Sunday, April 9, 2017

Join the People's March for Climate, Jobs & Justice - Hop on the Buffalo Bus to DC!




Join the March for Climate, Jobs & Justice 

On the 100th Day of the Trump Administration, we will be in the streets of Washington DC to show the World and our leaders that we will RESIST attacks on our People, our Communities and our Planet.

For more information, visit


State DEC denied a permit to build the controversial Northern Access Pipeline in Western NY

By David Kowalski

On Saturday April 8, 2017, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a statement denying a permit to National Fuel Gas to build the Northern Access Pipeline, citing concerns about impacts on wetlands, streams, fish and wildlife habitat along the route.

If built, Northern Access would transport gas obtained from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale using hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.” The high-pressure pipeline would move half a billion cubic feet of gas per day through Allegany, Cattaraugus and Erie Counties in Western New York, connecting with an existing pipeline for export to Canada.  

As proposed, the Northern Access Pipeline would have carved a 125-foot wide scar through the northwestern Allegheny Plateau, plowing through 192 stream crossings, 270 wetlands and over13 miles of a sole source aquifer that provides drinking water for thousands of Western New Yorkers. These impacts to water resources mirrored the same potential violations to the Clean Water Act presented by the proposed Constitution Pipeline that the NYS DEC rejected in April 2016, under the same certification requirements. 

Albany Rally ~ #NoNAPL
From the beginning of the permitting process DEC officials warned pipeline developers and federal regulators that the Northern Access Pipeline, as planned, could severely harm New York's water resources without major changes. Those warnings were ignored.

“Western New York deserves the same protection for our water, air and residents,” Diana Strablow, a member of the Sierra Club Niagara Group Executive Committee said earlier. “There should be no sacrifice zones. 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.” 

Landowners facing eminent domain, conservationists and concerned residents marched from DEC headquarters to the capitol building, where they spoke of the threat the pipeline would pose to their health, safety, air, water and livelihoods. The group also delivered copies of a letter signed by more than 140 organizations, businesses and faith communities calling on the DEC and Governor Andrew Cuomo to deny air and water permits for the 97-mile pipeline. 

"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, DEC has denied the permit due to the project's failure to avoid adverse impacts to wetlands, streams, and fish and other wildlife habitat," the DEC said in a statement on Saturday. "We are confident that this decision supports our state’s strict water quality standards that all New Yorkers depend on.”

A letter from the DEC sent to National Fuel and Empire Pipeline on Friday, April 7, 2017 detailing the basis for denial of the permit is here.

Sierra Club Niagara Group's Diana Strablow applauded DEC’s decision to deny the pipeline and she is looking forward to a safe, sustainable energy future. She said "The temporary construction jobs the project would have created were not worth the price our climate, our waters and the health, safety and well-being of our residents would have to pay, now and in future generations. We stand ready to support labor union jobs that protect our air and water and ramp up our renewable energy sector. We should not have to choose between good paying jobs and a sustainable future. We need a just transition from fossil fuels that takes care of workers and provides a healthy, liveable environment.”
Prior to the DEC's ruling, Lia Oprea, whose property is on the planned pipeline route, said “It’s unbelievable. My family has owned our land for four generations; we’ve been trout fishing in the area since the 1830s and our land is on the National Historic Register. Now, a multi-billion-dollar corporation wants to endanger our lives and our water so they can make more money. That’s not right."

Lia Oprea is now thankful that the pipeline permit was denied and that people united to stop it. She said, “the decision by the DEC renews our family's faith and our rural Western New York neighbors’ faith in local action. It feels as if a tide is turning in the right direction and our voices are finally being heard. It has been a long fight. You don’t get much sleep when your land, your livelihood, your heritage and your future is on the line. Every day, I hike through our fields and woods down to Cattaraugus Creek. which borders the farm that has been in our family for over 100 years. Our neighbors and I couldn’t live with a pipeline tearing through this. Now, thanks to the DEC, we don’t have to.”

The Northern Access Pipeline project previously received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The granting of permits by the state would have cleared the way for National Fuel to also build a gas compressor station in Pendleton and a dehydration facility in Wheatfield. Plans also called for another compressor station in Elma to be expanded.

Prior to Saturday's decision, critics of the Northern Access Pipeline, including opponents living in Pendleton and Wheatfield, called on the DEC to deny water and air quality permits in hopes of halting the project. In addition to fears regarding emissions, safety and potential leaks, protesters emphasized the 192 stream and 270 wetlands that the pipeline would cross.

