Coming soon: a green tax code for American businesses and individual taxpayers alike?

A major tax study currently being sponsored by the U.S. Treasury will give environmental activists a powerful new weapon in their campaign to alter the entire American economic and social landscape in the name of halting “climate change”—including the possible levying of new carbon taxes.

That campaign is bound to intensify in the aftermath of Nov. 6’s presidential election, regardless of who wins the race, as the nation faces the challenge of deficit reduction and tax reform that will be required to overhaul the country’s over-strained finances. Environmental advocates and others are likely to raise such innovative mechanisms as carbon taxes and major shifts in tax rates and incentives as part of the process—and the impending study may well provide them with important ammunition.

Under the bland title of Effects of Provisions in the Internal Revenue Code on Greenhouse Gas Emissions, the $1.5 million study is being carried out under the auspices of the National Academy of Science (NAS). Originally planned to take two years, the ambitious project aims to take an inventory of the U.S. tax code in terms of the effects of its most important provisions on the emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions—a huge and complicated exercise in environmental and economic modelling.

The study itself will not be available until after the election. Originally slated for completion in September of this year, its publication has since been postponed until the first quarter of next year.

Read the entire article







New York officials say a $37 million grant from the federal Department of Energy will help upgrade the state’s electricity grid.
The money will help fund a $75 million “smart grid” initiative to improve the efficiency of New York’s electricity delivery system.
New York is adding units to measure and report system conditions that will help avoid blackouts. The grant also will help fund the installation of capacitor banks around the state to reduce the amount of electricity lost over long distances.
Officials with the New York Independent System Operator, which runs the grid, say the smart grid investments will promote a reliable electric system to support the state’s economic growth.

Fracking Opponents Out With New TV Ad

A coalition of groups opposed to hydrofracking are out with a new television advertisement in the Southern Tier today, attempting to cast doubt on the economic benefits of natural-gas drilling.
The 60-second spot will begin airing today in the Binghamton and Elmira television markets, according to New Yorkers Against Fracking. It’s being funded by Washington D.C.-based Food and Water Watch, one of the members of the coalition.
The ad features interviews with unnamed subjects who are said to be Pennsylvania residents. They criticize the natural-gas industry for everything from water issues to dropping home values before the narrator urges viewers to call Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
High-volume hydrofracking has been on hold in New York, but has been very active in Pennsylvania largely since 2007. Last month, New York officials announced that the Department of Health would review the Department of Environmental Conservation’s recommended regulations and guidelines for hydrofracking before any large-scale permits are issued.
Both Binghamton and Elmira sit above what is believed to be the most gas-rich portion of the Marcellus Shale in New York.

he Department of Health is in negotiations with outside experts to help assess the state’s report on shale-gas drilling and is expected to reach a contract agreement “soon,” according to New York’s top environmental regulator.
Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, told reporters Friday that the specifics of the health review are still being figured out. It is “to be determined” if that review will be completed before Nov. 29, a key deadline that — if missed — would require the DEC to reopen its proposed hydrofracking regulations to public comment.
Martens announced last month that state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah would assemble a panel of experts to review the DEC’s report on hydrofracking. That report, a set of permitting guidelines known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, has to be finalized before permits for large-scale hydrofracking can be issued in New York. Work on the report began more than four years ago.
“We still don’t have contracts with (the outside experts) yet so it’s not 100 percent certain at this point what the exact scope is going to be, but they’re going to review the health portions of the SGEIS and how we’ve addressed health impacts in the mitigation measures,” Martens said Friday after speaking at a Business Council conference.

