Thursday, September 14, 2017

Bill McKibben - Renowned Environmental Author, Educator and Activist - to Speak in Buffalo


Bill McKibben 

will speak on 

“The Desperate Climate Fight: Ordinary People in an Extraordinary Moment,”

 Friday, Sept. 29, 8pm at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.

Bill McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, which is regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change, and has appeared in 24 languages. He is a founder of the first planet-wide, grassroots climate movement, 350.org, which has coordinated tens-of-thousands of rallies in 189 countries since 2009. 

Time Magazine called him 'the planet's best green journalist' and The Boston Globe said that he was 'probably the country's most important environmentalist.' 

Schumann Distinguished Scholar in Environmental Studies at Middlebury College, he holds honorary degrees from a dozen colleges and universities, including the State University of New York. In 2011 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2014 was awarded the Right Livelihood Prize, sometimes called the ‘alternative Nobel.’

Bill McKibben will deliver the featured lecture of the Buffalo Humanities Festival, a three-day event featuring  environmentally-themed talks, music, performances, community debates and other activities that focus on issues of local, regional and national environmental justice and economic sustainability.

General admission tickets for Bill McKibben’s lecture are $20 for the public and $15 for students. Click here to buy tickets online.

There is a separate VIP reception with McKibben in the AK Café. The VIP reception is included with the purchase of a VIP Full Festival Pass, which is $60 for the public and $40 for students.

A complete festival schedule, including additional ticket information is available online -- Click here.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Distinguished Lecture: Global Climate Change and Human Health

 University at Buffalo
 
RENEW Distinguished Lecture Series Presents
Dr. Linda S. Birnbaum, Ph.D., D.A.B.T., A.T.S.


Global Climate Change and Human Health: Global is Local
 

Dr. Linda Birnbaum, Director of the NIEHS and NTP, has spent more than 35 years researching, evaluating and educating the public on risks associated with hazardous environmental exposures. UB’s Institute on Research and Education in Energy, Environment and Water (RENEW) welcomes Dr. Birnbaum from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on September 15th, when she will discuss the impacts of global environmental health and what it means for local families and communities. She will discuss 21st century environmental health challenges associated with extreme weather events, community health resiliency, economic impacts of climate change on health, and co-benefits for health of mitigation/adaptation efforts.
 
September 15th, 2017

11:45am - 1:30pm

403 Hayes Hall, UB South Campus

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Community Mayoral Debate: Social Justice Advocates will pose Questions to Buffalo Mayoral Candidates



The event is non-partisan and will not endorse any candidate. The organizers encourage everyone's involvement and education in the process.
 
Indigenous peoples are one of the populations in the city that can be invisible and marginalized in the overall debate surrounding the city. This event will be to shift the conversation. 

There will also be groups addressing issues of racial justice, environmental justice, fair economics and other issues. 

Monday, August 21, 2017

Report: Wind and Solar Power Reduce Pollution, Benefit Our Health and Climate, and Save Money

Wind and solar power are saving Americans an astounding amount of money

Not getting sick and dying from pollution is worth quite a bit, it turns out.

By David Roberts  | Vox.com | Aug 18, 2017

Wind and solar power are subsidized by just about every major country in the world, either directly or indirectly through tax breaks, mandates, and regulations.

The main rationale for these subsidies is that wind and solar produce benefits to society that are not captured in their market price (a.k.a. “positive externalities”). Specifically, wind and solar power reduce pollution, which reduces sickness, missed work days, and early deaths. Every wind farm or solar field displaces some other form of power generation (usually coal or natural gas) that would have polluted more.

Subsidies for renewable energy sources are meant to remedy this market failure, to make the market value of renewables more accurately reflect their total social value.

This raises an obvious question: Are renewable energy subsidies doing the job? That is to say, are they accurately reflecting the size and nature of their benefits to society?

Researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley Lab published a comprehensive report on the health and environmental benefits of wind and solar in the US between 2007 (when the market was virtually nothing) and 2015 (after years of explosive market growth).

Below are the main conclusions:
  • From 2007 to 2015, wind and solar in the US reduced SO2, NOx, and PM2.5 by 1.0, 0.6, and 0.05 million tons respectively;
  • Reduction of those local air pollutants helped avoid 7,000 premature deaths (the central estimate in a range from 3,000 to 12,700);
  • Those avoided deaths, along with other public health impacts, are worth a cumulative $56 billion (the central estimate in a range from $30 to $113 billion);
  • Wind and solar also reduced CO2 emissions, to the tune of $32 billion in avoided climate costs (the central estimate in a range from $5 to $107 billion).
If you add up those central estimates, wind and solar saved Americans around $88 billion in health and environmental costs over eight years. Not bad.

Costs and benefits

In this case, as in all such cases, it is somewhat misleading to simply compare total subsidies with total health and environmental benefits. The total amounts are not all that matters. It also matters how costs and benefits are distributed — i.e., equity matters as well.

To put it bluntly: A dollar in federal taxes is not equivalent to a dollar of avoided health and environmental costs. The latter dollar is worth more than the former dollar.

Why is that? Simple: Federal taxes come disproportionately from the wealthy, via our progressive federal income tax, but health and environmental benefits disproportionately help the poor. And as any good economist will tell you, the same dollar is worth more to a poor person than it is to a rich person.

This is something that often gets lost in discussions of environmental regulations. It’s not just that their total benefits almost always exceed their direct costs. It’s that those benefits are uniquely egalitarian and progressive.

