Saturday, April 25, 2009

In the NEWS

Power Authority pushes $1 billion lakeside wind farm - 4/23/2009
Potential to develop local industry called 'extraordinary'
The state took its first step Wednesday to promote the construction of a large wind farm off the shores of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario that would cost an estimated $1 billion to develop. The goal is to erect a cluster of turbines — 25 to 40, depending on their generating capacity—and nurture an industry to manufacture and assemble windmills for projects taking root around the Great Lakes.

“The potential for wind [power] in the Great Lakes is extraordinary,” said Richard M. Kessel, president and chief executive officer of the New York Power Authority, who announced the undertaking at Buffalo’s Erie Basin Marina. “This is going to happen. This is workable. This is feasible,” Kessel said. Read the full report by James Heaney in The Buffalo News.

Last year, a report from the University at Buffalo urged New York State to develop a comprehensive plan for production of wind power offshore from Lakes Erie and Ontario. The report was prepared by Robert Berger and Dwight Kanyuck and is posted here.

Building the American clean energy economy - 4/22/2009
Earth Day
For decades, while Americans across the country have worked to make a difference in their communities, politicians in both parties in Washington have ignored the energy crisis, imperiling our economy, our security and our planet. Now, we have a unique opportunity to attack the energy crisis head-on and create a comprehensive energy policy that will bolster our economy, end our dependence on foreign oil and reduce the threat of deadly pollution that is devastating our planet.

We have an enormous, urgent environmental and economic task ahead of us, and it is one that we have ignored for far too long. See the Another Voice article, by Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy, and Hilda Solis, Secretary of Labor, in The Buffalo News.

Cities urged to take lead on fighting global warming - 4/19/2009
Cities, including Buffalo, must address the growing problem of climate change
Finally we have a president who understands global warming and climate change and is committed to addressing this very serious problem. The importance of this sea change cannot be underestimated. It’s cause for real hope and celebration this Earth Day.

The bad news, of course, is that we still aren’t doing enough about climate change and we’ve lost a lot of time. Success depends on implementing completely new energy policies and practices on all levels of our society. Fortunately, despite a lack of initiative here in Western New York, a large number of U. S. cities have made serious commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by cutting back on fossil fuel use. Read the Viewpoints article by Walter Simpson in The Buffalo News.

Reduced energy consumption helps users and utilities - 4/23/09
How can corporations, including energy companies like ours, act responsibly and make a real impact on the environment? How can individuals and companies alike make Earth Day a year-round commitment?

Realistically we are stuck with carbon-based energy for the time being, and must continue to inflict some damage on both our health and the environment. But we can try to control our collective addiction and take the right steps to minimize that damage every day. Read the Another Voice article by Jeffrey Mayer, president and chief executive officer of MXenergy, a retail natural gas and electricity supplier, in The Buffalo News.

Watt’s the big deal? ‘Vampire power’ - 4/22/2009
Home electricity getting drained by lots of gadgets, even when they’re off
Some estimates suggest that electronic devices account for 10 to 15 percent of all home electricity use. A sizable piece of this energy use is known as “phantom power” or “vampire power” because it occurs while the devices are turned off or not in active use.

“It’s one of those things with electronics; it’s a couple watts here and a couple watts there, and pretty soon it adds up to a lot of watts — and real money,” said John T. Thompson, a Buffalo State College associate professor of computer information systems. See the article by Stephen T. Watson in The Buffalo News.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Re: High-Speed Rail Corridor to Buffalo !

Bill Banas, director of the New Millennium Group of WNY, responded with thoughtful comments about the post entitled "High-Speed Rail Corridor to Buffalo !". He wrote:

Incredible, wonderful news, all of this... I'm starting to believe it will happen. This will be a fundamental shift in how people travel on this continent, and how capital and investment flow.

This could be something that sets Buffalo apart from other cities. Denver isn't getting it. Neither is Phoenix or Las Vegas. Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Orlando, and Miami have barely begun even thinking about the idea. It could be a game changer for Buffalo---but only if we are proactive enough to be one of the first to entirely embrace it.

