Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy New Year, Buffalo! -- 2010

Happy New Year!

Celebrate New Year's Eve in Buffalo

Party with the people
For those looking to get out and celebrate New Year’s Eve with a crowd, The Buffalo News describes some of the activities going on around town.

VIDEO: Watch the Ball Drop
Buffalo Sports Fans: It's OK to "drop the ball" on New Year's Eve! Watch a preview of what's to come in the video. Couch potatoes can watch the real deal happen on TV channel 7 at midnight.

Metro Rail extends service for New Year’s Eve event

Travel to New Year's Eve events in downtown Buffalo in an eco-friendly way. Take the Metro Rail. Also, no worries about driving, traffic or parking.

Don't get "hurt in a car"...
If you overdo it at your favorite Buffalo watering hole, don't drive home. Phone "Designated Drivers of Buffalo" at 713-7703 to get yourself and your car home safely for free, up to a maximum drop-off distance of 20 miles (might be a good idea for the bars to prominently display this phone number tonight). The law offices of William "hurt in a car" Mattar are paying the fare for any inebriated bar patron in the City of Buffalo.

A Blue Moon on New Year's Eve
It doesn't happen very often...only once in a blue moon. Generally there's only one full moon per month. But there will be two full moons in December, the second one on New Year's Eve. The second one is called a "blue moon", because it's a rare occurrence. The last blue moon on New Year's Eve occurred almost 20 years ago. It's not really blue in color, and it will be full and bright white, unlike the colorized, eclipsed moon in the photo.

The 29.5-day cycle of the moon matches up pretty well with the length of calendar months (moon = moonths, errr months...get it?). Two full moons in one month happen about every 2.5 years. The last time a blue moon fell on December 31st was in 1990, and the next time won't be until 2028, according to NASA.

Tonawanda Coke Plant Manager Busted!

Tonawanda Coke official accused of environmental crimes
An official at Tonawanda Coke Corp. was charged in federal court with three counts of violating environmental laws.

Tonawanda Coke’s environmental control manager facing federal charges

After a raid on Tonawanda Coke last week, federal prosecutors Wednesday arrested the plant’s environmental control manager.

Top Official at Tonawanda Coke Arrested
Press Release From U.S. Attorney's Office

Clean Air Coalition of Western New York
The actions taken against Tonawanda Coke for the sake of the public health in our community were the direct result of important work done by the Clean Air Coalition. They are becoming a powerful voice for environmental justice in Western NY, and they need your support to continue and expand their work.
Please consider becoming a member and making a donation. Your membership will allow the Clean Air Coalition to keep the community up to date, support new research efforts and make sure our community’s voices are heard by those who have the power to make change.

Earlier posts about the Clean Air Coalition and their actions against air pollution at Tonawanda Coke:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Groundwork Buffalo

Executive Director

Groundwork Buffalo is an independent, not-for-profit, environmental organization working in conjunction with communities, the National Parks Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. Groundwork organizations’ purpose is to build sustainable communities through joint environmental action thereby empowering people, creating better places, and helping to bring about prosperity through practical projects with people, business, government and other organizations.

The Executive Director will be responsible for managing the operations of Groundwork Buffalo, including managing an office, fund-raising and development, overseeing financial and program management, making regular progress reports and complying with grant reporting requirements, hiring and managing staff, and setting the strategic direction of the organization.

For a full description of the Groundwork Buffalo employment opportunity, click here.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to Groundwork Buffalo at or mail to Groundwork Buffalo, c/o LISC, 700 Main Street, 3rd Floor, Buffalo, NY 14202.

Job Openings at BUFFALO ReUSE

Buffalo ReUSE has two AmeriCorps Job Openings.

We are looking for a
ReSource Educator and a Green Space Coordinator. The candidates shouldn't feel intimidated about the teaching part. If they've never taught a group of people--we can train them. They just have to have the desire and capacity to teach. Their service will last one year--from JAN-DEC 2010.

N. Seawell, Director of Community Programs
Buffalo ReUse Inc.,

2010 Commemorative Calendar from Buffalo ReUSE
Revenue generated from our sale of 2010 Commemorative Calendars funds our social mission, which includes neighborhood revitalization, job training, and environmental stewardship.
Learn more and purchase a calendar here.

To read earlier posts on Buffalo ReUSE, click here.

