Monday, May 8, 2017

Solarize Amherst Workshops: A New Town Program to make it Easier and More Affordable to Purchase Rooftop Solar Panels

New program makes it cheaper for Amherst residents to 
'go solar'

By Joseph Popiolkowski | Buffalo News Online
May 4, 2017

Installing solar panels on roofs in Amherst is about to get easier and more affordable with the launch of a new town program.

Participants in the "Solarize Amherst" campaign can expect to save 10 percent through discounted group rates the town negotiated with three installers: Solar by CIR, Solar Liberty and Frey Electric.

"The town is acting as a liaison between the installers and residents and commercial property owners to work together to set up their own contracts if they want to install solar," said Mike Delamere, the town's energy manager.

A kickoff event is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers at Town Hall, 5583 Main St., Williamsville, where residents may schedule a free solar evaluation, which includes a roof evaluation, preliminary site design, energy usage profile and financial analysis.

Workshops also will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. May 17 at the Harlem Road Community Center, 4255 Harlem Road, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 20 in the Clearfield Community Center, 730 Hopkins Road.

To encourage participation, the town is also waiving its $200 electrical permit fee for property owners who sign a contract with one of the three installers by June 5.  The program runs between May 9 and July 31.

A 4 to 5 kilowatt system is sufficient for most small residences and costs between $10,000 and $12,000, but that cost is cut by half after various rebates, Delamere said. Most homeowners can expect to recoup their upfront cost in four to five years, he said.

"Then after that it's all free electricity," he said. "The return on investment is about 4 to 5 years."

The roof-mounted photovoltaic panels degrade to about 80 percent efficiency after 20 years, Delamere said. An inverter in the basement to convert direct current to alternating current lasts between 10 to 15 years.

Installing a system can result in considerable savings for homeowners over the long term, he said.

"Any excess power that you produce actually reverses the electric meter," he said. "If you're producing more power than you're using, like on a sunny day in the summertime, you'll be reversing your electric meter so you get a credit for later on in the evening or different times in the year."

The solarize campaign is one of at least four initiatives the town's Clean Energy Communities Committee is completing for Amherst to become a Clean Energy Community, a program of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and become eligible for a $250,000 grant.

The Town Board on Monday will consider purchasing an electric vehicle for the town fleet. The town has also trained building inspectors to be qualified to review solar plans and do inspections of solar installations and is adopting a unified solar permit, which are standards from NYSERDA that municipalities should follow.

"The weather patterns are really changing so everybody's getting more interested in doing what they can to save the planet," Delamere said.
~     ~     ~

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Buffalo Activists Traveled to Washington D.C. to March for Climate, Jobs and Justice

By David Kowalski

100 People Traveled from Buffalo to D.C. in Buses Chartered by the Sierra Club 

Photos below show a few of the groups of people after departing the bus at the RFK Stadium in D.C.. [Click images to enlarge

 Buffalo Youth for Climate Justice

 Students from the University at Buffalo

Burmese Family from Buffalo

Buffalo Women for the Planet and a System Change
~   ~   ~

We traveled via the Metro Rail to the Capitol area where groups were assembling in preparation for the march.

Below is the front line of the Sierra Club group. 
Chapters from States around the U.S. were represented.

Leading the Sierra contingent is Aaron Mair, 
National President of the Sierra Club 

Earlier that morning, Aaron Mair was interviewed near the Capitol about the march. He said: 
“We're rising up to save our planet, but more importantly to offer solutions. This is not just a rise up for the sake of rising up. But it's a rise up to save our democracy. Because at the end of day, there's no planet B and there's no second leader. Our country was the world leader when it came to climate change, and the world leader with climate solutions.”
A video of that interview can be viewed here.

David and his son, Jason Kowalski, U.S. Policy Director 
at in D.C., met up at the march
Just days before the historic Peoples Climate mobilization, Senators Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders introduced the ‘100 by ‘50 Act’, a piece of legislation that calls for 100% clean energy by 2050. While recognizing the legislation likely won’t move under the Trump administration, the Senators and their supporters view this as a ‘roadmap for America.’

Days after the march, Jason Kowalski commented at “If this type of visionary legislation can be introduced at the federal level under the Trump administration, there’s no excuse left for officials at the city and state level. At the Peoples Climate March, we put forward this vision nationally. Now we’ll hold every elected official accountable — no one is off the hook.”

By working at the local and regional level, communities will organize for powerful and lasting change, forcing elected officials to choose a side: that of Trump and his fossil fuel billionaire cabinet, or that of the people fighting for a stable climate and an economy that works for everyone.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Over 200,000 Participated in the People's Climate March in Washington D.C.

