Thursday, June 30, 2011

Revised (Again) Con Ed Schedule for Irvington

Tree work is expected to begin Friday (7/1) and continue on Tuesday (7/5) in the following areas:

Day 1 (Friday 7/1)
Hermits Rd
East and West Sunnyside
Circle Dr
Hudson Ave
Center St
Park Ave
Fargo La
Meadowbrook Rd

Day 2 (Tuesday 7/5)
N. Broadway
Strawberry La
High School Rd
Riverview Rd
Barbara La
Janet Terrace
Irving Pl

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

GEF Analysis of PSC Case 10-E-0155 Guidelines

The GEF LORAX Working Group has completed an initial review of the recent guidelines issued by the NYSPSC in Case 10-E-0155. The following concerns are raised - some of which may be resolved procedurally, but others of which may require updated or clarified guidelines, or perhaps legislative action:


General Comments
Guidelines do not address the full set of 9 Commission questions originally posed in Case 10-E-0155 last year. (Example, little discussion of “best practices” is provided.)

Guidelines are often vague and too much is left open for interpretation by individual utilities.

Integration with previous Order (04-E-0822) is weak at best. (Previous order is appended to new order. Is it clear how and where 10-E-0155 supersedes the previous 2005 order in all areas of potential interpretive conflict?) <-- Further study required to document apparent conflicts.


Notification
All utilities in NYS should be included in notification requirements.

Need to spell out more clearly what actions allow short term (30 day) and what actions need long term (up to 180 day) notification.

Utilities should be required to provide 90 day 'public notice' to municipalities when they plan to do VM work. This notice could then be read at board meetings, posted on municipal web sites, etc. Allows time for public meetings.

Missing requirement to ensure demarcation of ROW (easement, trees to be removed, danger trees) in advance of on-site meetings with landowners.

Better, more timely notification to abutting landowners is required for herbicide application cycles. Special exemptions from herbicide IVM required for agricultural lands, esp. those intended for "organic" production.


Mitigation
Needs more detail and criteria regarding replanting and other forms of mitigation. Must eliminate any utility "opt out" loop holes.

Lack of any science-based analysis (eg: bio survey) of ROW as a basis for determining areas of exclusion (buffers, habitat) and required mitigation.

Lack of discussion of tree valuation and ecosystem services (again as a basis for mitigation).

Lack of surety (performance) bonds for mitigation practices.

Rate payers, adjacent property owners and municipalities should not be expected to cover the costs for mitigation and repair. Other means of covering the costs need to be found (i.e. percentage of utility’s annual net profit).

Minimizing the need for mitigation (ie: minimizing negative impacts at the time of work) should be the focus - not extracting even higher rates from ratepayers.

No explicit requirement for arbitration in the case of landowner disagreement with proposed work.


High Density ROWs
All utilities in NYS should be included in development of special case ROW management programs for sensitive areas (e.g.: park lands and preserves), not only "high density" populated areas.

Need clear guidelines for TVMP alternatives concerning agricultural lands (to safeguard human health and the farmers’ ability to fully utilize their land), as well as for other "special use" areas (e.g.; parks and recreation areas), as well.


Previous Damages (2004-2010)
No mention of restitution and mitigation for those homeowners who suffered adverse impacts. Many areas still need repair. ("For most of us, the bulk of our equity is in our homes. Some of us have been rendered properties that can never be sold again because of what Con Edison did on their adjacent property.")


TVM Techniques
No specific recommendations on new VM practices such as "on demand" response (via LIDAR and GIS system mapping).

No discussion of urgency in managing invasive plants and animal populations (white tail deer).

No discussion of the need to monitor work sites for proper DEC stormwater and erosion controls. (Or in the case of DEP Aqueduct lands, the need to ensure water course and water body buffers are maintained and not compromised.)

Need to define alternative methods of IVM and need to ensure conformance to new guidelines supporting reduced vegetation removal in order to phase out reliance on the excessive use of herbicides.

Unfortunately, current level of DPS staffing does not allow for robust monitoring by PSC of any utility's work. This defaults to "self-monitoring" and "self-reporting" - which has not worked in the past.