Roger Downs, Conservation Director for the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, said that this is "an important victory for the thousands of citizen activists and impacted landowners of Western NY, whose grassroots organizing created the political space for this decision to be made. There may be no better remedy to FERC’s automatic rubber-stamp approval process than the kind of persistent public participation that holds decision makers accountable.”

A spokeswoman for National Fuel, Karen Merkel, said Saturday that the company would have no comment at this time. She said a news release would be forthcoming on Monday.  

Monday, April 10, 2017 - WGRZ: National Fuel Responds to DEC
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - Buffalo News: National Fuel calls DEC's denial of pipeline project 'troubling'
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper: Statement: Northern Access Pipeline Permit Denial
Tuesday, April 11, 2017 - Editorial: Pipeline decision still leaves crucial need for natural gas

Film Screening & Discussion: 'The Doctrine of Discovery - Unmasking the Domination Code'



The Doctrine of Discovery
~ Unmasking the Domination Code ~

 A film based on the book Pagans in the Promised Land: 
Decoding the Doctrine of Discovery by Steven T. Newcomb.

Wednesday, April 12, 6:00PM
at The Kiva, 101 Baldy Hall, UB North Campus, Amherst [Map]

Event is Free and Open to the Public - Refreshments provided.

Following the film, there will be a discussion facilitated by Agnes Williams, coordinator of the Indigenous Women's Initiatives.

Chief Justice John Marshall's distinction between "Christian people" and "heathens" in Johnson v. M'Intosh (1823) is still treated by the U.S. Supreme Court as valid law for the United States. The Supreme Court has used the claimed right of Christian discovery and domination in the Johnson ruling as its underlying rationale for every ruling it has handed down since 1823 regarding our original nations.

Columbus and other colonizers laid claim to the lands of original nations on the basis of the idea that Christians had a biblical right to discover and dominate non-Christian lands.

Cosponsored by: SSW GSA, the Humanities Institute, The Haudenosaunee- Native American Studies Research Group, and the Native American Graduate Student Association

Buffalo 'March for Science' Announces Rally Speakers and Features Community Groups

Details on Buffalo March For Science – April 22 

By WNYmedia Network - April 7, 2017

This Earth Day, April 22nd, Western New Yorkers will March in Buffalo alongside the National March for Science in DC to protect our health, environment, education, and safety.

The Buffalo March for Science begins at 1:00 PM at Soldier’s circle and follows Lincoln Parkway to a rally and science festival in Delaware Park ending at 3:30 PM.

We are excited to announce our rally speakers will include Dr. Gale Bernstein, the Commissioner of The Erie County Department of Health, Dr. Liesl Folks, the Dean of the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Dr. Joseph Gardella, a SUNY Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, and Gina O’Kussick, a Buffalo Public Schools Teacher for 12 years.

The science festival will also feature community groups such as the New York Public Interest Research Group, Out in STEM, Science Teacher’s Association of New York State, Sierra Club Western New York, Buffalo Women in STEMM, Buffalo-area Engineering Awareness for Minorities, and many more.

Join us before the March on April 20th for Benefit Concert and Science Poster Art Auction at Stamps…the Bar on 98 Main Street in Tonawanda at 6pm.

In the event of adverse weather the rally and science festival will take place in the Assembly Hall in Campbell Student Union on the Buffalo State College Campus.

For more information on speakers, supporting organizations, and plans for the March visit Questions can be directed to

Monday, April 3, 2017

ENERGY & CLIMATE NEWS ROUNDUP: Climate Progress - States to Exceed Targets - Clean Energy Future - Solar Surge - Wind Jobs - Grid Batteries

Climate Progress, With or Without Trump

By MICHAEL R. BLOOMBERG | Op-Ed Contributor |  MARCH 31, 2017

President Trump’s unfortunate and misguided rollback of environmental protections has led to a depressing and widespread belief that the United States can no longer meet its commitment under the Paris climate change agreement. But here’s the good news: It’s wrong.

No matter what roadblocks the White House and Congress throw up, the United States can — and I’m confident, will — meet the commitment it made in Paris in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are warming the planet. Let me explain why, and why correcting the false perception is so important.

Those who believe that the Trump administration will end American leadership on climate change are making the same mistake as those who believe that it will put coal miners back to work: overestimating Washington’s ability to influence energy markets, and underestimating the role that cities, states, businesses and consumers are playing in driving down emissions on their own.

