October Meeting Postponed

We’re looking to find a new date. We’ll post here and at our Facebook page.

NYS Climate Responsibility Act Announced.

When: View in Calendar » June 15, 2017 @ 9:00 am - 6:00 pm
Where: New York State Legislature

NYS Senator George Latimer and NYS Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal Announce the NYS Climate Responsibility Act (NYSCRA).

 

Senator George Latimer and Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal Announce New Science-Based Climate Bill for NYS

Advocates for Responsible Climate Action (ARCA)

MEDIA RELEASE

June 15, 2017

Contacts: Bob Eklund, eklund66@hotmail.com, 607-263-2375;  Dennis Higgins, higgindm@gmail.com, 607-988-9647

Science-Based State Climate Responsibility Act Unveiled

Albany, NY — Today State Senator George Latimer and Assembly Member Linda B. Rosenthal announced the introduction of a comprehensive bill to tackle the climate crisis. The science-based New York State Climate Responsibility Act (NYSCRA, A8299/S5557) is designed to ensure that New York meets its greenhouse gas reduction goals.

“Despite advances in renewables, New York is still heavily dependent on fossil fuels,” said Senator Latimer. “Altering that requires changing virtually every aspect of how we produce and consume energy. Any legislation seeking to facilitate that change must also acknowledge the technical challenges involved. Our bill does.”

Developed with the support of individuals with expertise in engineering, economics, public health and social science, the NYSCRA identifies key actions that must occur and critical issues that must be addressed to slash greenhouse gas emissions and make the necessary transition to renewables.

“Preserving our planet for future generations demands nothing less than immediate action, and the Climate Responsibility Act is the vehicle to get the job done,” said Assemblywoman  Rosenthal. “With Trump withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord, it is more vital than ever that states take the lead on climate change. This bill charts a path forward that is both realistic and aggressive, and ensures that New York will lead on climate. I’m proud to sponsor this bill with Senator Latimer.”

Advocates of the bill point out that it is not enough to eliminate power plant emissions, which account for about a quarter of the state’s carbon footprint. New York will also have to phase out the use of fossil fuels for transportation, heating and other purposes. Bold action is needed in every arena. Simultaneous with this, the state must dramatically ramp up renewables as New Yorkers replace vehicles, equipment and appliances with technology that does not run on fossil fuels.

“These complex processes must be carefully synchronized so that the lights stay on and people can still get to work,” explained Keith Schue, an engineer who helped prepare the bill. “Implementation must also occur at scale and on time to meet climate goals. That requires a robust plan.”

The NYSCRA ensures success by requiring all state agencies to work together in the development of rules, regulations, programs and policies to bring about the widespread transformation required. And it measures success with an unimpeachable statewide inventory of greenhouse gas emissions—something the state has long needed but does not have.

Among other contributors to the bill is renowned scientist Anthony R. Ingraffea, Ph.D., the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus and Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow at Cornell University.

“This bill would give legal authority to the most important management plan in New York history,” said Ingraffea. “Our state must meet its obligation of substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions to address the clear and present threat of climate change, while at the same time providing for an orderly and just transition to a renewable energy economy. This bill defines responsibilities and provides legal powers for managing and synchronizing this dual challenge.”

Importantly, implementation of the NYSCRA will benefit all New Yorkers, including environmental justice communities who currently suffer most from the negative impacts of fossil fuel use.

“Increasing renewables as we wean off of fossil fuels will save New York billions in healthcare costs and protect the most vulnerable,” added Larysa Dyrszka, M.D., a pediatrician, cofounder of Concerned Health Professionals of New York and executive board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The bill also has significant economic benefits. Investments in renewable energy have been shown to generate three times as many jobs as investments in fossil fuels. Economist Jannette Barth, managing director of the Pepacton Institute LLC, also contributed to the bill. She said, “The Climate Responsibility Act will help to make New York a leader in transitioning to renewables, creating many jobs and strengthening the state’s economy.”

Read a brief synopsis of the bill’s key features here.

Read the Senate NYSCRA bill (S5557) here.

Read the Assembly NYSCRA bill (A8299) here.  

