Tuesday, February 26, 2013

NEW SOLUTIONS: Concerns Related to Shale Gas Extraction

The journal New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy has just released a special issue. It covers concerns related to shale gas extraction with respect to scientific, economic, social, environmental and health policy.

The issue opens with an Editorial entitled "An Energy Policy that Provides Clean and Green Power" by Craig Slatin and Charles Levenstein. They write:
  Now shale gas extraction conducted through the technological process commonly referred to as “fracking” is touted by the oil and gas industry as the next great energy boon. They tell us that gas will be so plentiful that it will answer all of our energy-related problems. Best yet, it will end the unemployment crisis that lingers past the Great Recession, leading to millions of jobs over the next several decades. Its promoters claim that we can have energy independence and a fuel that burns cleaner than coal—while they spread denial that the threat of catastrophic climate change is real or has much to do with human activity.

Let’s not be deceived: shale gas extraction will neither fulfill the prophesies nor be useful in the transition to just, democratic, and ecologically sustainable economies across the globe. It is business as usual. It is owned and operated by industries with more than a century’s legacy of greed, corruption, war provocation, pollution, illness, injury and death, environmental degradation, and a steady stream of propaganda and lobbying to limit its regulation by governments.
One claim of industry propaganda is backed by a reference to a publication from an independent source. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) reported that the Marcellus Shale deposit “contains about 84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas," a figure which is 80 percent less than that supplied to the U.S. Energy Information Agency by industry consultants.

The Editorial concludes with a call for the need of a national energy policy that addresses climate change and protects human health and welfare:
Whatever short-term assistance the American economy gains from the continued use of fossil fuels, the highest priority must be placed on establishing a national energy policy, coordinated with an international set of energy policies, that aims for immediate measures to avert catastrophic climate change and establish a transition toward producing and delivering clean, green, and sufficient energy as part of the foundation for sustainable development. Attention to the health and welfare of workers and communities affected by these changes must be an essential priority of this new energy policy.

This special issue of New Solutions was organized by guest editors Robert Oswald, a Cornell professor, and Michelle Bamberger, a practicing veternarian. Many will recognize these individuals as the authors of a 2012 report entitled “Impacts of Gas Drilling on Human and Animal Health." Oswald and Bamberger also wrote the introduction for the special issue.

Eleven articles in the issue cover scientific, economic, social, environmental and health policy. Authors include experts, such as Jannette Barth, Wilma Subra and Ronald Bishop, who have testified on aspects of shale gas extraction before the New York State legislature. Also, Anthony Ingraffea, Cornell professor of civil and environmental engineering, is interviewed in one of the articles.  

The entire issue spans 221 pages and the PDF is available here.

New Solutions: A Journal of Environmental and Occupational Health Policy  seeks to deliver "authoritative responses to perplexing problems, with a worker’s voice, an activist’s commitment, a scientist’s approach, and a policy-maker’s experience." Journal articles are "written for both the academic and educated lay audience." Its the Journal intention "to affect the public health policy discussion and shake up the policy debate." Articles are peer reviewed using a process described here.

Conference Scholarships for Building Local Economies

Entrepreneurship Fund Scholarships for the 2013 BALLE Conference in Buffalo  
Buffalo First! has created a fund to allow at least 15 entrepreneurs from the city of Buffalo to attend the 2013 BALLE Conference at no cost, to explore how local ownership, social enterprise, and collaboration between businesses and communities can improve economic justice and generate real, lasting prosperity for all people. Business Alliance for Local Economies (BALLE) and Buffalo First! seek scholarship applicants who will contribute to the diversity of the Localism movement and who might not otherwise be able to attend the BALLE conference. BALLE and Buffalo First! are equal opportunity organizations, and yet we recognize that economic opportunity is not currently equal. To this end, this fund targets applicants of economic need in Buffalo from communities currently underrepresented in the localism movement, including communities of color, low-income communities, and women-led businesses.

The Scholarship Includes:
Free registration to the BALLE main conference ($595 value), including conference programming and all meals and evening celebrations for Wednesday night, June 12 through Friday night, June 14, 2013.