In the case of climate change, any reduction in CO2 emissions benefits everyone on Earth (egalitarian), while disproportionately helping the poor, who suffer earliest and most from climate impacts (progressive).

In the case of local air-quality benefits, cleaner air benefits everyone in the region who breathes (egalitarian), while disproportionately helping the poor, who are more likely to live in close proximity to fossil fuel power plants (progressive).

In terms of equity, converting a dollar of wealthy people’s money into a dollar of health for low-income communities seems like a good deal to me. And if you can get multiple dollars of low-income health benefit for every dollar of high-income taxes, well, that’s a no brainer.

Everybody breathes. Any dollar of federal income taxes used to produce a dollar of air and climate benefits is a net gain for justice.

Excerpts of the article are shown above. To read the full article, visit Vox.com

Sunday, August 20, 2017

COMMUNITY FORUM: Educational Presentations on Mitigating Climate Change

ADK Niagara Frontier Chapter

Conservation Committee

presents a

CONSERVATION CONVERSATION

on

 Mitigating Climate Change

September 16, 2017

 Free and Open to the Public.

 

The program will discuss methods that are currently being utilized or are being researched to decrease the effect of climate change on people, communities and aquatic ecosystems. This program is offered at no charge as part of an educational outreach to educate individuals, policy makers and community activists about climate change and how each one of us can participate in decreasing the effect it has on the planet.

 

Our expert speakers will share a wealth of knowledge on a topic they are passionate about:

  • Christopher Page, MS – Senior Biologist, Mote Marine Laboratory in the Florida Keys will speak about Coral Re-skinning to mitigate the effect of climate change on coral reefs. He will discuss the importance of coral reefs and the impact climate change is having on them.
  • Zoé A. Hamstead, PhD – Assistant Professor, University at Buffalo School of Architecture & Planning and Director of the Community Resilience Lab, Dr. Hamstead will share her research on the impact of extreme heats on communities and the development of socially equitable, livable & healthy urban communities.
  • Leah B. Bernhardi, BS, MS, J.D. will share her experience in December 2015 when she spent a week in Paris, France attending the 21st Conference of the Parties for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. She will discuss the Paris Agreement, what other countries are doing and what we can do about climate change

 

LOCATION:

Daemen College
Schenck Hall / Auditorium Room 107
4380 Main Street
Amherst, NY 14226  [Map - Click here]
 

 

Doors open at 8:30 am, refreshments will be available.
Presentations start at 9:00 AM. The program ends at noon.

For more information, contact Jay Wopperer at jgw423@hotmail.com

Co-sponsored by:  Daemen College Global & Local Sustainability Department

 

 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

PUBLIC HEARING: National Grid Proposal to Increase Electricity Delivery Charges by 17.5% -- Attend the Hearing and/or Submit Your Comments Online!

The NY State Public Service Commission will conduct a Public Hearing on a proposed rate hike by National Grid on August 1st in the Gallery Conference Room at the Central Library in Buffalo [Map].

Two Sessions of Public Hearings: 
  • Afternoon Session: 2:00 pm Information and 3:00 pm Public Comments 
  • Evening Session: 6:00 pm Information and 7:00 pm Public Comments
National Grid proposes to increase electricity delivery charges by 17.5%, which would add $8.93 to an average customer’s total bill.

PUBLIC COMMENTS:


Public Webinar: Is Enough Being Done to Clean Up Lake Erie?

Click to RSVP for the August 2nd Webinar

It is unacceptable for Lake Erie—or any Great Lake—to be 

 

so polluted that it becomes a threat to our health.


Three years ago, on August 2nd, the unthinkable happened. Toledo, a major Great Lakes city, had to ban drinking the water supply it draws from the lakes. For two and a half days, Toledo area residents could not drink the water flowing from the taps in their homes. Businesses, from restaurants to hair salons to grocery stores, had to shut down or severely curtail operations. Residents waited in long lines for clean water or drove several hours to stock up on bottled water. A few weeks later residents of Pelee Island, Ontario residents faced a similar ban that lasted nearly two weeks.

Two years ago, the Governors of Ohio and Michigan joined with the Premier of Ontario to commit to reducing the amount of runoff pollution, specifically phosphorus, flowing into western Lake Erie by 40 percent. The commitment marked a promise to the people of Lake Erie—promise of a lake nearly free of harmful algal blooms and a significant reduction in risk to people and the lake.

Unfortunately, progress by Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario 

 

has been painfully slow.


Join the Alliance for the Great Lakes and Freshwater Future for a special lunchtime briefing for an update on the Lake Erie crisis, our assessment of progress by Ohio, Michigan, and Ontario, and the next steps that must be taken for the governments to fulfill their promise of a clean Lake Erie. 

RSVP for the Webinar  Here


We’ll also share how you can help and leave plenty of time to answer your questions. Hope you can join!

For the health of the Great Lakes,
Jill Ryan
Executive Director
Freshwater Future

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Buffalo Youth Traveled to D.C. to Participate in Empowering Workshops and March for Climate Justice

Recap: MAP Youth Attend D.C. Climate March

Author: Mariama McCoy, MAP Youth  |  Re-posted from GrowWNY.org

June 12, 2017

Climate JUSTICE and YOUTH


Youth from Buffalo's Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP) had the chance to go to D.C. for the People’s Climate March to represent agriculture and youth for they affect and are also affected by climate change.  Although the trip began with an overnight bus ride with very uncomfortable seating and walking very far with suitcases, the youth were lucky to have found free accommodations at a local church.  There they played Uno and Jenga while waiting to for the Youth Contingent to start.  They attended the People’s Climate March Youth Contingent workshops to talk about topics that connect some youth to climate change issues at Standing Rock, including a chief’s son.















