Wednesday, November 26, 2014

U.S.-China Climate Accord -- Roundup of News and Opinions

US and China reach historic climate change deal, vow to cut emissions
By Matt Hoye and Holly Yan, CNN
updated 11:59 AM EST, Wed November 12, 2014

Beijing (CNN) -- In a historic climate change deal, U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping announced both countries will curb their greenhouse gas emissions over the next two decades.

Under the agreement, the United States would cut its 2005 level of carbon emissions by 26-28% before the year 2025. China would peak its carbon emissions by 2030 and will also aim to get 20% of its energy from zero-carbon emission sources by the same year.

"As the world's two largest economies, energy consumers and emitters of greenhouse gases, we have a special responsibility to lead the global effort against climate change," Obama said Wednesday in a joint news conference with Xi.

The announcement marks the first time China has agreed to peak its carbon emissions, according to the White House. Xi is calling for "an energy revolution" that would include broad economic reforms addressing air pollution.

Game changer for global talks?

Obama, who was in Beijing for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, said he hopes the deal will spur other nations to tackle climate change.

"We hope to encourage all major economies to be ambitious -- all countries, developing and developed -- to work across some of the old divides, so we can conclude a strong global climate agreement next year," Obama said.

Xi said both sides were committed to working toward the goals before the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris next year.


What Climate Scientists Have To Say About Obama’s Deal With China  
by Emily Atkin, Posted on November 12, 2014 at 3:25 pm

It didn’t take long after the U.S. and China announced a historic agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions on Wednesday for the reactions to start pouring in. Democrats and climate hawks praised the deal as an important step forward in the battle against sea level rise, habitat degradation, and extreme weather. Republican leaders deemed it an economic disaster, a continuation of the so-called “war on coal.”

Policymakers aside, however, it is also important to note the reactions of the people who actually measure climate change and predict how it will impact humans in the future. What do they think about the deal? Is it enough to make a real difference in the fight against catastrophic global warming?

For the climate scientists ThinkProgress asked on Wednesday, the answer was a resounding yes, with a side of caution. Scientists confirmed that the announcement, which has China agreeing to cap its emissions by 2030 and the U.S. committing to a 26 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2025, represented a huge first step toward building the kind of political cooperation needed to effectively combat a global problem.

“My take is that this is an historic agreement for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that we now have a good faith effort on the part of the planet’s two leading carbon emitters to work together to lower planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions,” said Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University.

One of the main Republican-driven arguments against policies that fight climate change has been the mere fact that global warming is global — it can’t be solved by one country alone. The argument has manifested itself many times in our political discourse: Why should the U.S. implement climate policies if China isn’t doing it too? Why should the U.S. do anything if it’s not actually going to make a difference?

The argument is “very weak substantively” — China is still developing, while the U.S. is already developed — but it has been effective politically in preventing climate action in the United States, according to Paul Higgins, a climatologist and Director of the American Meteorological Society’s Policy Program. Now that Obama has sealed cooperation with China, Higgins said, that argument is essentially moot.


U.S.-China pact is an accord the planet needed
By Eugene Robinson, Opinion writer, November 13, 2014

The minute we glimpse a flicker of hope in the fight against climate change, Republicans in Congress announce their intention to snuff it out. Fortunately for the planet, it seems they can’t.

This week’s stunning announcement of a long-range agreement between the Obama administration and the Chinese government over carbon emissions is the best environmental news in years. Not to sound grandiose, it means the world still has a chance to save itself from unmitigated disaster.

The significance of the accord, which was doggedly pursued by Secretary of State John Kerry, is not just that the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases have agreed to take action. China’s ambitious target of generating 20 percent of its energy from sources other than fossil fuels by 2030 promises massive investment and innovation — a huge boost for clean-energy technologies, with impact worldwide.

Pay no attention to the “Yes, but” chorus. It is true that China could have committed to an earlier date for carbon emissions to level off and should have set interim targets. It is true that meeting the new U.S. goals will be no trivial undertaking. It is also true that the multiplying smokestacks of India, the third-largest emitter, will continue to spew heat-trapping carbon at an unfettered pace — for now.

These caveats are overshadowed by the fact that the U.S.-China agreement has the impact of a defibrillator upon U.N.-sponsored international negotiations for a global climate treaty, which have been sputtering for years and were on the verge of flat-lining. The deal makes irrelevant the argument that the whole endeavor is pointless unless the world’s two biggest emitters — together responsible for about 40 percent of the carbon being pumped into the atmosphere — are willing to commit themselves.

That argument has also been used domestically by foes of President Obama’s science-based climate policy. But if you expected Tuesday’s earthshaking announcement to change the hyper-partisan U.S. debate, well, you don’t know much about today’s Republican Party.


Racing to the Top with China
By Michael Brune, Exec. Director, Sierra Club
November 12, 2014

What a difference a week makes. This morning we awoke to the news that President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry have negotiated a historic joint announcement on climate change and clean energy cooperation. Coming from the world's two largest economies and two biggest carbon emitters, the new targets set by President Obama and President Xi Jinping have put the international community on notice: It's time to put up or shut up.

