Friday, December 9, 2016

New York must Lead the Fight against Climate Change - Take Action!

Wednesday, President-elect Donald Trump announced that he plans to appoint Scott Pruitt as Administrator for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

In response, NY Renews, a statewide coalition of 100 environmental, community, and labor groups, released the following statement: 

“The nomination of Scott Pruitt as EPA Administrator is an unmitigated disaster, yet more proof that the Trump administration intends to willfully ignore science and push our planet toward the brink of catastrophe, all at the bidding of the sole constituency they truly represent: the corporate elite.

As a former fossil fuel industry lobbyist, Scott Pruitt’s only expertise lies in lining the pockets of his friends in Big Oil, at the expense of the lives and livelihoods of millions of Americans, especially poor people and people of color already feeling the impacts of climate change.

In the face of the Trump administration’s rapacious greed, New York must lead the country in the fight against climate change. NY Renews is calling on Senators Schumer and Gillibrand to reject this nominee, and for Governor Cuomo to lead boldly in this moment of crisis. The Governor can stand up to Trump by proposing the nation’s most ambitious climate policy—the Climate and Community Protection Act—as a key component of his budget.

By mandating that New York de-carbonize its economy (the world’s 12th largest) by 2050, while protecting disadvantaged communities on the front lines and creating thousands of good green jobs, New York can break through the Trump administration’s corrupt lies and send a signal to the rest of the world: that we are strong, united, and more determined than ever to rise to the challenge of climate change.

Let Trump and his cronies shirk the responsibilities of history. New York needs to lead the way, now more than ever.”

TAKE ACTION: Tell Gov. Cuomo to be a Climate Leader! 
Join our fight by signing our petition - Click here
Local members of NY Renews include the Climate Justice Coalition of WNY, Interfaith Climate Justice Community, Open Buffalo, Partnership for the Public Good, PUSH Buffalo, Sierra Club, WNYCOSH, Massachusetts Avenue Project and Grassroots Gardens WNY.
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EPA chief Scott Pruitt. Adam Zyglis / The Buffalo News

Gas Pipeline Leaked for Over 1 Year in a NY State Forest

The gas leak shown in the video.
On Nov. 30, Ryan Weatherley and Tim Ross, both of Olean, NY, were hunting in a NY State Forest near Franklinville  where they came across an unusual site. A large quantity of water was rising up above the surface of a puddle. It resembled the beginnings of a geyser eruption (see photo).

Nearby was a marker in the ground indicating that this was the location of a National Fuel Gas pipeline, suggesting that this was a gas leak. Weatherley spotted a total of 4 leaks in the area and recorded a closeup video of one of them.

See a 10 second video clip showing a closeup of the leak in the photo with sound: click here to open in YouTube.

View the full video (2 minutes): click here

Weatherley called National Fuel Gas who said they would handle it and that he should leave the area, according to a statement posted online with his video. He went back to his car with his friend and the company called back. They verified that there was a gas leak and that they wouldn't be able to do anything until after Christmas.

Contacted by the Olean Times Herald, Karen L. Merkel, National Fuel corporate communications director, said on Friday, Dec. 2, that the company has been aware of the leak for some time.

When it was discovered, it was determined to be “a Type 3 leak that did not require an urgent fix based on its location” in a rural area, Merkel said.

“We knew about the leak long before we saw it on YouTube,” Merkel said.

Late Friday afternoon, Merkel said crews had measured the extent of the leak, which had not changed in over a year.

However, Merkel said, “because of the volume of calls received about this leak in light of the Facebook and YouTube videos, we are in the process of repairing it so our system isn't inundated with leak calls that does not involve an inherent safety risk.”

To read the full report at Olean Times Herald, click here.

See also: Gas leak has now been repaired, click here.

Editorial Comments:
National Fuel knew that this pipeline was leaking for over 1 year and did nothing to stop it until it was spotted by citizens and posted on YouTube. Surprising, and at the same time, troubling.

This was not a small leak. Those were not simply gas bubbles in the photo and video. A sizeable mass of water was constantly being lifted above the surface of the surrounding puddle. It would take substantial amount of gas to do that and to constantly maintain it.

It's difficult to accept that this was not a safety hazard. What would happen if someone tossed a lighted cigarette butt in the vicinity of that leak? Explosion? Forest fire?

Safety aside, natural gas is primarily methane, which is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming and climate change. National Fuel said that the extent of the leak "had not changed in over a year."

How many Type 3 leaks like this exist for a year or more in all of the gas pipelines in NY State? What is the total contribution of all such leaks to greenhouse gas emissions in the State? We need to know this information to accurately assess the full contribution of natural gas operations to global warming.

