In the News: Air Quality Warning in Brooklyn, State Budget Fight, & Ferries!!!

Health warning issued for NYC warehouse fire

New York City health officials are advising people who are downwind of a massive warehouse fire to stay inside. Hundreds of firefighters are battling the 7-alarm fire that started Saturday morning in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn…Health officials say air quality has been affected and people with respiratory ailments may have difficulty breathing. [Fairfield Citizen]

Editorial: Skimping on oversight

The state’s funding for DEC [Department of Environmental Conservation] is far below pre-Great Recession levels…With less funding have come significant staff cuts in programs such as enforcement, air and water quality management, and solid and hazardous waste management…The Cuomo administration asserts that this is all about streamlining and modernization, and making the state more business-friendly. One example of this is the dubious, fox-watching-the-henhouse policy whereby private companies monitor and self-report their compliance with pollution regulations. [Albany Times Union]

Andrew Cuomo talks creation of high-tech, state-run weather system following winter storm

The state is using $24 million in federal Hurricane Sandy relief funds to install 125 advanced weather detection stations around the state…The system is designed to provide a broader picture of current weather conditions by collecting real-time localized data on wind, rain, snow, icing, and flood risks every 1 to 15 minutes. [Daily News]

Federal Construction Projects Must Plan for Flood Risks From Climate Change 

Planners of federally funded buildings, roads and other infrastructure will be required to account for the impact of possible flooding from rising sea levels or more extreme precipitation, effects that scientists say will result from a warming planet…The standard would also make significant swaths of low-lying land ineligible for construction with federal funds. [The New York Times]

New Ferries Coming to Rockaway, Astoria, The Bronx, the LES and Brooklyn

The new ferry routes are expected to include Astoria, southern Brooklyn, the Lower East Side, Soundview in The Bronx and Rockaway Beach — and will cost the same amount as a subway ride…The ferries will be run and funded by the city, and are expected to begin in 2017, a source said…Some of the planned routes have run before, including the Rockaway ferry, which was controversially cut in October. [DNA Info]

Cuomo’s Transpo Vision: Huge Garages, Cheap Roads, Lots More MTA Debt

Surprising no one, Cuomo promised subsidies to keep highway tolls cheap, train stations with tons of parking, and economic development centered around airports. The speech did not even mention the most pressing transportation issue in New York right now: the $15 billion gap in the MTA’s five-year capital program. [StreetsBlog NYC]

A Promising Garbage Workaround

The road to the bridge to the [E. 91st Street Marine Transfer] station, over the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, cuts right through the middle of an athletic center called Asphalt Green, which is used by many schoolchildren…Asphalt Green hired Samuel Schwartz, an engineer and a former city traffic commissioner, to come up with something better, which he did: a plan to shift the access to the station a block north, using a service road of the F.D.R. Drive, so that garbage trucks go around and behind — instead of through — Asphalt Green. [The New York Times]

Army Corps Finds Fault with Massive Storm Barriers

Immediately after Sandy two years ago, newspapers and elected officials suggested that the region should build a massive barrier across New York Harbor to prevent the next big storm from causing havoc…Now comes the U.S. Army Corps long-awaited $19.5 million comprehensive study of the Northeast Coast, first commissioned in the federal Sandy aid bill. It did not address the harbor-wide, storm-surge barrier explicitly, but in a matrix it gave gates low marks for their ability to adapt to sea level change (e.g. to grow higher over time). [WNYC]

In the News: more pipeline debates, urban forestry & clean-up of a toxic Long Island park

