Monday, December 11, 2017

Film Premier: 'HAPPENING - A Clean Energy Revolution' - Features Buffalo Activists

PUSH Buffalo and the WASH Project star in new film "HAPPENING: A Clean Energy Revolution" premiering TONIGHT, Monday 12/11, at 8:00PM on HBO!

Free Screening TONIGHT at 8:00PM at the Frank Merriweather Library, 1324 Jefferson Ave., Buffalo

Watch the Film Trailer:

As described by director Jamie Redford, HAPPENING is personal journey into the dawn of the clean energy era as it creates jobs, turns profits, and makes communities stronger and healthier across the US. Unlikely entrepreneurs in communities from Georgetown, TX to Buffalo, NY reveal pioneering clean energy solutions while my discovery of how clean energy works, and what it means at a personal level, becomes the audiences’ discovery too. Reaching well beyond a story of technology and innovation, ‘Happening’ explores issues of human resilience, social justice, embracing the future, and finding hope for our survival.

HAPPENING features PUSH Buffalo, the WASH Project and the effort to combat climate change and achieve energy democracy in Buffalo's neighborhoods.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Workshop on Climate Justice in Western NY

Climate Justice Workshop

Sam Magavern and UB Law | December 1, 2017, 10 am

Please join Sam Magavern of the Partnership for the Public Good and a team of seven University at Buffalo Law School students for a workshop on climate justice. 

This Climate Justice Workshop will be held December 1, 2017 from 10am to Noon at 617 Main St. (Market Arcade - Map) in the First Floor Community Rooms.

Topics to be covered include:
·         Climate change impacts on Western New York
·         The climate justice movement in Western New York
·         Electric buses
·         Community-owned solar power
·         Methane leakage from natural gas pipelines
·         State carbon taxes
·         Divesting from fossil fuels and investing in renewables
·         Making public school food more nutritious, sustainable, and just
·         How to grow and sell produce in the City of Buffalo

Free and open to the public.  To reserve a seat, please email by November 28.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017


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

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

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

Now, more than ever, let's be thankful for our Freedoms, and celebrate them!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Pricing Climate Pollution in NY State will generate Billions for Clean Energy Investments and over 100,000 Jobs Annually

Polluters Must Pay their Fair Share to Fund the Needed Increase in NY State’s Renewable Energy Investments
to Stabilize the Climate and Protect Health

ALBANY, NY -- New York State must increase public clean energy investments by $4-5.5 billion per year in order to exceed its emission reduction targets, according to a groundbreaking report released today by the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at UMass. This level of public investment would generate between 145,000 and 160,000 jobs annually in the first ten years, and could be achieved by placing a fee on climate pollution starting at $35/ton of emissions in 2021. The study is available at this link.

"Governor Cuomo has taken some good steps on climate and clean energy, but New York State is simply not close to being on track even to achieve the state's own goals for renewable energy build out, much less taking adequate action to support global climate stabilization," said Dr. Robert Pollin, lead author of the study and Distinguished Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. “The Governor has the chance to show visionary leadership on climate change, but he must take action commensurate to the scale and urgency of the problem; this report lays out how."

The release of the study follows on the heels of last month’s announcement from NYSERDA that a total of 150,000 jobs currently exist in clean energy in New York. This level of new clean energy jobs would be created every year with increased state investment in clean energy, according to the PERI study.

“As countries gather for the 23rd U.N. climate conference, this report couldn’t be more timely,” said Jessica Wisneski, Deputy Director at Citizen Action of New York. “Governor Cuomo has pledged to meet and exceed the minimum requirements set by the Paris Climate Accord, and this report demonstrates how he can do that while creating tens of thousands of jobs.”

The study found that these clean energy jobs would cover a range of fields, including engineering, construction, sales, assembly, management, and office support, and that the growth in clean energy jobs would benefit both women and minority workers, who are underrepresented in the fossil fuel sector.

“New York State can protect our families’ health, create hundred of thousands of jobs, and invest in ambitious renewable energy solutions by making corporate polluters pay for the damage they’re doing to our air and our climate,” said Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Deputy Director at PUSH Buffalo. “We’ve known it for decades, and now expert economists are saying it too.”

