Thursday, December 20, 2012

Should U.S. Expand Fracking to Export Shale Gas?

Critics cite need for information on impacts of expanded shale gas production on human health, communities, environment and domestic prices.   

Doctors Urge U.S. to Block Gas Export Terminals
By Jon Hurdle

More than 100 physicians urged the Obama administration on Thursday not to approve the construction of liquefied natural gas [LNG] export terminals until more is known about the health effects of hydraulic fracturing, the drilling process that has opened the way for a big increase in domestic gas production.

Until policymakers and public health officials determine whether fracking is dangerous to human health, they argue, the government should not allow the development of the 15 new export terminals that have been proposed by the gas industry. The government has so far approved one export terminal, proposed by Cheniere Energy, in Louisiana.

The demand for exports has risen from a recent boom in domestic production resulting from the use of fracking in combination with horizontal drilling, which has allowed the industry to exploit vast shale gas reserves at an affordable cost. Energy companies are also lured by sharply higher natural gas prices overseas.

Link to the full article at the New York Times Green Blog.


Why Policymakers and the Public Need Fair Disclosure Before Exports of Fracked Gas Start
By Craig Segall, Staff Attorney, Sierra Club Environmental Law Program.

Exporting American Liquefied Natural Gas [LNG] to the world market would spur unconventional natural gas production across the country, increasing pollution and disrupting landscapes and communities. Deciding whether to move forward is among the most pressing environmental and energy policy decisions facing the nation. Yet, as the Department of Energy (DOE) considers whether to greenlight gas exports of as much as 45% of current U.S. gas production — more gas than the entire domestic power industry burns in a year — it has refused to disclose, or even acknowledge, the environmental consequences of its decisions.

Gas exports would transform the energy landscape and communities across the country. We owe ourselves an open national conversation to test whether they are in the public interest. We need to look before we leap.

Download the Sierra Club report here (44 page PDF).

Impacts of Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Drilling

Organizations Petition EPA to Protect Public Health from Oil and Gas Emissions Contributing to Harmful Ozone Pollution

Ground-level ozone or "smog" contributes to serious adverse health impacts, including decreased lung function and premature mortality, and it damages foliage.  Children, the elderly, Americans with existing lung and heart disease, and those active outside are especially vulnerable.

On December 19, 2012, a broad coalition of environmental, conservation and children’s health groups petitioned the EPA to take two actions that will provide important public health protections for communities impacted by oil and gas emissions that contribute to harmful ozone pollution:

  • First, we respectfully urge EPA to require broad deployment of ozone air quality monitors in oil and natural gas development areas. Requiring the necessary air monitors will ensure that Americans have clear, transparent information about whether the air in their communities meets the nation's health-based air quality standards for ground-level ozone or "smog" pollution as oil and natural gas operations in their communities expands briskly.
  • Second, we respectfully ask that EPA provide communities with tools to help reduce smog-forming pollution from oil and gas development by issuing control technology guidelines (“CTGs”) for oil and gas equipment. These clean air measures can be some of the single most cost-effective methods for reducing smog-forming pollution in areas that violate the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ozone as well as those areas seeking to attain and maintain the National Ambient Air Quality Standards under the Ozone Advance Program.

RED, Active Rigs (Sept. 2012); BLUE, Ozone Monitors; SHADED, Population Density.
The Press Release is here.  The Petition is here [PDF, 34 pages].



Energy experts say drilling can be made cleaner
Scientists are concerned about effects of emissions on climate change and health impacts of breathing smog, soot and other pollutants.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — In the Colorado mountains, a spike in air pollution has been linked to a boom in oil and gas drilling. About 800 miles away on the plains of north Texas, there's a drilling boom, too, but some air pollution levels have declined. Opponents of drilling point to Colorado and say it's dangerous. Companies point to Texas and say drilling is safe.

The answer appears to be that drilling can be safe or it can be dangerous. Industry practices, enforcement, geography and even snow cover can minimize or magnify air pollution problems.

Some environmentalists say if leaks and pollution can be minimized, the boom has benefits, since gas burns much cleaner than coal, emitting half the carbon dioxide.

Al Gore told The Associated Press that it's "not irresponsible" to look at gas as a short-term substitute for coal-fired electricity. But Gore added that the main component of gas, methane, is a more potent heat-trapping greenhouse gas than CO2. That means that if large quantities leak, the advantage over coal disappears, the former vice president said.

Prasad Kasibhatla, a professor of environmental chemistry at Duke University, said that controlling gas drilling pollution is "technically solvable" but requires close attention by regulators.

"One has to demonstrate that it is solved, and monitored," he said.

Link to the full report is here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Public Comment Period on Hydrofracking Regulations

NY Governor Cuomo and his Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing Proposed Regulations for public review on December 12, 2012. Comments must be submitted by January 11, 2013.

Those concerned about shale-gas extraction by high-volume hydraulic fracturing in NY State need to get busy and submit comments on the proposed regs over the already busy holiday period.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the governor and the DEC!

To clarify what's going on, DEC's Proposed Regulations for High Volume Hydraulic Fracturing are separate and distinct from the SGEIS Permit Guideline Proceedings that have already reviewed by the public and received over 80,000 comments in January, 2012.  The Proposed Regulations are also separate from the ongoing Health Impact Assessment, which really should have been completed first and used to inform the Proposed Regulations.

