environment

Marie Cusick / Innovation Trail

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration will prohibit hydrofracking in New York state, citing unresolved health issues and dubious economic benefits of the widely used gas-drilling technique.

Environmental Commissioner Joe Martens said at a cabinet meeting this morning that he was recommending a ban. Cuomo had repeatedly said he would defer to Martens and acting health commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker in making the decision.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

If you’ve been to a Syracuse University basketball game this year, you may have noticed a different tint to the toilet bowl water in the restrooms. Here's why:

The Carrier Dome is now collecting rain and snow that falls on about half of its six acre puffy white roof. That water filters down the building into 50,000 gallon underground tanks. It’s then treated and stored, ready for a game break bathroom rush.

Photo Dean / via Flickr

With leaves on the ground and snow falling, trees in upstate New York are becoming dormant for the winter, but urban tree cover is still important.

As many urban areas become more populated or new buildings are constructed, urban trees are often chopped down. Most cities in the country are losing tree cover. And it has consequences.

"Trees are not just decorative. They’re infrastructure. And hence, they’re important for that reason," said Emanuel Carter, a professor at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A rooftop garden at the top of the Syracuse Veterans Affairs Medical Center's new spinal injury wing does more than provide a nice view for visitors. It’s the site of a horticulture therapy program that the VA is hoping could spread to other hospitals in the system.

Bruce Nowakowski, 66, of Pennelville, has been in the residential unit of the VA for about a year now. He says he's got a dream.  
 

"Right now I’m trying to work on growing a giant pumpkin,” Nowakoski said.

He knows where he’s going to get the seeds, and expects to plant them in January.

Gino Geruntino / WRVO

They are in products people use every day to help get grime off their hands, keep their faces acne free and even make their teeth pearly white. But environmentalists and New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) say plastic microbeads are polluting the country's lakes and streams.

While standing in front of Lake Ontario, Gillibrand announced her push to get companies to remove microbeads from personal care products like hand soap, facial scrubs and toothpaste, citing the harmful effects they have on the environment.

Duke Energy / via Flickr

New Yorkers could see health benefits from proposed standards for coal power plants, new research has found.

A vast majority of New York’s energy production comes from nuclear, hydro and natural gas, but the state is downwind from states that do burn a lot of coal, like Ohio, so that means the soot blows this way.

http://peoplesclimate.org/march/

Central New York will be represented in this weekend's climate change march in New York City.

Several buses of local activists, college students and people concerned about climate change are heading to New York for what organizers are calling the largest climate march in history.

John Weeks discusses his devotion to the environment. He explains how caring about water, food, and atmosphere now can improve the future. It is all linked together and we have a great amount of control for  what will happen in the future.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

A new era officially begins at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse this weekend. Quentin Wheeler will be inaugurated as the school’s fourth president. Wheeler sees ESF fitting into a world where environmental issues are moving closer toward the forefront.

Wheeler, a biologist who specializes in bugs and biodiversity, comes to ESF after stints at Arizona State University and Cornell. And that biodiversity background bubbles up when he talks about the future of Earth.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo says there has been no progress on a decision about hydrofracking in New York state, the movement opposing the controversial gas extracting technology gets louder. There are a couple of candidates in the upcoming election who want to tap into this anti-fracking fervor.

"We got the people power, la la la," yelled several protesters gathered at the New York State Fair in Syracuse. "We got the people power, la la la!"
 

borisvolodnikov / Flickr

As the removal and capping of industrial pollutants in Onondaga Lake continues, planning for the next phase of restoration is beginning.

Honeywell’s dredging of the lake shore and wetlands restoration is meant to remediate and prevent further damage from chemicals dumped in and near the water. Now environmentalists are eyeing how to make Onondaga Lake useable again. 

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The Rosamond Gifford Zoo is beginning it’s second century in Syracuse.

When the zoo opened it’s doors 100 years ago, visitors were treated to some birds and a bear. Director Ted Fox says it’s important to take stock after a century.
 

"One hundred years really means a lot to us," Fox said. "It really demonstrates the support of this community from what it was, with four acres and a few animals, to 700 animals and 43 acres now. We’re constantly adding new exhibits.”

Bosc d'Anjou / Flickr

 

In a decision released last week, the highest court in New York ruled that local governments can ban drilling within their borders. And while hydrofracking remains on hold in the state, the ruling is expected to have a huge impact on the industry in New York if fracking is eventually permitted.

 

The dean of the law school at Cornell University, Eduardo Penalver, helps explain the court's ruling

upholding local bans on gas drilling in New York.

 

Environmental advocates are pressing the state legislature to renew a toxic site cleanup program before the session wraps up in a few days, even though there seems little interest in taking up any big issues in Albany.

Environmentalists are holding up the toxic site cleanup program’s renewal as a measure of a successful legislative session. 