Three major, overarching goals were announced: 
  •     The U.S. will cut its net greenhouse gas emissions to between 26 and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025.
  •     China will attempt to peak its CO2 emissions by 2030 (and possibly sooner).
  •     Also by 2030, China will increase the share of non-fossil fuel energy it uses to around 20 percent.
China's pledge to cap its emissions is momentous -- and should compel India and other developing nations to set their own ambitious targets. But the game changer in this announcement -- and an under-reported one at that -- is China's goal of producing 20 percent of its electricity from carbon-free sources by the end of the next decade. To accomplish that, China will need to install 800 to 1,000 gigawatts of energy with zero emissions by 2030 -- an amount almost equal to current total U.S. electricity generating capacity.

Such rapid clean-energy growth will accelerate a positive feedback loop. As China drives toward its goal, clean energy prices will continue to drop. Solar and wind are cheaper than fossil fuels in many places already; as prices plummet even further, the transition from dirty fuels will pick up speed, helping China, the U.S., and other countries meet and exceed their climate targets and save money in the process.

Read more at the Sierra Club Newsletter

Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News

Weak climate change deal with China is at least a start toward averting disaster
EDITORIAL - The Buffalo News
on November 15, 2014 - 12:01 AM

The United States and China struck what may be a significant agreement this week on reducing emissions that are heating the Earth to dangerous levels.

Or they may have painted a pretty face on what is an otherwise very ugly canvas, hoping no one will notice.

The truth is today uncertain, but this much is fact: The two adversaries, which together produce about 45 percent of the world’s emissions of greenhouse gases, made a start on what is undoubtedly the single biggest environmental challenge of the 21st century. In that, alone, this counts as a significant step.

That is true even if the agreement has more loopholes than all of Albany’s ethics laws put together. It’s true because it counts as a start and it should lead to more significant action down the road. It may lead to nothing, it is true, but without a start – and one that includes the two most conspicuous polluters – nothing is all that is guaranteed.


Growing Impacts of Global Warming - Rising Seas, Dead Zones, Buffalo Snowstorm, Melting Ice Sheet

Report: Encroaching Tides
How Sea Level Rise and Tidal Flooding Threaten U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast Communities over the Next 30 Years
By the Union of Concerned Scientists

Today scores of coastal communities are seeing more frequent flooding during high tides. As sea level rises higher over the next 15 to 30 years, tidal flooding is expected to occur more often, cause more disruption, and even render some areas unusable — all within the time frame of a typical home mortgage.

An analysis of 52 tide gauges in communities stretching from Portland, Maine to Freeport, Texas shows that most of these communities will experience a steep increase in the number and severity of tidal flooding events over the coming decades, with significant implications for property, infrastructure, and daily life in affected areas.

Given the substantial and nearly ubiquitous rise in the frequency of floods at these 52 locations, many other communities along the East and Gulf Coasts will need to brace for similar changes.

Twice each month (during new and full moons), the combined gravitational pull of the sun and moon creates tides that rise slightly higher than normal.

In some coastal communities, these extreme tides, or spring tides, flood low-lying areas. In many locations, these floods are happening much more often than just 40 years ago. In several communities, tidal flooding has quadrupled in frequency since 1970.

Read more >> 

Watch this informative video from the Union of Concerned Scientists:

Study: Global warming worsening watery dead zones

WASHINGTON (AP) — Global warming is likely playing a bigger role than previously thought in dead zones in oceans, lakes and rivers around the world and it's only going to get worse, according to a new study.

Dead zones occur when fertilizer runoff clogs waterways with nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorous. That leads to an explosion of microbes that consumes oxygen and leaves the water depleted of oxygen, harming marine life.

Scientists have long known that warmer water increases this problem, but a new study Monday in the journal Global Change Biology by Smithsonian Institution researchers found about two dozen different ways — biologically, chemically and physically — that climate change worsens the oxygen depletion.

"We've underestimated the effect of climate change on dead zones," said study lead author Andrew Altieri, a researcher at the Smithsonian's tropical center in Panama.

Read more at The Buffalo News

Winter weather weirdness may be just beginning
Warming trend caused freak storm
by Jerry Zremski

November 22, 2014

Brace yourself. November’s white nightmare could become a recurring bad dream of varying intensity.

While last week’s winter blast appears to be the freak offspring of a typhoon-blasted jet stream and a
warm Lake Erie, it’s also part of a long-term pattern that shows no sign of changing.

Meteorologists and geographers say that lake-effect snows have increased as temperatures have warmed in recent decades. That means more bizarre early-season storms, though not necessarily as bad as last week’s, are likely in the future as the warming trend continues.

“The general notion is that, as the climate warms and the lakes hold their warmth longer into the fall, you’re going to see a lot more lake-effect snow until it’s too warm to have much snow,” said Mark Monmonier, distinguished professor of geography at Syracuse University and the author of the 2012 book “Lake Effect: Tales of Large Lakes, Arctic Winds, and Recurrent Snows.”

Read more at The Buffalo News.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You
 By Eric Holthaus

Jason Box knows ice. That’s why what’s happened this year concerns him so much.

Box just returned from a trip to Greenland. Right now, the ice there is … black:
The ice in Greenland this year isn’t just a little dark—it’s record-setting dark. Box says he’s never seen anything like it. I spoke to Box by phone earlier this month, just days after he returned from his summer field research campaign.

“I was just stunned, really,” Box told me.

The photos he took this summer in Greenland are frightening. But their implications are even more so. Just like black cars are hotter to the touch than white ones on sunny summer days, dark ice melts much more quickly.

As a member of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland, Box travels to Greenland from his home in Copenhagen to track down the source of the soot that’s speeding up the glaciers’ disappearance. He aptly calls his crowdfunded scientific survey Dark Snow.

