Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The war against water bottles | Canada | News | Toronto Sun

The war against water bottles Canada News Toronto Sun: There's a growing chorus of opposition to the plastc waste these vessels generate "The council estimates at least 21 municipalities across Canada, the majority in Ontario, have either already passed a bottle ban or have one coming down the legislative pipe."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 2009 Environmental Site Award

Environmental Site of the Month Award – [Each month, included in the RENewsletter goes out an environmental award for the best Rochester-area environmental web site or blog that best helps promote the need to protect and offers solutions to our area's environmental issues.]

The Environmental Award to be made on the Last Sunday of each month. Much of what I have learned about the Iraq War and about our environment in the last eight years has been from small, independent films. Here in Rochester, we have an amazing film about how climate change will affect us here, in Rochester, in our own backyard. Don’t wait for mainstream media to come to your local theatre for this kind of documentary focused on our environmental concerns, or you’ll be disappointed. So, don’t be disappointed, check out the January 2009 Environmental Site of the Month.

The January 2009 Environmental Site Award Goes to The Last Experiment

Interested in understanding what climate change will mean in your backyard? Go to to see a slideshow and trailer for a documentary about the effects and reactions to climate change in the Rochester area. The documentary is being produced by three local filmmakers. The project needs financial support, and donations through the site are tax-deductible. If you would like to know more about the film, email the filmmakers at .

Thursday, January 22, 2009

5¢ deposits on more bottles likely | | Democrat and Chronicle

5¢ deposits on more bottles likely Democrat and Chronicle: "ALBANY — A key Senate Democrat is backing the expansion of the bottle bill, which most likely means that before the summer, New Yorkers will be paying nickel deposits on water, juice and sports-drink cans and bottles as well as on the beer and soda containers they're paying now."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Michigan Messenger » Coal ash dumps a ‘time bomb’ for Michigan water, environmentalists say

Michigan Messenger » Coal ash dumps a ‘time bomb’ for Michigan water, environmentalists say: "The dangers associated with waste from coal-fired power plants got some attention last month when a billion gallons of coal ash spilled from a storage pond in Tennessee, contaminating surface waters with arsenic, mercury and lead. Michigan has plenty of its own problems stemming from coal ash contamination, regulators and environmentalists say, but because the ash is stored underground the problems have largely gone unnoticed."

FJR: When I read about communities protesting against wind farms, I think of stories like these.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Delay

President-elect Obama, as of this writing, is considering a delay in the digital TV signal conversion. One side of me says, “You’ve got to be kidding!” How much time does it take the public to adjust to something as simple as a TV signal change? What are we going to do when something really whopping comes along—like changing the way we get energy from fossil fuels to renewables? This signal change has been coming for a long time. Much longer than the week your eleventh-grade history teacher gave you to do that droll essay on how the Erie Canal (Clinton’s Folly) made us the Empire State. (Actually, that’s pretty interesting.)

All the public had to do was (well, if you have cable or satellite… nothing) buy a little box. If you have the old analog TV signal thing coming through those old rabbit ears, just get one of those signal converters, where you can get a federal rebate for $40 off on a $60 converter, and hook the thing up. It’s not hard. Just take the cable from your rabbit ears, plug it into the magic box, and then take the cable that would have gone onto your TV, if the box wasn’t necessary, and plug it in where it would have gone. Then, you turn the TV on, the box on, and put the TV on the 3-switch and the box on the 3-switch and then hope the new-fangled thing-a-ma-jig finds a digital signal and then really hope the signal is strong enough. Because if it isn’t, you don’t get squat. There’s no Big-Bang fuzz if you have a weak digital signal. You get a big blank box staring back at you.

Ok, so it’s not that easy. But, there was a lot of time to get ready. Why do people always wait until the last minute to do their homework?

Well, maybe procrastination is not always negative. Maybe that teacher changes her mind: No Erie Canal essay. Over-achievers, you’re out of luck.

Senator Schumer thinks that thousands of people who have not been able to buy the converter are going to be in trouble. Suddenly, they will be cut off from the world because they won’t get any television signal. Check this out: “SCHUMER: UPSTATE NEW YORKERS AT RISK OF FALLING OFF THE DIGITAL CLIFF WHEN DTV DEADLINE HITS IN FEBRUARY - ANALOG CONVERTER BOX MAY NOT BE ENOUGH FOR SOME RURAL TV VIEWERS” Given the quality of information emanating from the boob tube, I personally don’t think that’s a bad thing. You learn from the major media what they want you to learn, not necessarily what you need to learn. Anyway, President-elect Obama’s position is “that the government's subsidy program — which offered $40 toward the purchase of a converter box — has run out of money, while an estimated 1.1 million people are still on a waiting list.” –from Springfield News-Sun

Both the senator and the president-elect have good arguments, but losing access to a dying media form is not the problem. Here’s the deal: We aren’t ready to recycle the zillions of old TV’s that are going to be tossed to the curbs and then to the landfills. They don’t belong in any landfill. They need to be disassembled by qualified people and the reusable parts reused in an environmentally friendly way. As of this writing, the bottom has dropped out of the recycling market. Recycling paper products, let alone televisions, has become a non-profit business. So, until the markets for recycling television rebound, we ought to hold off on the digital TV signal change.