Pennsylvania state agencies and local governments in places where natural gas drilling is under way are about to get checks from an impact fee fund that’s collected more than $200 million.
Gov. Tom Corbett and other Republican leaders announced the breakdown for counties, townships and boroughs at a Capitol news conference on Monday.
Officials say the checks should be going out from the state treasury over the coming 10 days. They cover drilling through 2011. The payments for 2012 are due July 1.
State law restricts how the money can be spent. Among the allowable uses are fixing roads and building or repairing water and sewer infrastructure.
 Payment information: http://bit.ly/R0YaLR

Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long says developing upstate New York’s natural gas formations could bring desperately needed jobs and criticized Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand over the issue.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is considering whether to allow the exploration of shale gas through the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. It is not a federal decision, though Gillibrand says concerns about clean air and water should be addressed before drilling moves forward.
Long said during an Albany news conference Thursday that Gillibrand has cast her lot with the “far-left” environmentalists and celebrities who oppose fracking. Gillibrand campaign spokesman Glen Caplin said he would not comment on what he called conspiracy theories from a struggling campaign.
Long said Cuomo should move faster, but blamed the delay on outside pressure.

NY anti-frackers get win from Cuomo

Environmental groups fighting fracking say Gov. Andrew Cuomo's order for a new public health study is a sign he may be backing off his plans to allow the hotly debated extraction process.
While Cuomo insists he has made no decision, he has repeatedly said he will approve fracking if the science shows it can be done safely. And the study — if it finds no major threats — could give him the cover to move forward with more political benefits than hits.
"There is no step back," Cuomo told reporters in Syracuse last week when asked about the health study. "I think it will be a more thorough review and it will be a stronger review to withstand a legal challenge. ... Our lawyers say it will be more defensible in the event we're challenged."
Cuomo administration officials have worried privately that continued loud opposition to fracking, which injects chemically laced water into shale formations to release gas, could disrupt other policy work and the governor's re-election campaign without creating a single job.

Word comes from State Senate leader
The dean of the Albany press corps reports in the New York Post that there are predictions Gov. Cuomo will approved hydrofracking later this year or early in 2013.  Fred Dicker says Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous (R) from the Binghamton area believes Cuomo will approve fracking before the legislature returns to the capitol in the hopes of avoiding criticism and opposition.
Binghamton, like most of upstate New York, is suffering economically and hydrofracking creates many jobs.

News of a renewed round of (potentially lengthy) delay in the state’s decision on whether to allow high-volume hydrofracking brought a round of restrained reaction from the natural-gas industry, which generally expressed disappointment but confidence in the process moving forward.
There was no such restraint from a coalition of pro-fracking landowners.
The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York—a collection of landowners groups from across the state—issued a rather scathing statement this afternoon, knocking Gov. Andrew Cuomo for having “turned his back” on landowners.
A selection from the lengthy statement:
“Our message to hypocritical opposition activists is this: If you are part of the Hollywood elite calling for delays in New York, you should be pleased that you have the Governor’s ear. Unfortunately, the Governor has turned his back on the landowners in New York and simply doesn’t care that we are struggling to pay the highest real property tax rates in the country, recovering from two devastating floods and watching as our communities decline, businesses flee and we bleed jobs such as the recent loss of 575 jobs expected from Sikorsky’s departure in Big Flats. We are baffled about how our state can ignore the biggest economic opportunity we will see in our lifetimes while we struggle to survive during the largest recession since the Great Depression. We hope Commissioner Shah is also considering the health effects of unemployment and poverty.”
Meanwhile, Clean Growth Now—a separate coalition that includes the landowners group and various business entities—has continued advertising in newspapers across the Southern Tier. One of its latest ads, pictured below, targets Cuomo by touting the support for hydrofracking shown by President Barack Obama, GOP nominee Mitt Romney and New York City Michael Bloomberg.
The Clean Growth Now ad is below. The full statement from the Joint Landowners Coalition can be read here.



This commercial is aptly named "Smooth Operator".

U.S. Senate Independent candidate Angus King has an uncanny ability to look into the camera or otherwise into the audience and say something he knows couldn't be more misleading. There is never a trace of guilt or shame when he does this. What is this man made of?

The camp owners of Roxbury Pond are justifiably devastated by what King and his partner the Yale University Endowment have done to their hard won paradise with their so called wind farm. (Read: Useless subsidy farm).