Read more at Slate.


A Time to be Thankful for Family, Friends, Food and More.

The image is Norman Rockwell's painting "Freedom from Want" (1943), which is often referred to as 'The Thanksgiving Picture'. Rockwell inserted a partial self-portrait in the lower right corner.

The painting was inspired by the speech delivered by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Congress in his State of the Union address (1941). Roosevelt spoke about Four Freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom from fear, freedom of worship, and freedom from want.

Update November 27, 2014:
In the wake of a savage snowstorm, we still have reason to be thankful
Editorial: The Buffalo News

People sitting down with friends and family to enjoy a special meal on this day have much to be thankful for, none more than those who have weathered our lake-effect pasting.

However, as we give thanks for all that we have, we should also pause to remember our neighbors who lost their lives in the terrible storm.

And we should thank those who selflessly helped their friends, neighbors, relatives and utter strangers, just because that is what Western New Yorkers do.

This Thanksgiving Day will be remembered for the harsh storm that hit the week before, pummeling some areas while ignoring much of the region. Some families are not sitting down at their familiar dinner tables this year, after damage caused by the heavy snow forced them from their homes.

The brush with calamity, whether being trapped in a car for a day, running low on food and milk at home or preparing to evacuate because of flooding, also offers an unexpected kinship with those who struggle to get by on a daily basis.

In the spirit of the season, there are many ways to help those who are less fortunate.

Read more at The Buffalo News

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Local Groups to Protest Anti-Environmental Keynote Speaker outside Gas Lobby Meeting

Protest: No More Fracking Lies! 

Wednesday, Nov. 12th at 4 p.m. 

Hyatt Regency, 2 Fountain Plaza, Buffalo

To view updates and join the Event on Facebook, click here.

The Independent Oil & Gas Association of NY (IOGA-NY) is the chief oil and gas lobbying organization in New York, spending millions backing fracking and natural gas development in the state and opposing environmental safeguards. 

IOGA-NY will hold their 2014 Annual Meeting in Buffalo on November 11th and 12th. This year a keynote speaker is Jack Hubbard who will present a talk titled "Big Green Radicals: Winning Public Opinion, Undermining the Activist's Credibility and Changing the Debate." 

Hubbard works for a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm, Berman & Co., which specializes in undermining the work of environmentalists on behalf of the natural gas industry. 

The New York Times published a secretly recorded a speech given by Hubbard's colleague, Richard Berman, in which he solicited up to $3 million from oil and gas industry executives to finance the "Big Green Radicals" PR campaign. He promised the industry executives “total anonymity.”

Berman said in his speech, that industry executives must be willing to exploit emotions like fear, greed and anger and turn them against the environmental groups.  “You can either win ugly or lose pretty,” he said.

To view the New York Times article, click here. For a transcript of the speech by Berman, which also includes one by Jack Hubbard, click here.

The oil and gas industry doesn't have science behind them so companies resort to lies and innuendo invented by high-priced PR firms. Berman and Co. seems to be a leader in this effort -- getting millions of $$ from industry executives to smear environmental groups, and hiding the industry's role in funding his campaigns.

Jack Hubbard, the keynote speaker of the upcoming IOGA-NY Annual Meeting in Buffalo, spoke at a previous meeting about the national "Big Green Radicals" campaign. He announced that “the initial targets of that campaign were the Sierra Club, NRDC, and Food & Water Watch.” 

Targeting these groups for being opposed to fracking is a big mistake on Hubbard's part. These groups are united in that they all remain unconvinced of the industry-touted safety of shale gas drilling and fracking in the face of industry-caused well water damage, air pollution, toxic and radioactive wastewater, and earthquakes.

Jack Hubbard also mentioned digging-up “criminal records” that activists have. He said “We’re really making this personal. We’re trying to make it so that they don’t have any credibility with the public, with the media, or with legislators.”

Criminal records? Well, that's just ridiculous! Another thing the three environmental groups have in common is that they're law-abiding people. Most all are volunteers, giving their time to protect the quality of our water, air, land and health. 

Many people in the Buffalo area are members of the targeted groups that Hubbard attempts to discredit. Organizers hope that people will be moved to attend the protest on Nov. 12 or take action by exposing the despicable tactics of these gas industry-funded attack dogs to the public and media.

Protesters outside of the IOGA-NY Annual Meeting will demand that our legislators not listen to gas industry lies! 

Berman said "You can either win ugly or lose pretty."

Let's Win Pretty!  Click here to Join the Event on Facebook!

Cosponsors: Renewable Energy Task Force of WNY Peace Center, Sierra Club Niagara Group, Western NY Drilling Defense, Food & Water Watch, PAUSE, and the New Yorkers Against Fracking coalition.

~  ~  ~
See also:  

"Meet Dr. Evil" is the title of a CBS 60 Minutes interview of Berman, which can be viewed here

"Frack Attack Likely at Talk" by Brian Nearing at Times Union.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bill Moyers: Breaking Big Money’s Grip on Elections

What the Mainstream Media Won’t Let Bernie Sanders Talk About

By Moyers&Company

In the video clip below, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I - Vt.) tells Bill Moyers that he believes “one of the Supreme Court’s worst decisions ever” — Citizens United — has allowed Big Money to “deflect attention from the real issues” facing voters.

