environment

Regional planning agencies in the Southern Tier are working toward a goal of cutting 80% of their greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050.

U.S. Senate candidate Wendy Long is accusing her opponent of not supporting natural gas drilling, which she says would create jobs in New York. Long, a Republican, held a press conference Wednesday in Syracuse to blame Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of delaying its approval.

An environmental group, out with its annual voters’ guide, is grading state lawmakers harshly this year.

New York state recently decided to conduct a health review of the controversial natural gas extraction method, hydrofracking. This will likely cause a November deadline to be missed and the public comment period to be re-opened. However, during a visit to Syracuse on Tuesday Governor Cuomo denied that he is stalling the process, saying a delay in the state’s decision on allowing hydrofracking is not a “step back.”

The Cuomo administration has announced two developments that could delay the start of hydrofracking in New York, and is leaving supporters and opponents with many unanswered questions.

Marie Cusick / Innovation Trail/WMHT

Two Syracuse University geology professors - along with a graduate assistant or two - are hurrying to collect water samples from drinking wells in the Southern Tier before - and if - the natural gas extraction method known as hydraulic fracturing is approved in New York.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says he supports his administration’s internal health review on hydrofracking in New York, and he says it could even hasten the gas drilling process in the state, should fracking ultimately be approved.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s environmental commissioner announcement that he is rejecting calls for an independent health analysis of hydrofracking has left more questions than answers. Commissioner Joe Martens says he will conduct an internal health review instead.

With the spread of West Nile Virus across the country, some communities have chosen to spray pesticides to kill the mosquitoes that carry the deadly virus.  Despite the death of an elderly man in Syracuse from West Nile this week, Onondaga County officials have decided against that option.  

Onondaga Lake cleanup underway

Aug 21, 2012
borisvolodnikov / Flickr

After 100 years of environmental assault, Onondaga Lake in Syracuse became known as the most polluted lake in America. But now the final stage of a cleanup is underway. 

Matt Richmond / WSKG

The natural gas industry has responded quickly to a report we did last week on a new study looking at the potential harm from fracking wastewater treatment and removal.

The Innovation Trail spoke with John Krohn, Communications Director for Energy in Depth, an education and outreach arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.

Krohn wrote a lengthy critique of Stony Brook University's report that can be read here.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

Syracuse will use money from a state program to take another step in the long process of redeveloping former industrial sites.

Syracuse is getting a $500,000 Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA) grant for work on 113 acres just south of downtown and a 478 acre strip through the east side of the city. 

The grant is for the development of a revitalization strategy, the second of three phases of the BOA program, according to Owen Kerney, the city's deputy director for planning and sustainability.

Earlier this year, the American Lung Association unveiled an unpleasant surprise for Jefferson County residents. In a report on air quality across the country, the association gave the rural north country county a grade of "F" for ozone pollution, commonly known as smog. 

Army worms invade Jefferson County farms

Jun 30, 2012

A pest has invaded farm fields throughout Jefferson County. Army worms – actually caterpillars that transform into moths – migrate up from the south every year to Northern New York. But this year a major outbreak of the worms is causing a widespread threat to crops, and big financial losses to some farmers. 

Gravitywave / via Flickr

Last year the mosquito-borne virus Eastern Equine Encephalitis killed at least a dozen horses and a four-year-old Oswego County girl. This week, state Senator Patty Ritchie is hosting two clinics in the North Country where horse owners can have their animals vaccinated for free.

In a New York Times article published Wednesday, a plan for the first stage of hydrofracking in New York state was laid out by members of the Cuomo administration. But in a radio interview Thursday, Governor Andrew Cuomo himself was reluctant to actually call it a plan.

State lawmakers representing communities along the south shore of Lake Ontario are lining up against a plan to regulate water levels in the lake, and in the St. Lawrence River system.

Joanna Richards / WRVO

Every 10 years or so, the Department of Environmental Conservation goes out to Little Galloo Island, 20 miles off the coast of Cape Vincent in Lake Ontario, to survey waterbird populations there. The island, with a few dead trees, some grass and a rocky shoreline, is a haven for colonial waterbirds, with nests of Caspian terns, herring gulls and tens of thousands of ring-billed gulls – the standard seagull seen throughout the north country.

Ryan Delaney / WRVO

The city of Syracuse wants to get half its power from renewable energy sources by 2020.

That's just one of the targets laid out in a draft version of Syracuse's first sustainability plan [PDF].

It still has a ways to go, however: about 24 percent of New York's power currently comes from renewable sources - with hydropower accounting for the vast majority of that number, according to the New York Independent System Operator [PDF].

Syracuse is also hoping to reduce its energy consumption, advance education about environmental stewardship and increase urban agriculture and tree cover.

Ellen Abbott

SUNY ESF is showing off plants that will create a green roof on the new Gateway Center, which will open later this year.

This new green roof will almost be like visiting the shore of Lake Ontario.

Karen Dewitt

Anti-fracking groups presented Governor Andrew Cuomo with 200,000 signatures asking for a ban on the gas drilling process in New York,  and a state senator predicts  the opposition will  have an effect on the governor.

millicent_bystander / via Flickr

Scaling back urban sprawl could reduce carbon emissions released by communities throughout the Northeast, according to research done in part by New York scientists and engineers.

The study is by Hubbard Brooks Research Foundation and focused on nine counties, including Tompkins County in New York.

It found that a reduction in sprawl limits emissions from the first step of development onward by preventing the release of the carbon in vegetation when land is first cleared.

"So if you can work on redeveloping previously developed land, and think about land development smartly to try and minimize disturbance, that’s greatly going to reduce the carbon footprint," says Syracuse University professor Charles Driscoll, who co-wrote the study.

Environmental advocates were in Albany Monday making the case that investing in the state's natural resources is good economic sense.

One of the biggest and most controversial issues facing New York in the New Year is hydrofracking.  Governor Andrew Cuomo’s environmental department is conducting a review process and is likely to begin issuing permits sometime in 2012.

A particular kind of  Yellow leaf you see amidst the fall foliage in New York State might not be part of the fall splash of color much longer.  Many  of the yellow leaves are ash trees, and an invasive insect is slowly munching across New York State. 

It's called the Emerald Ash Borer, and it's wiping out all ashes everywhere an infestation occurs.

Don Leopold is a tree expert at the SUNY School of Environmental Science and Forestry and says Ash trees, which are native to New York, are prized for more than there color.

Dan Grossman is a freelance environmental journalist who has frequently appeared on public radio and the BBC, and has written for the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and Scientific American. He’s won a host of prestigious awards and been funded by many highly respected organizations—among them the Peabody award, the National Science Foundation, and the Fund for Investigative Journalism.

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