King's PR machine would have you believe everyone there couldn't be happier with his "wind farm". After all, when Angus came to town he made some promises and one of these was that he would never build a project unless it was fully acceptable to the local community. Here's what his website said:

Unfortunately, we now see that in Angus King's world, it is not the affected residents who determine what constitutes "acceptability", but rather it is Mr. King. Angus King and his elitist partner Yale know what is best for the people of Roxbury. I guess they have saved these poor people from themselves.

The chair of the state Senate’s energy committee is out with a new package of bills today which he says would help spur coal-fired power plants to switch to natural gas.
Sen. George Maziarz, R-Newfane, Niagara County, is set to formally unveil the bills today at a energy committee hearing in western New York today.
Maziarz’ legislation would allow power plants to take a 12.5 percent tax credit on any improvements that are necessary to comply with environmental standards laid out in the state’s new energy siting bill. The bills would also make changes to the state’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program, allowing plants to take the money they pay for carbon credits and use it to transition to cleaner technology.
In particular, the bills are aimed at a number of struggling coal plants that represent a large share of their community’s tax base, such as former AES plants in Tompkins and Niagara counties. (The Tompkins County plant has alerted the state of its intention to mothball the facility come January.)
“That’s really what the hearing is about today, is not giving up on these plants,” Maziarz said in a phone interview. “Most of them are coal plants. They can be converted to natural gas plants, and the price of natural gas is the cheapest than its probably been since the mid-1980s.”

There is “not a timetable” on a newly added layer to the state’s review of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, a top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
Last week, the state Department of Environmental Conservation asked the Department of Health to review its analysis of the health impacts of hydrofracking and gas drilling, likely delaying a final decision on whether to allow the technique in New York.
In a radio interview Monday, Director of State Operations Howard Glaser said the Health Department’s review is a preemptive move, in part to help prevent lawsuits. The DEC has been criticized extensively by environmental groups, who have said two draft versions of permitting guidelines and regulations for high-volume hydrofracking didn’t do enough to analyze potential health effects.
The state received close to 80,000 comments on drafts of its policy document—known as the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement—and many called for a more extensive look at medical side effects, Glaser said.

The state’s top environmental regulator today dismissed calls for a lengthy, independent analysis of the health impacts of natural-gas drilling, instead calling on the Department of Health to appoint a panel to review the state’s assessments.
Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens issued a lengthy statement late Thursday, acknowledging that he had been discussing the possibility of a health analysis with “parties on all sides of this issue” before laying out a compromise, of sorts.
Here’s a sample from Martens’ lengthy statement:
I have recently met with several of the groups who have raised public health concerns and it is clear they are not satisfied with the Department’s effort to address potential public health impacts. The groups would require that DEC conduct an outside health study that would determine the outcome of the final decision. I reject that demand. I believe it is highly likely that some of these groups will pursue litigation following the conclusion of the Departmental process if they do not agree with the outcome.
Instead, Martens said, he has asked state Health Commissioner Nirav Shah to assess the DEC’s own review of hydrofracking’s health impacts, and to appoint a panel of outside experts to advise him. A final DEC decision on whether high-volume hydrofracking can proceed in New York, he wrote, will wait until after Shah and the outside experts weigh in.

Citing "uncertain and changing market conditions" - including doubts surrounding the extension of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) - Siemens Energy said it is laying off 615 employees - more than 37% of its U.S. wind power workforce - across its manufacturing, projects and administrative-support functions.

The job cuts will be spread across the company's Hutchinson, Kan., nacelle assembly plant; its Fort Madison, Iowa, blade manufacturing facility; and its Orlando, Fla., Americas headquarters, which also serves as a base for about 200 field-based project support personnel, Siemens spokesperson Melanie Forbrick told NAW.

Just like many companies that have recently announced U.S. layoffs - including Vestas, Clipper Windpower, LM Windpower and DMI Industries - Siemens cited the looming expiration of the PTC as one of the reasons for the workforce reductions.

