Tuesday, April 25, 2017

People's Solidarity Climate March in Buffalo - Saturday 4/29, 1:00pm, Niagara Square

For more info and updates, see the Event Page on Facebook. Click Here

TALK: The Transition to Clean Energy in Germany

Sierra Club
Climate and Clean Energy Writers Group

Thursday, April 27, 6:00pm-7:30pm

Crane Branch Library (2nd floor)
633 Elmwood Ave. at Highland, Buffalo

Free and Open to the Public
Writers and Non-writers alike
Contact BillNowa@gmail.com for info

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 NiagaraSierraClub.com

and PeoplesClimate.org

Ethics in Government: A Lost Cause? Conflicts of Interest vs. the Public Good.

Wednesday, May 17, 5:30pm - 7pm.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site,
641 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. 

Free & Open to the Public.

Guest speakers:
  • Hon. Penny M.Wolfgang, retired justice of the NewYork State Supreme Court. 
  • Kevin Connor, co-founder and director of the Public Accountability Initiative. 
Join us for coffee, cookies, and what will surely be a lively discussion! Here are just a few of the issues to be considered:
What is the role of ethics in government?
What do conflicts of interest look like, and why are they unethical?
How can elected officials be compelled to put the public good over their own self-interest? 

Parking is free in the lot behind the TR Site or in the 20th Century Club lot at 516 Franklin Street, between Allen and North Streets. Note: Franklin Street is one-way northbound. 

Special thanks to our co-sponsor- TR Inaugural Site

Presented by League of Women Voters of Buffalo/Niagara

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 - BuffaloNews.com 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 march4sciencebuffalo.com. Questions can be directed to march4sciencebuffalo@gmail.com.

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.

Read more at NYTimes.com

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.

Read more at BuffaloNews.com

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.

[Click image to enlarge]

Read more at Bloomberg.com

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.
[Click image to enlarge]
Read more at AWEA.org

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