Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gov. Patterson Extends Fracking Moratorium

NY Gov. Patterson did not approve the legislature's moratorium bill on gas drilling by hydraulic fracturing, also called hydrofracking or fracking.

The governor went one better: he extended the moratorium by executive order on Saturday.

He also restricted the type of fracking that would be included in the moratorium.

Gov. Patterson restricted the moratorium to a controversial method of hydrofracking that uses high volumes of water and employs horizontal drilling from a deep well. Landowners in nearby Pennsylvania and in other states claim this method is responsible for contaminating their well water, polluting the air and land, and causing illnesses.

Excused from the governor's moratorium is more conventional vertical drilling, as explained in a statement from Peter Kiernan, Counsel to the Governor:
The Governor vetoed legislation that would have placed a moratorium on high-volume, horizontal hydraulic drilling and more conventional vertical drilling. The Governor's order obviates the need for a moratorium on high-volume fracking. However, vertical drilling has been a fact in this State for 40 years without demonstrable environmental damage. Permitting for such drilling will continue unless the DEC's comprehensive review requires it to be stopped.
The executive order bans high-volume, horizontal, hydrofracking until at least July 1, 2011, while the NY Department of Environmental Conservation continues its ongoing review of its effects in the Marcellus Shale region.

This is a huge victory for NY residents concerned about the quality of their drinking water, air, land and public health. [However, see UPDATE, below].

In addition, the moratorium may have national consequences. New York is the first state in the nation to confront the powerful gas industry with a moratorium on their drilling methods, which have been the subject of controversy in many states.

Read a report about the executive order here, and a CNN report that preceded the Governor's order here.

UPDATE, 12/13/2010:
"Expert testimony submitted for a government hearing next month challenges long-held assumptions about the safety of deep vertical drilling and exploratory wells, which operate in many states with limited regulatory oversight," according to a report by ProPublica. The administrative hearing will be held by the Delaware River Basin Commission, a federal agency that regulates a variety of water and land activities in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.

Environmental groups opposed to fracking are unhappy that the
Executive Order does not impose a moratorium on vertical drilling.

Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy stated:
Unlike the bill he vetoed, the Governor's Executive Order will allow the ongoing drilling and fracking of vertical wells. Although vertical wells utilize only a fraction of the toxic fluid used in high-volume horizontal wells, they are responsible for numerous pollution incidents, including the contamination of nine square miles of aquifer in Dimock, Pennsylvania where some residents have been living with poisoned water wells for the past two years.
Frack Action shared a public event on FaceBook. Today at the Governor's NYC office, Mark Ruffalo, NY State Senator Liz Krueger, and Craig and Julie Sautner of Dimock, PA will be there to tell the Governor to close the "Paterson Loophole" for vertical wells NOW.

A Press Conference will be held on Monday, December 13, at 12 noon, at the NYC Office of Gov Paterson, 644 3rd Ave. (bet. 41st & 42nd).

TALK: Accelerating Solar Energy in NY

[Click image to enlarge]

To read more information about the speaker and the presentation, click here.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A Friend in Need

Bill Nowak is well known in the local community for his outstanding character and good works. Among his many talents, he has been a leader in informing and motivating people around environmental issues dealing with renewable energy and the green economy. He was named "Environmental Citizen of the Year" in 2009 in appreciation for his dedication to environmental quality.

Bill Nowak is looking for work, since his job ended yesterday when Senator Thompson conceded the 60th Senate District election.

Bill's strengths include his work ethic, ability to communicate both verbally and in writing, leadership qualities, a good knowledge of local environmental problems and opportunities, strong contacts throughout our community and good computer skills.

A copy of Bill Nowak's résumé is posted here.

If you have any leads or ideas for Bill, please send them to him by e-mail at

Here is a link to the
"Environmental Citizen of the Year" award.

NYS Assembly enacts Ban on Fracking

The New York State Assembly enacted a temporary ban on hydraulic fracturing which will remain in effect until May 15, 2011.

The bill, A11443B/S08129B, was approved by the Senate last summer and is now on its way to Governor Paterson, who is expected to sign it into law.

Please phone Governor Patterson's office today at
518-474-8390. Let his office know that you want the Governor to sign the moratorium bill.

The people have spoken through the Senate and the Assembly, but they also need to speak to the Governor's office to help ensure that the bill becomes a law.

See other Re-ENERGIZE BUFFALO posts on 'Fracking', Click Here.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Plastic Bags: UB Monster, Music Video, and Bag Bans

Plastic bags are not bio-degradable and they are accumulating in land fills, polluting our waterways and oceans, and can harm wildlife. Cutting back on plastic grocery bags will not only protect our environment, but also reduce our need for oil, the source of chemicals used to make them.

Students in the UB Environmental Network recently held an event that included the "UB Bag Monster", a creature made of 550 plastic bags and one eco-friendly UB student who wanted to make the point that plastic bags are bad for the environment.

Instead of packing groceries in single-use plastic, Do One Thing for the Environment: bring your own re-useable bags to the store.

Another group is using music and comedy to show you what you can do to oppose the plastic bag industry, as seen in the video below featuring a parody of the song "Empire State of Mind".

Bans on Plastic Bags are spreading across the U.S.

