Wednesday, April 22, 2009

News That Matters - April, 22, 2009 - The Earth Day Edition

News That Matters
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Today is Earth Day - Do something nice for our home.

View of Fishkill Ridge from Mt. Taurus by Jeff Green

View of Fishkill Ridge from Mt. Taurus by Jeff Green

See last Friday's Things To Do edition of News That Matters for events taking place.

Good Wednesday Morning,

Denis Castelli reported yesterday that Eleanor Fitchen has died at the age of 96. He wrote,
"Eleanor and her husband Paul, who died in 1990, were benevolent forces in our community for several decades.  They reportedly spearheaded the effort to preserve Putnam County's Historic Courthouse in Carmel.  They co-founded Southeast Open Spaces [SOS] that later became the Putnam County Land Trust, the Southeast Museum, the Landmarks Preservation Committee of the Museum that later incorporated as the Landmarks Preservation Society of Southeast and later, the Concerned Residents of Southeast."
The lights went out in Carmel yesterday afternoon. NYSEG reported that the vast majority of the town was without power for several hours from late afternoon until early evening. Does anyone know why?

The NYJN reports this morning that County Executive Bob Bondi has vetoed a unanimous Legislative vote to expend $2 million in watershed funds (no cost to county taxpayers) to continue the septic replacement program for homes within 100' of a watercourse or water body in the Croton basin. CE Bondi says that giving some people money and not others is inherently unfair. But the point of the program is to assist in keeping the watershed - our drinking and playing water - clean and thus it does affect each and every resident who lives in the basin. I am sure the Legislature will override the veto and continue this excellent - and much needed program. Apparently the CE has no problem with spending watershed funds to make golfers happy. It's just our lake communities he seems to have a problem with.

I received a call on Monday night from a company called Pacific Press Research that I cannot find anywhere on the 'net. PCR was running a poll on same-sex marriage and asked about Senator Leibell. If the Senator commissioned this poll, please stand up since it's always nice to know who wants my opinion. If he did not... what's going on? And, for the record, I'm on the Do Not Call list which, over the past six months has been next to worthless... but that's another article for another day. Am I the only one constantly getting calls from those auto warranty and reduce-your-credit-card-rate people?

Philipstown For Democracy is holding an informational meeting on health care tomorrow night (Thursday) at the Desmond Fish library in Garrison beginning at 7PM. The speaker will be Dr. Philip Barland, M.D. who will help investigate the possibilities of a national health care system. You know, like the rest of the developed world has. Call 917-273-0808 if you need more information.
In order to celebrate Earth Day the US Fish and Wildlife Service has posted a list of ten things you can do. The top three are, 1) Visit a National Wildlife Refuge. 2) Buy a Duck Stamp. 3) Go hunting. Go figure.

16,500 condoms were recently delivered to a research base on Antarctica. The McMurdo Station, which usually has around 1000 scientists and staff during the summer, drops to about 125 scientists over the winter (which is starting now down there) and the problem has been that when it's night-time 24/7 and colder than the dark side of the moon you get bored and lonely. For those of us who thought scientists were boring geeks for whom sex is best achieved via 3D computer simulation in between Star Trek conventions, you'll be happy to know they're human. See for more information on life down there.
According to the Yonkers Tribune, a downstate rag that has a love affair with Assemblyman Greg Ball, the Assemblyman received an email claiming that the Pepsi Bottling Group, based in Somers, was thinking of leaving NYS due to the new "bottling tax" that, according to the redacted email would cost them millions. Ball says in the report,
“The poisonous 2009 budget has tipped the decision for Pepsi to move its headquarters, with 1,100 jobs in the 99th Assembly District alone, out of  New York,” Ball added. “I’m demanding that the Governor come to Somers and literally beg to keep them there. We have to do whatever it takes.”
In the email the writer says, "thinking about" moving yet the Assemblyman says, " tipped the decision... [to move] out of New York," which is something different. But I'm wondering if the sender of the email, whose name was blacked out, was confusing the Bigger Better Bottle Bill with something else. The new BBBB reduces the amount of money bottlers can claim from unclaimed funds (which are your dollars, by the way). The old bill allowed them to keep every nickel while the new one allows them to keep a few cents of each unclaimed coin with the rest going into the state's General Fund with a promise to spend what's collected on environmental projects. In other words, Pepsi and other bottlers have been gleaning millions of dollars of your nickels for years and that gravy-train has come to a crashing halt - as it should have years ago.

