Energy and Environment

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The challenges to zoning laws that ban natural gas drilling in towns across New York had their final day in court.

The issue is whether or not local governments in New York can use zoning laws to prevent drilling and hydraulic fracturing within their borders. The arguments Tuesday were focused on the language used in Article 23 of the Environmental Conservation Law, adopted in 1981, which gives the state sole power to regulate oil and gas operations.

A new White House climate report paints a dire picture for New York if something drastic isn't done to address climate change. Now, the Obama Administration is preparing to act without Congress.

The Third National Climate Assessment predicts dramatic changes in coastal states like New York. But the state’s junior Democratic senator Kirsten Gilibrand says upstate residents and businesses are at risk too.

Local farmer investigates wind turbines

May 20, 2014

Wind turbine company, NextEra Energy, is considering whether to build a $200 million dollar wind energy project in the town of Catlin in Chemung County. The town board is finalizing the details of a new zoning law that will allow the project to move forward. One local farmer who is weighing whether or not to allow some of the turbines on his property.

It’s a windy day as Dan Teed makes his way up the side of a gravel road. Tall, twirling turbines stand like sentinels on the crest of the hill.

The Broome County Legislature has temporarily shelved a deal with California company, SolarCity, to build a solar panel project for the county. Matt Martin reports that some legislators are concerned because the company is under investigation by the federal government.

The deal with SolarCity would help reduce energy costs for the county. The deal got unanimous approval in the county’s Economic, Education, and Culture Committee, before it was known that the company was part of a federal investigation.

Hanna pushes back against EPA on farm regulation

May 12, 2014

The federal government is proposing a rule that clarifies the types of streams and wetlands that fall under the Clean Water Act over objections from farmers. Congressman Richard Hanna is calling on the government to change the rule.

The expansion is an attempt by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to make it clear that temporary streams and wetlands fall under Clean Water Act regulations.

The rule would make it harder for farmers to get a permit to spread manure on fields close to those smaller bodies of water.

SUNY Cortland has flipped the switch on a solar panel field that will supply six percent of the college’s electricity needs.

The 3,600 solar panels are tucked off to the side of the college’s athletic fields. It was a two year project from start to finish.

SUNY Cortland was the first public college in the state to earn a grant worth $3 million for the installation. They’re owned and operated by a Californian solar company that’s leasing the land and supplying the power back to the college.

Environmental activists say they will continue to focus on the threat of hydrofracking in New York and will also keep working on regulations for oil transport trains passing through New York.

Flipping the script on eminent domain

May 5, 2014

The federal government is considering an application to build a natural gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to Schoharie County in New York. Often, the pipeline companies will use the threat of eminent domain as a way to pressure landowners into signing a lease agreement. But some landowners and activist groups are calling their bluff.

Just a short hike up the hill from Catherine Holleran’s house in New Milford Pennsylvania is a small grove of maple trees.

Helen Slottje, a lawyer and anti-fracking activist from Ithaca, is being awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize today. The Goldman Prize is given to activists worldwide who work to safeguard their community’s natural environment. Slottje is receiving the award for her work crafting local laws that restrict hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in towns across upstate. We spoke recently about the birth of that anti-fracking tactic and how it spread across New York.


Documents obtained by a group opposed to hydrofracking show that the Cuomo Administration’s is conducting a thorough and comprehensive health study on the controversial natural gas drilling process. The Finger Lakes based organization is wondering, why then, the review has been conducted almost entirely in secret.