Friday, September 14, 2018

New York State needs Commitment to Renewable Energy

By Geovaira Hernandez

On Sept. 8, thousands of people worldwide united for a day of action around climate and economic justice. Rise Up for Climate, Jobs and Justice events, like the one we helped organize in Buffalo at Canalside – which drew several hundred residents – arrived ahead of the Global Action Climate Summit this week in San Francisco.

The summit brings together elected officials, labor unions, thought leaders and nongovernmental organizations to discuss the Paris climate goals, and how to accelerate efforts to reduce global emissions.

Not surprisingly, considering its intent to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement and its assault on basic environmental protections, the Trump administration will not participate in the summit.

With hopes of federal action on climate now dashed, groups like PUSH Buffalo, the Communications Workers of America and the Sierra Club are working in coalition with others across regions and states to pressure elected officials to commit to a just and equitable transition away from fossil fuels toward an economy powered by 100 percent renewable energy.

In Washington State this fall, residents will vote on Initiative 1631 which, if passed, would generate $1 billion of revenue annually through a corporate polluter fee. The revenue would be used to fund climate solutions that benefit the most environmentally overburdened communities.

Earlier this week, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that sets California on a path to 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. This is a huge development, and the first law of its kind enacted by a state legislature in the U.S. Importantly, progress in each of these areas wouldn’t have happened without sustained grassroots leadership from so-called frontline communities.

California’s commitment to 100 percent renewable energy sets a compass point for the rest of us to follow. Now, we’re demanding that elected leaders in New York deliver on a progressive climate justice agenda that includes not only a commitment to 100 percent renewable energy but prioritizes clean energy investments in frontline communities and creates good paying, green jobs.

As members of the statewide New York Renews coalition, we’re calling specifically for Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to pass the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) in 2019 and to support a corporate polluter penalty and reinvestment policy like the one being advanced in Washington State. Together these moves would position New York as a true global climate leader accountable to a progressive populism that is now rising all around us.

Geovaira Hernandez, climate justice organizer at PUSH Buffalo, co-authored this with Lynda Schneekloth, of Sierra Club Niagara Chapter, and Debora M. Hayes, area director, Communications Workers of America.

This article was published as an op-ed in The Buffalo News

~        ~        ~ 


Thursday, August 30, 2018

EVENT: Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice - Sept.8, 12:30 PM, CANALSIDE, Buffalo

On Saturday, Sept. 8, People will gather in Buffalo to rally along with others across the USA and around the World to demand that local leaders commit to building a fossil-free world that works for all of us.

Join Us at CANALSIDE in Buffalo 
on Saturday, Sept. 8 !

~ For More Information on the Buffalo Rally, go Here ~

Many U.S. cities will rally for Climate, Jobs & Justice on the same day

Rise for Climate, Jobs & Justice is a Global Event

For more information, and to view locations of Rallys across the USA
as well as in other cities around the world, Click Here

Friday, May 25, 2018

Lung Association gave an 'F' to Erie and Chautauqua Counties for Ozone -- Increased Heat due to Climate Change is one Contributing Factor

Erie, Chautauqua counties receive 'F' in Lung Association's annual 'State of the Air'
  | Apr 18, 2018 | WBFO

The American Lung Association has released their 2018 “State of the Air” report citing air quality has worsened. It found 9.4 million New Yorkers are breathing unhealthy air.

Credit: American Lung Association
Chautauqua and Erie counties both received an "F" grade for high ozone days from 2014 to 2016. Ozone can have a major impact on children and older adults with asthma and other lung diseases. One of the reasons things look worse is because 2016 was the second hottest year in recorded history for most of America.  Increased heat often means increased ozone.

American Lung Association Vice President for National Policy Janice Nolen said great progress has been made over the past two decades, but rising seasonal temperatures could pose a problem in the future.

“With ozone it does vary a lot because of the relationship with the heat,” said Nolen. “It also means that we have to do more to clean it up because we are battling that heat that is growing as a result of climate change. It’s sort of a continuing struggle. When you look at the trend charts we’re heading in the right direction but we are not where we need to be yet.”

There is also a problem of pollution coming from other parts of the country and settling in certain areas. American Lung Association Vice President of Communications for the Northeast Michael Seilback said New York is part of a region that’s become known as the tailpipe of the nation.
“New York and Connecticut both filed comments with the EPA asking them to take action against a power plant in Pennsylvania, whose air pollution in the ozone is traveling and settling over our region,” said Seilback.

While a hot 2016 year caused serious ozone problems for the region, something New York got “A” grades for was short-term and year-round particle pollution maintenance.

Read more at WBFO 

The American Lung Associations's 'State of the Air 2018' report is here.

~    ~    ~

How is Ozone formed at the Ground Level?

Ground-level Ozone ('bad' ozone) is created by chemical reactions between Oxides of Nitrogen (NOx) and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) in the presence of Heat and Sunlight.