Though few people realize it, more than 250 coal plants — almost half of the total number in this country — have announced in recent years that they will close or switch to cleaner fuels. Washington isn’t putting these plants out of business; the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan hasn’t even gone into effect yet.

They are closing because consumers are demanding energy from sources that don’t poison their air and water, and because energy companies are providing cleaner and cheaper alternatives. When two coal plant closings were announced last week, in southern Ohio, the company explained that they were no longer “economically viable.” That’s increasingly true for the whole industry.


Governor Cuomo and Governor Brown Reaffirm Commitment to Exceeding Targets of the Clean Power Plan

March 28, 2017 Albany, NY

With the announcement that the United States will begin to dismantle the Clean Power Plan, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. today issued the following statement reaffirming their ongoing commitment to exceed the targets of the Clean Power Plan and curb carbon pollution:
"Dismantling the Clean Power Plan and other critical climate programs is profoundly misguided and shockingly ignores basic science. With this move, the Administration will endanger public health, our environment and our economic prosperity.

"Climate change is real and will not be wished away by rhetoric or denial. We stand together with a majority of the American people in supporting bold actions to protect our communities from the dire consequences of climate change.

"Together, California and New York represent approximately 60 million people – nearly one-in-five Americans – and 20 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. With or without Washington, we will work with our partners throughout the world to aggressively fight climate change and protect our future."
New York and California lead the nation in ground-breaking policies to combat climate change. Both states – which account for roughly 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States – have adopted advanced energy efficiency and renewable energy programs to meet and exceed the requirements of the Clean Power Plan and have set some of the most aggressive greenhouse gas emission reduction targets in North America – 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. New York and California will continue to work closely together – and with other states – to help fill the void left by the federal government.

For more information on climate leadership in New York and California, click here.

Propping up coal avoids hard facts while denying science and subverting Buffalo

EDITORIAL - The Buffalo News | March 31, 2017

President Trump’s order to undo his predecessor’s policies on clean energy is unnecessary, unwise and, regarding Buffalo’s economic hopes, unwanted.

Forget, for the moment, the fears about the effect of fossil fuels on climate change. Forget, too, that clean air and water prevent illness and support longer, healthier lives. Forget that smog once enveloped American cities, and that rivers were so polluted they caught fire.

According to Trump, the reason to try to reignite the coal industry is that American energy independence is more crucial to the nation than fighting climate change. It’s a dubious argument, since the nation is already approaching energy independence as a result of hydraulic fracturing, but even still, the road to true independence is not through coal but renewable energy. For Buffalo’s purposes, that specifically includes the kind of clean energy that will be made available by the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo.

Buffalo today is in the business of the future, and coal – no matter how cleanly some systems may burn it – remains a fundamentally dirty fossil fuel whose days are numbered. Times change and coal’s is coming to an end. Nothing President Trump or anyone else does can change that fact. The future lies elsewhere: in wind, perhaps; in some technologies yet to be discovered, likely; and, to be sure, in the sun.

That’s the energy that SolarCity will produce. Coming on line soon as the Western Hemisphere’s largest solar-panel manufacturing plant, the project puts Buffalo at the leading edge of America’s energy future. Federal policies cannot stop it. Whatever government may do, economic forces will ultimately push it forward.

What Washington can do, though, is put obstacles in the way of clean energy, thereby kicking energy independence further down the road – thus rewarding the regimes that incubate terrorists and, yes, hastening the effects of climate change. That includes melting polar icecaps that will raise sea levels and create grave risks for coastal areas, including New York City.

No one really believes that coal is coming back or – except for those unfortunate people whose livelihoods depend on it – even that it should. What Washington and coal industry states should be doing is helping those regions to transition to a new economy, much as New York State has done for Buffalo and, before that, for the Albany area.


U.S. Solar Surged 95% to Become Largest Source of New Energy

By Chris Martin   | February 15, 2017

Can Solar Power Beat Out Coal in a Decade?

Solar developers installed a record 14.6 gigawatts in the U.S. last year, almost double the total from 2015 and enough to make photovoltaic panels the largest source of new electric capacity for the first time.

Solar panels on rooftops and fields accounted for 39 percent of new generation last year, according to a report Wednesday from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. That beat the 29 percent contribution from natural gas and 26 percent from wind.