At the Youth Contingent, they participated in a skit that showed the power of action, starting with disempowerment and then putting in place changes that could empower youth. They learned that to fix our country’s economy we have to address underlying issues such as racism.  They learned chants and songs for the day of the march, and obtained some free posters to march with.  They heard speeches from several different organizations and leading people in climate social justice movement.  After the workshops there was a dance party where the youth met teens from other organizations such as the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) fellowship in New York City, as well as the Young People’s Action Coalition.


The next day, the youth took public transportation and caught a ride on golf carts to meet the Sierra Club Niagara Group bus from Buffalo.  Before the march even started, they saw a girl faint from heatstroke.  During the march, people were selling water for $5 a bottle, but luckily the youth had already gotten water for only $1 a bottle.  The march was a far walk in the heat, but the youth had the chance to yell chants into a bullhorn, things such as “water is life” alongside Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Youth Director of Earth Guardians.

Finally, they marched past Trump’s hotel and saw some awesome art work, including a life-size piece “Putin’s Puppet”.  Together with thousands of people, they sat down in the street and all patted their hearts to make a heartbeat for 100 seconds for the first 100 days of Trump being in office.  Their trip ended with a trolley ride to get lunch before boarding the Sierra Club buses and return to Buffalo.

Friday, June 30, 2017

'Conservationist of the Year' named by ADK Niagara Frontier Chapter

By David Kowalski ~ ADK-NFC Member.


At the Annual Meeting of the ADK Niagara Frontier Chapter, the Conservation Committee presented  Diana Strablow of the Sierra Club Niagara Group with the the Conservationist of the Year Award.


Diana Strablow (holding ADK award plaque in the photo) organized opposition of landowners and environmental groups against National Fuel’s proposed 97-mile Northern Access Pipeline. She also recruited the public to testify against the proposed pipeline at NYS DEC hearings and to submit written comments. The 24-inch diameter pipeline would have crossed private properties in Western New York as well as numerous wetlands and waterways in order to export fracked gas from Pennsylvania to Canada.

Strablow said "We asked Governor Cuomo and the DEC to do the right thing and deny the water quality certificate and air permits for this destructive project. Not only do we have a moral obligation to stop enabling fracking in Pennsylvania, we must protect our finite supply of fresh water."

After an in-depth review of the proposed Northern Access Pipeline project, and following three public hearings and the consideration of over 5,700 comments, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation denied the permit due to the project’s failure to avoid adverse impacts to wetlands, streams, and fish and other wildlife habitat.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

NY Renews Coalition Reacts to NYS Senate Failure to Pass Climate Bill Prioritizing Jobs and Justice

On Thursday, the New York State Senate failed to pass the Climate and Community Protection Act.

In response, the NY Renews Coalition released the following statement: 
 
 On June 1st, Donald Trump made the disastrous decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. On June 21st, the last day of the legislative session, the leaders of the New York Senate failed again to pass a visionary climate bill--the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA)--at the precise moment when we need state leadership the most.

It is disturbing that, even in the wake of President Trump’s dangerous climate policy rollbacks, the New York State Senate failed to pass landmark climate legislation. This failure is as unconscionable as it is cynical. In ignoring legislation to protect New Yorkers from the worst impacts of a changing climate and seize the vast economic opportunity in clean, renewable energy, the Senate is telling frontline communities, clean energy workers, and all New Yorkers to wait at least another year for this life-saving, economy-boosting legislation--another year our state cannot afford to lose in tackling the growing climate and inequality crisis.

New York, the world’s 12th largest economy, can and should be showing that states’ actions can address the climate crisis even while the Trump administration does everything it can to eviscerate United State’s position as a climate leader.

The CCPA gives New York’s goal of reaching 100% clean, renewable energy by 2050 the force of law, creates fair labor standards for renewable energy jobs, and ensures that state energy funding is accessible to the low-income and environmental justice communities that need it most. The bill was developed and is championed by over 110 organizations statewide, representing many of New York’s most dedicated experts in labor, environmental, and social justice policy.

Support for the bill has united low-income communities of color in Buffalo with Hurricane Sandy survivors in Long Island, with clean energy investors in Manhattan. It united labor and environment, from the Teamsters and the Transit Workers, to Catskill Mountainkeeper and Sierra Club. It garnered support from climate champions like Bill McKibben, Mike Brune, and Naomi Klein; racial justice leaders like Ben Jealous, Rashad Robinson, and Black Lives Matter Greater NY; and progressive visionaries like Mark Ruffalo, Robert Reich, and Heather McGhee. And it has garnered bipartisan support in the state senate itself.

Despite this overwhelming, statewide, cross-sectoral support, the bill’s sponsors--the eight members of the Independent Democratic Conference-- and the senate leadership found any number of excuses not to bring the bill to the floor for a vote. This was their chance to prove they could pass a top-level progressive priority, and they did not live up to the challenge. They did not #CallTheRoll. Meanwhile, the Assembly led on the issue, passing the bill with strong bipartisan support by an even wider margin than last year.

It is time for Governor Cuomo, who did not include the CCPA in the budget, to step up and lead the way to passage for the nation’s strongest climate, jobs, and justice bill. We urge the Governor as well as the IDC and senate leadership to pass the CCPA in a special session this summer.

If the legislature is returning to Albany to protect the education of NYC school children, then surely the Governor and senate can also pass legislation critical to the protection of their very future--not to mention the millions of children outside NYC and around the world whose futures will be foreclosed by the climate crisis. The state’s leaders have left Albany with serious unfinished business, and they must redress this wrong.

