped avoid 7,000 premature deaths (the central estimate in a range from 3,000 to 12,700);
  • Those avoided deaths, along with other public health impacts, are worth a cumulative $56 billion (the central estimate in a range from $30 to $113 billion);
  • Wind and solar also reduced CO2 emissions, to the tune of $32 billion in avoided climate costs (the central estimate in a range from $5 to $107 billion).
If you add up those central estimates, wind and solar saved Americans around $88 billion in health and environmental costs over eight years. Not bad.

Costs and benefits

In this case, as in all such cases, it is somewhat misleading to simply compare total subsidies with total health and environmental benefits. The total amounts are not all that matters. It also matters how costs and benefits are distributed — i.e., equity matters as well.

To put it bluntly: A dollar in federal taxes is not equivalent to a dollar of avoided health and environmental costs. The latter dollar is worth more than the former dollar.

Why is that? Simple: Federal taxes come disproportionately from the wealthy, via our progressive federal income tax, but health and environmental benefits disproportionately help the poor. And as any good economist will tell you, the same dollar is worth more to a poor person than it is to a rich person.

This is something that often gets lost in discussions of environmental regulations. It’s not just that their total benefits almost always exceed their direct costs. It’s that those benefits are uniquely egalitarian and progressive.

In the case of climate change, any reduction in CO2 emissions benefits everyone on Earth (egalitarian), while disproportionately helping the poor, who suffer earliest and most from climate impacts (progressive).

In the case of local air-quality benefits, cleaner air benefits everyone in the region who breathes (egalitarian), while disproportionately helping the poor, who are more likely to live in close proximity to fossil fuel power plants (progressive).

In terms of equity, converting a dollar of wealthy people’s money into a dollar of health for low-income communities seems like a good deal to me. And if you can get multiple dollars of low-income health benefit for every dollar of high-income taxes, well, that’s a no brainer.

Everybody breathes. Any dollar of federal income taxes used to produce a dollar of air and climate benefits is a net gain for justice.

Excerpts of the article are shown above. To read the full article, visit Vox.com

Sunday, August 20, 2017

COMMUNITY FORUM: Educational Presentations on Mitigating Climate Change

ADK Niagara Frontier Chapter  

presents a

CONSERVATION CONVERSATION

on

 Mitigating Climate Change

September 16, 2017

 Free and Open to the Public.

 

The program will discuss methods that are currently being utilized or are being researched to decrease the effect of climate change on people, communities and aquatic ecosystems. This program is offered at no charge as part of an educational outreach to educate individuals, policy makers and community activists about climate change and how each one of us can participate in decreasing the effect it has on the planet.

 

Our expert speakers will share a wealth of knowledge on a topic they are passionate about:

  • Christopher Page, MS – Senior Biologist, Mote Marine Laboratory in the Florida Keys will speak about Coral Re-skinning to mitigate the effect of climate change on coral reefs. He will discuss the importance of coral reefs and the impact climate change is having on them.
  • ZoĆ© A. Hamstead, PhD – Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo School of Architecture & Planning and Director of the Community Resilience Lab, Dr. Hamstead will share her research on the impact of extreme heats on communities and the development of socially equitable, livable & healthy urban communities.
  • Leah B. Bernhardi, BS, MS, J.D. Candidate, Class of 2017 will share her experience in December 2015 when she spent a week in Paris, France attending the 21st Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She will discuss the Paris Agreement, what other countries are doing and what we can do about climate change

 

LOCATION:

Daemen College
Schenck Hall / Auditorium Room 107
4380 Main Street
Amherst, NY 14226  [Map - Click here]
 

 

Doors open at 8:30 am, refreshments will be available.
Presentations start at 9:00 AM. The program ends at noon.

 

For more information, contact Jay Wopperer at jgw423@hotmail.com

 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

PUBLIC HEARING: National Grid Proposal to Increase Electricity Delivery Charges by 17.5% -- Attend the Hearing and/or Submit Your Comments Online!

The NY State Public Service Commission will conduct a Public Hearing on a proposed rate hike by National Grid on August 1st in the Gallery Conference Room at the Central Library in Buffalo [Map].

Two Sessions of Public Hearings: 
  • Afternoon Session: 2:00 pm Information and 3:00 pm Public Comments 
  • Evening Session: 6:00 pm Information and 7:00 pm Public Comments
National Grid proposes to increase electricity delivery charges by 17.5%, which would add $8.93 to an average customer’s total bill.

PUBLIC COMMENTS:


Public Webinar: Is Enough Being Done to Clean Up Lake Erie?