 

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and Senator George Latimer with their comprehensive climate bill

Climate Group Slams NYRenews Bill for False Promises

The Coalition to Protect New York strongly supports the new group ARCA and the scientists, economists, and grassroots activists who join them in opposing a bad bill, which might be rammed through as soon as today, March 15. Please spread the word about this, especially with “environmental justice” communities that think this bill will help them; like many others, they’ve been deceived.

Please sign onto the letter ARCA has provided, as an individual and with your group. Not restricted to New York State groups.

——

ARCA - Advocates for Responsible Climate Action; responsibleclimateaction@gmail.com

MEDIA RELEASE

15 March 2017

The “Climate and Community Protection Act,” shown to be a sham in 2016, is reintroduced in 2017 — and this time, it’s been sneaked into the State Assembly budget bill.

“I could not be more outraged,” said Maura Stephens. “Not only has New York Renews not fixed the lousy bill it proposed last year, the so-called ‘Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA),’ but now it has also buried the exact same bill deep within this year’s Assembly budget bill. Pulling such a fast one on New York State legislators is devious, underhanded, and totally insulting to our elected officials — and indeed to all the people of New York.”

Stephens is talking about a fatally flawed piece of legislation proposed by a group calling itself New York Renews. The “CCPA” was first proposed in 2016 but died. Now it has been included in the draft budget bill proposed by the New York State Assembly, which legislators are considering this week. And it lacks critical content to succeed in meeting its ambitious promises.

Advocates for Responsible Climate Action, ARCA, is a group opposing this bill. ARCA, of which Stephens is a founding member, is an all-volunteer organization of individuals working to ensure that New York State gets the best possible climate legislation. It works closely with respected scientists, medical practitioners and economists who have openly expressed their dismay about CCPA since it was first introduced.

Joan Tubridy, ARCA founding member and secretary of Citizens Energy and Economics Council of Delaware County, said, “Scientists and grassroots activists have attempted unsuccessfully for the better part of a year to work with NY Renews on remedying the CCPA’s flaws. The bill’s name belies the reality that it is a seriously problematic document that actually sets us backwards in the critical fight against climate change, further threatening those impacted communities that the bill purports to protect.”

Touted as creating green jobs and protecting “disadvantaged,” or “environmental justice” (EJ) communities, the CCPA bill actually does neither. Furthermore, it uses pollution levels from 1990 as the basis for some of its proposals, confuses critical terminology, allows corporate polluters to self-report their greenhouse gas emissions, and is riddled with other technical flaws.

Mary Finneran, ARCA founding member and lifetime member of the Sierra Club, points to false verbiage about how the bill would help economically depressed and frontline communities — almost always urban communities of color or rural poor communities. The bill simply does not provide viable mechanisms to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and loopholes within it allow some power plants and factories to avoid reporting emissions altogether.

“‘Environmental justice’ communities would actually be the most heavily and negatively impacted, because the CCPA is not equipped to deliver on its promises to them,” said Finneran.  “Furthermore, the CCPA creates loopholes that allow power plants and factories that produce thousands of tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year to avoid reporting those emissions entirely. People in EJ communities certainly understand that self-reporting of pollution by polluters will not benefit them or allow them to rest easy.”

NYRenews leaders have been acting in bad faith, say ARCA members. They pretended to be paying heed to critiques by noted scientist Anthony Ingraffea, economist Jannette Barth, engineer Keith Schue, and others, promising to rewrite the bill to address the problems. But that did not happen. Instead, the entire bill as originally written was inserted wholesale into this year’s budget. And NYRenews is disingenuously claiming that it had nothing to do with its appearance there.

“We need real climate change legislation,” pointed out Bob Eklund, regional organizer for Solutions Grassroots Project and ARCA founding member. “Only a really good bill could make environmental justice communities safe, create more stable jobs, and achieve the state’s emissions reduction goals. If such a bill existed, there would be no need to hide it on page 77 of the budget. This is not it.”

There are no quick fixes that NYRenews can concoct now to fix the problems with its insertion into a bigger budget bill. ARCA insists that the 2016 CCPA needed a total rewrite. Now, they say, the only responsible course of action is for NYRenews to propose a stand-alone bill that legislators and the public can read, study and amend (or reject) as necessary during the course of the regular legislative session.

