Thursday, October 29, 2009

Watershed/Gas Drilling Update

Last weeks City Council meeting, focusing on the prospect of hydraulic fracture drilling in the NY watershed, was very exciting. It was great to see the political figures, as well as environmentalists and concerned citizens, speak out against drilling. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer gave a rousing presentation, ending with "Kill the Drill!" Check out his Kill the Drill campaign and related Facebook group--it will keep you up-to-date on a lot of developments.

Several speakers at the hearing pointed out that giving the public only 60 days to review the 805 page SGEIS is absurd, and what was the rush? Governor Patterson and the gas companies seem anxious to start drilling ASAP. An alliance of environmental groups in NY have gotten together and started a petition to tell Governor Paterson that there are too many dangers and unknowns in the hydraulic fracture drilling process, it will put our water supply, our upstate farmland and the health of over 9 million New Yorkers at risk, and we request a state-wide ban on hydraulic fracture drilling for gas.

Tuesday, November 10 at 7pm is the second of 4 public hearings, a chance for people to comment on the SGEIS. So far, it is the only one in NYC. It will be at the Stuyvesant High Auditorium, 345 Chambers Street, at North End Ave (west of West St) in Manhattan . While there is the hope that the comment period will be extended beyond November 30, right now that is the deadline we are working with, so it is important for people to attend the meeting if possible and/or comment online.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Electronics Recycling FAQ

Q: Member Anne writes, "I'm a PSFC member and love your blog. I was wondering if any electronics recycling events are planned for the future. If not, do you know of a local responsible electronics recycler?"

A: Unfortunately, the city's Department of Sanitation has suspended their electronics recycling events due to budget cuts. However, here are some options:

  • If you are talking about cellphones, calculators, or other handheld electronic devices, you can drop them off at 3R Living in Park Slope. See the last sentence on their "About Us" page.

  • You can drop off your old computer and peripherals (keyboards, mice, printers, etc.) at any Goodwill store or donation site for FREE. Goodwill accepts any brand, in any condition. Equipment will be responsibly recycled, thanks to RECONNECT, a partnership between Dell and Goodwill. Residents are responsible for removing data from hard drives.

  • The Lower East Side Ecology Center will be having e-waste collection events again after the holidays in January 2010. The dates will be posted on their website.

  • If you want to recycle computers and other larger equipment, you can drop it off at Per Scholas in the Bronx. Or, if there are more than 25 computers, they will come and pick them up.

  • For comprehensive information about donating your computer for reuse, about manufacturer and retailer take-back programs, and a look forward to early 2010 when NYC's Electronic Equipment Collection, Recycling and Reuse Act takes effect, see the Department of Sanitation's web site.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

City Council Meeting on Watershed Issue

This Friday, October 23 a public hearing on the issue of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale, part of NY's watershed, will be held at City Hall. You can catch up on the issue via our related posts.

Friday, October 23 at 10 am
City Hall Committee Room
36 Chambers St. in Manhattan

If you can't attend the hearing, you can still email or call your City Council member in support of Rep. Tony Avella's Resolution 2191, which calls for a statewide ban of hydraulic fracture drilling. The City Council website will search for your city council member by your address.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Other NYC Coops

Several fairly new food co-ops in NYC have sought advice from coordinator Joe Holtz and advertized in our newsletter for PSFC members to do workshifts that would count as PSFC work credit. We've recently added links to their sites on our right navigation bar under "Other NYC Food Co-ops". We urge readers to look at their web pages and keep up with these exciting developments in our "cousin" co-ops.

Bronx-based coop/diner, featured in current Gazette

Green Hill Food Coop

Bay Ridge Food Coop

South Bronx Food Coop

Photo of Bronx Food Coop Founder Zena Nelson. Read about how Zena, a 29 year old graduate student, had the idea to start a Coop in the Bronx.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Watershed Update: State Releases Drilling Guidelines. Environmental Groups Skeptical; Say Watershed Still at Risk

New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation has issued its long awaited supplemental generic environmental impact statement (SGEIS) on proposed drilling for natural gas in New York City's Catskill-Delaware Watershed, which sits within the Marcellus Shale, a giant formation stretching all the way to West Virginia.

