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The Best Gifts from Schoharie County

Showing posts with label energy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label energy. Show all posts

Train Derailment in WV Highlights Fuel Transport Worries

Written By Editor on 2/18/15 | 2/18/15

The balance between fossil fuels and need for winter heating fuel was on display this week after a severe crash in West Virginia. A train carrying 3 million gallons of oil derailed in snowy weather, causing a fire that is still burning. Oil has also seeped into a nearby river.

The derailment has caused hundreds of families to be evacuated and 19 train cars left the tracks. One house was burnt down in the fire.

Photo credit: Marcus Constantino/Reuters
The media quotes Senator Joe Manchin as saying, "All you can see is a couple of blocks sticking out of the ground. There's some pickup trucks out front completely burned to the ground."
Much of the increased rail transport of oil and natural gas is due to changes in fossil fuel technology, namely fracking:
Rail shipments of crude have increased from 9,500 carloads in 2008 to more than 435,000 in 2013, driven by a boom in the Bakken oil patch of North Dakota and Montana. Limited pipeline capacity there forces about 70 percent of the crude to reach refineries by rail, according to American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers.
These types of accidents hit a deadly peak in 2013, when an explosion in Quebec killed 47 people.

New EPA Regulations Would Ban Most Woodstove Models

Written By Editor on 2/17/15 | 2/17/15

For many in the area, woodstoves are a vital source of primary or secondary heat. The ample forests and thriving timber industry of Upstate New York provide a somewhat inexpensive and always available fuel.

However, for many residents dependent on the heat source this winter, things could change rapidly. The EPA is phasing in a five year program intended to reduce soot particulates in the air over the next five years.

After this period, all stoves will have to meet the following:

2.0 grams per hour for catalytic and noncatalytic stoves, if emissions are tested using cribs

Alternative limit: 2.5 grams per hour, if tested with cord wood; method must be approved

Within 60 days of the February 3rd decision all new non-EPA approved stoves must produce 4.5 grams of particulates or less. The EPA will allow all current woodstove stock to be sold through the end of the calendar year.

The EPA is also including an enforcement mechanism to ensure the rules are being followed. While much of this includes monitoring corporations regarding the output of their new woodstoves, there federal agency would directly handle violations by individuals.

It is estimated that 80% of current woodstoves would not meet the current regulation. While current stoves are not included for destruction, New York state is going above and beyond. The state joined with several others calling similar EPA moves inadequate and together are suing for more stringent regulations on outdoor and indoor wood boilers.

The lawsuit states that, "in rural New York counties, residential wood combustion is responsible for 90 percent of fine particulate matter pollition" and that such instruments are threats to public health.

Center for Sustainable Rural Communities on Pipeline Approval: Unacceptable

Written By Cicero on 12/3/14 | 12/3/14

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” for the proposed Constitution Pipeline. In doing so, the Federal agency essentially rejected the hundreds of comments, studies and concerns submitted by impacted landowners, communities, scientists and citizens groups. They also sent a signal to the NY State DEC and the US Army Corp of Engineers that concerns raised by those two agencies about the proposed pipeline would not be taken seriously. FERC also approved the proposed expansion of the compressor station in the Town of Wright which will facilitate the Constitution Pipeline and potentially others. By issuing the Certificate, FERC sets the stage for the seizure of private property through eminent domain to accommodate pipeline easements. Constitution may attempt to serve condemnation papers to individual landowners as early as today.

The proposed pipeline will follow a 50-60’ wide clear-cut path through Broome, Chenango, Delaware and Schoharie counties, dissecting forest, farmland, streams, wetlands and residential backyards. An estimated 1/3 of the route through Schoharie County will require blasting. Opponents have pointed out the pipeline will impact sensitive eco-systems and habitats for a wide verity of species including bald eagles and the bat colonies living in the Karst cave systems of Schoharie County, which are already threatened by “white nose syndrome” a disease that has resulted in the deaths of an estimated 6 million North American bats.

The Center for Sustainable Rural Communities submitted multiple comments to FERC opposing the pipeline including an extensive hydrogeology study and an industry standard white paper detailing the national security vulnerability of the proposed pipeline and associated compressor station. FERC dismissed the latter study essentially saying that steps were being taken to address the security issues but would not disclose what those steps are.  In response to the hundreds of environmental concerns raised, FERC deferred to “mitigation” promised by pipeline builders Cabot Oil & Gas, Williams Partners, Piedmont Natural Gas and WGL Holdings. FERC did not express concern about the safety records of Cabot and Williams, both of whom have garnered long lists of violations and fines related to drilling and pipeline operations.

Pipeline construction cannot begin until the NY State DEC conducts public hearings and grants a “401 permit.” Appeals to FERC’s decision are also likely by citizen and non-profit groups. Litigation is also possible by one or more of the hundreds of individuals and groups who have registered with FERC as “Interveners.”

Robert Nied, spokesperson for the Center issued the following statement after the FERC announcement:

“The Federal regulatory process has failed the citizens of New York. FERC has opted to ignore the health, safety, quality of life and property rights of the residents of our region and rubber stamp a destructive and unnecessary project in order to further the profits of a callus and out of control oil and gas industry. The Center will continue to fight this project and stand with those resisting its abuse of private property rights, community rights and the right of every citizen to a safe and healthy environment.”

Breaking News: Constitution Pipeline Approved by FERC

The Federal Energy Regulatory Committee has made an astonishing decision, announced today. Coming months off of its statement that the proposed Constitution Pipeline would be environmentally safe, the regulatory body has declared that the pipeline has been conditionally approved.

This has resulted in a mad dash by parties to stop or to begin the project. A statement from the Center for Sustainable Rural Communities will be published shortly decrying the decision. Meanwhile, the natural gas industry will likely attempt to start construction in early 2015. Construction could be done by the end of the year.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Williams Energy has several other pipeline projects prepared, although these may not intersect Schoharie County:
Williams also has several other pipeline projects in the works that would expand and reroute gas shipments to increase its ability to move Pennsylvania gas on its Transco network, which runs from Texas to New York.

Cobleskill Volunteer Project to Produce Hydroelectricity at Veteran's Park

Written By Editor on 9/2/14 | 9/2/14

The Village of Cobleskill and intrepid volunteers are doing something unprecedented in Schoharie County. While there's been a lot of talk about installing solar panels for local municipalities, Cobleskill is installing a hydro project.

Led by volunteer Jonathan di Cesare, the project is transforming the small waterfall in Veteran's Park to produce 5kw of electricity-- which will be returned to the grid.

Photo credit: Village of Cobleskill FB Page
For more information, see the Village of Cobleskill's Facebook page or donate to the project here.

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