Saturday, February 28, 2015

Feed and care instructions for Rochester’s new blue tote


CCToteSThe City of Rochester, NY is running a Single Stream Recycling Pilot Program, and the first of the new totes have been delivered to the participants. First, before it even crosses your mind, don’t feed your new blue tote a TV. Doing so will result in your new blue tote getting seriously ill and you getting an unpleasant fine of $100. You might have not even been thinking of cramming your old TV or computer into your new tote because it’s now illegal to even leave your e-waste at the curb in New York State—let alone making your new tote sick with it. But your tote can and should be fed a lot of things, which will make it grow and get strong.

Basically, totes like recyclables. It likes them clean and empty. Like feeding your tote an old TV, your totes does not like rotting, festering ‘ingredients’ lingering inside your recyclables because these will make your tote feel wretched too.

Your new tote, although very hardy, needs some TLC to live a long healthy life. Below, I have tried to answer some of what might be your most pressing questions about your new totes. Complete disclosure: I am not an authority on totes (or recycling) but I was chair of the Rochester Sierra Club’s Zero Waste committee for a couple of years; the City sent us participants a flyer on the program, and the City has provided much of this information here:

If you don’t feel like surfing over to the City’s Single Stream Recycling site, or you don’t have an Internet connection at the moment (which would be odd, since you wouldn’t be able to read this article either), I will try and anticipate some of your questions regarding the new program:

  • What does your new tote like to eat? Ans: paper, boxes, cardboard, plastic, glass, and metal. Metal like metal pots and pans, pie tins, licenses, plates, aluminum, tin, steel, or aerosol cans. Not metal like cars, trucks, or tractors.
  • What doesn’t your tote like to eat (besides TVs, cars, etc. that I’ve already mentioned)? Ans: garbage, Styrofoam (even if numbered), electronics, ceramics, dishes or glassware, food waste, plastic bags, hazardous waste, light bulbs, window glass or mirrors, electrical cords, hoses or ropes, syringes/sharps, and yard waste. (I might add here that a little common sense in feeding your tote would go a long way in keeping it healthy.)
  • Yipes! What do I do with all this stuff that that will make my new totes sick? Ans: Most of this stuff, especially hazardous waste, should be taken to the county’s eco-park. Many recyclables can be taken to recyclers who make a profit from your waste and thereby keeping a market for this stuff thriving, instead of tearing up our land for more stuff like electronics. Yard waste should be composted or put out at the curb in the City on your scheduled leaf-pick-up day in the fall. Food waste should be composted, which is to say, returned to Mother Earth from whence it came. Start composting. Or, just throw it all in the garbage, which is to say landfill it, where this rotting resource that could be enriching our soil will instead release methane (CH4) a greenhouse gas many more times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) into atmosphere our making Climate Change worse. (Are you feeling the guilt?)
  • How were the test participants selected and why weren’t you chosen? Ans: The City says: “You and your neighbors are among Rochester’s top recyclers…” (mentioned in the flyer you did or did not receive). This sounds almost too charitable to be true, so the real answer might have to do with your tax returns. (Are you feeling the paranoia?)
  • Where in the City are the test participants located? Ans: There is a secret route and may be decoded in a couple of ways. One, obviously just follow the trucks that pick up the blue totes. Two, find the secret document floating around the Internet that has the route on it. Three, ask the City to reveal the route.
  • Does this single stream system mean I don’t need to take reusable stuff to reuse centers, just feed them to my tote? Ans: Absolutely not! Clothes, books, magazines, eyeglasses, furniture, working gadgets, and many, many other reusable items should always be reused. Many charitable organizations and business thrive and help others to thrive by finding homes for used stuff that still has a life. A single stream recycling program is not a substitute for reuse.
  • How will you know if your tote is growing and getting stronger? Ans: The City of Rochester’s test program will expand to include more participants, until it covers the whole city. Then your garbage container will shrink because you won’t have much waste anymore and the world will return to being a sustainable thriving environment instead of one headed to the waste bin of history because of too much freaking waste. (Are you feeling the soap box lecture coming?)
  • What’s the big deal about the City’s single stream pilot program? Ans: No sorting required.
  • Do I have ulterior motives for writing this article? Ans: Yes. I’m hoping to get everyone to understand the link between recycling and Climate Change. (Ah ha, you knew it!) “Stop Trashing Our Climate” is a report that connects the dots between your waste getting landfilled making Climate Change worse. It’s not a long report.
  • What is Climate Change? Ans: It’s not pretty. See below:

1. "Climate change" means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods (Climate Change, Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC))

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Political leaders, including Rochester’s, must lead on Climate Change


CCWeDidItSUltimately, it is our political leaders and their parties who decide if and how we will address Climate Change. Much can and is being done to adapt to and mitigate this worldwide crisis from the bottom-up—individuals, faith organizations, educational institutions, and businesses—but their efforts are doomed to ad hoc, insufficient, and contradictory solutions if our leaders are not leading the way. A worldwide crisis requires a worldwide top-down framework. President Obama is just now starting to lead. His leadership will encourage billions to act. And just recently, New York State Assembly Speaker Heastie “created a working group to review NYS’s response to Climate Change.”

Assembly Speaker Heastie Creates Group To Review NYS Response To Climate Change The speaker of the New York state Assembly has created a working group to review the state's response to climate change. Speaker Carl Heastie announced the formation of the panel on Thursday. It will consist of 10 lawmakers charged with examining possible ways to reduce greenhouse emissions as well as measures that could help the state prepare for future extreme weather. (February 20, 2015) WXXI News

That’s leadership, taking charge of finding out whether our state’s current response to Climate Change is adequate. I submit that our state’s efforts are woefully lacking in many areas and I hope the findings of the working group will reflect that. Our state’s environmental agency (The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) established in 1970, understands its mission as:

"To conserve, improve and protect New York's natural resources and environment and to prevent, abate and control water, land and air pollution, in order to enhance the health, safety and welfare of the people of the state and their overall economic and social well-being." (About DEC)

But the DEC’s mission, which was written about the time greenhouse gases (GHGs) began to seriously affect our climate, should be updated. The DEC, which was far too interested in regulating Fracking and now regulating oil trains, should change their mission to focus entirely on protecting our life support system. Instead of making fossil fuel use safer, they should discourage it. Instead of making wildlife more plentiful for harvesting, the DEC should be planning and educating the public on how to help our wildlife and native plants adjust to a climate that is warming far faster than our endemic species’ ability to adapt. The DEC’s Climate Smart Communities voluntary program to address Climate Change should be mandatory and more robust. The DEC should orchestrate all their public information sessions through the lens of Climate Change. And, most notably the DEC should not be worrying their pretty little heads about our ‘overall economic well-being,’ as that’s why we created economists. The DEC should keep our life support system sustainable; which is the only way to ensure economic health in the future anyway.

These kind of holistic changes can only be changed at the top—our political leaders.

I’m not tilting at windmills here. Rather than a dreamy idealistic hunger for change, many political leaders are coming to terms with the core problem of this issue—it’s physics stupid. Taking time out from going at each other’s jugular, some of UK’s political leaders have agreed to agree that Climate Change is happening and it must be addressed.

Cameron, Clegg, and Miliband Sign Joint Climate Pledge | David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband have signed a joint pledge to tackle climate change, which they say will protect the UK’s national security and economic prosperity. The agreement of the three party leaders is highly unusual and comes amid a general election campaign that is becoming increasingly bitter. The prime minister, deputy prime minister and leader of the opposition have all clashed over green issues, but the joint declaration states: “Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing the world today. It is not just a threat to the environment, but also to our national and global security, to poverty eradication and economic prosperity.” February 17, 2015) Climate Central

Can you imagine our US political leaders walking boldly across the aisle, shaking hands, then speaking jointly to the media, “My worthy opponent and me agree that Climate Change is happening and it is doing so as a result of mankind’s GHG emissions.” It’s not a dream. It must happen. It must happen at all levels of government. It must start happening in the Rochester region too.