Click to RSVP for the August 2nd Webinar

It is unacceptable for Lake Erie—or any Great Lake—to be 

 

so polluted that it becomes a threat to our health.


Three years ago, on August 2nd, the unthinkable happened. Toledo, a major Great Lakes city, had to ban drinking the water supply it draws from the lakes. For two and a half days, Toledo area residents could not drink the water flowing from the taps in their homes. Businesses, from restaurants to hair salons to grocery stores, had to shut down or severely curtail operations. Residents waited in long lines for clean water or drove several hours to stock up on bottled water. A few weeks later residents of Pelee Island, Ontario residents faced a similar ban that lasted nearly two weeks.

Two years ago, the Governors of Ohio and Michigan joined with the Premier of Ontario to commit to reducing the amount of runoff pollution, specifically phosphorus, flowing into western Lake Erie by 40 percent. The commitment marked a promise to the people of Lake Erie—promise of a lake nearly free of harmful algal blooms and a significant reduction in risk to people and the lake.

Unfortunately, progress by Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario 

 

has been painfully slow.


Join the Alliance for the Great Lakes and Freshwater Future for a special lunchtime briefing for an update on the Lake Erie crisis, our assessment of progress by Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario, and the next steps that must be taken for the governments to fulfill their promise of a clean Lake Erie. 

RSVP for the Webinar  Here


We’ll also share how you can help and leave plenty of time to answer your questions. Hope you can join!

For the health of the Great Lakes,
Jill Ryan
Executive Director
Freshwater Future

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Buffalo Youth Traveled to D.C. to Participate in Empowering Workshops and March for Climate Justice

Recap: MAP Youth Attend D.C. Climate March

Author: Mariama McCoy, MAP Youth  |  Re-posted from GrowWNY.org

June 12, 2017

Climate JUSTICE and YOUTH


Youth from Buffalo's Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) had the chance to go to D.C. for the People’s Climate March to represent agriculture and youth for they affect and are also affected by climate change.  Although the trip began with an overnight bus ride with very uncomfortable seating and walking very far with suitcases, the youth were lucky to have found free accommodations at a local church.  There they played Uno and Jenga while waiting to for the Youth Contingent to start.  They attended the People’s Climate March Youth Contingent workshops to talk about topics that connect some youth to climate change issues at Standing Rock, including a chief’s son.















At the Youth Contingent, they participated in a skit that showed the power of action, starting with disempowerment and then putting in place changes that could empower youth. They learned that to fix our country’s economy we have to address underlying issues such as racism.  They learned chants and songs for the day of the march, and obtained some free posters to march with.  They heard speeches from several different organizations and leading people in climate social justice movement.  After the workshops there was a dance party where the youth met teens from other organizations such as the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) fellowship in New York City, as well as the Young People’s Action Coalition.


The next day, the youth took public transportation and caught a ride on golf carts to meet the Sierra Club Niagara Group bus from Buffalo.  Before the march even started, they saw a girl faint from heatstroke.  During the march, people were selling water for $5 a bottle, but luckily the youth had already gotten water for only $1 a bottle.  The march was a far walk in the heat, but the youth had the chance to yell chants into a bullhorn, things such as “water is life” alongside Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Youth Director of Earth Guardians.

Finally, they marched past Trump’s hotel and saw some awesome art work, including a life-size piece “Putin’s Puppet”.  Together with thousands of people, they sat down in the street and all patted their hearts to make a heartbeat for 100 seconds for the first 100 days of Trump being in office.  Their trip ended with a trolley ride to get lunch before boarding the Sierra Club buses and return to Buffalo.

Friday, June 30, 2017

'Conservationist of the Year' named by ADK Niagara Frontier Chapter

By David Kowalski ~ ADK-NFC Member.


At the Annual Meeting of the ADK Niagara Frontier Chapter, the Conservation Committee presented  Diana Strablow of the Sierra Club Niagara Group with the the Conservationist of the Year Award.


Diana Strablow (holding ADK award plaque in the photo) organized opposition of landowners and environmental groups against National Fuel’s proposed 97-mile Northern Access Pipeline. She also recruited the public to testify against the proposed pipeline at NYS DEC hearings and to submit written comments. The 24-inch diameter pipeline would have crossed private properties in Western New York as well as numerous wetlands and waterways in order to export fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Canada.

Strablow said "We asked Governor Cuomo and the DEC to do the right thing and deny the water quality certificate and air permits for this destructive project. Not only do we have a moral obligation to stop enabling fracking in Pennsylvania, we must protect our finite supply of fresh water."

