Friday, October 29, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: LORAX TESTIFIES IN WASHINGTON AT FERC






PRESS RELEASE  
    
              
Contact:           Mark Gilliland                                    
                        GEF LORAX Working Group
                        c/o Greenburgh Nature Center                                   
                        99 Dromore Rd
Scarsdale, NY 10583                                                
                        (914) 714-3056                                                                     
                        lorax@markg.org                   

October 26, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LORAX TESTIFIES IN WASHINGTON AT FERC TRANSMISSION LINE VEGETATION MANAGEMENT TECHNICAL ROUNDTABLE


LORAX presents Landowner and environmental concerns with right-of-way clear-cutting.

WASHINGTON, D.C.  – The GEF LORAX Working Group chairperson, Mark Gilliland, appeared before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Electrical Reliability Committee on Tuesday, October 26, 2010, to discuss the impacts of Federal regulations (FAC-003-1) on state and regional electric utilities’ implementation of Transmission Vegetation Management Plans (TVMPs).

“I am very pleased that LORAX had this opportunity to present landowner and environmental concerns at the FERC technical roundtable,” said Mark Gilliland, Chairman, GEF LORAX Working Group. “It is imperative that community concerns about property value loss, environmental damage and health impacts of these TVMPs are discussed in the context of both State and Federal regulations and policies.”

As reported to the FERC panel by LORAX, the current vegetation management programs defined by the various Transmission Operators (TOs) in New York have lead to severe economic, aesthetic and environmental damage along the transmission rights-of-way (ROWs) due to excessive removal and clear-cutting of all trees and vegetation, lack of adequate stormwater and erosion controls, over-reliance on herbicides, as well as insufficient or inadequate follow-up mitigation. This “scorched earth” approach has been extensively documented by LORAX, the Sierra Club and various municipalities in the region, as well as by both the Rockland and Westchester County Legislatures.

Appearing on the panel of the roundtable were representatives of the utility industry, state and federal regulatory agencies, utility arborists and landowner groups. As stated by Mark Hegerle, FERC’s Director, Division of Compliance, Office of Electrical Reliability, the goal of the meeting was to uncover why utilities and state regulators claim “FERC made us do it” in response to public outcries about recent wide-spread tree removals. The roundtable discussion covered a wide range of topics including: review of Federal reliability standards (FAC-003-1), state approval and oversight of utility TVMPs, mandatory non-compliance fines, mitigation of environmental impacts, utility ROW easement agreements, “best practices” vegetation management of the ROW.

A complete video archive of the roundtable as well as the meeting agenda can be viewed online at:

“Viable solutions need to be found to prevent further damage – solutions ranging from revision of approved ‘best practices’ and reduction of non-compliance fines, to requiring detailed environmental reviews and responsible mitigation along the ROWs,” Gilliland noted.

Several other LORAX members, including Marvin Baum (Rockland County), Amy Kupferberg (Orange County) and Chris Crane (Westchester County Legislature), attended the FERC roundtable and lobbied strongly for needed changes to TVMP regulations and policies.

GEF LORAX Working Group founding members also include: Patricia Podolak (Yorktown), Susan Porcino (Ardsley), Anne Jaffe-Holmes (Greenburgh Environmental Center), David Bedell (Sleepy Hollow), and Walter Rodriquez (Yonkers).

For more information including LORAX submittals to recent NYSPSC proceedings on vegetation management, please visit the LORAX Working Group blog at: http://loraxwg.blogspot.com.

“Trees lost to date along the ROWs in Westchester Country provided an estimated $6 million dollars annually in clean air and stormwater benefits for our communities. To avoid similar financial and health impacts in the future, we must better balance electric reliability with the urgent need to protect our local environment,” Gilliland observed.

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Photo attached by LORAX. Caption: “Members of GEF LORAX Working Group outside of the FERC building after the Technical Roundtable, October 26, 2010. From left to right: Mark Gilliland, Amy Kupferberg, Chris Crane, Marvin Baum.”



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Download .pdf version of Press Release here.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

LORAX Submissions for FERC Roundtable

Here are our LORAX submissions for the FERC Roundtable:

Westchester BOL Moratorium Resolution 26-2010 passed 3/1/10 (Download as .pdf)

Observations and Recommendations concerning TVMPs in Westchester and Rockland (Download as .pdf)

Short statement by LORAX chairperson to the Roundtable (Download as .pdf)

Follow-up statement of 10/28/10 by LORAX chairperson to FERC committee for inclusion in Docket No. AD11-2-000. (Download as .pdf)

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Watch the Roundtable via web video streaming here (event page).

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Irvington GPTF's "Your Leaves: Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" Environmentally-Friendly Cost-Saving Initiative



PRESS RELEASE

Irvington GPTF's "Your Leaves: Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" Environmentally-Friendly Cost-Saving Initiative

On Wed., October 27 at 7:30 p.m., the Irvington Green Policy Task Force will be presenting "Your Leaves: Love 'Em and Leave 'Em", an environmentally-friendly cost-saving initiative to the Greenburgh Town Council during the Council meeting at Greenburgh Town Hall.

Fall leaves are a valuable resource that most homeowners let go to waste by having them blown into piles on the street, or raked into brown landscaping bags stacked curb-side, left for eventual town pickup. Leaf collection, hauling, and disposal is a huge annual cost to every municipality in our tree-lovely county!  Too often these curbside leaf piles spread out, or the bags tip over, washing leaves into the street, clogging storm drains and making roads dangerous for driving.  Additional cost is thus incurred because these storm drains must be cleared to avoid flooding.