Complaint Resolution & Arbitration
PSC complaint & arbitration has left a lot to be desired over the last few years. Most testimonial from both the public and municipal officials in Case 10-E-0155 hearings clearly indicated they they were not satisfied in the process. There needs to be improved accountability and responsiveness regarding complaint arbitration procedures.

There needs to be an "on the spot" dispute resolution process. Otherwise, extended delay is handling complaint may be "after the fact" and the damage will have been done. Related: what if utility strays from its stated plan? There should be a "stop work" order until such complications can be investigated and resolved.

Utility fines for non-compliance with TVMPs or these guidelines should be clearly indicated and implemented in a timely manner.


Updated TVMPs
Recommendation #4 needs particular attention due to the push back by the TOs against the publishing of their VM plans for security and proprietary concerns. Some NYS TOs publish TVMPs un-redacted (such as O&R), while others (Con Ed) make it difficult to even get hold of their heavily redacted TVMP without a FOIL.

There needs to be some sort of public comment / oversight on the new TVMPs. (LORAX would be willing to provide review and feedback of these so as to ensure landowner and municipal concerns were addressed.)

Currently approved (in process) TVMP cycles should not continue without review and conformance to new guidelines. The utilities should not be allowed to simply "finish the cycle" before addressing concerns such as modified wz/bz, high density ROWS, and preservation of buffers.


New Technologies
Need a NYSPSC or Federal directive and pilot project funding support for utilities to embrace new technologies which help to prevent widespread blackouts (e.g.; Smart Grid).


Federal Guidelines
PSC needs to work with NERC/FERC to try to renormalize fines dealing with vegetation encroachment so as to reduce pressure to simply "clear cut".


--

A pdf of this analysis can be downloaded here.

Revised Con Ed Pruning Start Date: Wednesday 6/29/11

Tree work is expected to begin Wednesday (6/29) and continue to Thursday (6/30) in the following areas:

Day 1 (Wednesday 6/29)

Hermits Rd
East and West Sunnyside
Circle Dr
Hudson Ave
Center St
Park Ave

Day 2 (Thursday 6/30)

Fargo La
Meadowbrook Rd
N. Broadway
Strawberry La
High School Rd
Riverview Rd
Barbara La
Janet Terrace
Irving Pl


Monday, June 27, 2011

Con Edison To Begin Pruning In Irvington

from today's Village of Irvington eblast:
Con Edison is scheduled to perform routine tree trimming and tree removal work in the Village of Irvington in the coming weeks.  Irvington officials have met with Con Edison to review their plan for this work.  We have asked Con Edison to provide us with a list of streets / areas on a daily basis where tree work is expected.  This list will be published to the Village web site and sent to the Village-wide email list.

In addition to keeping you informed about the expected tree work locations, we are providing you with a link to helpful information about Con Edison’s Distribution Line clearing activities:

http://www.coned.com/publicissues/treeguide_intro.asp

Con Edison is legally required to provide all adjacent property owners with notification of tree maintenance activities.  This notification likely took place with a letter some time ago.  In addition, if a tree removal is planned for a tree located on private property, Con Edison is required to obtain the private property owner's permission to complete the removal.  Also, in such cases, the private property owner can request a meeting with Con Edison to review the planned work.

Tree work is expected to begin Monday (6/27) and continue to Tuesday (6/28) in the following areas:

Day 1 (Monday 6/27)Hermits Rd
East and West Sunnyside
Circle Dr
Hudson Ave
Center St
Park Ave

Day 2 (Tuesday 6/28)Fargo La
Meadowbrook Rd
N. Broadway
Strawberry La
High School Rd
Riverview Rd
Barbara La
Janet Terrace
Irving Pl

Please use this list as a guideline and not a guaranteed schedule.  Con Edison’s tree contractor will need to adjust this schedule based on the actual work completed in the field.  This, of course, is dependent on many factors including weather and other unforeseen circumstances.  If you have specific questions or concerns, please contact Irvington Superintendent of Public Works, Greg Nilsson at 914-591-6044 or gnilsson@irvingtonny.gov.  In addition, Con Edison can be reached directly at 1-800-75-CONED (1-800-752-6633).