However, the company said other factors also contributed to the decision. For instance, the overall drop in wind turbine orders is also due to low natural-gas prices and a slow economic recovery.

(Click to read the entire article)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced the launch of a $30 million initiative encourage the use of energy-efficiency technologies.

The Energy Efficiency Market Acceleration Program, being implemented by the New York Power Authority, will fund research, market development activities and demonstration projects to help promote business development opportunities for emerging technologies, according to a news release.

In July 2012, the NYPA Board of Trustees authorized $30 million for the program.

“This public-private partnership will help bring innovative green technologies into the marketplace, helping spur economic investment in the clean-energy sector and protect our environment, while maintaining New York’s position as a leader in sustainability,” Cuomo said in a statement. “By supporting clean energy research and production, the state is helping create green jobs in communities across New York, while ensuring that our environment is protected for generations to come.”

The initiative focuses on accelerating the market development of energy-efficiency technologies by attracting technology companies to New York, assisting in the forming of strategic alliances and business development opportunities for those companies and training engineers, contractors and maintenance service providers.

To implement the initiative, NYPA today issued a request for proposals. Once selected, the awardee will identify commercial, but-not-yet-widely deployed clean energy products with significant promise for gaining market share. The request is available here.

The popping of the SHALE GAS MIRACLE just erased any remaining doubts that the world will be able to continue its delusion of maintaining business as usual… forever.

For many years, the oil and gas industry has been hyping their new miracle baby called “SHALE ENERGY”. Through new advances in technology such as fracking, the U.S. Government first estimated the total shale gas reserves in the country at a staggering 827 trillion cubic feet. Furthermore, BP stated that shale gas and oil will make the United States self-sufficient by 2030.

However, cracks began to appear in the GREAT SHALE GAS MIRACLE when in January of this year, the U.S. Dept of Energy released new projections which cut the reserves to nearly half to only 482 trillion cubic feet. Even though this was a 42% decline in reserves… it is still a great deal of natural gas that the country can depend on. Or is it?

On Sept. 2nd, 2012, something very startling occurred. The USGS – United States Geological Society, came out with revisions to the shale gas fields’ reserves… and it wasn’t pretty. Before we get into the details of the data, let me give you some background information.

(Click to read the entire article)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday that there are no immediate plans for a decision on whether to allow hydraulic fracturing in New York and that he expects lawsuits to follow the decision either way.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation is expected to issue a final determination on whether high-volume hydrofracking—a natural-gas extraction technique that involves a mix of water, sand and chemicals injected into gas-rich shale formations—can be done safely. There has been much speculation over when the decision would be announced.

During an interview on an Albany radio station Monday morning, Cuomo said he isn’t going to pressure the state agency into making the decision by a certain date, such as the upcoming election day for the office of the president and the state Legislature or by the end of the year.

“When it’s done, and when they’re prepared — that’s when we’ll announce the decision,” he told WDJG.

(Click to read the entire article)

Town Supervisors Push Cuomo on Fracking

Even while he’s 700 miles away from the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still facing pressure from hydrofracking supporters and opponents.

First, there was the full-page advertisement taken out in today’s Charlotte Observer, warning Cuomo that the “road to the White House is not lined with drilling rigs.”

Also today yesterday, 22 town supervisors from across the Southern Tier (and into the Catskills region) mailed Cuomo a letter, urging him to give a green light to the much-debated technique used in the gas-extraction process.

“Lastly, the delay is only empowering opponents, some of whom have now taken to civil disobedience and other disruptive acts,” the supervisors wrote. “While everyone supports the right of people to express their views, we see a situation where opponents are distorting the facts and trying to impose their views of what is right in our community.”

Some standard background: The state Department of Environmental Conservation is in the midst of a four-year review of high-volume hydrofracking, which has been panned by environmentalists but pushed by supporters for its economic potential. The technique can’t move forward in New York until that review is completed and the agency makes recommendations.