Rochester’s efforts under the state’s Five Cities Energy Plans include:

“•Create a Solarize Rochester program to encourage installation of solar panels by private residents and companies in city neighborhoods and streamline the approval process they must go through. •Support development of a large solar-energy project on 10 acres in the Emerson Street area. Like a similar project now being considered by Monroe County, the solar farm would be built and owned by a private company, with the city purchasing the power at a favorable rate. •Advance energy-efficiency efforts in city-owned buildings and encourage private owners to do the same. An example cited in the plan is the installation of energy-efficient lighting in six city-owned parking garages, which saves $400,000 a year. •Do more to encourage walking, bicycling and transit use. This includes installing more facilities such as bicycle lanes, which the plan foresees going from the present 30 lane-miles to nearly 80 in the coming years. The city also would support bike- and car-sharing programs. •Install efficient LED bulbs in the city’s 28,000 street lights. •Seek expansion of energy districts and microgrids, and explore use of the historic downtown heating district to also generate electricity.” Rochester energy plan pushes community-wide efficiency (2/17/2015, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle)

Wonderful though they are, these measures are not enough. Rochester must lead on Climate Change. The Rochester energy plan also says this: “These include reduced operating costs, a healthier, safer and more livable community, natural resource conservation and restoration, and mitigating and adapting to climate change.” (Rochester/Five Cities Energy Plan) It’s hard to be a leader on mitigating and adapting to Climate Change if you don’t mention it in public—so the public is clear that you mean you’re willing to lead on Climate Change.

Rochester Competes For State Funding For Energy Projects Governor Cuomo has announced funding for a new energy competition that will award up to $20 million for innovative energy projects in five upstate cities including Rochester.  Cuomo talked about the plan in his State of the State message.  It's part of a $35 million, five-year program spearheaded by the New York Power Authority. Under the plan, a state-funded energy manager position will be created for each city: Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Albany and Yonkers. Officials say this "five cities energy plan" could save some of New York's largest municipalities up to $400 million annually in energy costs. (February 17, 2015) WXXI News

Also, the slow progress deciding on Ontario Lake water levels highlights the political difficulty of adapting to Climate Change locally. Clearly, allowing the lake’s level to be restored to a healthier ecosystem level where wetlands flourish is more adaptive to more frequent extreme weather. But a relatively small number of folks reject this because it potentially harms their shoreline property. The answer is not to allow the entire lake ecosystem to fail because of the few, but to help compensate the few who might feel the sting of the majority’s need for a sustainable environment. Climate Change is going to require some very inconvenient and tough decisions; but not to make these decisions will be catastrophic. Our political leaders need to get out in front of this very divisive component of Climate Change adaptation in our region, which many are not.

Lake-level plan lacks top-level endorsements Lake Ontario may be nearly frozen over, but fevers still run high along the shoreline as folks continue to debate the merit of changing the way the lake's water levels are regulated. Many of New York's top elected leaders, however, are playing it cool. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state's two United States Senators and U.S. Rep. Louise Slaughter have yet to take a position on the matter. Of the four other members of Congress whose districts touch the Lake Ontario shoreline or St. Lawrence River bank, one is opposed, one in favor and two are skeptical and want more study. Not exactly a tidal wave of support. (February 19, 2015) Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

The increase in extreme cold that we are experiencing right now in Rochester and oil bombs exploding all around us recently are results of using ‘all of the above’ to solve our energy needs in a time of Climate Change. (“All of the above” is code for “I cannot make up my mind.”) However, the colder it gets, the more fossil fuel we use, so the more the fossil fuel industry drills, produces, and ships, which causes more bomb trains and refinery explosions, causing the planet, especially the Arctic, to warm more, which means more of the extreme cold gets pushed our way from the Arctic, so the colder it gets…

Wind farms and solar panels don’t blow up. We should be dramatically increasing renewable energy instead of having to get used to more violent fossil fuel explosions.