It's a busy time of the year! January 11th will be here in a flash. What's a concerned citizen to do? Here are a couple of suggestions to help you:

  1. Visit the website 30 Days of Fracking Regs. There you'll find a list of dates from December 12 to January 10, each of which is linked to a specific regulation. Click on a highlighted date, and the regulation will be revealed (in red). Below it (in green) is an explanation of the regulation along with some aspects that you might like to comment on. Scroll down to "Submit Comment on this Regulation Below!" and follow the simple instructions to enter and submit your comments. 
  2. Attend a comment party! Join the good folks at WNY Drilling Defense for a "Lots of Fracking Comments" Party! Pizza will be served too. Write your comments with the help of others present at the Party on Friday, December 21, 2012 at 7 pm at the Network of Religious Communities, 1272 Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. Visit Lots of Fracking Comments Party for more information.
Whether you follow suggestion 1., suggestion 2. or both, Comment Early, and Comment Often! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

TAKE ACTION: Stand Up for Clean, Renewable, Wind Power

December 13, 2012
The renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) – the business incentive that has reinvigorated American manufacturing, diversified our electricity portfolio, driven down electricity costs for consumers, and stimulated much-needed rural economic development – is set to expire in just 18 days. Congress has yet to come to an agreement on legislation to extend this provision, nor to address the broader fiscal cliff issues that are up for debate.

Legislators are expected to adjourn this session of Congress at the end of next week.  They have not yet publicly announced any agreement on a legislative package.

Please take a few minutes to call your legislators today.

It’s very simple – just follow these steps:

Dial
1-888-496-5061 or click here to be connected.  You will be connected to the Senator’s office whose zip code corresponds to your phone’s area code.  Please redial to be connected to your second Senator’s office.

Relay this message:
“I urge the legislator to work with colleagues to pass a fiscal cliff bill that includes an extension of the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) before adjourning.”

After you speak to your Senators’ offices, please dial
1-866-899-9078 (or click here) to be connected to your Representative.  Please relay that same message to your Representative’s office.

Thank you very much for taking action at this key time.  We will keep you up to speed on any developments that we hear about in DC.

Sincerely,

Peter Kelley
Vice President, Public Affairs
American Wind Energy Association

P.S. If you can’t make calls today, please be sure to take a moment to email your legislators instead.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Buffalo Premier of "Dear Governor Cuomo" with Filmmaker

A Documentary Film on the 
Anti-Fracking Movement in New York State

  • WHAT: "Dear Governor Cuomo..." film and Q&A session with filmmaker Jon Bowermaster and expert panelists.
  • WHEN: Friday, December 14, at 6:30 PM
  • WHERE: Daemen College, Rm.107, Schenck Science Building, 4380 Main St., Amherst [Campus Map]
FREE ~ Please invite your friends
 
Join us for the Buffalo premier of “Dear Governor Cuomo…”  
The film documents the diverse coalition of New York citizens, scientists and musicians fighting for a state ban of fracking to protect our water, air and land. The film highlights advocacy actions at the State Capitol and an accompanying concert by prominent artists to demonstrate their concern for our environment. 

If you're new to the topic of fracking, the film also works as a great introduction.

The film was written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Jon Bowermaster, who will be present at the screening. It includes footage directed by Academy Award-winning director Alex Gibney, and features biologist Sandra Steingraber, actor Mark Ruffalo, actress Melissa Leo, and musicians Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne, Citizen Cope, Medeski Martin and Wood and The Felice Brothers.

Film trailer:



Download Posters: An 8x11 here and an 11x17 here.

Sponsors: Food & Water Watch, Daemen's Local & Global Sustainability program, and WNY Drilling Defense.


VICTORY PARTY: UB Closed Unscholarly Shale Institute

When: Friday, December 7, 5pm - 8:30pmTo be Rescheduled for a later date.

Where: Sportsmen's Tavern, 326 Amherst St., Buffalo [MAP]


What: Party with music by Five to One ($5 cover and Sandy relief donation at the door). Dancing, beer, fun, fellowship and awards.

All are Welcome - Invite your Friends

CWA Healthcare Coordinating Council Presents a Victory Salute to UB CLEAR and Friends (below) for helping UB shut down the unscholarly Shale Institute. Award Certificates will be presented at 6:30pm to:
  • Jim Holstun - Chair, UB CLEAR (Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research)
  • David Kowalski – Re-ENERGIZE Buffalo Blog; UB CLEAR
  • Buck Quigley – Associate Editor, ArtVoice
  • Kevin Connor Director, Public Accountability Initiative


We’ll also be passing the hat for  
Occupy Sandy’s relief efforts


Printable Flier: Click Here



Adam Zyglis - The Buffalo News


Goodbye to industry-promoted studies masquerading as objective, scholarly research at UB!

Join us to celebrate the safeguarding of research integrity at our public university.

Facebook page is here. Invite friends!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Professor schools UB on Shale Institute Crisis

By David Kowalski, UB CLEAR ~

"What to DO when the Devil offers you a Deal" is the provocative title of a lecture delivered by U. Illinois Professor Cary Nelson at the University at Buffalo Law School on November 5th.