NY State Approves Cleanup Plan for Roberto Clemente Park

De Blasio’s Affordable Housing Plan Could Destroy 15 Community Gardens

2014 Breaks Record for Warmest Year, NOAA and NASA Experts Say

Friends, Foes Pack Constitution Pipeline Hearing

New York’s Biggest Industrial Wind Turbine Is Up And Running

Brooklyn Stormwater Management Plan Could Reduce Sewer Overflows

Downtown Leaders Press City On Storm Protection $

DEC Announces Nearly $930,000 In Urban Forestry Grants To New York Communities

New York State Issues Draft 10-Year Ocean Action Plan

What America’s Nutty Demand For Almonds Is Doing To California

In the News: NYS Joins Fight for Obama Climate Legislation

14 states pen brief supporting EPA climate rule

“Fourteen states and the District of Columbia are backing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in a lawsuit against the administration’s landmark climate rule on pollution from power plants…The 14 EPA-friendly states, including, New York, California, Delaware, New Mexico, Oregon, and Rhode Island, however, say they “support the EPA’s authority to complete its ongoing rule making to limit carbon dioxide emissions from fossil-fueled power plants, the largest source of those emissions.” [The Hill]

10 Arrested as ‘We Are Seneca Lake’ Protests Continue

“This protest marks the fourth week of the “We Are Seneca Lake” campaign to stop the major expansion project at the methane gas storage facility…on the west side of Seneca Lake. Thirty-five people have been arrested so far during this campaign, including Dwain Wilder who just finished serving eight days in jail after refusing to pay his fine. Today’s protest included a number of participants of the Great March for Climate Action who recently finished a 3,000-mile walk from Los Angeles to Washington, DC.” [EcoWatch]

New York Plants Curbside Gardens to Soak Up Storm-Water Runoff

“In what officials have billed as one of the most ambitious programs of its kind in the United States, New York City has, with little fanfare, embarked on a roughly 20-year, $2.4 billion project intended to protect local waterways, relying in large measure on “curbside gardens” that capture and retain storm-water runoff.” [The New York Times]

The end of beaches? Why the world’s shorelines are in serious trouble

“We can have our beachfront properties — our Miami high-rises, our Hamptons mansions, our Jersey boardwalks — or we can have our beaches. But…we can’t have both. The beaches themselves can withstand extreme weather, of course. But it’s our attempts to hold them in place, through techno-fixes like seawalls and beach replenishment, that ironically enough will end up destroying them.” [Salon]

NYPA continues to upgrade transmission, study micro-grids post-Sandy 

“Two years after Hurricane Sandy…the New York Power Authority said it is continuing to upgrade and refurbish its transmission facilities and performing micro-grid feasibility studies to ensure infrastructure remains resilient in future storms…[these] studies are focused on applying energy resilience measures at New York City Housing Authority Red Hook Houses in Brooklyn, Stony Brook University Research and Development Park on Long Island and Empire State Plaza in Albany.” [Public Power Daily]

Mayor de Blasio, Senator Schumer Announce FEMA Commitment of at Least $1.6 Billion to Repair and Protect Sandy-Damaged Public Hospitals

“The allocation—the second largest FEMA award ever and the largest award under FEMA’s 428 program— will advance the City’s comprehensive, five-borough resiliency plan and fund improvements at four New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) facilities: Coney Island Hospital in Brooklyn, Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, Metropolitan Hospital Center in Manhattan, and Coler Specialty Hospital on Roosevelt Island.” [Office of the Mayor]

In the News: NYC’s Big Push on Solar, Toxic Dumping on Long Island & an absent Governor?

NYC to Spend $23 Million for Solar Panels on 24 Schools

New York City will spend $23 million to install solar-paneled roofs on 24 public schools…The installations will triple the amount of sun power currently gathered on city-owned buildings, the mayor said today at a news briefing. The total investment will be about $28 million, with $5 million coming from state grants under Governor Andrew Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative…

De Blasio [has] set a goal of developing 100 megawatts of solar power on public buildings and 250 megawatts on private properties in 10 years. That would generate 1 percent of the city’s electricity, reducing greenhouse-gas emissions by an estimated 35,000 metric tons a year, he said. [Bloomberg News]

Contaminated fill at Islandia subdivision for vets must be carted off Long Island