Sanders goes on to talk about the challenge of getting corporate media to cover the real issues. Watch the video (3 minutes):

To watch Bill Moyers' full interview of Sen. Bernie Sanders and to access the transcript, Click Here.
~   ~   ~

Adam Zyglis on 'Big Money' and Elections in The Buffalo News

Sunday, November 2, 2014


Rapid carbon emission cuts vital to stop severe impact of climate change, UN IPCC Report says

Most important assessment of global warming yet warns carbon emissions must be cut sharply and soon -- Report says solutions are available and affordable.

Climate change is set to inflict “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” on people and the natural world unless carbon emissions are cut sharply and rapidly, according to the most important assessment of global warming yet published.

The stark report states that climate change has already increased the risk of severe heatwaves and other extreme weather and warns of worse to come, including food shortages and violent conflicts. But it also found that ways to avoid dangerous global warming are both available and affordable.

“Science has spoken. There is no ambiguity in the message,” said the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, attending what he described as the “historic” report launch. “Leaders must act. Time is not on our side.” He said that quick, decisive action would build a better and sustainable future, while inaction would be costly.

Ban added a message to investors, such as pension fund managers: “Please reduce your investments in the coal- and fossil fuel-based economy and [move] to renewable energy.”

The report, released in Copenhagen on Sunday by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), is the work of thousands of scientists and was agreed after negotiations by the world’s governments. 

It is the first IPCC report since 2007 to bring together all aspects of tackling climate change and for the first time states: that it is economically affordable; that carbon emissions will ultimately have to fall to zero; and that global poverty can only be reduced by halting global warming. The report also makes clear that carbon emissions, mainly from burning coal, oil and gas, are currently rising to record levels, not falling.

Read more at the The Guardian.
The IPCC's Summary Report intended for policymakers is Here.

The Military Takes on Climate Change Deniers

The idea that climate change poses serious risks to U.S. national security, long contested in conservative circles, is now an integral part of Pentagon planning. 

On Oct. 13, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel made it official with the release of the Pentagon’s 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap, a 16-page document that lays out the effects of extreme weather events and rising temperatures on military training, operations, acquisitions, and infrastructure.

Two previous editions, issued in 2012 and 2013, treated climate change as a future threat, but this year’s cast it as a reality that must be dealt with quickly. “Climate change will affect the Department of Defense’s ability to defend the Nation and poses immediate risks,” the document begins.

The Pentagon’s move sets up a showdown between the military, a cautious institution run by some of the most conservative people in the U.S. government, and congressional Republicans, who continue to deny that climate change is real, let alone that it requires action.

The Pentagon's 2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap is Here.

The IPCC is stern on climate change – but it still underestimates the situation

By Bill McKibben
UN body’s warning on carbon emissions is hard to ignore, but breaking the power of the fossil fuel industry won’t be easy.

At this point, the scientists who run the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change must feel like it’s time to trade their satellites, their carefully calibrated thermometers and spectrometers, their finely tuned computer models – all of them for a thesaurus. Surely, somewhere, there must be words that will prompt the world’s leaders to act.

This week, with the release of their new synthesis report, they are trying the words “severe, widespread, and irreversible” to describe the effects of climate change – which for scientists, conservative by nature, falls just short of announcing that climate change will produce a zombie apocalypse plus random beheadings plus Ebola. It’s hard to imagine how they will up the language in time for the next big global confab in Paris.

But even with all that, this new document – actually a synthesis of three big working group reports released over the last year – almost certainly underestimates the actual severity of the situation. As the Washington Post pointed out this week, past reports have always tried to err on the side of understatement; it’s a particular problem with sea level rise, since the current IPCC document does not even include the finding in May that the great Antarctic ice sheets have begun to melt. (The studies were published after the IPCC’s cutoff date.)

But when you get right down to it, who cares? The scientists have done their job; no sentient person, including Republican Senate candidates, can any longer believe in their heart of hearts that there’s not a problem here. The scientific method has triumphed: over a quarter of a century, researchers have reached astonishing consensus on a basic problem in chemistry and physics.

And the engineers have done just as well. The price of a solar panel has dropped by more than 90% over the last 25 years, and continues to plummet. In the few places they have actually been deployed at scale, the results are astonishing: there were days this summer when Germany generated 75% of its power from the wind and the sun.

Read more at The Guardian.

Giving Up Fossil Fuels to Save the Climate: The $28 Trillion Writedown  

“We’re not going to be able to burn it all.” With those 10 words, Barack Obama uttered one of the most stunning, far-reaching statements ever made by a U.S. president. He also completely contradicted his own energy policy. Yet no one seemed to notice. 

Obama was asked about the international goal of limiting global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 deg.F) since the start of the industrial era. Going past 2 degrees, noted the interviewer, NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman, would “cross into some really dangerous, unstable territory: Arctic melting, massive sea-level rise, disruptive storms.” 

The International Energy Agency has concluded that meeting the 2 deg.C target will require leaving two-thirds of the earth’s known reserves of oil, gas, and coal underground, unburned, Friedman said. Did Obama agree with that conclusion?

“Well, science is science,” the president replied. “And there is no doubt that if we burned all the fossil fuel that’s in the ground right now, that the planet’s going to get too hot and the consequences could be dire.”

This new scientific imperative—to leave the bulk of earth’s fossil fuels in the ground—has not yet penetrated most government or private-sector policy discussions, much less mainstream media coverage or public awareness. Its political and economic implications, however, are huge.


