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April 2010 Archives

April 2, 2010

New York State Invasive Species Council Issues Draft Report to Protect Forests, Farmlands and Waterways from Invasive Species

On April 1, 2010, the New York State Invasive Species Council released a draft report, “A Regulatory System for Non-Native Species,” that calls for a multi-pronged approach to tackling invasive species.

Among other recommendations, the Council proposed a new assessment system for invasive species – such as zebra mussels, Sirex wood wasps and Eurasion milfoil – that would allow the state to categorize them as “prohibited,” “regulated” or “unregulated.” Such a classification system would help restrict movement of potentially harmful plants and animals.

The Council, created by state statute, comprises nine state agencies and is co-led by DEC and the Department of Agriculture and Markets (DAM). Following finalization, the report will be sent to Governor David A. Paterson and the state Legislature for possible action.

In producing the report, DEC and DAM assembled a multi-stakeholder team from other state and federal agencies, academia and conservation and business fields such as agriculture, pets, nursery and landscape.

Other highlights of the report include the following: (1) landowners would have no obligation to remove invasive species that spread on to their lands through no fault of their own; (2) the proposed regulatory system recognizes the business needs of nurseries and pet businesses to be able to plan and to manage existing stocks, some of which represent years of investment. This would include “grace periods” to avoid needlessly penalizing such industries; and (3) it encourages the nursery industry to develop varieties – “cultivars” in the plant world – that are sterile so that market demands could be satisfied without posing ecological and economic threats.

DEC Issues Proposed Program Policy Regarding “Green Remediation”

On March 31, 2010, DEC issued a statewide notice that it has prepared a proposed program policy which establishes a preference for remediating sites in the most sustainable manner while still meeting all legal, regulatory, and program requirements.

The policy expresses a preference for remedies which, for example, use less energy, create less emissions and waste, increase reuse and recycling, and maximize habitat value without compromising the fundamental requirement to protect human health and the environment. According to DEC, the approach also recognizes the potential for positive economic and social benefits of site reuse and supports coordination of site reuse and remediation to effect the most beneficial and sustainable reuse of the site.

This guidance applies to all phases of site investigation and remediation for new sites and relevant phases for existing remedies in the Spill Response Program, Inactive Hazardous Waste Disposal Site Remedial Program (State Superfund Program), Environmental Restoration Program, Brownfield Cleanup Program, and Voluntary Cleanup Program.

The purpose of this guidance is to describe how green remediation will be applied within the DEC Division of Environmental Remediation’s remedial programs and provide examples of green remediation techniques. It does not specify methods or criteria to be used to quantify the effectiveness of the various green remediation concepts or remedial alternatives. The concepts and principles will be considered, implemented to the extent feasible, and documented.

April 9, 2010

Paterson Vetoes Grant Bill for GHG Reduction Technologies

On March 24, 2010, Governor David Paterson vetoed a bill that would have established a program that would have provided grants for research into technologies that reduce greenhouse gases.

The legislation (S. 4917) would have set up the New York State Greenhouse Gases Management Research and Development Program which would have provided grants for research that promotes new technologies and processes to avoid, abate, mitigate, capture, or sequester carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

Paterson said that he opposed the bill because it did not provide a source of funding and because it would duplicate existing state efforts by New York State’s Climate Action Council, which is developing a climate action plan for the state.

DEC Issues Proposed Program Policy Concerning Guidance on Application Process for Brownfield Site Cleanup Agreements Under Brownfield Cleanup Program

On March 31, 2010, DEC issued a proposed program policy which provides guidance on the application process and general terms and conditions for Brownfield Site Cleanup Agreements (BCAs) under the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program (BCP), as well as the process to amend and terminate a BCA.

According to the notice, The terms and conditions in this guidance are in addition to the regulatory terms and conditions at 6 NYCRR sections 375-1.5, 375-3.4, and 375-3.5 and such other terms and conditions that may be in the BCA. The application for inclusion into the BCP will require the party to acknowledge and agree to the general terms and conditions in this guidance.

Legislation establishing the BCP sets forth application provisions and requires DEC to execute a BCA prepared in accordance with ECL §27-1409 for the purpose of completing a brownfield site remedial program. The statute does not prescribe the detailed steps in the application process or the time for execution of the BCA.

In recognition of the benefit of guidance on the application process, benefit of timely execution of the BCA and the overall legislative intent of timely advancement of the remedial program, DEC will establish an application and BCA process that is more predictable and expeditious.

April 15, 2010

DEC Announces Changes to State’s Freshwater Fishing Regulations

On April 15, 2010, DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis announced the finalization of changes to the state’s freshwater fishing regulations which will become effective on Oct. 1, 2010.