About 1,000 cubic yards of contaminated material buried at a subdivision for six veterans’ families in Islandia must be carted off Long Island as part of the first state-approved cleanup plan for sites in Islip under criminal investigation for illegal dumping…Revelations of dumping at Veterans Way came after about 50,000 tons of contaminated fill was found spread onto Roberto Clemente Park in Brentwood…

[Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas] Spota said in June analysis of the berm samples showed levels of contaminants deemed both “hazardous” and “acutely hazardous” under state environmental conservation law. Among the contaminants found: the now-banned pesticides DDT and chlordane, and metals such as chromium, cobalt, nickel, zinc and lead. Some of the substances are known to cause cancer or brain damage if ingested in sufficient amounts. The 12 samples from the front and back of each of the homes did not test positive for contaminants, Spota said. [Newsday]

As World Leaders Come Together for Historic Climate Summit, Secretary-General Urges Commitment to Meaningful, Universal Agreement

In a closing session, the Secretary-General declared that delegates had delivered on his request for commitments on a universal climate agreement; climate financing; carbon pricing; strengthening resilience; and on the formation of partnerships to meet the climate challenge. The spirit of compromise and commitment that had characterized the discourse had to be retained going forward and the pledges made had to be fulfilled. “Today’s Summit has shown that we can rise to the climate challenge,” he said. [U.N. Department of Public Information]

Where Is Andrew Cuomo’s Climate Plan?

Andrew Cuomo…was nowhere to be found at the People’s Climate March, and for good reason. The governor’s climate plan consists mainly of a single strategy: Brace for impact…Meanwhile, the transportation infrastructure that undergirds New York’s light carbon footprint…is Governor Cuomo’s responsibility, and he’s been flaking on it since the first time he robbed from the MTA to pay for the state’s general obligations. On Monday the governor signed a law that will help cities and towns prepare for the effects of climate change…The same day, the MTA posted documents laying out the $15 billion gap in its upcoming five-year, $32 billion capital program. [Streetsblog NYC]

Growing, and Growing Vulnerable 

As the president of the Fire Island Association, Suzy Goldhirsch has a message she says she often offers property owners. “We are living on a sandbar in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean,” she tells them. “We are in a high-risk environment. We on barrier islands are on the front lines of climate change.”…A new report from the National Research Council finds that the effect of climate change is especially harsh on [barrier] islands. Population growth in much of this long coast “is nearly twice the national average,” [and] “these same coasts are subject to impact by some of the most powerful storms on earth.” [The New York Times]

Comptroller Stringer Proposes Green Bonds Program for New York City 

In an effort to focus investment on projects that protect the environment and boost sustainability, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer…introduced a plan, “A Green Bond Program for New York City,” to make New York the first major city in the nation to offer Green Bonds. Green Bonds offer investors a new way to participate in the financing of environmentally conscious projects such as providing for clean water and improving the energy efficiency of buildings. [Office of the New York City Comptroller]

Is The Algae In Prospect Park Making Dogs Sick?

A local dog group is spreading the word about the possibility that toxic algae in Prospect Park Lake is making pups sick. FIDO recently noted on its Facebook page that one of its member’s dogs “appear to have been showing mild symptoms from their daily swims” at the park, where the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has confirmed the widespread presence of blue green algae, which can be harmful to people and pets. [Kensington BK]

In the News: how we get our water, better planning for the Rockaways & more

How New York City Gets its Water: From Reservoir to Tap

Most New Yorkers go about their days using water to bathe, make coffee, wash their hands or flush the toilet without much thought to where it originates. But behind each drop of water is a journey that can begin up to 125 miles away in upstate New York. [amNY]

Green Groups to New York City: Drop Dead

Yet New York City is surprisingly green. Approximately 1/8 of the city is covered by forests, marshes and meadows. In fact, New York has a higher percentage of open space than any major city in United States; more than Los Angeles and Philadelphia combined. [Huffington Post]