Here’s the letter from the town supervisors, including town of Binghamton Supervisor Tim Whitesell, who is current president of the state Association of Towns:

Wind proponents insist the industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the American economy having doubled U.S. nameplate capacity since 2008.

But let's be clear: Recent growth in the industry is largely due to the massive infusion of public cash lavished on big wind under ARRA. Expiration of Section 1603 cash grants coupled with record-low natural gas prices, will likely collapse the stimulus-induced bubble and push installations back to mid-2000's levels. The production tax credit, if extended, will continue to offset above-market wholesale prices for wind power but the credit will not drive the same level of growth.

Wind and State RPS policies

In the last ten years, more than half of the states adopted renewable portfolio standards (RPS) that encouraged development of home-grown low-emission generation. State legislators voted in favor of the mandates after being convinced by proponents that more renewable resources in the energy mix, particularly those with no fuel cost, would replace fossil use, attract jobs and ultimately stabilize and reduce energy prices.

But the artificial no-compete power markets created by RPS policies for self-selected renewable resources[1] drove up electricity prices and forced ratepayers to pay for energy they didn't need. In 2011 residential rates in states with mandates were 27% higher than those without mandates while industrial electricity prices were 23% higher.

(Click to read the entire article)

A new report on the state’s energy transmission system has something of a rough roadmap for replacing the Indian Point Energy Center tucked deep inside.

The state Energy Planning Board unanimously approved a final draft of the report on Thursday. The board, which includes representatives from various state agencies and appointments from the governor and Legislature, is charged with coming up with a comprehensive energy plan by March.

On page 85 of the 111-page analysis of the transmission system, the report expresses confidence in the state’s ability to replace the 2,000-megawatt capacity of Indian Point’s two nuclear reactors.

“The State is actively involved in the (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) relicensing proceedings and has mechanisms in place to address reliability impacts and implement solutions in the event the units do not receive their operating license renewals,” the report reads.

The two NRC licenses for the Buchanan, Westchester County, facility are due to expire in 2013 and 2015, and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Gov. Andrew Cuomo favor closing the nuclear plant.

(Click to read the entire article)

A billion-dollar tax break for a proposed Shell petrochemical facility in western Pennsylvania would cut property tax revenue, but local officials still want the plant.

The school district could lose $275,000 in property taxes and the rural township of Potter could lose about 7 percent of its annual budget under a state tax incentives package, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Wednesday.

Local officials gave those figures to members of the House Appropriations Committee at a hearing Tuesday night in Monaca, which is about 40 miles north of Pittsburgh.

That’s where Shell hopes to build a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant to convert natural gas into more profitable chemicals. Shell has identified the site as its first choice in the region, but it hasn’t made a final decision to build.

(Click to read the entire article)

The electric grid: Extreme power risks

Extreme weather is putting America’s power grid to the test, with a yearlong run of violent storms and record heat battering a system built for fairer skies.

As the eastern United States struggles to recover from yet another weather shock, energy officials are acknowledging climate change as a force that finally has to be reckoned with – even as concern grows over other threats that can set off catastrophic blackouts.

Winter storms, chains of heat waves and late June’s “super derecho” — a thunderstorm with straight-line winds that snapped electrical transmission towers and shredded power poles — have forced the climate change issue and electric supply vulnerability to the top of an already-daunting list of blackout triggers. Those threats range from computer-hacking cyberterrorists to solar flares, utility mistakes and plain bad luck.

Regulators in the U.S. hope to avoid the kind of cascading grid failure that hit India in late July, leaving some 600 million — almost 10 percent of the world’s population — without power. Miners were trapped underground. Trains shut down. Unimaginable traffic snarls popped up across the country. And India’s image as a rising economic power was cast in darkness.

(Click to read the entire article)

More than a dozen New York senators in the Republican majority are opposing a plan to bring hydropower from Quebec to New York City.

