NY's Fracking Ban Was Supposed To Set A Precedent -- But Gov. Cuomo Is Going Back On His Word

Anti-fracking protesters gather outside of the auditorium before New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gives his fourth State of the State address on January 8, 2014, in Albany, New York. (Photo: Spencer Platt / Getty Images)

By Ellen Cantarow and Dennis Higgins for Truthout – New York banned high-volume hydraulic fracturing (fracking) two years ago, in a victory for persistent anti-fracking activists and a potential precedent for other states. Now, however, the state is poised to begin operating a power plant that will make fracking infrastructure fully operational throughout the state, completely undermining the ban. The $900 million power plant planned by Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) in Orange County, New York, requires permits for only two short pipelines before it may begin operating. CPV will be among the largest of New York’s nearly 500 gas- and oil-fired power plants. Like more than half of currently proposed electricity generation in the state, this power plant will burn fracked gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale. Opponents charge that the plant is not needed and serves only to further push a warming world to the tipping point of climate-change catastrophe. On October 8, 2015, speaking with former Vice President Al Gore, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent in the next 13 years, but climate scientists and engineers tell us CPV will emit 7 million tons of carbon-dioxide-equivalent pollution annually and add a full 10 percent from power generation to the state’s current greenhouse gas inventory.

New York Could Launch An Urban Agriculture Plan, Zoning Overhaul

The Battery Urban Farm educational project in Manhattan.
By HildaWeges PhotographyShutterstock

By James Brasuell for Planetizen – New York’s ability to feed itself with locally grown urban agriculture is only being partially realized. Better planning, specific to urban agriculture, would help. “New York City has the largest urban agriculture system in the country, including community and rooftop gardens and greenhouses, as well as ‘vertical farms,’” according to an article by Thomas MacMillan. “But a recent report by the Brooklyn Law School finds new growers are sometimes stymied by confusion over where they fit into city regulations.” An ordinance under consideration by the New York City Council would address that confusion, however, with solid planning: “The measure, introduced Thursday by Councilman Rafael Espinal and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and assigned to the Land Use Committee, calls for a comprehensive urban agriculture plan with updated zoning and building codes and possibly an office of urban agriculture.”

11 States Sue EPA Over Chemical Accident Safety Rule

One of five banners entitled The Worker in the New World Order, painted for the founding convention of ICEM (International Confederation of Chemical, Energy, Mine & General Workers’ Unions–now merged into INDUSTRIALL). Dedicated to then-imprisoned Nigerian oil workers. Copyright © 1995.  Mike Alewitz

By Staff of Attorney General of NY – NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, leading a coalition of 11 state Attorneys General, today filed a lawsuit against the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for illegally delaying a vital rule meant to protect communities, workers, and first responders from dangerous chemical accidents. The rule – the Accidental Release Prevention Requirements or the “Chemical Accident Safety Rule” – makes critical improvements to Congressionally-mandated protections against explosions, fires, poisonous gas releases, and other accidents at more than 12,000 facilities across the country—including over 200 in New York—that store and use toxic chemicals. The lawsuit is led by Attorney General Schneiderman and signed by the Attorneys General of New York, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington. Click here to read the lawsuit. “Protecting our workers, first-responders, and communities from chemical accidents should be something on which we all agree. Yet the Trump EPA continues to put special interests before the health and safety of the people they serve,” said Attorney General Schneiderman.

An Undocumented Teen Gains Asylum With The Help Of His Undocumented Lawyer

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Attorney Cesar Vargas, right, the first openly undocumented attorney in New York, with his client Ivan Ruiz in Manhattan.

By Rebecca Klein for The Huffington Post – NEW YORK ― When attorney Cesar Vargas first met his teenage client Ivan Ruiz, a newly arrived undocumented immigrant from Honduras, he noticed Ruiz seemed to wear the weight of his traumatic childhood on his sleeve. Ruiz, 15 at the time, rarely spoke, returning questions about his life in Honduras with long stares and heavy nods. It was only over the course of a year that Vargas would learn the extent of abuse Ruiz suffered while living with extended family members after his parents immigrated to the United States for a better life. Ruiz was barely fed, forced to work long hours and beaten ― even whipped with tire rubber ― as punishment. The abuse became too much to bear. After trekking through Mexico, Guatemala and El Salvador, Ruiz crossed the border into the United States in spring 2016. His journey wasn’t over, though, and a year ago he was ordered to appear in immigration court. With Vargas’ help, Ruiz recently won a life-changing victory: He was granted asylum. He now spends his days in summer school, soaking up new English words and the novelty of life with only low-stakes, teenage worries. He recently took two girls to the prom and is delicately balancing the affections of another.