First, Buffalo needs an intermodal transportation center (ITC). There have been plans for almost 15 years on the site of the Aud and the Donovan Building. Federal funding was allocated. It should have been built already, awaiting the high speed trains, but local leaders saw the future in more cars, more trucks, and more sprawl.

No matter---we can start again today an still be ahead of the pack. (In my opinion, the ITC should be downtown. When I get off of a train in the US, Canada, Europe or anywhere else in the world, I want to be in the city center.) The ITC should connect the high-speed inter city trains to our regional train system (including trains north to Niagara Falls and south to the ski areas).

Second, we need to build a new passenger train crossing over the Niagara River to Canada and on to Toronto.

Of course, a new passenger rail crossing to Canada and Toronto will have to be put in a location that already has access to rail infrastructure and rights-of-way. This is one of the reasons that many foresighted people in Buffalo have been fighting so hard for a better location for a new Peace Bridge.

The location of the existing Peace Bridge---it's lack of proximity to rail infrastructure and the lack of space in the vicinity---has stifled Buffalo's ability to take significant advantage of the massive amount of trade on our doorstep. Because of this, the vast majority of the trucks and people pass right on through without stopping.

Transportation, first by canal and then especially by rail, was what built Buffalo. It is our natural advantage---a confluence of Buffalo's location, topography, and geography---but only if we seize the opportunity now.

Does Buffalo want to be a doormat or a destination? Our actions regarding high-speed rail (and the Peace Bridge) will be the answer.

Bill Banas
The New Millennium Group of WNY

Saturday, April 18, 2009

High-Speed Rail Corridor to Buffalo !

Obama lists Buffalo as high-speed rail candidate - 04/17/2009
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration announced Thursday that it is proceeding with plans to allow 10 rail corridors — including the Empire Corridor linking Buffalo and Albany —to compete for up to $13 billion in federal high-speed rail funding. Only six of the 10 corridors are expected to receive funding, but local lawmakers are hopeful, as the White House invited Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, the Fairport Democrat who is spearheading the upstate New York high-speed rail effort, to attend Thursday’s announcement.

While competition for the funding is expected to be fierce, local lawmakers believe the upstate route has an advantage because it could be built on a third track along an existing right of way. That means it could be built more quickly than other highspeed rail corridors — which is important because the first $8 billion aims to fund projects that are “shovel-ready.” “The ‘third track initiative’ is deserving of federal support and I intend to fight tooth and nail to make high-speed rail in upstate New York a reality,” Rep. Slaughter said. Read the report by Jerry Zremski, News Washington Bureau Chief, in The Buffalo News.
The map below shows the NY Empire Corridor, and how it would link Buffalo to Albany and NY City, as well as to the existing Northeast Corridor from Boston to Washington DC.

CSX to help on high-speed rail - 03/26/2009
WASHINGTON — The company that owns the right of way where an upstate high-speed rail line would be located is willing to work with government officials to get the new rail project going, lawmakers said Wednesday. CSX owns the right of way for the proposed high-speed rail line between Buffalo and Albany, where it currently runs freight trains. Both Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-NY, and Rep. Louise M. Slaughter, D-Fairport, met with Michael Ward, chief executive officer of CSX Corp. A CSX spokesman, said the meetings with the lawmakers were productive, and the participants agreed on the need for the company and government to cooperate on the project to make sure that upstate’s freight and passenger rail needs are met. Read the report by Jerry Zremski, News Washington Bureau Chief, in The Buffalo News.

Buffalo's Central Terminal promoted as high-speed rail hub - 03/24/2009
Fast trains could be accommodated
If high-speed railroad service becomes a reality between Western New York and other parts of the state, some East Side activists are lobbying to make Central Terminal the major hub.
Transforming the massive Art Deco landmark into a mixed-use complex that would accommodate fast-speed trains makes sense on several levels, they insisted Monday during a City Hall strategy session.
They said the terminal’s location only two miles from the downtown core, its abundant parking and its existing rail infrastructure make it an ideal site as officials eye plans for spending federal stimulus money on high-speed rail corridors. Read the report by Brian Meyer in The Buffalo News.