Emissions from industrial facilities, electric utilities, motor vehicle exhaust, gasoline vapors, and chemical solvents are some of the major sources of NOx and VOCs.

How can Ozone affect my Health?

If you have asthma, bronchitis, or emphysema, ozone can make your symptoms worse. Carefully follow your asthma management plan on days when ozone levels are high.

Ozone has also been linked to:

    - Coughing and pain when taking a deep breath
    - Lung and throat irritation
    - Wheezing and trouble breathing during exercise or outdoor activities

Who is most at risk?

Ozone can affect anyone, but it bothers some people more than others. People most likely to experience health effects caused by ozone include:
  • People with asthma or other lung diseases
  • Older adults
  • People of all ages who exercise or work hard outside
  • Babies and children

Protect Yourself and Your Family

The good news is there's a lot you can do to protect yourself and your family from the health effects caused by ground-level ozone. Start by learning about the Air Quality Index from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

See information at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention 

See also the New York State DEC Air Monitoring Website

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Former Top EPA Official to Speak at Roosevelt Inauguration Site in Buffalo

EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck | AP Photo/Mike Groll

Judith Enck is a former top official in the Environmental Protection Agency during the Obama administration. She previously served as New York’s deputy secretary for the environment. 

Enck has a lot to say about climate change, the assault on environmental regulations and more-talk-than-action involving renewable energy.

Jim Heaney, Investigative Post Editor, will interview Judith Enck.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 6, 2018, 7 p.m.

WHERE: Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, 641 Delaware Ave., Buffalo [Map]

TICKETS: $10 -- Click here

Attendance includes free admission to the inaugural site’s museum between 6 and 7 p.m., complete with docents to help you make the most of your visit. The museum tells the story of Roosevelt’s inauguration in Buffalo and his legacy as president and conservationist. 

Waste Tunnel Collapse at Tonawanda Coke Plant triggers Call for Government Investigation of Emissions

Tonawanda Coke Confirms Waste Tunnel Collapse

Last Friday, The Tonawanda Coke Corporation confirmed allegations by the Clean Air Coalition that the waste heat tunnel at their facility had collapsed, possibly causing toxic emissions to spew into the surrounding community.

The waste heat tunnel is a concrete tunnel that runs underground the length of the battery, all 60 coke manufacturing ovens. The main purpose of the waste heat tunnel is to collect the waste combustible heat from the ovens. Now that the tunnel has collapsed, gases can't normally flow into the facility's chimneys, and the company can't draw enough fresh air into the manufacturing process. Without enough fresh air drawn into the process, the coking process will possibly create toxic releases into the ambient air, and into the surrounding community.

One of the chemical's of concern is benzene, a known carcinogen linked to leukemia and other types of illnesses.

You can view the press coverage here from the Buffalo News, WIVB Channel 4, and WGRZ, Channel 2.

We call on the Environmental Protection Agency, the US Attorney General's Office and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to perform a full investigation of the incident. We are calling on state and federal agencies to determine the cause of the tunnel collapse, risks posed to workers, and risks posed to the surrounding community.

If you live or work in the area and are noticing dark smoke or odors coming from the facility, submit a complaint to the New York Department of Conservation by calling 851-7000 or completing and mailing in this complaint form.

The Clean Air Coalition of WNY will keep you posted as this situation progresses. 

Distinguished Lecture: Global Warming and a Call to Action - How ice foretells the next systemic transformation


Global Warming and a Call to Action: 
How ice foretells the next systemic transformation

Thursday, June 7, 2018
2:30pm - 5:00pm
Hotel at the Lafayette - Marquis Ballroom
391 Washington St., Buffalo

Sebastian Copeland will chronicle some of his seminal expedition crossings, and share impressions on what it means to spend three months of isolated travel in the most remote polar environments. Illustrated with award winning photographs, his anecdotes range from close encounters with polar bears, falling through the ice into the frigid Arctic ocean, surviving hurricanes in a tent, and traveling with severe frostbites, broken bones and food shortage. Copeland will explore the meaning of living in a truly antagonistic environment and how he learned to love everything about survival to find epiphanies and discover the true essence of self. More pointedly, Copeland makes the case that climate transformations taking place in the polar regions foretell global systemic chaos from anthropogenic activities, and their geopolitical consequences.

Following the lecture there will be a Fireside Chat hosted by Prof. Richard Alley and a Distinguished Lecture Recognition

Limited space available
Please RSVP by June 6, 2018 - Click here

Friday, April 27, 2018

NYS Assembly Passes Climate Bill Promoting Renewable Energy, Green Jobs, and Community/Worker Protections

THANK YOU New York State Assembly, Assemblyman Steve Englebright, Honorable Speaker of the New York State Assembly Carl E. Heastie, for passing the Climate and Community Protection Act by a huge margin!

Now we need the same climate leadership from Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York State Senate, so we can get this critical bill passed in 2018, fight climate change, protect frontline communities, and ensure green jobs are good jobs.

THANK YOU to Assembly Members who changed their votes from No in 2017 to YES in 2018! To see how Your Assembly Member voted, click here.