New York Voters And Local Farmers Disrupt Cricket Valley Power Plant’s Breaking-Ground Ceremony

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By Kim Fraczek and Lee Stewart for Sane Energy Project and Beyond Extreme Energy – Dover, NY – The controversial Cricket Valley Gas-Fired Power Plant’s golden-shovel ceremony was disrupted today by a large, golden bell rung by NY voters and local farmers expressing an alarm-bell for regional waters and soil, nearby school children that will breath toxic emissions, decline in quality, local jobs and economy, and a gigantic methane producer at the height of a global climate crisis. Cricket Valley, an 1,100MW power plant not only locks New York into a future of dirty fuels via the plant’s connection to the Dominion Pipeline expansion, but also slates the connected Iroquois Pipeline for flow reversal expansion to export the gas to foreign markets via Canada putting the health and safety risk on the local community for private profit. Although Governor Cuomo has made bold statements about being a climate leader, he sets policy to a different tune. He recently issued a Methane Reduction Plan shortly following his 2017 State of the State address where he said “New York must double down by investing in the fight against dirty fossil fuels and fracked gas from neighboring states.”

Staten Island Climate March Links Economics And Environmental Issues

Marching down the FDR Boardwalk (Photo: Thomas Altfather Good / Union Writer)

By Thomas Altfather Good for National Writers Union – STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — April 29, 2017. On a unseasonably warm Saturday hundreds of Islanders assembled in Staten Island’s Midland Beach, a coastal community ravaged by Hurricane Sandy, to demand Climate Justice from the Trump Administration — linking economic and environmental issues. Workers from several local unions – including CWA Local 1102 and IBEW Local 3 – peace and environmental activists, and members of immigrant rights organizations gathered on Staten Island’s Franklin Delano Roosevelt boardwalk on Saturday. The protesters rallied and marched to demand climate justice from a president who appears to spend more time lounging in Mar-a-Lago and holding victory rallies than addressing pressing issues in a meaningful way. Organized by two local advocacy organizations, Sustainable Staten Island and Move Forward Staten Island, with a broad coalition of labor unions, immigration rights groups, environmental justice, social justice and other community organizations from throughout New York City, the event was timed to coinicide with climate marches held in other cities.

NY Governor’s ‘Free’ Tuition Plan Will Make Student Loan Crisis Even Worse

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By Alan Collinge for The Hill – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a plan last week to provide for free tuition for people taking undergraduate courses at both the state universities (SUNY) and city universities (CUNY) in New York. He unveiled the proposal alongside Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who hailed it as “revolutionary.” Unfortunately, the plan isn’t revolutionary. In fact, it isn’t even good. The plan, dubbed the “Exelsior Scholarship” is similar to schemes proposed by both Sanders and Hillary Clinton. It creates a new pot of money for the colleges to draw from, and apply it to tuition charges. This in itself, would be a good thing for students if all else were equal, but the fact of the matter is that colleges are very good at using public funds such as this without passing the benefit on to students. They can, and certainly will, raise the prices of their other billable items to make up for any decrease in tuition charges.

Another One Bites The Dust: Northern Access Pipeline Defeated In NY

High-carbon industries have no future (credit: Pixabay)

By Skyler Simmons for Earth First! News Wire – Communities in upstate New York are celebrating the recent announcement from the Department of Environmental Conservation that the Northern Access Pipeline will not receive the necessary permits for construction. The $500 million pipeline, proposed by National Fuel Gas, would have brought fracked gas from Pennsylvania to upstate NY. An announcement from the DEC on April 7 stated, “After an in-depth review of the proposed Northern Access Pipeline project and following three public hearings and the consideration of over 5,700 comments, DEC has denied the permit due to the project’s failure to avoid adverse impacts to wetlands, streams and fish and other wildlife habitat.

With Nighttime Raids, Police Wage War On Black And Brown Families In New York

From the Bronx to Harlem to Brooklyn, hundreds of people -- mostly young, poor men of color -- have been rounded up by heavily armed cops and thrown into jails and prisons, leaving their families and communities damaged, divided and even more impoverished. (Photo: Vhmh)

By Ashoka Jegroo for Truthout – This story is the fourth in a new Truthout series, Severed Ties: The Human Toll of Prisons. This series will dive deeply into the impact of incarceration on families, loved ones and communities, demonstrating how the United States’ incarceration of more than 2 million people also harms many millions more — including 2.7 million children. Paula Clarke and her family found themselves crawling half-naked on the floor of her Bronx home at 4:51 am on April 27, 2016, after multiple heavily armed men broke through her front door and demanded that she tell them where her son was. Helicopters could be heard hovering right about her home.