Extend Metro Rail to Central Terminal, Airport - 04/17/2009
Bravo! Now that The News has championed Metro Rail extension to the Central Terminal in order to accommodate high-speed rail passengers, how about going the whole way—to Buffalo Niagara International Airport? Think of it—intermodal connectivity in every direction. With Metro Rail extended to the airport and Transit Road, and with Amtrak available at the Central Terminal, anyone headed in either direction could use any mode of travel that’s convenient.
For instance, a visitor seeking low air fares could hop on Amtrak, connect to Metro Rail at the Central Terminal and reach the airport, all without the pressure of airport parking. Customers and employees of the airport or Amtrak could hop on Metro Rail at any convenient station and reach their destination, and leave the car at home.
Metro Rail is the world’s greenest mass transit, via hydropower from Niagara Falls. Connecting Metro Rail with Amtrak and the airport will demonstrate to the world that Western New York has the vision to build on this wonderful asset.
Gladys Gifford
President, Citizens Regional Transit Corp., Buffalo

High-speed rail line will benefit economy - 03/17/2009
The recent announcement by Gov. David Paterson about the development of a comprehensive rail plan for the state is welcome news indeed. Even more welcome is the growing support from all corners for high-speed rail, which will truly bring New York into the 21st century and will generate significant benefits for the upstate economy. As a family with sometimes weekly trips to Albany and New York City for both business and pleasure, we dream of a time when the state has a truly functional rail system. One that operates on time, with limited freight-train delays, making it possible to work while commuting, and saving energy. Read more here.
Woo-hoo, see you on the train!
Lucinda B. Ingalls

Improving rail system should be a ‘no-brainer’ - 07/23/2008
Last week, I took the train from Washington, D. C., to Buffalo. It was a pleasant trip, but what surprised me most was the cost: $71. That was less than the cost of the gas to drive, $83.50, and much less than the nonstop air fare, $600. It did take longer, but the seating was much more comfortable than the airplane and it avoided all of the hassle connected with airport congestion and auto traffic difficulties. There were a large number of people joining me for the trip. And I am sure we all saved gas and the production of large volumes of greenhouse gas.
With the airlines increasing costs and reducing service, you would think that it would be a “no-brainer” connected with the idea of improvement in the rail system. Read more here.
Philip J. Kintner

Friday, April 17, 2009

In the NEWS

Kennedy touts future of alternative energy - 04/17/2009
Wind, solar and geothermal power are the nation’s environmental destiny, according to environmental activist and attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr. The son of the late senator and U. S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy Sr. was the guest speaker at a free forum Thursday in the Koessler Athletic Center at Canisius College.

Currently serving as senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Kennedy has amassed quite a reputation as a defender of the environment. Before his lecture Thursday, he spent about 15 minutes with local media representatives outlining his support for alternative fuel and energy sources that, he said, will not only save the planet, but save billions of dollars, as well. Read the report in The Buffalo News.

Will Obama’s ambitious agenda end America’s reliance on oil?
WASHINGTON — Steven Chu, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist who is President Obama’s energy secretary, recently gave a speech about energy efficiency, electricity transmission lines and renewable energy sources. Afterward, Chevron Vice Chairman Peter Robertson noted disconsolately that “it would be nice to hear a bit about oil and gas.”

Oil and natural gas, however, are not what’s lighting up the Obama energy agenda. The new president is setting out to change the very nature of American energy, from the way we use it to the way we generate it. It’s a goal that drives his policy on automakers, which he wants to push to manufacture more fuel-efficient cars. Read the full story in The Buffalo News.

Outlook bright as solar group plans to hold conference here - 04/09/2009
Organizers eager to put region in ‘green’ light
Pray for sunshine — the nation’s biggest solar energy conference is coming to town. Plans for Solar 2009, the May 11-16 annual convention of the American Solar Energy Society, were announced Wednesday at the Burchfield Penney Art Center.

“Why not solar in Buffalo? If it works here, it will work anywhere,” said Walter Simpson, co-chairman of the Western New York Sustainable Energy Association and member of the local organizing committee for the conference. Read the report in The Buffalo News.