Professor Nelson is an expert on academic-industry ties, having co-authored a comprehensive study, Recommended Principles & Practices to Guide Academic-Industry Relationships (13 June 2012; 268 pp.) Among the topics covered, the report emphasizes the responsibilities that come with industry funding, including the public disclosure of conflicts of interest.

Conflicts of interest in academic-industry relationships became a controversial topic at UB this year. A Shale Institute (formally named the Shale Resources and Society Institute), was unveiled at UB in April 2012 and released its first report in May 2012. Major errors committed by the authors sparked the controversy. For example, the authors did not disclose in the report their ties to the shale gas industry and how their efforts to create the report were funded. The authors' ties to the gas industry constitute a conflict of interest, and their undisclosed funding sources raise serious concern about financial conflicts of interest.

In addition to the failure to disclose conflicts of interest, the report carried a false claim of peer review, which was later retracted by UB. The report also contained substantive mistakes leading to invalid conclusions that favored the shale gas industry.
A detailed analysis of the report by the Public Accountability Initiative identified serious flaws, and exposure of these and other flaws in Artvoice, blogs and letters, local news created outrage on campus and in the community, leading to the formation of UB CLEAR, the Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research.

At the start of his lecture, Professor Nelson cited UB CLEAR's success in getting a conversation started in the Buffalo community, and helping get the national conversation started. He said "This is a really, important story and I think that UB CLEAR has helped give it national visibility." 

Threats to Academic Freedom
In his book, No University Is an Island, Nelson lists threats to academic freedom, including diminished or dysfunctional shared governance. 

During his lecture, Professor Nelson said "I think shared governance here at UB needs some work. Complete shared governance would have produced a more accurate relationship between the Shale Institute mission statement and its personnel."

Nelson added that the UB President follows the lowest standards on conflicts of interest available, and that it would be better to follow the highest standards. He said "Point in Case: you can not evaluate the fracking industry if they are paying you, or have paid you in the past."

In terms of the Shale Institute, he said "what was needed was disclosure of at least five years of relevant industry support." Disclosure in the report itself could be abbreviated, and supplemented through a website link included in the report.


Should the Shale Institute be shut down?
A member of the SUNY Board of Trustees stated earlier that the Shale Institute should be shut down.

Nelson said "Personally, I'd want to reconstitute it, or I'd want to identify it as a unit to promote economic relations between the university and the fracking industry, and strip away its academic identity, which I don't think it has upheld in a credible way."

He added, "So, if you want to keep something that provides a dynamic relationship with fracking, make it what it is! You know, a promotional enterprise, an ad campaign for the fracking industry, rather than something that pretends to be a vehicle for disinterested research."

"I don't think as it's presently constituted that it is fulfilling its mission. I think that you have work to do to correct that problem in the way which you see best," Nelson said. 


"Obviously, disinterested research can be done, given the subject matter," Nelson said. "And obviously given the pressure to increase exploitation of shale oil and gas in the country, there need to be university voices on the matter."

"I think the [Faculty] Senate should take an interest, if they're going to do it, in having more diversity of opinion making certain that there are multiple sites of shale industry research that are independent of one another on campus, rather than one high profile site with a particular ideological bent," Nelson said.

Commentary
I would add here that the desire to connect with industry needs to come from full-time faculty experts who are earnestly interested in performing objective research for the benefit of society and in publishing it peer-reviewed, academic journals. 

Instead, the Shale Institute's deep connections to industry arose from a UB dean (Pitman) interested in raising funds (including gas industry funds) to build a new program, a part-time UB geologist (Jacobi) who is a consultant and former employee of the gas industry, and a lobbyist/employee of the shale gas industry (Holbrook) who is a former co-worker of the UB geologist. In this setting, who better to help raise industry funds, to serve as director of the new Shale Institute, and to act as principle author of the first report than oil and gas industry consultant, John P. Martin?

Improper Administrative Defense of Shale Institute Report 
In reference to the Shale Institute's first report, Nelson said "I don't think that the Administrative defense of the report has also been, by any means, proper or appropriate." 

"One of my arguments about full FCOI [financial conflict of interest] disclosure on a public website is that an administrator can just go to the website and type in the name of the person or persons involved in the report and see what their history of funding is, on a paper or public presentation, and recognize whether some skepticism is appropriate."

"I assume with FCOI disclosure, UB would have been less likely to issue press releases celebrating [the report], or defending it in the press," Nelson said.

According to Professor Nelson, part of the advantage of FCOI disclosure is that it prevents administrators from making mistakes and being deceived by the caliber and independence of the report.

"I'm assuming that, to some degree, administrators here erred in good faith, that they were perhaps bamboozled. But by recognizing the degree of the history of involvement by the authors of the report ... they wouldn't have been willing to get behind it," he said.

An Academic Crisis and an Opportunity

Professor Nelson thinks that the local crisis around the Shale Institute is "a wake-up call that can get more energized faculty working in the [Faculty] Senate" and for the Faculty Senate to "take a more aggressive role in program oversight."

"It almost never happens without a crisis," Nelson said. He added that "UB CLEAR helped create the crisis. It helped create the knowledge base that makes people aware that a crisis has occurred."