Gas pipeline (blue line) in Boyce Hill State Forest near Franklinville, NY

PROGRAM: Kids Speak Out for a Sustainable World

Learn about sustainability from those who will 
inherit and extend our environmental movement !!!  

Bring the whole family. This program is free and open to all.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Cities and States: Rise of Clean Energy can't be Trumped

A wind turbine in Adair, Iowa. Credit Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

IOWA CITY — THE wind turbines that rise out of the cornfields here reminded me on a recent drive of one postelection truth, even in the red state of Iowa.

As President-elect Donald J. Trump considers whether to break the United States commitment to the Paris climate accord, the rise of clean energy across the heartland is already too well entrenched to be reversed.

By 2020, thanks to MidAmerican Energy’s planned $3.6 billion addition to its enormous wind turbine operations, 85 percent of its Iowa customers will be electrified by clean energy. Meanwhile, Moxie Solar, named the fastest-growing local business by The Corridor Business Journal of Iowa, is installing solar panels on my house, and is part of a solar industry that now employs 200,000 nationwide.

Doomsday scenarios about the climate have abounded in the aftermath of the November election. But responsibility for effectively reining in carbon emissions also rests with business, and with the nation’s cities and states. Those are the battlegrounds. Worldwide, cities produce as much as 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions.

Many of the planet’s cities lie along the coasts and are threatened by slowly rising seas. Seventy percent of those cities are already dealing with extreme weather like drought and flooding. Add in aging infrastructure and waves of migrants and it is obvious that city planners, mayors and governors have had to re-envision how their cities generate energy and provide food and transportation.

“The concept of a regenerative city could indeed become a new vision for cities,” the Germany-based World Future Council reported recently. “It stands for cities that not only minimize negative impact but can actually have a positive, beneficial role to play within the natural ecosystem from which they depend. Cities have to constantly regenerate the resources they absorb.”

This idea won broad support at a recent gathering of city leaders from around the world in Quito, Ecuador, hosted by the United Nations. The Habitat III conference approved a “new urban agenda” that urges cities to adapt to climate change but minimize their harm to the environment and move to sustainable economies.

In a changing climate, these approaches make sense. As Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York, told the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce recently, “Cities, businesses and citizens will continue reducing emissions, because they have concluded — just as China has — that doing so is in their own self-interest.”

With or without significant federal support, reducing greenhouse gas emissions will require major private investment, as it has here in Iowa, and ambitious private-public initiatives from mayors and governors. We need to activate a new era of “regenerative” cities and states.

California’s recent move to reduce its carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 is a hopeful shift that other cities and states should emulate. This would involve setting high benchmarks for developing green enterprise zones, renewable energy, cultivating food locally, restoring biodiversity, planting more trees and emphasizing walkability, low-carbon transportation and zero waste.

Following this regenerative approach, the Australian city of Adelaide reduced its carbon emissions by 20 percent from 2007 to 2013, even as the population grew by 27 percent and the economy increased by 28 percent. The city experienced a boom in green jobs, the development of walkable neighborhoods powered by solar energy, the conversion of urban waste to compost and a revamped local food industry. The city also planted three million trees to absorb carbon dioxide.

Over 10,000 climate initiatives are underway in cities worldwide, according to the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, which represents 80 major cities. In nearby Des Moines, for instance, Mayor Frank Cownie recently committed the city to reducing its energy consumption 50 percent by 2030 and becoming “carbon neutral” by 2050.

Initiatives like those have become a “fill the potholes” reality for many mayors, regardless of political games in Washington. In San Diego, the Republican mayor, Kevin Faulconer, helped to push through a climate action plan that commits the city to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035. Other cities are following his lead.

“Dull, inert cities, it is true, do contain the seeds of their own destruction and little else,” the urban visionary Jane Jacobs wrote. “But lively, diverse, intense cities contain the seeds of their own regeneration, with energy enough to carry over for problems and needs outside themselves.”

In an age of climate change, and a possible shift in the federal government’s priority on climate action, never have those words been truer.

Jeff Biggers, the author of “Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland,” is the founder of the Climate Narrative Project at the University of Iowa.

New York Times

Cities and States Lead on Climate Change

Op-Ed Contributor
New York Times
Nov. 30, 2016

From the Pulpit: Minister says President-Elect 'crossed a moral/ethical and political line'

Excerpts from a Sermon by the Reverend Thomas H. Yorty
Westminster Presbyterian Church, Buffalo

November 20, 2016

Last Sunday, … I made some comments about the recent election and the moral courage and vision churches, this church, will be called upon to summon in the days ahead.