In disasters, like the economic catastrophe going on right now, people can do the right thing or the wrong thing. The right thing would be to wait on the signal change, create more recycling markets via some creative, green, entrepreneurship ideas, and get moving towards a sustainable future. The wrong thing would be to keep doing the same old thing.

BTW: I’m willing to walk the walk on this recycling thing: As conservation chair of the Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club, I’ve formed a Zero Waste Committee: I’m having a meeting on this digital signal conversion issue this Thursday and I hope you’ll join us: Zero Waste Meeting January 29th Much has occurred since our last meeting on Zero Waste in December. So, we are meeting at the Harro East Building - 400 Andrews St - Suite 600 (sixth floor), Rochester, New York - on Thursday, January 29th at 7PM. to bring everyone up-to-date. Parking is across the street from the front door in a small parking lot.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Digital TV Tsunami is Coming!

Just because the Digital TV tsunami is coming up and thousands of TVs will be land-filled doesn’t mean we can’t have a little humor amongst the disaster.

Chec out the video: Clean New York Time is running out to enact Extended Producer Responsibility for Electronics! This doesn't mean people can't keep using their old sets, by purchasing (with $40 government rebate) a set-top digital converter. However, many people are using the change-over as yet another reason to buy a new flat-panel TV. But what happens to the old discarded sets that still work? Just in time for Halloween, the Electronics TakeBack Coalition has a fun zombie movie for you...

Power Struggle . NOW on PBS

Power Struggle . NOW on PBS: "Will the green energy dream come to fruition? This week NOW explores obstacles to the promise of renewables—energy generated from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, and rain."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Take Action for Open Space Conservation - from NYS DEC

**ACTION** DRAFT 2009 Open Space Conservation Plan - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Public comment is encouraged and will be accepted from January 7, 2009 through 4:45 PM, February 27, 2009 - Region 8 - Western Finger Lakes January 21 Avon, NY NYS DEC Headquarters 6274 East Avon-Lima Road - The DRAFT 2009 Open Space Conservation Plan is now available for public comment. We encourage you to review this draft Plan and provide comments, so that the final Plan submitted to Governor Paterson later this year represents the best strategy for how our State, our partners and we, as citizens, should move forward to conserve our common outdoor heritage. New Plan Identifies Conservation Priorities The newly revised document demonstrates our state's renewed commitment to plan, prioritize, and enable citizen and government actions to conserve vital and threatened open spaces. The plan provides attainable priorities to coordinate and focus our many efforts. We urge you to read the plan and discover how open space conservation can be used to respond to climate change, foster green, healthy communities, connect people to nature and recreation, and safeguard & enhance our state's unique natural & cultural heritage. - New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

New York State Breeding Bird Atlas

A Worthy project that will help us monitor the environmental health of our area. If our birds are thriving, so are we. Check out : New York State Breeding Bird Atlas - NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation Atlas Publication Available in December 2008 The Atlas Steering Committee and Cornell University Press proudly announce that the breeding bird atlas publication will be available in December 2008. The book is being described as "an indispensible scientific work and a beautiful collection of art..." New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Care about the Genesee River ? Check this out: Genesee River Wilds Project » Home

Genesee River Wilds Project » Home

The Genesee River Wilds Project is a coalition of groups and individuals who invest time, energy, funding, and other resources in the development of an environmentally sustainable system of natural parks concentrated along the Genesee River in the “Genesee River Wilds.” This phrase refers to the Genesee River and its watershed from the river’s sources in Potter County, Pennsylvania, to the southern border of Letchworth State Park in New York State. The Genesee River Wilds Project represents and partners with federal, state, county, municipal, and non-profit organizations; business corporations; educational institutions; landowners; farmers; anglers; hunters; hikers; mountain bikers; kayak and canoe enthusiasts; and many others who participate in various official and unofficial ways. The coalition works to improve the health of the upper Genesee River and its watershed; protect them from future environmental threats; and enhance their recreational potential.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Erin Brockovich and Robin Greenwald: TVA Disaster Spreads Far and Wide