As Extreme Cold Engulfs Eastern U.S., Fossil Fuel Mishaps Leave Disaster Areas on Fire As extreme cold temperatures blast the eastern third of the United States, the fossil fuel industry has seen a series of disasters in less than a week. On Wednesday, an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery south of Los Angeles rocked the surrounding area with the equivalent of a 1.4-magnitude earthquake. The blast in California happened as oil tank cars from a derailed train remained on fire Wednesday in West Virginia, two days after the accident. The derailment forced the evacuation of two towns and destroyed a house. The derailment in West Virginia happened just two days after another oil train derailment in Ontario, Canada, which also left rail cars burning for days. We are joined by Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International. "Climate policy and energy policy are not usually discussed together in this country," Kretzmann says. "Climate change means that we need to transition away from fossil fuels, sooner rather than later." (February 19, 2015) Democracy Now!

Our political leaders and their party platforms need to adapt to this crisis. Quietly working behind closed doors to reduce GHGs and hoping that their constituents will magically connect the dots with Climate Change is not leadership. Speaking publically about a clean energy future but not including ‘Climate Change’ panders to the denial zeitgeist. (Everyone, as Bill Nye, the Science Guy implores the media, needs to “just say the word ‘Climate Change’ now and then”.) This kind of hope and pray political approach to address Climate Change has installed powerful climate change deniers into office which allows them to thwart and reverse what little we have done. The political hush job on “Climate Change” means the public continues to languish in limbo, where nothing is asked of them to address this crisis. There is an incredible opportunity for political leaders to regain the public’s trust by leading on Climate instead of dodging it.

Time passes.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Get beyond Fracking by REV [ing] up renewable energy in New York State


CCDodgeSUnless your head is still buried in Sen. James Inhofe’s (“outspoken denier of climate science and chairman of the Senate’s environment committee”) climate-denial book, you know that New York State is banning Fracking. Fracking is a dirty way of extracting a dirty fossil fuel, when we should be turning towards clean energy (wind, solar, geothermal, conservation, energy efficiency, microgrids, and net metering). Now that our attention is back after having been hijacked for 6 Fracking years, we should focus on clean energy options in a time of Climate Change.

Admittedly, it is not going to be easy to get Rochester to focus on responsible energy options—even though energy use is now understood as synonymous with morality. (Just ask Pope Francis.) We still think cold weather means Climate Change is a hoax. We still want to keep our local nuclear power plant even though it’s one of the oldest in the nation and the public may be forced to keep it on life-support. Fracking still makes for sexy, pugilistic headlines and clean energy doesn’t.

However, the clean energy program that should have evolved, instead of the Fracking dinosaur, now has a chance to survive and thrive. That program is “Reforming the Energy Vision" (REV) brought to you by the New York State Public Service Commission, who “regulates and oversees the electric, gas, water, and telecommunication industries in New York”. (Wiki) Why didn’t they launch REV six years ago? Was it because of Fracking?

There has been a series of public meetings so locals can learn more about REV and comment. You could have joined the party if you lived in Syracuse, Buffalo, New York City, Kingston, Albany, Yonkers, and Binghamton—but not Rochester, until a couple of NYS senators (Republicans) complained. Maybe the state thought the specter of clean energy would frighten the third largest city in the state. Nonetheless when we did have a chance to speak last Thursday evening at City Hall, many spoke eloquently about the need to link our energy use with Climate Change. You didn’t know that? That’s probably because the local media didn’t come to the party. They were too busy, or too cold, or they don’t cover events after dinner, or it wasn’t about Fracking energy, or the dog ate their homework. Who knows?


