Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Presentation: History and Future of Industrial Buffalo

“History of the Industrial City: Buffalo, Past, Present and Future.”

~ Presented by Clinton Brown ~

Our history starts with Niagara Falls- 400 years in 40 minutes!

Monday, February 4, 2013,  7:00pm-8:00pm.

Schenck Hall, Room 202,  Daemen College [Campus Map].

Free and open to the public.

Buffalo Niagara native Clinton Brown, FAIA, is the founder of Clinton Brown Company Architecture, a full service historic preservation architecture firm.  He is active on a number of local boards including the Richardson Center Corporation that is rehabilitating the Richardson Olmsted Center. 

For a printable flyer, Click Here.
Part of the Sustainability Lecture Series supported by Daemen College’s 
Global & Local Sustainability Program

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Obama Inaugural Addresses Climate Change -- Bill McKibben Reacts

Text of President Obama's Inaugural address on Climate Change:

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it. We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries – we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure – our forests and waterways; our croplands and snow-capped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.”

— President Barack Obama

Bill McKibben reacts to Obama Inaugural Address on Climate Change:
Bill McKibben, author, educator and climate activist, reacted to President Obama statements about climate change in an email message. McKibben's message is below (the emphasis is his):

"With words like that, it's easy to let ourselves dream that something major might be about to happen to fix the biggest problem the world has ever faced.

But we know that even if the President is sincere in every syllable, he's going to need lots of backup to help him get his point across in a city dominated by fossil fuel interests. And, given the record of the last four years, we know that too often rhetoric has yielded little in the way of results.

That's why we need you -- very badly -- to take a trip to our nation's capital on Feb. 17. We'll gather on the National Mall, in what is shaping up to be be the largest environmental rally in many years.

Click here to join us in DC:

Together we'll send the message loud and clear: 'If you're serious about protecting future generations from climate change, stop the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. If you can do that, Mr. President, we can all work together to help build a climate legacy that will be a credit to your critical eight years in office.'

Look -- numbers count. If 20,000 of us show up on February 17th, it will be noticed. We need you in that number. The President may have given us an opening, but it's up to us to go through it, and we need to do it together.

Thanks for all you've done to bring us this far, friends. Let's keep it up -- this is our chance."




Hop on the Bus to the Climate Rally & March in Washington DC! 

Sierra Club Niagara Group has chartered a Bus leaving Buffalo the evening of February 16 and returning directly after the rally. 

For information on bus tickets, Click Here.

Sign up to attend the Rally and get more information through the Sierra Club website.

Monday, January 21, 2013

COMMUNITY FORUM: Regional Vision and Values - Where Do We Want to Go?

Please join us and our partners as we launch One Region Forward, a new effort seeking to coordinate our region’s efforts towards creating a more sustainable economy, environment and community.
The creative contribution and informed support of the citizens of the Buffalo Niagara region is critical and we need to hear your voices as we chart this course.                                                                                                         
To learn how you can get involved and share your thoughts on the vision and values that should guide this effort, please join us at one of our two “Community Congress” meetings scheduled over the next few weeks.

If you are interested, please sign up to participate for one of the two events listed below:
*January 29th, 7-9pm, Asbury Church
*February 2nd, 2-4pm, Niagara Falls Conference Center

To learn more about the project, check out our website at

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Climate Rally & March in Washington DC -- Hop on the Bus!


Sunday, February 17, 2013
Washington D.C.

Rally on the National Mall and March to the White House

Sierra Club Niagara Group has chartered a Bus
leaving Buffalo the evening of February 16 and returning directly after the rally
Cost $70/per person.  Scholarships available.*

Email Linda or Sara at ( to reserve a space
Payment due by February 11, 2013 to hold your seat with checks payable to “Sierra Club Niagara Group” and mail to:
          More information:

*Fundraiser on Friday, February 8, 2013.  Music by Five to One at Sportsmen’s Tavern, 326 Amherst Street (12 doors west of Grant)  5:30pm–8:30pm   $5 cover ($2 to scholarship) and 50/50 split.

