Twilight Zone: Climate Change Bill Threatened by Offshore Drilling Hazards?

In a strange twist of events, the recent oil rig catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico is causing some in Congress to rescind support for the new climate bill.  This is because at some point we decided that offshore drilling was an essential component of a new climate strategy.  If you're reaction was "huh?", you're in good company.  It's a shame it has taken disasters like the recent Massey mine explosion and the Gulf oil rig disaster to remind our legislators that fossil fuels are never a green option.

Meanwhile, there are 1,000 people still trying to figure out how to stop the spread of the the 39 by 48 mile spill.  So far they've tried underwater robots and are moving on to the "giant dome" solution, which sounds only slightly less ridiculous when compared to the set it all on fire approach which hit newsstands today.


Final exams!

We're out of commission for the next couple of weeks--unless something really exciting happens...or we need a break from studying.

Good luck with exams, Planeteers!


No Drilling in NYC Watershed, Good News?

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation announced yesterday that the Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement for natural gas drilling currently under review will not apply to watersheds that supply unfiltered drinking water.  For now, that means a de facto moratorium on drilling in the New York City watershed.


Last Atlantic Yards Holdout Settles for $3M

Daniel Goldstein was, until this morning, the spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, formed in opposition to the Atlantic Yards development project, sponsored by Forest City Ratner.  Maybe I'm partial to this issue because I live down the street, or maybe because I've read Kelo v. City of New London a few too many times and it still doesn't sit right.  Whatever the cause, the breadth of the powers of eminent domain never ceases to amaze me.  Describing this as a David versus Goliath fight seems very fitting.  Even if you don't necessarily believe that Daniel Goldstein was ever the little guy, the principles he stood for certainly were. 

What Country Is the Best at Protecting the Environment?

"We're the only country that has a significant amount of people that don't believe in climate change," said Marc Levy, deputy director of Columbia University’s Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). "The central challenge of our time is to help people understand what's happening around them." 
 We dropped to 61st place (from 39th last year).

Here are a few of the countries ahead of the U.S.:
9) Cuba
10) Colombia
36) Dominican Republic
43) Mexico
60) Paraguay

Worse than the U.S., you ask?
62) Brazil
78) Iran
141) Ethiopia

I sure hope we can climb up this list during my lifetime.

Click here to see the full EPI for 2010.

Top Ten Earth Day Actions: #1 Enjoy the Earth.

You've been staring at your computer for 10 hours straight.  Go outside.  Take a hike outside the city, or just hoof it to the nearest park.  It's good for you, and the best reminder what Earth Day is about.

Top Ten Earth Day Actions: #2 "Tell me again why I care about the environment?"

Earth Day turns 40 today.  Learn how the environmental movement started, and why environmental protection and conservation is still so important.  Our favorite environmental primers include:
  • "Silent Spring" The book that launched the modern environmental movement by publicizing the human and environmental harms caused by widespread pesticide use.
  • "Earth Days" A PBS film on the Earth Day movement.
  • "Toxic Garbage Island" There is a floating island of garbage in the North Pacific the size of Texas.  
  • "Buffalo Creek" The true story of devastating environmental disaster in West Virginia mining.
  • "An Inconvenient Truth" Al Gore's Oscar-winning documentary on the global climate change crisis.
  • "The 11th Hour" An in-depth conversation with some of the world's leading thinkers on how we affect the planet's ecosystems and what we need to do to to fix it.

Top Ten Earth Day Actions: #3 Give Up Plastic.

I'm not even going to rewrite this (thanks to the Huffington Post):

There is no doubt that plastics are notoriously bad. Americans dispose of 10.5 million tons of plastic garbage every year, and about 8% of the world's annual oil production is used toward the creation of plastic products. A single plastic bottle can spend anywhere from 100 to 1000 years in a landfill, and while recycling plastics helps save up to 60% of the energy used to make new products, they are often "downcycled" which doesn't curb the demand for more plastic to be produced, and it does little to prevent plastics leeching cancer-causing chemicals. Thanks to our wasteful habits, we've created huge islands of plastics in both the Pacific and Atlantic, and we not only kill up to a million sea creatures every year with plastic, but also ingest toxins that have made their way up the food chain from this waste.

Imagine the wonderful impact on the environment if you stopped using those 190 pounds of plastic each year. Say NO to plastics, and make your commitment by pledging with others at the Plastic Pollution Coalition.

Top Ten Earth Day Actions: #4 Buy Less.

Over-consumption, of resources, products, and everything else, is the foundation environmental harm.  More stuff is always more stuff, whether it's a green soy-based plush penguin teaching environmental lessons to kids or just another CD.

“This ridiculous perverted marketing has cheapened the concept of what is really green,” said Denis Hayes, who was national coordinator of the first Earth Day and is returning to organize this year’s activities in Washington. “It is tragic.”

So, this Earth Day, take a little less. 

Top Ten Earth Day Actions: #5 Seriously, Recycle.

I played The Gotham Gazette Garbage Game and sent 1,898,029 tons of refuse across 577,916 miles.

In NYC, recycling is required by law.  The system may seem confusing at first, but do yourself and the Sanitation Department a favor and read this list:

Top Ten Earth Day Actions: #6 Write to Albany.

If it's been a while since you said hi to your state legislators, take this opportunity.  The State's budget crisis is forcing a lot of painful cutbacks in spending; tell Albany the environment shouldn't be among them.


Top Ten Earth Day Actions: #7 Buy Local. Your Carrots are Tired.

The sun is out, flowers are up, take a walk to the nearest farmer's market this weekend.  Odds are most of the food you're eating isn't from the tri-state area, and may not even be from this coast of the country.  Everyone likes tomatoes year-round, but flying them in from Chile isn't helping reduce our carbon footprint.  Not a foodie?  Check out what's in season near you.