The surge is further evidence that solar power has become an important part of the U.S. energy mix, even as President Donald Trump pushes for wider use of fossil fuels. The solar industry employs 260,000 people and accounted for 2 percent of all new U.S. jobs last year, and Republican and Democratic governors from 20 states sent the White House a letter Monday saying that clean energy is an important economic driver.

“What these numbers tell you is that the solar industry is a force to be reckoned with,” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s chief executive officer, said in a statement. “Solar’s economically winning hand is generating strong growth across all market segments.”

Total installations surged 95 percent from 2015, led by large fields of solar arrays, which generally cost less than putting panels on rooftops. Utility-scale development increased 145 percent last year, the most in the industry, as costs became increasingly competitive with power produced from gas, according to the report.

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Wind Energy: Jobs & Economic Benefits in all 50 States

U.S. wind power is the number one source of renewable energy generating capacity in the country, and has grown at an average annual pace of 12 percent over the last five years.

The American wind industry is a leading creator of jobs and economic development in areas that need it most, from America’s rural areas to Rust Belt manufacturing hubs. Texas, the national leader, has more than 22,000 wind jobs. Oklahoma, Iowa, Colorado, and Kansas each have more than 5,000 wind energy employees. In total, half of U.S. states have 1,000 or more wind jobs.

The U.S. wind industry is a major source of investment and economic development. The industry has invested more than $143 billion in U.S. wind projects over the last decade.

The U.S. wind industry continues to grow American jobs at a rapid pace. In 2016, the industry added nearly 15,000 new jobs and now employs a record 102,500 Americans in all 50 states. Since 2013, wind jobs have grown more than 25 percent a year, and wind turbine technician is America’s fastest growing job. The industry provides well-paying jobs in wind energy project planning, siting, development, construction, manufacturing and supply chain, and operations.
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Vattenfall & BMW Reach Agreement For Grid Storage Batteries

April 3rd, 2017 by Steve Hanley

Vattenfall and BMW have inked a new grid storage agreement. The contract calls for the purchase of new lithium ion batteries to store electricity generated by company’s wind turbine facilities. Vattenfall is one of the largest utility companies in Europe with operations in Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, and the United Kingdom. It is wholly owned by the Swedish government.

The batteries will be the same 33 kWh batteries used by BMW to power its i3 electric sedans and will include a proprietary battery management system created by BMW. The contract calls for the delivery of 1,000 batteries a year. Vattenfall is pushing ahead with aggressive clean energy goals. It recently announced that it would replace all 3,500 vehicles in its company fleet with EVs.

The announcement underscores how quickly things change in technology today. In late 2015, BMW was hard at work on a plan to use recycled EV batteries for grid storage. Last year, Tesla chief technology officer JB Straubel gave a talk in which he said his company had carefully evaluated both new and used batteries and decided that new was the most effective strategy.

“Energy storage and grid stability are the major topics of the new energy world,” says Gunnar Groebler, senior vice president of Vattenfall and head of its wind energy division. “We want to use the sites where we generate electricity from renewable energies in order to drive the transformation to a new energy system and to facilitate the integration of renewable energies into the energy system with the storage facilities. The decoupling of production and consumption and the coupling of different consumption sectors are in the focus of our work.”

Read more at CleanTechnica

Friday, March 31, 2017

Community Event: The People's Food Movement

[Click image to enlarge]
Shouldn't good food access match the needs of the people? 

Organizations from across Buffalo are working together to host The People’s Food Movement, a free, public event to ensure that community needs drive food access and policy.

The event will take place on Saturday, April 8, from 1:30pm to 4:30pm at the Delavan Grider Community Center, 877 East Delavan Ave, Buffalo. 

Help us bring Good Food to ALL Buffalo Communities!

Among food policy advocates, “good food” is generally recognized as being nutritious, grown sustainably, and produced with fair labor. Organizers of The People’s Food Movement insist that good food should also be equitably distributed.

At the start of the event, a light meal will be provided by the Buffalo Public Schools’ Food Service Department, showcasing their Farm to School menu items. This will be followed by an interactive education and advocacy session covering topics including:

  • How to implement an urban growers policy in the City of Buffalo (Food Policy Council for Buffalo and Erie County)
  • How to bring a Good Food Purchasing Program to Buffalo institutions (Crossroads Collective & WNY Environmental Alliance)
  • How to support sustainable agriculture through an “organic action plan” (Northeast Organic Farming Association of NY)
  • How to establish a regional network of black farmers (African Heritage Food Co-op & Crossroads Collective)
Families in attendance will also be invited to create art and share their stories related to issues accessing good food in Buffalo.