ARCA is determined to alert unsuspecting legislators and well-meaning organizations that were recruited to support the bill. At a time of exacerbating climate change, it is critically important that the Assembly and Senate do not pass a smoke-and-mirrors bill that is actually counterproductive to efforts to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions. For this reason, they’ve provided an organizational and individual sign-on letter that will be sent to legislators, and invite all interested parties to sign.

For more information, please see an op-ed from December 2016 and follow-up letter dated March 12, 2017, both from Cornell U scientist Anthony Ingraffea and economist Jannette Barth; they are among the experts with whom ARCA works closely.

Also see a summary of a longer critique of NYRenews’ flawed bill.

The NY Assembly 2017-18 Budget Proposal is linked here; see the CCPA beginning on page 78.

Individual and organization sign-on letter in opposition to this bad bill is here.

ARCA founders available for interviews:

Bob Eklund, New Lisbon Town Council Member, Solutions Grassroots Project Regional Organizer: eklund66@hotmail.com, 607-263-2375

Larysa Dyrszka, M.D., cofounder, SACRED (Sullivan Area Citizens for Responsible Energy Development): lar917dy@gmail.com, 201-615-9889

Dennis Higgins, farmer; Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science,
State University of New York, Oneonta, retired: higgindm@gmail.com, 607-988-9647

Standing Rock Donations Being Collected in Ithaca, Himrod, Emira (Leaving Election Day)

The Water and Land Protectors at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota have faced mace, pepper spray, rubber bullets, attack dogs, arrests, strip searches, and all sorts of disrespect and brutality. Yet they remain committed to protecting their sacred lands, air, and waters from being desecrated by the Dakota Access Pipeline.

In solidarity with them, many people and groups from our region have gone in person to witness, participate, and support the efforts to stop the irresponsible and shameful actions of yet another fossil fuel corporation in collusion with local, state, and federal officials. Coalition to Protect New York members will be joining them for a time and bringing needed goods supplied by the generous folks of central, Southern Tier, and western New York State.

You may donate directly to the Sacred Stone camp or other camps online. Links coming soon.

You can also mail supply donations directly to Red Warrior Camp, BIE 00N02 Agency Ave, Fort Yates ND 58538.

Sacred Stone has an Amazon Wish List, which you can do via credit card; the donation will go directly to them, with no intermediary necessary. You can also directly give Lowe’s or Menard’s gift cards (the two readily available stores nearby).

LOCAL Donation locations are as follows. List of items needed at bottom.

FIRST UNITARIAN SOCIETY OF ITHACA, 306 North Aurora Street, Ithaca NY 14850. Corner of Buffalo and Aurora Streets. Park on Buffalo and enter side door. See Mark Pedersen. Accepting after services on Sunday; 9:00-4:30 Monday; 9:00-noon Tuesday.

GIAC (GREATER ITHACA ACTIVITIES CENTER), 301 West Court Street, Ithaca NY 14850. Corner of Albany & Court. Enter Court Street side. Leave donations in lobby. Accepting Monday 9:00 am-5:30 pm; Tuesday 9:00 am-2:00 pm

ITHACA COLLEGE CAMPUS CENTER LOBBY (Adademic Quad side, 2nd floor across from Info Desk), Monday 8:30 am-11:00 pm; Tuesday 8:30 am-4:00 pm

THE PARK CHURCH, ELMIRA, 208 West Gray Street, Elmira; Saturday, November 5, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM; Sunday, November 6 – Noon-2:00 PM; Monday, November 7, 10:00 AM-4:00 PM; Tuesday, November 8, 9:30 AM-12:30 PM. (Please call church member Doug Couchon at 607-425-7203 if you have questions.)

WE ALSO HAVE PRIVATE DROP-OFF SPOTS IN SPENCER (TIOGA COUNTY) AND HIMROD (YATES COUNTY). CONTACT MAURA at 607-589-7302 FOR SPECIFICS:

STANDING ROCK DONATIONS. Please note that clothing & anything for camping must be SUB-ZERO ready; it’s very cold in North Dakota and getting colder.