For a Summary of the Bill, click here.

Public Meeting: Connecting Buffalo-Niagara and Toronto with Commuter Rail

Connecting Buffalo-Niagara and the Larger Bi-National Region with Commuter Rail:
What's Feasible? Where to Start?

Free and Open to All
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Doors open at 5:00 p.m.

First Presbyterian Church [Map]
1 Symphony Circle, Buffalo, NY
The Citizens for Regional Transit quarterly meeting will feature Congressman Brian Higgins with panelists Pat Whalen, Director of the Niagara Falls Global Tourism Institute, and Bruce Becker, Vice President of the National Association of Rail Passengers.

When looking at a satellite image of the region between Toronto and Buffalo-Niagara, it becomes clear that it’s a contiguously urbanized area; we are part of a binational mega-region. This linear arrangement of urban centers has a population of nine million people and a combined GDP of $450 billion.

However, this mega-region is lacking one important feature: transit connectivity. With only one Amtrak train per day (in each direction), travel between U.S. cities and Toronto is largely limited to car. This creates recurring traffic congestion – especially at the international bridges and near Toronto. This impeded mobility also restricts economic opportunities.
The good news is that there have already been several steps toward making transit connectivity a reality, such as the opening of the new Niagara Falls, New York Amtrak Station; the planning of the new Buffalo downtown station; and the future extension of commuter rail from Toronto to Niagara Falls, Ontario.

Join Citizens for Regional Transit on Tuesday, May 1 to learn more about plans, challenges, and possibilities for the future of rail connections between Buffalo and Niagara Falls as a first step in linking Western New York to Toronto.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Public Comments on Decommisioning of the West Valley Nuclear Site Extended to May 25

Positive Declaration Extension of Scoping Period
Cattaraugus County - The New York State Energy Research and Development Agency (NYS ERDA), as lead agency, has determined that the proposed Phase 2 Decommissioning of the West Valley Site may have a significant adverse impact on the environment and a Draft Environmental Impact Statement must be prepared.
On February 21, 2018, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYS ERDA) and the United State Department of Energy (US DOE) announced their intent to jointly prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for Decommissioning and/or Long-Term Stewardship at the West Valley Demonstration Project and Western New York Nuclear Service Center (DOE/EIS-0226-S1) (SEIS) and to conduct a public scoping process. The SEIS will assess the range of reasonable alternatives for Phase 2 decommissioning of the West Valley Site.
NYS ERDA and US DOE invited public comments on the scope and content of the SEIS for the West Valley Site during a public scoping period through April 23, 2018. NYSERDA and DOE have determined to extend the public comment period deadline from Monday, April 23, 2018, to Friday, May 25, 2018.
Written comments on the scope of the SEIS, requests to be placed on the SEIS mailing list, and requests for information may be submitted by U.S. mail to the DOE Document Manager, Martin Krentz, West Valley Demonstration Project, U.S. DOE, 10282 Rock Springs Road, AC-DOE, West Valley, New York 14171-9799, by e-mail to, or via the SEIS website at The Notice of Intent and Draft Scope is available on the SEIS website and on the NYSERDA website at
Further information, including a form for submitting comments, is available on the project website at
The project is located at 10282 Rock Springs Road in West Valley, New York.
Contact: Dr. Lee Gordon, NYS ERDA, 9030-B Route 219, West Valley, NY 14171; Phone: (716)942-9960, extension 4963, Fax: 716-942-9961, E-mail:

Monday, April 16, 2018

Presentation: EARTH DEMOCRACY - Sustainability, Justice and Peace

RENEW Distinguished Lecture Series Presents

Dr. Vandana Shiva

LECTURE: Earth Democracy - Sustainability, Justice and Peace

Friday, April 20 at 3:00 PM

UB  Center for the Arts Screening Room, UB North Campus [Map]

Free and Open to the Public

RSVP if you plan to attend - Click Here

Although a Quantum Physicist by training, Dr. Shiva has spent her life on interdisciplinary work related to science, technology and environmental policy.  Time Magazine identified Dr. Shiva as an environmental “hero” in 2003 and Asia Week has called her one of the five most powerful communicators of Asia. Forbes magazine in November 2010 has identified Dr. Vandana Shiva as one of the top Seven most Powerful Women on the Globe.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Presentation: PROTECTING OUR WATERS -- From the Lake of Betrayal to Defend the Ohiyo

The Sierra Club
Climate and Clean Energy Writers Group

Thursday, April 19, 2018 


From the Lake of Betrayal to Defend the Ohiyo

By Caleb Abrams, Onödowa’ga:’ (Seneca) filmmaker and multimedia artist

Caleb’s presentation and discussion will cover impacts on water and the Seneca people from the displacement and damage caused by the Kinzua Dam to nuclear waste at West Valley. He will give an overview of the now successful Defend the Ohiyo campaign to protect the Allegheny River from a proposed frack waste facility at the river’s headwaters in Coudersport, PA. With local interest now reinvigorated towards clean-up of Cattaraugus Creek, join us and learn how to support this effort.