In the meantime, NY Renews will continue to hold the Governor and the senate accountable, and stand up for New Yorkers who want good green jobs, healthy communities, and to protect their communities from the impacts of climate change.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

New York Can Lead on Climate - Call the NYS Climate Bill's Sponsor - Take Action Today!


ACT ON CLIMATE: Please take two minutes TODAY to call NYS Senator Avella, at 518-455-2210. Urge him to bring the Climate and Community Protection Act (S 6617) to a vote before the end of session.

Don't worry if you're not a constituent---this bill is deeply relevant to all New Yorkers, and we all have a right to advocate with Senator Avella, the bill’s sponsor.

Yesterday, the bill passed the NYS Assembly by a whopping 103 to 41 vote! Now its up to the NYS Senate. Please make the call now. 

Thank you for taking Action on Climate Change!

~    ~    ~


After Paris climate agreement exit, here's how New York can lead

By U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley and NYS Assemblyman Steve Englebright

June 19, 2017 | City & State New York

On June 5, the country's boldest statewide climate legislation, the Climate and Community Protection Act, was reintroduced in the New York state Assembly. The Assembly, under the leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie, passed the CCPA when it was first introduced last spring, and we applaud his leadership. Now it is up to the state Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to do their part in finally ratifying this critical piece of legislation and signing into law its bold and equitable vision for a fossil fuel-free economy in New York state.

With the Trump administration exiting the Paris Accord – jeopardizing global stability and forfeiting American leadership in the burgeoning renewable energy market – now it is up to states like New York, the world’s 12th largest economy, to lead the way for the rest of the country.

Some of the most promising leadership, in New York and other states, is being driven by grassroots campaigns that are forging a new kind of politics, one that unites climate goals with the fight against inequality and racial injustice.

The CCPA is backed by NY Renews, a statewide coalition of more than 100 member organizations, with environmental justice groups on the front lines of climate change joining forces with organized labor and economic justice groups, as well as more traditional environmental groups.

NY Renews and the CCPA are exemplary for the kind of bold, equitable and people-centered climate action we need all across the country. This is a vision that we both share, and a vision that is embraced by the federal 100 by ‘50 Act, which one of us, U.S. Sen. Merkley, introduced in April, along with Senators Sanders, Markey and Booker. The 100 by ‘50 Act is a bold framework that for the first time lays out a detailed set of national policies to transition the United States to a completely fossil fuel-free economy, while ensuring a just transition for workers and low-income and disadvantaged communities.

Much like the federal 100 by ’50 Act, the CCPA mandates a shift to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, and 100 percent by 2050, across all sectors. This is critical, as much of New York’s progress to date has focused on the electricity sector, though buildings and transportation also represent huge sources of emissions.

If the bill becomes law, New York state will be doing its share of the clean energy transition framework put forward in the federal 100 by ‘50 Act.  In the process, New York would create over 100,000 new jobs per year for the next few decades, vastly accelerating employment trends that are already demonstrating the economic benefits of clean energy. But setting the state’s renewable energy goals in law will be critical to reaping these benefits; laws are needed to ensure the goals’ durability over the next 33 years, and to lend certainty to clean energy investors.

Crucially, the CCPA and the 100 by ‘50 Act have something else in common. When the 100 by ’50 Act was unveiled outside the U.S. Capitol on April 29, the first advocate to speak at the press conference announcing the bill was Elizabeth Yeampierre, a NY Renews leader and director of the environmental justice organization UPROSE based in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. As Yeampierre urged, “Policy makers on the state and federal levels must follow the lead of communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis – low-income communities and communities of color – and put justice at the core of their agenda.” Both the 100 by ’50 Act and the CCPA do exactly this.

Embracing the proposals of grassroots leaders, each bill requires that at least 40 percent of public investment is targeted to ensure that the transition benefits disadvantaged communities.  Further, all publicly-supported investment dedicated to the transition must adhere to high-quality workforce standards, ensuring that workers share in the benefits of the transition. 
Whatever else it means, the result of the election of 2016 surely means that the best – and maybe the only – way we can do our part to mitigate the self-made crisis of climate change is by winning bold policies at the state and local level, state by state and city by city. Protecting the planet from catastrophic climate disruption is a huge responsibility; it is also a huge opportunity for investment in our communities. But the opportunity will be tragically lost if our elected leaders do not do their part, which is exactly that – to lead. By passing the CCPA, New York state leaders can inspire New Yorkers, our nation and people everywhere at this critical turning point for people and planet alike.

Jeff Merkley is a United States senator from Oregon and the author of the 100 by '50 Act. Steve Englebright, chairman of the Assembly's Environmental Conservation Committee, is the lead sponsor of the Climate and Community Protection Act.


Saturday, June 17, 2017

Free Film Showing: Story of the decline of the coal industry, the cost to people’s lives, and the need for a 'just transition' to a new energy future.

Special Showing of the New 
National Geographic Documentary Film 

FROM THE ASHES.

Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 7:00 PM,
North Presbyterian Church,
300 North Forest Rd., Williamsville, NY.


From The Ashes is a groundbreaking new documentary that goes beyond the rhetoric of the “War on Coal” to explore the energy transition emerging from the response to climate change. It is a compelling look at the lives and issues to include a heartbreaking look at stake for our economy, health and climate. 

Learn more about an industry on the edge and what it means for our future. WNY is a part of the coal story as witnessed locally in the closing of the NRG Huntley Plant and its impact on Tonawanda.