GOODS NEEDED
CB Radio Sets
Walkie-Talkies (Long-range)
Generators
Small woodstove (for use in tipis)
Lanterns – battery-operated 
& solar
Batteries, all kinds esp. for lanterns
Propane camp stoves
Solar phone/device chargers
Solar lights (indoor & outdoor)
Heavy-duty canvas and tarps
Solar hot water heaters
Solar showers
Blankets
Bed mats
Sub-zero
(ONLY) Sleeping bags
Rope
Nails, hammers, axes
Compost bins
Carpet
Stiff foam for insulation
White boards/chalk boards 
(self-standing)
Trash bags (Heavy-duty)
Zippered plastic bags, all sizes
Waterproof bins
3-gallon & 5-gallon water jugs
Water buffaloes
20×40 Tent (army tent/arctic tent – able to be heated with wood stove)
Large coolers

PERSONAL SUPPLIES — all in excellent to good shape & SUB-ZERO
(Down/Ski) parkas (waterproof, SUB-ZERO)
Thermal, waterproof (Ski) pants
Waterproof/Wool hats, gloves

DRIED or CANNED FOODS [XL/industrial size]
Dried Beans (sacks)
Rice (sacks)
Pasta
Flour
Sugar
Dried fruits, vegetables
Dried or smoked meat, fish (jerky)
Canned foods (preferably with tabs/no opener needed)
High quality cooking oils
High quality honey
Maple syrup
Nut butters
Teas
Coffee
Cocoa
Chocolate

FRESH FOODS
Apples, oranges, clementines, tangerines, grapefruits in boxes/crates
Kale, celery
Eggs
Root veg:
Carrots, Onions, Garlic, Shallots, Beets, Rutabagas, Parsnips, Potatoes, Turnips

HEALTH/MEDICINE
Cough drops
OTC Cold medicine
OTC Allergy medicine
Hot packs
Cold packs
Antacids
Burn medicine
Irrigation syringes
Sterile saline
Activated charcoal
Individually packaged ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin
Children’s medicine
Nonstick wound dressings
Bandages
Non-latex gloves (all sizes)
Biohazard bags
Herbs: Oregano, lavender, marsh mallow, eucalyptus, lady’s mantle, lemon balm, yarrow, nettles, dandelion, calendula in oil, oat straw

Flawed NY Renews Bill: An Open Letter

This letter was circulated on September 28, 2016 to help clarify for those who might not have time and/or wherewithal to read and analyze a bill that was introduced earlier this year in the New York State Legislature–a bill whose stated intent is to help the state become more energy efficient and to cut its greenhouse gas emissions while providing clean energy jobs and protecting vulnerable communities.

The letter writers are environmentalists, medical doctors, grassroots activists and noted scientists who agree that this bill, the Climate and Community Protection Act (S8005), was not the landmark environmental legislation it claimed to be. They attempted for months to have these problems with the bill addressed by the drafters, a coalition called NY Renews, before a new iteration is drafted for the legislature to consider in 2017. However, there has been no reasonable response, and certainly no commitment to correct the many problems with the bill.

We hope this letter and the linked critique will help other activists and researchers, as well as the general public, understand the reasons this bill should be rewritten before it is reintroduced and acted upon. We all agree it cannot be supported unless it is corrected.

Please read and share widely.

Dear Friends,

You may recall that the “New York State Climate & Community Protection Act” (S8005) was introduced during the 2016 legislative session. It passed the Assembly but was not brought to a vote in the Senate and died. NYRenews, the organization that drafted the original bill, is lobbying to have similar legislation reintroduced in 2017. Unfortunately, this may not be the good news we wish it were.

At a glance, the 2016 bill is appealing. It seeks to expand renewables, eliminate greenhouse gas emissions, and bring relief to disadvantaged communities. Linking labor, social justice, and climate issues, the bill appears to offer an opportunity for disparate groups to unite. But good intentions do not necessarily make good legislation. For those reading past the first several pages of “legislative intent,” serious flaws become apparent—flaws that undermine the bill’s efficacy and could even derail recent progress on renewables.