The Albany Times-Union reported something a little different:

However, Ted Potrikus, director of government relations for the Retail Council of New York State, said staff from the governor's office and both houses of the Legislature have been receptive to hearing his trade group's concerns.

"We know we have gotten, at least, a fair hearing and an opportunity to make our points," he said.

Call on the Assemblyman to release an un-redacted version of the email so we can get the full story.

And now, the News:
  1. Teens' water bottle sale aids charity
  2. State Park System Gives Back Five Times State Investment
  3. Michelle Obama's Fresh Food Revolution
  4. Tons of Released Drugs Taint US Water
  5. Venice mayor launches dirty war against other Italian cities
  6. MoJo Forum: Is Recycling a Waste?
  7. $2 Billion Wind Turbine Order Is Largest Ever
  8. The Queen Buys The World’s Largest Wind Turbine: 7.5 Megawatts

Teens' water bottle sale aids charity

Dana Paschetti
For The Journal News

CARMEL - Mahopac High School freshman Daniel Ehrenpreis has traded in his plastic water bottle for a sleek alternative.

And he's not alone. Some 400 Mahopac students were convinced to bag the plastic water bottles that clog the school's recycling bins and are bad for the environment in favor of 26-ounce stainless steel water bottles.

Doing the convincing were the school's Create the Change and Biology clubs, which together launched a project selling the $10 bottles to raise money for charity:water, a nonprofit organization that brings clean drinking water to Third World countries, while raising the awareness of their fellow teens. "We are hoping to save the world one bottle at a time," Ehrenpreis said in a statement.

Read More

State Park System Gives Back Five Times State Investment

New study reveals annual economic impact close to $2 billion, plus 20,000 jobs

A new economic analysis released by Parks & Trails New York shows that the New York State Park System is a valuable economic asset to the Empire State. It supports up to $1.94 billion in output and sales for private businesses, plus 20,000 jobs.

The analysis also demonstrates that the economic benefits exceed the direct costs of operating and maintaining the State Park System many times over. The benefit-to-cost ratio is more than five to one-more than $5 in benefits for every $1 in costs.

"New York's State Park System produces substantial revenue for New York's businesses and jobs for New Yorkers. The Governor and Legislature should reinvest in our state parks to put money in New Yorkers' pockets today and for the state's economic future," says Robin Dropkin, Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York, in the press release on the report.

Read More

Michelle Obama's Fresh Food Revolution

By Mark Hertsgaard

When Michelle Obama began planting an organic garden on the South Lawn of the White House recently, there was no doubt she was sending a message, but the message was more subversive and far-reaching than most American media coverage recognized. On March 20, joined by a class of local fifth graders, the first lady lifted the first shovels of dirt onto a 1,100-square-foot plot that will feature fifty-five kinds of vegetables, including spinach, peppers, arugula, kale, collards and tomatoes (but no beets--the president reportedly does not like beets). Various herbs and berries will also be grown in the garden, which is fully visible to the thousands of tourists and other pedestrians that pass by the White House daily. (There will also be two boxes of bees for pollination.)

Michelle Obama's stated message was simple and was clearly aimed at her fellow Americans: fresh food tastes better and is better for you, so kids and grown-ups alike should eat lots more of it. "A real, delicious heirloom tomato is one of the sweetest things you'll ever eat," she told the 10-year-olds, adding that freshly picked vegetables were what prompted her daughters to try new kinds of foods.

Read More

Tons of Released Drugs Taint US Water

Monday 20 April 2009

by: Jeff Donn, Martha Mendoza and Justin Pritchard  |  Visit article original @ The Associated Press

U.S. manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have legally released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water - contamination the federal government has consistently overlooked, according to an Associated Press investigation.