Plastic bags are outlawed in San Francisco and other California cities, including Malibu, Fairfax and Palo Alto. Bans are in effect in Westport, Connecticut, Bethel, Alaska, and Edmonds, Washington. A ban in North Carolina's Outer Banks was expanded from large retailers to all stores. Bans take effect in January in Brownsville, Texas, and Hawaii's Kauai and Maui counties.

Parts of Los Angeles County have recently banned stores from using single-use plastic bags. It bans stores from giving customers single-use plastic bags and would require them to charge 10 cents for each paper bag. The ordinance would apply to parts of the county where an estimated 1.1 million people live. Read the recent report at

E-Waste: The Story of Electronic Stuff

The Story of Electronics explores the high-tech revolution's collateral damage—25 million tons of electronic-gadget waste (e-waste) and counting, poisoned workers and a public left holding the bill.

Host Annie Leonard (The Story of Stuff) takes viewers from the mines and factories where our electronic gadgets begin to the horrific backyard recycling shops in China where many end up. The film concludes with a call for a green 'race to the top' where designers compete to make long-lasting, toxic-free products that are fully and easily recyclable.

Check out the video, and, if your electronic gadgets can not be donated and reused, see links below for information on where to recycle them locally.

Erie County holds several computer and electronics recycling events every year.

The EPA has a handy chart listing local retail stores that take back used TVs, computers, cell phones, rechargeable batteries and other e-waste.

Remember Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff ? To view the The Story of Stuff
and read an earlier post on Sustainability, click here.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Solving Global Warming with Renewable Energy and Green Jobs in Washington, DC produced a cute video summarizing their solutions to global warming and climate change in three simple steps. Check it out.

Three Steps:

  1. Get off Fossil Fuels and Invest in Renewable Energy
  2. Cut Carbon Pollution
  3. Create Green Jobs

To solve the global warming problem and stabilize the climate, we must phase out fossil fuels and transition to renewable energy, like wind, solar, geothermal and biofuels. This transition will stimulate innovation, grow our economy, create new jobs, protect our environment and preserve our health and well being.

For more details, visit 1Sky Solutions.

By the way, looking for a Job? 1Sky is hiring! Click here.

Public Meeting: Buffalo Land Use & Zoning

The City of Buffalo is working to revamp its city-wide land use and zoning regulations. The resulting “Buffalo Green Code” will guide the character of future development for years to come. It aims to grow our economy, protect our environment, preserve the natural and cultural heritage of our city, and build great neighborhoods. Because it will have a comprehensive and long-lasting impact, Mayor Brown is committed to making this effort open and accessible to all citizens.

We will begin the work by listening to citizens about their hopes for the future of Buffalo. Please plan to participate in one of the three city-wide conversations, each held at
7:00pm – 8:45pm, on the following dates and locations:
  1. Tuesday, November 16, Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, Buffalo [Map]
  2. Wednesday November 17, Bennett High School, 2885 Main St, Buffalo [Map]
  3. Thursday, November 18, Tosh Collins Community Center, 35 Cazenovia St, Buffalo [Map]
Getting it right means making sure it works for you. And we can’t do that without you. So, join us in making our vision for the future a reality. Also, please help spread the word about the meetings around town.

On behalf of Mayor Byron W. Brown, I thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing you at an upcoming event.


Robert Shibley

To see a newsletter for more details, click here.

To visit the Buffalo Green Code
website, click here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bill McKibben to Speak in Buffalo at Environmental Congress

2010 WNY Environmental Congress

Featuring author, educator and environmentalist,
Bill McKibben*

Join us to participate in a discussion of recent progress on efforts to improve our environment and learn how we can all work together to protect Western New York's natural resources in 2011.

The congress is open to all interested participants.

November 13, 2010 from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm at City Honors High School, Buffalo, NY.


*Bill McKibben, scholar-in-residence at Middlebury College, is the author of twelve books, including The End of Nature (1989), the first book for a general audience about global warming, and, more recently, Deep Economy: the Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future (2007), which addresses what the he sees as shortcomings of the growth economy and envisions a transition to more local-scale enterprise. His latest book, Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet explores what it means to live on a planet that we have changed fundamentally. McKibben is a founder of high-profile campaigns to raise awareness about climate change, both nationally ( and globally (

VIDEO: Buffalo's Architectural Gems

This video highlights Buffalo's historic architecture in aerial shots taken in different lighting conditions. It was made to be shown to members of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, which is hosting its annual conference in Buffalo next fall. Watch it and see Buffalo's masterworks by Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Sullivan, H. H. Richardson and Frederick law Olmsted as well as vibrant neighborhoods that are rebuilding, block by block.

The Buffalo Niagara Convention and Visitor Bureau produced the project with local filmmaker John Paget. "People told me, 'Wow, you did a great job with the cinematography," but actually my job was kind of easy when you have such beautiful buildings," Paget said in a report to The Buffalo News.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fracking Protesters March in Pittsburgh

Hundreds of protesters marched and rallied outside the Pittsburgh Convention Center this afternoon as a shale gas drilling convention went on inside.

In reference to the protest of Marcellus Shale gas drilling using the controversial method of fracking, City Councilman Doug Shields said, "This is about our health. This is about our children. This is about our air. This is about our clean water. This is about public safety. It's time for us to give our voices to this."

