Achieving carbon neutrality in the building sector will require converting 100% of the fuels used for heating and cooling to zero carbon sources. Most technology applications to date have been implemented on a building-by-building basis, an approach that tends to limit the speed of transition, reduce efficiency gains, and depress the participation of low-income residents. A possible alternative is for an energy utility to transition an entire street to networked geothermal, which has potential for lower costs, greater efficiency, and improved air quality.
The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) today approved a precedent-setting agreement hammered out between grassroots environmental groups, the NYSEG and RG&E utilities, and energy regulators to stop growing gas sales and turn toward renewable heating alternatives, while keeping gas rate increases low. The PSC additionally agreed with grassroots environmentalists and consumer advocates that the utilities’ proposed electric rate increases were too high and ruled to reduce them to 2% per year or less.
Groundswell, Center for Local Food & Farming in Ithaca, has announced a Farmer Training Program for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color that will launch this coming Spring. Visit their website to learn more about this program and how to apply. Deadline is December 15th! In addition, they are looking to hire a Bookkeeper (Deadline: November 29th) and Communications Intern (Deadline: January 18th). They are also looking to fill some Leadership Committee seats. Don’t want to be behind a desk? Check out their on-farm volunteer opportunities. You can find all of these listings on their Employment page.
New York State’s 22-member Climate Action Council, established under the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, will hold a meeting to continue its work on a statewide scoping plan to guide New York State toward its nation-leading climate goals. Members of the public are welcome to listen to the meeting via webcast on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, 2:00 p.m.– 5:00 p.m.
Through the end of the year, NYSERDA is offering increased incentives for income-eligible households to insulate homes, seal air leaks, and replace inefficient equipment. There are also generous rebates and grants for installing high-efficiency heat pumps that provide heating and cooling, and which can replace furnaces and boilers that burn fossil fuels, as well as affordable options for going solar.
Filmmaker, Sanjay Rawal, tells the stories of Native Americans and their food systems. Given all the problems of our current American food system, Rawal explains how we can use Indigenous knowledge and values to grow an abundance of healthy food that helps meet our needs in a way that is respecting of the Earth, and…
Cornell Professor, Max Zhang, recieved a $200,000 grant, “aimed at determining efficient solar farm array configurations to avoid land-use conflicts or spoiling precious agricultural space”. More specifically, he plans to focus on 10 different land sites in New York State, to measure the viability of agrovoltaics – using land for both agriculture and solar arrays. Zhang’s research will provide scientific insight to policymakers as they make blueprints for the energy transition of the century. Read more about this story in the Cornell Chronicle.
The expanded Budget, Capital, and Personnel Committee of the Tompkins County Legislature voted on Tuesday, October 27 to create a Chief Sustainability Officer position. The Legislators unanimously approved an amendment to the 2021 budget adding the position.
Auburn City Council and Owasco Town Board both approved new rules and regulations to protect the Owasco Lake Watershed at a special joint meeting this past Thursday. The meeting was to continue the work started in 2017 to update enforceable regulations – the first time since 1984. Public opinion seems to be split between environmentalists, and farmers wary of profit loss due to accommodations that are now required. Read the full article to learn more.
The Martins and Oechsners have led the way on organic grain growing in the Northeast – and are proving what systems thinking can do to survive climate disruption. Our Farmers in Flux: Adapting to Climate Change is a new documentary on how local farmers like them are adapting to climate change, made by a dear friend of Sustainable Tompkins, Shira Evergreen, and produced by the Tracy Mitrano campaign. The 23-minute documentary gives a behind the scenes look at the priceless work they do, and features tons of stunning birds-eye view drone footage of the Finger Lakes. Bravo, Shira!
DEC Seeks to Modify Cargill’s Cayuga Salt Mine Permit While Its Subject to Pending Legal Appeal; Will Court Take Notice?
“For years, independent geologists have warned that bedrock separating the mine from the lake runs dangerously thin in northern sections of the mine. They say that as miners continue to push north, a catastrophic breach grows increasingly likely.” Read more at Water Front.
The New York State League has successfully settled a lawsuit to allow voters to address and correct issues with their absentee ballots. New York voters will also now be protected from having their ballots thrown out for small technical issues. For the upcoming election, voters will be given five to seven days (depending on the date of receipt of the ballot) to verify their identity and fix any problems with their ballot after being notified by the Board of Elections. Visit the League of Women’s Voters of New York State’s website to read more about the details of this great news! Please consider making a donation to the League so that they can educate voters on these new changes.
A group of Yates County residents has asked state environmental regulators to modify, suspend or revoke Greenidge Generation’s operating permits to reflect the power plant’s rapidly developing role as an off-the-grid data center that “mines” Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency”. Bitcoin mining is an energy-intensive activity, and one with major environmental impacts involved.
To learn more, read this article by Peter Mantius.
“The New York State Department of Health has taken the final step to establish drinking water standards for three toxic chemicals that have polluted water in communities across the state. In doing so, New York leads the nation with some of the most stringent drinking water protections for PFOA and PFOS (part of a broader class of PFAS chemicals), and the only drinking water standard for 1,4-dioxane”…
While most booths are now full with vendors and some other COVID-19 related restrictions have been loosened, Ithaca Farmers Market is still enforcing their own rules to minimize risk and help visitors to feel more safe. The market is following a slow-reopen plan, so you can check in on this page of their website (which is updated regularly) if you are planning a visit to see how restrictions have changed. is Read the Ithaca Voice article here.