Thursday, February 25, 2010

NY Watershed Action Update

You can still sign the petition to ban hydrofracture drilling in New York State (and ask others to sign as well!)

From Pro Publica:
Environmentalists, state regulators and even energy companies agree that the problem most likely to slow natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale in New York is safely disposing of the billions of gallons of contaminated wastewater the industry will produce.

Between 1,500 and 2,500 wells per year could eventually be drilled into the huge natural gas reserve, state regulators say, although other estimates are far higher. Each well will produce about 1.2 million gallons of wastewater that can contain chemicals introduced during the drilling process and dredged up from deep within the earth. Using the state’s higher estimate, that means the industry will have to find a way to dispose of as much as 3 billion gallons a year, enough to fill 5,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Read the rest of Pro Publica's critique of the proposed wastewater disposal.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

USDA Considers Genetically Engineered Alfalfa

Update: The deadline for comments to the USDA has been extended to March 3. Please take a moment to comment, as this information will be part of an upcoming Supreme Court case on genetically modified organisms.

The USDA is taking steps to approve Monsanto's genetically engineered alfalfa, stating that not enough consumers care about organic foods for the USDA to block the approval.

Roundup Ready Alfalfa can contaminate organic alfalfa through the natural pollination process and further decrease organic farmers' feed options. Studies have shown that genetically modified pollen can contaminate fields up to nearly two miles away. Since other feed supplies, like corn and soy, have already been contaminated by the genetically modified trait, alfalfa has become a primary food source for organically-raised animals.

Tell the USDA you DO care about the safety of your food, your health, and your environment. Open comment period on the environmental impact statement of nonregulated status for Roundup Ready alfalfa ends February 16, 2010.

  • Learn more about the effects of Monsanto's Round Up (Glyphosate) in this handout and from Beyond Pesticides.

  • Submit your comments about approval of nonregulated status for Roundup Ready alfalfa to the USDA at


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Is it Really Biodegradable?

The Food Coop's Environmental Committee has often gotten into discussions about the relative advantages of biodegradable products, such as biodegradable corn-based paper plates. On the surface it seems better to buy these than ordinary disposable paper plates. But is it? If you throw a corn-based paper plate in the trash--where does it end up? Not in a compost pile, which would enable biodegrading. Regular trash goes to landfills--and the conditions there are not aerobic enough to allow these corn-based plates to biodegrade. So unless you're going to compost these plates, there doesn't seem to be an advantage.

But there is also the matter of the product's whole lifecycle. Although the end result of a corn-based paper plate may be not different than a regular one, the production would seem to spare trees. But is there any disadvantage to using corn to make paper plates? Corn uses water and land for growth and needs energy to be made into plates and transported. And was land that formerly held trees specifically cleared to grow corn? You can see why this topic might inspire reaching for an aspirin!

Earth 911 has a fascinating piece on What is Biodegradable? Let us know if you have any thoughts on the Coop carrying "biodegradable plates" or other products.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Journey through Pacific Plastic

Go on a journey with VBS.TV to the North Pacific Gyre, where shampoo bottles, shopping bags and swim floats congregate into a vast morass of plastic refuse that might not ever go away. See the video & read the full story.

Environmental Film Premiere in Brooklyn

The Turning Point: a film about the importance of local networks and connections

7-9 pm (film is 45 minutes; discussion afterwards)
The Alter Ego Lounge
388 Atlantic Ave., bet. Bond & Hoyt, Brooklyn
(718) 625-6923From Findhorn, Scotland, a positive and inspiring film about our transition to a low carbon future. Featuring visionary leaders and pioneers in the fields of human ecology and global transition, this film takes an inspiring look at our potential to create a life-sustaining society as we face the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change. "The combination of serious, funny and beautiful was perfect!"

388 Atlantic Ave. -- Brooklyn -- closest to A, C & G, but near the B, M, Q, R, 2, 3, 4, 5, and F
suggested donation: $10

Saturday, February 13, 2010

New Watershed Hotline


EPA Launches Marcellus Shale Watchdog Program

By Tom Wilber 2/10/10, 6:15 pm

The EPA wants YOU.