'This Changes Everything,’ by Naomi Klein: Book Review

Naomi Klein’s latest book may be the manifesto that the climate movement — and the planet — needs right now. Mainstream environmental groups and politicians alike support the notion of “green growth,” in which the world can continue with largely unfettered markets and still manage to drastically cut greenhouse gas emissions. Klein argues that this is a fallacy, that capitalism and the climate are fundamentally at odds.

Because of its focus on the economic system, “This Changes Everything” stands

out from most books on climate change. Klein has spent the past couple of decades steeped in the fight against corporate power and free-market ideology, writing two best-selling books, “No Logo” and “The Shock Doctrine.” She shows how free-market, growth-above-all ideology has been built around World Trade Organization deals that stymie local action on cutting emissions, and into laws and norms that make corporations obligated to continue extracting more fossil fuels, as long as there’s profit in it. “The bottom line,” Klein writes, is that “our economic system and our planetary system are now at war. … Only one of these sets of rules can be changed, and it’s not the laws of nature.”

Those who deny the existence of climate change grasp this better than most liberals, Klein argues. The battle over climate change cuts to the heart of “the central ideological battle of our time — whether we need to plan and manage our societies to reflect our goals and values, or whether that task can be left to the magic of the market.” Deniers have to reject climate action — otherwise they’d lose this ideological battle.

Read more at SFGate

Air Pollution Risks Near Fracking Sites - New Study and Report

Fracking is Fine (Just Hold Your Breath)

By Charles Margulis
Center for Environmental Health (CEH)

You may have been shocked by this recent headline: “Dead babies near oil drilling sites raise questions for researchers.” But if you have been following the national debate about fracking, you are likely to be all too familiar with the concerns that community members have about pollution from this new drilling technology.

In fact, the CEH report on health risks to women and children living near fracking operations found serious reasons for concern. Chemicals used in fracking and/or created by fracking operations have been linked to low birth weight, birth defects, respiratory problems, infertility, and cancer, among other serious problems.

Now there’s a new fracking problem.

There has been much attention to water pollution risks from fracking, but there has been less research into air quality around fracking sites.  A new study, co-authored by CEH’s Research Director Caroline Cox and published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health, shines light on fracking air pollution risks. 

Along with the study, a report, Warning Signs: Toxic Air Pollution Identified at Oil and Gas Development Sites details the results from the sampling.

The results from the air testing were not reassuring. One sample had air pollution levels that could pose an immediate danger to life or health, according to Centers for Disease Control guidelines. Benzene, a chemical known to cause cancer, was detected at sample locations in Pennsylvania and Wyoming, in levels exceeding health-based standards by several orders of magnitude. Another carcinogen, formaldehyde, was detected in locations in three states at levels exceeding the health-based standards of the U.S. EPA.

We can rein in the fracking industry

The oil and gas industry intends to spread fracking across the country, regardless of the health, climate, or safety concerns. What’s worse, fracking is exempt from most federal environmental rules, so states often have no way to adopt protective regulations.

We need government action to rein in the fracking industry. Regulators should require more comprehensive air monitoring and pollution prevention standards. Communities should have the right to know about all chemicals used in fracking. Residents of affected communities should be directly involved in decision making before fracking can go forward.

The EPA can take stronger steps to protect Americans from fracking health risks. 

Take Action: Urge EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to protect our health and the environment from fracking risks!

~  ~  ~ Compendium

Friday, October 17, 2014

Protect a Lake Erie Nature Preserve and Public Park from Private Development

Please Sign a Petition to Protect an Existing Nature Preserve and a Public Park on the Lake Erie Shore

Extensive private development (grey buildings, above) has been proposed along Times Beach Nature Preserve (left), an important resting area for migrating birds, and in Wilkeson Pointe (right), the popular wind-sculpture park built with Public Funding last year.

Times Beach Nature Preserve and Wilkeson Pointe are part of the Buffalo Outer Harbor on the Lake Erie shore, as shown below [click image to enlarge].
Developers' Building Plan

This waterfront property represents a significant aspect of our national heritage and it should be protected for public access as well as for historical, environmental, and educational purposes. Proposals to this effect have been put forward by several citizen groups, but current developer proposals still appear to be fast-tracked for approval.

Please support efforts to save this valuable property for our prosperity.

To Read and Sign the Petition, Click Here

Please help to spread the word by sharing the petition link below with others:

Thank You for your Support! 

UPDATE: The Buffalo News, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014 - Nature Watch: Outer harbor land should be dedicated to public access, By Gerry Rising

[Click image to enlarge]



Excerpts from articles in the news:
NY high court rejects Dryden fracking suit revival

New York’s highest court rejected an attempt to revive the fight against the Town of Dryden and its fracking ban.

In a precedent-setting decision last June, the Court of Appeals ruled 5-2 that communities have the right to use local land-use authority to prohibit oil and gas operations within their borders.

On Thursday, the court denied a motion by the trustee for bankrupt Norse Energy to re-argue its case against the Town of Dryden.

Read more here.

More New Yorkers Oppose Fracking: Poll

A new poll conducted by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental activist group, shows 56 percent of New Yorkers oppose fracking in the state. The survey of 802 New Yorkers was conducted by a third-party research firm in late September.

A similar survey by Quinnipiac University in mid-August found that only 48 percent of voters opposed fracking.

Anti-fracking activists have redoubled their efforts in recent weeks, following Gov. Cuomo on the campaign trail in an attempt to have him take a stance on fracking before the election, but the governor has kept a steadfast ambivalence on the subject.