 Images of the Massive Climate March in Washington D.C. on April 29, 2017

Tens of Thousands Marched in 370 Cities across the U.S.

By David Kowalski

Over 200,000 people marched in Washington calling on the president to curb global warming that's contributing to polar ice melting, sea-level rise, and extreme weather, including extended droughts and unprecedented floods.

In line with established climate science and the Paris Climate Accords, an informed public as well as smart business leaders around the world seek a managed and justice-based power shift from dirty fossil fuels, which are polluting and heating the planet, to clean renewable energy sources, like wind, water and the sun.

An emerging clean energy economy that maximizes energy efficiency and minimizes waste and pollution will create well-paying jobs in every state for displaced fossil fuel workers and for people of all skill levels and educational backgrounds.

Two photos below show portions of the Climate March in the 
streets of Washington near the Capitol and the White House.

[Click image to enlarge]

[Click image to enlarge]

Below are photos of a closer views of 
isolated parts of the crowd in the street.  
 [Click any image to enlarge]

The photo below was taken at the Chicago Climate March.

To see photos taken at Climate Marches in other cities across the U.S., 
visit HuffingtonPost

The photos shown here are from albums posted at
Peoples Climate Movement


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

People's Solidarity Climate March in Buffalo - Saturday 4/29, 1:00pm, Niagara Square

For more info and updates, see the Event Page on Facebook. Click Here

TALK: The Transition to Clean Energy in Germany

Sierra Club
Climate and Clean Energy Writers Group

Thursday, April 27, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Crane Branch Library (2nd floor)
633 Elmwood Ave. at Highland, Buffalo

Free and Open to the Public
Writers and Non-writers alike
Contact for info

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Join the People's March for Climate, Jobs & Justice - Hop on the Buffalo Bus to DC!




Join the March for Climate, Jobs & Justice 

On the 100th Day of the Trump Administration, we will be in the streets of Washington DC to show the World and our leaders that we will RESIST attacks on our People, our Communities and our Planet.

For more information, visit


Ethics in Government: A Lost Cause? Conflicts of Interest vs. the Public Good.

Wednesday, May 17, 5:30pm - 7pm.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site,
641 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. 

Free & Open to the Public.

Guest speakers:
  • Hon. Penny M.Wolfgang, retired justice of the NewYork State Supreme Court. 
  • Kevin Connor, co-founder and director of the Public Accountability Initiative. 
Join us for coffee, cookies, and what will surely be a lively discussion! Here are just a few of the issues to be considered:
What is the role of ethics in government?
What do conflicts of interest look like, and why are they unethical?
How can elected officials be compelled to put the public good over their own self-interest? 

Parking is free in the lot behind the TR Site or in the 20th Century Club lot at 516 Franklin Street, between Allen and North Streets. Note: Franklin Street is one-way northbound. 

Special thanks to our co-sponsor- TR Inaugural Site

Presented by League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara

State DEC denied a permit to build the controversial Northern Access Pipeline in Western NY

By David Kowalski

On Saturday April 8, 2017, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a statement denying a permit to National Fuel Gas to build the Northern Access Pipeline, citing concerns about impacts on wetlands, streams, fish and wildlife habitat along the route.

If built, Northern Access would transport gas obtained from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The high-pressure pipeline would move half a billion cubic feet of gas per day through Allegany, Cattaraugus and Erie Counties in Western New York, connecting with an existing pipeline for export to Canada.  

As proposed, the Northern Access Pipeline would have carved a 125-foot wide scar through the northwestern Allegheny Plateau, plowing through 192 stream crossings, 270 wetlands and over13 miles of a sole source aquifer that provides drinking water for thousands of Western New Yorkers. These impacts to water resources mirrored the same potential violations to the Clean Water Act presented by the proposed Constitution Pipeline that the NYS DEC rejected in April 2016, under the same certification requirements. 

Albany Rally ~ #NoNAPL
From the beginning of the permitting process DEC officials warned pipeline developers and federal regulators that the Northern Access Pipeline, as planned, could severely harm New York's water resources without major changes. Those warnings were ignored.

“Western New York deserves the same protection for our water, air and residents,” Diana Strablow, a member of the Sierra Club Niagara Group Executive Committee said earlier. “There should be no sacrifice zones. 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.” 

