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Climate News and Events from LICSN 1/8/07

Happy New Year. Please keep in mind the following upcoming events.

The news summaries below are 20+ pages – so don’t hit the print button too fast.


Climate News and Events :


1. Love Song for Susan Blake: A Life Celebration, 2:00pm, Sunday, January 20th

2. Focus the Nation – January 30th and January 31st.


3. Winergy Power proposes wind farm off Jones Beach – Newsday

4. CT officials question need for Broadwater – Newsday

5. Exxon Mobil plan may harm Broadwater’s chances

6. DEC rips Broadwater – Newsday

7. LI Locales try on shades of ‘green’ – Newsday

8. Supv. [Bellone] sets energy efficiency example – Newsday

9. The One Environmental Issue – NY Times

10. Riverhead OKs mountain of a deal – Newsday

11. Energy bill is a fraud; drivers, prepare to pay – Newsday (attached)

12. Sierra Club Cool Cities update – Sierra Club (attached) (additional articles at: http://www.atlantic.sierraclub.org/Sierra%20Atlantic/SierraAtlantic-2007-Winter.pdf )

13. Panels Start Solar Power ‘Revolution’ – Guardian

14. Stop The Dinosaurs, Let The Sun Shine In – Rachel’s #940. (Note their reference to East Coast Wind power!)

15. Climate Crisis Coalition News Summaries – Pres. Candidates, New Jersey , Germany Begins Ban on Polluting Cars in City Centers , etc.

Love Song for Susan Blake: A Life Celebration

2:00pm, Sunday, January 20th

With music, song and poetry the late Susan June Blake of Amityville, peace and justice activist, will be remembered at 2:00pm, Sunday, January 20th. There will be a reception from 2pm to 3pm followed by the program from 3pm until 6pm.

Directions to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock:

The event, “Love Song for Susan Blake: A Life Celebration” is being held at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock, 48 Shelter Rock Road in Manhasset. The event is hosted by PeaceSmiths and by Susan’s family. More information can be found at www.peacesmiths.org or by calling the PeaceSmiths hotline at (631) 798-0778. Please contact Kimberly or Ian Wilder if you would like to help with decoration, food preparation, or logistics. The Wilders can be reached at (631) 422-4702 or e-mail peacesmiths@yahoo.com.

Susan June Blake died on October 2, 2007. For three decades, she was a community organizer who led vigils protesting the Vietnam and Iraq Wars, inhumane treatment at the Nassau County jail, and the onetime proposed Shoreham nuclear power plant. Susan was also a member of the LI Climate Solutions Network.

Susan was involved with singing groups, working in the theater, and creating meaningful and political artistic events. As Coordinator of PeaceSmiths, Susan created the idea for the PeaceSmiths’ Monthly, Topical, A-Typical, Folk Music, Poetry and Whatever Coffeehouse which has been happening since 1972! The church, the coffeehouse and Susan Blake are all immortalized in the song ” Last Church on the Left,” which will be performed by singer/songwriter Sonny Meadows at the life celebration.

There will be reflections about Susan’s life by many of her family and friends, including many local poets, musicians and activists. Pat Falk, a poet and professor from Amityville, will perform at the event. Max Wheat, Poet Laureate of Nassau County, will read a poem written in honor of Susan Blake and PeaceSmiths.

Susan is fondly remembered for setting up a game for festival goers each year at the Clearwater Hudson River Revival to teach people about the dangers of recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone, rBGH or rBST in milk. So, at the life celebration event, participants will be invited to play “The Cow Game.” The game, the program notes, and the reception will feature work from the cadre of artists who collaborated with Susan and who are an important part of the ongoing work of PeaceSmiths.

Four C.W. Post Focus the Nation Events:

1. Wed. January 30, 2008. 9:00 pm. – Jonny D. Lives. (www.Rocknrenew.com ) Location: Humanities Building , Lecture Hall Room 119. C.W. Post Campus, LIU, Brookville. The unique and spirited work of Jonny Dubowsky has been described as “Iggy Pop meets Al Gore.” Lead singer of the rock band Jonny Lives, this presenter/musician believes that small personal actions can have a large social impact. Appearing on “Conan O’Brien” and popular on college campuses, Jonny D is an inspiring and passionate activist who promises to engage students and others with ideas, challenges and solutions about environmental sustainability. A special acoustic performance is also included.

2. Thurs. January 31, 2008. 12:30 pmAddressing an Uncertain and Warming Future, a Faculty Panel. Location: Top of the Commons, Hillwood Commons. C.W. Post Campus, LIU, Brookville. What are the possibilities for abrupt and dangerous climate changes? What should society do about global warming? How serious is this issue from a scientific perspective? How do contemporary philosophers struggle with the moral implications of this issue? What are the economic costs? These and related questions are examined by distinguished C.W. Post professors Tavis Barr (Economics), Glenn Magee (Philosophy) and Vic DiVenere (Earth & Environmental Science) in a panel discussion moderated by Prof. Mark Pires (Earth & Environmental Science).

3. Thursday January 31, 2008. 3:00 pm – Photographer Sasha Bezzubov. Location: Hillwood Cinema, Hillwood Commons . C.W. Post Campus, LIU, Brookville. Brooklyn-based artist, acclaimed photographer and art critic Sasha Bezzubov presents moving photographs and commentary capturing the destruction caused by natural disasters in the United States , India , Indonesia and Thailand in a program depicting “the fragility of the man-made as it is transformed into dreamscapes of apocalyptic proportions.” A recipient of two Fulbright scholarship awards, he has had photographs featured in The New York Times, Esquire Magazine, Newsweek and The Village Voice. Mr. Bezzubov’s work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and he is represented by galleries in London , Los Angeles and New York City . (see: www.sashabezzubov.com ).