Read more here.

Report: New York Governor’s Office Altered And Delayed Fracking Study

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration edited and delayed a fracking study commissioned by the state, according to a review by Capital New York.

The New York news outlet reported Monday that the Cuomo administration had altered a report on the natural gas extraction technique commonly referred to as fracking. The report was commissioned in 2011 and was “going to result in a number of politically inconvenient conclusions” for the governor. A comparison of the original draft of the report, which was put together by the U.S. Geological Survey, and the final version, showed that some of the original descriptions and mentions of fracking-related health and environmental risks were “played down or removed.”

Read more here.

Duke researchers explore potential dangers of fracking

With North Carolina's ban on fracking set to expire next year, Duke researchers are looking into the potential dangers of the technique.

“We sampled hundreds of homes with private drinking water wells, and found that people living near shale gas wells are more likely to have methane, ethane, and propane, the components of natural gas, in their water,” said Robert Jackson, formerly of the Nicholas School of the Environment and now a professor of environment and energy at Stanford University.

“I think there’s a perception amongst some people in Raleigh that they don’t want to hear about problems that might occur,” Jackson said. “I think the Mining and Energy Commission was designed to establish rules to help drilling come to North Carolina, not to decide whether or not drilling should come to North Carolina. That discussion never really happened.”

Read more here.

Residents Harmed by Fracking Demand EPA Administrator Drink their Tainted Water
Want EPA to Reopen Investigation of Drinking Water Contamination By Fracking

WASHINGTON - Affected community members from Dimock, Pennsylvania, along with advocacy organizations, rallied outside of EPA Headquarters to demand that EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy either re-open investigations into fracking’s impact on people and the environment, or drink frack water from Pennsylvania that her agency has told residents is safe.

The action came after a year of gathering over 250,000 petitions, thousands of calls, and dozens of events asking McCarthy to meet with them, following the Los Angeles Times story that revealed the Obama Administration had shut down the EPA fracking investigation that found their drinking water contamination linked to drilling and fracking operations.

“My water is brown and smells so bad it will make you nauseous, yet EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy tells me and my neighbors that this poison is safe to drink,” said Ray Kemble, a resident from Dimock, PA who was part of the EPA’s fracking-related water investigation in 2012. “To make matters worse, Gina McCarthy is promoting more and more fracking across the country, meaning my story will be shared by millions of Americans. This has to stop.”

Read more here.

Frackers are dumping toxic waste into California’s groundwater

California can officially add one more disaster to its rapidly growing list of water woes: The EPA just found that at least nine fracking sites throughout the state have been dumping billions of gallons of contaminated wastewater into its protected aquifers.

Not only do many of these aquifers supply drinking water to residents throughout the Central Valley, they’re also reaching dangerously low levels due to overuse, as many farmers rely on aquifers for irrigation and have been overpumping groundwater supplies as the drought carries on.

According to a letter sent to the EPA by the California State Water Resources Board, roughly 3 billion gallons of wastewater were illegally injected into aquifers throughout central California. The EPA ordered the report following contamination concerns after 11 fracking wastewater injection wells were shut down in July by state officials.

Read more here.

Michigan landfill operator suspends receipt of low-level radioactive waste

A Van Buren Township hazardous-waste landfill operator, slated to receive up to 36 tons of low-level radioactive waste from a Pennsylvania fracking company, announced Monday that it will suspend receipt of such materials from all oil and gas operations pending a review by the state.

The announcements follow an Aug. 19 Free Press report on plans by a Pennsylvania oil and gas development company, Range Resources, to ship radioactive fracking waste to Wayne Disposal. The sludge was rejected by landfills in western Pennsylvania and its shipment to a landfill in West Virginia was halted by the state and voluntarily discontinued by the company, as West Virginia reforms its laws for handling such waste.

Ohio and West Virginia, two states with more intensive fracking activity than Michigan, have changed regulations on how to store, treat, process and dispose of radioactive oil and gas drilling wastes. Pennsylvania also doesn’t allow the materials in its landfills. Each of the states leaves it to oil and gas developers to find a disposal site. As Ohio tightened its regulations, state officials listed the Wayne Disposal site in Van Buren Township as an option for Ohio drillers.

Read more here.

[Click image to enlarge]

Anti-Fracking Rally at Bidwell Park in Buffalo - Saturday, 11am

Global Frackdown in Buffalo with ZEPHYR TEACHOUT!
  • Saturday Oct. 18th at 11 a.m.
  • Bidwell Park (Elmwood Ave. & Bidwell Parkway, Buffalo) Across the street from the farmer's market
Invite Friends on Facebook: Click Here

On Saturday, October 18 — will you take a stand against fracking in Buffalo? The Global Frackdown is a massive day of international protests against fracking. It's a day for us to come together — to unify as New Yorkers and as members of our global community — to demand an end to the dirty and dangerous practice of fracking. Join the Global Frackdown in Buffalo!

In Buffalo we'll rally to tell Governor Cuomo that he mustn't frack with our future and instead invest in renewable energy in New York State. Along with the rally will be a community speak-out that welcomes the public to pick up the microphone and say a few words, or recite poetry or spoken word about the dangers of fracking.

The day's forecast currently rainy but our event will happen rain or shine. You may wish to bring an umbrella, poncho, or other rain gear. Attendees will be able to pick up free rally signs, literature, event handouts, and purchase an anti-fracking lawn sign at the information table any time during the event. Sign up for the speak-out will take place on a first-come, first-serve basis with a total of eight spots. We will be set up at the blue tent with the table, sound system & podium underneath.