A brief report and pictures are
here. To check out a video of the march, click here.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Local Candidates endorsed by NY League of Conservation Voters

The New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) is a non-partisan, policy making and political action organization that works to make environmental protection a top priority with elected officials, decision-makers and the voters by evaluating incumbent performance and endorsing and electing environmental leaders to office in NY State.

NYLCV recommends the candidate most likely to be an environmental leader.

Every election year, NYLCV develops candidate questionnaires that detail their Board's Policy Priorities, and candidates are interviewed by their Regional Boards.

Western NY candidates endorsed by the NYLCV are Brian Higgins and Louise Slaughter for Congress, Antoine Thompson for State Senate, and Sam Hoyt for State Assembly. Click on a candidate's name to read the full endorsement.

NYLCV also endorsed Andrew Cuomo for Governor, based on a record of accomplishment and a strong plan for a clean energy future.

Vote on Tuesday, November 2.
To find your polling place and see a list of candidates, Click Here, and then enter your address and zip code.

Job Opening at Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER

Watershed Restoration Coordinator
Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER is seeking a full-time Watershed Restoration Coordinator to implement and direct the Niagara River Riparian Restoration Program, a waterfront landowner stewardship and habitat restoration program.

To download a complete description with instructions for applying, click here.

To view the job description online, click here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

TONIGHT: GASLAND with Filmmaker Josh Fox

Join Filmmaker JOSH FOX for the Buffalo Premier of his film,

Saturday, October 30, 7 PM
Bulger Communication Center, Buffalo State College [Map]
Free and Open to the Public

A natural-gas drilling boom has swept across the United States in recent years, as the Halliburton-developed drilling technology of “fracking” has unlocked a “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is the method safe?

When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he decides to investigate, embarking upon a cross-country odyssey. He uncovers a trail of secrets, lies and contamination–from unexplained illnesses to flammable tap water–in this expose of a new country called GASLAND.

[Click image to enlarge]

For a full screen display of a printable flyer, Click Here.

See Re-ENERGIZE BUFFALO posts on 'Fracking', Click Here.

Support the NY State Fracking Moratorium, Click Here

Official Website:

Friday, October 29, 2010

Fracking Comments and GASLAND Film

  • FRIDAY, October 29 -- TODAY is the last day to Email your comments on gas drilling using the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation.
Send Email to: State Forest Strategic Plan until 4:45pm.
[ ]

  • SATURDAY, October 30 --
Join Filmmaker JOSH FOX for the Buffalo Premier of his film,

Saturday, October 30, 7 PM
Bulger Communication Center, Buffalo State College [Map]

Free and Open to the Public

For a full screen display of a printable flyer, Click Here.

When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he decides to investigate, embarking upon a cross-country odyssey. He uncovers a trail of secrets, lies and contamination–from unexplained illnesses to flammable tap water–in this expose of a new country called GASLAND.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Who's looking out for NY State's Environment?

Environmental Commissioner Fired

NY Gov. Paterson's administration fired Pete Grannis, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (D.E.C.), after a dispute over cuts to the department’s budget.

Earlier, Mr. Grannis sent a memo to the administration spelling out the negative effects that more layoffs would have on the agency, and the memo was leaked by an unknown source to The Times Union of Albany. The secretary to the governor, Lawrence Schwartz, asked Grannis to resign, but he refused.

In an interview, Mr. Grannis said, “We were asked to provide an analysis of how these layoffs would effect our agency’s operations, which we did, and somehow that got out.”

“We’ve taken a terrible hit over time,” Grannis said. “We’ve lost 600 people in the last 18 months, and this would be 200 more.” The agency’s workforce, now under 3,000, is at its lowest level in two decades, Grannis said.

"These staff cuts couldn't come at a worse time for the fight for clean water," stated Paul Gallay, Executive Director and Hudson Riverkeeper. "This also confirms that the agency will not be equipped to provide the necessary regulatory oversight to prevent the type of industrial pollution that has already ravaged much of the Marcellus Shale region due to gas drilling operations. Now more than ever, it is crucial for the DEC to work synergistically with Riverkeeper and other watchdog groups to make sure our environmental laws are enforced."

“The future of hydrofracking in New York State is really the most important environmental issue that we face, and we need a strong D.E.C. to protect New York State drinking water,” said James Gennaro, a New York City councilman. Mr. Gennaro was among the campaigners who successfully lobbied the D.E.C. to impose strict restrictions on drilling in the upstate watersheds that supply water to New York City.

The leaked memo was ominous in tone, warning of “potential serious risks to human health and safety and environmental quality” from the proposed staff cuts.

Environmentalists and public health experts from 16 organizations called upon Mr. Paterson to reinstate Grannis. Some said Mr. Paterson’s successor should reappoint Mr. Grannis and make fixing the agency a priority.

Laura Haight, senior environmental associate for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said: “When someone like Pete Grannis, who worked at the D.E.C. in the early 1970s and championed environmental laws in the State Legislature for 30 years before serving as commissioner, says that the agency is at its weakest point in history and that critical environmental programs are ‘hanging on a thread,’ people ought to listen. Instead, Governor Paterson fired him.”

So a movement is under way to have Mr. Grannis reinstated. There’s no chance of that in Governor Paterson’s remaining days before the November election, administration officials said.