The 13 Republicans and one senator from the Independent Democratic Conference say the 330-mile power line would end up sending jobs from the state. They also say it will make New York even more reliant on other countries for energy at the expense of its own power industry.

The proposal by Transmission Developers Inc. promises to reduce power plant air pollution in New York City while easing costs in the city and making the state less bound to the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County.

The opposition senators are led by Sen. George Maziarz of Niagara County, the state’s richest source of hydropower.

Source

As the state Department of Environmental Conservation continues to prepare its final recommendations on hydrofracking, anti-hydrofracking activists are ramping up their efforts aimed at Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The past week has seen a number of scheduled protests and rallies pop up, as well as a television advertisement targeting Cuomo that launched in the Southern Tier yesterday.

Yesterday, dozens of protesters stood across the street from a policy conference hosted by Cuomo and the state Democratic Committee, hoisting mock campaign signs that read “Don’t Frack New York.” Two of them crashed the conference and staged a demonstration before they were escorted out.

Today, New Yorkers Against Fracking—a coalition of anti-fracking groups—was in suburban Syracuse, where they lined the entrance for the opening of The Great New York State Fair. (The photo at left is from the coalition’s Facebook page.) Opening day has traditionally known as Governor’s Day, where the state’s chief executive tours the fairgrounds and officially cuts the ribbon.

Next week will bring two other events staged by the activists. On Monday, several groups will march across downtown Albany, making stops at the DEC headquarters and the state Capitol along the way.

(Click to read the entire article)

Two months ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo confidently promised a rapid roll out of his plan to introduce high-volume fracking to New York State in a few rural upstate counties.

But his trial balloon for the initiative drew intense negative reactions, to which the governor has responded with dead silence. That has left both sides of the natural gas drilling debate wondering whether Cuomo will stick with the plan that all but flopped in its public test or go back to the drawing board.

“The political blowback on this has been immense,” said state Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, a Democrat from Ithaca. “I’ve never seen anything like it in my 10 years in the state Assembly and 14 years as legislative chief of staff.”

To move forward as planned, Cuomo, a Democrat, will have to contend with opposition from a strong majority in the Democratically-controlled Assembly, a frustrated state medical community, disillusioned scientists and even a nascent civil disobedience movement.

(Click to read the entire article)

PSC study draws power industry critics

Power plant owners are pushing back at a proposal by state regulators to require annual financial reports with the state that haven't been required since the 1990s.

The state Public Service Commission has been asking for industry members and consumer groups to submit comments on a plan to require the financial disclosures after the issue was brought up last year by New York City Assemblyman James Brennan.

Brennan had been looking into the financial condition of the Indian Point nuclear power plant when he discovered the PSC had dropped requirements that power plants file annual reports.

The policy was changed in 1991 after the commission recognized that power plants were already obligated to make financial disclosures to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.

(Click to read the entire article)

A coalition of environmentalists, renewable energy advocates, elected officials and national groups released a letter today that was delivered to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, calling on him to back changes to a regional cap-and-trade program for greenhouse-gas emissions.

New York is one of nine states included in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), which requires power plants to purchase carbon credits at auction from the state as a way to cap emissions. It has come under significant criticism from business groups, who say it only drives up costs. Environmental groups, meanwhile, say it needs to be bolstered during a review period that is set to wrap up this year.

The coalition (which includes 307 signatories onto a letter sent to all nine governors) called on Cuomo to back three changes to the program. Specifically, they are looking for stricter rules on issuing and tradingg RGGI permits, a way to insure that the money raised at auction is used only on energy efficiency projects and renewables, and closing a permitting option regarding “offset” projects.

“New York has been a leader in tackling carbon pollution, and RGGI has been a key element of New York’s strategy to reduce pollution from fossil fuels and shift to clean energy,” said David VanLuven, director of Environment New York. “Strengthening RGGI is one of the best ways we can build on our state’s progress on clean energy and on reducing the pollution that causes global warming.”

