Sunday, August 22, 2010

PSC Public Hearings: Important Lobbying Notes, Schedule Info & Alternative Submission Methods


There are three important changes in vegetation management which all of us can lobby the PSC to include in any updated guidelines based upon  findings from the current case (Case 10-E-0155): 

1) environmental analysis – wetlands, water courses, habitats, impact of loss of tree buffers on air, noise, visual pollution, etc. Like any SEQRA review, the goal should be towards minimizing detrimental impacts. (Analysis should be segment-by-segment, not state-wide.)

2) notification – a minimum of 60 days verified notification for homeowners/property owners, a minimum of 30 days for a town-hall like public meeting to review and receive feedback on planned vegetation management. (During clearing operations, a dedicated 7/24 emergency complaint hotline should be available for property owners and municipal officials.)

3) mitigation – mandatory replanting, stomwater and erosion controls, etc. must be built into the vegetation management plans from the start. Mitigation costs should not be borne by individual residents or property owners for impacts caused by utility line clearing. (Full mitigation for past clearing activities during 2007 thru 2010 in Rockland and Westchester must be mandated by PSC, as well!)

Another change in PSC guidelines that the LORAX Working Group has been advocating is the adoption of an eco-friendly "tiered management" approach to vegetation management along transmission lines:

This means that the farther from the centerline of the transmission towers one goes towards the edges of the right-of-way (ROW), the taller the vegetation that can safely remain standing. So, at a distance of 50 feet from the centerline, a tree perhaps 35ft tall is "safe". At 100 feet from the centerline, a tree 80ft tall is "safe".

Thus, rather than mindlessly clear cutting the entire ROW corridor (resulting in significant environmental, health and property value impacts), a more natural "tiered" landscape remains that does not compromise line safety. Tiered management reduces habitat loss, erosion, air quality impacts, etc. It also reduces the foothold for invasive plants and expanding deer populations.

Finally, with a focus on the need for greater environmental awareness, vegetative buffers must be maintained. The PSC guidelines from 2005 (Case 04-E-0822) should be modified to require that riparian & wetland buffers, view-shed buffers and road-crossing buffers (to name a few) must be maintained and enhanced, not clear cut.
Plan to come out and make your voice heard by the PSC!
Scheduled local hearings:

• Monday, August 23 - 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Ramapo Town Hall, 237 Route 59, Airmont.

• Monday, August 23 - 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Yonkers Public Library, Riverfront branch, 1 Larkin Center.

• Tuesday, August 24 - 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Greenburgh Public Library, 300 Tarrytown Road, Elmsford.

Other ways to comment:

• 800-335-2120, press "1" and refer to case 10-E-0155.

• www.dps.state.ny.us/comment.html. In the search box, enter case number 10-E-0155.

• Write to Jaclyn A. Brilling, secretary, Public Service Commission, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350 and refer to case 10-E-0155.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

PSC - NOTICE OF PUBLIC STATEMENT HEARINGS CASE 10-E-0155

NYSPSC has scheduled public hearings on Case 10-E-0155, Electric Utility Transmission Line Right-of-Way Management Practices.  Hearings in Westchester County are on August 23 & August 24.  See below and full PSC notice released 8/10/10.    

Case 10-E-0155, Proceeding on Motion of the Commission as to New York State's Electric Utility Transmission Right-of-Way Vegetation Management Practices.

Public statement hearings are scheduled as follows:

Rockland County
August 23, 2010
1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Ramapo Town Hall
237 Route 59 Suffern, NY 10901

Westchester County
August 23, 2010
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Yonkers Public Library
Riverfront Library Branch
1 Larkin Center
Yonkers, NY 10701

August 24, 2010
1:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Greenburgh Public Library
300 Tarrytown Road
Elmsford, NY 10523

Orange County
August 24, 2010
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Village of Montgomery Senior Center
36 Bridge Street Montgomery, NY 12549

Onondaga County
September 7, 2010
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Syracuse City Hall
Common Council Chambers
233 East Washington St., 3rd Floor
Syracuse, NY 13210

Albany County
September 13, 2010
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm
Albany Public Library
Main Library
161 Washington Avenue, 2nd Floor
Albany, NY 12210

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

EPA POSTPONES SYRACUSE MEETING ON HYDRAULIC FRACTURING STUDY, NEW DATES COMING SOON



from EPA news release today:


Contact: John Senn (212) 637-3667, senn.john@epa.gov


NEW YORK, NY – After months of work organizing the New York Hydraulic Fracturing public meetings, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced that the Syracuse meeting, originally scheduled for this Thursday, August 12th at the Oncenter Complex Convention Center, has been cancelled. The Agency now intends to hold a new public meeting on the study in upstate New York in September and will announce the location as soon as it is confirmed.

EPA was forced to cancel this meeting following a conversation this morning with the Onondaga County Executive’s office, during which they expressed concerns about the ability to complete preparations for the meeting on such short notice. The last minute change to Syracuse was caused by Binghamton University taking several actions to dissuade EPA from holding the meetings at their campus including increasing the cost from $6,000 to almost $40,000. The Agency also reached out to Broome County officials in Binghamton to hold the meeting at the Arena and they pulled out of negotiations with EPA. The Agency searched a 40 mile radius from Corning to Ithaca to Courtland to Oneonta but no options were available for Thursday. Onondaga County officials did not feel they could arrange the necessary security for the potential protests and rallies outside the meeting itself, and EPA respects and understands their decision.

