Monday, April 28, 2014

Putting the Freeze on Global Warming

By Moyers & Company .

The Archbishop of South Africa, Desmond Tutu, has called for an international “anti-apartheid-style boycott” against the fossil fuel industry in response to global warming. “People of conscience need to break their ties with corporations financing the injustice of climate change,” the Nobel Peace Prize laureate wrote in an essay earlier this month. Tutu’s call to action also urges a strategy of divestment, the selling off of stocks and other investments in the name of an urgent cause.

Bill Moyers talks with two leaders who helped inspire the new fossil fuel divestment movement that Tutu is encouraging. Ellen Dorsey is executive director of the Wallace Global Fund and a catalyst in the coalition of 17 foundations known as Divest-Invest Philanthropy. Thomas Van Dyck is Senior Vice President – Financial Advisor at RBC Wealth Management, and founder of As You Sow, a shareholder advocacy foundation.

They are urging foundations, faith groups, pension funds, municipalities and universities to sell their shares in polluting industries and reinvest in companies committed to climate change solutions.
Watch the video:

Read the transcript here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


REPORT - Disclosing the Facts: Transparency and Risk in Hydraulic Fracturing Operations
Companies across the board are failing to report reductions of their impacts on communities and the environment from hydraulic fracturing.

The oil & gas production industry is consistently failing to report measurable reductions of its impacts on communities and the environment from hydraulic fracturing operations, according to a scorecard report released by As You Sow, Boston Common Asset Management, Green Century Capital Management, and the Investor Environmental Health Network.

The report, Disclosing the Facts: Transparency and Risk in Hydraulic Fracturing Operations, benchmarks 24 companies engaged in hydraulic fracturing against investor needs for disclosure of operational impacts and mitigation efforts.

While scores varied, no firm succeeded in disclosing information on even half of the selected 32 indicators related to management of toxic chemicals, water and waste, air emissions, community impacts, and governance. Even the highest scoring company, Encana Corporation (ECA) provided sufficient disclosure on just 14 of the 32 indicators. The lowest scoring companies were: BHP Billiton Ltd. (BHP) (2 of out 32 indicators); BP plc (BP) (2 out of 32 indicators); Exxon Mobil Corporation (XOM) (2 out of 32 indicators); Occidental Petroleum Corporation (OXY) (2 out of 32 indicators); Southwestern Energy Co. (SWN) (2 out of 32 indicators); and, in last place, QEP Resources, Inc. (QEP) (1 out of 32 indicators).

The report notes that measurement and disclosure of best management practices and impacts is the primary means by which investors can assess how companies are managing the impacts of their hydraulic fracturing operations on communities and the environment.

Institutional investors have been pressing oil and gas companies since 2009 for greater disclosure of their risk management practices. Investors have engaged over two dozen companies, filing nearly 40 shareholder proposals on these issues to date. The shareholder proposals have led to improved disclosures at many of the companies, but the scorecard report notes that much of this disclosure is narrative and qualitative in form, while quantifiable data are lacking. 

Read the full report here.

In Fracking Fight, a Worry About How Best to Measure Health Threats
In Pennsylvania, opponents of gas drilling say regulators are slow and unprepared in responding to air quality complaints.

There are more than 6,000 active gas wells in Pennsylvania. And every week, those drilling sites generate scores of complaints from the state’s residents, including many about terrible odors and contaminated water.

How the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection handles those complaints has worsened the already raw and angry divide between fearful residents and the state regulators charged with overseeing the burgeoning gas drilling industry.

 For instance, the agency’s own manual for dealing with complaints is explicit about what to do if someone reports concerns about a noxious odor, but is not at that very moment experiencing the smell: “DO NOT REGISTER THE COMPLAINT.”

When a resident does report a real-time alarm about the air quality in or around their home, the agency typically has two weeks to conduct an investigation. If no odor is detected when investigators arrive on the scene, the case is closed.