The authors propose funding the necessary increases in state renewable energy investment with a polluter fee levied per ton of greenhouse gas emissions, rising from $35/ton in 2021 to $75/ton in 2030, which would generate an average of $7.1 billion annually. The study assumes that between a quarter and a half of the polluter fee revenue will be rebated to households. Revenue from a polluter fee will also provide the funding necessary to support workers transitioning out of the fossil fuel industry and into the new energy economy.

The study concludes that this transformative clean energy program can be accomplished at little to no cost to consumers, because the average cost of delivering a given supply of electricity from clean renewable sources will be roughly equal to, if not cheaper than, virtually all fossil-fuel based technologies.

Friday, November 17, 2017

CLIMATE ACTION: 'Call-the-Governor Day' Organized by Statewide Clean Energy Coalition - Tuesday Nov. 21

This Tuesday, November 21st, NY Renews is organizing a statewide Call-the-Governor Day. 

Our goal is to have over 1,000 New Yorkers call into the Governor’s office, and demand that he show visionary leadership in his 2018 State of the State. 

We need him to commit to 100% renewables, and make corporate polluters pay for the damage they're doing to our health and our climate. 

Tell Governor Cuomo to do 2 things in his State of the State Address:  
  • Support the Climate and Community Protection Act; and
  • Create thousands of jobs and support a just transition to renewable energy by making corporate polluters pay their fair share.
That's it!

Join us TODAY Tuesday, Nov.21 
from 9am-9pm!

It’s time to ask Governor Cuomo to walk his talk. The Governor has pledged to meet and exceed the standards set by the Paris climate accords.

A new report by one of the most respected climate economists in the country shows exactly how Cuomo can live up to his promises: by increasing investment in the transition to 100% renewable energy and making corporate climate polluters pay for the damage they’re doing to our health and our climate.

Today, let’s call the Governor and ask him to live up to his promises to be a climate leader. Our goal? To have over 1,000 New Yorkers call into the Governor’s office, and demand that commit to visionary climate action in his 2018 State of the State address in January.

If you’re at your computer or smartphone, follow this link to call Governor Cuomo’s office. You'll hear a brief recorded message with tips and instructions, then you'll be patched through to Gov Cuomo's office.

If you're not at a computer, you can reach the instructions & Governor Cuomo by dialing 518-241-4793.

Dr. Robert Pollin’s report from the University of Massachusetts shows a just transition to clean energy in New York means making corporate polluters pay for the true cost of their emissions, and then investing that money in the New York we want to build: a state with good jobs, clean air, and healthy communities safe from climate disaster.

Governor Cuomo will not commit to truly ambitious climate action without hearing thousands of his constituents demand it. It’s up to us to make that happen.

Thanks for calling, and spread the word!

WORKSHOP: Local Solutions to the Climate, Jobs, and Health Crises affecting Marginalized Communities in Buffalo

100% BUFFALO WORKSHOP: Will explore local solutions to the climate, jobs, and health crises affecting marginalized communities across Buffalo, with an introduction to Movement Generation’s Just Transition framework and the NY Renews campaign.

WHEN: Thursday, Nov. 30, 5:30pm-8:00pm

WHERE: Grant St. Neighborhood Center, 271 Grant St., Buffalo

BREAKOUT SESSIONS: Renewable Energy, Regional Transit, Local Food Systems, and Worker Empowerment

CONTACT: John Washington at 884-0356 or

Facebook Event: click here

For Information about 100% Buffalo, see The Buffalo News article:

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Pollution-Free Electric Vehicles are the Future

Electric Vehicles Can Benefit All Utility Customers
February 14, 2017 Luke Tonachel | NRDC

Despite the Trump administration’s apparent affection for the fossil fuels industry, individual states are looking at the numbers and coming up with a different conclusion: The future belongs to pollution-free electric vehicles, and the sooner we get them on the road, the better off we’ll all be. And there are some important new studies out that give a hint of just how much everyone will benefit.