Erin Brockovich and Robin Greenwald: TVA Disaster Spreads Far and Wide

As a result of a 1.1 billion gallon spill of contaminated fly ash, there has been discussion, press reportage and blogging about the environmental disaster in eastern Tennessee Most of us have seen the pictures -- a 300+ acre area strewn with black and brown muck as far as the eye can see. Houses lifted off their foundations and thrown across the road, yards filled so high with ash that people can't leave their homes without stepping in it, roadways littered with the ash from trucks going to and from the site, and an eerie still where active life once existed. While this story continues to unfold -- as more samples are taken that delineate the true toxicity of this mess, as TVA makes plans to contain and abate the disaster -- there is a story that has not been told. It is a story that must be told. And that story is the lives of innocent bystanders that have been turned upside down by this avoidable disaster.

Monday, January 12, 2009

It May Market Organic Alternatives, but Is Your Cleaner Really Greener? -

It May Market Organic Alternatives, but Is Your Cleaner Really Greener? - "Government and environmental watchdogs say many cleaners are turning to methods that are only slightly less toxic than perc. The National Cleaners Association, a trade group, says some businesses are using the term “organic” in a blatantly misleading way — not in the sense of a chemical-free peach, but in the chemistry-class sense of containing carbon, the element found in all organic compounds, including perc."

Friday, January 09, 2009

U.S. EPA's 2008 Report on the Environment (Final Report) | National Center for Environmental Assessment | US EPA

U.S. EPA's 2008 Report on the Environment (Final Report) National Center for Environmental Assessment US EPA

EPA is announcing the final report, EPA's 2008 Report on the Environment (EPA 2008 ROE), a science-based report that answers questions about recent trends in human health and the environment.

The Environmental Protection Agency's 2008 Report on the Environment, also referred to as the EPA 2008 ROE, provides the American people with an important resource from which they can better understand trends in the condition of the air, water, land, and human health of the United States.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

At Plant in Coal Ash Spill, Toxic Deposits by the Ton -

At Plant in Coal Ash Spill, Toxic Deposits by the Ton -

In a single year, a coal-fired electric plant deposited more than 2.2 million pounds of toxic materials in a holding pond that failed last week, flooding 300 acres in East Tennessee, according to a 2007 inventory filed with the Environmental Protection Agency.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Environmental Disaster at Coal Power Facility

" An environmental disaster occurred at a coal-fired power plant in Harriman, Tennessee on Dec. 22. A dam holding 5.4 Million of cubic yards of waste Coal Ash slurry gave way and the contents smashed through a Harriman neighborhood, knocking one home off its foundation, damaging 11 others, and toppling trees and power lines. It left 4 to 6 feet of gray ash muck across a 300 to 400 acre area, draining into nearby rivers that supply drinking water downstream to millions of people. Coal ash contains toxic heavy metals which can cause cancer and neurological problems, and are used in rat poison and insecticides." - from Clean Energy NOW !

FJR: As we discuss one of the most important issues of our time, our Energy Future, shouldn’t stories like these be on our minds instead of ads that say coal power is ‘clean?’ I mean, this issue should be factored in decisions on where to place wind towers in our area because if you not using clean, renewable wind power, you’re probably using coal power—which is fueling most of America’s electrical energy. How are we ever going to get our way of life on a sustainable track if we don’t get the facts and think about this issue free from powerful interests pushing and agenda instead of science?

It’s up to the public to demand from their media and representatives in government to present the real and honest choices we face in determining our Energy Future.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Foreign Policy: Think Again: Climate Change

Foreign Policy: Think Again: Climate Change: "Act now, we’re told, if we want to save the planet from a climate catastrophe. Trouble is, it might be too late. The science is settled, and the damage has already begun. The only question now is whether we will stop playing political games and embrace the few imperfect options we have left." By Bill McKibben

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Pass that Bottle Bill Already!

Contact your legislators!

This opinion published in the Buffalo News yesterday about the crucial need to pass the new bottle bill could not be said better by these New York environmental officials. Passage of the Bigger Better Bottle Bill has been delayed for years without a good reason. And now at the last possible hour for our economy and environment, this short essay by the head of the New York State Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the agriculture commissioner, and the commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation is spot on.

Updating ‘Bottle Bill’ is a no-brainer for Albany : Opinion : The Buffalo News By Pete Grannis, Patrick Hooker and Carol Ash "As Gov. David A. Paterson has made clear, New York is facing a staggering budget deficit — by far the largest in state history. And many hard budget choices must be made. But updating New York’s 25- year-old bottle deposit law isn’t one of them: Expanding the law to cover noncarbonated beverage containers, including water, fruit juice and sports drinks, is long overdue." (Jan 3, 09) The Buffalo News