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November 2010 Archives

November 9, 2010

NYSERDA Releases Report Finding that Carbon Dioxide Emissions From Electricity Generators in RGGI States Declined by 1/3 Since 2005

On November 5, 2010, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) released a report that found that annual carbon dioxide emissions from electricity generators in the 10 states participating in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) were 33 percent lower in 2009 than in 2005.

The report attributed the decline to a lower electricity load, fuel-switching from petroleum and coal to natural gas, and increased use of nuclear, wind, and hydropower. The report did not calculate the direct impact of the RGGI cap-and-trade program for carbon dioxide emissions, which did not take effect until 2009.

According to the report, total carbon dioxide emissions from the electric sector declined from 184.4 million tons in 2005, when the RGGI program was designed, to 123.7 million tons in 2009, when RGGI was implemented. The report attributed a decline of 29.2 million tons to a reduced electricity load due to weather, energy efficiency programs, customer-sited generation, and the economy. It attributed a decline of 18.9 million tons to fuel switching due to lower natural gas prices. The report attributed a decline of 12.6 million tons to greater use of nuclear, wind, and hydropower and less use of coal.

November 11, 2010

New York State Releases Plan to Lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions by 80% by 2050

On November 9, 2010, New York Governor David A. Paterson released a draft climate action plan designed to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The 600-page plan includes recommendations for emissions reductions in every sector of the economy, including power generation, transportation, buildings, and agriculture. The report is open for public comments until Feb. 7, 2011. The state Climate Action Council will then outline a specific strategy for implementing the recommendations and release cost estimates and predicted economic impacts.

The report’s recommendations in the energy sector include accelerating the development of zero- and low-carbon sources of power, reducing the state’s reliance on petroleum, and upgrading the power grid to increase the use of renewable energy.

With respect to the transportation section, the report calls for the development of low-carbon fuel standards, greater use of electricity-based public transportation, creation of rebates and incentives for the sale of efficient cars and light trucks, and investment in freight and high-speed rail.

Other recommendations in the report include changing construction codes, appliance standards, and consumer incentives to promote construction of the most energy-efficient and environmentally beneficial buildings; creating sustainable policies in agriculture, forestry, and waste sectors to decrease the amount of waste generated; increasing the use of renewable energy and biomass fuels in agriculture; and helping New York businesses develop low-carbon energy technologies through research and development funding.

November 18, 2010

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation Issues New Rules for Community Gardens

In September 2010, the New York City Departments of Parks and Recreation (DPR) and Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) promulgated new rules governing the approximately 280 community gardens under their jurisdiction.

Greenthumb, the program that directly oversees the gardens, also assists non-city-owned gardens with basics such as tools and low cost seeds. The creation of the new rules was prompted by the expiration of a 2002 settlement agreement between then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and the Bloomberg administration. The settlement agreement was reached in response to several lawsuits that were filed after the previous Giuliani administration announced that the City was going to sell many of these community gardens, which were in vacant lots, for private development. In the settlement, the City agreed to protect the lots for eight years and agreed to convey some of the lots to non-profit land trusts for permanent preservation.

Many provisions of this agreement were incorporated in the new rules, including a garden review process, which must be conducted prior to the transfer of any community garden to another agency or private developer. Additional new rules include the following: (1) active gardens under the Parks Department’s jurisdiction are preserved as gardens as long as they are registered and licensed by the Department; (2) licenses will be renewed as long as the garden satisfies the registration criteria; (3) the Department must attempt to identify successor gardening groups for failing gardens and has nine months from time of default to return the garden to active status; (4) new gardens may be created and will have the same protections as existing gardens; a party licensed by the City to perform work that results in damage to a garden will be required to return the garden to its preexisting condition; (5) the Department will attempt to provide notices required under the current rules to gardeners in other languages; and (6) the rules make clear that gardens will be preserved and explains that the transfer and development provisions apply to abandoned and persistently non-compliant gardens under the Department's jurisdiction.

November 19, 2010

ExxonMobil Agrees to Pay $25 Million to Settle Lawsuit Concerning Cleanup of Newtown Creek

On November 17, 2010, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo announced that ExxonMobil Corp. entered into a proposed consent decree agreeing to pay $25 million to settle a lawsuit brought by New York State and the Riverkeeper environmental group to force the cleanup of areas surrounding the Newtown Creek superfund site in New York City.

Most of this money would be used on projects to benefit the environment in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn, where refineries and other industrial facilities lined the Newtown Creek waterway for decades. The settlement also would require the company to perform and pay for a comprehensive cleanup of oil spills and related pollution in Greenpoint.

In September 2010, EPA put the Newtown Creek site on its National Priorities List pursuant to the superfund law. The site has also been subject to DEC cleanup supervision since 1990.

The settlement addresses the cleanup of a 17-million-gallon plume of groundwater contamination under 55 acres of Greenpoint, but it does not cover the Newtown Creek site itself. The settlement includes specific milestones, including completion of a plan for identifying the scope of floating oil, groundwater, soil, and soil vapor contamination within 90 days. Other steps include producing a community involvement plan within 90 days, publishing a groundwater report within 120 days, and releasing a soil report within 180 days. Quarterly and annual progress reports are required, and an evaluation of new cleanup technologies would have to be done within a year.

The settlement includes $19.5 million in projects to benefit the environment in Greenpoint, $3.5 million for future oversight costs, $1.5 million for past state cleanup costs, $250,000 in civil penalties, and $250,000 in a natural resource damages assessment.

November 29, 2010

DEC Issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Concerning Revisions to Full and Short Environmental Assessment Forms

On November 24, 2010, DEC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning Full and Short Environment Assessment Forms (EAFs) pursuant to 6 NYCRR Part 617.

EAFs are model forms promulgated by DEC and appended to the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) regulations. The EAFs are used by governmental agencies and boards to assess the environmental significance of actions under SEQRA. According to the notice, the existing EAFs are out-of-date and no longer adequately serve the purposes for which they were created.

The notice states that a legislative public hearing is scheduled on January 25, 2011 at 1:00 p.m. in Room 129 at the offices of the DEC at 625 Broadway, Albany, New York 12233. The notice states that comments on the Full and Short EAF and supporting documents will be accepted by DEC until close of business, February 18, 2011.

Comments can be submitted via email at depprmt@gw.dec.state.ny.us. The draft revised EAF forms, associated rulemaking documents and the negative declaration pursuant to SEQRA are available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6061.html.

About November 2010

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

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