Please Join Us!
Free and Open to the Public ~ [Map]

The film will be followed by a discussion led by David Alicea, President of the Board of New York Interfaith Power and Light and organizer for the Sierra Club.

View the Film Trailer:




Sponsors: New York Interfaith Power and Light + North Presbyterian Church + Shir Shalom + Sierra Club + Western New York Environmental Alliance + Interfaith Climate Justice Community + WNY Land Conservancy + Climate Justice Coalition of WNY
 

Water Blessing at Canalside: Join the Sisters of Mercy, International Guests, Native Americans and Other Friends

JOIN US IN A WATER BLESSING

Friday, June 23, 2017     Canalside at 10:00AM

More than 300 Sisters of Mercy of the Americas will gather for their congregational Chapter meeting from June 19 – June 29, 2017  at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Buffalo.  Sisters will be coming from various parts of the US as well as the Philippines, Guam, Argentina, Belize, Chile, Peru, Guatemala, Honduras, Guyana, Jamaica, and Panama. 

To show the Sisters of Mercy commitment to the human right to water, on Friday, June 23, at about  9:15 AM, sisters who are able will participate in a Contemplative Walk down Main St. from the Hyatt to Canalside. They will be led by our Native American friends who will be drumming and chanting. Others who wish to join the sisters can do so anywhere along the Main St. route.


At Canalside at 10 AM they will be welcomed by Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, Mayor Byron Brown,  and Congressman Brian Higgins’ assistant, Bonnie Kane Lockwood. Brian needs to be in Washington that day.  State Senator Tim Kennedy will also be with us.  All will make very brief remarks about their commitment to care for our Earth and protect our waterways.

Other friends in the Interfaith Climate Justice Community and members of the Climate Justice Coalition will also gather at Canalside to welcome the sisters.

Following short  prayers and readings, our Native American friends will speak briefly about their history with Lake Erie, and with their own water issues. Sisters who have brought water from their bio-regions will come and pour their water into a large container accompanied by sisters in their native costumes and soft drumming by our Native American friends.  They will then sprinkle the blended water over the sisters and  over the area, and then  pour a little into Lake Erie.

The sisters will return to the Hyatt Regency Hotel to continue their deliberations.  The blended water will remain in the meeting room.

CANALSIDE: Metro Rail, Driving Directions and Parking, click here.

MAP: Click Here.

Contact:
Sister Eileen O’Connor   834-9987  eileenoconnor2003@yahoo.com  
or
Paul McQuillen    997-8659   paulmcesq.@nyagv.org

Friday, June 2, 2017

NY Renews Coalition Reacts to Gov. Cuomo's New Climate, Jobs and Justice Initiatives in the Wake of Trump's Rejection of the Paris Climate Accord

Following President Trump’s decision to exit the Paris Accords, Governor Cuomo announced the creation of a climate and jobs initiative and the creation of an environmental justice and just transition working group.

NY Renews, a coalition of 109 labor, community, and environmental organizations, released the following statement in response:

"We applaud the Governor in the wake of Trump's shameful decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord for taking an important step toward realizing the massive job-creation potential of tackling the climate crisis head-on. NY Renews has been pushing our elected officials at the state level for over a year to implement strong climate legislation—the Climate and Community Protection Act—that prioritizes jobs and justice.

The Governor's announcement in partnership with Climate Jobs NY of a $1.5 billion request for proposals for renewable energy development is a great example of the kind of agency cooperation and investment that will be needed from the state now and in the coming decades to protect New York families from the worst impacts of climate change, while driving a resurgence of good union jobs in the new energy economy. And the commitment from the Governors of CA, WA, and NY to meeting the Paris Accords sends a strong signal to the world. Now New York must turn to the business of meeting and exceeding that commitment.  

To that end, we look forward to working with the Governor to pass visionary legislation that gives New York’s climate and clean energy goals the durable force of law and ensures fair labor standards are attached, so we can keep these ‘climate jobs’ coming for decades to come. Our legislation would also direct a minimum of 40% of state funding to environmental justice communities. The many NY Renews members who have been appointed to the Governor’s new Environmental Justice & Just Transition Working Group will continue to reaffirm that the best way to champion environmental justice is to give it the force of law and ensure that state resources are going to the fenceline and frontline communities that need them most.

As we defy Trump's historically bad decision, we stay grounded in the future we're fighting for: a future where we’ve averted climate catastrophe through the leadership of organized labor and working people. To lock in that future, New York will need to pass ambitious framework policies, like the Climate and Community Protection Act."

Governor Cuomo Announces Major Climate and Jobs Initiative including Environmental Justice & Just Transition Principles

June 2, 2017 | Albany, NY |

Governor Cuomo Announces 
Major Climate and Jobs Initiative.

Announcement Follows Governor's Executive Order Committing New York to Uphold the Standards Set Forth in the Paris Accord.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the Clean Climate Careers initiative following the U.S. decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. The initiative is a multi-pronged strategy to grow New York's emerging clean energy economy and prepare the workforce for the long-term careers associated with this industry.

In partnership with the ILR School's Worker Institute at Cornell University and Climate Jobs NY, this initiative focuses on accelerating energy efficiency and renewable energy growth to make New York a magnet for new energy technologies and creating 40,000 new, good-paying clean energy jobs by 2020.