TALKS: 100% Renewable Energy in NY State by 2030 and Electric Vehicles

Transitioning NY State to 100% Renewables by 2030 
and State of Climate Action in NYS

Mark Dunlea and Betta Broad

WHEN: SUNDAY, April 2 at 7:00PM 

WHERE: Network of Religious Communities, 1272 Delaware Ave., Buffalo [Map]
Mark Dunlea is chair of the Green Education and Legal Fund (GELF) and  helps coordinate the statewide campaign to transition to 100%  renewables in NYS by 2030. He will provide an update on state efforts  around renewable energy, including a new study just announced by the  Governor. He will also discuss state legislation for a carbon tax; the Attorney General's effort to investigate the fossil fuel industry role in promoting climate denial; divesting the state pension funds from fossil fuels; and, Governor Cuomo's $7.6 billion bailout of the  nuclear industry.

Betta Broad will talk about Electric Vehicles (EV) in New York State. Betta  is Outreach Director, New Yorkers for Clean Power, an organization  focused on advancing solar, offshore wind, energy efficiency, electric vehicles, renewable heating and cooling, as well as creating jobs in  these industries for all communities in New York. New Yorkers for Clean Power is convened by NRDC, Frack Action, Catskill Mountainkeeper, The Solutions Project and Environmental Entrepreneurs  (E2).
Sponsors: WNY Drilling Defense, and Environmental Justice Task Force of the WNY Peace Center

Friday, March 17, 2017

Distinguished Lecture: Climate Change Denial in the Age of Trump

Save the Date!

WHEN: Friday, April 28, 8:30 AM - 10:45 AM

WHERE: University at Buffalo,  Davis 101, North Campus, Amherst

Free and Open to the Public 
Dr. Mann is a well-known and distinguished climate scientist. He is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed and edited publications, and has published three books including Dire Predictions: Understanding Climate Change, The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines, and most recently, The Madhouse Effect with Washington Post editorial cartoonist Tom Toles. 
For detailed information, click here

 To Register for the Event, click here


Thursday, March 16, 2017

NY State Support for Clean, Renewable Energy will Benefit Health, Climate and Economy

Renewable Energy will Benefit Everyone

By Robert M. Ciesielski

In August, the New York State Public Service Commission established the Clean Energy Standard, a procedure to enable 50 percent of the state’s electricity to be provided from renewable energy sources by 2030. The mechanism implements the 2015 New York State Energy Plan based on a four-year study of our state’s energy system.

New York’s goal is similar to the 50 percent renewable energy by 2030 law adopted by the California legislature last year and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown. The Massachusetts legislature also passed an energy bill in 2016 ensuring that by 2030, 40 percent of the state’s electricity will be provided from renewable sources, while including a major commitment to offshore wind power.

New York, California and Massachusetts comprise 20 percent of our nation’s population. If these states were considered a country, they would comprise the fourth-largest economy of the world. These states are a beacon to the United States, showing the promise of a sustainable, clean, renewable energy economy. Development of renewable energy not only counters climate change and the adverse health effects of polluted water, air and land, but offers substantial economic benefits to

The future economy is already available to us. In December, the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) announced the approval of a 90 megawatt wind farm off eastern Long Island. The project is supported by 85 percent of Long Island’s residents, including a bipartisan political coalition of workers, unions, environmentalists and business leaders. The wind project will supply electricity to some 50,000 homes. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has set a goal of 2,400 megawatts of offshore wind power by 2030, enough to power well over 1 million residences and provide for a healthy downstate economy.

Europe currently supplies much of its energy from wind and solar sources. Europeans supply over 10 gigawatts, or 10,000 megawatts, of electricity from offshore wind alone. The strength of the European economy is based in large part on the conscious decision of many of its countries to proceed with renewable energy development, stimulating investments in manufacturing and the installation of renewable energy sources.

Looking at the Earth, I am concerned about the detrimental effects of our current fossil fuel and nuclear based economy. The Paris Climate Agreement, signed by 194 countries, is a worldwide measure to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to prevent the global climate from increasing beyond 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) with the aspirational goal of a no greater than 1.5 degrees Celsius increase.

We have at this time the ability to help create a sustainable energy system capable of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the life of humankind and all creatures. Let us use the means we have been given to help protect the Earth and our children.

