Sunday, November 29, 2009

Clean Air Coalition of WNY

Message from the Clean Air Coalition (CAC) of Western NY

Membership Meeting
- We're meeting up Wednesday, December 2nd to catch up and plan our next steps! Join us to hear about the EPA's new testing at Tonawanda Coke, what the DEC's final report says (in plain English) and help us figure out how we can keep Tonawanda Coke on their toes.
We're also hosting Northwinds BioDiesel, a company that wants to move into Tonawanda and be a good neighbor from the start. They're flying in to share their vision and answer our questions - we hope you can join us! As usual, we'll be at the Sheridan Parkside Community Center (169 Sheridan Parkside Drive) at 7 pm.

The EPA and DEC keep the pressure on Tonawanda Coke
-This month the DEC released the final report of their air quality study. You can all 200 pages of it here - or you can check out the fact sheet we made with all the essentials - it's attached! The report clearly points to Tonawanda Coke as the most deadly polluter in Tonawanda. The EPA wrote a letter to Tonawanda Coke demanding they complete additional testing. You can find the letters here.

Holiday Party! - Please join us Thursday, December 10th at 7pm at the Ken-Ton Chamber of Commerce, 3411 Delaware for a holiday celebration! There will be good food, great people and lots to celebrate. The event is potluck, so please bring a dish to share. We're providing drinks and roast beef. RSVP to Jen with your dish and the number of people attending ASAP.

Contact Erin Heaney for further information. Hope to see each and every one of you soon!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Business Gets Green: November 24th

TUESDAY, November 24th

The focus is on preparations for the
2010 Green Expo

Senator Antoine Thompson's Business Gets Green session in November will focus on starting preparations for the 2010 Green Expo, which will be held on Earth Week Saturday, April 17th, 2010.

You are invited to be part of this effort!

Business Gets Green will meet:
  • Tuesday, November 24th from 5:30 to 7:00 PM
  • Environmental Education Associates, 346 Austin St [Map]
(near where Grant turns into Military -- convenient to Grant St. exit of 198)
The EEA offices are in the adaptively reused former Police Station at 346 Austin St.
Please join us!

For additional information, contact Bill Nowak
Deputy Chief of Staff, Director of Policy Research
for NYS Senator Antoine M. Thompson

Coal Pollution and Public Health

A talk entitled "Choking on Coal" will be presented by
Dr. Alan Lockwood, MD

Professor of Neurology and Nuclear Medicine
University at Buffalo
  • Monday, November 23 at 7:30pm
  • Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center
  • 341 Delaware Avenue, Buffalo [Map]
Dr. Lockwood, former president of the Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), recently testified before a U.S. Senate committee about the negative effects of coal-burning power plants on human health. The PSR report is here.

For a printable flyer with additional info, click here.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Restoring Greatness to the Great Lakes

Last year I posted a report on the need to clean up the Great Lakes, including then presidential candidate Obama's campaign promise to do just that.

President Obama has now signed legislation approving $475 million of funding as part of his Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. Realizing the importance and scope of the cleanup, he has promised that the funding will add up to $5 billion over five years.

As reported by Jerry Zremski in The Buffalo News on November 6, 2009:
The funding greatly enhances the odds that Buffalo will receive federal funding for a $60 million project to remove contaminated sediments from the Buffalo River, said Julie O'Neill, executive director of the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. It also boosts the chances of winning local funding for a habitat rehabilitation project on the Niagara River, O'Neill said.
Cited today in an Buffalo News Editorial entitled "Help for the lakes":
Not only will it help put Americans to work during this jobless recovery, it also takes advantage of the Great Lakes Compact, the 2008 agreement by the eight Great Lakes states to do their part to preserve the lakes. Tourism and fishing industries should also benefit, and with Buffalo’s waterfront about to take a giant leap ahead, that’s more good news for Western New York, whose fishing opportunities are unique.
See also earlier Re-ENERGIZE BUFFALO posts dealing with the Great Lakes.

Steel Winds: Brownfields to Greenfields

Along with the national movement to expand renewable energy sources of electricity comes a need for appropriate land to accommodate large wind farms and solar arrays. One approach builds on the saying "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade". That approach was taken at the site of the former Bethlehem Steel plant in Lackawana NY near Buffalo in 2006: idle brownfields in the rustbelt were successfully re-purposed into an urban wind farm named 'Steel Winds'. The brownfields were transformed into Greenfields.

The Steel Winds project is now providing a model for the nation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory have now identified nearly 4,100 contaminated sites deemed economically suitable for wind and solar power development, as well as biomass, according to a Scientific American article highlighting Steel Winds.

EPA's Re-Powering America's Lands initiative was formed last year to coordinate federal efforts to encourage the use of contaminated sites for renewable energy, such as brownfields, old mines, and landfills. The EPA highlighted Steel Winds as an example in its report, and also a solar photovoltaic facility sited at a former landfill in Fort Carson, Colorado as well as other sites.

According to the EPA report, brownfields and other contaminated lands are environmentally and economically beneficial for siting clean and renewable energy facilities because they:
• Generally have existing transmission capacity, infrastructure in place and adequate zoning
• Take the stress off undeveloped lands for construction of new energy facilities, preserving the land carbon sink
• Provide an economically viable reuse for sites with significant cleanup costs or low real estate development demand
• Provide job opportunities in urban and rural communities

Environmentalists are in favor of using brownfields and landfills for clean energy development because it relieves the development pressure on pristine places.

The EPA will kick off a series of national workshops to allow state and local leaders, renewable energy developers and conservation groups to brainstorm. A brownfields conference called "Revitalization in the New Economy" was held in Colorado last week. The 13th National Brownfields Conference will take place in New Orleans this week.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Environmental Citizen of 2009

[click image to enlarge]

To see the full Award Poster from the Erie County Environmental Education Institute, click here.