Expert Panel to Warn of ‘Dangerously Hot’ Subways

Climate change doesn’t just heighten the risks of subway system flooding, as Hurricane Sandy so neatly demonstrated. It also threatens to create “dangerously hot” conditions on subway platforms… [Capital New York]

Thousands of Gallons of Oil Dumped Into the Dutch Kills Tributary This Summer

Throughout the summer of 2014, reports of fresh oil sheens have been reported along Newtown Creek…Yesterday, the DEC found that point source on Dutch Kills, and probably found the polluter who has been illegally dumping literally thousands of gallons of oil directly into the water all summer. [Brownstoner Queens]

Water’s Edge: The Crisis of Rising Sea Levels

A Reuters analysis finds that flooding is increasing along much of the nation’s coastline, forcing many communities into costly, controversial struggles with a relentless foe. [Reuters]

Knocking Bloomberg, de Blasio touts a ‘transcendent’ moment

At the beachfront Coney Island Houses, which 1,400 New Yorkers call home…the city will use the $108 million to, among other things, elevate boilers above the floodplain, create a flood barrier system and install generators that can kick in during the next debilitating storm. [Capital New York]

Schumer Announces $1.4 Million in Federal Funds for Transportation & Housing Study in Rockaway

The neighborhoods of Rockaway were among the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy. In addition to significant flooding of the area, service on the “A” train was suspended for six months due to damage from the storm, leaving residents stranded with limited access to jobs, education, and services. [Office of Senator Charles E. Schumer]

In the News: Clock Running Out on Addressing Climate Change

Irreversible Damage Seen From Climate Change in UN Leak

Humans risk causing irreversible and widespread damage to the planet unless there’s faster action to limit the fossil fuel emissions blamed for climate change, according to a leaked draft United Nations report. Global warming already is affecting “all continents and across the oceans,” and further pollution from heat-trapping gases will raise the likelihood of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.”[Bloomberg News]

Dig Deep Into Superfund New York 

Beauty and toxins, industry and wildlife mix in Newtown Creek, along the Gowanus Canal and near to old Wolff-Alport Chemical Company on the Brooklyn-Queens border…All three sites are highly contaminated…they also happen to sit in neighborhoods that are either deep into or on the verge of a wave of development, gentrification and all the complex impacts those forces will deliver. [City Limits]

East Side garbage foes hide behind loophole

Upper East Side residents have long opposed a station on the East River at 91st Street and York Avenue, where trucks would transfer garbage to barges. The main group fighting the station had been the Gracie Point Community Council, which spent some $300,000 between 2003 and 2011 on lobbyists, according to city records…Pledge 2 Protect has had a similar role. It presents itself as a group of concerned Upper East Side citizens worried about quality-of-life issues. But the veiling of its donors through Marquart & Small makes it impossible to know whether other motives are at play. [Crain’s New York Business]

Here’s how Brazil’s new presidential candidate could help save the planet

Now a poll predicts 56-year-old Silva will squeeze into the second round of voting and narrowly beat President Dilma Rousseff…This could make Silva the first environmentalist to lead a major world economy. And what happens to the environment in Brazil, home to the planet’s great green lungs, matters on a global scale. [Global Post]

Mother Nature’s Daughter

New York’s urban farmers — the people who actually work in the field — offer a sharply different head count of what you might call bulls and cows. Of the 19 farms and farm programs that contributed information for this article, 15 reported having a majority of women among their leadership, staff, youth workers, students, apprentices and volunteers. [New York Times]


In the News: More on the Rockaway Pipeline and NYC Wants to Ban Fracking Waste

In the Rockaways, Pipeline Debate Takes a Contentious Turn

A natural gas pipeline under construction worries New York residents still recovering from Hurricane Sandy. [Al Jazeera America]