6:00-7:30 PM
Crane Branch Library
633 Elmwood at Highland
2nd Floor Meeting Room

Free and open to the public – writers and non-writers alike

Friday, March 9, 2018

MARCH & RALLY: Cuomo - Walk The Talk on CLIMATE! Get on the Bus to Albany

On April 23rd, we will march on the State Capitol to tell Governor Cuomo we don’t want more talk. We demand 3 bold actions to fight climate change, create good jobs, and ensure justice for all:
  1. Stop all fracking infrastructure projects
  2. Move to 100% renewable energy
  3. Make corporate polluters pay
The day of action will have two major components:

- A march on the State Capitol in Albany on April 23 and rally.

- An opportunity to participate in civil disobedience/direct action in the afternoon.

You are welcome to join for both, or join us for the march & rally and cheer on our allies participating in direct action.

Join us for the March & Rally –  Starting at 12pm in Sheridan Hollow and marching to the East Park of the Capitol Building in Empire State Plaza in Albany (exact route details to be confirmed).

Buffalo Buses to Albany: If you want to join a bus from Buffalo to the event, email your RSVP to both John ( and Rahwa ( who are with PUSH Buffalo.

If you are interested in participating in civil disobedience, please RSVP here: - You will be given information about attending a two-day action camp to learn and prepare before the event, and you will also be joining us for the march & rally.

More info about the event and the difference between Governor Cuomo's talk and walk on climate at

Statewide Coalition Demands Cuomo make Polluters Pay for a Clean Energy Transition

NY RENEWS delivers symbolic $7Billion check at the State Capitol - 2.27.2018

Coalition Calls for Polluter Fee to Fund Transition to Renewable Energy

February 28, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. — Climate activists delivered a symbolic $7-billion check to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, saying that's what New York stands to gain through a corporate polluter fee. The activists had just attended the Environmental Conservation Committee's budget hearing.

According to Dan Sherrell, the campaign coordinator for New York Renews, the governor's budget doesn't go far enough to address the growing effects of climate change but imposing a polluter fee on greenhouse-gas emissions could pave the way to 100-percent renewable energy by 2050.

"We could be raising $7 billion in revenue a year that could be invested in environmental-justice communities to protect them from the worst effects of climate change and in renewable energy," he says.

The governor has called for a program to bring solar power to 10,000 low-income New Yorkers, the development of offshore wind, and the closure of all coal-fired power plants.

Cuomo also has called for expansion of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multistate compact for reducing power-plant emissions. But Sherrell says a corporate polluter fee would be more effective.

"It will raise more revenue and it will be a more aggressive price," he notes. "And critically, it will be across the economy, so it will also tackle buildings and transportation which together make up almost 80 percent of the state's emissions."

He says the governor's office has indicated interest in creating a polluter fee but has made no commitment to pursue it.

New York has been a national leader in developing clean-energy strategies. But Sherrell notes other states are now considering corporate polluter fees as a way to advance their efforts, and they could soon leave New York behind.

"Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington state is making this his priority issue for this year," he adds. "Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey has spoken about it and has also committed to 100 percent renewable energy, which Gov. Cuomo has not."

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand have expressed support for carbon pricing as a way to boost investment in renewable energy.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY

NY RENEWS at Gov. Cuomo’s Exec. Budget Hearing on Environmental Conservation - 2.27.2018

Nuclear Waste Must be Secured and Our Waters Protected -- Take Action!

Buffalo Niagara Region has a serious waste problem and perhaps none is so serious as the West Valley Nuclear Waste Facility 30 miles south of Buffalo.  An array of nuclear waste has been stored and some buried on an erodible plateau since the 1960s, put in place before there were any laws on the siting of such dangerous waste.  This site is managed by the Department of Energy and owned by the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority, agencies responsible for cleaning up the waste and protecting public health and our waters.

Charley Bowman, of the Sierra Club Niagara Group, points out that “the protection of fresh water supplies underpins organized existence of human beings. There are enormous amounts of radioactivity (100,000’s of Curies) buried and stored at the West Valley nuclear waste site. Some of that radioactivity is escaping beyond the site boundaries and now resides in the surrounding unstable soils, trees and creeks. Some of the radioactive elements will be dangerous for millions of years.”

The Department of Energy begins Scoping Hearings for a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on March 19, 20 and 21, to determine the final disposition of this waste site.  Joanne Hameister who has been working with the Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes since the 1970s states that her group “has been involved with the decision process for four decades.  After three Environmental Impact Statements and a fourth to begin in March, billions of dollars, a lot of surveys and studies, lawsuits and many 'duct tape' solutions to problems, we might have a direction for the future of the site.  The next decision must protect the water of the Great Lakes, Erie and Ontario, drinking water for millions of people downstream and for thousands of generations that could inherit these risks of radiation if we do not 'do the right thing' now.  It is a big order: dig it up, secure the waste and do not forget it.”