Uncle Sam's chief environmental agency is launching a citizens' watchdog program to help track water pollution and waste disposal related to natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale.

It's called Eyes on Drilling, and it encourages people to report suspicious activity related to federal officials through a toll-free hotline. That includes location, time and date of problems; materials, equipment and vehicles involved; and observable environmental impacts, according to a press release issued this month.

The number: (877) 919-4372. : Information about the program.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency lacks direct jurisdiction over drilling, it oversees related areas, such as waste disposal and water resources.

David Sternberg, a spokesman for EPA Region 3, said large volumes of chemicals and waste handled at drilling sites, or en route to the sites, create spill hazards that can threaten surface and groundwater.

Effectively tapping natural gas trapped in shale, like the Marcellus, requires a process called hydraulic fracturing. Fracking for short, it uses millions of gallons of water and additives to break apart bedrock and release gas.

As a drilling function, it remains under the state's oversight. Yet because fracking involves handling copious amounts of chemical solutions over water tables, it has drawn the attention of federal regulators,

"EPA wants to get a better understanding of what people are experiencing and observing as a result of these drilling activities. The information collected may also be useful in investigating industry practices," Sternberg said. "The agency is also very concerned about the proper disposal of waste products, and protecting air and water resources."

The Eyes on Drilling program is through the EPA's Region 3 office, encompassing the Mid Atlantic Region where much of the Marcellus drilling has begun. The hotline will also take complaints taken from Region 2 callers, including New York, and pass them along to appropriate officials for follow- up, Sternberg said.

Additionally, problems with drilling or other spills can be reported to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation by calling the spills hotline at (800) 847-7332.

Organic Consumers' Association

The Organic Consumers' Association (OCA) is a grassroots non-profit focusing on issues of food safety, industrial agriculture, genetic engineering, children's health, corporate accountability, Fair Trade, and environmental sustainability. Their website has a wealth of great information.

You can sign up for their informative every-other-week online newsletter and keep up with these issues. There is a section of the website for local New York news and information. The Food Coop is a member of the OCA.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tapped--New Film about Bottled Water

Screening and discussion of

Tapped (76 minutes)

on Friday, February 12, 2009 at 7 pm

at The Community Church
28 East 35th Street, Manhattan
"the Gallery" at John Haynes Holmes House

suggested donation $5

Is access to clean drinking water a right or a commodity that should be bottled and sold like any other commercial product?

Stephanie Seochtig’s debut film is an unflinching examination of the big business of bottled water. From the plastic production to the ocean in which so many of these bottles end up, this powerful documentary trails the path of the water industry, featuring the lives caught in the intersection and the communities which are unwitting chips on the table.

Sponsored by:
Neighborhood Energy Network & Tristate Food Not Lawns
Sierra Club NYC
The Green Sanctuary Committee, the Community Church of NY
Resistance Cinema/Action for Justice Committee

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Free Film Screenings in Park Slope

The Park Slope UMC Social Action Committee invites you to a series of free film screenings & discussions on environmental issues.

Friday evenings at 8PM.
Pot Luck dinner at 7PM

Location: Park Slope United Methodist Church
6th Ave. and 8th St., Brooklyn, NY

Friday, Feb. 5Split Estate – Split Estate documents the devastating effect that oil and gas drilling is having on the health of families and the environment in the Rocky Mountain West. As gas companies prepare to drill for gas in New York State, now is the time to see this film and learn what you can do to protect New York’s drinking water. (76 min.)

A post screening discussion will be led by Joe Levine, co-founder of NYH2O and Damascus Citizens for Sustainability.

Friday, March 5The Greening of Southie - Building Boston's first LEED Gold-certified building turns out to be harder than anyone thought. Yet among the I-beams and brickwork emerges a small cadre of unlikely environmentalists who come to connect their work with the future of their children. (72 min)

Friday, April 9 - Coal Country –Coal Country reveals the truth about modern coal mining. The story is told by the people directly involved, both working miners and activists who are battling the coal companies in Appalachia. Tensions are high. It’s a “new civil war,” as families and communities are deeply split over mountaintop removal mining (MTR). (86 min)