Both the Assembly and Senate have versions of a bill to renew a cleanup program for old industrial sites, known as brownfields. But environmentalists are calling on the governor to urge legislative leaders to act on the bills.

President Barack Obama’s visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown was closed to the public, but that didn’t stop protesters from both sides of the hydrofracking debate from heading there anyway.
    
The president was there to talk about upstate tourism, but for many of the other day visitors the economic issue was hydrofracking in the state’s Marcellus shale region.

Jenna Flanagan / Innovation Trail

Albany County officials recently tried to reassure the public over concerns about the crude oil trains that travel through the city. Officials have acknowledged the trains pose a significant risk but they also admit that depending on the nature of an accident, there’s little they can do.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Last week's federal report on climate change puts the spotlight on how increasing global temperatures will affect the world. One Syracuse University professor is trying to localize that by creating a climate garden on campus that will show the effects of climbing temperatures on trees in central New York.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

Onondaga County’s program that turns food waste into the compost and mulch we use in our gardens is expanding.

OCRRA, the Onondaga County Resource Recovery Agency, has installed new structures that make the process at the Amboy Compost Facility work like a well-oiled machine.

It all starts with the food we throw away at restaurants, schools and grocery stores; the fruit rinds, the crusts of bread and corn husks. Those scraps are dumped into a new covered mixing area at the facility on Airport Road in Amboy.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

Earth Day was celebrated at the state Capitol, with a tribute to the late Pete Seeger and a display of live owls.

USDAgov Flickr

Homeowners in parts of Onondaga County with ash trees on their property, need to take action sooner than expected to deal with the Emerald Ash Borer. 

Jesse Lyons of the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Onondaga County says there’s evidence that the invasive insect has spread to almost  the eastern border of Onondaga County.

David Chanatry/New York State Reporting Project

Lake Ontario is boasting some of the best sport fishing among the Great Lakes, thanks to a successful stocking program by New York state's environmental management agency.

The Department of Environmental Conservation pumps ample supplies of trout and salmon into Lake Ontario and its tributaries every year. It attracts anglers from all over -- more than 2.5 million each season.

Jason Briner

A new institute designed to tackle complex environmental issues across the globe has been launched in upstate New York. This month, the University at Buffalo announced the launch of the RENEW (Research and Education in Energy, Environment, and Water) program.

Alexander Cartwright, vice president of research and economic development at the university, says an emphasis has been placed on assembling an interdisciplinary and unbiased team to tackle controversial issues.

DEC proposal to kill invasive swans drawing protests

Feb 18, 2014
DEC website

Most people think swans are beautiful. But the agreement seems to end there, when it comes to a new state plan to manage them. A proposal by the Department of Environmental Conservation to kill invasive mute swans isn’t flying with some animal lovers. 

Downed trees from ice storm will be turned into energy

Jan 22, 2014
Joanna Richards / WRVO

All the power lines have been fixed after last month’s ice storm, and the crystal coatings have melted off the trees, but there’s still a persistent sign of the damage: lots of downed limbs.

Yards in the northern half of Jefferson County are full of tangled branches, sunk in the snow. Extricating them is going to be a long process, but there’s a plan in the works to give them a new life as fuel.

Cape Vincent tells state: we want decision on wind farm

Dec 10, 2013
Joanna Richards

The town of Cape Vincent, in Jefferson County, has been divided over a proposed wind farm for a decade. The latest company to pursue the project is BP. But now, with a potential sale in the works, residents told the state power project siting board they’re getting impatient with the uncertainty. 

Shawn McCready / Flickr

Researchers from Clarkson University are gearing up to study the impacts of water pollution on property values across 26 counties in upstate New York.

Funded by a two year NYSERDA grant, researchers will study water quality data and correlate that with property sales over the past decade. And there’s already evidence of a relationship between the two.

In a recent study, economics professor Martin Heintzelman - who’ll be working on the new study – found that high water acidity lowered property prices in the Adirondacks by up to 24 percent.

napaneegal / via Flickr

A proposed wind farm in Cape Vincent, in Jefferson County, has been in limbo since energy company BP said earlier this year that it's planning to sell off its entire wind power division.

Town officials have been anxious for news about the wind farm's fate since then. The review process that produced one tense public meeting after another came to an abrupt halt earlier this year.

Ian Lamont / Flickr

Farmers across New York state converged in central New York for the State Farm Bureau’s annual meeting this week.  According to those at the meeting, the biggest problem these farmers face is too much paperwork.

Winter crows invade Watertown

Nov 11, 2013
Joanna Richards

Every winter, Alfred Hitchcock's classic horror movie, “The Birds” gets a replay in Watertown. But not on the silver screen. Thousands of crows fly in from the countryside to roost overnight. The city's trying to evict them. 

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