4. Thursday January 31, 2008. 6:30 pm “Perspectives on Re-Powering Long Island” Location: Hillwood Cinema, Hillwood Commons . C.W. Post Campus, LIU, Brookville. Long Island generates electricity using old, inefficient and polluting power plants. Re-powering would allow the region to significantly improve the environmental and economic efficiencies of its plants, but there are substantial costs involved. An analysis of this topic is led and moderated by Dr. Matthew Cordaro , Associate Professor in C.W. Post’s College of Management , Director of the Center for Management Analysis and highly regarded utility expert. Joining him are distinguished representatives from the political and governmental agency sectors: Kevin Law, LIPA President and CEO, who was formerly the Chief Deputy County Executive and General Counsel for the Suffolk County Executive; and Babylon Town Supervisor Steve Bellone, who has spearheaded a number of energy initiatives and has been cited by Newsday as a leader of the Coalition to Re-power Long Island. Co-sponsored with the C.W. Post Center for Management Analysis.



Winergy Power proposes wind farm off Jones Beach



January 8, 2008

Months after the Long Island Power Authority gave the thumbs down to a controversial 40-turbine wind farm off Jones Beach , a Hauppauge company has begun submitting applications for a project near the beach that will be four times larger and farther out at sea.

The company, Winergy Power, could avoid much of the controversy engendered by the LIPA project by locating its 167 turbines 15 to 18 miles offshore, where it says visibility of the giant structures will be limited. The rejected LIPA wind farm would have put turbines 3 1/2 to 5 miles from the coast.

Winergy plans to address a more fundamental criticism by funding the project entirely through outside investment firms and by skirting connection to the LIPA grid.

Winergy president Dennis Quaranta said the company will instead seek to connect the 600-megawatt wind farm to a Con Edison substation in New York City . In November, Winergy applied to the New York Independent System Operator for the connection.

Winergy has been an increasingly visible presence at local wind-energy forums and hearings in the years since the LIPA project was introduced. More recently, Winergy filed federal applications to erect three test wind-turbines off the coast of Plum Island , and plans to be operating them by 2009. Some environmental groups have expressed concerns about that project’s potential impacts on nesting birds.

The Plum Island plan would allow Winergy to test its so-called mobile self-installing platform technology, which it says allows for placement at deeper ocean depths with less impact on the environment.

One organization that strongly opposed the LIPA project said it was “guarded” about Winergy’s new plans. “We will look at it very, very closely,” said Walter Arnold, director of Save Jones Beach , a local watchdog group.

Added Richard Schary, a North Bellmore environmental activist, “The fact that they’re going to impact Jones Beach to benefit New York City is a slap in our face after what we just went through” with LIPA.

Babylon Supervisor Steve Bellone, another LIPA wind-farm critic, said the Winergy plan “at first blush seems like it could have some advantages” over LIPA’s because of private funding and the distant location of the turbines.

Quaranta said the company expects to begin installing the turbines in 2012. It would build them in three phases – 55 in 2012, 55 more in 2013 and the final 57 in 2014.

Quaranta said JPMorgan Partners, once Winergy’s major funding source, has been replaced by a group of three investment firms: MSD Capital, D.E. Shaw & Co., and Osprey Partners. Representatives at the companies declined comment or couldn’t be reached, but a source close to one of them confirmed the investments in Winergy.

LIPA chief executive Kevin Law said he hadn’t been approached about the project, but added, “I would like to support a wind project somewhere on or off Long Island,” but only one that “makes economic sense for our ratepayers.”

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.



Conn. official questions need for Broadwater gas



January 8, 2008

Connecticut ‘s attorney general has punctuated his opposition to Broadwater Energy’s liquefied natural gas project with a supplemental filing yesterday that calls the project “redundant.”

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said the project proposed for Long Island Sound is unnecessary because of a more than $1-billion liquefied natural gas terminal that Exxon Mobil hopes to build off the coast of New Jersey . It proposed the project just last month.

That plan would provide 20 percent more gas and cause less environmental damage than the Broadwater terminal, Blumenthal said in a filing with the New York General Services Division of Land Utilization that urged New York regulators to reject the project, Bloomberg News reported.

The Exxon Mobil proposal is “a clear direct alternative … which is obviously far less dangerous and destructive to the environment than Broadwater, while offering the same or better energy benefits,” Blumenthal wrote.

The proposed Broadwater project would consist of a floating facility to be located midway between Suffolk County and Connecticut that would process liquefied natural gas delivered by foreign ships.

Yesterday’s filing, which supplements comments the attorney general made in April, delighted Adrienne Esposito , executive director of the virulently anti-Broadwater group Citizens Campaign for the Environment, which is based in Farmingdale.

“So, clearly, the state of Connecticut ‘s position is parallel to that of the New York public, that an ocean alternative is strongly preferred and less damaging,” Esposito said. “This battle has never been in opposition to liquid natural gas, but rather to protect the Long Island Sound.”

A Broadwater official said that talk about the Exxon Mobil project misses the point.

“The Broadwater proposal was carefully designed to serve New York City, Long Island and Connecticut’s energy needs in the safest, most efficient, reliable and environmentally responsible manner possible,” said John Hritcko, senior vice president and regional project director of Broadwater Energy in Houston, adding, “Projects nearer to the New Jersey coast tend to serve New Jersey, not New York City, Long Island and [Connecticut], as Broadwater will do.”

New York ‘s Department of State and the Department of Environmental Conservation will decide this year whether the liquefied natural gas terminal is an acceptable use of New York State ‘s coastal waters.



Exxon Mobil plan may harm Broadwater’s chances



December 13, 2007

Will Exxon Mobil sink Broadwater?

Opponents of the liquefied natural gas terminal proposed for the middle of Long Island Sound say Exxon’s proposal for a similar plant will hurt Broadwater Energy’s chances of getting federal and state approvals.

Exxon’s proposed site, 20 miles off the New Jersey coast, is less environmentally objectionable, opponents say.

Consultant Richard Levitan, who has advised the Long Island Power Authority about Broadwater, said he doesn’t see a need for three of the same type of plants: Broadwater, Exxon Mobil’s BlueOcean Energy, and the Atlantic Sea Island terminal south of Long Beach , which is proposed by privately held Atlantic Sea Island Group of Manhattan .