Buffalo First! Coupon Books & Office Needs

Get Discounts at Local Businesses with

Buffalo First! Coupon Books

Individuals, Schools and Businesses can now order books with the click of a button. Wholesale and Retail. If you are an individual buying books PLEASE consider buying from one of our great local businesses first (below). Your support helps them.

You can page through an electronic version of the coupon book here.

Buffalo First Director, Amy Kedron, was recently interviewed by Reuters:
Buffalo groups seek ways to help local businesses
Amy Kedron is also working to promote local businesses. She is the co-founder and director of Buffalo First, which sells books of coupons for local businesses.

Kedron is a former academic and has spent a lot of time thinking about what she does. A chart in her latest coupon book – she has the proofs with her when we meet – shows how for every $100 spent at a non locally-owned business, $57 leaves the community, whereas that figure is only $32 if you spend it at a locally-owned business.

“In a way I feel sorry for CEOs of big corporations,” she said. “They are legally obliged to maximize shareholder value and cannot do a lot for communities like this because they would be breaking the law.”

“We have forgotten in this country that there is so much more to capitalism than just the exchange of goods and services,” Kedron added. “It’s about community and local businesses are the best at building communities because their owners are in it to make a living, not a killing.”
Read the full report by Nick Carey at

We're Seeking Office Donations
We have recently moved into our new office space above Hyatt's All Things Creative! Currently our 'wish list' of necessary items contains a microwave and minifridge. If you or your business have these items, or other general office supply needs which you are not using, think of Buffalo First!
Don't forget, all donations are tax-deductable!

We are excited to continue establishing our new space, and we thank you for helping us reduce, reuse, and recycle!
Thank you for supporting Buffalo First's mission to create a more local, green and fair economy in WNY. We look forward to hearing from you!

Always Local,
The Buffalo First Team

Buffalo First! Building a Local, Green and Fair Economy

Buffalo First Inc., 910 Main Street, Buffalo, NY 14202 E-mail

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Feds Raid Carcinogen-Emitting Coke Plant

On Thursday, more than 50 federal and state agents pulled a surprise raid on the Tonawanda Coke plant, with a search warrant to collect evidence for an on-going investigation, according to the Niagara Gazette.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been investigating the facility following air quality tests by the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation showing levels cancer-causing benzene in the air near the plant 75 times greater than EPA guidelines.

Local residents attribute the toxic air, which also contains hazardous soot particulates, as a cause of respiratory problems and cancers in the area. Several years ago they formed the Clean Air Coaltion of Western NY to draw attention to their plight and to attempt to create a dialogue with plant owner J.D. Crane, who has ignored them. The persistent health problems of residents and a recent protest against the high-level toxic emissions from the Coke Plant drew strong citizen support and attention from the media as well as from the U.S. Senators Schumer and Gilibrand and Representative Slaughter. Those congress members contacted EPA administrator Lisa Jackson to develop a plan to reduce benzene emissions at the coke plant.

According to The Buffalo News, company officials ignored an EPA demand to submit testing protocols for hazardous emissions. The raid included EPA officials from its criminal investigation division, the DEC, the U.S. Coast Guard and state attorney general’s office. “We took records and samples,” U.S. Attorney Kathleen M. Mehltretter said after the raid, declining further comment. The EPA filed suit against Erie Coke on September 22, alleging continuing pollution, poor maintenance of coke ovens and lack of required annual inspections of smoke stacks and boilers. The federal suit stated that Erie Coke could be liable for damages of more than $32,500 a day for violations.

“The community is excited that decisive action is being taken against Tonawanda Coke,” said Erin Heaney, executive director of the Clean Air Coalition. “We’re closer than ever to seeing justice delivered for the residents of Tonawanda.”

The EPA has provided information to the local Tonawanda community on their air quality study and their evaluation of the Tonawanda Coke facility. The EPA communication is here. [PDF]

The recent raid by federal and state officials has also been reported on local TV news from stations WKBW, WGRZ and WIVB.

The plight of the local residents and Tonawanda Coke’s reluctance to talk to them has been highlighted in an Editorial in The Buffalo News.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Weatherization Saves Energy & Money

Obama promotes home energy-efficiency spending
President Barack Obama called Tuesday for new federal incentives to make millions of homes more energy efficient as a way to create jobs, save money for homeowners and reduce pollution. He said that insulation is "sexy". "Here's what's sexy about it: saving money," Obama said homes and offices are responsible for 40% of U.S. energy consumption, and that homes built in the first half of the last century can use about 50% more energy than modern dwellings.