Read the full report here.

Finger Lakes Winemakers to Cuomo: Ban Fracking in New York
The dangers of fracking are becoming increasingly well-known as study after study shows how it contaminates water -- a critical resource for our industries.

Fracking would jeopardize the safety of the water we rely on for producing our wine -- the same water relied upon by the beer industry and other farm-based beverage industries.

States have confirmed water contamination resulting from fracking, and recent scientific studies by three major American universities -- from three different states that permit fracking -- substantiate those dangers to water supplies.

That simply doesn't mix with brewing beer, producing wine or other beverages.

Read the full article here.

Fracking Exports Will Leave U.S. Communities in the Dark

Last month, thirty Senate Democrats -- members of the "climate caucus" -- stayed Up All Night on the Senate floor to speak out about climate change. This was an important moment to highlight the most critical environmental issue of our time.

What was not mentioned however, was the massive threat to our planet posed by exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) extracted through the increasingly controversial process known as "fracking." Yet legislation authored by one of their own -- Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) and a House bill by Congressman Cory Gardner (R-CO), would tear down barriers to the export of LNG, potentially spurring a massive increase in fracking, exacerbating the problems the senators spoke out against.

Read more here.

Toward a better understanding and quantification of methane emissions from shale gas development

Significance: We identified a significant regional flux of methane over a large area of shale gas wells in southwestern Pennsylvania in the Marcellus formation and further identified several pads with high methane emissions. These shale gas pads were identified as in the drilling process, a preproduction stage not previously associated with high methane emissions. This work emphasizes the need for top-down identification and component level and event driven measurements of methane leaks to properly inventory the combined methane emissions of natural gas extraction and combustion to better define the impacts of our nation’s increasing reliance on natural gas to meet our energy needs.

Read the publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Public Meeting: Amherst Town Board Proposes Fracking Ban

WHEN: Monday, April 28, 2014 at 7:00 pm
WHERE: Town of Amherst Municipal Bldg., 5583 Main St., Williamsville

MAP: Click Here

The Town Board of Amherst will propose a resolution that could lead to a local ban on fracking, disposal of fracking waste, and road spreading of brine in the town at their next meeting. We need you there to make sure that it passes! 

Amherst and area residents are encouraged to attend to show your support for an Amherst-wide ban on dangerous fracking and the toxic waste it creates. We need to PACK THE ROOM because your presence encourages the board to vote the right way on the resolution.

You may also prepare 3-minutes of testimony to read in favor of a ban on fracking/fracking waste in Amherst. Be sure to emphasize how these things could impact Amherst residents. Non-Amherst residents are also allowed to testify. Speaking is optional and those wishing to speak should arrive 15 minutes early to sign up.

The town board of Amherst, NY must pass a local ban to safeguard our natural resources and health from the contamination that fracking brings to communities. A ban on fracking & fracking waste disposal (including road spreading) in Amherst would protect residents from exposure to harmful chemicals, airborne carcinogens, and contaminated water. 

For more information or to get involved, contact Rita at
Join the Facebook event & invite friends:

Community Input: Return Brownfields to Productive Uses

Share Your Ideas on How to Transform Buffalo's Brownfields.
The Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) Program enables communities to put strategies in place to return dormant brownfield sites back to productive use while simultaneously restoring environmental quality.

The City of Buffalo is currently undertaking three BOA studies -  Buffalo Harbor, Buffalo River Corridor, and Tonawanda Street Corridor.