How NYC Works: City’s Paper Recycling Program Saves Thousands of Trees Every Day

In the latest installment of “How New York City Works,” NY1’s Roger Clark takes a look at the city’s paper recycling program to find out what happens to all that paper after you toss it in the bin. [NY1]

Albany Passes Ban on Burying Toxins in Jamaica Bay

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill earlier this month temporarily extending the ban on disposing certain hazardous materials in the ocean to the waters of Jamaica Bay, the largest wetland habitat in the city and home to a significant bird sanctuary. [Times Ledger]

New Bill Would Ban Fracking Waste in New York City

New York City council members Stephen Levin and Corey Johnson introduced legislation today—Introduction 853—that would ban the discharge, disposal, sale or use of any wastewater or natural gas waste produced by fracking. [EcowWatch]

A Tale of Two Cities: Miami, New York and Life on the Edge

So while the NYC plan is certainly laudable, it is important to realize that it does not even contain 100 percent of the funding to take them to the 2050s, let alone look beyond that to 2100. But alas, 2100 is more than 20 election cycles away. When Bloomberg said, “We cannot, and will not, abandon our waterfront,” was he being realistic, or was it just political bravado? Perhaps his grandchildren will find out. [Climate Central]

In the News: De Blasio & Cuomo Called Out on Need to Link Enviro & Economy

Will de Blasio and Cuomo Make Sustainability a Higher Priority?

The inability of Mayor de Blasio or Governor Cuomo to visibly integrate sustainability into their broader economic development goals indicates that environment remains separate and secondary. It is not that these two leaders have bad environmental records. It is that they are still stuck in the 20th-century paradigm that sees a tradeoff between environmental quality and economic growth. [Huffington Post]

NYC Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner’s Corner

NYC DEP’s other…programs have done a lot to reduce the amount of phosphorous, nitrogen and other potentially harmful nutrients in stormwater runoff…We’ve seen the importance of this kind of watershed protection  recently. The toxic algal bloom in Lake Erie that shut down the water supply for nearly half a million residents in Toledo, Ohio  for several days earlier this month was attributed to nutrient loading from fertilizers, manure from cattle farms, leaky wastewater systems, and more dense development around the lake. [Weekly Pipeline]

Climate Change Law in New York Bridges Partisan Divide

New York’s Community Risk and Resiliency Act is the only legislation in the nation to require that climate impacts be a part of the permitting and funding process—and not just in the state’s coastal areas, but in all 62 counties. “It transforms New York into a national leader on climate change,” said Bill Ulfelder, executive director of the New York branch of the Nature Conservancy. [Inside Climate News]

U.S. regulators approve Canada-NYC power line

Federal regulators have completed the environmental review of a proposed 330-mile transmission line to bring lower-cost Canadian hydroelectric power to New York City…Transmission Developers CEO Donald Jessome says ratepayers will also see price breaks from Long Island to Albany. The line is to run under Lake Champlain and the Hudson River and follow railroad rights-of-way en route from Quebec to Queens. [Crain’s New York Business]

Money for Bay Park sewage plant outfall pipe sought

Policymakers have spent the summer trying to find the estimated $690 million that it would take to send an average 50 million gallons a day of treated effluent into the Atlantic Ocean, instead of into the nutrient-choked Western Bays. High levels of nitrogen in the effluent weaken the coastal marshlands in the area — key parts of the ecosystem that experts say also help protect the area from harsh waves and flooding during severe storms. [Newsday]

 City Finally Beating Back Queens Floodwaters

In many sections of southeast Queens, rain fills the streets like plugged bathtubs. Basements flood, cars are damaged, furniture is destroyed and residents are marooned inside their homes…The ultimate solution is DEP’s ongoing $6 billion effort to extend storm sewers in the area, supplemented by innovations such as “bluebelts,” natural drainage corridors like ponds, wetlands, or streams that filter storm water before it is released into area waterways. But…several local pols are insisting that DEP address the problem of rising water tables in the area by putting the old wells back on line. [City Limits]