Robert Ciesielski is chairman of the Energy Committee of the Atlantic Chapter of the Sierra Club.

This article above was originally published in The Buffalo News.

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CAMPUS ACTIVISM: Protest with Dignity, Not with Rage

College students should resist – not silence – their political foes

by Bill McKibben 

Campuses can be Sites of Powerful Protest and Activism – if Students and Faculty use some Care

Canniness is a virtue, at least for organizers. When protest goes well – the Women’s Marches, the airport demonstrations – it helps immeasurably, limiting the right’s ability to act or at least exacting a high price in political capital. But protest can go badly too, and when it does it gives the bad guys a gift.

I should have gotten a chance to see this close up last week, because Middlebury College in Vermont, where I teach, had a protest go mostly sour. But since my mother was taken to the emergency room early in the week, I was camped out in her hospital room, not on campus. Still, the  picture of events that emerges from Facebook and campus chat rooms is fairly clear.

It began when conservative students at the college invited a man named Charles Murray to speak on campus. Murray is a professional troll – “Milo with a doctorate”, as one observer described him – who made his bones a quarter century ago with a vile book, The Bell Curve, arguing that intelligence tests showed black people less able. Academics of all stripes have savaged the book’s methodology and conclusions, but back in the day it was one of the many bulwarks of the nation’s ugly rightward and racist shift.

So, many students and faculty at Middlebury were mad that he was coming, as they should have been – it’s gross, in particular, that students of color should have to deal with this kind of aggressive insult to their legitimacy. But of course, that was the point for Murray and his enablers at the American Enterprise Institute: they’re trolls.

They want these kinds of fights, over and over, as part of their campaign to discredit academia and multiculturalism. And once some students had made the invitation, the die was cast, if only because Americans by and large believe that colleges and universities should be open to all ideas (and they’re probably right to think so, if for no other reason than it’s hard to imagine the committee that could vet what was proper and what wasn’t).

College authorities made their share of mistakes in the days that followed: there was no real reason for the political science department to officially support Murray’s visit, for instance. But other parts of the college reacted the right way: the math department, say, which held a series of seminars to demonstrate why Murray’s statistical methods were rubbish.

Instead, it was goodhearted campus activists – both some students and some faculty – that really fell for the troller’s bait.

Some began demanding that the college cancel the visit, and others threatened to prevent him from speaking. They failed at the first task but they largely succeeded at the second: when Murray arrived on Thursday he was greeted by a wall of noise, as protesters chanted and screamed him down.

When administrators took him off to a room where his remarks, and questions from a professor, could be live streamed, a few people pulled fire alarms. When they tried to rush Murray from the building, a small throng, many in masks, blocked the car and sent the professor who had been escorting the racist to the hospital with a concussion.

The result was predictable: Murray emerged with new standing, a largely forgotten hack with a renewed lease on public life, indeed now a martyr to the cause of free speech. And anti-racist activism took a hit, the powerful progressive virtue of openness overshadowed by apparent intolerance. No one should be surprised at the outcome: in America, anyway, shouting someone down “reads” badly to the larger public, every single time. And it is precisely the job of activists to figure out how things are going to read, lest they do real damage to important causes – damage, as in this case, that will inevitably fall mostly on people with fewer resources than Middlebury students.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Wacky Winter Weather: Record Warmth in Buffalo and U.S. - Linked to Global Warming?

By David Kowalski

February 2017 was the second warmest February in the 123-year period of record for the contiguous U.S., according to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The average U.S. temperature was 41.2°F, a whopping 7.3°F above the 20th century average.

Nearly one-quarter of the U.S. showed record warmth in February (NOAA's U.S. map, below). This included Buffalo, which set a record for its warmest temperature for February.

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Buffalo also broke a 111-year-old record for one day’s warmth. The city shattered the record for Feb. 24 when the temperature soared to 71 degrees, the all-time warmest day in February in Buffalo’s history.  On Feb. 26, 2000, the thermometer also crested to 71 degrees.

On average, Buffalo's normal daily high temperature doesn't reach 71 degrees until May 30, according to weather service data.

The monthly average temperature for February as recorded at the Buffalo Niagara International Airport was 34.8 degrees.

Buffalo had one of its least-snowiest Februarys on record, with only 5 inches of snow over the 28 days. February's normal monthly average is 17.3 inches.