As a homeowner, are there options?  Is there a better way?

Whether you pay a lawn care service or do it yourself, the easy and cost-saving answer is: Leave 'em in place!  Shredding your leaves where they are on the lawn, using shredded leaves as a winter mulch on landscape beds, collecting shredded leaves into compost piles, or simply leaving your leaves under the trees in wooded areas are all examples of using nature's own method of turning old leaves into new soil.  In these stressful economic times, the "Love 'Em and Leave 'Em" Initiative is not only "green", it just makes Cents!

The public are welcome to come to the Town Hall for the presentation, or for more information and/or questions about mulching-in-place and composting of leaves, visit the Irvington Green Policy Task Force web-pages or write them at green@irvingtonny.gov.

Also contact:

Anne Jaffe Holmes
Coordinator of School Programs & Environmental Projects
Greenburgh Nature Center
99 Dromore Road
Scarsdale, NY 10583
P: 914-813-1812
F: 914-725-6599

LORAX to Attend FERC Meeting on Transmission Line Vegetative Management Issues - Docket No. AD11-2-000 - Tuesday, Oct 26th, Washington, DC.

Overview of meeting (from invitation emails):

Staff of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is organizing a conference to discuss vegetation management practices and related topics. [...] We’d like to highlight the importance of good vegetation management, noting that we’ve generally seen good results with FAC-003 (reduced to zero vegetation contacts over a couple of quarters, but 3 recent touches are indicators of ongoing concern, as shown by a recently issued NERC Industry Advisory. We want to acknowledge landowner concerns over certain methods (e.g., clear cutting), address how such methods are established and approved, and discuss possible ways to mitigate the impact while ensuring reliability.

We propose to structure a panel discussion more like a guided discussion than a series of prepared statements read into the record. So we plan to invite NERC staff to discuss Reliability Standard FAC-003; a couple of utility representatives to discuss current practices, the TVMP, and ROW agreements; a landowner representative to discuss common complaints and concerns; one or two state commission/government representatives to discuss jurisdictional issues; and an arborist to speak to vegetation management issues and solutions from an arborists point of view.

[The conference will be held October 26 at the Commission’s offices from 1pm-5pm.]

Attached is the supplemental notice of the conference containing the list of panelists and the order in which we will address issues. As requested by some of you, following my opening remarks, each of you will have five minutes for introductory remarks. We will then move directly into a collegial discussion of the issues as outlined on the supplemental notice.

The conference will be Webcast. Anyone with Internet access who desires to listen to this event can do so by navigating to www.ferc.gov’s Calendar of Events and locating this event in the Calendar.

Westchester BOL: Flooding/Stormwater Management Legislation

The Environment & Energy Committee will meet on Monday, October 25th at 3:00 PM, in the 8th floor McPoland Conference room. The committee will meet jointly with the Legislation Committee.

Flooding/Stormwater Management Legislation
The joint committees will continue review of proposed legislation on flooding/stormwater management. The proposed legislation would authorize the development of a stormwater management plan, the implementation of a county program to match funds for municipal stormwater projects, and the creation of watershed advisory boards.

The legislation is available here. [click on DRAFT #3]

Head of NYS DEC Fired By Governor

The firing of the head of the DEC as he indicates the probably negative results of the continuing DEC staff cuts is a big blow to NYS's environmental protection and oversight. There are lots of news reports if you google, but here's one summary.

And another from the Eco Poliics Weekly eblast newsletter:


BREAKING NEWS: DEC Commish Fired




- UPDATE -


Acting head of DEC appointed (Nov 4, 2010)


Within the past week, Governor David Paterson named Peter Iwanowicz acting commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Read more from NYLCV's Eco Politics Daily.\

PSC Announces Public Hearing on the Proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express Transmission Line - Yonkers Riverfront Library, Monday Oct 25, 6pm

Subject: Champlain Hudson Power Express Public Hearing; Mon. Oct. 25, 6pm Riverfront Library Yonkers

Everyone: Enclosed find notice of a Yonkers public hearing this Monday evening regarding the proposed Champlain Transmission line down the Hudson River. Please read attached documents. This is an extremely important matter for Yonkers as the project would mandate the use of a large area of open space behind the library for the 4 acre conversion plant that is necessary for convert the line from DC to AC current. And in terms of the Hudson Rver, there are environmental and ecological questions to be addressed, as the line would have to be submerged down the length of the riverbed until it reached the terminus point in Yonkers.

Those of you who do not live in Yonkers, but are concerned with the Hudson River and/or live in adjacent towns may want to attend this hearing as it may be the closest to you. Check the attachment for locations.

From PSC:
A public hearing on the proposed Champlain Hudson Power Express transmission line and converter station will be at the Yonkers Riverfront Library on Monday, October 25 at 6 pm. A notice is attached with further information. The converter station is proposed to be located at the parking lot on Wells Avenue, due north of the library. The transmission line cable would be mostly submerged in the Hudson River (in the downstate region). Further information on the proposed facilities is available at www.chpexpresseis.org. The NYSPSC proceeding associated with this project can be accessed here.

PSC Public Hearing announcement with hearings schedule can be downloaded as pdf file here.