 “The government scoping meetings March 19, 20 and 21 are the public’s chance to tell the Department of Energy and NY Energy Research and Development Authority that we want full cleanup of the West Valley nuclear waste site. But the only way the deadly waste will be removed from the Great Lakes watershed is if our elected officials MAKE IT HAPPEN.”  Diane D’Arrigo argues that “the Department of Energy, NYSERDA, all their contractors and other ‘regulatory agencies’ will not step up unless they are forced to do so” based on the communities experience with the 2010 Environmental Impact Statement that delayed the decision for over a decade.

Hearings will be held at three different locations: 

Monday, March 19, 2018, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
West Valley Volunteer Hose Company, Inc., Firemen’s Memorial Hall and Training, 9091 Route 240, West Valley, NY 14171, in the Main Hall.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018, from 6:00p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Erie Community College, City Campus, Post Office Building, 121 Ellicott Street, Buffalo, NY 14203, in the Minnie Gillette Auditorium.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018, from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Seneca Nation of Indians Cattaraugus Council Chambers, 12837 Route 438, Irving, NY 14081

Pat Townsend of the Interfai th Climate Justice Community says that she is “already writing my comments to email them to DOE and NYSERDA during the public comment period that has just started. I remember the rainfall that caused the Gowanda flood of 2009 and the landslide it caused at West Valley. With our crazy, changing weather, who knows what erosion will do to the West Valley nuclear wastes? I've seen the maps: erosion could take radioactive waste right down the creeks to Lake Erie and Buffalo's water."

--  Submitted by Lynda Schneekloth, Sierra Club Niagara Group

More information:

Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Information Center 
Sierra Club Niagara Group

Register for WATERKEEPER Spring Shoreline CleanUp

Buffalo Niagara WATERKEEPER


April 21, 2018 – 10 AM to 12 PM 

Click Here to Register and Select a Site

After-Cleanup Party for Registered Volunteers: 
at Resurgence Brewing Company

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Report: 100% Renewable Energy with Grid Stability is Possible and Economical

New Mark Z. Jacobson Study Draws A Roadmap To 100% Renewable Energy

February 8th, 2018 by Steve Hanley | CleanTechnica

Last August, Mark Jacobson, a renewable energy expert and senior fellow at the Precourt Institute for Energy at Stanford University, was the leader of a study that identified how 139 countries around the world could obtain 100% of their energy from renewable sources by 2050. But that study got some pushback from people who questioned its assumptions. The naysayers said the study relied too heavily on energy storage solutions such as adding turbines to existing hydroelectric dams or storing excess energy in water, ice, and underground rocks.

A Response To Critics

Those criticisms stimulated another piece of work from Jacobson and his colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley and Aalborg University in Denmark. They are now back with a new report they believe thoroughly addresses the concerns brought up by skeptics of the first report. It begins by breaking those 139 counties into 20 regions and proposing energy storage solutions uniquely suited to each region.

Here’s how Jacobson summarized the work and the findings in an email to CleanTechnica:
The previous paper (in Joule) estimated the number of devices in each of 139 countries needed to provide power for each country in the annual average with 100% wind, water, and solar (WWS).

This new paper takes the next step, which is to divide the 139 countries into 20 world regions, then to see if the grid can stay stable in each region every 30 seconds for 5 years, and what is the resulting cost.

Utilities and policy makers alike are concerned that all the wind and solar we propose for the annual average numbers in the first paper won’t allow the grid to stay stable — that the lights will go out. This is the biggest barrier for the large-scale implementation of renewables.

This paper new shows that there is not only one solution but multiple solutions to the grid reliability problem — thus large penetrations of renewables can indeed keep the grid stable at low cost.

In addition, we find that the wind turbines needed would reduce global warming by ~3% and quickly. That is a new conclusion as well.
That sounds good. Will policy makers and utilities listen now? That’s the trillion-dollar question. Either way, it will certainly help fill out the CleanTechnica Answer Box.

“Based on these results, I can more confidently state that there is no technical or economic barrier to transitioning the entire world to 100 percent clean renewable energy with a stable electric grid at low cost,” Jacobson said for his university press team at Stanford.

“This solution would go a long way toward eliminating global warming and the 4–7 million air pollution-related deaths that occur worldwide each year, while also providing energy security. Our main result is that there are multiple solutions to the problem,” he says. “This is important because the greatest barrier to the large-scale implementation of clean renewable energy is people’s perception that it’s too hard to keep the lights on with random wind and solar output.”

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Community Solar News: Clean, Cost-Saving Energy for Sisters of St. Joseph -- NY State Expands Maximum Solar Project Size

Sisters of St. Joseph installs community solar power system

Project will provide 1 megawatt of power to the 212-acre Brentwood campus.

By Mark Harrington | February 7, 2018 | Newsday Long Island

Long Island’s first “community” solar installation that allows a group of ratepayers to collectively share in the cost-benefits of a large solar array is officially operating in Brentwood.