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For ideas about what you might do as a homeowner to best protect your trees, please read this previous blog posting: Homeowner Checklist

Friday, June 24, 2011

Invasive Beetle Makes Further Inroads In New York

Emerald Ash Borer is not in Westchester County yet, but will eventually arrive here. Public and private planing for this eventuality is urgently required.
--
from Eco Politics Daily:read original version

Submitted by Natalie Zises on Fri, 2011-06-17 11:42.
The emerald ash borer beetle that was first detected in New York State's Cattaraugus County in 2009 has now been detectedin Buffalo's South Park, a 155-acre park and arboretum that is part of the historic Olmsted Parks System. It marks the first time the ash borer beetle has been seen in Erie County.
Despite multi-state efforts to curtail its  expansion, the emerald ash borer has spread across the  Northeast.Despite multi-state efforts to curtail its expansion, the emerald ash borer has spread across the Northeast.This small yet destructive beetle has metallic green wings and a coppery red or purple abdomen. The danger lies in its larvae, which feed in tunnels below the bark of the ash tree. By doing so, the ash borers make it difficult for water and nutrients to flow through, causing the death of branches eventually the entire tree.
New York has over 900 million ash trees, which make up 7 percent of our tree population. However, this may not be the case all too soon, due to this invasive insect.
The beetle has already decimated tens of millions of ash trees in the United States. In New York State, alone 16 counties are under quarantine -- and the invasion shows no signs of stopping.
The Department of Environmental Conservation has been implementing a strategy it calls SLAM, for "slow ash mortality." By training citizens and volunteers to spot the emerald ash borer, they are hoping to slow the beetle's take-down of the green, white, blue, and black ash. However, an effective method to fully stop the beetles has proven elusive so far.

Bill To Protect NY's Waters - Real Constraints on Hydro-fracking?



from Eco Politics Daily:
Legislation to finally end large-scale, unregulated withdrawals of New York's water has passed both houses of the Legislature and now heads to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's desk.


Marking one of the most important environmental successes of the 2011 legislative session, the measure provides the Department of Environmental Conservation with new authority to regulate facilities with the capacity to withdraw more than 100,000 gallons of water per day. 


Read more.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Tell State Senate to Protect Residents from Hydro-Fracking


Susan Van Dolsen and Ellen Deixler of Westchester for Change/United for Action:

It is now up to the State Senate to pass there crucial bills to help protect New York from some of the problems that stem from hydrofracking and importantly to pass a moratorium to enable time for the all DEC study and comments to come in. It would be very helpful if you could please make calls to the Senators and the Majority leader tomorrow. It is the last chance this session.
 
 
S.5592 Carlucci -- One Year Moratorium on Hydrofracking:  As reported last week, the New York State Assembly has already passed a bill that would suspend all permitting for hydraulic fracturing until June 1, 2012. But this bill will go nowhere unless the Senate passes their own version and the governor signs it.
Co-sponsored by our local Senators: Oppenheimer and Klein
 
S.4616 Avella -- Classifying Fracking Waste as Hazardous: Toxic drill cuttings and fluid wastes are coming over the border from Pennsylvanian gas wells into ill-equipped New York landfills and treatment centers, endangering the drinking water of millions. Even though fracking chemicals arrive at the drilling site as regulated hazardous materials, federal and state exemptions allow drillers to treat the same drilling wastes leaving the site as standard industrial waste. This bill will update current regulations so that all resulting waste from natural gas drilling meets the definition of hazardous waste under New York State law.
Co-Sponsored by our local Senators: Oppenheimer, Ball, Stewart-Cousins, Carlucci (Rockland)
 
S.3472 Oppenheimer -- Restoring Local Protections Over Natural Gas Development (Home Rule): This bill will clarify a local government’s right to enact and enforce zoning laws within their jurisdiction to protect them from the negative impacts of oil and gas development. The burden of oil and gas development is an unfunded mandate on upstate communities if they are not allowed to use the most basic land-use planning tools to protect unique local assets.
Co-Sponsored by local Senator: Klein

Please call your state senator to address these issues with these three bills before them. Our goal is to have as many people as possible to tell their legislators how important this is.  