From Massachusetts and New York to California, state governments are embracing plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) and are setting—and achieving—goals to put PEVs on the road and removing petroleum-burning cars and trucks. States are finding that they can realize big benefits from at least three directions:
  • Electric vehicle owners will see their vehicle operating costs go down.
  • All residents will likely see electric rates kept in check.
  • All consumers will enjoy cleaner air and better health as more polluting vehicles are rendered obsolete.
Multibillion-dollar savings

The latest in a series of studies by M.J. Bradley & Associates, commissioned by NRDC, project huge consumer savings in New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and Pennsylvania as more PEVs take the road in those states. An earlier report also found billions in savings for consumers in Massachusetts. The researchers conclude that electric cars and plug-in light trucks will have lower operating costs and much lower carbon pollution. The group also projects that all utility customers will benefit because additional utility company revenue from PEV charging can support operation and maintenance of the existing distribution infrastructure, thus reducing the need for future electricity rate increases.

The analyzed eastern states seek to be market leaders in Zero-Emission Vehicle (ZEV) deployment. Most have signed on to a ZEV Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to put 3.3 million ZEVs on the road across eight states (NY, MA, VT, CT, RI, MD, CA and OR) by 2025. Additionally, they are promoting electric vehicle sales through purchase rebates and reduced-cost charging programs.

Read the article at the Natural Resouces Defense Council

Paris to Ban Fossil Fuel Cars by 2030
Yale Environment 360
October 12, 2017 | E360 Digest

Paris announced it will ban all gas- and diesel-fueled cars within city limits by 2030, allowing only electric vehicles onto its streets, according to Reuters. The decision is the latest effort by the city to grapple with its intense smog and air pollution problem, as well as combat climate change. These concerns have already led Paris to impose temporary driving bans, no-car zones, and restrictions on cars older than 20 years.

France had previously set an electric vehicle-only goal by 2040, but Paris officials said the new rule will push large cities to phase out fossil fuels even sooner.

“This is about planning for the long term with a strategy that will reduce greenhouse gases,” said Christophe Najdovski, a transportion policy expert in the office of Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Cities across the globe have announced similar plans in recent months to reduce or eliminate gas- and diesel-fueled cars. Oxford, England, for example, announced this week that it will ban fossil fuel vehicles within its city center starting in 2020.

China Fossil Fuel Deadline Shifts Focus to Electric Car Race
Bloomberg News |September 10, 2017

China will set a deadline for automakers to end sales of fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, becoming the biggest market to do so in a move that will accelerate the push into the electric car market led by companies including BYD Co. and BAIC Motor Corp.

The world’s second-biggest economy, which has vowed to cap its carbon emissions by 2030 and curb worsening air pollution, is the latest to join countries such as the U.K. and France seeking to phase out vehicles using gasoline and diesel. The looming ban on combustion-engine automobiles will goad both local and global automakers to focus on introducing more zero-emission electric cars to help clean up smog-choked major cities.

The U.K. said in July it will ban sales of diesel- and gasoline-fueled cars by 2040, two weeks after France announced a similar plan to reduce air pollution and meet targets to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

Read more at Bloomberg News

Renewable Energy: 'Energy is a party' when the Sun and Bicyclists power the Music
At outdoor parties in Paris and elsewhere, booming speakers and turntables playing the music are powered entirely by two large solar panels and two bikes linked to generators, pedaled by partygoers.

“We can party all night, after the sun has gone down,” says Cédric Carles, founder of Solar Sound System, a collective that sponsors the events. “If the pedaling stops, it means people don’t want any more music.”

Each Solar Sound System site hosts public parties, which are often free, paid for by the profits they make from hiring out the technology for private events, from drinks proceeds and from sponsors.

The founders want their gigs to make the idea of alternative energy feel concrete rather than theoretical. The choice of venue, too, often reflects an ethos of community and sustainability.

The collective also takes the technology to schools and to international events, such as the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

“Most rhetoric and campaigns about energy are anxiety-inducing,” says Carles. “They make people afraid, with talk of climate change and taxes. Here the idea is to have a celebration, to inverse this tendency we have to associate energy with feeling pressured. For us, energy is a party.”

(See full article by Josh Jacobs at Financial Times, Oct. 26)

Monday, November 6, 2017

Federal Agencies Report that Humans are the Dominant Cause of Climate Change

Directly contradicting the Trump administration position on climate change, 13 federal agencies released an extensive scientific report that says humans are the dominant cause of the global temperature rise that has occurred since 1901, creating the warmest period in human history.