Application Process Deadline:
Please download the application here. To be eligible, please complete and submit the application by 11:00 PM Eastern Time on Friday, April 19, 2013. Questions and completed applications should be emailed to scholarships@bealocalist.org. Please list "Buffalo Entrepreneurship Fund Application" in the subject line. We will let you know once your application has been received, and will inform you on or before May 3, 2013 whether you will be awarded a scholarship.

Register for RIVERKEEPER Spring Shoreline Cleanup

Each year, over 2,000 volunteers remove 20 tons of harmful trash and debris for our waterways. Sign up to volunteer using the links below and join with your fellow community members to help protect our fresh water resources. Please register for the Saturday, April 20th Cleanup (9am-noon). Registration is now open at the Buffalo Niagara RIVERKEEPER website (link below).

Regular Volunteer Registration Click Here
Regular volunteers can register to clean up one of over 40 sites. On the morning of the cleanup, volunteers will meet the Site Captain at the designated meeting place at their site.

Site Captain Registration Click Here
Site Captains are the volunteer leaders for each site. The Site Captain is responsible for attending one Site Captain training where they will learn how to lead a cleanup site and pick up all materials and supplies for the cleanup. These trainings will be held on Thursday April 11, from 6-7PM and Saturday April 13, from 10-11AM at the RIVERKEEPER office. In addition, they must visit their site prior to the cleanup to investigate what spots need the most help. On the morning of the event, Site Captains will meet their volunteers, and lead the cleanup at their site.

Volunteer Appreciation Party
All Volunteers and Site Captains that participate in the cleanup are invited to the Volunteer Appreciation Party that will be held directly following the cleanup from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM Saturday April 20, at the Marcy Casino in Delaware Park, 199 Lincoln Parkway Buffalo NY, 14222. RIVERKEEPER will provide all guests with a healthy lunch and there will be raffle prize drawings. Hawk Creek Wildlife Center will be on site with live animals that will enable guests to learn about the native wildlife that relies on our waterways. Please RSVP for the party when you fill out your online registration form. We hope to see you there!

Questions? Contact Chris Murawski by email at cmurawski@bnriverkeeper.org

Friday, February 15, 2013

CLEAN AIR COALITION: Community-Wide Meeting to Rank Health Risks

Learn about Local Air Pollution and Health Impacts:
  • Find out how many millions of pounds of toxic carcinogens were released into your backyard last year
  • Read through Department of Environmental Conservation's documents on facilities in YOUR neighborhood
  • Learn the results of 1 years worth of environmental health research completed by residents and our university partners - the results may astound you.    
Vote on Clean Air Coalition Agenda to Reduce Air Pollution:
On February 20th we will reveal the results of a year of community led research. We want to hear from YOU. Tell us what needs to change. Your vote will set our agenda to reduce toxics in Tonawanda.
WHEN: Wednesday, February 20th at 6:30pm
WHERE: American Legion, Brounshidle Post #2              
3354 Delaware Ave. Kenmore, NY 14217 
(corner of Delaware Ave. & Brendan Ave. -- see MAP)

For more information contact Rebecca at 716-852-3813m, or visit the Clean Air Coalition Website
Are you on Facebook? RSVP online here

See also this article:  "State study finds elevated levels of cancer, birth defects along Tonawanda’s industrial corridor" in The Buffalo News

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Incomplete Health Review Delays NY Fracking Decision

Health review needs “additional time”; Fracking deadline expected to be missed (UPDATED)
By Jon Campbell
February 12, 2013

The state’s top health regulator on Tuesday signaled he would need more time to complete his review of large-scale hydraulic fracturing, but the head of the Department of Environmental Conservation says it may delay a decision on fracking for weeks, not months.

State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah wrote in a letter Tuesday that his review of the health impacts of fracking will “require additional time to complete based on the complexity of the issues.”

With Shah’s review still incomplete, the DEC will not be able to issue a dense, lengthy environmental impact statement on Wednesday—a requirement if the agency wishes to meet a Feb. 27 deadline for its regulations. If the DEC misses the late-February deadline, it would have to reintroduce the rules and open them to public comment for at least 45 days.