In the News: Dirty Beaches, Fracking Challenge, and a Plastic Bag Battle

Residents say Parks Department Doing Little to Help Keep Trash-filled Great Kills Beach Clean

Some residents of Great Kills say the sandy shoreline behind their homes has been bombarded with trash this summer. []

Beijing Subways Now Accept Trash as Payment

That’s why cities like Beijing have created an incentive to save riders money while preserving the environment. Some stations now offer passengers the ability to pay their way with plastic bottles. [RYOT]

Toxic Rust Tide Hits Long Island’s East End At The Height Of Summer Tourist Season

Rust tide has returned to the east end, with fish killing algae blooms infesting sooner and with greater potency. [CBS New York]

Gas Industry Official Tries to Challenge Fracking Ban

The trustee for a defunct oil-and-gas company is attempting a last-ditch effort to revive a lawsuit challenging hydraulic fracturing bans by local governments in New York. [Poughkeepsie Journal]

And because we have a thing for plastic bag drama, here’s an op-ed against plastic bag legislation, penned by Brad Gerstman, lawyer, lobbyist and co-founder of the New York Association of Grocery Stores…

The City Council’s Plan to Promote E. coli

New York City’s do-gooders are at it again, this time looking to put a 10-cent fee on each plastic bag that stores normally provide to their customers without charge. This isn’t just another burden on the city’s beleaguered small retailers, it’s also a terrible idea for public health. [New York Post]

And here’s Councilman Brad Lander’s response:

Letter to the Editor: Bagging Plastic

Gertsman’s claim that reusable bags “promot[e] E. coli” is based solely on a “study” funded by the American Chemistry Council — the plastic bag-makers’ trade group. [New York Post]

In The News: Are Brownfield Tax Credits a Gift to Developers?

Related Leads Donors Getting N.Y. Brownfield Tax Credits

Critics of the incentives, which have cost taxpayers more than $1 billion since 2006, say they benefit wealthy developers and have done little to clean up contaminated industrial sites. Unlike other states, New York doesn’t limit the program to cleanup costs, and a study found that 94 percent of its brownfields tax credits have been used for redeveloping properties instead of remediating blighted land. [Bloomberg]

The Sustainable Mayor?

In his first six months as mayor, Bill de Blasio has prioritized pre-kindergarten, affordable housing and banning horse carriages, with varying degrees of success. One policy area he has yet to prioritize, according to some mainstream environmentalists, is sustainability. [Capitol New York]

New Advocacy Guide Maps Path to Improved Parks

The goal of the new poster is to elucidate the park advocacy process and empower concerned citizens to make a difference in their communities. [Gotham Gazette]

Late July Chill Helps Set Record Lows Across the East

The cool conditions in the East contrasted, as they have nearly all year, with baking conditions in the West, which have exacerbated the effects of California’s epic drought and helped fuel wildfires. [Climate Central]

Report recommends steps to help elderly survive natural disasters

Following Sandy, tens of thousands of older adults were isolated in high-rise buildings and private homes in Coney Island and other shorefront communities around the city…New York City’s 1.4 million people age 60 and over constitute 17 percent of the city’s total population, according to the report. The number is projected to increase by 50 percent over the next 20 years. [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]

Coalition Brings Attention to September Climate Change March

Local and national environmental groups, labor unions, and community organizations rallied at Times Square on Wednesday to bring attention to the People’s Climate March in September that will take place ahead of the United Nations’ Climate Summit. Organizers hope to bring together the biggest march in history to address climate change. [Epoch Times]

Finger Lakes winemakers call for NY Gov. Cuomo to deny permits for salt cavern gas storage

Finger Lakes winemakers and other business owners asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday to deny permits for natural gas and propane storage facilities in former salt mines along Seneca Lake, saying the projects would bring heavy industry, more truck traffic and an unacceptable risk of catastrophic accidents to a region that thrives on tourism. [Fox Business]