The rhetoric of the campaign revealed less about policy than it did about personal character and the blatant disregard by the president-elect for women and a long list of minorities including veterans and disabled persons. That hateful rhetoric is now being translated into the governing structure of the new administration with the appointment of senior advisors and agency directors who will chart the course of the nation.

Given the proud alignment of these advisors with white supremacist nationalism and xenophobia that brands whole groups like Muslims, Mexicans and African Americans as dangerous criminals and worse – I want to devote some time this morning to reflect on our role with regard to the new president and his aim to redefine America.

I do not remember in my lifetime or the past century such unabashed racism, misogyny and Arian ideology in a soon to be sitting president.

Here is a short list of some of the items on his agenda: the dismantling of Medicare and approval for the Keystone Pipeline—issues about which I grant reasonable people might disagree, but then there is the proposed the mass incarceration and deportation of Mexicans; the registration of all Muslims; the transfer of protected federal lands for commercial use and mining; backing out of the Paris climate accords; exposing our NATO partners in the Baltic to Russian annexation; and nullification of the Iran nuclear agreement opening the door to renewed efforts in Iran to build nuclear arms.

Since the levers of control in possession of the new administration include a GOP majority congress, the likely appointment of at least two Supreme Court justices and two thirds of state governorships and legislatures this agenda could be quickly enacted.

We are well beyond talk about ‘wait and see ’or ‘give the president-elect the benefit of the doubt.’ He has crossed a moral/ethical and political line that violates the principles of our faith expressed by Jesus in the greatest commandment and in the Bill of Rights and in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.

What makes America special, indeed what makes America great is that we are the first people to conduct an experiment in multi-cultural democracy. Two hundred and forty years later, with few exceptions, we can say that experiment has been a success.i

America is not natural. Tribalism is natural. Democracy is not natural. Warlords and dictators are natural. Democracy takes work. Pluralism takes brave and visionary leadership –its goes against the grain of thousands of years of history.

America is the exception and is exceptional because we forged freedoms in the crucible of our War of Independence and fought and died for those freedoms against the forces of darkness–forces that have reared-up again.

I did not plan on preaching on what appears to be our soon to be endangered rights and freedoms or the appointments of the president-elect. It is hard to identify a time when so many of the essential operating principles and core values of our democracy have been challenged not just by incendiary rhetoric but now by the appointment to positions of formidable power individuals who espouse views that until ten days ago were considered marginal at best.

What seems in danger of taking hold, if it has not already, is a broad-based malevolent, fearful, potentially violent turning, not just inward, but against one another. So we need to talk today, as a church.

Click here to view the full sermon.

WEBINAR: Climate Change and Public Health - What Can Municipalities Do?

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Climate Smart Communities Webinar  

Climate Change and Public Health - What Can Municipalities Do?

WHEN: Wednesday, December 7, 2016 at 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Climate change has increased the frequency of extreme weather events. Extreme weather like heat waves and severe flooding have serious impacts on public health. Last year, the New York State Department of Health released the Climate and Health Profile report which discussed health impacts like heat-related illnesses and deaths, allergies, respiratory distress, and water-borne diseases, among others.

Attend this Climate Smart Communities (CSC) webinar on December 7th to hear speakers from the NYS Dept. of Health describe the prognosis for New York State and their research on heat vulnerability and cooling centers. Speakers will provide examples of what municipalities can do to help protect their communities from the health impacts of climate change.

Please provide us with your name and community affiliation, either via email or telephone to the Office of Climate Change at or 518-402-8448. In the event that we cancel or postpone this webinar, respondents will be notified.

To join the webinar on December 7th, follow these steps:
First, click on this link:
Enter your name and email address.
Enter the meeting password: NYSDEC1
Click "Join".
Click “Call Me” in the onscreen “Audio Connection” box and enter your phone number to join the audio portion through your telephone.

Alternatively, call 1-844-633-8697 and enter the Event Number: 644 863 535, followed by your attendee ID (which will be displayed on your screen in the “Event Info” tab) to join the audio portion. The attendee ID is recommended but not required. It is also an option to join the audio portion via your computer speakers (provided your computer has a microphone).

Two days before webinar
, test the computer you plan to use by clicking on the following link:

For assistance with WebEx, go to and click "Support" on the left navigation bar.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This WebEx service includes a feature that allows audio and any documents and other materials exchanged or viewed during the session to be recorded. By joining this session, you automatically consent to such recordings. If you do not consent to the recording, discuss your concerns with the meeting host prior to the start of the recording or do not join the session. Please note that any such recordings may be subject to discovery in the event of litigation.

Community Discussion: Problems and Solutions of Plastic Pollution

To REGISTER, click here