Landowners facing eminent domain, conservationists and concerned residents marched from DEC headquarters to the capitol building, where they spoke of the threat the pipeline would pose to their health, safety, air, water and livelihoods. The group also delivered copies of a letter signed by more than 140 organizations, businesses and faith communities calling on the DEC and Governor Andrew Cuomo to deny air and water permits for the 97-mile pipeline. 

"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, DEC has denied the permit due to the project's failure to avoid adverse impacts to wetlands, streams, and fish and other wildlife habitat," the DEC said in a statement on Saturday. "We are confident that this decision supports our state’s strict water quality standards that all New Yorkers depend on.”

A letter from the DEC sent to National Fuel and Empire Pipeline on Friday, April 7, 2017 detailing the basis for denial of the permit is here.

Sierra Club Niagara Group's Diana Strablow applauded DEC’s decision to deny the pipeline and she is looking forward to a safe, sustainable energy future. She said "The temporary construction jobs the project would have created were not worth the price our climate, our waters and the health, safety and well-being of our residents would have to pay, now and in future generations. We stand ready to support labor union jobs that protect our air and water and ramp up our renewable energy sector. We should not have to choose between good paying jobs and a sustainable future. We need a just transition from fossil fuels that takes care of workers and provides a healthy, liveable environment.”
Prior to the DEC's ruling, Lia Oprea, whose property is on the planned pipeline route, said “It’s unbelievable. My family has owned our land for four generations; we’ve been trout fishing in the area since the 1830s and our land is on the National Historic Register. Now, a multi-billion-dollar corporation wants to endanger our lives and our water so they can make more money. That’s not right."

Lia Oprea is now thankful that the pipeline permit was denied and that people united to stop it. She said, “the decision by the DEC renews our family's faith and our rural Western New York neighbors’ faith in local action. It feels as if a tide is turning in the right direction and our voices are finally being heard. It has been a long fight. You don’t get much sleep when your land, your livelihood, your heritage and your future is on the line. Every day, I hike through our fields and woods down to Cattaraugus Creek. which borders the farm that has been in our family for over 100 years. Our neighbors and I couldn’t live with a pipeline tearing through this. Now, thanks to the DEC, we don’t have to.”

The Northern Access Pipeline project previously received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The granting of permits by the state would have cleared the way for National Fuel to also build a gas compressor station in Pendleton and a dehydration facility in Wheatfield. Plans also called for another compressor station in Elma to be expanded.

Prior to Saturday's decision, critics of the Northern Access Pipeline, including opponents living in Pendleton and Wheatfield, called on the DEC to deny water and air quality permits in hopes of halting the project. In addition to fears regarding emissions, safety and potential leaks, protesters emphasized the 192 stream and 270 wetlands that the pipeline would cross.

Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, said that this is "an important victory for the thousands of citizen activists and impacted landowners of Western NY, whose grassroots organizing created the political space for this decision to be made. There may be no better remedy to FERC’s automatic rubber-stamp approval process than the kind of persistent public participation that holds decision makers accountable.”

A spokeswoman for National Fuel, Karen Merkel, said Saturday that the company would have no comment at this time. She said a news release would be forthcoming on Monday.  

Monday, April 10, 2017 - WGRZ: National Fuel Responds to DEC
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - Buffalo News: National Fuel calls DEC's denial of pipeline project 'troubling'
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper: Statement: Northern Access Pipeline Permit Denial
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - Editorial: Pipeline decision still leaves crucial need for natural gas

Film Screening & Discussion: 'The Doctrine of Discovery - Unmasking the Domination Code'



The Doctrine of Discovery
~ Unmasking the Domination Code ~

 A film based on the book Pagans in the Promised Land: 
Decoding the Doctrine of Discovery by Steven T. Newcomb.

Wednesday, April 12, 6:00PM
at The Kiva, 101 Baldy Hall, UB North Campus, Amherst [Map]

Event is Free and Open to the Public - Refreshments provided.

Following the film, there will be a discussion facilitated by Agnes Williams, coordinator of the Indigenous Women's Initiatives.

Chief Justice John Marshall's distinction between "Christian people" and "heathens" in Johnson v. M'Intosh (1823) is still treated by the U.S. Supreme Court as valid law for the United States. The Supreme Court has used the claimed right of Christian discovery and domination in the Johnson ruling as its underlying rationale for every ruling it has handed down since 1823 regarding our original nations.

Columbus and other colonizers laid claim to the lands of original nations on the basis of the idea that Christians had a biblical right to discover and dominate non-Christian lands.

Cosponsored by: SSW GSA, the Humanities Institute, The Haudenosaunee- Native American Studies Research Group, and the Native American Graduate Student Association