The new system, the result of a LIPA-approved rule change in 2016, will provide 1 megawatt of power to hundreds of residents and offices of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a 212-acre campus in Brentwood that is home to the Catholic order of religious women.

The project is owned by NextEra Energy Sources and operates under contract to the Sisters. Construction was completed late last year by EmPower Solar of Island Park.

The system will offset an estimated 63 percent of the campus’ energy needs, and save the Sisters of St. Joseph some $22,000 in electricity costs a year, NextEra said. The contracted price of energy from the system is around 14 cents a kilowatt-hour, said Tara Rogers, spokeswoman for the Sisters. That’s well below the approximately 19 cents average LIPA customers pay.

NextEra, of Jupiter, Florida, will maintain the system under a 25-year contract, in which all the power is sent to the LIPA grid, with energy virtually metered and credited to accounts on campus.

LIPA approved “community distributed generation net metering” in early 2016 to allow home and business customers to collectively build green-energy sources and share in the benefits among “members.” It can be cheaper for customers than individual home solar installations because of the members can share in the cost savings of building a larger array, LIPA said.

Community solar has a relatively small impact on the overall LIPA rate base, according to LIPA’s analysis at the time the program was approved. Each 12 megawatts of solar will have $1.95 million cost impact, an amount recovered on the revenue decoupling mechanism on LIPA bills. For the Brentwood project, that means a cost of around $165,000.

The Sisters’ solar array, consisting of 3,192 panels, is located on five acres designated as “degraded woodlands” beside a rain garden. The Sisters have a Sustainable Land Ethic Statement that encourages green building and sustainable uses.

Full article at Newsday

NY Spurs Community Solar by Upping Project Size Threshold

By Sneha Ayyagari & Miles Farmer  | February 22, 2018 | NRDC

In a win for solar power in New York, the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC) released an order expected to encourage more communities to pursue shared solar projects by increasing the maximum size of community solar projects eligible for credits from 2 MW to 5 MW.

The initiative, known as the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) proceeding, aims to credit projects for the benefits that they provide to the electric system and to society. Expanding the size threshold will allow solar developers to reduce soft costs by allowing them to take advantage of the economies of scale afforded by including a larger number of panels within one project, and avoiding the need to arbitrarily divide development sites into multiple discrete projects. Put simply, larger community solar projects will now be eligible for a financial credit, allowing communities to build and finance projects more effectively and efficiently.

As explained in a previous blog, the VDER initiative sets credit rates for customers that subscribe to service from Distributed Energy Resources (DER), smaller energy projects that interconnect to the local utility system. These projects are generally located closer to homes and businesses where electricity is consumed than large power plants, avoiding the need to send power through large high voltage transmission lines. The PSC is phasing in VDER in stages, so while its first order setting up the rules for the new program provides a credit framework for community solar projects (the mid-size projects you see atop big box stores, factories, apartment buildings, or adjacent to communities in previously vacant land), it is expanding this framework to include other technologies like stand-alone energy storage and combined heat and power, as well as smaller projects on individual rooftops.


Friday, February 23, 2018

COMMUNITY FORUM: Don't want Nuclear Waste in Your Water? Get Informed and Take Action!

Presentation by 

Professor Emeritus of Neurology, University at Buffalo &
Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Thursday, March 1 at 7:00 PM,
Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.
(across from Albright Knox Art Gallery) [Map]

The Presentation will be followed by a Panel Discussion 
Learn how to make comments at Scoping Hearings

For detailed information on the Scoping Hearings, 
Click Here and see Page 2 of the document. 


Thanks to the Burchfield Penny Art Gallery, the Western New York Environmental Alliance, Sierra Club Niagara Group

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Presentation: LOCAL CLIMATE GOALS - What are they? How can we meet them?

The Sierra Club

Climate & Clean Energy Writers Group

Thursday, February 15, 2018


What are they? How can we meet them?

County Executive Mark Poloncarz recently released the report Erie County Commits to Paris - How Erie County Can Meet U.S. Target Reductions for Greenhouse Gas Emissions. Come get the facts on what the local sources are for greenhouse gases (GHG). Learn about the County's plans to reduce GHG emissions both in-house and in the community.

6:00-7:30 PM
Crane Branch Library
633 Elmwood at Highland
2nd Floor Meeting Room

Free & Open to the Public - Writers and Non-Writers alike for information

Price Carbon Pollution to Fund a Transition to Clean Energy and Green Jobs


A Need for a Pollution Tax

FEB. 5, 2018

To the Editor:

Re: “New Jersey Rejoins Regional Emissions Program It Quit Under Christie” (news article, Jan. 31):

When it comes to cutting carbon emissions, participating in a cap-and-trade program like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is important, but it’s only a partial solution. After all, the initiative covers emissions solely from power plants, whereas transportation produces the bulk of New York’s emissions. And so far, the initiative has not cut carbon at the speed science tells us is required to avert dangerous warming.