Nelson emphasized that the weakening of the Faculty Senate and relatively passive faculties follow a national pattern, not just a local problem at UB. He said that "it accompanies a more centralized administration and a diminution of faculty role."

But Nelson sees an opportunity that could emerge from the crisis. With enough solidarity, he thinks "the [Faculty] Senate can revive itself in months." He's hopeful that the crisis produces that in order to "redress the balance of academic oversight, which the institution needs."

So what should You DO when the Devil offers you a Deal?
In reply to his own question, Professor Nelson said "You should say no. But,the history of demonic-academic collaboration suggests faculty members might need just a little help in resisting temptation."


UB Shut Down the Industry-Biased Shale Institute

By David Kowalski, UB CLEAR ~

On October 28, the UB Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research, UB CLEAR, sent the SUNY Trustees a comprehensive document detailing the many mis-steps made by the Shale Resources and Society Institute (a.k.a. Shale Institute) and the refusal of the UB Administration to recognize those mis-steps. The document urged the Trustees to close the Shale Institute.

Two letters to the editor were published by UB CLEAR members recently in the University at Buffalo newspaper, the UB Reporter. One on October 25 is entitled "Research integrity compromised in shale institute study" by David Kowalski and another on November 8 is called "Publicize shale documents" by Jim Holstun. 

On November 5, visiting Professor Cary Nelson lectured at UB on academic-industry relationships and didn't mince his words. In reference to the Shale Institute's first report, he said "I don't think that the Administrative defense of the report has been, by any means, proper or appropriate." 

On November 14, the Public Accountability Initiative informed the SUNY Trustees about a number of important omissions and obfuscations in the UB Administration's report on the Shale Institute in a detailed report with attached documents. “UB administrators have not been transparent with the public or with the UB community throughout this ordeal, and now they are not being transparent with SUNY trustees,” said Kevin Connor, PAI’s director.

On November 15, a UB CLEAR petition urging the SUNY Trustees to shut down the UB Shale Institute was launched through CREDO. It rapidly accumulated over 10,000 signatures!

Today, we at UB CLEAR were pleasantly surprised to learn that UB decided to shut down the Shale Institute!  
 

The Shale Institute website has been shut down, but the link to the controversial first report by the Institute is still active.

The UB press release is below.

UB Closes Shale Resources and Society Institute 

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- In a letter to the campus community, University at Buffalo President Satish K. Tripathi today announced his decision to close the Shale Resources and Society Institute, effective immediately.

The decision follows an internal assessment of the institute by Tripathi, Provost Charles Zukoski and E. Bruce Pitman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

The university will continue to pursue research in the area of energy and the environment, leveraging faculty expertise across the university, but it will focus its research more broadly to establish "a comprehensive program of scholarship and education with appropriate breadth and complexity," Tripathi said.

Tripathi noted that UB's policies for disclosure of significant financial interests and sources of support are strong and consistent with federal guidelines. To further clarify UB's policies, the university has established a committee with participation of its Faculty Senate.

The full text of UB President Tripathi's letter is below:

Giving Thanks for Family, Friends, Food, and More

~ Thursday, November 22, 2012 ~

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!
 
Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving (1943).

What are You thankful for?
 

Accelerating the Implementation of Renewable Energy

 7:30 p.m., Monday, November 26
 Daemen College, 4380 Main Street, Amherst, Room 336, 
Duns Scotus Hall

Free and Open to the Public
Keynote Speaker:
  • Bill Nowak, Sierra Club Energy Committee member, Author of Clean Energy –FIT Report
Panelists 
  • Dave Hahn Baker, Environmental and Political Consultant 
  • Ellen Banks, Professor, Psychology, Daemen College 
  • Sarah Carpenter, Sustainability Major, Daemen College
Moderator
  • Walter Simpson, energy educator, Daemen College Instructor (www.energyreallymatters.com)
Printable Flier and Map: Click Here

Scientists have been telling us that global warming is likely to result in increasingly devastating extreme weather events as we continue to burn fossil fuels and add more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere.  Superstorm Sandy is a horrific example of the type of extreme weather that is in store for us. But how can we respond effectively and achieve a clean energy economy with all due speed?  While renewable energy resources like wind and solar are said to be our future, the deployment of these technologies has been painfully slow despite existing government programs and incentives.  This public discussion will examine how a Feed-in Tariff (FIT) could speed up the transition from fossil fuels to renewables within a timeframe consistent with addressing climate change and providing needed green jobs.  In the last three years a Clean Energy FIT program has created more than 22,000 green jobs in Ontario!  Why not in New York?!

This panel discussion is presented as part of the Alternative & Renewable Energy Issues course in Daemen's Global & Sustainability program.  For information on this exciting new major and minor, visit www.daemen.edu/sustainability.  For more information about the panel discussion, wsimpson@daemen.edu or 839-0062.
 

Monday, November 12, 2012

What Global Warming Looked Like Before SANDY

We dump billions of tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere each year. Excess carbon dioxide traps excess heat in the atmosphere. Excess heat causes heat waves, droughts, higher ocean temperatures, and sea-level rise and leads to extreme storms.