Some investors say Broadwater was doomed even before the Exxon proposal, because it would be near major population centers and in a fragile estuary.

Proposed in 2004, Broadwater’s project is within a few months of either approval or rejection by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and New York State . It has drawn environmental and local political opposition.

“It’s still going to be an uphill battle and a losing battle at that,” said Lanny Pendill, an analyst who follows the energy industry from the St. Louis office of the investment company Edward Jones.

But others say Exxon’s willingness to invest $1 billion into increasing the region’s gas supply verifies the region’s future needs for the fuel.

“It’s pretty unanimous in the industry that there is increased demand for natural gas out in time and that the only way to fuel that increase far out in the future is new supplies,” said energy expert Matthew Cordaro , a former senior vice president of Long Island Lighting Co. and now director of Long Island University’s Center for Management Analysis. “And perhaps the supply with the most potential is liquid natural gas.”

He said the Northeast region could absorb more than 3billion cubic feet of natural gas a day that would be produced by all three terminals.

John Hritcko, project director at Broadwater’s Riverhead office, said, “Broadwater remains optimistic that we will receive our approvals,” adding, “Broadwater was carefully designed to serve New Yorkers, while projects off the New Jersey coast will tend to benefit New Jersey, as BlueOcean itself admits.” Broad-water Energy is based in Houston .

A leading opponent of the Broadwater project, Adrienne Esposito , executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said in an e-mail: “This just proves our point that there are alternative locations other than the middle of Long Island Sound. … Looks like the Broadwater barge is sinking under the competition.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy said he favors an ocean location for a plant to one in Long Island Sound.

Eight proposed liquefied natural gas terminals are pending before the energy regulatory commission, a spokeswoman said. Six others are pending before the Coast Guard, including Atlantic Sea Island .

DEC Rips Broadwater, Cites ‘adverse Impact’

01-03-08 00:00 Age: 5 days

LI Locales Try On Shades Of ‘green’


Most Long Island municipalities have taken steps to reduce carbon emissions in the face of climate change, according to a report released yesterday by a local environmental and good-government group.

Some local governments bought hybrid vehicles or underwent energy audits. Others invested in alternative energy – Nassau County produces electricity from “digester gas” at its sewage treatment plants, while solar energy now powers trash compactors for the towns of Babylon , Riverhead and East Hampton .

“It’s not as if any one silver bullet is going to solve the global warming issue,” said Neal Lewis, executive director for the Neighborhood Network, the East Farmingdale nonprofit group that produced the report. “We’d like every municipality to adopt a multipronged goal.”

The report surveyed Long Island ‘s 13 towns and two counties on their recent progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and reliance on foreign oil.

The Neighborhood Network report did not provide concrete numbers to track emissions reductions. Such analyses are difficult because little baseline data exist measuring current emissions at the municipal level, Lewis said.

Still, Nassau officials estimate that since 2005 the carbon footprint of county government operations has shrunk by 5 percent – about 10,000 tons of carbon output. Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy has said energy efficiency programs there will save taxpayers more than $1 million per year.

At least two-thirds of Long Island municipalities surveyed have upgraded buildings to increase energy efficiency and invested in alternative fuels for their vehicles, such as the compressed natural gas that powers more than 330 Nassau County buses and the Town of Smithtown ‘s garbage truck fleet.

The Town of Brookhaven now uses over 500,000 gallons of biodiesel each year, and the Hempstead Town has installed solar panels at Town Hall.

The report also found work yet to be done. Fewer than half of the island’s 13 towns have adopted the goal of lowering greenhouse gas emissions to 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Lewis said the local strides were heartening given the lack of action at the federal level to reduce human-generated carbon emissions, which most scientists agree have triggered a global rise in temperature. Last month, reluctance on the part of the United States and other major polluters, such as China , to set mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions blocked progress at a UN-sponsored climate conference in Bali , Indonesia .

Copyright 2008 Newsday, Inc.



Babylon supervisor sets energy-efficient example

BY BRANDON BAIN.brandon.bain@newsday.com

December 15, 2007

When Babylon Supervisor Steven Bellone decided to remodel his two-story Colonial home in West Babylon, he took a page from town code, which requires all new homes in Babylon to be built using Energy Star standards.

Bellone decided to rebuild certain portions of the home to meet the environmentally friendly requirements and to do an energy audit – and he hopes other residents of the town follow his lead.

“We’re at the point where we’re encouraging residents to do energy audits and to make energy-efficient home improvements in their houses,” Bellone said. “They can help their environment and save money in the long term.”

Bellone said he pays about $4,000 a year in energy costs and expects to cut that bill by 40 percent when his improvements are done.

Bellone said the energy audit, which can cost from $250 to $500, included an infrared test to show where heat was escaping and showed that his home was “very leaky and not energy efficient.” Initial results indicated the improvements he is making will cut the energy loss by about half.

Bellone already has replaced all lighting with compact fluorescent bulbs and uses a low-energy refrigerator. He will caulk and weather-strip windows and doors throughout the home and also will replace the heating system with a more efficient boiler.

In all, he said it will cost him about $16,000 to make the changes.

Even though Bellone has had to rip off walls in his basement and attic to add foam insulation, the home – which is more than 80 years old – will not entirely meet Energy Star standards, he said, because that would require that he remove the walls in every room in the house.

Richard Manning, president of Hauppauge-based Energy Master, the company that conducted Bellone’s audit, said that while energy-efficiency improvements to homes can be costly, the money is recouped in as little as five years and the improvements reduce utility usage – which can add value to a home.

“Not only are they going to save energy but they are going to be more comfortable,” said Manning. “It’s a win-win situation.”

Copyright © 2008, Newsday Inc.

January 1, 2008

Editorial: In Office – New York Times

The One Environmental Issue

The overriding environmental issue of these times is the warming of the planet. The Democratic hopefuls in the 2008 campaign are fully engaged, calling for large — if still unquantified — national sacrifices and for a transformation in the way the country produces and uses energy. The Republicans do not go much further than conceding that climate change could be a problem and, with the notable exception of John McCain, offer no comprehensive solutions.