What's REV Why Does It Matter? "Reforming the Energy Vision" (REV) is a major decision-making process underway now to transform the retail electricity market and overhaul New York's energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. The stated goal of the proceeding is to create a cleaner, more affordable, more modern and more efficient energy system in New York, through the increased development of distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar, energy efficiency, and battery storage. The REV proceeding was initiated by New York's Public Service Commission in April, 2014.” Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE)

Stop. Before we go any further, you must watch this fun 16-minute video that explains the REV program that is so wonky and complicated your mind will explode: “Reforming the Energy Vision, from AGREE.

Good, you’re back. (Sorry, that thing about your mind exploding was a bit over top, but trying to understand REV really is wonky and complicated.) And, just in case you cannot make it through this whole essay, here’s the take home message: Please comment on Track 1 of REV prior to February 17, 2015 “First track involves a collaborative process to examine the role of distribution utilities in enabling market-based deployment of distributed energy resources to promote load management and greater system efficiency, including peak load reductions.” 14-M-0101: Reforming the Energy Vision (REV)

See what I mean? It really is very wonky and complicated. There’s 90 pages of this stuff.

OK, if you’re still with me and willing to go just a little further, let me explains why all this matters.

If you don’t have the patience to get through all the particulars and jargon of the REV program, AGREE will help you out. And, oh yeah, it’s crucial for our state to hear loud and clear that we care about addressing Climate Change and want our energy options to reflect that.

Sitting this one out, ignoring Climate Change and not giving voice to a major shift in the way New York State gets energy is a major copout on the greatest issue of our day. I know, you’re busy and have lots of other stuff to do. But if Climate Change becomes overwhelming, all that stuff you’re doing now won’t matter.

This week, while on the road to the COP21 Paris Climate treaty in December, there’s a U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Geneva. Negotiators are ramping up for binding agreements in Paris to keep the 2°C (or 3.6°F) goal for keeping greenhouse gases (GHGs) above pre-industrial averages. However, despite the hue and cry about what curbing our fossil fuel addiction will do to our economy, (the fossil fuel industry’s standard trope), and the supposed threat to our lifestyles in the developed nations, there’s a dirty little secret: 2°C, though very ambitious, is not enough to stop the catastrophic consequences of Climate Change. Geneva is working on new goals that would complement the 2°C goal.

New Global Warming Goal Is Goal of Talks For five years, United Nations climate negotiators and onlookers have been focused on one big-ticket objective: Preventing the planet from heating up by more than 2°C, or 3.6°F. That’s a convoluted goal, though. Not all the extra energy that’s trapped on Earth by greenhouse gases manifests as warmth at its surface; most of it heats up the oceans. If current trends continue, scientists say we would blow past the 2°C target within a few decades — but the modeling required to make that projection produces substantial uncertainty. One of the main issues under negotiation during U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change talks in Geneva this week is a potential new global climate target — something more tangible for policy makers than the 2°C goal, with progress that’s easier to track. (February 12, 2015) Climate Central

Yes, it’s inconvenient and difficult to ask nations to do even more to address Climate Change than the 2C goal, since even this inadequate number is extremely unlikely to be achieved. However, the battle to align Climate Change politics (what we are willing to do) with science (what we have to do) cannot be achieved by unanimity. It would be like saying in order to get a plane off the ground we would need to balance the techniques of aeronautics with everyone’s ideas, including those who believe in telekinesis. That would be absurd. If the scientific characterization of Climate Change doesn’t prevail, we are screwed. 

Climate Change includes Global Warming but on a local level risks will vary. In the Rochester, NY region, for example, there are many Real Changes going on in our region right now that are not necessarily what other regions are experiencing. (In California it is wicked hot, not wicked cold like it is here right now.) And in the near future the Likely Changes are not what other places will be facing. But the trajectory for all of us is a warmer planet—that’s if we survive the local variations. Climate Change is about planning and we should be doing that on a massive scale. One way to do that is to shift our New York State present fossil fuel power grid to a greener power grid.