A new technology, hydraulic fracturing, makes drilling possible in the Shale. Millions of gallons of fresh water along with sand and chemicals, some toxic, are injected under high pressure miles down the drilling hole to fracture deep underground formations and prop them open in order to release oil and gas trapped within. The technology has been promoted in articles such as a recent New York Times piece (“New Way To Tap Gas May Expand Global Supplies”) as nothing less than the solution to the world's energy and global warming crises.

In that article, no mention was made of the technique's having been implicated in accidents and contamination of water supplies in Texas, Wyoming, Colorado, and Pennsylvania. Residents and environmental groups, many formed around this very issue, have raised alarms about the threat posed to the City's famed water supply and have demanded that no drilling take place in the watershed. Some have called for a moratorium on drilling in all of New York State. Also at risk is the State's EPA exemption from filtering required for surface water supplies that the City enjoys. If the water becomes contaminated and loses it's exemption, a filtration plant would cost the City—not the drillers—an estimated $4billion, according to the New York City Independent Budget Office. Some estimates are as high as $6 billion.

The SGEIS lays out the proposed regulations for drilling in the watershed. Those regulations, as reported in The River Reporter of Narrowsburg, NY, include disclosure of the fracturing fluids used, testing of wells within 1,000 feet of drilling sites, or if no wells are within 1,000, extending the testing area to 2,000 feet, following established protocols for water withdrawals, preparing plans for greenhouse gas emissions, visual, noise, and traffic impacts, and restrictions on storage of wastewater in open pits.

The drilling industry has readily accepted the guidelines, but environmental groups are not satisfied. Riverkeeper's comments are typical; it has promised to carefully go over the guidelines but has stated it is frankly skeptical that any drilling can safely be conducted in the watershed.

The DEC has a public comment period in effect until November 30th, and will hold four public hearings, with one here in New York City on Tuesday, November 10, 7PM at the Stuyvesant High School Auditorium, 345 Chambers Street in Manhattan. Several environmental groups, including Environmental Advocates of New York and Riverkeeper are asking for it to be extended to 90 or even 120 days.

Also available for comment is the overall New York State Energy Plan into the forseeable future. The deadline for those comments is October 19th.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Toxic Waters

This is a particularly good article from the NY Times about water pollution: Clean Water
Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering
. A search feature on the web page allows readers to look for sources of pollution in their state. There is also a selected list of reader comments, which are quite fascinating.

This article is part of a series of articles by NY Times reporter Charles Duhigg on water pollution in the United States.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Children's Clothing Swap at the Coop

This weekend, bring your child’s outgrown clothes to the Coop to trade with other members.

When: Saturday, October 17th, 10am-1:30pm

Where: Park Slope Food Coop, upstairs

Attention moms-to-be: Come to the swap to find newborn clothes! Non-members welcome.

Please bring only items that are in good condition. Collect clothes for your own children, only. At 1:30, any remaining clothes will then be available to anyone. Do not bring clothing to the Coop before the hours of the exchange.

Image courtesy of Christaface's Flickr pool.

Monday, October 12, 2009

The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb: Landfill and Biodegradation

Archeology and paleontology are not always glamorous jobs. There’s very little Indiana Jones, for instance, to excavating middens – ancient heaps of trash left behind by ancient peoples in ancient holes (or by ancient animals, such as packrats, in ancient holes.) Yet, despite the fact that it’s basically time-lapse dumpster-diving, you can find a lot of neat stuff in middens. Stone tools, metal artifacts, and shards of pottery. Oyster shells and the preserved bones of, say, a Great Auk. And bits of plants.