In 2000, when Al Gore could have made warming a signature issue in his presidential campaign, his advisers persuaded him that it was too complicated and forbidding an issue to sell to ordinary voters. For similar reasons, John Kerry’s ambitious ideas for addressing climate change and reducing the country’s dependence on foreign oil never advanced much beyond his Web site.

Times have certainly changed. It is not yet clear to what extent Americans are willing to grapple with the implications of any serious strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions: more specifically, whether they are ready to pay higher prices for energy and change their lifestyles to reduce their consumption of fossil fuels.

Polls suggest, however, that voters are increasingly alarmed, and for that Mr. Gore is partly responsible. His film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” raised the issue’s profile. Then came four reports from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Mr. Gore, predicting catastrophic changes in weather patterns, sea levels and food production unless greenhouses gases can be quickly stabilized and then reduced by as much as 80 percent by midcentury.

There is also a growing appetite for decisive action — everywhere, it seems, except the White House. Governors in more than two dozen states are fashioning regional agreements to lower greenhouse gases, the federal courts have ordered the executive branch to begin regulating these gases, and the Senate has begun work on a bipartisan bill that would reduce emissions by nearly 65 percent by 2050.

Still, the country is a long way from a comprehensive response equal to the challenge. That is what the Democratic candidates are proposing. Senators Joseph Biden, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, former Senator John Edwards, Gov. Bill Richardson and Representative Dennis Kucinich have all offered aggressive plans that would go beyond the Senate bill and reduce emissions by 80 percent by midcentury (90 percent in Mr. Richardson’s case), much as called for in the United Nations reports.

These plans would rest primarily on a cap-and-trade scheme that imposes a gradually declining ceiling on emissions and allows power plants, refineries and other emitters to figure out the cheapest way to meet their quotas — either by reducing emissions on their own or by purchasing credits from more efficient producers. The idea is to give companies a clear financial incentive to invest in the new technologies and efficiencies required to create a more carbon-free economy.

None of the Democrats trust the market to do the job by itself. All would make major investments in cleaner fuels and delivery systems, including coal-fired power plants capable of capturing carbon emissions and storing them underground. Every Democrat except Mr. Kucinich says that carbon-free nuclear power has to be part of the mix, although all are careful to say that safety issues and other concerns must first be resolved.

Internationally, the Democrats say they would seek a new global accord on reducing emissions to replace and improve upon the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Winning agreement among more than 180 nations will be slow-going, so several candidates, including Mrs. Clinton, have suggested jump-starting the process by bringing together the big emitters like China very early in their administrations. China and the United States together produce about 40 percent of the world’s total emissions and neither has agreed to binding reductions.

The only Republican candidate who comes close to the Democrats with a plan for addressing climate change is John McCain, one of the authentic pioneers on the issue in the Senate. In 2003, along with Joseph Lieberman, Mr. McCain introduced the first Senate bill aimed at mandatory economywide reductions in emissions of 65 percent by midcentury. He also regularly addresses the subject on the campaign trail.

The other leading Republican candidates — Mitt Romney, Rudolph Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Mike Huckabee — talk about energy issues almost exclusively in the context of freeing America from its dependence on foreign oil. All promote nuclear power, embrace energy efficiency and promise greener technologies. Only Mr. Huckabee has dared raise the idea of government regulation, embracing, at least theoretically, the idea of a mandatory cap on emissions. The rest prefer President Bush’s cost-free and demonstrably inadequate voluntary approach, which essentially asks industry to do what it can to reduce emissions.

So far, the Democratic candidates seem more engaged with the issue than some of their interrogators in the news media. In a recent study, the League of Conservation Voters found that as of two weeks ago, the five main political talk-show hosts had collectively asked 2,275 questions of candidates in both parties. Only 24 of the questions even touched on climate change.

One result is that even the candidates who urge comprehensive change have not been pressed on important questions of cost: How do they intend to pay for all the new efficiencies and technologies that will be necessary? And what kind of sacrifices will they be asking of people who almost certainly will have to pay more for their electric bills and their greener cars?

Addressing these questions will require more courage of the candidates than simply offering up broad new visions. The voters deserve an honest accounting and the candidates should be prepared to give it.

Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

Provided as a Service by:

This article printed from Accountability Central.. www.Accountability-Central.com


01-03-08 00:00 Age: 5 days

Riverhead OKs Mountain Of A Deal




In the biggest real estate deal in Riverhead’s history, the town has agreed to sell 755 acres of town-owned land in Calverton to Riverhead Resorts, which plans to construct a billion-dollar park featuring a man-made ski mountain.

Construction on the project, which must undergo an environmental review, is expected to begin in about three years with completion slated for 2012. The park would create about 2,000 year-round jobs, according to town officials.

In addition to the $155-million sale price for the land, Riverhead Resorts agreed to guaranteed payments of between $2 million and $16 million as the project goes through environmental reviews and a permit process that is expected to take from 23 to 36 months. Another part of the pact includes a proposal to return 15 acres to the town for park and recreation purposes.

Once the park is operating, Riverhead also would get 3 percent of gross revenue, as well as separate tax payments from the project and its hotel rooms.

The Riverhead Resorts proposal for the land at Enterprise Park features a 350-foot-high man-made ski mountain, an indoor water park, a sports resort, a white-water wilderness resort, a conference center and an equestrian resort. It would have about 2,200 hotel rooms and 2,000 timeshare units.

Morton Weber, attorney for Riverhead Resorts, said that, regardless of the economic conditions when construction begins, Riverhead Resorts has the financial guarantees to build the project.

“The financing is secure, and will be secure,” he said.

Before the board voted, there was an hourlong public comment period on the resolution authorizing Supervisor Phil Cardinale to sign the contract. As in numerous previous hearings, a group of auto-racing enthusiasts who support an alternate development plan featuring three racetracks spoke against the sale.

But several town residents also came out and said they do not want the traffic and noise that weekend auto races would bring. Dave Macknee of Riverhead said the idea of building a noisy racetrack near Long Island National Cemetery at Calverton was disrespectful.

