Friday, June 30, 2017

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

By David Kowalski ~ ADK-NFC Member.

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

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

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

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

Thursday, June 22, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

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

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

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

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

Thank you for taking Action on Climate Change!

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

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

June 19, 2017 | City & State New York

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, June 17, 2017

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

Special Showing of the New 
National Geographic Documentary Film 


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

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

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

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

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

View the Film Trailer:

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAP: Click Here.

Sister Eileen O’Connor   834-9987  
Paul McQuillen    997-8659

Friday, June 2, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

June 2, 2017 | Albany, NY |

Governor Cuomo Announces 
Major Climate and Jobs Initiative.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For additional information, visit

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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