Monday, February 28, 2011

Annie Leonard to Speak at SUNY Fredonia

2011 Sustainability Series at SUNY Fredonia

Keynote Speaker:
Annie Leonard

The Story of Stuff - How Our Obsession with Stuff is Trashing Our Planet, Our Communities and Our Health - and A Vision for Change
  • When: March 8th @ 7:00 pm
  • Where: SUNY Fredonia, King Concert Hall (Map )
  • Cost: $5 with student ID, $15 general admissions (tickets can be purchased Online Here - enter the codeword EDUCATE and pay only $10, not $15)

Annie Leonard is the founder of the Story of Stuff film series, several 20-minute videos that explain some of the world’s most significant environmental dilemmas using easy, down-to-earth language that gets the message across to people of all ages, backgrounds and education levels.
She was named one of the “Five Most Important Environmental Movement Leaders” by the Washington Examiner in 2010.

Since her initial film’s launch in 2007 — which to date has generated more than 12 million online viewers — Leonard has leveraged it into a project ( and a 2010 book of the same title (made from 100 percent recycled and compostable materials, of course). She has become one of the nation’s foremost authorities on the topic of consumer behavior and its impact on the environment, appearing in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, Wired and Fast Company magazines, and on Comedy Central’s “Colbert Report,” among other major media outlets.

Check out Annie Leonard and her Story of Stuff on the Colbert Report:

An earlier blog post about Sustainability and the Story of Stuff is here.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Community Workshops - Buffalo Green Code

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.

Community Workshops will be held to listen and discuss citizens' hopes for the future of Buffalo. Please plan to participate in a Workshop in your region.

To see a newsletter with Introductory Information and a Map showing all of the regions, click here.

For each region of Buffalo, the place, date, & time of the Community Workshop is listed below:
  • Central, Hutch Tech High School, Monday, February 28, 6:30pm-9pm
  • Northwest, Riverside High School, Tuesday, March 1, 6:30pm-9pm
  • Northeast, Bennett High School, Tuesday, March 1, 6:30pm-9pm
  • Ellicott, Montessori School, Wednesday, March 2, 6:30pm-9pm
  • North, North Park Academy, Wednesday, March 2, 6:30pm-9pm
  • West, Lafayette High School, Thursday, March 3, 6:30pm-9pm
  • South, South Park High School, Thursday, March 3, 6:30pm-9pm
  • Masten-E. Delavan, East High School, Saturday, March 5, 9am-11:30am
  • East, Colonel Matt Urban Center, Saturday, March 5, 1pm-3:30pm
To visit the Buffalo Green Code website, click here.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

State and Federal Agencies Evaluating Impacts of Shale-Gas Fracking

Protecting Drinking Water is the Highest Priority

The NY state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is in the process of
drafting regulations on shale-gas drilling using the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. A six month drilling moratorium is currently in effect.

The DEC and officials in the areas of health and energy are looking at the experiences in other states that permit fracking. In nearby
northern Pennsylvania, gas drilling has been linked to well water contamination in several towns.

Acting DEC head Joe Martens said, "As I think the governor has said...we won't undertake drilling until we're confident it can be done safely. And protecting water supplies is, at the essence, our highest priority."

DEC regulations proposed earlier had received about 13,000 public comments, most of which the DEC says have been addressed in updated regulations in a draft document to be completed in June or thereabouts. The draft will then be subject to another 30-day public comment period before final regulations are issued.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued a draft plan to study the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources in the U.S.. The plan will be reviewed by an independent Scientific Advisory Board on March 7-8, 2011. Stakeholders and the public will have an opportunity to provide comments during this review.

The EPA plans to study the hydraulic fracturing water lifecycle--from water acquisition to wastewater treatment and disposal--and the potential drinking water issues at each stage of the process.

The fundamental research questions that will be examined are:
  • Water acquisition: How might large volume water withdrawals from ground and surface water impact drinking water resources?
  • Chemical mixing: What are the possible impacts of releases of hydraulic fracturing fluids on drinking water resources?
  • Well injection: What are the possible impacts of the injection and fracturing process on drinking water resources?
  • Flowback and produced water: What are the possible impacts of releases of flowback and produced water on drinking water resources?
  • Wastewater treatment and waste disposal: What are the possible impacts of inadequate treatment of hydraulic fracturing wastewaters on drinking water resources?
The EPA will revise the study plan in response to the Scientific Advisory Board's comments and then begin the actual study. Initial research results are expected by the end of 2012, with a goal for a report in 2014.

The EPA draft plan is described in a
140 page document and is available here.

More information about the NY DEC study is available at

Concerned Citizens Take Action on Shale-Gas Fracking

Buffalo Bans Fracking -- Other Towns are Taking Action

Despite repeated industry claims shale-gas drilling is safe, the public is aware that there are many instances where drinking water has been contaminated following drilling using the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing or fracking. The photo shows an example of contaminated well water from the town of Dimock in northeastern Pennsylvania following nearby fracking.