"The simple act of retrofitting these buildings to make them more energy efficient - installing new windows and doors, insulation, roofing, sealing leaks, modernizing heating and cooling equipment - is one of the fastest, easiest and cheapest things we can do to put Americans back to work while saving families money and reducing harmful emissions," Obama said.

About $8 billion of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill is dedicated to energy-saving investments in homes. Read the full AP report in The Buffalo News.

High heating bills of poor targeted
PUSH Buffalo is demanding help from National Fuel to reduce heating bills of low-income residents. At a recent rally, some signs read “We want to green our homes, not National Fuel’s wallet.” The federally funded Home Energy Assistance Program provided about $50 million to National Fuel last year to help underwrite the heating bills of low-income residents in Erie County. The PUSH Buffalo campaign is seeking a commitment from National Fuel to help weatherize 1,000 units in 2010. PUSH says weatherizing costs about $6,500 per house, and lowers heating bills by 30%-40%.

Read the report by James Heaney in The Buffalo News.

Music Video: "Double Panes"
A music video to promote saving energy and money through home weatherization, energy efficiency, energy audits, insulation, and double-pane windows (hence the title).
It's by a group of Stanford University students having fun for a good cause. Check it out:

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Offshore Wind Power in NY

Power Authority seeks bids for wind farm
Project off the shores of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario could generate up to 500 megawatts of electricity
The New York Power Authority took its first major step Tuesday to advance its efforts to encourage the development of a big wind farm off the shores of Lake Erie or Lake Ontario.
Terry Yonker, the U. S. co-chairman for the Great Lakes Wind Collaborative, said it is important for the Power Authority to make good choices as it proceeds with the project because it will set precedents for other offshore wind farms in the Great Lakes region.
“The potential for wind power in the Great Lakes is among the best anywhere on earth,” he said.
Read the report by David Robinson in The Buffalo News.

Lake Erie Map of feasible wind sites (black areas)
Link to Lake Ontario Map is here

Great expectations for Great Lakes
State seeks proposals from private developers to provide wind power ALBANY --
The possible transformation of the Great Lakes into a major source of wind-generated electricity began Tuesday, when New York became the first state to open its share of the lakes to offers by private wind developers.
During a news conference on the shore of Lake Erie near Buffalo, Gov. David Paterson and other officials unveiled plans for the state to reach 20-year agreements with owners of selected projects by December 2010. Proposals would be due at the state Power Authority by June 2010.

Great Lakes Offshore Wind Project Request for Proposals
Links to NY Power Authority files are here.

And on the East Coast...

Plan Advances to Build Wind Farm Off New York City

New York area politicians and energy officials are moving ahead with what could be the nation's largest offshore wind farm in the Atlantic Ocean 13 miles from Queens.
The Long Island/New York City Offshore Wind Collaborative, a group of utilities and government agencies, said Wednesday it would request proposals next year from developers for a 350-megawatt wind farm near the Rockaway Peninsula that could cost more than $1 billion and involve more than 100 turbines.
Read more in the Wall Street Journal.

Power from Cow Manure - It Happens!

Renewable Energy From Manure Becomes Reality for NY
Dairy coalition methane digesters to power 32,000 homes by 2020
ROSEMONT, Ill., | Dec. 11

Methane digesters on dairy farms could soon be a common source of energy for residents and businesses in the state of New York. That is one result of the Dairy Power Summit, held Oct. 29 and 30, 2009, in Syracuse, N.Y., which brought together more than 200 New York dairy farmers and industry stakeholders from across the country to discuss the potential for dairy-supplied renewable energy.

Summit attendees set a 2020 goal that 40 percent of all manure from New York dairy farms goes through the anaerobic digestion process, which captures methane from manure and generates clean, renewable energy. The energy produced from this effort could power 32,000 homes while strengthening the economic vitality of New York's dairy farms. It also would reduce New York's greenhouse gas emissions by 500,000 metric tons of carbon, equivalent to taking 100,000 cars off the road.