Highlights of the Governor's initiative:
  • Will Accelerate Renewable Energy Growth With up to $1.5 Billion Investment in Renewable Energy Projects
  • Largest Clean Energy Procurement by a State in U.S. History Strengthens New York's Position as National Leader on Climate Change
  • Establishes an Environmental Justice & Just Transition Working Group to Help Historically Underserved Communities Prepare for a Clean Energy Future and Adapt to Climate Change
  • New York State Solar Capacity Set to Double by End of 2018

 "As the federal government abdicates its responsibility to address climate change -- at the expense of our environment and economy -- New York is leading the nation in advancing a clean energy future," Governor Cuomo said. "The Clean Climate Careers initiative is a groundbreaking investment, representing the largest state clean energy procurement in U.S. history. With this $1.8 billion initiative, New York continues to tackle the challenges of climate change and create the high-quality, good-paying careers of tomorrow." 

“Climate change affects everyone, but its consequences are particularly devastating for low-income residents, communities of color, immigrants, and other vulnerable communities,” said Eddie Bautista, Executive Director of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. “We look forward to advising the State on ensuring a ‘just transition’ to a post-fossil fuel economy as it invests in historically-disadvantaged communities and creates family-supporting jobs.” 

For additional information, visit governor.ny.gov

To view the Governor's Executive Order committing New York to uphold the Paris Accord standards, click here.

Online Meeting: Legislating a Price on Pollution to Pay for a Justice-based Transition to a Sustainable Economy

 
New York Business Roundtable on Carbon Tax
With President Trump withdrawing the US from the Paris climate accord, it becomes that much more critical for the states to lead.  We invite you to join us on Tuesday, June 6th at 4pm to learn about the national movement for carbon tax legislation, discuss a new legislative proposal for New York by NY Renews, and offer your business perspective on this important issue.

You can join us by phone, by computer, or in person at hosted gatherings.  Currently we have a confirmed gathering at the CommonSpot in Ithaca, NY and a location in Binghamton pending sufficient registrants.

The online portion of the meeting will be hosted via Zoom, and you will have the option of joining by video or audio. All registrants will receive an email in advance of the meeting with instructions on how to join.
This is a FREE event.  Registration is required - Click below.

Agenda
The main portion of this meeting will last 1.5 hours with the option to continue for those interested.
  • Introductions & Goals
  • Speaker Presentations
    • Richard Eidlin, American Sustainable Business Council
    • Chris Burger, New York State Sustainable Business Council
    • Stephan Edel, NY Renews
  • Q&A
  • Questions for participants, discussion
    ----------------------------------------------------------------
  • Survey feedback on policy proposal
  • Continued networking at in-person gatherings
Goals for this gathering
  1. Gather input from independent New York State business leaders on the NY Renews policy proposal
  2. Engage around the idea of legislating a price on pollution to help pay for a just transition to a sustainable economy in New York
  3. Connect with like-minded businesses both locally and across the State
We hope you can join us.

U.S. Pullout of Paris Climate Accord Ignores Risks to Nation, People and Planet

Editorial: Rejection of Paris accord takes U.S. in the wrong direction

By Editorial Board | The Buffalo News | Fri, Jun 2, 2017 |

With an ill-considered stroke of the pen, President Trump has turned the country’s back on its own people, its business leaders, its scientists and most of the rest of the world. His rejection of the Paris climate accord also carries the real risk of allowing China to supplant the United States in world leadership.

His decision could defeat the world’s best hope of preventing catastrophic climate change or at least buying time so that coastal areas, including New York City, have an opportunity to adapt.

That’s bad for America and it’s bad for Buffalo, home to what will be the hemisphere’s largest solar panel manufacturing plant. There may be opportunities to mitigate the damage Trump is inviting, but the risks are undeniably higher today than they were on Wednesday.

Few doubt at this point that the climate is warming; the argument is over the causes, and whether the warming can be stemmed. But, in the worst case, what is the downside to better gas mileage, cleaner air and a chance to avoid the calamities that could await? After all, there really is a fast-growing crack in the Antarctic ice shelf. Something really is happening to the planet that deserves the attention of the world, including the United States.

Consider the breadth of American interests that favored remaining in the pact. Start with Trump’s own secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, who, as chief executive officer of Exxon, supported the Paris agreement. So does his successor, Darren Woods. So does Elon Musk, whose company owns SolarCity, which will produce solar panels in Buffalo.

So do the leaders of ConocoPhillips and British Petroleum. So do General Electric, Dow Chemical, 3M, Disney, Coca-Cola, JPMorgan Chase and many other influential businesses whose leaders understand that America’s interests lie in an interconnected world in which science is not kicked to the curb as a political inconvenience.

In a Rose Garden speech replete with misstatements, Trump stiff-armed American interests and joined Syria and Nicaragua, the only two countries that didn’t sign the accord – and Nicaragua only because it didn’t go far enough.

The decision also puts the United States at odds with the other 194 nations that signed the agreement, including our closest allies. With that, Trump is tilting those countries away from the United States and eroding our influence in the world. The void is liable to benefit China, which is eager to expand its influence.

Fortunately for Americans, this matter is not solely up to Trump or even Congress. The governors of New York, California and Washington state have formed the U.S. Climate Alliance and announced that their large and influential states will continue to abide by the agreement. Other governors are also expressing interest.

New York and California, alone, comprise nearly 20 percent of the country’s population. This alliance means research and investment in clean energy will continue to exert a useful influence on commerce and the environment.

Voters may also have a chance to weigh in. The process of backing out of the agreement could take as much as four years, making Trump’s decision an issue in the 2020 presidential election, and perhaps a key one.