This year's extreme weather follows last year's.
The twelve months from July 2011 to June 2012 were the hottest on record for the United States. Texas saw its hottest and driest summer on record in 2011 by a wide margin, and research published recently shows that carbon pollution dramatically increased the probability of such extreme heat and drought. The data are in. This is what global warming looked like before SANDY. 



And then came Superstorm SANDY in late October 2012 ...



PUBLIC FORUM: Shift to Clean, Renewable Energy

Superstorm SANDY has a message:
Clean, Renewable Energy Now! 
The League of Women Voters and the Sierra Club-Niagara Group are presenting a forum to offer a plan, in the aftermath of Sandy, for how we can use FITs *(Feed-In Tariffs) to transform our energy system from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energies right now and creates good jobs in the process.

TIME:   Wednesday, November 14, 2012; 4:30 pm – 6:15 pm
PLACE: Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave, Buffalo.
The event is free and open to the public.

PROGRAM: The forum will explain how FITs work, and why, in the aftermath of Sandy, they are the best method for rapidly bringing new business and new jobs to a region along with promoting clean, renewable energy. 

Bill Nowak, a member of the Sierra Club Energy Committee and author of the Clean Fit Report, will present a PowerPoint on FITs to kickoff the forum. A panel with representatives from labor, business and environmental groups will follow.
   
Panelists include Peter Black, Director, Brant Renewable Energy, Ontario, CA; Thomas Fleckenstein, Co-Founder, Niagara Wind & Solar, Niagara Falls, NY; and Frank Hotchkiss, United Steelworkers, District 4; Representative and Political Coordinator. A demonstration project for a FIT in Western New York, as proposed by the Sierra Club Niagara and the United Steelworkers, will be discussed as well.

Parking is free in the adjacent Burchfield Penney lot, and in the Psych Center lot next door, which is accessible from Elmwood.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Don't let lessons of Hurricane Sandy pass us by!

Counter:Act Climate Change
From Ross Gould ~
Air & Energy Program Director,
Environmental Advocates of New York.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, our state is beginning to transition from recovery to rebuilding. And we all have to question: what did Sandy teach us?

Governor Cuomo has called climate change our new reality. Join Environmental Advocates of New York to pressure the Governor and his state agencies to turn their rhetoric into sound environmental policies that will keep New Yorkers safe amidst an increasingly unpredictable climate.

Governor Cuomo holds all the cards. And while many of his agencies will play a role in the months and years ahead, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is the primary advocate for green energy and infrastructure development.

Join us to urge Governor Cuomo and NYSERDA to take action. Climate change deniers will do everything they can to prevent progress, so the administration needs to know there are thousands of New Yorkers that want them to take bold action. We need you to add your voice to ours and call for the state to take bold steps forward.
Act now! There are two easy ways to do it—you can use Facebook, or you can pick up the phone.
  1. Log into Facebook.
      
  2. Go to Governor Cuomo’s Facebook post.
      
  3. Post the following comment, or a personalized comment to show your concern:
      
    Governor Cuomo, will you act now to fight climate change and prepare New York for future storms by investing in green energy and modernizing our infrastructure?
      
  4. Go to NYSERDA’s Facebook wall.
      
  5. Post the following comment, or a personalized comment to show your concern:
      
    Will we act now to fight climate change and prepare New York for future storms by investing in green energy and modernizing our infrastructure?
If you’re not on Facebook, you can call Governor Cuomo’s office at (518) 474-8390 and NYSERDA at 1-866-NYSERDA.
We cannot let the lessons of Hurricane Sandy pass us by!
Thank you for all that you do!

TAKE ACTION: Petition for Clean, Renewable, Wind Power

With Congress expected to vote on the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) extension during the “lame duck” session following the elections, now is the time for our industry and our allies to emphasize to our elected officials that wind power serves in the country’s strategic interest.

We ask you to take a moment to sign our petition to Congress that does just that – urges a PTC extension as a strategic move for the U.S.

The PTC is an effective tool to encourage development of proven renewable energy projects.  Equipped with the PTC, the wind industry has driven over $15 billion of private investments into the U.S. economy in each of the past five years, and has grown the U.S. manufacturing sector to include nearly 500 wind-related facilities.  With the PTC set to expire on December 31st, 37,000 wind industry jobs and over $10 billion of related private investments are at risk.

Let's power our homes and businesses with more of this plentiful homegrown energy.

Please encourage your colleagues, friends, and family to sign this petition as well.  We’re looking to gather an impressive number of signatures by November 12th, and release this petition just as our legislators are returning to D.C.

Your support will help to keep this issue on the front burner!  Many thanks for your support!

Sincerely,

Peter Kelley, Vice President, Public Affairs
American Wind Energy Association

GObike Buffalo hosts Buffalo’s 1st Annual 'Cranksgiving'

On Saturday, November 17th, Buffalo joins 33 other U.S. cities for Cranksgiving--a fun-filled event that is both a bike race and food drive! While the event has been going and growing since its inception in New York City in 1999, this is the first time the event will be held in Buffalo.

Beginning at 1pm in Lafayette Square, participants will race around the city to get items from a list of goods that will be donated to Food Not Bombs, a group of people who gather and prepare food that they share with the community at large.