But advocates like Rob Moore, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, is hopeful. “We’ll be urging the next governor to replace Pete Grannis with Pete Grannis,” he said.

For additional information, see the following articles:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

GASLAND Premier and Filmmaker Josh Fox

Join Filmmaker JOSH FOX for the Buffalo Premier of his film,

Saturday, October 30, 7 PM
Bulger Communication Center, Buffalo State College [Map]
Free and Open to the Public

A natural-gas drilling boom has swept across the United States in recent years, as the Halliburton-developed drilling technology of “fracking” has unlocked a “Saudi Arabia of natural gas” just beneath us. But is the method safe?

When filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for drilling, he decides to investigate, embarking upon a cross-country odyssey. He uncovers a trail of secrets, lies and contamination–from unexplained illnesses to flammable tap water–in this expose of a new country called GASLAND.

[Click image to enlarge]

For a full screen display of a printable flyer, Click Here.

Support the NY State Fracking Moratorium, Click Here

Official Website:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

TALK: Green Energy in Ontario and NY

Baldy Center Environmental Stewardship
Working Group

and the
Canada-United States Legal Studies Centre

Scott Pasternack

Supervisor for Policy Development, Toronto Environment Office

"Who is Building the Better Green Energy Mousetrap? A Comparison of Canadian and US Approaches to Renewables, Energy Efficiency, and Smart Distribution"

October 29, 2010
12:00-12:30 Lunch, 12:30-2:00 Presentation

509 O'Brian Hall (Map)

A great deal of green energy activity is happening on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border, whether it's federal smart grid research and development, state or provincial renewable procurement, or local level energy efficiency programs. Although the end goal seems to be the same -- reduce our energy footprint to, in turn, reduce our carbon footprint -- the laws, policies, and economics can differ greatly. For example, which investment approach promises to deliver an increasing, reliable supply of renewable generation to replace fossil fuels -- Ontario's feed-in tariff or New York State's renewable portfolio standard? Which energy efficiency standards for existing buildings promises to reduce energy demand more significantly -- the ones New York City is able to adopt locally for its own jurisdiction or the ones that Toronto hopes to help develop for Ontario to adopt across the province? For an overview of the different ways that Canada, Ontario, and Toronto to the north, and the U.S., New York State, and New York City to the south, have been struggling to build their green energy mousetraps -- and to offer your thoughts and suggestions on whether and how to build a cross-border green energy framework instead -- join us for this lunchtime presentation led by Scott Pasternack.

As Supervisor for Policy Development in the Toronto Environment office, Scott Pasternack is responsible for advising Toronto on climate change, green energy, and environmental sustainability initiatives. He previously served as environmental counsel for the New York City Law Department where, among other duties, he advised Mayor Bloomberg's Office of Long Term Planning and Sustainability on policy matters.

*Please note: The views expressed at this presentation will be those of the speaker only, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the City of Toronto.*

Event is free and open to the public. RSVP requested: or 645-2102

Ecology and Environment, Inc., Plays Key Role in First Large-Scale Solar Energy Project on U.S. Public Lands in Nevada

LANCASTER, N.Y., October 20, 2010 – Ecology and Environment, Inc., (E & E) (NASDAQ: EEI) is proud to announce its involvement in the Silver State North Solar Project, the first large-scale solar energy project on U.S. Public Lands in Nevada. The First Solar, Inc. project was approved by Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, yesterday. This is the second landmark, large-scale solar fast-track project to obtain Department of the Interior (DOI) approval in recent days in which E & E has played a key role providing permitting, environmental impact assessment expertise and coordinating the public involvement process.

“Silver State is one of several renewable energy projects in the pipeline that will help Nevada and the nation create jobs as we build a clean energy economy,” Secretary Salazar said in signing the Record of Decision. “This project will provide renewable energy that will help meet our nation’s growing demand as we strive to become energy independent.”

E & E prepared the precedent-setting environmental impact statement (EIS) for the 50-megawatt (MWAC) 60 (MWDC) solar facility and associated infrastructure, which will be built in the Ivanpah Valley, 40 miles south of Las Vegas. E & E worked collaboratively with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Las Vegas Field Office on the EIS, which analyzed environmental impacts of project construction and operation on several key resource areas, including threatened and endangered species, recreation, and hydrology; and identified appropriate mitigation measures to reduce project impacts. E & E engaged all project stakeholders and conducted well-attended public scoping meetings.

The Silver State North Solar Project is expected to generate enough electricity to power approximately 15,000 homes, create 300 construction jobs, and generate $250,000 in annual property tax revenue for Clark County, NV.

BLM Director, Bob Abbey, noted the key role public involvement played in the project’s approval. “The BLM is proud to play a major role in our nation’s quest to capture more renewable energy resources here at home,” Abbey said. “Through wise planning and engagement with local communities and stakeholders, we can support large-scale solar development on public lands while protecting valuable natural and cultural resources. If we are smart from the start, we can capture America’s renewable energy resources in the right way and the right places.”

“DOI approval of these pivotal large-scale solar projects on U.S. Public Lands is a significant step forward in advancing a clean energy economy and we are proud to play a role in making these projects a reality,” said E & E president and CEO Kevin Neumaier. “Silver State North brings Nevada one step closer to its goal of a 25 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard by 2025, and sends a clear message that standards and benchmarks like Nevada’s are achievable when energy companies, agencies, and stakeholders work collaboratively to advance environmentally sound projects.”