Elsewhere, Chicago, a city that's also known for snowy days during the second month of the year, had no measurable snow in February. February 2017 will go into the record books as only the third February with just a trace of snow, joining 1998 and 1987.

Below is a map of the recent weather pattern for February 9-22 across the country posted at weather. com

The map indicates record warmth dominating the Eastern two-thirds of the country. More than 4000 heat records were broken. Also, an abundance of heavy rain ("atmospheric river" events) and snow (over 400 inches at ski resorts) fell along the West Coast. Flowers bloomed in the South. And closer to home, there was very little ice in the Great Lakes.

For the second consecutive year, mild winter weather conditions resulted in little to no ice cover on Lake Erie.

In the Buffalo area, the absence of snow cover and presence of warm temperatures on some days this February were suitable for people to play golf

While the warm winter temperatures are welcomed by many people, such unseasonal warmth can put area apple and cherry growers as well as grape growers on edge. When trees and vines begin budding early, and then are hit with cold weather and hard frost, the crop can be ruined.

Changes in the timing of spring can affect human health, bringing early-season disease-carriers such as ticks and mosquitoes, and an earlier, longer and more vigorous pollen season, the National Phenology Network warned.

But typical winter weather is definitely not over, and neither are strong winds.

Wind gusts over 35 mph have been recorded in Buffalo on more than one of every three days since Dec. 1, a Buffalo News analysis of National Weather Service data shows.  Only one winter season since 2009-10 has been windier: 2013-14.

A double whammy of wind and snow was recently forecast. For March 13 through March 15, a winter storm watch with heavy and blowing snow has been issued for much of Western New York.

[Click image to enlarge]  

Could the unusually warm and wacky winter weather patterns across the country be linked to global warming?  

We know that the planet continues to get warmer. 2016 record global warming beat the 2015 record which in turn beat the 2014 record, as documented previously. In fact, 16 of the 17 warmest years occurred in the consecutive years 2001 through 2016.

Climate scientists have repeatedly warned that, with global warming, we should "expect the unexpected" in terms of weather.  Higher global temperatures mean more energy in the weather systems of Earth. That energy along with a complex mix of ocean circulation, water evaporation & precipitation, and moving air masses combine to produce our everyday weather and long-term climate.

Higher global temperatures have changed the environment on Earth. Polar ice and glaciers are melting, oceans are warming and sea level is rising. Unprecedented droughts, deadly heat waves, destructive wildfires fed by heat and drought, and historic floods are all occurring more frequently.

 “All weather events are influenced by the changed environment,” says Kevin Trenberth, a climate researcher with the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research. 

As a result of the Paris Climate Agreement, virtually all nations of the world have begun to implement plans to curb global warming by reducing greenhouse gas emissions primarily from burning fossil fuels. But stable greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, already in the air and oceans, will continue to raise global temperature and influence weather events for decades to come. The sooner the world acts in earnest to curb global warming, the better.

UPDATE - March 19, 2017 
Cold snap kills nearly half of cherry blossoms, pushing back peak bloom date 

Read the report at  The Washington Post 

3/14/2017 Cherry blossom buds are covered in ice after a snowstorm in DC. Susan Walsh/AP

Saturday, March 11, 2017

RALLY: Stop the Fracked Gas Pipeline - Ride the Bus to Albany

Join Us March 27th to Rally in Albany!

Ride the Bus from Buffalo!

We need you! 

  More Pipelines mean More Fracking for Gas, More Leaks and More Toxic Waste. These are incompatible with Clean Water, Clean Air, and a Stable Climate.

National Fuel is planning to build a 96 mile pipeline to move fracked gas from the drilling fields of PA through our beloved Southern Tier crossing 180 streams, 270 wetlands and 7 ponds along the way. The proposed project includes a strongly opposed  compressor station in Pendleton and a dehydration station in Wheatfield to prepare the gas for export under the Niagara River and into Canada.

For more information, go to: Sierra Club Niagara Group


Monday, March 6, 2017

Panel Discussion: Buffalo at the Crossroads - Advocating for Climate Justice in a Cold City - Friday March 10 at 4:00 - 5:30 pm

Click for a Map to O'Brian Hall on the UB North Campus

Celebration and Fundraiser for the Public Accountability Initiative - 'Pie for PAI' on 3.14 - Pi Day!

Pie for PAI, a celebration and fundraiser for the Public Accountability Initiative, will be held Tuesday, March 14th (3.14, which just happens to be Pi Day! π = 3.14... get it?), at Rohall's Corner. 