“They wouldn’t build a racetrack across from Arlington [ National Cemetery ],” he said.

Mark Lembo of Wading River , who a decade ago opposed the use of Calverton as an active jetport because of the attendant noise and congestion, said this was the same battle. “A racetrack is just a jetport on wheels,” he said.

The board vote to authorize the signing was 3-2, with newly elected town board members James Wooten and Timothy Buckley voting against it.

Wooten said he had not had enough time to study the detailed contract. Buckley said a 7,000-foot-long runway at Calverton – left over from when Grumman Corp. used the facility to build and test F-14 Tomcat fighters – would be destroyed and replaced with a man-made lake.

He called it “an irreplaceable resource” that would be lost if the Riverhead Resorts project is not completed.

Issues the project must navigate

The Riverhead Resorts project in Calverton faces a series of environmental reviews and permit applications, which could take two to three years. They include:

Environmental impact. Assessment of the 755-acre resort’s effect on local wetlands and the nearby Peconic River .

Height waiver. Riverhead Resorts must get an exemption from the height requirements in the existing Riverhead building code for its proposed 350-foot man-made ski mountain. Riverhead Resorts officials have said that if such an exemption is not granted they would modify that part of the project to meet town height limits.

Sewer service. The county Health Department must approve the sewer system that will serve the complex.

Construction plan. The town Building Department must approve the site plan for the land and actual plans for construction.


Copyright 2008 Newsday, Inc.

From: The Guardian ( Manchester , U.K. ), Dec. 29, 2007

[Printer-friendly version]


By John Vidal, environment editor The Guardian

The holy grail of renewable energy came a step closer yesterday

[actually, December 18, 2007] as thousands of mass-produced wafer-thin

solar cells printed on aluminium film rolled off a production line in

California , heralding what British scientists called “a revolution” in

generating electricity.

The solar panels produced by a Silicon Valley start-up company,

Nanosolar, are radically different from the kind that European

consumers are increasingly buying to generate power from their own

roofs. Printed like a newspaper directly on to aluminium foil, they

are flexible, light and, if you believe the company, expected to make

it as cheap to produce electricity from sunlight as from coal.

Yesterday Nanosolar said its order books were full until mid-2009 and

that a second factory would soon open in Germany where demand for

solar power has rocketed. Britain was unlikely to benefit from the

technology for some years because other countries paid better money

for renewable electricity, it added.

“Our first solar panels will be used in a solar power station in

Germany ,” said Erik Oldekop, Nanosolar’s manager in Switzerland . “We

aim to produce the panels for 99 cents a watt, which is comparable to

the price of electricity generated from coal. We cannot disclose our

exact figures yet as we are a private company but we can bring it down

to that level. That is the vision we are aiming at.”

He added that the first panels the company was producing were aimed

for large-scale power plants rather than for homeowners, and that the

cost benefits would be in the speed that the technology could be

deployed. “We are aiming to make solar power stations up to 10MW in

size. They can be up and running in six to nine months compared to 10

years or more for coal-powered stations and 15 years for nuclear

plants. Solar can be deployed very quickly,” said Oldekop.

Nanosolar is one of several companies in Japan , Europe, China and the

US racing to develop different versions of “thin film” solar

technology. It is owned by internet entrepreneur Martin Roscheisen who

sold his company to Yahoo for $450m and, with the help of the founders

of Google, the US government and other entrepreneurs in Silicon

Valley, has invested nearly $300m in commercialising the technology.

At the moment solar electricity costs nearly three times as much as

conventional electricity to generate, but Nanosolar’s developments are

thought to have halved the price of producing conventional solar cells

at a stroke.

“This is the world’s lowest-cost solar panel, which we believe will

make us the first solar manufacturer capable of profitably selling

solar panels at as little as 99 cents a watt,” said Roscheisen


However, the company, which claims to lead the “third wave” of solar

electricity, is notoriously secretive and has not answered questions

about its panels’ efficiency or their durability. It is quite open

about wanting to restrict access to the technology to give it a market


Jeremy Leggett, chief executive of Britain ‘s leading solar energy

company, Solar Century, said that it would be “breathtaking” if the

technology proved as efficient as projected by the company. “This is a

revolution. But people are going to be amazed at other developments

taking place in solar technologies. We will be thrilled if this

technology is as efficient as the company says. It will not change the

direction of solar power in itself. Spectacular improvements are also

being made in other parts of the industry,” he said.

Figures released yesterday by the Earth Policy Institute in Washington

showed that solar electricity generation was now the fastest-growing

electricity source, doubling its output every two years. It is now

attracting government and venture capital money on an unprecedented


The technology is particularly exciting because it can be used nearly

everywhere. “You are talking about printing rolls of the stuff,

printing it on garages, anywhere you want it. It really is a big deal

in terms of altering the way we think about solar,” said Dan Kamman,

director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the

University of California at Berkeley .

“The next industrial revolution will be based on these clean green

technologies,” said Tony Juniper, director of Friends of the Earth.

“If the UK wants to be part of it, as Gordon Brown says it does, then

it needs to rethink its strategies. Ministers have so far shown a

distinct lack of vision.”

Sidebar: Power from light

Photovoltaic (PV) devices convert light into electrical energy. PV

cells are made of semiconductor materials such as silicon. When light

shines on a PV cell, the energy is transferred to electrons in the

atoms of the PV cell. These electrons become part of the electrical

flow, or current, in an electrical circuit. First wave photovoltaic

cell used thick silicon-wafer cells but were cumbersome and costly.

The second generation of photovoltaic materials were developed about

10 years ago and use very thin silicon layers. These brought the price

down dramatically but still need expensive vacuum processes in their

construction. The third wave of PV, now being developed by firms such

as Nanosolar, can print directly on to other materials and does not

use silicon.