E & E has 40 years of global energy project experience and has been at the forefront of solar, wind and other renewable energy development. E & E has completed hundreds of renewable energy projects bringing thousands of megawatts of solar, wind, geothermal and ocean energy power to the grid.

Headquartered in Lancaster, N.Y., Ecology and Environment, Inc., has completed more than 50,000 projects for a wide variety of clients in 96 countries, providing environmental solutions in nearly every ecosystem on the planet. The company is listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol EEI and is located on the web at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Protect Zoar Valley and Drinking Water from Fracking

The Zoar Valley is one of the most spectacular wilderness areas of Western NY. I have hiked and snowshoed the rim trails of the gigantic gorge, looking down from the cliffs at Cattaraugus Creek, 400 feet below. I've navigated a canoe through the current and rapids on one-way trips from west of Springville to Gowanda. So much to do there, and so much to see - spring wildflowers, waterfalls cascading down the cliffs, virgin and secondary-growth forests, herons, hawks and even an occasional bald eagle - this is a sacred place that must be protected.

Recently, I was shocked to learn of a proposal by the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to allow gas drilling in the Zoar Valley State Forest using hydrofracking and horizontal drilling (see article by Larry Beahan, below). The controversial fracking process contaminates millions of gallons of fresh water per gas well with toxic chemicals to help release the shale gas, permanently buries most of the water deep underground (see article by Lynda H. Schneekloth, below) and has been blamed for contamination of drinking water and human illnesses. We can not let this happen in our beautiful Zoar Valley. Keep in mind too that the Cattaraugus Creek drains into Lake Erie, the source of drinking water in the Buffalo area.

The DEC writes that public comment is encouraged and will be accepted through 4:45 p.m., Friday, October 29, 2010. Please read the articles below, review the information on the DEC website, and submit comments to the DEC by email to State Forest Strategic Plan ( Comments may also be mailed in a letter to Strategic Plan for State Forest Management, NYS DEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4255.

Larry Beahan: State’s management plan would destroy Zoar Valley
...the Department of Environmental Conservation has proposed a “Strategic Forest Management Plan” for Zoar Valley and the rest of the 770,000 acres of New York State Forests. These forests are patches of wild land scattered across the state, set aside for their unique natural wonders or for simple reforestation.

This plan was sprung upon us with a bare two months until the Oct. 29 deadline on comments. The plan would industrialize these wild preserves with deep-well gas extraction using hydrofracking and horizontal drilling.

Its 5-acre wellheads, massive truck traffic, maze of roads, insatiable demand for fresh water and inevitable pollution of surface waters with salt, heavy metals and radon has no place in our state, let alone in such vulnerable and revered places as Zoar Valley.

The DEC’s plan proposes not only “fracking” in the forests but using forest resources to support fracking elsewhere. The plan would inject the witch’s brew of waste water from other sites into exhausted state forest gas wells and hope that it would not migrate into our drinking water. It would “steal” fresh water from these forests and turn it into polluted fracking waste.
Write the DEC and call legislators. Tell them to protect our State Forests from fracking and stop the Strategic Forest Management Plan.

Lynda H. Schneekloth: Hydrofracking puts fresh water beyond reach forever
Is it OK to ruin ground water, to “disappear” fresh water from the planet when only 1.5 percent of all the water on earth is fresh to begin with?

Hydrofracking leaves trillions of gallons of our fresh water deep in the bowels of the earth — forever.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Energy & Climate: Where do we go from here?

Join Buffalo native, Jason Kowalski, for a discussion of the Obama administration legislative initiatives on Energy Policy in the Case Library at Westminster Presbyterian Church [Map] on Sunday October 17, 2010 at 9:30am. The event is open to the public.

Jason Kowalski is the Policy Coordinator for 1Sky Solutions in Washington, DC.

The central aspirations of the 1Sky campaign are:

  • Reduce global warming pollution at least 35 percent below current levels by 2020, and at least 80 percent by 2050.
  • Create 5 million green jobs and pathways out of poverty by rebuilding and refueling America with a comprehensive energy-efficiency mobilization including immediate investment in a clean-energy infrastructure
  • Re-power America by imposing a moratorium on new coal plants that emit global-warming pollution and replacing dirty fuels such as coal and oil with 100 percent renewable energy.
Bio - Jason Kowalski: As a Policy Coordinator at, Jason works to leverage the collective power of a diverse network of allies to push for strong federal climate policy. He is committed to building grassroots momentum: as a national co-coordinator of Step It Up 2007, Jason and his group connected thousands of people to the political process via an open source web-based campaign. His career in the climate movement was jump-started by working with executives and financial officers at Middlebury College to dramatically reduce their carbon emissions using the most economical means available. Jason co-authored the recently expanded version of Clean Air-Cool Planet's Campus Carbon Calculator, which is currently in use on over 2,500 campuses for greenhouse gas emissions inventories and economic analysis of carbon reduction projects.

Related Material:
An open letter to all people and organizations working to combat global warming
This letter is from members of the 1Sky board of directors: Jessica Bailey, K.C. Golden, Bracken Hendricks, Bill McKibben, Billy Parish, Vicky Rateau, Gus Speth, and Betsy Taylor.