Bits of plants? Yes. Because one of the many interesting facts that middens demonstrate is that biodegradation, although it seems like a powerful and immutable law of nature, is surprisingly easy to thwart. Lack of oxygen and sunlight, the wrong temperature, or the absence of suitable microbes can slow it to a crawl. Thus prehistoric packrats, who had never even heard of a time capsule or a paleontologist and probably wouldn’t care if you told them, were able to preserve grains of pollen, leaves and stems in such conditions that they eventually fossilized rather than breaking down into the soil and can be identified to the species level today.

Modern landfills have come a long way from the old principle of digging a hole and tipping the waste in. For perfectly good reasons like keeping toxic sludge out of the surrounding air, water, and soil, today’s landfills are sealed up far tighter than any packrat could ever dream of. In addition, they are compacted using heavy machinery, which results in still darker, drier, more anaerobic conditions on the inside.

The results are startling: University of Arizona researchers excavated landfills in three states, and discovered well-preserved 25-year-old hot dogs, half-eaten steaks and even grapes as well as 40-year-old newspapers that could still be read; they estimated that food refuse in the landfills they excavated decomposed by only about 50% every twenty years. Meanwhile, that fifty percent that does decompose doesn’t just disappear innocuously; it produces quantities of methane, which has been implicated in global warming, and liquids appetizingly known as leachate. Leachate can be contaminated with almost anything that the indiscriminant mingling of decades of household wastes might bring to the party – heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins and more.

Read the rest of this article on page 14 of the April 23, 2009 Linewaiter's Gazette.

Photo courtesy of D'Arcy Norman.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Safe Food Committee Film Night: Thirst

Join the Park Slope Food Coop's Safe Food Committee for a screening of the film Thirst.

When: Tues., October 13th at 7pm
Where: Park Slope Food Coop
Non-members welcome!

Population growth, pollution and scarcity are turning water into the oil of the 21st century. Global corporations are rushing to gain control of this dwindling natural resource, producing intense conflict in the U.S. and worldwide, where people are dying in battles over control of water. The world is poised on the brink of epochal changes in how water is stored, used and valued. Will these changes provide clean water to the billions who need it or save the children dying from contaminated water? Thirst shows that popular opposition to the privatization of water sparks remarkable coalitions that cross partisan lines.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Documentary on Water Privatization

Liz Miller's documentary The Water Front (53 minutes) tells the story of residents of Highland Park, Michigan and their struggle against the privatization of the local water supply. Highlighting how a system prone to corruption affects basic human rights, this moving account foreshadows what could be in store for municipalities around the world facing their own water challenges.

When: October 9, 2009 at 7 pm
Where: "The Gallery" at John Haynes Holmes House
28 East 35th Street, Manhattan
suggested donation $5

*New York State’s water supply is currently threatened by gas drilling in the Marcellus shale. Joe Levine, chair of NYH2O, will be on hand before the screening to discuss this critical local issue and what we can do to prevent the destruction of our watershed. He will also be showing an 8 minute clip from Josh Fox's film "Water Under Attack".

Friday, October 02, 2009

Largest Green Roof in NYC

From Earth 911: Keeping in line with the U.S. Postal Service’s goal to turn over a new, green leaf, the largest green roof in New York City was recently completed. Found atop the Morgan mail processing building, a 2.2 million-square-foot facility, the green roof spans nearly 2.5 acres and overlooks Midtown Manhattan. Fourteen Ipe Brazilian wood benches made from Forest Stewardship Council sustainable certified lumber are found among native plants and trees, including Calamagrostis grass on the roof.

“The Morgan green roof is the largest in New York and one of the largest in the country,” said Sam Pulcrano, vice president of Sustainability with the Postal Service. “Not only does it provide employees with a beautiful, serene outdoor environment, the green roof will help us meet our goal to reduce energy usage 30 percent by 2015.”

The rest of the article can be found at Earth 911.

I wonder if they allow visitors.

(Photo is actually Chicago's City Hall green roof)