Participants are asked to bring a bike (any bike will do), a lock, helmet, and $10 to $15 to purchase the food items on the list. Riders will be given options for where they purchase each item, and will have to visit a mandatory number of stores to reach their goal at the GObike Community Workshop in North Buffalo.


The race ends with a party at the GObike Buffalo Community Workshop at 98 Colvin Ave. A party at 3pm will be free for riders. Non-riders are asked to bring 4 non-perishable food items or $5 to get in. Snacks and refreshments will be served.


Trophies will be awarded to fastest single rider, best bargain shopper, and fastest team.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Panel Discussion: Ending Coal Burning in Western NY

7:30 p.m., Monday, November 12, 
Daemen College,
4380 Main Street, Amherst,
Room 336, Duns Scotus Hall
Free and Open to the Public 
Panelists:
  • Penny Messinger, Ph.D., Associate Professor, History and Government Department, Daemen College
  • Rebecca Newberry, Program Coordinator, Clean Air Coalition of WNY (www.cacwny.org);
  • Kenzie Reynen, Global and Local Sustainability Major, Daemen College 
  • Jennifer Tuttle, Organizer, Sierra Club New York Beyond Coal Campaign (www.beyondcoal.org). 
The moderator is Walter Simpson (www.energyreallymatters.com) who will begin the session with a presentation on how activists helped prevent the construction of a new coal plant in Jamestown, NY.  The discussion will then turn to the fate of Western New York’s four existing coal plants. 

Printable Flyer and Map: Click Here 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Coalition Urges SUNY Trustees to Close UB Shale Institute

 
After reviewing the University at Buffalo’s report to the SUNY Board of Trustees on its recently-created Shale Institute (a.k.a. the Shale Resources and Society Institute), UB CLEAR, an organization of University at Buffalo (UB) faculty, staff, students, and supporters called on the Board to:
  • Make public all documents related to founding, funding, and governance of the Shale Institute
  • Formally recall the Institute’s first publication
  • Close the Shale Institute
In a comprehensive 14-page response to the University at Buffalo report, UB CLEAR detailed the many missteps the Shale Institute made – and the refusal of the UB Administration to recognize these missteps in the report to the SUNY Board of Trustees.

Among their criticisms of the Shale Institute:

  • The Institute’s founding lecture series was underwritten and tainted by secret oil and gas company money, and it’s present and future funding remains mysterious.
  • The Shale Institute’s directors have conflicts of interest between their academic work and their extensive consulting work with oil and gas companies.
  • The Institute offers corporate donors an improper governance role and privileged access.
  • The Institute’s initial publication was and continues to be marred by false claims of peer review, undisclosed corporate ties of the authors, an unscholarly pro-fracking agenda, and major factual errors, never acknowledged or corrected.
“Making mistakes isn’t the issue—mistakes are a given for scholars,” said Jim Holstun, Professor of English at University at Buffalo and Chair of UB CLEAR. “But doggedly standing by mistakes, as have the authors and UB administrators, carries us from the realm of rigorous and legitimate scholarship to the realm of public relations and policy advocacy.” 

“It is time for UB administrators remember that they are employees of the citizens of New York, not PR flacks for potential corporate donors with no genuine interest in education and scholarship,” added Holstun.  

In April 2012, the University at Buffalo formed the Shale Resources and Society Institute. The Shale Institute came under fire in May, when it rushed out a pro-hydrofracking report without benefit of peer review.  University of Buffalo professors have questioned the independence of the Institute, a review by the Public Accountability Initiative revealed fundamental errors in the report, and news accounts detailed undisclosed ties of its authors to the oil and gas industry. On 12 September, the SUNY Board of Trustees directed the University at Buffalo Administration to report on the Shale Institute. On 27 September, UB President Satish K. Tripathi delivered his report to the Trustees.

UB Administration's claims that no concerns were raised by "the relevant scientific community" about the report or the data used in developing the report’s conclusion were addressed in a letter to the editor of the university's newspaper by David Kowalski, Professor Emeritus in the Cellular & Molecular Biology Program, Roswell Park Graduate Division of UB, and member of UB CLEAR.

In the letter, Kowalski indicated that objectivity of UB Shale Institute report was compromised in favor of the gas industry and existing state regulations. He stated that the report should have been peer reviewed through an academic journal. "Scientists rely on the rigorous and critical peer-review process to ensure research integrity," he said. "The authors should have been held to the same high standards of peer review as the UB faculty."

About UB CLEAR - Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research:
UB CLEAR is a coalition of University at Buffalo faculty, students, alums, and other community members who have been working together since May to bring transparency to the Shale Institute. Today, 29 October, they formally responded to the UB administration in a comprehensive and thoroughly-documented report sent to the SUNY Trustees: “UB CLEAR Response to the 27 September Report by UB President Satish K. Tripathi regarding UB’s Shale Resources and Society Institute.” They charge that the UB administration report is evasive and non-responsive to the Trustees’ request, providing yet another example of pro-fracking propaganda in academic guise.