Please join us for homemade pie and a drink at the bar.

Pie for PAI
Tuesday, March 14, 6PM - 8PM
Rohall's Corner in the backroom (540 Amherst St, Buffalo, NY)
$20 suggested donation
Free pie, cash bar

Over the past nine years, PAI’s watchdog research on undue influence and corruption has spiked rotten deals, prompted resignations and recusals, and exposed corporate front groups, in Buffalo and beyond.

LittleSis, our database and research community that tracks ties between politicians, lobbyists, financiers, and their affiliated insti
tutions, continues to grow and inform hard-hitting journalism and organizing.

Some quick local highlights from this past year:

PAI research was behind a front-page Buffalo News story on Rep. Chris Collins' insider investment tips to Buffalo-area elites, as well as Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. Check out the article in the Buffalo News:

PAI exposed the political influence strategies of three New York State oil and gas pipelines, two of which were later canceled. Check out the report:

PAI helped kickstart the Buffalo Research Collective, a network of local organizers who are mapping out Buffalo’s power structure to help guide local campaigns. Check out the Buffalo Research Collective here:

Come hear about all these and much more at Pie for PAI!

By challenging corporate power, we change the terms of the debate and make sure people – not just wealthy corporations – get a seat at the table and a piece of the pie (wink wink).
Please join us! 

But if you can't make it, you can always donate online at this link:

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Is there an Environmental and Economic Place for Nuclear Power, Given the Awesome Potential of Renewable Energy?

Nuclear power is not the answer to our energy needs

By Lynda Schneekloth

There are some of us still alive today who were here when the first atomic bomb was exploded on July 16, 1945, near Socorro, N.M.

That test was code-named Trinity. Within one month, on Aug., 6, 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. Another was dropped Aug. 9 on Nagasaki. At least 200,000 people were killed instantly. After the war, we developed procedures to harness the power of nuclear material to make steam and electricity.

In 1953, President Dwight Eisenhower proposed “Atoms for Peace.” Those of us in our 70s, 80s and 90s well remember “duck and cover,” the drill to hide under our school desks to protect us if an atomic bomb exploded nearby.

We also remember “The Atom is your Friend,” with lovely animated characters assuring us that nuclear power was an enormous contribution to civilization. Or was it?

I won’t go into the dangers of nuclear war right now, except to say that the Doomsday Clock, which gives a scientific approximation of the probability of global catastrophe from nuclear war, is at 2.5 minutes to midnight, not this close since the 1950s.

But let’s look at nuclear power, since it is being promoted as the solution to climate change. Those of us who live in Western New York have intimate relationships with nuclear material because the Manhattan Project, which conducted research on the atomic bomb, had facilities here.

Many here died from unprotected exposure while working on that project and, in fact, some land in our region remains contaminated with nuclear material. Since the 1970s, nuclear waste from energy and military production has been stored at the West Valley Demonstration Project, a nuclear waste facility 30 miles south of Buffalo.

This site is still being “studied” to figure out what to do, and in the meantime, it is leaking.

After more than 70 years of exploding bombs and splitting atoms, we do not know what to do with the deadly waste, much of which will persist on the Earth for 10,000 years.

Here in Western New York we have more nuclear problems than West Valley and illegally disposed of waste. We are a route for shipping liquid, highly radioactive waste from Canada to South Carolina. Further, we live in a state where the governor proposes to offer a $7.6 billion subsidy to a private company – Exelon – so it can continue running aging nuclear power plants in our state, generating more dangerous waste. This in spite of excellent science that argues that nuclear power worsens climate change. Remember, there is no safe level of exposure to nuclear radiation.

No one asked us if we wanted to split the atom; no one has said he was sorry. In my lifetime, we have spread lethal material across the globe. Perhaps in the lifetime of my grandchildren we should find, contain and secure the deadly nuclear waste and pledge to not make anymore.

Lynda Schneekloth is a member of the Nuclear Committee of the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, and the Sierra Club Niagara Group

This article was originally published in The Buffalo News

~     ~     ~

So do we really need nuclear power? 

Is nuclear sustainable? Given the awesome potential of renewable energy, is there an economic place for nuclear power? Why is nuclear power globally in decline at present? What are the limitations?

These are some of the key questions examined in a detailed report, Nuclear Power - Game Over, by Derek Abbott, physicist and electrical engineer.