To do that, we’ll need a more comprehensive and aggressive form of pollution pricing. Your article highlights the laudable effort by Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington State to tax fossil fuel pollution directly and reinvest the revenue in renewable energy. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York will soon have the same opportunity.

NY Renews, a coalition of 140 environmental, labor and community groups across New York State, has been developing a proposal — likely to be introduced in Albany this year — to invest in job-creating clean energy and resiliency projects for coastal communities, using revenue from a polluter fee.

We need Governor Cuomo to be a real climate leader and embrace this common-sense idea, and lead the country in passing it into law.


The writer is director of the Long Island Progressive Coalition, a member of NY Renews.

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State should follow New York City's lead taking on big oil

By Ashley Dawson, Commentary
January 28, 2018 | Times Union

“Put a price on carbon emissions so that Big Oil pays for the damage done to our health and environment, and so that we can bankroll a transition to clean energy and fair-labor green jobs.”

The Empire State Building was lit up bright green Jan. 10 to celebrate the precedent-setting announcement by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials: New York City is going to divest its $5 billion pension fund from fossil fuel-related investments. The city also has filed suit against the five biggest oil corporations to recover the billions of dollars in damage climate change has inflicted on the city.

It was a historic moment. The biggest city in the world's most powerful nation came out against the planet's richest, most powerful and most irresponsible industry. But it will take time for New York City's actions to have an impact. Divestment is not expected to happen until at least 2022. Big Oil has legions of lawyers who are experts in using the courts to obstruct justice and forestall reparations.

Although New York City's stand against Big Oil certainly sends a loud and emboldening message to the world, we need to be far more ambitious at the state level. We need state politicians to step up with concrete policy proposals that speed the transition away from fossil fuels. Otherwise, New York City's divestment could be nothing but hollow political posturing.

There certainly doesn't seem to be any meaningful coordination toward divestment on a state level. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last month that he is directing the state to begin looking into divesting its own substantial pension funds from fossil fuels. However, the following day, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, sole trustee of the state's $200 billion pension fund, responded that "there are no immediate plans to divest our energy holdings."

Last summer, as President Donald Trump announced his intention to back out of the Paris Agreement, the state Legislature considered the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA), which mandated the elimination of fossil fuels from New York's economy within 35 years. The CCPA set fair-labor standards for all green projects and ensured that at least 40 percent of the benefits of transitioning to a zero-carbon economy would be directed to the disadvantaged New York communities that have contributed the least to climate change but will bear the brunt of it. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich called the CCPA "the most progressive climate equity policy we've seen."

But the CCPA died after state Sen. Tony Avella, D-Queens, declined to push Senate leaders to bring the bill to a vote. Avella is a member of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), whose members all cosponsored the bill in the Senate in the first place. But the IDC caucuses with Republicans. Cuomo, who refused to make the CCPA a priority in his 2018 executive budget, has often sided with the IDC and has not pushed for them to rejoin the Democrats. Given the war declared on blue states by the Trump administration, the days of such antics by right-wing Democrats should be numbered in a place like New York.

It's time for the citizens of New York to show the rest of the country we can lead the way beyond fossil fuels. Put a price on carbon emissions so that Big Oil pays for the damage done to our health and environment, and so that we can bankroll a transition to clean energy and fair-labor green jobs. These corporations are not and never will be good citizens. They have known the facts about climate change for at least four decades and have done everything to obscure reality and sow public confusion. They have corroded our democracy and wrought havoc on our planet in the name of profits. As de Blasio put it, it's time that these corporations take responsibility for what they've done.

More Information:
Ashley Dawson is the Barron Visiting Professor at the Princeton Environmental Institute and professor at the City University of New York's Graduate Center and the College of Staten Island. He is the author of "Extreme Cities: The Peril and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change."

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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

State Comptroller announces $2 Billion Boost in Climate-Smart Investments

New York’s Giant Pension Fund Doubles Climate-Smart Investment


The $2 billion boost was announced at the Investors Summit on Climate Risk, where top fund managers discussed finance for a low-carbon, clean energy future.

By Nicholas Kusnetz  | Feb 1, 2018  |  Inside Climate News

America's third-largest public pension fund is ramping up its climate-savvy investments, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced to global finance leaders on Wednesday.

The fund, a huge and influential investor, plans to double its stake to $4 billion in a portfolio of companies that disclose and seek to lower their emissions of global warming pollution.

"We've particularly been concerned about how we can address the issue of climate risk and benefit our portfolio," DiNapoli said, speaking at the Investor Summit on Climate Risk, where money managers called for investors to face up to the risks of climate change and to accelerate action to fight global warming.

As the summit was underway at the United Nations on Wednesday, the UK Government's Met Office published an ominous new five-year forecast that adds urgency to the investors' climate concerns: Annual global temperatures could reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels within the next five years, the Met Office warned. The aim of the Paris climate agreement is to prevent warming from getting much beyond that level. 