Illinois Professor & Author to Speak on Academic-Industry Relationships at UB

"What to DO When 
the Devil Offers You a Deal"
A Lecture By
Professor Cary Nelson
Monday, November 5, at 3:00PM
UB Law School 
Room 108, O'Brian Hall [Map]

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Cary Nelson is a former President of the National Association of University Professors (AAUP - 2006-2012), and is a Professor in the Department of English at the University of Illinois, Urbana. 

Professor Nelson writes: 
"For more than fifty years public understanding of the relationship between doubt and certainty in science has been shaped by fraudulent collaborations between industry and their university partners. Good university research has often been misrepresented and had its impact reduced as a result. It is time to set the record straight and honor principles that promote good practices."

Professor Nelson is author of the book No University Is an Island: Saving Academic Freedom, and a co-author of the AAUP’s important recent study, Recommended Principles & Practices to Guide Academic-Industry Relationships (13 June 2012; 268 pp.) The report begins with a sixteen-page “Summary of Recommendations.”

Lecture Sponsors: UB Coalition for Leading Ethically in Academic Research (UB CLEAR), UB Joint Committee on Research and Scholarship, Baldy Center for Law and Social Justice, UB UUP.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Shale Institute Study Compromised Research Integrity

Letter to the Editor of the UB Reporter
By David Kowalski ~

In addressing the controversial UB shale institute study, Provost Zukoski stated, “It’s important to note that no concerns regarding the report have been raised by the relevant scientific community.” President Tripathi stated in a report to SUNY Chancellor Zimpher and the SUNY Trustees that “No concerns were raised by the relevant scientific community about the data used in developing the report’s conclusion.”

I am a scientist (professor emeritus, Roswell Park Cancer Institute), a UB research professor and an experienced peer reviewer. I have reviewed the study by the UB shale institute (Shale Resources and Society Institute) entitled “Environmental Impacts during Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling: Causes, Impacts, and Remedies.” My comments are below.

The authors listed academic affiliations in the study, but no industry ties. John P. Martin, institute director, owns a consulting company that produces public relations reports for oil and gas interests, and two co-authors have received past support from gas-industry groups. The authors’ gas-industry ties raise concern about conflicts of interest.

The objectivity of the study was compromised in favor of the gas industry and existing state regulations. The authors’ conclusion that major environmental events per gas well were declining in Pennsylvania was not drawn from their data. Based on the data, the rate of major environmental events actually increased by 36 percent in the period studied. This information was not displayed in the graphs shown. The increased rate of major environmental events and the fact that the study made no attempt to demonstrate a cause-and-effect relationship between state regulations and environmental events invalidates the study’s conclusions that the “odds of major environmental events are being reduced even further by enhanced regulation” (p.iii), and that “the percentage of wells resulting in a major environmental event declined significantly, an indicator that the attention of regulators was focused on the areas of greatest concern (p.30).

The authors’ conclusions on cause and effect directly contradict a statement in the results section of the study: “While difficult to conclusively illustrate causation between regulatory actions and decreases in environmental violations, the history of regulations in Pennsylvania suggests such a relationship may exist.” (p.15)

The following statement is pure speculation and not a valid conclusion: “Findings indicate that each of the underlying causes associated with these specific events could have been either entirely avoided or mitigated under New York State’s proposed regulatory framework” (p.iii and a related statement on p.30).

Scott Anderson, senior policy advisor for the Environmental Defense Fund’s Energy Program, was one of the reviewers selected by the authors. After the study’s release, he wrote: “While I was a reviewer, this does not mean that all of my suggestions were taken or that I agree with all of the report’s opinions and conclusions.” He added: “Caution should be exercised with regards to some of the conclusions.”

Later, the shale institute authors released a revised version of the study with minor changes. However, they did not correct the invalid conclusions described above. 

Originally, the authors claimed incorrectly that the study was “peer-reviewed,” giving it an aura of scientific authenticity that it did not deserve. That claim helped attract media attention to the study’s invalid conclusions, resulting in misleading newspaper headlines and reports. The “peer-reviewed” claim was retracted by UB after the press release, but the damage in the newspapers had already been done. 

At this critical time in determining policies on fracking in New York State and the nation, it is outrageous that invalid conclusions in the study were made public and promptly cited as an authoritative source in Congress to influence policymakers. 

The shale institute aims to attract funding from various sources, including the oil-and-gas industry. Would the industry fund studies that did not prove its case? Will UB be vigilant enough to prevent promises of industry funding from dictating the institute’s conclusions?

Reports from the provost and the president cited above upheld the shale institute’s use of an “open peer-review method” for the “self-published” study.

However, open review of the institute study was ineffective. Reviewers who identified invalid conclusions have no power to enforce revision or rejection of the self-published study.

The shale institute study should have been peer-reviewed through an academic journal. In this case, if reviewers identify invalid conclusions, the journal editor has the power to enforce revision or rejection of the study for publication.

Scientists rely on the rigorous and critical peer-review process to ensure research integrity. The objectivity of the UB shale institute study was compromised. The authors should have been held to the same high standards of peer review as the UB faculty.

Published in the UB Reporter: Oct. 25, 2012

Post Comments to the letter at the UB Reporter website. The link is here.

Public Forum on Promoting Clean, Renewable Energy

Good Jobs, Good Business & Clean, Renewable Energy:

A Perfect Fit* for Western New York!