Climate Change is global, but the consequences and solutions are local.

IPCC scientists call for focus on regional climate risks  Data on geography of rising temperatures is not getting through to adaptation specialists, warn co-chairs  From heatwaves and wildfires in Australia to flooding in India, climate change affects different parts of the world in different ways. In the last round of reports from the UN’s climate science body, physical scientists produced an atlas of regional temperature and rainfall projections. But this has been underused in efforts to prepare for the impacts and threats of climate change around the globe, the top authors say. Ahead of a key meeting on the future of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in Nairobi this month, they are pushing for a heightened focus on localised risks. (February 13, 2015) Responding To Climate Change (RTCC)

Time passes.

Sunday, February 08, 2015

Six reasons why Rochester must care about huge gas storage at Seneca Lake


CCGasSGilda Radner (television actress, comedian (1946–1989)) reminds us that “If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.” Just after New York State finally bans Fracking, up comes the attempt for massive storage of methane and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) on the shores of Seneca Lake. For the folks on the southern shores, this fossil fuel expansion project presents a clear and present danger:

“This project presents geological problems, can affect Seneca Lake water quality, presents health risks, is a threat to our winery and tourist economy, as well as being an infrastructure project that could negatively impact climate change.” Gas Free Seneca

Although a dramatic increase in gas storage at Seneca Lake is not an immediate threat to Rochester, we should help stop it. This increase in gas storage is an immediate threat to those who live on or near Seneca Lake and we should care just for that at reason. Friends don’t let friends get stuffed with explosive fossil fuels. But as the quote above suggests, this project is not just Seneca Lake’s problem. Our life support system is not walled by regions, states, or countries. Our environment is walled only by our planet. “ infrastructure project that could negatively impact climate change” means our region would continue to be part of the worldwide crisis of Climate Change, instead of part of the solution.

Here are at least 6 more reasons why folks in and around Rochester should act on this issue.

  1. As I stood in the crowd at this rally, I heard Howie Hawkins say it best: “… we are sitting right at the fork of the road, and If we let that project go forward, you know what that does, it locks us into decades of an infrastructure that the people made an investment are gonna want a return on, it forecloses the green energy path…”  Howie Hawkins at the "We are Seneca Lake Too" rally in Geneva, New York
  2. Even in a region of freshwater abundance, jeopardizing freshwater resources for the storage of fossil fuels is immoral.
  3. This massive gas storage project is threat to the economic health of our region--wine, tourism, and a lot of Rochesterians probably have cottages near the lake.
  4. We should not be expanding methane storage anywhere--not to mention the region of the Finger Lakes. Whenever you increase fossil fuels you decrease the price of gas and the public’s will to develop renewable energy.
  5. Fossil fuel development cannot be done safely when the emissions cannot be sequestered. Our ability to stuff fossil fuels deep into the group and keep it there safely forever is an ability we do not have on a large scale—and probably never will.
  6. Do you really only want to drink California or French wines?

How can Rochester help? Learn more: Go to R-CAUSES’s LPG & NATURAL GAS STORAGE IN SENECA LAKE SALT MINES NEAR WATKINS GLEN and my Seneca Lake web page and keep up-to-date. Sign the Save Seneca Lake Petition. Go to Gas Free Seneca and We Are Seneca Lake where you can donate to help defray legal costs by these groups and Pledge to Protect Seneca Lake.


Below is additional information and actions copied with permission from our friends over at R-CAUSE “Rochesterians Concerned About Unsafe Shale-gas Extraction”


"I don’t think jobs should have to come at the cost of public health, and we can come up with an economic development strategy for the Southern Tier that develops the economy, produces jobs, but doesn’t put public health at risk,” Cuomo said in a radio interview Dec. 20. Couldn't the same be said for gas storage?