Tonawanda Coca-Cola is not Tonawanda Coke

While things have NOT been going better with Tonawanda Coke, the company that produces foundry coke for the steel industry, the Tonawanda Coca-Cola bottling company hopes that the image of their Coke, the beverage that people drink, will improve.

Public awareness of toxic air pollution at Tonawanda Coke has been raised by the Clean Air Coalition on behalf of residents living near the plant. This has been widely publicized and received considerable attention, including by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who found that emissions of benzene far exceed EPA limits and also cited the company for water pollution with cyanide. Recently, local residents have filed lawsuits claiming carcinogenic emissions from the Town of Tonawanda plant were the source of their cancer.

It turns out that many folks living in the Buffalo Area thought that the Tonawanda
Coca-Cola bottling company was the culprit cited for fouling the environment and accused of making people sick.

Tonawanda Coca-Cola bottling company wants things to go better with their Coke. They want to end the confusion and make it absolutely clear that the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Tonawanda is not Tonawanda Coke.

s past ad slogans for Coca-Cola state: "Coke is it!" "It's the real thing."

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Water Fouled by Gas Drilling Triggers Lawsuits

The shale gas drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has already been blamed for the contamination of drinking water in several states, including Pennsylvania. In the northern tier of PA bordering New York, the once clean water wells of residents are now contaminated by methane gas and toxic chemicals after nearby drilling began in the the Marcellus Shale.

Well water contamination is attributed to extensive fracking, in which multiple horizontal channels are drilled in each mile-deep vertical well and the underground shale is fractured under pressure using millions of gallons of water containing sand and toxic chemicals.

Residents are forced to live with polluted well water for drinking, washing dishes and clothes, and bathing. Some are suffering from illnesses attributed to the polluted water. Their wells and land are spoiled, making their homes practically worthless and impossible to sell. Many now feel like prisoners in their own home. Tragic!

Lawsuits have been filed. Fifteen residents of Dimock PA have sued the Houston based Cabot Oil and Gas Company, claiming the company has allowed methane and metals to seep into drinking water wells, failed to uphold terms of its contracts with landowners, and acted fraudulently when it said that the drilling process, including the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing, could not contaminate groundwater and posed no harm to the people who live there.

"We've been lied to, we've been pushed around, and enough is enough," said Julie Sautner, whose drinking water began showing high levels of methane, iron and aluminum and who is receiving fresh water deliveries from Cabot. "We need to push back."

The lawsuit, filed by the New York City-based law firm Jacob D. Fuchsberg and two other firms based in Philadelphia, Pa., and Buffalo, N.Y., did not specify what monetary damages would be sought from Cabot.

Pennsylvania's top environmental regulator says the state will sue Cabot Oil & Gas unless it agrees to pay nearly $12 million to extend a public water line to at least 18 residents whose water wells have been contaminated with methane gas.

Environmental Secretary John Hanger accused Cabot of reneging on its promises to the residents of Dimock, a small town in Susquehanna County, where tainted wells have raised concerns nationwide about the environmental and health consequences of gas drilling.

"We have had people here in Pennsylvania ... without safe drinking water for close to two years. That is totally, totally unacceptable. It is reprehensible," Hanger told a news conference packed with residents and media. "We're going to take decisive action now because we cannot possibly wait any longer."

Another lawsuit was filed against the Houston-based Southwestern Energy Co. claiming that a faulty gas well they drilled leaked toxic fracking fluid into local groundwater in northeastern Pennsylvania's Susquehanna County, exposing residents to dangerous chemicals and sickening a child.

The lawsuit—one of the first in the nation to link hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, to tainted groundwater—said the well's cement casing was defective. It also cites spills of industrial waste, diesel fuel and other hazardous substances.
Water wells became contaminated with high levels of barium, manganese and strontium. The contaminated water wells are less than 2,000 feet from the gas well.

The plaintiffs seek monetary damages, environmental cleanup and medical monitoring. The suit said the child who has been sickened has shown neurological symptoms "consistent with toxic exposure to heavy metals."

Fortunately, the New York state senate passed a suspension of fracking permits in a bill sponsored by Sen. Antoine Thompson. It awaits approval by the Assembly and the Governor. To take action, contact Assembly Speaker Silver and your Assembly member by clicking here.

To a Pennsylvania resident who had explosive levels of natural gas in his house from well contamination, and now lives with a huge water tank out front, New York's delay is a good thing. "I used to think you weren't very smart in New York, waiting like you did," he said. "But I think you're the smart ones now."

Watch an excellent segment of the PBS program, Need to Know, entitled "The Price of Gas", below, to get a feel of the problems arising from fracking elsewhere, to learn about the "Halliburton loophole" which in 2005 exempted fracking from federal regulations imposed by the Safe Drinking Water Act despite earlier concerns raised by an EPA whistleblower, to see how poorly the process is regulated by some states and how harmful this can be to local residents.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Run or Walk for the Planet on 10/10/10

Sunday, October 10, 2010
Delaware Park
Parkside/Jewett Entrance near Buffalo Zoo

10/10/10 - Day to Celebrate Climate Solutions Worldwide
Hosted by

All Buffalo runners and walkers who wish to demonstrate their support for this worthwhile endeavor are invited

We will run through the park before exiting on Meadow, turning left on to Nottingham, crossing over Delaware towards the bike path then on to Hoyt Lake for one loop around, then back to the park.
Distance - 4.2 miles

Walkers can opt for the 1.8 mile Delaware Park loop.
Cost - FREE

Be part of a global initiative taking place in our own backyard. Participants are encouraged to set aside their political ideologies and simply agree that our planet has a finite number of resources that have begun to dwindle. If you are unable to walk or bike to the park, please carpool. No registration, no timers, no starting gun, no water stations . . . just an opportunity for a great run with friends.