From the beginning, EPA has been committed to ensuring that the public has an opportunity to express their opinions on the study. There are serious concerns about whether the process of hydraulic fracturing impacts drinking water, human health and the environment. To address those concerns and strengthen our clean energy future, EPA announced in March that it will study the potential adverse impact that hydraulic fracturing may have on drinking water and would be seeking input from people across the country. EPA has held had three successful meetings in Fort Worth, Texas, Denver, Colorado and Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, where more than 1200 participants attended, and the Agency is committed to holding a similar meeting in upstate New York.


--


from EANY's latest eblast today:



We just received word that the United States Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) public information meeting on the proposed hydraulic fracturing study has been postponed until September. The hearing was originally scheduled for this Thursday, August 12, 2010 but will be moved to a future date.

Click here to read more.

You can still submit comments on the proposed study, if you'd like to do so, click here.

Stay tuned and we'll let you know as soon as we find out about the future date and location.

IMPORTANT UPDATE ON EPA HYDRO-FRACKING HEARING - Attend or Submit Comments


From Environmental Advocates of NY eblast:

In March 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it will study the potential adverse impacts that hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” may have on drinking water.

As part of the study, the EPA is hosting four public information meetings on the proposed study.New York’s meeting is Thursday, August 12, at the Oncenter Complex Convention Center in Syracuse, New York. Please note the location change.The meeting is no longer in Binghamton.

The public is encouraged to attend and submit comments. Click here to register.

Join us at the hearing as Katherine Nadeau, our water & natural resources program director, submits comments voicing concerns about the harmful effects of fracking. 

If you can’t be in Syracuse on the 12th, click here to submit your own comments. The deadline for written comments is August 26.

WHAT: Public Hearing on the EPA’s proposed study of Fracking
WHERE: Oncenter Complex Convention Center in Syracuse, New York. Click here for directions. 
WHEN: Morning Session: 8:00 a.m.- 12:00 p.m. 
              Afternoon Session: 1:00- 5:00 p.m
              Evening Session: 6:00 – 10:00 p.m.

REGISTER: http://hfmeeting.cadmusweb.com/RegistrationForm.aspx or by calling 1-866-477-3635 (toll free). Online and telephone registration remains open until 10:00am on August 11, 2010, and walk-in attendees the day of the meeting are welcome. Due to significant interest by the public, all of the public speaking spots are currently filled. Speaking slots are expected to open up and EPA intends to open registration for these speaking slots via phone and the Web on Wednesday, August 11 beginning at 10:00am and ending when the slots are filled. 

MORE INFORMATION: Admission requires registration, even to just observe the hearing. A photo ID is required for speakers and perhaps for people in the audience as well. A rally (more details to come) is also being planned. 

For additional questions on the change in meeting location, please call EPA toll free at 1-800-426-4791. The line is operational Monday through Friday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm eastern time. 

For additional questions on registration, please call the registration hotline 1-866-477-3635.

Click here to find out more about the EPA’s study on fracking.

Monday, August 9, 2010

HYDRO-FRACKING UPDATE

from the [Green] Capitol Insider, Environmental Advocates of New York’s online newsletter from the State Capital - August 9, 2010

STATE SENATE CALLS FOR A "TIMEOUT" ON FRACKING

At long last, everyone who cares about New York’s drinking water has something to celebrate.

It was way past our usual bedtime last week when the New York State Senate voted to protect New York’s drinking water by passing legislation that will enact a one-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for natural gas.

By passing the bill, S.8129B, sponsored by Senator Antoine Thompson (D-Buffalo), the Senate put New Yorkers and our natural resources ahead of the oil and gas industry and their big bags of money (click here for details from Common Cause/NY ). Because in states such as Pennsylvania, Colorado and Wyoming where the gas industry routinely uses hydraulic fracturing to drill for natural gas, drinking and groundwater sources have been contaminated.

The bill passed by a comfortable and bipartisan margin of 49 to 9.

The legislation will suspend the issuance of permits to hydraulically fracture wells in New York State until May 15, 2011. This “timeout” will give the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation time to finish its review of hydraulic fracturing without political pressure. It will also give our next governor the chance to look at the issue with a critical eye.

All eyes are now on the Assembly and we encourage these lawmakers to take up identical legislation, A.11443B, sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst), when the house returns to Albany in the weeks ahead.

And then, of course, the bill goes to Governor Paterson’s desk.


HAVE YOUR SAY AT EPA HEARING ON FRACKING

We encourage you to attend the EPA’s only New York hearing on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” this Thursday in Binghamton. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is hosting four public information meetings on the agency’s study of hydraulic fracturing and its potential impacts on drinking water. The meetings will also provide public information about the proposed study scope and design and the EPA will solicit public comments on its draft study plan.

Location: TBD, Binghamton, NY. Date & Time: August 12, 2010; three sessions: 8am to 12pm, 1 to 5pm, and 6 to 10pm. For more information or to pre-register, visit http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/wells_hydrofrac.html.