Cosponsors: Sierra Club Niagara Group, PUSH Buffalo, NYPIRG at Buffalo State, Food & Water Watch, New Yorkers Against Fracking, Citizen's Campaign for the Environment - Buffalo, WNY Peace Center, Western NY Drilling Defense, Protecting Our Water Rights (POWR), and Nurse Rise ~ Nurses for Safe Water.

Press Conference & Rally:
Rita Yelda, Food & Water Watch - Zephyr Teachout, Fordham Law Professor & Gubernatorial candidate - Lynda Schneekloth, Sierra Club Niagara Group - Julia White, NYPIRG at Buffalo State - John Washington, PUSH Buffalo - Mary Herbst, RN & member of Concerned Health Professionals of NY
- Meghan Zaldivar, PUSH Buffalo

Community Speak Out - 3 spots
Music & Performance: The Nickel City String Band
Community Speak Out - 3 spots

Music & Performance: My Rap Name is Alex - Dave Harter
Community Speak Out - 2 spots
Music & Performance: Tyler Westcott  - Ismail & Company - Lauren Gay (dance) - Active Hope (dance) 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Senator says Fracking "inherently dangerous" - Calls for Ban

The evidence is in, so ban fracking  .
It's proven a nightmare to Pennsylvanians .

By Liz Krueger .
Krueger is a state senator representing Manhattan’s east side and parts of Midtown.

If anyone in New York was still buying the utopian vision being sold by the oil and gas industry regarding fracking — free energy! new jobs! no risk! — a flood of recent news should end the delusion once and for all.

Consider fresh reports about the experience of Finleyville, Pa., where residents were promised easy money with no headaches back in 2008.

But once the trucks and heavy machinery came in and the fracking began, everything changed. Families found their homes unlivable. Houses vibrated and were filled with continuous noise. Air quality warnings and gas odors forced some to flee.

In one especially disturbing case, a pregnant woman was advised by her doctor to relocate to an area further away from a drilling site.

Given the gas industry’s track record, what came next in Finleyville shouldn’t be a shock — but, in its utter shamelessness, it was pretty rare, even for them.

In 2013, homeowners were offered $50,000 to sign away their rights to hold the drilling corporation, EQT, legally responsible for its negative consequences, and those of any future operations.

These agreements covered health problems, property damage, and other negative effects including noise, dust, light, smoke, odors, fumes, soot, air pollution or vibrations.

And the liability releases wouldn’t just exempt the drillers from damages related to drilling, but from its construction of pipelines, power lines, roads, tanks, ponds, pits, compressor stations, houses and buildings as well.

It’s telling that these very same companies that seek legal cover from damage claims consistently insist in public that fracking is safe and has no damaging effects on the environment, health or quality of life.

Despite industry claims that fracking has been a rousing success, people across Pennsylvania are suffering from its effects.

The state’s former health commissioner recently confirmed that state government was derelict in considering the public health impact of the drilling process. Its health department discouraged its employees from addressing public complaints about health issues believed to be related to fracking.

And Pennsylvania’s experience is no anomaly.

In January of this year, the Associated Press published findings from Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas and West Virginia demonstrating connections between fracking activities and water contamination. Contaminants include methane, arsenic and various hormone-disrupting substances.

Even the gas industry’s claims about fracking’s economic benefits have been debunked. An independent report by the Multi-State Shale Research Collaborative disproved industry assertions that every gas well created 31 jobs, finding instead that it was only four.

For the past few years, the oil and gas industry has tried to lure New Yorkers with false promises.

But New Yorkers are smarter than that. The grassroots opposition to fracking in our state grows stronger by the day, with an accompanying abundance of science to substantiate our cogent opposition. A new Qunnipiac poll puts opposition statewide at a record high of 48%, compared to 43% support.

New York finds itself at a crossroads. We know that, with the technology and engineering methods currently in use, fracking is inherently dangerous and would result in irreversible harm to New Yorkers; health, our natural resources and our billion-dollar agricultural industry.

Yet the Cuomo administration is still officially reviewing how fracking impacts people’s health.

The state’s highest court recently upheld the rights of cities and towns to ban fracking within their borders. This is a step in the right direction, but pollutants caused by fracking will not conform to municipal boundaries.

As elected officials, it is our job to weigh the facts and science, and then act to protect New Yorkers. It is time for both houses of the state Legislature to pass a bill banning fracking — and for Gov. Cuomo to sign it.

Published on September 1, 2014 in the New York Daily News

Community to Rally and Speak Out Against Fracking

On Saturday, October 18, 11am, we'll rally at Bidwell Park in Buffalo to tell Governor Cuomo that he mustn't frack with our future! Instead, Cuomo should invest in renewable energy in New York State.

Along with the rally will be a community speak-out that welcomes the public to pick up the microphone and say a few words, or recite poetry or spoken word about the dangers of fracking (please prepare a 5-minute speech or performance.)

Additionally, there will be:
- Music from The Nickel City String Band, Alex Mead, Dave Harter, and fun from the Buffalo Joywalkers and Linda Abrams
- Expert speakers discussing the growing connection between fracking and our health
- Pick up a lawn sign, sign the petition to ban fracking, and find out what we're up to in your community

We need you with us to stand together to send a clear message to Governor Cuomo: we demand a future powered by clean, renewable energy, not one that depends on dirty, polluting fossil fuels.