Copyright Guardian News and Media Limited 2008

From: Rachel's Democracy & Health News #940, Jan. 3, 2008 [Printer-friendly version]   


   By Peter Montague    In this issue of Rachel's we discuss important new developments in renewable energy with great potential for eliminating the threat of global warming:    ** Two kinds of solar energy power plants are being built now to provide baseload power -- meaning power that is available day or night -- at a cost that is competitive with both coal-fired steam-electric plants and nuclear power plants. One is in
 California , the other in Iowa. This is big.    ** The key to providing baseload power is cheap, simple energy storage. The California plant will store solar energy as heat; the Iowa plant will use wind energy to compress air, which will be pumped underground for energy storage. Both kinds of plants have existed for some time -- but now they are being scaled up. The potential is very large. Other firms are commercializing storage of the sun's energy in molten salts.    ** In a third development, in mid-December a company in
 Palo Alto , California began manufacturing solar-electric photovoltaic cells by "printing" then onto aluminum foil, instantly cutting the cost of solar-cells in half. (Photovoltaics convert sunlight directly into electricity.) Their aim is solar panels that cost 99 cents per watt -- a number that has been the holy grail of solar cell manufacturers for 40 years. Unfortunately, their entire first year's production has already been promised to a utility in
 Germany , where forward-looking industrialists and political leaders have gotten the jump on us by subsidizing solar instead of nuclear and coal. No matter, the Palo Alto firm is building more manufacturing capacity as we speak.    ** A new, realistic assessment of wind energy on the U.S. East Coast has shown that offshore wind turbines could power the nine coastal states from Massachusetts to
 North Carolina . And another study published earlier in 2007 showed that connecting dispersed wind farms into a single grid in the midwestern
 U.S. can create a reliable source of baseload power even without storage. Furthermore, that study showed that linking wind farms into a grid allowed energy to be sent to distant cities with less than 2% losses along the way.    All of these developments are aimed at commercial power stations, not home users. In Texas , Shell and TXU are planning a 3000 megwatt solar plant with compressed air storage. This is a big power plant with 4 to 5 times the capacity of a typical coal plant.    Solar power has come of age and is now competing directly with coal and nuclear for baseload installed capacity. These new solar plants    1. Are far simpler in design than coal or nuclear plants;    2. Produce far less pollution and toxic waste than coal or nuclear;    3. Have no potential for catastrophic failure of the nuclear kind, and can never become part of a weapons program;    4. Can be built more quickly than either "clean coal" or nuclear plants;    5. Require less water than either coal or nuclear plants, which is important in an era of scarce water; and    6. Are competitively priced.    What is standing in the way of this solar revolution? Only the combined political clout of the coal, oil, mining, railroad and automobile industries -- and their dutiful dinosaur representatives in Congress -- plus assorted university professors and house environmentalists who seem to have lost their way and are supporting one aspect or another of "clean coal."    In sum, as with almost anything worth having these days, it boils down to a citizen fight. We can celebrate and promote these new solar developments. But if that's all we do, we'll lose. We also must redouble our efforts to stop the nuclear "renaissance" and stop the "clean coal" juggernaut -- vigorously oppose all new coal plants (whether pulverized coal or integrated gasification combined cycle [IGCC]), all carbon capture and storage projects, all coal-to-liquids proposals, and the $38.5 billion in subsidies for nuclear power and fossil fuels Congress has approved for 2008.    Fossil fuels made sense in the 19th and early 20th centuries but this is the 21st -- and these dinosaurs are killing us, destroying the planet, and standing in the way of
 America 's industrial rebirth. Their day is over. Every dollar spent on these dinosaur technologies is a dollar that cannot be spent on revitalizing
 America 's global industrial leadership through renewable energy.

Climate Crisis Coalition News Summaries

Presidential Candidates on Climate Change. E Magazine, January 6, 2008. “The outcome of the 2008 presidential election could very well have a big impact on a wide range of environmental issues, especially climate change. All of the Democratic candidates — Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, John Edwards, Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich — support reducing carbon dioxide emissions nationally upwards of 80 percent by 2050 in order to stave off global warming. Likewise, each would like to see fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks raised to at least 40 miles per gallon within the next few decades. Meanwhile, only one of the major Republican contenders, John McCain, has even articulated a position on the issue of global warming, with most favoring expanding our base of greenhouse gas-spewing coal-fired power plants… As for specific track records, Clinton has an impressive record of introducing pro-environment legislation into Congress, and for her time in the Senate scores a 90 (out of 100) on green voting from the… League of Conservation Voters. Obama is newer to the politics of the environment, but scored a 96 for his two years in the Senate from LCV, and has garnered kudos from environmental leaders for the aggressive climate and energy plan he unveiled in October 2007.” [For the other candidates’ climate and energy plans: Clinton; Edwards; Richardson; Kucinich; McCain.]

Canadian Federal Advisory Panel to Back Carbon Tax. Ottawa Globe and Mail, January 7, 2008. “A federal advisory panel will unveil a long-term climate change strategy today that is expected to back the idea of a carbon tax aimed at substantially reducing greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century, The Globe and Mail has learned. The proposal will put pressure on both the Harper government and the Liberal Opposition, which have rejected a carbon tax that would penalize oil producers in the West most heavily. The recommendation will raise a number of questions on Parliament Hill; specifically, whether a carbon tax is inevitable, who would collect the revenue, and how much a tonne of carbon is worth. The carbon tax recommendation will be included as one of many in a 50-page report to be issued by the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.”

New Jersey’s Long-Awaited Energy Plan Hits Snags. By Jim Wright, Bergen County Record , January 7, 2008. ” New Jersey ‘s Energy Master Plan, expected to provide the road map for Governor Corzine’s ambitious efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, is mired in debate within his administration. Major stumbling blocks include whether the state needs another nuclear power plant in Salem County , how much generating capacity is needed from natural gas and coal, and how energy efficiency and renewable energy sources fit into the mix…The master plan is the cornerstone of the governor’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20% during the next 12 years. Those cuts [are] among the highest in the nation… Because power plants are among the largest producers of greenhouse gas emissions, the state needs to find a way to meet increasing energy demand while cutting pollution… Some within the administration are calling for new power plants to meet that demand. Others press for stronger energy conservation, efficiency and renewable sources… Environmentalists are also concerned because legislation in support of Corzine’s global warming goals have also hit snags… [As far as the Energy Master Plan is concerned,] Jeff Tittel of the New Jersey Sierra Club said that ‘in some ways, the delay is good, because from what I know about the plan, it would not have been good for New Jersey . Better to be late and good than sooner and bad.’ [Lilo] Stainton, the governor’s spokeswoman, said the master plan would be announced ‘as soon as it is feasible. The governor realizes the cost of doing nothing is severe, but any action taken must be done right.'”