Hundreds of active pharmaceutical ingredients are used in a variety of manufacturing, including drugmaking: For example, lithium is used to make ceramics and treat bipolar disorder; nitroglycerin is a heart drug and also used in explosives; copper shows up in everything from pipes to contraceptives.

Read More

Venice mayor launches dirty war against other Italian cities

Tom Kington in Rome The Guardian, Monday 20 April 2009
It started, as many things do, in a fit of pique. Venice's mayor was furious at the steady drip of rancour over the state of his city. According to detractors, the jewel of the Adriatic had become the shame of Italy, with its litter, illegal street vendors and ubiquitous dog turds.

But not content with trying to clean up his own city, Massimo Cacciari had a better idea: he mounted an undercover mission to document and publicise the filth of other Italian cities, to show that Venice was no different from its peers.

Cacciari said he would be posting on the Venice city website photos he took during an Easter visit to Rome's Piazza Navona and Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore church.

Read More

MoJo Forum: Is Recycling a Waste?

Join a MoJo writer, a recycling pro, a consumption critic, and a historian of garbage for some serious trash talk.
The modern recycling movement got its start alongside the first Earth Day, nearly 40 years ago. In the months surrounding April 22, 1970, around 3,000 voluntary recycling programs sprung up around the country, started mostly by counterculture types looking for a practical, virtuous way to minimize their environmental impact. Since then, recycling's gone mainstream: Americans now recycle and compost a third of their trash, up from just 6 percent in 1970. Yet even as we load up our recycling bins, we're generating more waste than ever before. In just 5 minutes, we use another 1,060,000 aluminum cans, 2 million plastic bottles, and 15 million sheets of paper. We're still drowning in plastic, New York recycles only a fifth of its garbage, and trash haulers still find landfill more profitable than recycling. Then consider that municipal solid waste—that's the stuff that fills our home garbage cans and office paper bins—is just 2.5 percent of our total "Gross National Trash" output. While we've been agonizing over whether our plastic yogurt lids can be recycled, have we been missing the big picture? Is recycling giving us a false sense that we're solving our waste problem?

We put that question to four experts: Elizabeth Royte, Eric Lombardi, Annie Leonard, and Susan Strasser. Check out their answers below. Then post your comments or questions for them. For the rest of this week, they'll be checking in to respond to readers, discuss and debate the future of recycling and waste, and perhaps even solve the mystery of the yogurt lid. 

Read More

$2 Billion Wind Turbine Order Is Largest Ever

Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens has placed an the largest ever order for wind turbines: he ordered 667 wind turbines from GE, each costing $3 million dollars, making the total order $2 billion. Pickens plans to develop the world’s largest wind farm in the panhandle of Texas.

The $2 billion order is just one quarter of the total amount he plans to purchase. Once built, the wind farm would have the capacity to supply power to over 1,200,000 homes in North Texas. Each turbine will produce 1.5 megawatts of electricity. The first phase of the project will produce 1,000 megawatts, enough energy to power 300,000 homes. GE will begin delivering the turbines in 2010, and current plans call for the project to start producing power in 2011.Ultimately, Picken’s company, Mesa Power, plans to have enough turbines to produce 4,000 megawatts of energy, the overall project is expected to cost $10 billion and be completed in 2014.

Read More

The Queen Buys The World’s Largest Wind Turbine: 7.5 Megawatts

The Queen is investing in the world’s largest wind turbine. It’s a prototype of a new line of wind turbines called “The Britannia” which will be produced by Clipper Windpower, based in California. The turbine tower stands about 328 feet, has a diameter of 492 feet, and can generate 7.5 megawatts. Currently, the largest installed wind turbine is the massive Enercon E-126, which is rated at 7 megawatts (see of our previous post here).

The sale was made to the British Crown Estate, which owns most of the seabed off Britain’s shores, regularly leases out its land to wind farm projects but has never invested in the turbines. The prototype turbine is part of Britain’s ambitious goal of generating 33 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2020.

Read More

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