Top Ten Earth Day Actions: #8 UNplug.

You know you should, you know you should.  So, do it already!  All the green power in the world won't help us, if we don't reduce energy consumption.  Turn off your computer, lights, and TV.  Unplug your cell phone charger.  Check out NRDC's list of FREE ways to reduce your energy consumption and save some money on your next ConEd bill.


Top Ten Earth Day Actions: #9 DIY Herb Garden.

We've been polling NYLS students on how they will celebrate Earth Day and think it's great that so many of you want to start gardening at home. Check this out for some help getting started.

Top Ten Earth Day Actions: #10 Shower for Two.


Tell NY to Wait!

The EPA recently announced that it was launching a study into the effects of hydraulic fracturing on human health and the environment.  New York's own Department of Environmental Conservation is considering similar issues, following the close of the public comment period on their Generic Environmental Impact Statement in December.

Fracking is the process of drilling horizontally into deep layers of rock to create fissures, then pouring millions of gallons of chemical-laced water into the rock formations to soften them.

Gas companies can then suck out the gas, compress it, and transport it around the nation. But when the gas comes up, so does a large part of the water-called flowback. It is not only laden with the lubricating chemicals that the gas company added but also elements like radium, which naturally occur in the rock.

Several New York state legislators have introduced a measure that would put all hydraulic fracturing on hold until the EPA study is complete.  Tell your legislators and Governor Paterson to support the moratorium on fracking until the EPA study is completed--or tell us why you think they shouldn't.

ELS Earth Day Event!

Please join ELS this Saturday, April 24, 2010, for a very special Earth Day event!

We will be assisting the Gowanus Canal Conservancy in planting, weeding, and cleaning up the bank of the Gowanus Canal as part of the Conservancy's Clean & Green project.

Here's what you need to know:

Date: Saturday, April 24, 2010
Time: 11 AM - 2 PM
Location: Loewe's parking lot, 9th Street between Smith Street & 2nd Avenue in Park Slope
Directions: take the F or G train to Smith & 9th Street

It's our Earth, and it's our day, so Gowan and rally your friends and family, and join us for a day of good, green fun!

See you there!


Congratulations ELS!

We have reached more than a 100 hits!! YAY!!


Inhabitat's 5th Birthday Bash!

This is going to be a great networking opportunity for people interested in Green business and sustainable living in New York City.

Inhabitat is a great website that explores technological advances, practices, and materials which support the notion of a sustainable and eco-friendly future.

To visit their site follow this link: http://inhabitat.com/  

Addition of the GOWANUS CANAL to the EPA's National Priorities List (NPL) as a Superfund site

On April 8, 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominated the Gowanus Canal (which borders the Brooklyn communities of Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Hook) as a potential Superfund site, for addition to the EPA's National Priorities List.

What does this mean? Perhaps a brief summary of the legislative development of Superfunds is in order. Here we go: The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA) is a federal statute that was designed to clean up hazardous waste sites (a.k.a. Superfund sites) throughout the U.S. Following the law's passage in 1980, the National Oil and Hazardous Substances Pollution Contingency Plan (NCP -- which had been developed 12 years earlier in response to the Torrey Canyon oil spill) was amended and broadened in scope to cover known or threatened releases of hazardous substances/pollutants/contaminants from these Superfund sites. This revision to the NCP accomplished two goals with respect to Superfund site regulation and clean-up: first, the revised NCP provided the EPA with a blueprint which outlined the response procedures and [hazardous substance] removal procedures required to clean up these Superfund sites; second, the amendment mandated that the NCP keep an ongoing list of all such sites within the U.S. that are eligible for the long-term, remedial measures that CERCLA was designed to implement. This list is known as the National Priorities List (NPL), and it serves to guide EPA in identifying national Superfund sites, so that the EPA can assess the extent of environmental and public health risks associated with the site, and if necessary, use its authority to initiate appropriate remedial actions.

So, here's the timeline with respect to the Gowanus Canal:

April 8, 2009:
the EPA nominates the Gowanus Canal as a possible addition to the Superfund section of the NPL.

March 2, 2010:
the Gowanus Canal is
added to the EPA's Superfund National Priorities List, effective April 5, 2010.


One more reason to eat organic

Agricultural pesticides are contributing to colony collapse disorder and the devastation of honey bee hives nationwide.  All the chemicals in the world aren't going to help raise crops if we don't have bees to pollinate.


Coke's New Eco-Friendly Bottle Re-Design

Coke has redefined the shape and shipment method of its plastic bottles. This has "green-a-fied" the product by cutting down on waste and making shipping more efficient. The plastic beverage has changed its shape from round to square, making the packing of the bottles in shipping containers more space effective, thus lowering emissions in shipments.

For those of you can read French follow this link for more information about the designer and Coca Cola's new approach to the eco-market; http://www.trendsnow.net/2010/04/eco-coke-bottle-design.html 

For those of you who don't speak or read french, the above link has links to English explanations of the redesign using images, graphs, and charts.

Do you think this will make a difference in peoples perception of the brand? Do you think that this will actually lower carbon emissions or will the public ignore the "call to recycle"?

Is the shipment method really going to lower the companies emissions or will Coca Cola continue to ship more of its product using the money saved from its "more effective shipping methods" to export more product?

What do you think?


EPA Gets Tough. New Water Standards Coming Soon

The "6-Year Review" is a good provision. It forces the Agency to monitor and set new goals for improving our national groundwater standards.


EPA & DOT: New Aggressive National Fuel Economy Standards Set for Passenger Cars and Light Trucks

It's about time that EPA/DOT did this, but we're they not aggressive enough? U.S. auto manufacturers should be able to do better than 34.1 mpg by 2016...