Saving Souls and the Planet. By Barbara Williams, Bergen County Record , January 2, 2008. “A growing number of North Jersey ‘s religious leaders are shading their sermons in green. Taking care to keep politics out of their save-the-earth messages, they’re preaching practical everyday changes in lifestyle. The basic tenet remains that God gave man dominion over the Earth, as the Bible says. But now clergy members are likening that dominion to a farmer’s stewardship of the land — controlling, but also nurturing it and giving it time to replenish. The Rev. Kevin Downey, pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Pompton Lakes , proposes that taking care of the environment and following God’s word aren’t two mutually exclusive subjects. ‘This life here on Earth is a gift,’ Downey said. ‘But with that gift comes a huge responsibility to take care of the Earth. I’ve talked about that and will continue to strive to put it in more homilies.’ St. Mary’s is working with GreenFaith, a New Brunswick-based interfaith group that teams with religious organizations in getting them to use energy from renewable sources. The Catholic church hopes to create a Sustainable Sanctuary program — a center of religious-environmental activism… More than 150 churches are involved with GreenFaith, including 25 that have installed solar panels.”

A long-awaited plan that charts how the state will meet its future energy needs has hit major snags.New Jersey’s Energy Master Plan, expected to provide the road map for Governor Corzine’s ambitious efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, is mired in debate within his administration.

New Environmental Coalition Seeks Halt to All Nuclear Power Plant License Renewals. By Eileen O’Grady, Reuters, January 7, 2008. “A coalition called Stop the Relicensing of Oyster Creek joined with Riverkeeper to petition the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to suspend the license renewal process ‘until objective and independent analysis’ is used… The coalition… initially joined to oppose a 20-year extension of Exelon Corp’s Oyster Creek Nuclear Power Plant in New Jersey . Without a license extension, Exelon would have to shut Oyster Creek, the oldest operating reactor in the nation, in 2009. The petition filed on Thursday expanded the group’s opposition to all pending relicensing efforts nationwide. Pilgrim Watch and the New England Coalition joined in the filing, which criticized the NRC for copying sections of safety documentation supplied by nuclear operators, citing a September audit report from the NRC’s Office of Inspector General. The petition contends that NRC staff should write separate evaluations. The inspector’s report ‘makes it clear that the current NRC license renewal process is a failure and must be completely reevaluated before another plant is relicensed,’ said Phillip Musegaas, a lawyer with Riverkeeper… NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said the commission’s legal staff would review the petition… Stop the Relicensing of Oyster Creek includes the New Jersey Environmental Federation, Nuclear Information & Resource Service, New Jersey Sierra Club, NJ Public Interest Research Group, Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch and Grandmothers, Mothers, and More for Energy Safety.”

Video of Sleeping Guards Shakes Nuclear Industry. By Steven Mufson, Washington Post, January 4, 2008. “Kerry Beal was taken aback when he discovered last March that many of his fellow security guards at the Peach Bottom nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania were taking regular naps in what they called ‘the ready room.’ When he spoke to supervisors at his company, Wackenhut Corp., they told Beal to be a team player. When he alerted the regional office of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, regulators let the matter drop after the plant’s owner, Exelon, said it found no evidence of guards asleep on the job. So Beal videotaped the sleeping guards. The tape, eventually given to WCBS, a CBS television affiliate in New York City , showed the armed workers snoozing against walls, slumped on tabletops or with eyes closed and heads bobbing. The fallout of the broadcast is still being felt. Last month, Exelon, the country’s largest provider of nuclear power, fired Wackenhut, which had guarded each of its 10 nuclear plants. The NRC is reviewing its own oversight procedures, having failed to heed Beal’s warning. And Wackenhut says that the entire nuclear industry needs to rethink security if it hopes to meet the tougher standards the NRC has tried to impose since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States . The most immediate impact has been felt at Wackenhut, which protected half of the nation’s 62 commercial nuclear power plants. Exelon’s decision to terminate Wackenhut’s contract reduces the number of commercial sites protected by the company to 21.”

The Guardian’s ’50 People Who Could Save the Planet’. By Andrew Revkin, NYTimes, January 7, 2008. “The left-leaning Guardian newspaper of Britain has put the Danish political scientist Bjorn Lomborg — anathema to many environmental scientists and campaigners for challenging projections of ecological doom — on a list of ‘50 People Who Could Save the Planet‘ with the Nobel Peace Prize winners Al Gore and Wangari Maathai, the movie star and environmental filmmaker Leonardo DiCaprio and NASA climatologist Gavin Schmidt. The newspaper, which published the list over the weekend, explained its search this way: ‘Who are the people who can bring about change, the pioneers coming up with radical solutions? We can modify our lifestyles, but that will never be enough. Who are the politicians most able to force society and industry to do things differently? Where are the green shoots that will get us out of the global ecological mess?’ The Guardian sought nominations from a wide array of people, including Robert Watson, formerly the chief scientist of the World Bank and chairman of the IPCC, Gerd Leipold, the head of Greenpeace International, and the novelist Philip Pullman. The paper’s science, environment and economics correspondents added their own candidates, then winnowed away. ‘Great names were argued over, and unknown ones surfaced,’ wrote John Vidal, the paper’s environment editor. He said Mr. Gore, despite his high profile, was a close call: ‘He may have put climate change on the rich countries’ agenda, but some felt his solution of trading emissions is not enough and no more than what all major businesses and western governments are now saying. But in the end he squeaked through.'”