The Cuomo administration has been looking at making significant changes to the state’s participation in the RGGI program, albeit quietly. In June, Cuomo’s office pushed a bill that would have lowered the state’s carbon emission cap, with the additional money fetched at auction earmarked for solar projects and for communities with shuttered power plants.

Here’s a list of some of the major participants in the coalition:

(Click to read the entire article)

Steuben County is ready to accept soil and rock from Marcellus Shale drillings at the county landfill.

However, no start date has been set and there is a question as to how much debris – also known as cuttings – will be brought in this year. The material will be brought in from drilling in shale deposits in Pennsylvania.

County Public Works Commissioner Vincent Spagnoletti told the county Legislature’s Public Works Committee Monday it isn’t likely Steuben will be receiving large quantities of the cuttings removed during the initial well drilling.

The recent decline in drilling in Pennsylvania will reduce how much the county takes in -- and privately operated landfills in Chemung and Allegany counties now accept the cuttings, which will cut back how much debris Steuben receives.

(Click to read the entire article)

The Sierra Club is launching a new 30-second radio spot this week aimed at scuttling what the evironmental community worries is a final move toward allowing limited high-volume hydrofracking.

The spot will be running in several upstate areas, including Binghamton.

The ad, which can be heard at this site (the link to listen to the ad is on the left-hand rail), calls on the governor “to consider the science” of fracking before allowing the controversial natural-gas extraction process to be allowed.

Cuomo, without mentioning fracking, said earlier today the state needs to consider new and renewable energy sources in order to grow the economy, especially outside of New York City.

(Click to read the entire article)

A local not-for-profit company got $8 million in taxpayer funds to train people for green jobs. But more than two years later, critics are questioning if it was money well spent.

So I Team 10 set out to try to learn where the money was spent and how many jobs have been created as a result.

"I'm an older guy so you just gotta get more skills and stuff in order to be ready for the job market now," says Max Cherry of Rochester.

Cherry was looking for work. That's when he heard through a friend about a job training program offered through PathStone Corporation, a not-for profit organization headquartered on East Avenue.

"I just wanted to upgrade my skills in the construction trade. I thought it could help me seek employment by just going through the program," Cherry says.

In January of 2010, PathStone announced it received an $8 million federal grant through the US Labor Department for green jobs training.... two million of it to be used in Rochester.

Called "Green for Gold," the money was part of President Obama's stimulus program.

(Click to read the entire article)

The Ontario County Board of Supervisors on Thursday will hear a presentation from Boylan Code, a Rochester law firm being considered to draw up a model law on fracking.

The county plans to hire a law firm to draw up a model law addressing hydrofracking, which the county’s towns and cities can use.

The presentation takes place during the early portion of the Board of Supervisors meeting Aug. 2, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the third-floor sessions room of the county Municipal Building, 20 Ontario St., Canandaigua.

Facing declining demand for electricity and stiff federal environmental regulations, coal plant operators are planning to retire 175 coal-fired generators, or 8.5 percent of the total coal-fired capacity in the United States, according to an analysis by the Energy Information Administration (EIA).

A record-high 57 generators will shut down in 2012, representing 9 gigawatts of electrical capacity, according to EIA. In 2015, nearly 10 gigawatts of capacity from 61 coal-fired generators will be retired.

While many of those coal plants are old and relatively inefficient, the scope of this new planned shutdown is unprecedented.

“The coal-fired capacity expected to be retired over the next five years is more than four times greater than retirements performed during the preceding five-year period,” EIA noted in the analysis.

The generators that will be retired between 2012 and 2016 are “approximately 12% more efficient than the group of units, on average, that retired during 2009-2011,” according to the EIA.

(Click to read the entire article)

New York State's money road to nowhere

Citing news that a major insurer is not covering damages from hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, an Albany-based environmental group is asking a variety of state officials and lawmakers to survey other insurers on their policies.

Environmental Advocates of New York sent a handful of letters late last week to a number of top officials, including Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens and the chairmen of the Legislature’s insurance committees.