The original bill contains a number of underlying and serious technical problems. It confuses the basic energy concept of capacity with actual electricity production, resulting in a 2030 renewable mandate far weaker than the New York Clean Energy Standard (CES) that was recently adopted by the Public Service Commission. Likewise, it attempts to mandate the total elimination of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 but prescribes an unachievable schedule. Using New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) estimates of emissions, the bill actually lets greenhouse gas emissions rise dramatically through 2020, then mandates that they be cut in half just ten years later. The bill also redefines legal terms already in use (such as “major source”) and offers a self-reporting scheme for documenting emissions that lets certain polluters off the hook—notably gas-fired power plants that emit up to 25,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year—while holding those same facilities to weaker regulatory requirements.

This loophole should also be particularly troubling to those opposed to the reckless expansion of fracked-gas infrastructure in New York.

The original bill relies heavily on the efficacy of NYSERDA’s accounting for emissions, but that mechanism is severely flawed. NYSERDA’s inventory underestimates the fugitive methane emissions from using natural gas and instead largely reflects just CO2. If methane were accurately tallied, our greenhouse gas emissions would be far worse. A credible science-based inventory of methane as well as CO2 is a necessary first step in reducing our emissions. But whether NY properly assesses methane leakage or not, the expanded use of shale gas would be catastrophic for our state.

Another concern is that the original bill requires that 40% of funds from “market-based compliance” go to disadvantaged communities. Again, the intent is worthy, but there is no consensus that 40% is the correct percentage to achieve equity or that specifically directing such a mandate to “market-based” programs would be the best approach. The proper number may be larger or smaller than 40%, and we certainly would not want to constrain some fixed percentage of renewable installations to specific locations if the siting would make them inefficient. Moreover, many state programs that are likely to benefit disadvantaged communities—particularly as related to energy efficiency—are not necessarily “market-based.”

As a consequence, the bill goes soft on the biggest threat to renewables in New York’s emerging network of distributed generation and increases the likelihood that already-disadvantaged communities will bear the brunt of the pollution. Moreover, many state programs that are likely to benefit disadvantaged communities—particularly as related to energy efficiency—are not necessarily “market-based.”

Critically, the 2016 bill lacks statutory language necessary to succeed. Weakened by waivers and exceptions, the bill offers little more than a scoping plan, one-time rule-making, and an occasional review of results every few years.

We support the original bill’s lofty intent, but it’s clear that many organizations that signed onto it lack time or technical expertise to examine and analyze its details. A critique of the bill that more fully details our problems with it can be accessed here.

On August 16 representatives from grassroots organizations met with a few representatives of NYRenews to discuss these issues. Although we were told that the bill will change, no clear commitment was made to address the problems, and despite several requests, we were not told if changes would be shared before the bill’s reintroduction. Nonetheless, NYRenews is proceeding with a new sponsorship drive and publicity campaign, with eyes set on passage of a bill in 2017.

Climate legislation must be not only courageous, but also effective. NYRenews should share its planned revisions so that everyone can see exactly what they are being asked to support.

We urge all New Yorkers to oppose legislation that, intent notwithstanding, is unequipped to address the task ahead, tacitly condones greater dependence on fracked gas, or puts communities in harm’s way.

Jannette M. Barth, PhD, Economist, Managing Director, Pepacton Institute LLC

Michelle Bamberger, MS, DVM

James Cromwell, Actor, Activist; Member, SAG, AFTRA

Larysa Dyrszka, MD, Board-certified Pediatrician, retired

Bob Eklund, Solutions Grassroots Project

Norm Farwell, Partner, Equity Energy LLC

Mary T. Finneran, Public School Teacher; Member, NYSUT, NEA, AFT, AFL-CIO

Suzannah Glidden, Cofounder, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE)

Dennis Higgins, Farmer; Retired Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science,
State University of New York, Oneonta

Robert Howarth, PhD, David R. Atkinson Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
Cornell University

Anthony R. Ingraffea, PhD, PE, Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus and
Weiss Presidential Teaching Fellow, Cornell University

Pramilla Malick, Chair, Protect Orange County

Keith Schue, MS Engineering, Electrical Engineer and technical advisor

Maura Stephens, Cofounder, Coalition to Protect New York and other grassroots groups

Yvonne Taylor, Cofounder and Vice President, Gas Free Seneca; Seneca Lake Guardian

Susan Van Dolsen, Cofounder, SAPE; Co-organizer, Westchester for Change

Suzy Winkler, Cofounder, People, Not Pipelines; Small Business Owner

HALT THE HARM Rally and Press Conference in Albany: Tuesday June 14, Noon

When: View in Calendar » June 11, 2016 @ 2:45 pm - 3:45 pm

The Coalition to Protect New York stands in solidarity with United Against Fossil Fuels and all groups fighting the ongoing assault by destructive fossil-fuel infrastructure on communities all around our state.