Over the past 115 years, global average temperatures have increased 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius), leading to record breaking weather events and temperature extremes. According to the report, the global, long-term warming trend is “unambiguous” and there is “no convincing alternative explanation” that anything other than humans are to blame because of the cars we drive, the power plants we operate, and the forests we destroy.
Surprisingly, the report was approved for release by the White House. However, the findings come as the Trump administration is defending its climate change policies on several fronts. 

Public drafts of the report have circulated for months, making it politically perilous to tinker with the findings. So, with editing a high-risk affair and the report required by Congress, the administration may have just decided to downplay it, said John Holdren, who ran the Office of Science and Technology Policy under President Barack Obama.

"It would do more harm to block this report than to let it out," Holdren, now a Harvard University environmental policy professor, said in an interview. "They’re letting it out on a Friday afternoon, which is pretty much the standard approach for letting out something that you don’t want to get a lot of attention." 

The government is required to produce the national assessment every four years. This time, the report is split into two documents, one that lays out the fundamental science of climate change and the other that shows how the United States is being affected on a regional basis. Combined, the two documents total over 2,000 pages.

The first document, called the Climate Science Special Report, is a finalized report, having been peer-reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences and vetted by experts across government agencies.

The climate of the United States is strongly connected to the changing global climate. The short statements listed below highlight past, current, and projected climate changes for the United States and the globe:

Monday, October 30, 2017

National Expert to Speak on Renewable Heating & Cooling

Jay Egg, a nationally-recognized expert in Renewable Heating and Air Conditioning, will speak on November 14, 2017, 6:00pm-8:00pm at UB South Campus, Hayes Hall (room 403), 3435 Main St., Buffalo. [Map]

 Free and Open to the Public
 Free parking in adjacent lots
Doors open at 5:30pm

Join the Facebook Event - Click here

For more information, visit

Sponsors: NY-Geo, New Yorkers for Clean Power, Heat Smart, Frack Action, Sane Energy Project, Alliance for Green Economy

Co-Sponsors: UB School of Architecture and Planning, WNY Environmental Alliance, Citizen Action of NY, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, New York Solar Energy Society, WNY Sustainable Energy Association, PUSH Buffalo

Sunday, October 15, 2017

NY Climate Solutions Summit -- October 28th in Rochester

What: NY Climate Solutions Summit

When: Saturday, October 28th, 8am-5pm

Where: The Harley School 
1981 Clover Street, Rochester [Map]

Keynote Speakers:
  • Aaron Mair, Former Sierra Club President  

  • Sandra Steingraber, Acclaimed Author & Ecologist  

The NY Climate Solutions Summit invites both new and experienced clean energy and climate organizers from across the state to gather and learn about case studies, experiences, projects, resources, and skills that will help their communities implement climate change solutions.

Presenters will share case studies on solar, wind, renewable heating, energy efficiency, transportation, environmental justice, and land use, in addition to workshops on movement building and technical skills. More details on the full program can be found here.

We look forward to seeing you there! 

Planning team members:
Rochester People’s Climate Coalition, ACE NY, New Yorkers for Clean Power, Mothers Out Front, NY GEO, and the Alliance for a Green Economy.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Panel Discussion Forum at Burchfield Penney Art Center: Communicating Climate Science

[Click image to enlarge]
  Humanities New York 

 Turning the Tide:
Communicating Climate Science

Thursday, Sept. 28, 6 PM

Burchfield Penney Art Center

1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo
FREE and open to the public. 

Doubt, while fundamental to the scientific method, has played an out-sized role in the public debate on climate change. Why do so many Americans distrust science in this specific context? 

Join our panelists in a discussion of the history of environmentalism, the politicization of science, and more for the launch event of the Buffalo Humanities Festival 2017: Environments.

  • Jacqueline Patterson is the Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program.
  • Jason Briner is Director of the Paleoclimate Lab and Associate Professor of Geology at the University at Buffalo.
  • Elizabeth Mazzolini is author of The Everest Effect and Associate Professor of English at the University at Buffalo.
  • Adam Rome is author of The Genius of Earth Day and Professor of History at the University at Buffalo.
  • Ryan McPherson is the Chief Sustainability Officer at the University at Buffalo. Ryan will moderate.

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,, 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.