After an in-depth review of the proposed Northern Access Pipeline project, and following three public hearings and the consideration of over 5,700 comments, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation denied the permit due to the project’s failure to avoid adverse impacts to wetlands, streams, and fish and other wildlife habitat.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

NY Renews Coalition Reacts to NYS Senate Failure to Pass Climate Bill Prioritizing Jobs and Justice

On Thursday, the New York State Senate failed to pass the Climate and Community Protection Act.

In response, the NY Renews Coalition released the following statement: 
 
 On June 1st, Donald Trump made the disastrous decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. On June 21st, the last day of the legislative session, the leaders of the New York Senate failed again to pass a visionary climate bill--the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA)--at the precise moment when we need state leadership the most.

It is disturbing that, even in the wake of President Trump’s dangerous climate policy rollbacks, the New York State Senate failed to pass landmark climate legislation. This failure is as unconscionable as it is cynical. In ignoring legislation to protect New Yorkers from the worst impacts of a changing climate and seize the vast economic opportunity in clean, renewable energy, the Senate is telling frontline communities, clean energy workers, and all New Yorkers to wait at least another year for this life-saving, economy-boosting legislation--another year our state cannot afford to lose in tackling the growing climate and inequality crisis.

New York, the world’s 12th largest economy, can and should be showing that states’ actions can address the climate crisis even while the Trump administration does everything it can to eviscerate United State’s position as a climate leader.

The CCPA gives New York’s goal of reaching 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050 the force of law, creates fair labor standards for renewable energy jobs, and ensures that state energy funding is accessible to the low-income and environmental justice communities that need it most. The bill was developed and is championed by over 110 organizations statewide, representing many of New York’s most dedicated experts in labor, environmental, and social justice policy.

Support for the bill has united low-income communities of color in Buffalo with Hurricane Sandy survivors in Long Island, with clean energy investors in Manhattan. It united labor and environment, from the Teamsters and the Transit Workers, to Catskill Mountainkeeper and Sierra Club. It garnered support from climate champions like Bill McKibben, Mike Brune, and Naomi Klein; racial justice leaders like Ben Jealous, Rashad Robinson, and Black Lives Matter Greater NY; and progressive visionaries like Mark Ruffalo, Robert Reich, and Heather McGhee. And it has garnered bipartisan support in the state senate itself.

Despite this overwhelming, statewide, cross-sectoral support, the bill’s sponsors--the eight members of the Independent Democratic Conference-- and the senate leadership found any number of excuses not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. This was their chance to prove they could pass a top-level progressive priority, and they did not live up to the challenge. They did not #CallTheRoll. Meanwhile, the Assembly led on the issue, passing the bill with strong bipartisan support by an even wider margin than last year.

It is time for Governor Cuomo, who did not include the CCPA in the budget, to step up and lead the way to passage for the nation’s strongest climate, jobs, and justice bill. We urge the Governor as well as the IDC and senate leadership to pass the CCPA in a special session this summer.

If the legislature is returning to Albany to protect the education of NYC school children, then surely the Governor and senate can also pass legislation critical to the protection of their very future--not to mention the millions of children outside NYC and around the world whose futures will be foreclosed by the climate crisis. The state’s leaders have left Albany with serious unfinished business, and they must redress this wrong.

In the meantime, NY Renews will continue to hold the Governor and the senate accountable, and stand up for New Yorkers who want good green jobs, healthy communities, and to protect their communities from the impacts of climate change.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New York Can Lead on Climate - Call the NYS Climate Bill's Sponsor - Take Action Today!


ACT ON CLIMATE: Please take two minutes TODAY to call NYS Senator Avella, at 518-455-2210. Urge him to bring the Climate and Community Protection Act (S 6617) to a vote before the end of session.

Don't worry if you're not a constituent---this bill is deeply relevant to all New Yorkers, and we all have a right to advocate with Senator Avella, the bill’s sponsor.

Yesterday, the bill passed the NYS Assembly by a whopping 103 to 41 vote! Now its up to the NYS Senate. Please make the call now. 

Thank you for taking Action on Climate Change!

~    ~    ~


After Paris climate agreement exit, here's how New York can lead

By U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright

June 19, 2017 | City & State New York

On June 5, the country's boldest statewide climate legislation, the Climate and Community Protection Act, was reintroduced in the New York state Assembly. The Assembly, under the leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie, passed the CCPA when it was first introduced last spring, and we applaud his leadership. Now it is up to the state Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to do their part in finally ratifying this critical piece of legislation and signing into law its bold and equitable vision for a fossil fuel-free economy in New York state.