Sign up at

Local Contact: Email or Phone 716-359-3082

Feeling Energized and Want to Organize your Own Climate Solutions Event?
To find out how, Click Here

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Surprises on the 2009 Tour of Solar Homes & Green Buildings

Last year I took the Tour of Solar Homes & Green Buildings. The 2009 Tour was informative and full of surprises for me, plus I got to meet some interesting people. I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed it, and I plan to go on the 2010 Tour of Solar Homes & Green Buildings on Saturday, October 2nd, 10am-4pm.

To whet your appetite for the 2010 Tour, descriptions of three of the places that I visited last year, along with some photos, are shown below.

First stop, Depew, NY:
I wasn't sure what I was going to find at the so-called "Straw Bale House", having read the story of The Three Little Pigs and learned that straw is not necessarily the preferred building material. I was pleasantly surprised to find the beautiful home pictured above and to find out that, in addition to straw bales, wall construction included wood framing and structural insulated panels. Features of the "earth friendly" home include passive solar and radiant floor heating, solar- and gas-heated water, solar photovoltaic electricity, recycled materials and natural finishes with earthen plasters.
At the home I met the builder, David Lanfear of Bale on Bale Construction, and the architect & designer, Kevin Connors of eco_logic STUDIO, pictured at right inside the home. In recognition of their achievements, these men along with homeowner, Carrie Zaenglein, received a commendation for outstanding leadership in sustainable design from the WNY Sustainable Energy Association Trust.

Second stop, Lancaster, NY:
The photo shows part of the Global Headquarters for Ecology and Environment, Inc.. It looks like a nice place to work, doesn't it? The building interior is not only very beautiful, it is energy efficient and environmentally friendly. In recognition of these and other features of the building, E&E Inc. has been awarded a Platinum designation from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

Upon entering the building, visitors can meet ED, the "Earth Day" buffalo, and will see extensive, plant-filled atriums. My tour was led by Robert Gibson, who explained all of the eco-friendly features of the building. Windows open and close automatically depending upon the outside temperature. Solar panels on the roof are linked to a "GreenMeter" that monitors the building's usage of electricity and natural gas as well as the outside temperature. In the parking lot, there is an area reserved for car pool, hybrid, and alternative-fuel vehicles.

Third stop, Buffalo, NY:
The smallest building I visited housed the biggest surprises. The building is an adobe and straw bale greenhouse warmed by the sun and located on Buffalo's West Side, as part of the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP). Inside I saw elevated shelves of various green plants, a myriad of pipes and heard the sounds of dripping water. Looking down at the floor level I saw a large water tank filled with fish...lots of fish. What's going on here?

I met the person in charge, Jesse Meeder, who explained that the system is called "aquaponics". The fish eat duckweed and other small plants grown inside the greenhouse, and they live in rain water collected on site. The waste water produced by the fish is pumped up to the green plants to fertilize them. The plants thrive on the waste and, at the same time, clean up the water which is then returned to the fish. Brilliant! A more-or-less self-sustaining eco-system, requiring only a small amount of electricity for the pumps.

Meeder built the system himself using available materials and a small budget. Thinking that Meeder was some sort of bio-engineering grad, I asked him what his major was in college. "English" was his reply. Hmmm, I thought, clearly a Renaissance man!

Last year when I saw the fish, called tilapia, they were tiny. When grown to full size, around 10 inches, there is a market for the fish, and Meeder already had advance orders from restaurants. There is a market for the greens, like parsely, lettuce, and watercress too. Meeder also mentioned plans to expand the operation. Sounded like the makings for not only a good neighbor but also an environmentally-friendly, local business growing on Buffalo's West Side.

Plan to Attend the 2010 Tour of Solar Homes & Green Buildings:
Saturday, October 2nd, 10am-4pm.
The tour is sponsored by the WNY Sustainable Energy Association.
For a List of Homes & Buildings for the 2010 Tour, click here.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

People want EPA to Protect Drinking Water

Well water contamination has occurred after gas drilling started
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held public meetings in Binghamton NY on Sept. 13 & 15 to hear testimony about possible adverse impacts on drinking water caused by gas drilling using a controversial process called hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking". The EPA held a series of such meetings in several states to hear not only from concerned citizens, but also independent experts and industry.

Hundreds of concerned citizens came to express their views in two minute speeches over the course of four meetings in upstate NY. Many demonstrated outside the meeting hall and held placards, as in the photo (courtesy of, and one man carried a jug of fouled drinking water labeled "Dimock, PA", a town where well water contamination has terrified and angered residents who believe that fracking is the cause. Some residents have clear evidence of natural gas in their water since it is flammable and they can ignite their tap water.