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Nationwide Insurance would not cover any hydrofracking-related damages. High-volume fracking, of course, hasn’t yet been allowed in New York as the DEC completes an environmental and regulatory review.

In the letter to Lawsky, executive director Rob Moore asked the Cuomo appointee to “open an inquiry into how insurance companies plan to handle liability coverage for businesses, property owners, and others who hold risk related to fracking.”

(Click to read the entire article)

The owners of a coal-fired power plant in Lansing, Tompkins County, intend to mothball the facility by mid-January, according to a filing made with state regulators Friday.

In a letter to the state Public Service Commissioner, a top executive for the new owners of the former AES Cayuga facility wrote that they intend to temporarily deactivate the plant’s two units by January 16.

“Cayuga Operating Company intends to take all steps within its control to avoid permanently retiring the facility by continuing to explore any and all alternatives with its suppliers and other parties, including reductions in its variable and fixed costs,” wrote Jerry Goodenough, the company’s chief operating officer.

Goodenough cited wholesale electricity prices that “are inadequate for the Cayuga facility to operate economically.” The mothballing, he wrote, is a way to put the plant in “protective lay-up to limit the costs that are incurred at the facility.”

(Click to read the entire article)

If Senate Democrats win the majority this fall, the conference would move to block any attempt by the Cuomo administration to allow high-volume hydrofracking in New York, Sen. Tony Avella said on Capital Tonight Wednesday evening.

In an interview with Liz, Avella, D-Queens, said the conference would move forward with his ban bill on day one.

“…If we were in the majority, we’d pass the ban bill first day. If the governor goes ahead and allows hydrofracking, we’re going to take steps. I’m not going to say what those steps are. But we’re not giving up the battle,” he said.

“That is a commitment that we make, and my entire Democratic conference, except for I think one member, is a sponsor of my bill,” Avella added.

As Liz noted in CapTon morning memo, the strong anti-fracking stance that the Democrats in the Senate are pushing is in stark contrast to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cautious position of waiting for the Department of Environmental Conservation to finish its review of the controversial natural-gas extraction method.

(Click to read the entire article)

A handful of Senate Democrats from New York City are on hand today for a public hearing forum in Manhattan today, where concerns about hydrofracking and emails between the gas industry and state regulators will be aired.

It’s the latest public forum—as the minority conference, they can’t hold a formal hearing—on hydrofracking hosted by the Senate Democrats (specifically Sen. Tony Avella, D-Queens, a major fracking critic).

This time, however, its expected to focus heavily on a series of emails between a natural-gas industry lobbyists and the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Anti-fracking groups say the emails represent unethical collusion; regulators say was a legally required look at the costs of their proposed regulations.

The forum—which will feature several anti-fracking and environmental groups and no gas-industry representatives—just kicked off, and can be viewed below:

Hydrofracking Forum Live Tomorrow!

Tomorrow my Democratic colleagues and I will be hosting a public forum to bring advocates, members of the community and elected officials together to call for a further investigation into the dangerous process of hydraulic fracturing (also known as “hydrofracking”). I wanted to let you know about this because we will also be streaming video of the forum live so that you can watch and hear all of the environmental panelists and testimony in real time.

Hydrofracking is a process by which natural gases are extracted by an unregulated process of drilling which can lead to grave health and seismic impacts. Recently the state has taken some alarming steps toward allowing this hydrofracking process to take place without thorough studies. Additionally, there are recent allegations of wrongdoing and a federal probe to investigate the companies that seek to drill here in New York and could end up affecting our drinking water right here in New York.

Throughout the legislative session, we brought several hostile amendments to the floor of the Senate and held several press conferences and forums similar to this one in the hopes that the Senate Republicans would stop kowtowing to the monied special interests at the expense of New Yorkers’ safe drinking water. Join us live tomorrow at 10:30AM at www.ustream.tv/channel/nysendems. You can also follow updates live via our Twitter account and ask any questions at @NYSenDems.


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