EVENT Sponsored by Sierra Club National and
What: The largest climate rally in history.
Where: The National Mall in Washington, D.C., including a march to the White House
When: February 17, 2013, Noon - 4:00 p.m. (please arrive by 11:30 a.m.)
Crippling drought. Devastating wildfires. Superstorm Sandy. Climate has come home -- and the American people get it.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Fracking Regulations: DEC gets Buried in Public Comments and Sued

~ Regulations elicit 200,000 comments and legal charges against DEC ~

Boxes of public comments delivered to DEC headquarters in Albany
Public Comments:
Groups opposed to shale gas drilling and fracking collected over 200,000 public comments in response to revised proposed regulations issued by the NY Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The combined effort of these citizen groups was remarkable given that the DEC restricted public comments to the busy holiday period from December 10, 2012 to January 11, 2013. The groups delivered many boxes of public comments at DEC headquarters on the last day of the comment period (click photo to enlarge).

Shown at the podium in the photo above is Sandra Steingraber, a biologist, author and founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking. She created a website, called Thirty Days of Fracking Regs, to help people compose comments on the DEC regulations and submit them. Using a clever "Advent Calendar" approach, each day, for the 30 day commenting period, she posted one regulation, which she translated into plain English and included some science relevant to that regulation. 

Public comments solicited independently by many other groups (listed below*) were also included in the over 200,000 responses. Comments from individuals, other organizations and elected officials have yet to be counted. 

- Protest: Governor Andrew Cuomo was silent on hydrofracking in his State of the State address on January 9, 2013, but anti-fracking protestors were not. Over a thousand protestors turned out to line the concourse of Albany's Empire State Plaza where lawmakers passed on their way to hear the governor's speech. The protestors expressed their views on fracking through chants and banners (see photos here).

- DEC Deadline: The DEC has a February 27th deadline to either finalize the planned hydrofracking rules or allow them to expire. State law mandates that the final environmental impact statement (the SGEIS) has to be released to the public first, at least 10 days in advance of the rules deadline. The DEC may have to signal a decision on hydraulic fracturing by February 13, 2013 if they hope to meet an end-of-the-month deadline for finalizing a set of proposed regulations, as reported here. Missing the regulatory deadline would require the state to restart the formal proceedings.

Legal Charges against the DEC:
The DEC did not hold a public hearing on the proposed regulations within 30 days of the publication date of the Notice, i.e., by January 11, 2013. It turns out that was illegal. This and other flaws are cited in a legal demand letter to the DEC and NYS Inspector General from the Community Environmental Defense Council, Inc. by David F. Slottje, Esq. and Helen H. Slottje, Esq.. The letter opens with the following statements:
This letter formally advises and notifies the Department of Environmental Conservation ("DEC") and the Office of the NYS Inspector General: (i) that the DEC has acted contrary to law and lawful procedure with respect to the matters described below; (ii) that the DEC's actions with respect to such matters were and are in excess of the DEC's jurisdiction and an abuse of the DEC's discretion; and (iii) that accordingly the DEC's actions as to such matters are invalid, null and void.
The full contents of the letter dated January 11, 2013 can be viewed here

Please consider donating to support the continuing efforts of the Community Environmental Defense Council.
* Groups submitting comments to the DEC included Thirty Days of Fracking Regs, Food and Water Watch, Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy, Frack Action, Artists against Fracking, CREDO, New Yorkers Against Fracking, 350, Sierra Club, Signon, Working Families Party, Center for Biological Diversity, Citizen Action, GreenPeace, Earth Justice, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and United for Action

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Public Forum: Alternative Energy in the Buffalo-Niagara Region

Business Gets Green Speaker Series
  • WHEN: Tuesday, January 15th, 5:30-7:00pm 
  • THIS MONTH’S TOPIC: “Alternative Energy in the Buffalo-Niagara Region”
 This event is free and open to the public

Representatives from three local companies in the renewable energy fields of solar, wind and geothermal power will present the obstacles and opportunities to advancing alternative energy systems in the Buffalo-Niagara region.

