On this Earth Day 2016, I would like to praise New York State politicians who have taken positive steps to improve our planet – NY Governor Andrew Cuomo, NY Senator Tony Avella, NYC Council Member Paul A. Vallone and NYC Assemblyman Edward C.Braunstein. Also, praiseworthy is environmentalist Boyan Slat of the Netherlands. In case anyone is looking for ideas on how to improve the condition of our planet, here are some exemplary examples to follow.
Governor Cuomo banned fracking in New York State. High volume hydraulic fracturing commonly known as “fracking” is detrimental to Earth and to all living things that inhabit our planet. How can the government allow companies to carry on businesses that harm the world in which we live?
Fracking mixes great quantities of water with sand and chemicals that are pumped into layers of rock far below the earth’s surface to cause fractures which allow gases to escape. Opponents of tracking cite contamination of drinking water, rivers, streams and farmlands as reasons to reduce, regulate or eliminate fracking.
The water cycle is interrupted because of the millions of gallons needed for the fracking process. Noise, light and air pollution are associated with the large number of diesel trucks driven by workers at these sites which cause undue stress on local inhabitants, as well as farm animals. Serious illnesses have been linked to proximity to fracking sites. There has been a marked increase in seismic activity in fracking sites and a noticeable change in weather patterns. Most often, property values are greatly reduced and insurance is difficult to obtain in adjacent areas.
According to the Inside Climate News website Jan. 20, 2015 article, “Map: The Fracking Boom, State By State” by Zahra Hirji and Lisa Song, “New York is the ONLY state in the union with sizable fossil fuel reserves that has banned the practice. Fracking now occurs in 22 states with another 5 states investigating feasibility. Vermont and Massachusetts symbolically banned fracking since they do not have any major resources to tap into. Rhode Island and Georgia respectively have no or small deposits of gas or oil. Florida allows it, but it is not practiced. Tennessee and Kentucky allow it but use other extraction methods.”
The article also tells us …”New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo banned fracking in New York State in December, 2014 citing public health risks from water and air pollution, and the unknown climate change impact of extracting gas.”
So, we’re talking about ground, water, air, light and noise pollution disturbing the peace of a once pristine bucolic landscape. The vast quantities of natural gas in North America offer an alternative energy supply to reduce reliance on the Middle East for oil. The price is too high in our densely populated country. The Middle Eastern refineries are not near populated areas or near waters that serve as food sources or near farmlands. Their topography is different from ours. We must develop alternative methods like wind, hydroelectric power and solar energy to meet our country’s needs.
Realizing the negative impact on their quality of life, some local communities have begun to fight back. Make your feelings known to your legislators. Investigate. Organize. Mobilize. Protest. Discuss. Vote. We’re talking about the health and well-being of your family as well as future generations. This is worth your time.
This brings us to New York Senator, Tony Avella of whom I’ve been a long time fan and supporter. Senator Avella has worked hard to improve quality of life issues.
His bill was passed protecting mute swans from arbitrary eradication, permitting non-lethal control of the NY population of 2,200 birds pending proof of any danger they may present.
Senator Avella is working with Assembly Member Steven Otis to ensure passage of the green building tax credit into law allowing home owners to apply for tax credits to incentivize environmentally friendly buildings. Installation of low-flow plumbing, energy-efficient appliances, heating and cooling systems, for example, would qualify for tax credits.
Senator Avella worked with Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal to sponsor legislation which has passed into law that would require pet dealers to provide instructions on the care and feeding of small animals so owners may be aware of the full extent of their responsibilities.
Also, Senator Avella has been able to provide the Udalls Cove Preservation Committee $210,000 to acquire a marshy plot of land adjacent to the Udalls Cove Park where several species of plants and animals have taken up residence, insuring protection as a wetland. (Senator Avella newsletter, Jan., 2016)
According to NYC Councilman Paul A. Vallone’s April 11, 2016 e-newsletter, he and NYC Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein sponsored the Rain Barrel Giveaway Program in partnership with the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection and the Alley Pond Environmental Center, whereby residents of Northeast Queens County were able to get a sixty gallon rain barrel to install and connect to the property owners’ downspout to catch and store rainwater to water lawns and gardens and to use for other outdoor chores.
“Boyan Slat, a 21 year-old resident of the Netherlands, has devoted himself to founding and forwarding The Ocean Cleanup, a system in which plastics in our oceans, driven by currents, would amass in accessible zones, reducing cleanup time from theoretical millennia to a manageable period. Leading a team of 100 scientists and engineers for one year, they turned the concept into a potentially viable method to clean up half the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years. Crowdfunding will launch the pilot phase in Japanese waters in 2016… .Slat has been named a United Nations Champion of the Earth. The Ocean Cleanup is a recognized Design of the Year by the London Design Museum.” (Natural Awakenings, October 2015, p. 17)
You might want to check out “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” on Netflix.
Hey, Governor Cuomo, Senator Avella, Council Member Paul A. Vallone, Assemblyman Edward C. Braunstein and Boyan Slat, you did good!
Check out earth justice.org for more information.
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