Please join with our allies on Tuesday in Albany to show that we’re not fooled by talk of a “ban” when pipelines and compressor stations and fossil-fuel storage and distribution facilities are proliferating like germs, and that we say SHUT DOWN SPECTRA-AIM and all other pipelines and compressor stations, CPV VALLEY POWER PLANT and all gas-fired power plants, CRESTWOOD and all other gas storage schemes, BOMB TRAINS, and all other fossil fuel infrastructures and related industries.

NOON TUESDAY on the Million Dollar Staircase, 3rd Floor Capitol Building Albany NY.

This is from the UAFF Facebook event page:

Despite the administrative moratorium on high-volume hydraulic fracturing in New York State, we have seen an unprecedented proliferation of fracked oil and gas infrastructure development, as well as a dramatic increase in our use and dependency on fracked gas. United Against Fossil Fuels is a new coalition of over 30 grassroots, frontline, and environmental groups that has formed to stop this buildout and challenge the systemic causes of our fossil fuel dependency once and for all.

Two major projects rapidly under construction in New York, The SPECTRA-AIM PIPELINE in Westchester County and the CPV VALLEY POWER PLANT in Orange County, along with pending approvals for many other pipelines, compressor stations, power plants, and storage facilities, all demand urgent action. As a result of this infrastructure, environmental and public health harms are already underway. Our use and dependency on fracked gas and our acceptance of radioactive waste also create unacceptable harm in both New York and Pennsylvania.

The powerful anti-fracking movement must urgently re-engage; our work is not yet done. We stand on the precipice of an irreversible public health and climate change crisis. We must rebuild our movement now to stop fracking infrastructure.

Join us to DEMAND that our elected officials and state agencies immediately “HALT THE HARM”. When the health and safety of New Yorkers are at risk, Governor Cuomo has an obligation to act immediately. We demand an immediate halt to the construction of the CPV Power Plant and Spectra-Aim Pipeline. We further demand a total rejection of state approvals for ALL pending oil and gas projects. Finally, we demand that incentives for gas be removed from all state regulatory proceedings.

Death of Trees by a Thousand Cuts, by Dave Walczak

Megan Holleran, far left, with family members and allies; photo by Dave Walczak

Land, livelihoods and trees are not sacred within our system of questionable laws concerning the use of eminent domain and gas pipelines. The only way eminent domain might be “justifiably” applied along the proposed Constitution pipeline in northeast Pennsylvania is to assert that trees and people are commodities for corporate profit, no matter who gets in the way.

That is, unless citizens stand up and stop it.

With my video partner Bob Nilsson, I’ve witnessed the misuse of eminent domain from a maple tree farm (sugar bush) in New Milford, Pennsylvania. We have been documenting the ongoing efforts by Megan Holleran and her family, with scores of allies, to save their maple trees from being cut down by the Constitution Pipeline Company to make way for an interstate pipeline project. The proposed pipeline route starts in Pennsylvania near the Holleran/Zeffer property and is supposed to run through New York, but it has not been approved for New York.

It may seem a complex issue, but it’s actually a simple story of abusive powers.

At the federal courthouse in Scranton on February 19, 2016, the owners of this property were ordered to appear to answer charges of blocking tree cutting ordered by eminent domain. The federal judge was clear that he would find the Hollerans or anyone else on their property in contempt if they try to prevent tree cutting in the future.

Megan Holleran, the 29-year-old family spokesperson, who grew up on the property, as did her mother, clarified the next day that guests would still be able to visit the property if they abided by the court ruling on what distance they had to stay from the pipeline right of way.