The upcoming open houses will give citizens an opportunity to review the work to date for each BOA, and to help identify strategic sites for the development of more detailed master plans.
[Click image to enlarge]
Buffalo River Corridor BOA Open House          
April 22, 2014 6PM - 8PM
Old First Ward Community Center
62 Republic Street
Tonawanda Street Corridor BOA Open House
April 23, 2014 6PM - 8PM
Riverside Institute of Technology
51 Ontario Street
Buffalo Harbor BOA Open House
April 24, 2014 6PM - 8PM
Herman Badillo Bilingual Academy
315 Carolina Street  


Visit us online:

Event to Celebrate the Life and Work of Pete Seeger

The Peace Education Fund and The Buffalo History Museum are pleased to announce that the 2014 Lizzard Ball will be held in celebration of the life and work of Pete Seeger. Several musicians will lead the audience in singing Pete’s songs (& songs in his spirit), along with a personal story or two about Pete.  A $10 admission fee will help support peace education in WNY.

The Lizzard Ball
Thursday, May 1, 2014
Doors open at 6:30 p.m. (check out basket auction);
Program begins at 7:00 p.m. sharp.

Buffalo History Museum
One Museum Court (25 Nottingham Terrace), Buffalo 

Celebrating the Life and Work of Pete Seeger   cid:image003.jpg@01CF54FD.DC485260

Stories of Pete (Chuck Culhane)

Songs of Pete (& in his spirit):
Nan Hoffman & Joe Tumino
Jean Dickson
Dan Borodzik

History & Significance of May Day (Kurt Schneiderman)

Kilissa Cissoko
My Rap Name Is Alex
Caroline Zimmerman (Drum Circle for All)

Your hosts:  John Washington and Rita Yelda

Your $10 admission supports local peacemakers and peace works.
Basket auction, raffle, refreshments, too.


Sponsored by the Peace Education Fund cid:image004.png@01CF54FD.DC485260and 
Buffalo History Museum cid:image005.jpg@01CF54FD.DC485260 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Renewable New York -- Planning for a Clean Energy Future

By Jannette M. Barth, Ph.D.

Renewable New York is a newly formed grassroots organization dedicated to helping New York State transition to a 100% renewable energy infrastructure. It was founded by individuals who recognize that fossil fuels must be phased out quickly and replaced with the superior alternative: renewable energy combined with energy efficiency and conservation.

Renewable New York
will work to advance the goals of The Solutions Project, a national effort to move each state to an energy infrastructure that is 100% supplied by wind, water and sunlight. A team of scientists under the direction of Professor Mark Jacobson of Stanford University has described how New York can successfully, affordably and productively transition to renewable energy by relying solely on technology that exists today, creating new jobs in the process.

The Solutions Project plan for New York can be found here:

A brief summary of the plan is here:

A distinguished group, including five coauthors of the Solutions Project plan, has agreed to serve as Special Advisors to Renewable New York.

Renewable New York recognizes that there are many groups and individuals in New York State already successfully working to increase the production and use of renewable energy and to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels. Renewable New York seeks to assist with these efforts, in part by assembling a database of programs already underway so others can benefit from past efforts. For this reason, Renewable New York is asking organizations throughout the state to send us information about your projects so that we can post them online on our forthcoming website. (Please email with the name of your organization, contact information, a link to your website, and a brief description of your organization’s efforts.)

We’d also like to hear from individuals with particular relevant expertise in energy conservation and sustainable energy. A timely response will insure that your efforts are included when our website first goes online.

Renewable New York understands that the 2030 Plan for New York State as described in the Jacobson et al. study is just one feasible way to make the transition. The 2030 plan is a plan, not necessarily the plan. All of our ideas need to be thrown into the mix. It is fully expected that this plan will be adjusted as progress is made. The most immediate need is for us all to pull together to ensure a speedy transition to a sustainable future.

Please forward this message to list serves and other contacts.
 ~  ~  ~

DEADLINE to Submit Public Comments on the draft New York State Energy Plan is April 30, 2014. Deadline has been EXTENDED to May 30, 2014.

Help N.Y. State achieve critical goals on climate, energy efficiency and renewable energy by submitting your comments here:

Live Cameras on Great Blue Heron Nest at Cornell

Cornell University Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York

Camera #2: To see the nest from a different angle as well as other heron activities around the pond, Click here.