The $2 billion in additional investment DiNapoli announced will go into a low-emissions index fund that New York's Common Retirement Fund created in 2016. While the low-emissions index fund—which has had an annualized investment return of 16.5 percent—represents just a fraction of the pension fund's more than $200 billion in assets, DiNapoli said he hopes to continue to grow the low-carbon portfolio.

The special climate fund is based on a traditional index fund made up of leading corporations, except that it weights its investments by considering whether the companies disclose their carbon footprints and act to reduce them.

Shareholders Push for Risk Disclosure

DiNapoli is one of several powerful officials from the city and state of New York who have sought to pressure fossil fuel companies and influence their investment and risk management practices. The city has launched litigation seeking to recover climate damages and pledged to divest its pensions funds from fossil fuel producers, and the state's attorney general has been in a long fight with ExxonMobil on its climate record.

Corporations have come under increasing pressure in recent years to better disclose the risks they face in a future of rising temperatures and greater restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions. DiNapoli's office helped lead a resolution approved last year by Exxon shareholders that requires the oil giant to report on those risks annually.

Monday, February 5, 2018

2017: Historic and Most Expensive Year of U.S. Weather and Climate Disasters on Our Continuously Warming Planet

Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters
1st Quarter Release | National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The U.S. has sustained 219 weather and climate disasters since 1980 where overall damages/costs reached or exceeded $1 billion (including CPI adjustment to 2017). The total cost of these 219 events exceeds $1.5 trillion. This total now includes the initial cost estimates for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

In 2017, there were 16 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the United States. These events included 1 drought event, 2 flooding events, 1 freeze event, 8 severe storm events, 3 tropical cyclone events, and 1 wildfire event. Overall, these events resulted in the deaths of 362 people and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted.

[Click image to enlarge]

During 2017, the U.S. experienced a historic year of weather and climate disasters. In total, the U.S. was impacted by 16 separate billion-dollar disaster events tying 2011 for the record number of billion-dollar disasters for an entire calendar year. In fact, 2017 arguably has more events than 2011 given that our analysis traditionally counts all U.S. billion-dollar wildfires, as regional-scale, seasonal events, not as multiple isolated events.

More notable than the high frequency of these events is the cumulative cost, which exceeds $300 billion in 2017a new U.S. annual record. The cumulative damage of these 16 U.S. events during 2017 is $306.2 billion, which shatters the previous U.S. annual record cost of $214.8 billion (CPI-adjusted), established in 2005 due to the impacts of Hurricanes Dennis, Katrina, Rita and Wilma.

Read more at NOAA

World's Oceans Were Hottest On Record In 2017, Study Finds
by Mary Papenfuss | 1.27.2018 | HuffPost

The world’s oceans in 2017 were the hottest ever recorded, scientists revealed in a new study recently published.

Institute of Atmospheric Physics - [Click image to enlarge]
The findings were based on an updated analysis of the top 6,000 feet of the world’s seas by the Institute of Atmospheric Physics and the Chinese Academy of Science.

“The long-term warming trend driven by human activities continued unabated,” researchers said in the study, which was published in the journal Advances in Atmospheric Sciences. “The high ocean temperatures in recent years have occurred as greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere have also risen.”

Owing to its “large heat capacity, the ocean accumulates the warming derived from human activities; indeed, more than 90 percent of Earth’s residual heat related to global warming is absorbed by the ocean,” according to the researchers. “As such, the global ocean heat content record robustly represents the signature of global warming.”

While ocean temperatures dropped slightly in 2016 because of a massive El Nino effect, the last five years were still the hottest recorded for the world’s oceans. The second hottest ocean year was 2015.

Read more at HuffPost

Global Heat Records 2017

1.18.2018  |  Climate Signals | NASA Map

2017 is among the hottest years on record, spawning a number of all-time global heat records, and it occurred without the warming influence of El Niño, which boosted the global average temperatures of the previous two record hot years. According to the NASA surface global temperature dataset, 2017 was the 2nd-hottest year on record for the globe. By NOAA's calculations, it was the 3rd hottest.(The two datasets use different baseline periods and methods to analyze Earth’s polar regions and global temperatures.)

The NASA map below shows Earth’s average global temperature from 2013 to 2017, as compared to a baseline average from 1951 to 1980. Yellows, oranges, and reds show regions warmer than the baseline temperature. (Credits: NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio) 

One of the strongest findings of climate science is that global warming amplifies the intensity, duration and frequency of extreme heat events. These events occur on multiple time scales, from a single day or week, to months or entire seasons.

The number of local record-breaking monthly temperature extremes worldwide is now on average five times larger than expected in a climate with no long-term warming, implying that on average there is an 80 percent chance that a new monthly heat record is due to climate change.

An April 2017 study found that anthropogenic global warming had a significant hand in the temperatures seen during the hottest month and on the hottest day on record throughout much of the world from 1931–2016. The study found that climate change made heat records more likely and more severe for about 80 percent of the area of the globe with good observational data.
Read more at Climate Signals