On Feb 10 there had been a standoff when chainsaw crews assembled along the road and tried to gain access to the property to begin cutting. They were denied access, and the pipeline representatives called state police to intervene. State police officers arrived, listened to each side and then told the workers that they would not intervene that day; the pipeline company would have to get a court order for future entry to the property. The workers left.

On Feb 12 the Constitution Pipeline Company filed a motion declaring that the defendants have continuously and deliberately prevented the tree felling that is required to be finished by March 31, to comply with an environmental deadline. But Megan Holleran and her family have never given their consent to cut their trees, nor have they received any compensation for the condemnation of the part of their property that accounts for 80 percent of their maple syrup production.

After the court proceedings, the Holleran family said it would abide by the court’s decision and not impede the chainsaw crew’s work, although Tom Holleran, Megan’s father, does not think the tree cutters will be back immediately. He does feel that they will be back before the end of the cutting deadline. Trees are now undoubtedly on the sacrificial chopping block. Protest on the property may continue, but just how is yet to be defined, according to a statement made on the family’s FaceBook page.

Megan Holleran has befriended some of the tree cutting crews and gained sympathy for the family’s plight on this now symbolic small parcel of sugar bush. Tom Holleran says this is a remarkable skill she has developed doing archaeological work in the area. His fatherly pride is apparent; he is impressed with his daughter’s diplomacy.

But there is no comfort when the family knows these workers might soon blaze through this property with chainsaws on a tree-killing detail that also brings death to the family’s maple syrup livelihood.

Federal Judge Malachy Mannion and pipeline lawyers attempted to appease the family by informing them that Williams is losing money big time: $2,000 an hour for each tree cutting crew plus astronomical expenses incurred within the legal system. Tens of thousands of dollars.

Judge Mannion found the Hollerans not guilty of contempt for now, but if in the future they violate the court order and are not in compliance they will be facing major penalties including the cost of expenses incurred by the pipeline company, and immediate jail time. If invited guests on their property violate this order, it can mean the same for them as well.

This seems to be an unjustified use of eminent domain and makes little sense. Case law for pipelines dates back to the 1860s and remains virtually unchallenged. Many neighbors seem content to allow this form of eminent domain cutting through a once peaceful landscape. Some locals are very leery of all the out-of-state plates on visitors’ cars. This pipeline has pitted neighbor against neighbor and government dictates against citizen’s sovereign rights.

My film partner was physically attacked by a hired firewood cutter working alongside the road as we were filming from my car. We got all the ugliness on video. The guy became incensed that we were filming, ran at our slowly moving vehicle and tried to pull the camera from Bob’s hands as we passed him. He then fell and rolled on the road as we kept moving. It was clearly assault on two filmmakers.

The worker was being paid by the landowner to salvage firewood from trees laid waste in the pipeline’s path. Why he was so averse to be video recorded is beyond me. This is a tension point in a land being changed by eminent domain.

This pipeline work is private enterprise claiming to be a public utility. It is following a similar route of existing lines, all heading toward a gathering point near Albany, New York, where three other pipelines have already converged. The huge fossil-fuel corporations Williams and Cabot, partners in the pipeline, are in financial distress with a glutted natural gas market.

What do their stockholders think of all this planning? Do they really believe this is for the good of people and communities along the pipeline’s path? Have there been economic threats? Extortion to gain land on a grand scale?

This is an ill-planned interstate pipeline project. New York State has not allowed tree cutting, while Pennsylvania has given permission to lay waste to trees that stand in the line of construction slated for later this year. The question is why is there no apparent coordination on an interstate project between two states within the same union? Pennsylvania cuts and New York holds back.

What if New York State does not approve the pipeline? Thousands of trees will die by a thousand cuts. Trees will be sacrificed . . . for what?

We are left to question what our very freedoms are, who “owns” the soil between our toes and under our feet? Who has the right to take our peace of mind and our place of living?

There are more questions than answers as this saga develops.

As I swim through the turbulent climate crisis in Northeast Pennsylvania, a song of Woody Guthrie runs through my mind:

As I went walking, I saw a sign there
On the sign it said “NO TRESPASSING”
But on the other side it didn’t say nothing
That side was made for you and me!