Radical ideas on climate eyed - 04/09/2009
WASHINGTON — Tinkering with Earth’s climate to chill runaway global warming by "geoengineering" — a radical idea once dismissed out of hand — is being discussed by the White House as a potential emergency option, the president’s new science adviser said Wednesday.

That’s because global warming is happening so rapidly, John Holdren told the Associated Press in his first interview since being confirmed last month. He emphasized that geoengineering is not something to rely on: “It would be preferable by far,” he said, “to solve this problem by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.” Read the report in The Buffalo News.

Have you seen a lilac yet? Report it! - 04/12/2009
Phenology is the study of periodic plant and animal life cycle events and how they are influenced by seasonal and yearly climate variation. The subject is principally concerned with the dates of first occurrence of biological events in their annual cycle.

Collected phenology records provide information about climate change and global warming and cooling. One of the interesting correlations exposed by a study of European grape harvest records was about Mount Tambora which had erupted in 1815 and volcanic dust in the upper atmosphere caused sharply lower temperatures. As one consequence, the 1816 grape season was delayed five weeks. For the full story, read Nature Watch by Gerry Rising in The Buffalo News.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

In the NEWS -- 4/5

Power to the People of Upstate NY
The NY Times - 4/3/2009
A consortium of private investors that sought to build high-voltage electricity transmission lines to carry power from renewable sources Upstate to New York City said on Friday that it was suspending its efforts. The NY Times report is here.

Wind turbines could more than meet U.S. electricity needs
Los Angeles Times -- 4/3/2009
Arlington, Va. -- Wind turbines off U.S. coastlines could potentially supply more than enough electricity to meet the nation's current demand, the Interior Department reported Thursday. The biggest wind potential lies off the nation's Atlantic coast, which the Interior report estimates could produce 1,000 gigawatts of electricity -- enough to meet a quarter of the national demand. The full report is here.

Offshore windpower is also feasible inside the U.S. on the Great Lakes. Video discussing the possibility of Offshore Windpower on Lake Erie is here, presented by Dave Bradley.

Environment is focus of gathering
Community -- 4/5/2009
The third Environmental Congress is helping chart a regional environmental agenda. Over one-hundred organizations gathered at the Buffalo Museum of Science to collaborate and form a strategy as part of the Western New York Environmental Alliance, an initiative of the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo. “Having a healthy environment will make our region more valuable,” said Cara Matteliano, the foundation’s vice president for program, citing the region’s assets of wind and water energy. “We can have a tremendous economic impact depending on how we treat our environment.” Read the report by Karen Robinson in The Buffalo News.

Obama team takes its climate change agenda abroad
AP - 3/28/2009
The Obama administration has a single mission as it heads to the climate change negotiating table for the first time: convincing other countries the United States cares about global warming. After eight years on the sidelines, the U.S. delegation's new leadership says it is ready to assume a central role in crafting a new agreement to slash greenhouse gases. But whether the world's second largest source of heat-trapping pollution will be ready to sign onto a new deal by the end of the year could depend on Congress. See the report in The Buffalo News.

National official to head panel on climate change
League of Women Voters - 4/5/2009
The national president of the League of Women Voters will be the main speaker at a panel discussion in Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College on April 30. Mary G. Wilson of New Mexico, an attorney and small-business owner, will head a discussion titled: “The Heat is On —Climate Change and Emerging Policies.” Panelists include moderator Bob Shibley, along with Kristin Campbell, David Kowalski and Kate Foster. The event will also honor the late Taffy Tarbell, a longtime League activist. See the story in The Buffalo News.

Hot Planet - Sunday, April 5, 9:00 pm - TV: Discovery Science channel
The effects of climate change -- massive storms, super-fires and rising seas -- are potentially catastrophic. But they are not yet inevitable. This film looks at the future of global warming, and what man -- and science -- can still do to stop it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Event: Climate Change and Policy

The Heat is On -- Climate Change and Emerging Policies
Speaker: Mary G. Wilson, National President, League of Women Voters
This special event honors Taffy Tarbell, an accomplished League of Women Voters leader and tireless advocate.
Burchfield Penney Art Center,1300 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo [Map]