Featured Speakers:

Bill Nowak will speak on the Feed-In Tariff legislation and current developments in New York State to institute a better pricing system that promotes renewables. Bill will also touch upon the challenges for the company, Buffalo Geothermal in pushing through local geothermal projects. Check out more about Buffalo Geothermal here:

Bridget Reagan from Solar Liberty will come as a representative from our region’s largest solar panel installer. She will reveal what has helped made Solar Liberty successful and what needs to be improved upon to bring more solar energy potential to areas like Western New York. Check out more about Solar Liberty here:

Kean Stimm, President of Kean Wind Turbines, will present on a new wind power system that will revolutionize the viability of generating power by using wind. An emerging entrepreneur from the region, Kean will give attendees a glimpse into his current challenges and opportunities in getting his company off the ground. Check out more about Kean Wind Turbines here:

The Business Gets Green format features several speakers from pertinent areas within the local green business community, as well as the opportunity for all attendees to introduce themselves and report any brief announcements that may be of interest to the audience.

RSVP's are strongly encouraged as there is limited space at this venue. Join the event on Facebook, here:
“Like” Greenworks || Buffalo Niagara's Facebook group page to get updates on future events, here: Greenworks || Buffalo Niagara

Friday, January 11, 2013

Compressed Natural Gas or Electricity as Vehicle Fuels--Which Would You Choose?

By Joel Huberman 

     In his recent Another Voice article in The Buffalo News, Craig Jackson described some apparent advantages of compressed natural gas (CNG) derived from fracking compared to conventional gasoline as a power source for vehicles. However, the article did not compare CNG-powered vehicles (CNGVs) with electric vehicles (EVs). Could EVs have even more advantages than CNGVs?

     As described by Mr. Jackson, CNG is currently affordable, abundant, and produced in the US or Canada. But it won't be affordable and abundant forever. It's a finite resource that, if heavily used, will run out within the next hundred years. In contrast, renewable energy sources (wind, water and sun) that can produce the electricity needed by EVs will be around for millions of years, their price (free) won't increase, and they're available throughout our country; we don't need Canada for a portion of our supply.

     Although CNG may be clean compared to gasoline, it should not be described as "clean" when vastly cleaner energy is available from wind, water and sun. CNG, like gasoline, is a fossil fuel. Burning it adds to the CO2 in our atmosphere and thus increases the rate of global warming. Even worse, producing natural gas (the raw material for CNG) by fracking releases into the atmosphere large amounts of such gas (as much as 9% of the total gas produced, according to a recent study in the prestigious scientific journal, Nature). Natural gas warms our planet more rapidly than CO2 (about 25-fold faster, averaged over 100 years). These large gas emissions mean that the total global warming impact of CNG is worse than that of coal! Furthermore, the process of fracking is fraught with problems, as is evident from the draft regulations released last month by the Department of Environmental Conservation. These regulations are intended to ensure that fracking operations don't poison New York's water supplies and don't endanger the health of people living nearby. The regulations may or may not achieve their purpose, but why take a chance when safer options are available? Wind, water and sun do not threaten our water supplies or our health.

     The most recent studies (for example the World Bank's November 2012 report, "Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must be Avoided", the International Energy Agency's "World Energy Outlook 2012", and PriceWaterhouseCoopers' "Too late for two degrees?") indicate that, if we are to avoid catastrophic global warming, we need to reduce our use of fossil fuels immediately and eliminate their use entirely within the next couple of decades. Which, then, would be most economical--building an infrastructure to support CNGVs, knowing that the price of CNG will rise with time and that its use may become illegal in the future, or building an infrastructure to support EVs, knowing that wind, water and sun will last forever, and the price of renewable electricity will decline after the initial infrastructure costs have been reimbursed?

     I want to make it clear that the electricity needed to power EVs currently comes from a mixture of renewable, nuclear and fossil-fuel sources. To make EVs as clean as they have the potential to be, we need to generate electricity completely from CO2-free sources. Numerous studies show that the transition to 100% CO2-free electricity can be accomplished readily with current technologies. It simply requires appropriate incentives to build the infrastructure.

     Also, there are significant environmental impacts involved in mining the metals needed for EV batteries. These can be controlled by proper regulation of the mining activities and can be minimized by further research to improve EV batteries. Despite these problems, EVs do currently make environmental sense in regions of the world (such as Western New York) where a substantial portion of electricity generation comes from CO2-free sources. Thus much of the promise of EVs will be realized in the future, when CO2-free electricity will be readily available everywhere. Contrast that with the predicted future of CNGVs, for which fuel will certainly become much more expensive before it runs out completely or is made illegal, probably within the lifetimes of today's children. Which would you choose?