Fracking and tainted wastewater have been linked to impacts on well water, human health and welfare, air, land and waterways. Evidence abounds in the award-winning documentary film GASLAND (Trailer here), investigative CNN reports (Video here), and testimony of affected landowners in several states at hearings sponsored by the EPA. Landowners and state officials have filed lawsuits against drilling companies because of drinking water contamination.

Concerned citizens are not waiting for the results of
studies on fracking by the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, residents of some towns have urged their local governments to ban fracking.

Following a public hearing, the Common Council of Buffalo voted unanimously to ban fracking and any form of natural gas extraction in the city. The Buffalo law also bars the disposal of drilling wastewater or other production wastes within city limits. This is important since huge volumes of water used in fracking contain a myriad of unknown and toxic chemicals, and testing for these is not done.
Fracking wastewater disposal in Lake Erie and the Niagara River is a matter for great concern.

Earlier, Pittsburgh instituted a ban on fracking in the city limits. However, Pennsylvania still allows dumping of fracking wastewater into its rivers. Wastewater is only partially treated for harmful substances, then dumped into waterways from which communities get their drinking water. Also, illegal dumping has been observed on dirt and gravel roads and detected in streams near drilling sites.

In Wales NY, town officials and residents have expressed concern about contamination of their water wells if the gas drilling process were to be permitted, and the Wales Town Board plans to ban fracking.

Citizens in other towns are taking action to become better informed about the issues associated with shale-gas extraction by fracking.

Concerned residents of Aurora, Elma, West Falls and Holland are holding a community discussion about fracking on Sunday, February 20, with documentary film excerpts, and presentations by a gas drilling task force member
and former legislator, and also by an environmental attorney addressing how landowners can protect themselves.

The League of Women Voters and UB Green are holding a screening of the GASLAND documentary film as well as a discussion with a gas industry representative on March 19 in Hamburg, NY.

To get a feel for the public outrage about fracking, and what can happen to our water
as a result of lax regulation and monitoring of drilling and waste disposal, listen to the testimony of Mark Ruffalo, an activist and movie actor who lives in upstate NY in a pristine area on the Marcellus Shale that is coveted by the gas industry.

This video was recorded in the NY State Capitol building and can also be viewed on the
NY State Senate channel at YouTube.

More information is available at

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Buffalo Niagara Green Expo - Volunteers Needed

Buffalo Niagara Green Expo
Saturday, April 30th, 2011 at the Walden Galleria
The 3rd annual Green Expo will include over 100 exhibitors and presenters who will demonstrate how to GO GREEN.

Western New Yorkers will learn how to lower their energy bills and carbon footprint, maintain a sustainable lifestyle, and explore what green jobs can do for WNY. Education and fun will come together in the Kids’ Zone where children can take part in exciting environmentally- themed activities. See to learn more.

Volunteers will be needed to distribute posters, help with Friday evening set up, assist exhibitors, distribute posters, and make sure the Green Expo is another huge success.

If interested in being a Green Expo Volunteer, please contact:

Frank at or 626-4938
Mike at or 688-3888

UPDATE, Feb.25: Solar Liberty has agreed to be a Major Sponsor for the Expo this year!

Niagara Power Project Golden Anniversary

The following is a statement from National Hydropower Association Executive Director Linda Church Ciocci celebrating the contributions and benefits provided by the Niagara Power Project, owned and operated by the New York Power Authority (NYPA):
“The 50th anniversary of NYPA’s Niagara Power Project is an opportunity to recognize the remarkable impact of this crucial hydropower facility. Since 1961, the Niagara project has served Western New York businesses and helped support tens of thousands of jobs by providing some of the lowest-cost [and clean] * electricity in the country. The 2,441-megawatt project has also given the region unparalleled reliability in challenging times. It was Niagara and other NYPA hydropower projects that served as the springboard for restoring power to millions of customers following the Northeast Blackout of 2003.

“Niagara continues to be a powerful example of the hydropower industry’s capacity to stimulate local investment and create jobs. Over the past few years, companies like 3M, Yahoo! and GEICO have been lured to or have expanded operations in Western New York because of access to Niagara’s affordable power. NYPA has rededicated its efforts to maximize economic growth and support community improvements in recent years.

“The federal relicensing of the Niagara project in 2007 gives NYPA the opportunity to provide another 50 years of benefits from this exceptional facility. NYPA is committed to providing more than $1 billion in financial support and other regional benefits, including environmental and recreational improvements.

“As the Niagara project demonstrates, hydropower can improve the quality of life in area communities, especially during these trying economic times. Available, reliable and affordable hydropower resources are helping America meet its energy, economic, and environmental goals. The hydropower industry is committed to expanding this contribution through growth opportunities in every region of the country.

National Hydropower Association commends the New York Power Authority and all of those who have kept the Niagara Power Project – and hydropower – working for America for 50 years.”

*Note: The photo, the word emphasis and the insert "[and clean]" were added by David

For more information about the Niagara Power Project, visit the NYPA website.