The changes to the freshwater regulations are the result of a two-year process during which DEC solicited public feedback during the development of the proposals, and also provided a comment period for public input on the draft rules. Some of the changes apply to multiple waters in New York, while others are waterbody-specific. Modifications to enhance angling opportunities for a particular species or group of species and regulations that provide for the protection of vulnerable game fish species are among the changes. Several actions will eliminate “special regulations” (i.e. those different than the Statewide Angler Regulations) that are no longer needed based on the targeted species’ population trends.

Highlights of the changes include:

(1) a special allowance (mostly in DEC Regions 5 and 7) for five extra brook trout less than eight inches has been eliminated. With the exception of certain water-specific regulations, the daily limit is now five trout of any size;

(2) a 10-fish daily limit has been established for river herring (alewife and blueback herring) on the Delaware River and the West Branch Delaware River bordering Pennsylvania;

(3) the regulation for walleye on Burden Lake and Dunham Reservoir in Rensselaer County and Muskellunge Lake in Jefferson County requiring an 18-inch minimum size, three fish daily limit has been eliminated. Statewide regulations now apply;

(4) fishing is seasonally prohibited on a section of the Oswegatchie River below the dam in Ogdensburg in St. Lawrence County to protect spawning walleye;

(5) fishing for or possessing river herring (alewife and blueback herring) on the Mohawk River in Saratoga County between Lock 2 and Guard Gate 2 (Waterford Flight) is now prohibited;

(6) a 1.8-mile catch and release/artificial lures only section has been established for trout on the Chittenango Creek between Cazenovia and Chittenango in Madison County; and

(7) the baitfish use restriction in Weeds Mine Pond in Columbia County has been eliminated.

April 21, 2010

Department of Energy Announces Two-Phase Cleanup of West Valley Radioactive Waste Site

On April 14, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a record of decision calling for the West Valley radioactive waste site to be decommissioned in two phases. DOE called for a partial cleanup of the site, located outside of Buffalo, in phase one and a study of the best approach to a complete decommissioning of the 3,300-acre site in phase two.

According to the record of decision, phase one would take between eight and 10 years to complete. The record of decision said “substantial” work would be done in the first phase, including removal of the plant's main building, a vitrification facility, and the source area for a groundwater plume.

West Valley was used from approximately 1962 to 1975 for the processing, treatment, and storage of spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste. It is currently owned by the state, with a portion of the site operated by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

NYSERDA will issue its decision for cleaning up the portion of the site it owns sometime in coming weeks.

April 26, 2010

Study Finds that State Sources of Sustainable Biofuel Could Help Decrease Greenhouse Gas Pollution, Create Jobs, and Increase Energy Security

n April 26, 2010, Pace Law School’s Energy and Climate Center released a report finding that New York sources of biofuel made from wood, grass and other forms of biomass could reduce New York’s gasoline consumption by as much as 16 percent of projected use in 2020 and play a significant role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Produced at the recommendation of Governor David Paterson’s Renewable Energy Task Force, the report, entitled “Renewable Fuels Roadmap and Sustainable Biomass Feedstock Supply for New York State,” was developed to evaluate the positive and negative impacts associated with increased use and production of this renewable fuel, and to help guide state policy on renewable fuels for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), DEC, and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.

The Roadmap evaluates the future of biomass and liquid biofuel production for transportation purposes in New York State in order to address increasing greenhouse gas emissions as well as independence from petroleum usage. It presents a snapshot of New York’s current biomass production, including agricultural products and forest products, and addresses biomass feedstock inventory, land uses, transportation and distribution infrastructure, competing uses for biomass, and biofuel conversion technologies.

Some key findings include the following:

(1) based only on in-state feedstocks, New York could provide 5.6 - 16% of estimated 2020 gasoline consumption;

(2) biomass-based liquid fuels, or biofuels, potentially can play a large role in reducing the state’s emissions of greenhouse gases, which are a leading contributor to global warming;

(3) a new industry that makes cellulosic biofuels from sustainable feedstocks has the potential to decrease GHG emissions by between 67% and 85% compared to the equivalent energy content of petroleum fuel;

(4) potentially negative environmental impacts include air quality impacts, soil erosion, impaired water quality, acidification of water and soil, and reduced biodiversity; implementing appropriate best management practices would minimize some of these adverse impacts;

(5) compared to fossil fuels, in a total life cycle analysis of cellulosic biofuels from sustainable feedstocks, levels of certain air pollutant emissions may be reduced, such as sulfur oxides,benzene and 1,3-butadiene;

(6) four centralized large-scale or 24 smaller-scale biofuels product facilities could operate with sustainably available biomass in the State; (6) an assessment of the current technologies to convert biomass to advanced biofuels suggests that the industry is five to ten years away from commercial production;

(7) depending upon the rate at which the biofuels industry grows, between 4,000 and 14,000 jobs would be created state-wide; and

(8) establishing a sustainable biofuels industry will require the adoption of a suite of policies that provide flexibility, balance and opportunity to New York.

About April 2010

This page contains all entries posted to Envirosphere in April 2010. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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