Thursday, July 14, 2011

Are Guidelines updated in Case 10-E-0155 Being Ignored??

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NYS PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION’S NEW VEGETATION MANAGEMENT GUIDELINES PUT TO THE TEST

Are Guidelines updated in Case 10-E-0155 Being Ignored??

GREENBURGH, NEW YORK – The GEF LORAX Working Group applauds the New York Public Service Commission’s (PSC) re-examination of its 2005 policy and guidelines for vegetation management along high voltage transmission line Rights-of-Way (ROWs). This review, known as Case 10-E-0155, has resulted in updated guidelines, effective July 2011, for management plans of Con Edison, O&R and other transmission utilities statewide. More information about this can be found on the LORAX blog: http://loraxwg.blogspot.com/2011/05/published-order-for-case-10-e-0155.html.

An important element of the new guidelines is the use of what is termed a modified "tiered" vegetation management approach - which states that vegetation which could never grow into the wire protection zone should be left standing in the ROWs, rather than the utility simply undertaking unconstrained clear cutting, thus helping to maintain visual/noise buffers in many instances. The outcome of tiered management should be better vegetation management decisions based upon actual site conditions, not “one-size-fits-all.”

In addition, the new guidelines introduce the notion of “high density” ROWs such as those found throughout Westchester, Rockland and parts of Orange County. These suburban areas with dense populations of homeowners along the ROW will now be required to have special transmission vegetation management plans (TVMPs) defined specifically for them in order to reduce negative environmental and property value impacts.
However, it has come to LORAX’s attention that Con Edison is effectively ignoring these new guidelines. Numerous complaints from homeowners and property owners along the Catskill Aqueduct transmission corridor in Westchester County, previously impacted in 2009 by the clear cutting of all vegetation across the width of the ROW, have been received concerning Con Edison personnel stating that they intend to “complete the cycle” of vegetation management (without further landowner notification) as previously approved until completion of work sometime in 2012. The work outlined involves going back into the ROW and cutting down any re-sprouting trees, thence applying herbicides to the stumps and to other undesirable vegetation which may have emerged. The work will be done across the entire ROW (up to 130 feet on either side of the transmission line) regardless of terrain or vegetative buffer needs of residents. This work cycle will begin in Yonkers and travel up the ROW into northern Westchester. Work will commence in the Sprain Road area soon.

None of the new PSC guideline requirements are being addressed by Con Edison. A field supervisor stated during an on-site meeting with a resident that there was no need to define “high density” plans for this area. Furthermore, there was no intention of saving any re-spouting trees to help restore natural, native buffers to reduce noise and views of the nearby Sprain Parkway.

The GEF LORAX Working Group believes that it is imperative for the PCS to demonstrate a commitment to the new guidelines by having Department of Public Service (DPS) utility regulators work through the pertinent details of the new requirements with Con Edison, and thence ensure Con Edison implements said adjustments to it’s ongoing TVMP immediately, not sometime after 2012.

LORAX has just released an analysis of the 2011 PSC guidelines which outlines “missing” regulations, loopholes, and other areas of procedural concern which should be addressed immediately by the PSC or by the state legislature in order to ensure a better balance of environmental, health and property value concerns with that of provision of safe, reliable electric power. Several of these outlined issues are already being brought to the forefront by the current actions of Con Edison (described above). The LORAX analysis can be found at: http://loraxwg.blogspot.com/2011/06/gef-analysis-of-psc-case-10-e-0155.html.

  
If you are a resident, landowner or municipal official who is experiencing similar difficulties or have concerns with ongoing transmission line vegetation management, you can submit complaints to the PSC (via phone, fax, website, mail or email): http://www.dps.state.ny.us/complaints.html

For more information and background documentation, visit http://loraxwg.blogspot.com

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Friday, July 8, 2011

Revised Con Ed Schedule for Pruning for 7/11 (Irvington)

from the village:

Tree work is continuing through Monday 7/11 in the following areas:

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).

State To Release Full Hydrofracking Study Today

from EcoPolitics Daily:
Submitted by Colleen Elrod
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is scheduled to release its full review of hydraulic fracturing on Friday, July 8. 

The study will be posted to this DEC Web page at some point that day.
Environmental groups including NYLCV are anxiously awaiting the full documentation for the state's proposal to allow limited hydrofracking in New York. Last week, DEC announced the outline of the study's proposals and agreed to ban hydrofracking in the watersheds of New York City and Syracuse, which are unfiltered drinking-water systems.
Some environmental groups are also questioning the wisdom of banning hydrofracking in some parts of the state, but allowing it in other areas.
DEC will start accepting public comments on its review in August. 
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Friday, July 1, 2011

Cuomo Administration Makes Its Move On Fracking

from EcoPolitics Daily:


Submitted by Dan Hendrick on Thu, 2011-06-30 22:26.
After many months of study and contentious debate, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation will release its review of hydrofracking on Friday morning, July 1st.
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens will release the  fracking study on Friday at 11  a.m.DEC Commissioner Joe Martens will release the fracking study on Friday at 11 a.m.According to a brief summary produced by DEC, the Cuomo administration will recommend that hydrofracking be allowed in New York. However, the practice would be prohibited in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds and on state-owned land including forest areas and parks. 
The goal, according to the summary, is to "protect the state’s environmentally sensitive areas while realizing the economic development and energy benefits of the state’s natural gas resources."  Some 85 percent of the state's Marcellus Shale area would be open to drilling if the recommendations are adopted. 
DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens said the report "strikes the right balance between protecting our environment, watersheds, and drinking water and promoting economic development.” 
NYLCV President Marcia Bystryn said that while more details will be learned once the full 900 page study is released Friday, some facts are already clear. "The Department of Environmental Conservation's review is a marked improvement over the previous proposal, which would have allowed hydrofracking in New York City's watershed and risked contaminating the drinking water system that supplies nine million people. DEC has also dropped plans to allow hydrofracking on state-owned lands like parks," she said.

But as with all studies of this complexity - the devil is in the details. NYLCV will be watching closely to make sure that if hydrofracking is allowed in New York, our state has the most rigorous regulatory protocols and enforcement in place to make sure our drinking water and environment are protected. 
Commissioner Martens will release the full report at 11 a.m. Friday.
For some preliminary coverage, check out the Times Union and the New York Times.