Buffalo Humanities Festival: ENVIRONMENTS

 Saturday, Sept. 30, 10:30 AM

Rockwell Hall, Buffalo State College

The full festival day begins with a performance by Deke Weaver of “BEAR and the Unreliable Bestiary” and continues with talks, panels, and community conversations focusing on issues of environmental justice and economic sustainability, activism and planning, and the global climate change crisis. 

Lunch by West Side Bazaar is included with tickets purchased by Sept. 25th. The closing reception features music by 12/8 Path Band and beer by Community Beer Works.

 Saturday Schedule

10:00 AM | Registration/Check-In Open

10:30 AM | Deke Weaver presents “BEAR and the Unreliable Bestiary”

11:30 AM | Session I

§  Panel Discussion: Listen! Youth Voices on Climate Justice | Members of Western New York Environmental Alliance’s Youth Climate Justice Campaign, Massachusetts Avenue Project, and Ujima Theatre

§  Reflecting on Earth’s Reflectance, or Adventures in Albedo Enhancement | Judith Goldman, Assistant Professor of English, University at Buffalo

§  Fostering Community Empowerment through Social Justice and Environmental Narratives | Erin E. Robinson, Professor of Sociology, Canisius College

§  Reimagining Education: Engaging Poverty in Higher Ed | Kevin D. Blair, Professor of Social Work and Chair of the Social Work Department, Niagara University and David B. Taylor, Associate Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Niagara University

12:30 PM | Lunch by West Side Bazaar

1:15 PM | Session II

§  In Our Own Image | Eric Dolph, Professor of Interior Design, SUNY Buffalo State

§  Who Speaks for the Corals? Despair and Hope in the Anthropocene | Irus Braverman, Professor of Law and Adjunct Professor of Geography, University at Buffalo

§  Human Judgment and Environmental Impact | Jason Grinnell, Chair of the Philosophy Department and Associate Professor of Philosophy, SUNY Buffalo State and Amy McMillan, Interim Director of the Honors Program and Associate Professor of Biology, SUNY Buffalo State

§  Achieving a Regenerative Economy Through a Just Transition | Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Deputy Director of People United for Sustainable Housing, Inc. (PUSH Buffalo)

2:15 PM | Break

2:30 PM | Session III

§  Building The Future—What Makes An Effective Change Agent? | Ryan McPherson, Chief Sustainability Officer, University at Buffalo

§  My Walks with Olmsted | Adam Rome, Professor of History, University at Buffalo

§  Evolving Resistance and the Environmental Movement | Leslie James Pickering, former Spokesperson for the underground Earth Liberation Front and a Co-Owner of Burning Books and David Reilly, Director of International Studies and Chair of the Department of Political Science, Niagara University

§  Nature, Culture, Narrative | Barbara Porter, Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Canisius College

3:30 PM | Reception
with music by 12/8 Path Band and beer from Community Beer Works

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Panel Discussion: Solar-Powered Carousel Project - Learn about Progress and How to Get Involved

Inline image 2

Inline image 1
The Buffalo Heritage Carousel

A Solar Powered Carousel at Canalside!

At the Burchfield Penney Art Center
1300 Elmwood Avenue
Buffalo, New York 14222

Saturday, September 30th at 10:30 am until 12:30 pm

~Free and Open to the Public~

Please join us on Saturday, September 30th at 10:30 am until 12:30 pm for an exciting and informative discussion of the wonderful progress that has been accomplished in the restoration of WNY 's own Buffalo Heritage Carousel, which will be Solar Powered! Find Out What's happening with the historic preservation of a locally manufactured treasure, and see how you can get involved in this extraordinary project, soon to be showcased at Canalside in  Buffalo,NY!

Featured Panelists will include:
 Principal Architect at Eco_Logic Studios,Kevin Connors
 UB Assistant Professor of Architecture, Martha Bohm
  Megan Hahin, Education Director of the Herschell Carousel Factory Museum
Rose Hirsch, Carousel Horse Restoration Specialist

For More Information Visit Us at:

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  | | 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

Sunday, August 20, 2017

COMMUNITY FORUM: Educational Presentations on Mitigating Climate Change

ADK Niagara Frontier Chapter

Conservation Committee

presents a



 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



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

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 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