LPG Storage in NY Salt Cavern Linked to Salinity Spike in Drinking Water “For decades, scientists have puzzled over why Seneca Lake, the largest of New York State’s Finger Lakes, is by far the saltiest of the 11 glacier-carved water bodies. Now a Nevada hydrologist claims he’s solved the mystery. Tom Myers, who was hired by opponents of a plan to store liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in salt caverns at the southern end of Seneca, pins the blame on LPG storage in the same group of caverns between 1964 and 1984. “The risk of saline influx to the lake from LPG is very high and should be avoided,” Myers wrote in January. (February 6, 2015) DC Bureau)

ACTION 1: Call and/or email Governor Cuomo before the DEC Issues Conference Thursday February 12th! Thank him again for banning fracking and tell him that gas storage on Seneca Lake not only threatens public health and safety, but also threatens the thriving and growing agri-tourism economy.  The Finger Lakes must not be the sacrifice zone for the oil and gas industry.  We refuse to take all of the risk with no reward. The proposed gas storage facility on Seneca will not heat our homes, nor will it lower our home heating cost. Ask the Governor to deny gas storage permits in the Finger Lakes, specifically Crestwood’s gas storage propose on Seneca Lake, and support what is already succeeding here:

ACTION 2. DEC ISSUES CONFERENCE regarding the LPG Storage Facility on Seneca Lake, Thursday, February 12th (and 13th if needed), 10 AM, Horseheads Holiday Inn, 2666 Corning Road, Horseheads, NY 14845 

The Conference is a formal opportunity for pre-approved groups to present their arguments opposing and in support of the Storage Facility. Read more here.

Gas Free Seneca would like as many gas facility opponents to be there as possible. We need to out-number the gas facility supporters.  Please be sure to arrive early!  The court proceedings will be held in a room that holds 200, with those who have been permitted Party Status or filed Amicus Briefs being allowed in first, then room for others on a first come, first serve basis.

Please remember, we need to be an extraordinarily respectful crowd since this is an official court hearing, with an Administrative Law Judge.  We do not want to do anything that angers the judge, or prevents him from being able to hear Gas Free Seneca's arguments, so please, no chanting; and talking should be kept to a hushed minimum!

People should be able to assemble in the parking area and inside the Hotel.  Please bring respectful signs only if you do not intend to go into the court proceedings, or give your sign to someone who is not planning on going into the proceedings. 

Please Wear Blue, as a sign that you are opposed to gas storage on Seneca Lake!

The media is sure to be there in force. To get a good sense of the significant and substantive issues that will be discussed, we highly recommend you look through Gas Free Seneca's Petition for Full Party Status and the public versions of GFS's expert's reports found here:

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Rochester sprucing up for COP21 Paris Climate Conference


CCReliefSBy March we expect countries around the world to submit their climate change pledges under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC): Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). Obama has pledged to reduce our greenhouse gas (GHGs) emissions. China has pledged to lower its GHGs and increase non-fossil fuel energy alternatives. And recently India has pledged to reduce emissions from fluorinated gases, strive for cleaner energy, and alleviate its air pollution. Rochester, NY isn’t a country, of course, but all communities around the world must be sprucing up for the COP21 Paris Climate Conference in December, where “The conference objective is to achieve a legally binding and universal agreement on climate, from all the nations of the world.” (1.) Pledges must end up with favorable results:

“On that front, the next few years will be critical. Under the UNFCCC, countries around the world committed to produce an international climate action agreement. This agreement will be finalized at the annual Conference of the Parties, meeting in Paris in 2015 (COP 21). How UNFCCC negotiations progress between now and then will in part determine whether the world curbs climate change—or feels its worsening effects.”(World Resources Institute)

There are several changes afoot in Rochester that may have a profound effect on our local efforts to address Climate Change:

  • ROCHESTER PEOPLES’ CLIMATE COALITION formed in September 2014 around the People's Climate March, this powerful alliance is reorganizing to demand action on Climate Change.
  • Rochester’s ‘Mothers Out Front’, new on the scene in Rochester, MOF engages mothers, grandmothers, and all who care about the next generation to direct our courage and strength toward assuring a healthy future for all. Stories are the fuel that inspire us and others to act. Read more: Moms mobilize against climate change  (January 28, 2015) Rochester City Newspaper
  • As I mentioned last week, the City of Rochester is starting to put together a Climate Action Plan. Read more: Rochester to undertake citywide climate inventory (January 21, 2015 Rochester City Newspaper)
  • From cleaning up 4 parks a few years ago, this county program has increased to cover 21 parks this year: “The 6th annual Pick Up the Parks Event This event is designed to foster stewardship of our 21 parks and 12,000 acres within.  We are all stewards of the great outdoors, so we encourage you to do your part to keep our parks, our waterways, and watersheds clean and green."
  • Greentopia Launches New York's First Online Green Guide! “We are proud to announce the launch of the Greentopia Green Guide, a comprehensive guide and portal to all things green! This guide is for businesses and consumers alike. “--from Greentopia.
  • World renowned climate scientist, activist and author, Dr. James Hansen has agreed to speak at the Rochester Regional Group of the Sierra Club’s Earth Day forum for 2015, Tuesday April 21st, 2015. Former NASA scientist and Climate Change expert Dr. James Hansen speaks at the local Sierra Club's annual environmental forum, to be held at Monroe Community College. Various other events at other local venues will be included that day, and also Monday April 20th. See his TED talk here:
  • Got Got short film abilities and want to message importance of our environment?  Fast Forward Film Festival Showcasing New Environmental Perspectives Presented by WXXI/Little Theatre, George Eastman House, RIT,  and the NYS Pollution Prevention Institute The Fast Forward Film Festival invites residents in the greater Rochester area to submit independent short films (5 minutes or less) that inspire a deeper connection to the environment. As an incubator for innovative thinking and artistic expression, FFFF encourages films that tap into the local experience, compel audiences to engage with the community, and raise environmental awareness. An acclaimed jury will review the films and select winners who will receive a $1,000 cash prize for each of these categories: (1) most inspiring, compelling, and engaging, (2) most unique perspective, (3) strongest call to action. Submission deadline is February 27, 2015 "" Click here to down load the flyer and help distribute Fast Forward Film Festival

This isn’t a complete list. For example, many local businesses are acting on in lowering their carbon footprint. However, at the end of the day, all the actions we take must result in a dramatic change in the public’s attitude towards this worldwide crisis. We shouldn’t have to defend the science of Climate Change every time we bring it up. We shouldn’t have to argue with every climate denier who still hasn’t done their homework. Our local waste stream, waste water, water, transportation, and telecommunications infrastructure must become more resilient for more extreme weather and reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly.

If our collective efforts don’t accomplish all this, we are fooling ourselves. If enough groups and individuals don’t join together to address Climate Change, if we only create a moral hazard by continuing to pick up more litter but don’t’ try to end it, if the City ends up with a Climate Action Plan that looks good on paper but doesn’t bring down GHGs, if our attempts to create a list of green companies only results in greenwashing (if there isn’t rigorous standards and vetting), and if we invite a world-class climate scientist to speak to just the choir, we might be making matter worse by wasting valuable time.

Climate Change has changed everything, especially our environmental actions. We can no longer just appease our sense of aesthetics and our feelings towards our environment—our life support system. Our present actions must result in a dramatic decrease in GHGs and address all the historical environmental issues at the same time—the loss of biodiversity, pollution, overpopulation, food shortages, and much more.

COP21 Paris is coming up soon. Will all the above local actions add up to making a real difference? It’s up to you.

Time passes.