But in a separate statement issued Tuesday, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens indicated his agency would move forward with issuing fracking permits without regulations in place—if the health review doesn’t turn up any major issues.

“If the DOH Public Health Review finds that the (Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement) has adequately addressed health concerns, and I adopt the SGEIS on that basis, DEC can accept and process high-volume hydraulic fracturing permit applications 10 days after issuance of the SGEIS,” Martens said. “The regulations simply codify the program requirements.”

Shah wrote that his review will be completed “within a few weeks.”

Shah’s review was launched in late September, when he was tasked with determining if the DEC’s planned guidelines for fracking are adequate to protect public health.

In his letter to Martens Tuesday, Shah said his team is reviewing three outside, health-related studies that have been underway or are just being launched, including one by the University of Pennsylvania and another by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

He also revealed that he has extended agreements with three academic health consultants who have been assisting with his review. Last week, the three consultants revealed that their work had been completed several weeks ago.

“My team and I will be in Pennsylvania and Washington in the coming days for first-hand briefings on these studies and their progress, which will assist in informing the New York review,” Shah wrote in his letter to Martens.
The original article was posted at Politics on the Hudson

Monday, February 4, 2013

Climate Rally in DC - Reserve Bus Seat - See UPDATE

What: Forward on Climate Rally.
When: February 17, 2013 -- 12 Noon.
Where: Washington Monument on the National Mall, Washington DC.
Who: 350.org, The Sierra Club, Hip Hop Caucus and tens of thousands of Americans.

Sierra Club Niagara Group chartered a Bus
Leave Buffalo Saturday, February 16 at 11:15 PM. Return late Sunday or early Monday.
Cost $70/per person, full fare
$25 "Scholarship" seats are available to students, unemployed and low-income folks
Seating and scholarships are on a first paid/first served basis
so send in your check today! 
Make check out to “Sierra Club Niagara Group” and send to Sierra Club, 601 W Ferry Street, Buffalo, NY 14222
If you can’t go but can  afford to help, PLEASE send a donation today !

UPDATE 2/9/2013: Sierra Club is sending a SECOND BUS
Seats will be reserved on a first paid basis.
Checks payable to "Sierra Club Niagara Group" can be mailed or dropped off at the address above.
Alternatively, you can pay by credit card by going to VPSpay.com
Enter this Merchant Phone number 716-849-0140 and the Amount paid ($70 full, $25 scholarship).
Enter "Sierra Club Bus" in the Invoice box. A small service charge will be added.
An email will be sent automatically to the law office of Diane Ciurczak confirming your payment and your name will be entered on the bus list.

Donations are also accepted and should be entered as "Scholarship Donation".

For more information: dianeciurczak@yahoo.com or call 716-849-0140

BUS Departure: 11:15 p.m. Saturday, February 16, from the Park & Ride Lot on the University of Buffalo South Campus (Main St. near Kenmore Ave.)

BUS Return: late Sunday or early Monday. 

Contact Bill Nowak at 716-316-7674 or bill.nowakcwa@gmail.com for more information.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Buffalo Anti-Fracking Rally with NYS Assembly Members


Thursday, February 7th 10:45 am
Dept. of Environmental Conservation Office
270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo

It's a critical time in the fight against fracking. We need to voice to the Governor that the power of our movement is growing and that allowing fracking in New York would be the fatal mistake of his political career. We are now faced with a February 13 "do or die" deadline, before which we must convince the Governor to let the DEC's proposed fracking regulations expire.

This is why we need you to take to the streets on February 7, 2013 outside of the DEC Office in Buffalo as part of a statewide week of action to rally around the DEC's secretive, dysfunctional and undemocratic process. We need to fill the streets in a united front and demand that this fatally flawed process not move forward. You can bring your favorite anti-fracking sign or use one of ours. Our message to Governor Cuomo is this – we are organized and we will not let up or give up. BAN FRACKING NOW! 
We will rally with Buffalo Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Assembly Member Sean Ryan, NYPIRG, Citizen Action, and Food & Water Watch.
Contact Rita with questions, ryelda@fwwatch.org