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Environmental Conference Looks at Green Infrastructure Alternatives
A roof garden on top of the parking garage at the Newburgh Campus of Orange County Community College will serve as part setting, part inspiration for a day-long Green Infrastructure conference took place on May 8.
The seminar, sponsored by the Hudson Valley Regional Council, at Kaplan Hal on the Newburgh campus, was a venue which offers views of the stormwater-capture system embodied in the roof garden as well as the Hudson River, the waterway the garden is meant to protect.
In accordance with new state policies and programs that encourage Green Infrastructure systems, the garden is designed to prevent excess stormwater from over-taxing the stormwater system in the City. The garden also allows for the natural absorption and filtration of runoff before it gets to the Hudson, thus preserving water quality in the once-endangered river.
The conference, co-sponsored by the Orange County Department of Planning, showcased demonstration projects around the Hudson Valley, including the City of Newburgh, to show the benefits of Green Infrastructure (GI) with respect to stormwater management. Included in the conversations with noted experts and professionals in the field of GI will be exploration of some additional benefits of Green Infrastructure in urban areas. These ranged from neighborhood revitalization, improvements to air quality, and the creation of more walkable communities.
Rob Rolison, Chairman of HVRC and Chairman of the Dutchess County Legislature, welcomed conference attendees along with Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy. Of special note will be Nette Compton, the Director of Green Infrastructure for NY City Parks Department and Rob Crauderueff of the NY City Soil and Water Conservation District. They will join many local speakers and presenters, including Fran Dunwell of the Hudson River Estuary in the 9 to 5 seminar. This conference was part of a regional education project funded by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
NYSEIA Announces 2013 Solar Policy Initiatives
New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA) today announced it will advocate for long-term support of the New York Sun Initiative, as well as on bill solar financing and investment policy initiatives in 2013.
"To achieve significant and long-term growth of solar energy use in New York State requires a clear indication by government of the importance to move more and more of energy generation from carbon-based to renewable and solar-based energy," said NYSEIA President R. Sail Van Nostrand.
"The NY Sun initiative is a step in the right direction and includes a trajectory originally contemplated in the Solar Jobs Act," he added. "NYSEIA's goal is to advocate for the Governor's commitment of 10 years ($150 mil per year) of a continuing and growing commitment to solar technology, on a path that fosters significant year over year growth."
Among the other goals set by the association at its annual meeting were supporting:
* Expansion of "On Bill Financing" from solar thermal to residential PV systems. Used in numerous jurisdictions, this tool eliminates the upfront investment required of homeowners and ties loans to utility service, increasing the likelihood of repayment and reducing the risk of default.
* Modifying residential remote net metering to allow community solar projects that would increase the use of solar in urban areas where residents don't own property to install systems. Community solar projects decouple solar PV investment from on-site generation. Owners of community solar contribute funds to pay for a portion of a project, and reap benefits proportional to their investment. An added benefit is the efficiency of scale factor, resulting from building one larger project in lieu of multiple smaller projects.
* Passage of a Net Metering "clean up bill" that would combine two sections of a law to provide consistent requirements for various eligible technologies. Net metering allows customers to generate electricity with environmentally-friendly sources for their own use and credit their utility bills for any excess electricity delivered to the utilities for use by general customers.
* Change residential requirements and caps on New York State Investment Tax Credit (ITC). NYSEIA advocates for maintaining the per system cap of $5,000 while eliminating the primary residence rule and allowing for independent ITC caps on multiple systems per taxpayer.
Van Nostrand said the association will be "nimble and flexible" to reach its goals and build on the platform set in 2012 when solar took a prominent place in public policy.
"Already, several legislative leaders have indicated their recognition that NY Sun needs to have a longer commitment to attract the investment that is waiting to be unleashed," he said. "Our neighboring states are clear evidence of how fast solar can scale up."
NYSEIA, founded in 1994, is the only statewide non-profit membership and trade association dedicated solely to advancing solar energy use in New York State. NYSEIA represents the 300-plus businesses across 338 locations in New York State that employ over 4,200 individuals throughout the solar value chain. For information, visit http://www.nyseia.org
RIGGI Dialogue Participants Commend Mid-Atlantic States for Renewing Their Commitment to Address Climate Change
U.S. Green Building Council Names New York to 'Top Ten States" for LEED Green Building
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) will release a list of Top 10 states for LEED green building and New York will be ranked as the 7th state in the country for LEED certification - up by three spots from last year's ranking! With more than 127 million square feet of LEED space certified, New York is a leader in green building and is receiving national recognition for it. If you would be interested in covering this announcement, I would be happy to set up an interview with you and a senior official at USGBC.
Rankings are determined on a points-based system, with the Platinum level as the highest certification. Last year, the National Football League (NFL) corporate headquarters in New York City achieved LEED Gold. There are over 700 LEED-certified buildings across New York.
Governor Andrew Cuomo Names Expert Panel to Review Fracking SEQRA
John Adgate, Lynn Goldman, and Richard Jackson have been selected by New York Sate Governor, Andrew Cuomo, to undertake the critically important task of reviewing the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) previously completed analysis of health issues in its fracking environmental review. The governor's process does not fulfill many concerned citizens' request for a comprehensive Health Impact Assessment. Additionally, it remains unclear what specifically these experts have been tasked with doing.
"It appears this may be a desk top review of the DEC analysis, rather than the exhaustive study, the kind of study for which these experts are known, it is necessary to understand the extensive public health impacts of drilling," read a statement from the New York Water Rangers campaign.
The New York Water Rangers campaign is supported by a network of organizations working to protect the rights and health of New Yorkers and one of our most precious environmental resources - water - from the dangers of irresponsible, poorly regulated, and under-inspected natural gas exploration and development. The campaign is supported by Catskill Mountainkeeper, Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Earthjustice, EARTHWORKS Oil & Gas Accountability Project, Environmental Advocates of New York, Environment New York, Fleased, Natural Resources Defense Council, Otsego 2000, and Riverkeeper.
Last week, they encouraged the Cuomo Administration to give their named experts unfettered access to information, data, and background information, as well as access to public health professionals from local communities across the state and reports from gas-producing regions, to help complete this work in a credible and comprehensive manner.
"Governor Cuomo must empower these experts to conduct the health review they conclude is necessary and ensure that the public is fully involved before any decision can be made about whether New York should allow fracking to move forward in New York," read the statement.
"We know that Mr. Adgate, Ms. Goldman, and Mr. Jackson have an enormous task in front of them in their review of the Department of Environmental Conservation's already-completed study on the public health impacts of fracking. All New Yorkers can be thankful for their willingness to take on the critically important and complicated public health concerns," said Katherine Nadeau, Water & Natural Resources Program Director. "Additionally, in light of Hurricane Sandy and its aftermath, it is vital that local public health and medical professionals have the opportunity to provide feedback, suggestions, and concerns. We continue to call on the state to perform a comprehensive public Health Impact Assessment. And to ensure the credibility of this study, strongly encourage the administration and the governor's appointees to undertake a more open and transparent process that fully involves the public," she added.
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