Self-Driving Cars And Reclaiming Time Spent Behind The Wheel

ROCHESTER (WXXI) - People organize their lifestyles around access to transportation, so the advent of autonomous vehicles is important for their economic, social and environmental impact. That's from one of the authors of a new paper on the subject. Assistant professor in sustainability at RIT, Eric Williams, says they looked at a number of ways people could reclaim all the time they spend behind the wheel. "Anything from okay, we need to bring our kids to the sports team, well let's have the vehicle do it instead of doing it ourselves.  You know, thinking of taking a lot more trips, overnight in your car, because your car can drive you rather than having to stay up yourself," he said. Williams says the top 20 percent of people who drive or take public transit everyday could benefit from such vehicles.

Poll Finds New Yorkers Pessimistic On Race, Sexual Harassment

ALBANY (WSKG) - A poll on New Yorkers' attitudes on racism and sexual harassment show that many believe society has a way to go to improve things. The Siena College survey finds that 36 percent of women report being the victims of workplace sexual harassment. Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg said that when it comes to the issue, there is no upstate-downstate divide or difference in political parties, and three-quarters of New Yorkers think it’s a significant problem. “Those are just staggering numbers,” Greenberg said. The Siena poll finds that nearly two-thirds of  New Yorkers think race relations are just fair or poor, a number that’s up from polls conducted earlier in the decade.

Cuomo’s Budget Expected To Be Grim

ALBANY (WSKG) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his budget Tuesday, and the news is not expected to be good. The state faces an over $4.4 billion budget gap, as well as funding cuts and policy changes from Washington that could cost New York and some of its taxpayers billions of dollars. The governor set the tone in his State of the State speech earlier this month, saying, “2018 may be the toughest year New York has faced in modern history.”

“We have unprecedented challenges ahead on every level,” Cuomo said. Cuomo, in his speech, said President Donald Trump and the Republican-led Congress in Washington are responsible for many of the state’s challenges, including $2 billion in cuts to hospitals and health insurance programs for the working poor. He called the cuts “an arrow aimed at New York’s economic heart.”

While he warned of the dark times ahead, the governor did not name any spending cuts that might have to be made, and even said he wants to increase some education programs. Those details will come in the budget address on Tuesday afternoon.

Judge Fines Environmental Attorneys $52,000 For ‘Frivolous’ Injection Well Suit

A federal judge has ordered a pair of attorneys for an environmental group to pay $52,000 in legal fees to an energy company because, the judge said, they filed a “frivolous” legal challenge to a fracking waste injection well in Indiana County. U.S. Magistrate Judge Susan Paradise Baxter of the Western District of Pennsylvania ruled the attorneys, Thomas Linzey and Elizabeth Dunne, should pay part of Pennsylvania General Energy’s (PGE) legal fees for advancing a “discredited” legal argument that had already been defeated in prior decisions. In addition to the fine, the judge referred Linzey to the state Supreme Court Disciplinary Board for additional discipline. Read full story here. 

MLK’s Environmental Justice Legacy Threatened By Trump Administration Cuts

It was a stormy night in Memphis, Tennessee, and Martin Luther King Jr. wasn’t feeling very well. He had a slight fever and a sore throat, and felt exhausted after the trip to the city that would see him die. But he got up from his bed at the Lorraine Motel and joined hundreds of striking sanitation workers gathered at the Bishop Charles Mason Temple. Public garbage collectors were demanding equal rights and accusing the city of neglect and abuse. It was April 3rd 1968, the night before his assassination, and the third time he had traveled to Memphis to support the strike.

After New Setback, Constitution Pipeline Says It Will Fight FERC Order

The builder of the proposed Constitution Pipeline from Pennsylvania to New York said it will ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to take another look at its recent ruling that upholds New York State’s denial of a water-quality permit for the troubled project. Constitution Pipeline said it will seek a rehearing or appeal FERC’s decision on Jan. 11, in which the commission declined to overturn the permit decision by New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). That decision has stopped the company from beginning to build the 124-mile natural gas line. Read full story here.