Gov. Paterson's "45 by 15" program is one of the nation's most aggressive energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives. By 2015, New York State will meet 45 percent of its electricity needs through improved energy efficiency (15 percent) and clean renewable energy, such as methane (30 percent).
Read more here

Don't laugh now! Cow Power is nothing to wrinkle your nose at. Pacific Gas & Electric Company and BioEnergy Solutions started a biogas-to-pipeline injection project in Fresno County, CA, to produce renewable natural gas from animal waste in 2008. This single project is expected to deliver the electricity needs of about 50,000 PG&E residential customers. Construction of a second biogas distribution network near Bakersfield, CA, is scheduled for 2010.

Biogas is powerful stuff.
Cow poo could potentially provide enough energy to power 3% percent of the national grid!

Biogas is produced when microbes break down a methane-rich source like manure. Cow manure is put into covered lagoons that trap the natural gas as the manure decomposes.
Methane has more than 20 times the greenhouse gas potential of carbon dioxide. The BioEnergy Solutions system is said to cut methane emissions from manure by as much as 70%, or 1,500 tons annually on a 5,000-cow farm.

Following the digestion and upgrade processes, the waste water and remaining solids can be utilized to irrigate and fertilize nearby crop lands.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

TORONTO STAR for the Planet

On Monday, December 7th, as the U.N. Climate Summit opened in Copenhagen, the TORONTO STAR joined together with 56 newspapers in 45 countries to speak with one voice on climate change in a common editorial on their front page (click image to enlarge).

The project was the result of weeks of negotiations between the papers to agree on a final text.

Among those taking part were two Chinese papers – the Economic Observer and the Southern Metropolitan – and India's second largest English-language paper, The Hindu.

In addition to the Toronto Star, some of the other best known papers in the world, such as Le Monde, El Pais, and Russia's Novaya Gazeta also participated.

A team of Guardian writers and editors took the lead and went through three drafts to arrive at a text that satisfied all the editors involved.

The editorial states:

Unless we combine to take decisive action, climate change will ravage our planet, and with it our prosperity and security. The dangers have been becoming apparent for a generation. Now the facts have started to speak: 11 of the past 14 years have been the warmest on record, the Arctic ice-cap is melting and last year's inflamed oil and food prices provide a foretaste of future havoc. In scientific journals the question is no longer whether humans are to blame, but how little time we have left to limit the damage. Yet so far the world's response has been feeble and half-hearted.

Climate change has been caused over centuries, has consequences that will endure for all time, and our prospects of taming it will be determined in the next 14 days. We call on the representatives of the 192 countries gathered in Copenhagen not to hesitate, not to fall into dispute, not to blame each other but to seize opportunity from the greatest modern failure of politics. This should not be a fight between the rich world and the poor world, or between East and West. Climate change affects everyone, and must be solved by everyone.

To read more at the TORONTO STAR, click here.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Business Gets Green: December 17th

Senator Antoine Thompson's
Thursday, December 17, 2009
5:30pm to 7:30pm

Frank E. Merriweather Jr. Branch Library
1324 Jefferson Ave, Corner of Jefferson and East Utica [ Map ]
This is a wonderful facility - intimate but spacious.
Lots of Free Parking - 25 spaces in the library lot - and ample on-street parking. Now that it's getting dark earlier, we will provide accompaniment to your car after the meeting if you'd like.

for the 15 minute featured presentations:

  • Terry Yonker - The Great Lakes Wind Collaborative -- See VIDEO here
  • David Magid - Hughesco -- See VIDEO here
  • Steve and Barry Carr - Clean Communities of Western NY -- See VIDEO here
  • Ran Webber - The Skyway to the Future
Descriptions of the businesses in the featured presentations are here. Our presenters will have great information to help your business grow, go green, and save money in the process !!!

The Format for Business Gets Green includes 1/2 hour of 30 second Introductions by businesses, organizations and individuals. See one VIDEO here and another VIDEO here.

The Introductions are followed by 4 - 15 minute feature presentations on businesses or issues that are of special interest, usually with Powerpoint slides.

If you would like to give one of the 15 minute presentations, please contact Bill Nowak with a 2-3 paragraph description of your presentation and dates (3rd Thursdays) you can be available to present.
As usual, this session will be filmed for LCTV and YouTube. Thanks Jon Allen! Videos are posted here.