California and 15 Other States Sue EPA to Allow Tighter Emissions Restrictions. By Margot Roosevelt, Los Angeles Times, January 3, 2008. “ California and 15 other states sued the Bush Administration Wednesday, seeking to overturn a federal decision last month rejecting the state’s bid to curb greenhouse gases from cars and trucks. The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, marks a new round in an epic five-year struggle between California and the federal government over whether states have the power to regulate carbon dioxide and other pollutants that cause global warming. The controversy also spilled into Congress, as Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Beverly Hills) prepared to hold hearings on whether the White House and automakers influenced the EPA’s decision, which was required to be based on scientific and legal grounds… The 15 states joining California in the lawsuit are Massachusetts , Arizona , Connecticut , Delaware , Illinois , Maine , Maryland , New Jersey , New Mexico , New York , Oregon , Pennsylvania , Rhode Island , Vermont and Washington .”

California’s Lawsuit Presents Data That Challenges EPA. By Mark Clayton and Daniel B. Wood, Christian Science Monitor, January 4, 2008. California‘s ambitious plan to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions of cars and trucks would be more than twice as effective in reducing such gases by 2016 than the new federal fuel-economy law, the state said as part of a new legal broadside against the US government this week. Such factoids are among reams of statistical evidence offered by California in a lawsuit filed Wednesday to try to reverse the Environmental Protection Agency’s rejection last month of the Golden State ‘s request to limit such tailpipe emissions. Fifteen other states and five environmental groups quickly joined California ‘s suit. Just how effective California ‘s plan would be is important because EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson has specifically cited the new fuel-economy law, which Congress approved last month, as a more effective national approach. He made that assertion when rejecting the state’s request for a waiver from the Clean Air Act. Aside from statistical evidence, California — whose plan could be the template for states containing nearly half of America ‘s populace — is in a strong legal position to prevail in court, analysts say. That’s due in part to EPA precedent granting 53 similar waivers already — and because the EPA appears to be relying on novel legal interpretations for rejecting California , they say.”

Paris to Offer Easy-Access Electric Cars for Lease for City Use. By Charles Bremner, London Times, January 2, 2008.The Mayor of Paris is about to launch another novel scheme for fighting congestion and pollution: self-service cars. Bertrand Delanöe aims to start with 2,000 electric-powered vehicles that subscribers can drive off without booking at dozens of sites 24 hours a day and then leave anywhere in the city. The so-called Automobiles-en-Libre-Service… is intended to complement the Velib, the highly successful bicycle scheme that Mr Delanoe opened last July with 5,000 rental stations around the city. The ‘non-polluting’ cars, which will cost a few euros per hour to use, depending on mileage, will enable Parisians to carry passengers and loads on short trips without the bother and expense of hiring or running their own vehicles, says the mayor. They will offer an alternative to a congestion charge, which Mr Delanöe, a Socialist who is running for reelection next spring, has rejected for Paris … Mr Delanoe’s Velib has turned Paris into an almost bike-friendly city, with the 20,000 machines having already been used for 11 million trips so far. Parisians and commuters relied on them during transport strikes in November.”

Why the Era of Cheap Food is Over. Christian Science Monitor, December 31, 2007. “What is behind the [worldwide record] increases in food prices? Certainly not bad harvests. Although a drought hit the traditionally bountiful Australian wheat harvest this past year, world cereal harvests hit 2.1 billion metric tons, a record production level, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Two major trends have been pushing prices up faster than they have risen for more than 30 years. One is that increasingly prosperous consumers in India and China are not only eating more food but also eating more meat. Animals have to be fed (grains, usually) before they are butchered. The other is that more and more crops — from corn to palm nuts — are being used to make biofuels instead of feeding people. At the same time, the world is drawing down its stockpiles of cereal and dairy products, which makes markets nervous and prices volatile. The result, says Joachim von Braun, who heads The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) in Washington , is that ‘the world food system is in trouble. The situation has not been this much of a concern for 15 years’… Some analysts estimate that as much as 30 percent of the US grain crop will go toward producing ethanol this year, a doubling from 2006.”

Germany Begins Ban on Polluting Cars in City Centers. AFP, January 2, 2008. “Three German cities, including the capital Berlin , began implementing a new air pollution system on Tuesday that bans the dirtiest vehicles from their centres. Drivers in Berlin , Cologne and Hanover are now required to display a coloured badge showing the level of pollution caused by their vehicle, with a scale of red, yellow and green. Some vehicles, notably an estimated 1.7 million old diesel cars and vans, will not qualify for even the most polluting red badge and will be prohibited from driving in central areas. Drivers without a badge caught in the city centre will face a 40-euro (60-dollar) fine and will be docked a point on their driving license. The system is to be extended to about 20 German cities in the course of the year, including Stuttgart and Munich . It applies to all vehicles, including those registered outside Germany , but some officials have indicated that foreign cars will be treated with leniency.”

Australia’s Drought May Never Break. By Richard Macey, Sydney Morning Herald, January 4, 2008. “It may be time to stop describing south-eastern Australia as gripped by drought and instead accept the extreme dry as permanent, one of the nation’s most senior weather experts warned yesterday. ‘Perhaps we should call it our new climate,’ said the Bureau of Meteorology’s head of climate analysis, David Jones. He was speaking after the release of statistics showing that last year was the hottest on record in NSW [New South Wales], Victoria, South Australia and the ACT [Australian Capital Territory]. NSW’s mean temperature was 1.13 degrees above average. ‘That is a very substantial anomaly,’ Dr Jones said. ‘It’s equivalent to moving NSW 150 kilometres closer to the equator.’ It was the 11th year in a row NSW and the Murray – Darling Basin had experienced above normal temperatures. Sydney ‘s nights were its warmest since records were first kept 149 years ago. ‘There is absolutely no debate that Australia is warming,’ said Dr Jones. ‘It is very easy to see… it is happening before our eyes.’ The only uncertainty now was whether the changing pattern was ’85 per cent, 95 per cent or 100 per cent the result of the enhanced greenhouse effect.'”

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