The gas industry, on the other hand, has repeatedly declared that the drilling process is safe and has caused no contamination of drinking water. At they same time, they have refused to disclose the chemicals used in fracking, and thus any chemical contamination of drinking water can not be traced to their drilling sites.

Using a new horizontal drilling process, companies are drilling up to 16 horizontal wells from a single vertical well. With as many as 5 million gallons of water per horizontal well, up to 80 million gallons of water are used at each site. Thousands of sites are anticipated, elevating the concern of local residents.

Some of the many questions that the public wants answered are: where the companies are getting the large quantities of water, where the chemically-treated waste water goes, what chemicals are used, what will happen to the waste water that remains underground, and how will the waste water that is returned to the surface be cleaned up?

"There's a big difference between a 100,000 gallon hydrofrack and a three million to five million gallon hydrofrack," said Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club. He warned that the Northeast probably lacks the capacity to clean up the chemical-laden hydrofracking fluids. "Water in New York State is the most precious resource we have and we can't afford to contaminate it," he said.

The gas industry says that the chemicals are only present in trace quantities, 0.5% of the water. What they do not say, however, is that 0.5% of 80 million gallons of water per well is a very big number. 80 million gallons of water = 640 million pounds, so by weight, 0.5% equates to 3.2 Million pounds of chemicals! Some of the known chemicals are carcinogenic. How much of these chemicals end up in the drinking water of local residents?

"The EPA's study of hydrofracking will be crucial to understanding the gap between the thousands of reported contamination cases and the gas industry's denials of culpability," said Roger Downs, conservation program manager for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter. "We are confident that a scientific analysis of drilling will demonstrate that fracking, as it is currently practiced, is unsafe."

U.S. Congressman Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) said the study must be "Unbiased and comprehensive, and EPA must get out into the field to understand what is happening and what must be done to protect water supplies and health. EPA must not be influenced by industry or politics, as they were in 2004, and ensure the study is carried out in the public interest."

The 2005 U.S. Energy Act exempted the gas industry from key federal environmental laws including the Clean Water Act, leaving permitting authority to individual states. The current hearings are a first step in putting the industry under the oversight of the federal government and EPA regulations, and people feel that the gas industry is now in a rush to obtain drilling permits prior to federal control.

The people simply want to know the truth about drinking water contamination by fracking. If fracking is as safe as the gas industry says, they should not be in a rush to drill and should allow the EPA time to determine the truth. If it is not safe, either the process needs to be altered so that it is safe, or else it has to be banned.

To get a feel about what people are going through, listen to some long-time residents of Dimock PA tell their stories about well water contamination which occurred only after the gas drilling started nearby.

There is much to be learned before proceeding with fracking in NY state, and we are fortunate that the EPA has undertaken the task. New Yorkers are also fortunate that the state Senate has passed a bill for a drilling moratorium. However, the bill still needs passage by the state Assembly. To take action, contact Assembly Speaker Silver and your Assembly member by clicking here.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Green Buildings Open House

SATURDAY, October 2, 2010
Western NY Sustainable Energy Association

Tour Solar Homes and Green Buildings

[Click image to enlarge]

List of Homes & Buildings in the Buffalo area, click here.


Click Here to view an updated flyer.

Contacts: or

Thursday, September 9, 2010

McKibben to Return Historic Solar Panel to White House

Environmentalist and author, Bill McKibben, together with coordinators of the climate activist group,, came up with an interesting idea to re-boot the shift to clean energy at our nation's capitol by challenging President Obama to put solar panels back on the White House!

President Jimmy Carter, saddled with an energy crisis, not only created the Department of Energy, but also demonstrated his energy leadership in a practical way: by installing solar panels on the roof of the White House. That was 31 years ago!

President Carter wanted to show that America could harness “the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.” Sound familiar? Sadly, we remain cripplingly dependent on foreign oil to this day.

After the solar thermal panels were taken down and warehoused during the Reagan administration, Unity College in Maine salvaged them and installed them at the college, where they continued to produce hot water for the next thirty years. Unity College agreed to donate one of the solar panels back to the White House, in the hope that it will spur President Obama to pick up where Carter left off.

McKibben and Unity College students set out on September 7 in a bio-diesel-powered truck on a journey to Washington DC. Rallies were planned in Boston and NY City along the way. They will arrive in DC on Friday, September 10, and present the solar panel at the White House.

But that's not all: the solar company, Sungevity, has offered to donate a massive, brand new solar array to generate electricity. According to McKibben, there's no definitive answer from the White House. They say they're "interested," but that it's "complicated."

So the question is, will Obama permit the White House to go Green?

McKibben's group is also organizing a Global Work Party on October 10, 2010...i.e., 10/10/10. They are asking if we can help by registering events in our community to encourage others to "Get to Work on 10/10/10!" or by attending events. The group wishes to send President Obama and all politicians a clear message: we're getting to work, now it's time for you to do your part.

For some Ideas for 10/10/10 Events, click here.
There are so many related projects in place or in the plans for Buffalo, that I'm sure people could come up with many events. Solar panels on City Hall?

Save the Date: November 13, 2010
Bill McKibben will speak in Buffalo at the Environmental Congress sponsored by the WNY Environmental Alliance.

Recently, Bill McKibben appeared on the Letterman show to talk about climate change, putting solar back on the White House, and organizing the Global Work Party on 10/10/10. Check it out here.