It’s hard to escape the sense that Trump’s decision was based in some significant part on his thirst to project the image of the “winner” that he promised during last year’s campaign. He has been largely stymied on anything requiring legislation – repealing the Affordable Care Act, enacting tax reform – and even thwarted thus far on his executive effort to ban Muslims from traveling here.

Trump has left the door open a crack, saying he will try to negotiate “a deal that’s fair.” It’s a puzzling comment, since the existing agreement is voluntary and already allows each country to set its own commitments.

Still, Americans, 70 percent of whom supported staying in the agreement, should let the president, governors and their legislative representatives know that they are interested in the condition of the country and the planet they leave to their children and grandchildren.

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The Isolationist. Adam Zyglis / The Buffalo News
[Click image to enlarge]
 

Monday, May 29, 2017

A Diverse NY Coalition Seeks to Pass Landmark Climate Policies Centered on Justice and Equity for Workers and Communities

NY Renews is a coalition of 109 labor, community, environmental, and social justice organizations across the state of New York from Buffalo to Brooklyn. The coalition seeks a transition from dirty fossil fuels to 100% clean renewable energy with good jobs, healthy communities, and climate justice for all New Yorkers.

NY Renews is fighting to pass the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), which sets in law that:
  • NYS must eliminate all climate pollution by 2050
  • 40% of state energy funding must go to disadvantaged and environmental justice communities
  • Fair labor standards must be attached to renewable energy jobs
In 2016, the CPPA passed the Assembly and got majority co-sponsorship in the Senate before being blocked by Senate Republican leadership.

NY Renews is also developing a new bill to fund a just transition to renewable energy by levying a penalty on polluters. This bill should be completed by August. If passed, it would be the first policy of its kind in the country.

Ultimately, NY Renews wants to build a stronger, more diverse climate movement in New York. The coalition wants to use that power to pass landmark climate policies that center justice and equity for workers and communities.

The state climate leadership is going to be critical under Trump.  If New York were a country, we’d have the 12th largest economy in the world. We have a huge opportunity to lead the rest of the country, and the world, toward equitable climate policy, and defy Trump’s insane climate denial.

Recently, Senators Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders introduced a federal bill, the ‘100 by '50 Act,’  which would provide job training for low-income Americans and Americans of color, as well as those in coal communities, to work in the renewable energy sector.

Similar campaigns are popping up in other states, from Washington to New Jersey.

NY Renews plans to complete the just transition bill this summer, and to launch it together with the CCPA as a package in September. NY Renews will push to pass as much of it as possible in the final state budget scheduled to be released April 1, 2018.

Learn how you can get involved with NY Renews. Sign up for actions and updates by visiting the NY Renews website.

Buffalo-area members of the NY Renews Coalition include:

Buffalo Coalition for Economic Justice
Climate Justice Coalition of WNY
Grassroots Gardens WNY
Interfaith Climate Justice Community of WNY
Massachusetts Avenue Project
OPEN Buffalo
Partnership for the Public Good
PUSH Buffalo
Sierra Club
UAW Region 9
Ujima Company
Urban Chamber of Commerce 
WASH Project
WNY Council on Occupational Safety & Health

New York State is Betting Big that by Switching to Cleaner Power it will become a Jobs Magnet

How New York Is Building the Renewable Energy Grid of the Future

This is a story of ripping up old incentives that encouraged selling as much electricity as possible, then unleashing the entrepreneurs.

By Leslie Kaufman, InsideClimate News   
May 25, 2017

New York State is making a $5 billion bet that by making its power cleaner, it can become a magnet for the clean energy jobs of the future.

Its efforts stand out among the many states racing to integrate more renewables into their power grids—such as Massachusetts, Hawaii and California—not necessarily for the technology but because of what's happening behind the scenes: New York has launched a Herculean effort to turn around an antiquated system that has deterred innovation for generations by rewarding utilities for selling more electricity.

To get utilities to embrace a changing electricity system, the state is establishing ways for the companies to be reimbursed for some of the savings from energy efficiency programs that are reducing demand for their services. It also is allowing them to reap more return on their investments in equipment needed to bring more renewable energy into the grid. And it is investing in entrepreneurs who are inventing the technology to make it all work.

The state is so gung-ho that its rules require utilities to come up with demonstration projects that test out a new business model, in partnership with at least one private sector company.

The result, say the state's regulators, is that New York is already attracting hundreds of innovative companies of all stripes. The plum opportunities are not only in installing wind turbines and solar panels, which are generating new employment opportunities across the country, they are also in emerging technologies related to smart grid management and storage. These jobs are largely invisible to the public and, in some cases, didn't even exist a few years ago.

While the state hasn't yet projected overall how many jobs are in the new energy economy, they have released enticing tidbits. In January, the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) released a report projecting that by 2030, New York's energy storage industry could realize annual revenues between $5.6 billion and $8.7 billion, with total job growth between 17,300 and 26,800 employees. Jobs in the energy storage industry already grew by 30 percent between 2012 and 2015 to 3,600.

"We are now the leading market for energy storage companies," boasts John Rhodes, president and CEO of NYSERDA, pointing to companies like NOHMs Technologies in Rochester and BessTech in Troy. "And probably microgrid technology as well."

One of the companies that has been drawn to New York's new markets is Opus One Solutions. New York's vision relies on distributed, independent power operations that ramp up and down with the intermittent sunshine and wind, as well as with the fits and starts of demand for power. Opus One has software that can understand how those waves of power from distributed resources interact with traditional power flows. Just as important, its software can make real-time price estimates for the value of those local power sources.