Nobody living can ever stop me
As I go walking that freedom highway
Nobody living can make me turn back

This land is your land, this land is my land . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Blued Trees” Serves Cease-and-Desist on Fracked-Gas Corporation As Next Phase of Eco-Art Project Debuts Oct. 4

We’re happy to share exciting news from Aviva Rahmani and the Blued Trees Eco-Art/Symphony Project:

MEDIA ALERT      October 1, 2015

Algonquin Gas Tranmission receives notice to halt forest destruction, as Blued Trees Symphony’s First Movement is about to launch.

Blued Trees is a symphonic art installation encompassing visual and musical art forms in concert with nature. The project was conceived by ecological artist Aviva Rahmani to move the function of art beyond witnessing or illustrating ecosystem devastation and into direct engagement with policy. Rahmani was recruited by New York residents-cum-activists faced with condemnation and seizure of properties and beloved places by fracked-gas pipeline corporations.

As corporations are leveraging the legal tool of “eminent domain,” Rahmani is contesting the justice of that leverage, using the sword of copyright law: Blued Trees is being copyrighted by Rahmani in discrete movements, as it grows in scale.

Blued Treesconsists of trees in the line of destruction on which a blue sine wave is painted. One such tree is one note in the score. One-third mile of these notes constitutes one full measure in the symphony.

A Cease-and-Desist Demand has been served on the Algonquin Gas Transmission LLC. That corporation seeks to “condemn” the private property in Peekskill in Westchester County, NY, on which the overture for the project was installed on June 21, and copyrighted.

The overture was created on land that has been owned by a small group of families for four generations. That property lies in the path of the Algonquin Incremental Markets (AIM) pipeline for “natural” gas, planned by Algonquin and its parent company, Spectra Energy Partners, to span four states: New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The pipeline is also slated to pass just 105 feet from vital structures at the Indian Point nuclear facility, 30 miles from New York City.

Additional measures and “Greek choruses” have joined the Blued Trees orchestra from 11 other sites internationally since the summer solstice overture launch.

On Sunday, Oct. 4, several simultaneous events in the Blued Trees Symphony/Saga will unfold:

  • Blued Trees’ First Movement will formally commence with a full 1/3-mile measure of the score being painted and performed in the rural Town of Augusta and Town of Kirkland, NY, threatened by the Dominion New Market Pipeline and Niagara Expansion Project of TGP/Kinder Morgan; and
  • Additional measures are joining the orchestra from the New River Valley of Virginia and Nassau, NY.

These new sites will be included in the second copyright filing. Five movements in total, over the next year, will complete this symphony, with the Coda planned for fall 2016.

The words of Pope Francis, delivered at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 25, resonate with Rahmani and other Blued Trees participants: “Any harm done to the environment . . . is harm done to humanity.”

Individuals and groups whose properties lie in the path of fossil-fuel infrastructure are invited to join the Blued Trees “Greek Chorus.” Detailed instructions are at pushingrocks.blogspot.com/2015/09/painting-full-measure-of-first-movement.html.

View a short video about the project.

See map with locations and photos of Blued Trees Symphony and Greek Chorus pieces.

View a graphic from the Spectra Corporation’s website of Spectra AIM project path at spectraenergy.com/Operations/New-Projects-and-Our-Process/New-Projects-in-US/Algonquin-Incremental-Market-AIM-Project/.

Blued Trees is an element of Gulf to Gulf, a fiscally sponsored NYFA project, which has since 2010 investigated how art might impact climate change policy.

More information about Aviva Rahmani is at ghostnets.com.

Blued Trees defense fund site.

Blued Trees art support site

CONTACTS: Margery Newman, Publicity & Communications, 212-475-0252, MargeryNewman@aol.com; Aviva Rahmani, Eco-Artist, 212-864-0945; GhostNets@ghostnets.com


CPNY Summit, Sunday August 2

Members are invited to our “every 18-21-month” continuum summit, “Digging Deeper, Bridging Boundaries,” on Sunday, August 2. You should hae received information with our exciting schedule and logistical details. If you are a member in good standing of one of CPNY’s affiliated groups, you are welcome to join us. Please contact info@coalitiontoprotectnewyork.org or Maura if you need further info.