HINTS: Keep BOTH cameras displayed on your screen at the same time. A human will sometimes pan the second camera over the pond to see what the other heron is doing, such as fishing, nest repair or hanging out nearby.
Also, turn up the Sound Volume on your computer. There's a party going on in the background! 

Status Updates: In 2013, the male heron returned to Cornell's Sapsucker Woods on April 4 and the female arrived on April 8. 
As of today (April10, 2014) there has been no report of the arrival of the herons, but keep an eye out for them.
April 28: First heron spotted on Camera #2 in the pond!
About Great Blue Herons: They usually lay 2-6 eggs and share incubation duties for 25-30 days. Incubation begins with the first egg, and the young hatch asynchronously (not at the same time) over 2-5 days. After hatching, it'll take 7-8 weeks before they fly from the nest for the first time.
Live streaming video is from cornellherons at

Originally posted here on April 10, 2014 and will be updated later with other activities.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Fundraiser for Watchdog Group after Another Successful Year

Buffalo's Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) and are celebrating another successful year. Their watchdog research on corporate power, undue influence, and corruption received national media coverage and delivered big impact.

Some highlights from the year: 
  • Senator Schumer's recusal. They reported on the role of Senator Charles Schumer's brother in crafting the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal. After initially praising the merger, Schumer recused himself from oversight of the merger as a result of our investigation. [AP]
  • Front group exposed. They exposed a gas industry front group and greenwashing effort called the "Center for Sustainable Shale Development." The president of the Heinz Endowments was a major supporter of the initiative, and resigned from his position at the foundation after they reported on his ties to the gas industry. The Heinz Endowments has since severed ties with CSSD. [Tribune-Review]
  • Conflicts of interest in the Syria debate. Their report on the "military-industrial pundits" – pundits with defense industry ties who were pushing for war with Syria – received major coverage in the Washington Post and elsewhere and caught the attention of two of their favorite investigative journalists: Glenn Greenwald and John Cusack. [Washington Post]
  • Wall Street Higher Ed Watch. They teamed up with the Higher Ed Not Debt campaign to develop a new tool on LittleSis that will support campus-based research on Wall Street's role in higher education.
  • Open Buffalo. They helped plan the winning Open Buffalo proposal, and they're looking forward to contributing to Open Buffalo's efforts to build a more equitable, just, and democratic city!
  • Introducing: the Oligrapher. They developed a new tool on LittleSis that graphs the cozy ties of the powerful individuals and organizations profiled in the database (to see an example, go here).
CELEBRATION & FUNDRAISER: You can show your appreciation for PAI's work and also meet the watchdogs in person at a celebration and fundraiser, whimsically entitled "Pie for PAI" (free pie will be served by PAI). A $20 donation is suggested, and there will be a cash bar.

WHEN & WHERE: Thursday, April 17, 6 PM, Allen Street Hardware (backroom), 245 Allen Street, Buffalo.

If you can't make it to the event but still want to support PAI, you can always make a donation online.


UPDATE - April 10, 2014:  Meet Kevin Connor: Change Agent ~ Artvoice report by Harper S. E. Bishop

Volunteer for RIVERKEEPER Spring Shoreline Cleanup

WHEN: Saturday, April 26 from 9AM to 12PM

Riverkeeper organizes the largest Shoreline Cleanup in Buffalo Niagara with over 1,500 volunteers at 40 waterfront sites throughout Western New York. This event re-connects people to their greatest natural asset, fresh water.

This is your opportunity to join the effort to protect and revitalize our waterfront by cleaning up trash that is harmful for fish and wildlife!

Volunteer Registration: CLICK HERE to register online for one of 40 Sites for our Spring Shoreline Cleanup. On the morning of the cleanup, volunteers will meet the Site Captain at the designated meeting place at their site.

Site Captain Registration is closed.  

Questions? Contact Jarrett Steffen by email at or by phone at 716-852-7483 ext. 19.