"Why New York?" asks Alison Smith, the start-up's director of markets, gazing out at the Manhattan skyline from a conference room at the Urban Future Lab, a state-sponsored incubator for start-ups.
"It is the most forward-thinking state in North America in considering how we build the critical elements of a distributed grid," she answers.

Incubating Clean Energy Innovation

Three years ago, New York announced that it would spend $5.3 billion toward meeting its goal of having 50 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. (The state only had 24 percent renewable generation in state this year.) Mandates related to these standards have resulted in significant additions of wind and solar to the grid—but that is just the most readily visible part of the changes New York is undergoing.

According to Richard Kauffman, the state's chairman of energy and finance, it didn't take long to figure out that "New York cannot cost effectively make this transition just by bolting wind and solar onto the grid of Westinghouse and Tesla," referring to two of the original creators of the grid, George Westinghouse and Nicola Tesla. Instead, New York wants a new "hybrid grid" that integrates intermittent and distributed resources like wind or solar or microgrids.

 At the core of the problem to getting that grid was a stodgy, legacy financial model for utilities that didn't support innovation. Utilities have historically been rewarded with 9 percent rate increases when they add capital expenditure for transmission and distribution to new central power stations, which in New York are historically gas and coal with some nuclear and hydro. The result is that New York has added so much base load capacity to meet peak demand (largely in these traditional forms of energy generation) that on an average day the state uses just 54 percent of generation capacity.
"Technology is not what is holding us back," said Kauffman. "Could I tomorrow install smart meters in every home and save energy? Absolutely. But until now, there has been absolutely no financial incentive to do this."

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Eco-Friendly Electric Buses for Buffalo?

Sierra Club Niagara Group is advocating for the NFTA to purchase ELECTRIC BUSES, which have zero emissions and so are more eco-friendly than the existing buses.

The group is hosting a consultant to make a presentation about assisting transit agencies with the transition to electric buses on Thursday, June 8th, 6:00pm at the Crane Branch Library in Buffalo.


An electric bus will be on display at the Allentown Art Festival and the Elmwood Farmers' Market on Saturday, June 10th.  

Learn more about electric buses, and how you can get a ride on one, at the event described below.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

2017 Annual Meeting Awards Luncheon -- League of Women Voters Buffalo/Niagara

BUFFALO - NIAGARA
Honoring 

Roger Cook

Recipient of the 

Making Democracy Work Award

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Hyatt Place Restaurant, 5020 Main Street, Amherst 

Lunch served at Noon - Reserve by May 30 (see below)

Special Awards:
  • Joan K. Bozer Leadership Award: Kathleen McCarthy
  • LEE Award: Joanne Hameister for Long Term Commitment to the League with Energy, and Excellence
  • Making Democracy Work Award: Roger Cook  
  •  
Luncheon: $25 League members and students; $30 guests
Write checks payable to LWVBN and send your check and name(s) of attendees to LWVBN, 1272 Delaware Ave., Buffalo, NY 14209 for receipt on or before May 30.

Award Ceremony Only: Contact the league office at lwvbn@lwvbn.org by May 30 and plan to arrive at 1:30 p.m.

 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Solarize Amherst Workshops: A New Town Program to make it Easier and More Affordable to Purchase Rooftop Solar Panels

New program makes it cheaper for Amherst residents to 
'go solar'

By Joseph Popiolkowski | Buffalo News Online
May 4, 2017

Installing solar panels on roofs in Amherst is about to get easier and more affordable with the launch of a new town program.

Participants in the "Solarize Amherst" campaign can expect to save 10 percent through discounted group rates the town negotiated with three installers: Solar by CIR, Solar Liberty and Frey Electric.

"The town is acting as a liaison between the installers and residents and commercial property owners to work together to set up their own contracts if they want to install solar," said Mike Delamere, the town's energy manager.

A kickoff event is scheduled for 4 p.m. Tuesday in Council Chambers at Town Hall, 5583 Main St., Williamsville, where residents may schedule a free solar evaluation, which includes a roof evaluation, preliminary site design, energy usage profile and financial analysis.

Workshops also will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. May 17 at the Harlem Road Community Center, 4255 Harlem Road, and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 20 in the Clearfield Community Center, 730 Hopkins Road.

To encourage participation, the town is also waiving its $200 electrical permit fee for property owners who sign a contract with one of the three installers by June 5.  The program runs between May 9 and July 31.

A 4 to 5 kilowatt system is sufficient for most small residences and costs between $10,000 and $12,000, but that cost is cut by half after various rebates, Delamere said. Most homeowners can expect to recoup their upfront cost in four to five years, he said.

"Then after that it's all free electricity," he said. "The return on investment is about 4 to 5 years."

The roof-mounted photovoltaic panels degrade to about 80 percent efficiency after 20 years, Delamere said. An inverter in the basement to convert direct current to alternating current lasts between 10 to 15 years.

Installing a system can result in considerable savings for homeowners over the long term, he said.

"Any excess power that you produce actually reverses the electric meter," he said. "If you're producing more power than you're using, like on a sunny day in the summertime, you'll be reversing your electric meter so you get a credit for later on in the evening or different times in the year."

The solarize campaign is one of at least four initiatives the town's Clean Energy Communities Committee is completing for Amherst to become a Clean Energy Community, a program of New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and become eligible for a $250,000 grant.

The Town Board on Monday will consider purchasing an electric vehicle for the town fleet. The town has also trained building inspectors to be qualified to review solar plans and do inspections of solar installations and is adopting a unified solar permit, which are standards from NYSERDA that municipalities should follow.

"The weather patterns are really changing so everybody's getting more interested in doing what they can to save the planet," Delamere said.
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