If you would like to do more, please call these members of the Senate Rules Committee:

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos: (518) 455-3171Senator James Alesi: (518) 455-2015
Senator Hugh Farley: (518) 455-2181
Senator Kemp Hannon: (518) 455-2200
Senator William Larkin: (518) 455-2770
Senator Kenneth LaValle: (518) 455-3121
Senator Thomas Libous: (518) 455-2677
Senator Carl Marcellino: (518) 455-2390
Senator George Maziarz: (518) 455-2024
Senator Michael Nozzolio: (518) 455-2366
Senator Stephen Saland: (518) 455-2411
Senator James Seward: (518) 455-3131

Friday, June 10, 2011

Did you see The Colbert Report last night?


If you missed it, Stephen Colbert had on Tom Ridge, the former Homeland Security chief who is now getting paid as a lobbyist for the oil and gas industry to push their fracking plan in Pennsylvania.

Stephen called out Tom Ridge and the oil industry for deceiving people about fracking -- and for poisoning America's drinking water. It's really worth seeing.

Click here to watch the video and share it with your friends.
---

reposted from:
Gregg Ross, Political Campaign Manager
Democracy for America

Monday, June 6, 2011

Assembly Passes One Year Ban on Hydrofracking

The Assembly has passed a bill (A7400) that would protect New York’s drinking water by prohibiting the issuance of new permits for the controversial gas drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing for another year until June 1, 2012, while both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency study the safety of this drilling process.

Now the Senate must pass their version (S5592) so it can be sent on to the Governor for his signature.

• Call Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos at (518) 455-3171 and email Leader Skelos at skelos@nysenate.gov and tell him to bring the hydrofracking moratorium bill S5592 to the Senate floor for a vote and pass this bill.

• Call your own Senator find at www.nysenate.gov and email your Senator, and tell your Senator to urge Leader Skelos to bring the hydrofracking moratorium bill S5592 to the Senate floor for a vote and then vote yes to pass this bill.

After calling the Senate, please call:

• Governor Cuomo at 518-474-8390 or email Governor Cuomo at www.governor.ny.gov/contact/GovernorContactForm.php and tell the Governor that he needs to support the hydrofracking moratorium bill and sign it into law.

Please don’t forget to call Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at 518-455-3791 and your own Assembly Member (find at www.assembly.state.ny.us/mem/) and thank them for their leadership in passing the hydrofracking moratorium bill in the Assembly.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Cuomo Expands Hydrofracking Review



Submitted by Natalie Zises on Tue, 2011-05-31 15:56.
Concerned by a leak of chemical-laden fracking fluid in Pennsylvania on April 19thGov. Andrew Cuomo has decided he needs more reassurance before allowing the process of "hydrofracking" in New York.
Hydrofracking could unlock reserves of  natural gas, but poses significant environmental  risks.Hydrofracking could unlock reserves of natural gas, but poses significant environmental risks.An internal memo obtained by several news outlets directs the state Department of Environmental Conservation to review and learn any lessons from the Pennsylvania mishap, which caused a well to gush salty, chemically tainted water for two days. 
Hydrofracking is a controversial technique used to drill for natural gas, in which immense quantities of water are injected underground. Among the complications of hydrofracking are "leakoffs" -- where the water that is pumped is released into neighboring drinking water sources.
Leakoffs are of high concern to many citizens and environmental organizations because chemicals in fracturing fluid are known to cause cancer, and/or disrupt hormones that control development, reproduction, and behavior in both humans and animals.
The review Cuomo's administration is calling for, due July 1st, will include an on-site inspection by New York officials of the Pennsylvania site.
In related news, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced on May 31st his intent to sue the federal governmentif it fails to initiate a study of the effects that hydraulic fracturing could have in the Delaware River basin within 30 days. The river provides over 15 million people -- about 5 percent of U.S. population -- with drinking water in parts of Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Delaware.