The League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara and the Sierra Club-Niagara Group are presenting a forum to discuss FITs* (Feed-in-Tariffs). The forum will explain how FITs work, and why they are the best method for rapidly bringing new business and new jobs to a region along with promoting renewable energy. The forum will also include a panel with representatives from labor, business and environmental groups. A demonstration project for a FIT in WNY as proposed by the Sierra Club Niagara Group and the United Steel Workers will be discussed as well.

Come find out why a growing coalition of labor, business, environmental and community organizations are joining forces to bring a FIT (or Feed-in-Tariff) to WNY and how a FIT would work.


The forum will be held:
Wednesday, November 14  from 4:30 pm - 6:15 pm at the
Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo State College Campus
1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo


This event is free and open to the public.

Parking is free in the adjacent Burchfield Penney lot, and in the Psych Center lot next door, which is accessible from Elmwood Ave.


A printable flyer is here.

*A FIT, or Feed-in-Tariff, provides a fair and long-term price for renewable energy production, providing a stable market for investment in the renewable energy business and industrial supply chain. The Fixed price reflects the cost of producing the energy plus a reasonabile rate of return and the long term market stability has proven to generate good jobs in over 80 jurisdictions worldwide. A FIT was successfully implemented in Ontario and to date has created more than 22,000 jobs and attracted more than $20 billion in investment. A FIT provides an incentive for anyone - from homeowners to farmers to schools to large energy producers - to invest in wind, solar, biomass and/or geothermal.

Naomi Davis, Celebrated Chicago Environmentalist, to Speak

WNYEA AND "THE GET THE RUST OUT" SPEAKER SERIES PRESENT: NAOMI DAVIS

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2012 (1:00PM - 2:00PM)

The University at Buffalo Clinical and Translational Research Center

875 Ellicott St.
Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Fifth Floor Atrium
Buffalo, NY
Celebrated Chicago Environmentalist, Naomi Davis serves as a bridge and catalyst among communities and their stakeholders in the design and development of green, self-sustaining, mixed- income, walkable-villages within black neighborhoods. She is author of The 8 Principles of Green-Village-Building™ -- a whole-system solution for the whole-system problems common to black communities everywhere – which she presents in lectures, workshops around the country, and teaches at the University of Chicago Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture. Together with its precursor Grannynomics,™ green-village-building addresses the terrible triplets of pollution, poverty, and plutocracy.
For more information, please contact info@growwny.org .

EVENT: Voters In, Money Out - Reclaiming our Democracy

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Public Forum: Leasing Land for Shale Gas Hydrofracking

SPEAKERS:  Joseph Heath, Esq. and Michael Bosetti

WHEN:   Monday, November 26, 6:00 PM
WHERE: Little Valley Memorial Library, 110 Rock City St., Little Valley, NY

Considering signing a gas lease?
Concerned about hydrofracking?
Want to learn more about your current gas lease?
Interested in terminating your gas lease?


Sometimes gas companies make drilling in a community sound benign and risk-free, but unfortunately, that is not always the case. New gas leases can be vastly different from our grandpa’s gas lease, and even old leases signed years ago could permit dangerous shale drilling techniques. New drilling techniques in to deep Marcellus and Utica shale layers involve toxic chemical injection into the land under homes, woods, farms, and water wells. As can be seen in Pennsylvania, this has made gas leasing very risky, creating the potential for air, water, and land pollution, and transformation of peaceful residential and agricultural areas in to industrial zones.

This Gas Lease Public Forum is free and opened to all, and will feature presentations from Joseph Heath, Esq. and Michael Bosetti. Joseph Heath is a long-time environmental attorney and general counsel for the Onondaga Nation who has taught communities all over New York about terminating gas leases and managing the questionable ways gas companies seek to extend old leases. Michael Bosetti will share his account of going against the gas company and successfully fighting a pre-existing lease on his property. Join us for this educational program on the pitfalls of gas leases and the process of lease termination!

Sponsored by: Concerned Citizens of Cattaraugus County, WNY Drilling Defense, and Food & Water Watch.

For more information, contact Rita at 716-507-2077 or ryelda@fwwatch.org

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Clean Natural Gas? Exploring the Challenge of Hydrofracking

7:30 p.m., Monday, October 29
Daemen College
4380 Main Street, Amherst
Room 336, Duns Scotus Hall

Free and Open to the Public

Film

  • The Sky is Pink by Josh Fox and the Gasland Team
Panelists
  • Scott Sackett, President, Skipping Stone Pictures
  • Joseph Currier, Mathematics Major, Daemen College
Moderator 
Pintable Flyer & Map: Click Here 

For years natural gas has been regarded as a clean fuel but no longer.  Drilling for gas in deep shale formations using hydraulic fracturing technology has changed everything. Can fracking be done in an environmentally responsible way, as suggested by an abundance of TV ads?  Or is it too risky?  And do cleaner alternatives exist?  This panel discussion will address these questions and explain the role of citizen action and media in shaping natural gas public policy.

This panel discussion is presented as part of the Alternative & Renewable Energy Issues course in Daemen's Global & Sustainability program.  For information on this exciting new major and minor, visit www.daemen.edu/sustainability.  For more information about the panel discussion, wsimpson@daemen.edu or 839-0062.