With the Trump administration exiting the Paris Accord – jeopardizing global stability and forfeiting American leadership in the burgeoning renewable energy market – now it is up to states like New York, the world’s 12th largest economy, to lead the way for the rest of the country.

Some of the most promising leadership, in New York and other states, is being driven by grassroots campaigns that are forging a new kind of politics, one that unites climate goals with the fight against inequality and racial injustice.

The CCPA is backed by NY Renews, a statewide coalition of more than 100 member organizations, with environmental justice groups on the front lines of climate change joining forces with organized labor and economic justice groups, as well as more traditional environmental groups.

NY Renews and the CCPA are exemplary for the kind of bold, equitable and people-centered climate action we need all across the country. This is a vision that we both share, and a vision that is embraced by the federal 100 by ‘50 Act, which one of us, U.S. Sen. Merkley, introduced in April, along with Senators Sanders, Markey and Booker. The 100 by ‘50 Act is a bold framework that for the first time lays out a detailed set of national policies to transition the United States to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, while ensuring a just transition for workers and low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Much like the federal 100 by ’50 Act, the CCPA mandates a shift to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050, across all sectors. This is critical, as much of New York’s progress to date has focused on the electricity sector, though buildings and transportation also represent huge sources of emissions.

If the bill becomes law, New York state will be doing its share of the clean energy transition framework put forward in the federal 100 by ‘50 Act.  In the process, New York would create over 100,000 new jobs per year for the next few decades, vastly accelerating employment trends that are already demonstrating the economic benefits of clean energy. But setting the state’s renewable energy goals in law will be critical to reaping these benefits; laws are needed to ensure the goals’ durability over the next 33 years, and to lend certainty to clean energy investors.

Crucially, the CCPA and the 100 by ‘50 Act have something else in common. When the 100 by ’50 Act was unveiled outside the U.S. Capitol on April 29, the first advocate to speak at the press conference announcing the bill was Elizabeth Yeampierre, a NY Renews leader and director of the environmental justice organization UPROSE based in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. As Yeampierre urged, “Policy makers on the state and federal levels must follow the lead of communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis – low-income communities and communities of color – and put justice at the core of their agenda.” Both the 100 by ’50 Act and the CCPA do exactly this.

Embracing the proposals of grassroots leaders, each bill requires that at least 40 percent of public investment is targeted to ensure that the transition benefits disadvantaged communities.  Further, all publicly-supported investment dedicated to the transition must adhere to high-quality workforce standards, ensuring that workers share in the benefits of the transition. 
Whatever else it means, the result of the election of 2016 surely means that the best – and maybe the only – way we can do our part to mitigate the self-made crisis of climate change is by winning bold policies at the state and local level, state by state and city by city. Protecting the planet from catastrophic climate disruption is a huge responsibility; it is also a huge opportunity for investment in our communities. But the opportunity will be tragically lost if our elected leaders do not do their part, which is exactly that – to lead. By passing the CCPA, New York state leaders can inspire New Yorkers, our nation and people everywhere at this critical turning point for people and planet alike.

Jeff Merkley is a United States senator from Oregon and the author of the 100 by '50 Act. Steve Englebright, chairman of the Assembly's Environmental Conservation Committee, is the lead sponsor of the Climate and Community Protection Act.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Free Film Showing: Story of the decline of the coal industry, the cost to people’s lives, and the need for a 'just transition' to a new energy future.

Special Showing of the New 
National Geographic Documentary Film 

FROM THE ASHES.

Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 7:00 PM,
North Presbyterian Church,
300 North Forest Rd., Williamsville, NY.


From The Ashes is a groundbreaking new documentary that goes beyond the rhetoric of the “War on Coal” to explore the energy transition emerging from the response to climate change. It is a compelling look at the lives and issues to include a heartbreaking look at stake for our economy, health and climate. 

Learn more about an industry on the edge and what it means for our future. WNY is a part of the coal story as witnessed locally in the closing of the NRG Huntley Plant and its impact on Tonawanda.

Please Join Us!
Free and Open to the Public ~ [Map]

The film will be followed by a discussion led by David Alicea, President of the Board of New York Interfaith Power and Light and organizer for the Sierra Club.

View the Film Trailer:




Sponsors: New York Interfaith Power and Light + North Presbyterian Church + Shir Shalom + Sierra Club + Western New York Environmental Alliance + Interfaith Climate Justice Community + WNY Land Conservancy + Climate Justice Coalition of WNY