Join and Invite your Friends on Facebook: Click Here

Global Frackdown Video: Click Here

Sponsors include Sierra Club Niagara Group, PUSH Buffalo, NYPIRG at Buffalo State, Food & Water Watch, New Yorkers Against Fracking, Citizen's Campaign for the Environment - Buffalo, Western NY Drilling Defense, and Protecting Our Water Rights (POWR).

World On Your Plate - Conference on Food & Sustainable Living

Friday, October 3, 2014

Massachusetts Avenue Project Invites Public to 'Be the Carrot'

$1 Million Capital Project on Buffalo’s West Side -- Fundraising has already secured $588,888

The Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) will expand its existing community imprint with the construction of The MAP Farmhouse & Community Food Resource Center adjacent to its urban farm on Massachusetts Avenue between Brayton Street and Shields Avenue.  On Tuesday, October 7th, agency staff and supporters will be on site to announce this innovative partnership and invite the public to "Be the Carrot" for MAP at the 389 Massachusetts Avenue farm at 10AM on Buffalo’s West Side.

At the event, everyone will have an opportunity to “Be the Carrot” by donating to MAP's capital campaign and posing for a fun picture with agency staff and board members, project funders, elected officials and youth benefactors.  As an incentive to contribute, the first 20 people to “Be the Carrot” on October 7th will receive a special edition “#Iamthecarrot” t-shirt.  The next 30 “Carrots” will receive a jar of MAP's own Growing Green Works Super Duper Salsa.  There will be refreshments served, donated by Sweetness 7 on Grant Street, and all contributions will support the construction of the Farmhouse.

Lead by MAP Executive Director Diane Picard, the Farmhouse project was given lift by an initial investment of $300,000 from the Junior League of Buffalo and the Buffalo News’ 2014 Decorators’ Show House competitive grant process. To ensure the receipt of these funds, MAP's goal is to have the remainder of these funds committed to the project by year end.  Well on its way to meeting this milestone, MAP secured $150,000 from the Patrick Lee Foundation, as well as $100,000 through State Assemblymember Sean Ryan and $10,000 through Buffalo Common Councilmember David Rivera.

The 2,700 square foot, environmentally “green” Farmhouse will offer multi-use indoor and outdoor spaces, a state-of-the-art teaching kitchen, a resource library, farm equipment storage and space to distribute locally-grown food to the surrounding community. The MAP Farmhouse will be the first of its kind in the country. These offerings are of particular importance in an area with high rates of childhood poverty and nutritional gaps.  Project partners include the University at Buffalo’s Food Lab and Grassroots Gardens of Buffalo, among others.

MAP’s Farmhouse will adjoin the agency’s current 13 lots, covering over an acre of reclaimed vacant lots in a formerly blighted residential neighborhood. One of MAP’s flagship programs, Growing Green, employs nearly 50 Buffalo teens each year who grow, harvest and distribute thousands of pounds of organic produce each year while learning how to make healthy food more local and available for all.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Contact Rebekah Williams, MAP's Youth Education Director at or call 716-882-5327 ext. 6
MAP Website:

Friday, September 26, 2014

Images of the Massive PEOPLES CLIMATE MARCH in NY City

LARGEST Climate March in History! 

400,000 march in NY City - Events held in over 150 countries

“We said it would take everyone to change everything — 
and Everyone showed up!”
Eddie Bautista, Exec. Director of the NY City Environmental Justice Alliance.

President Obama gives a nod to the climate marchers in his speech at the UN Climate Summit on Sept. 23 (see below).

NY City - Sept. 21, 2014
[Click image to enlarge]

VIDEO: Aerial View of the Massive Climate March 

The March was held two days before the 
UN Climate Summit in NY City - Sept. 23, 2014

President Obama's quote (above) in the context of his UN speech:
"So the climate is changing faster than our efforts to address it.  The alarm bells keep ringing.  Our citizens keep marching.  We cannot pretend we do not hear them.  We have to answer the call.  We know what we have to do to avoid irreparable harm.  We have to cut carbon pollution in our own countries to prevent the worst effects of climate change.  We have to adapt to the impacts that, unfortunately, we can no longer avoid.  And we have to work together as a global community to tackle this global threat before it is too late. 

We cannot condemn our children, and their children, to a future that is beyond their capacity to repair.  Not when we have the means -- the technological innovation and the scientific imagination -- to begin the work of repairing it right now.
 As one of America’s governors has said, “We are the first generation to feel the impact of climate change and the last generation that can do something about it.”  So today, I’m here personally, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and its second largest emitter, to say that we have begun to do something about it."
France was one of the 150 Countries that participated in the Peoples Climate March:

Buffalo Activists at PEOPLES CLIMATE MARCH in NYC

Video: 'Flash Mob' in Buffalo promoting the Climate March

Courtesy of Nate Schneekloth

Boarding the Buses for the overnight trip to NY City!
168 People filled 3 Buses chartered by Sierra Club Niagara Group
[Click image to enlarge]          Courtesy of Rick Steinberg

Part of the Buffalo Herd in New York City

Buffalo Activists say it's Time to Lead!

UB Students back the Planet at the NYC March

UB Students March for the Climate
Buffalo Climate Action!              Youth 'Walkin' the Walk'!
Buffalo State NYPIRG 

Van Jones (CNN) and Buffalo-born Jason Kowalski ( DC) 
meetup after the NYC March