As Permit Deadline Looms, New Yorkers Urge Cuomo To Block Northern Access Export Pipeline

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By Diana Strawblow, Joseph Gibson, and Lia Oprea for Sierra Club – LAlbany, NY — With less than two weeks left before the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) must grant or deny critical permits for National Fuel’s proposed Northern Access Pipeline, New Yorkers and allies from neighboring states gathered in the state capital to protest the controversial project. Landowners facing eminent domain, conservationists and concerned residents marched from DEC headquarters to the capitol building, where they spoke of the threat the pipeline would pose to their health, safety, air, water and livelihoods. The group also delivered copies of a letter signed by more than 140 organizations, businesses and faith communities calling on the DEC and Governor Andrew Cuomo to deny air and water permits for the 99-mile pipeline.

New Yorker's Multi-Billion Dollar Corporate Welfare For Three Nuclear Reactors

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By Jon Campbell for Democrat and Chronicle – ALBANY – A state-approved bailout of three upstate nuclear power plants was the focus of a legislative hearing Monday, but New York’s top energy officials declined to attend. The state Assembly held a hearing Monday on the state’s “zero-emissions credit” plan, which kicks in on April 1 and will require ratepayers across the state to pay several billion dollars over 12 years to keep open the three aging plants, including the R.E. Ginna Nuclear Power Plant near Rochester. The hearing, however, was absent the key decision-makers in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration who were behind the initiative.

New York Protesters Camp Out At Goldman Sachs To Oppose Trump

Demonstrators chant while in their sleeping bags outside of Goldman Sach's Lower Manhattan headquarters during a protest against the Wall Street bank's ties to the incoming administration of U.S. President-Elect Donald Trump in New York, U.S., January 17,2017. REUTERS/Bria Webb

By Staff of Reuters – Dozens of protesters gathered outside of Goldman Sachs Group Inc headquarters on Tuesday to rally against President-elect Donald Trump’s picking several former executives of the Wall Street bank for top jobs in his administration. Some of the 50 or so protesters wore swamp-monster masks in reference to Trump’s pledge to “drain the swamp” that he said Washington has become and get rid of special interests. About 20 of them brought sleeping bags, intending to camp outside 200 West Street until Trump’s inauguration on Friday. Goldman Sachs security guards sent employees and guests to entrances on the north side of the building on the rainy evening as protesters unrolled green sleeping bags on the southwest corner.

Pipeline Protesters Have Message For Cuomo

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By Mia Summerson for Niagara Gazette – AMHERST — Locals who have been vocally opposed to the construction of a natural gas pipeline and related structures in Niagara Country attempted to get their message to Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his State of the State address on Monday. Despite frigid temperatures, protestors stood outside the University at Buffalo’s Center for the Arts to request that the governor take action by denying the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s water permit for the project. The Northern Access Pipeline, proposed by National Fuel, includes constructing a pipeline between Wheatfield and Pendleton…

Momentive Workers Fight Trump’s Billionaire Appointee Schwarzman

By Carol Simpsons

By Philip Guelpa for WSWS – With the strike of 700 workers against Momentive Performance Materials in Waterford, New York, north of Albany, entering its third month and the plant manned with scab labor, it is clear the company is determined to break the workers’ resistance to sweeping concessions. At the same time, the International Union of Electrical Workers/Communications Workers of America (IUE/CWA), Locals 81359 and 81380, have collaborated in the slow strangulation of the strike. The company is seeking major cuts in health care, pensions and other benefits.

‘Massive Fleet’ Of Buses Now Taking New Yorkers To Women’s March

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By Catherine Pearson for The Huffington Post – The Women’s March on Washington is happening. It has permits. It has a starting location. More than 150,000 people have indicated on Facebook that they will be there ― a number that grows by the day. Now march organizers are helping attendees get from New York City to Washington D.C., running what the New York City chapter of the Women’s March described in a statement as a “massive fleet of buses.” The buses will pick up marchers in 56 neighborhoods, traveling 70 distinct routes, and return to the city the same day. Tickets cost $62 (plus tax) round-trip. “It is our highest priority to ensure that this march is accessible for people from every demographic in New York.