Posts Tagged ‘energy’

Thursday, October 16, 2014

NY-21 Candidates Answer Climate Change Questions

voting boothProtect the Adirondacks sent a questionnaire to each of the three candidates running for Congress in New York’s 21st Congressional District, which includes the Adirondack Park and northern New York, about their positions on climate change issues.

The questionnaire included seven questions and was sent to Green Party candidate Matt Funicello, Republican Party candidate Elise Stefanik, and Democratic Party candidate Aaron Woolf.  The climate change questionnaire was sent to each campaign on September 25th. Woolf and Funicello submitted their answers, while the Stefanik campaign has been unresponsive despite repeated emails and phone calls. » Continue Reading.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Backyard Compost: A Hot Mess

TOS_compostAt the New Hampshire University Organic Dairy Research Farm in Lee, even the heat for the wash water is organic and locally-sourced.

The heat comes from the farm’s composting facility, a building that looks like an eight-bay garage but actually contains cutting-edge composting technology, as well as a whole lot of rotting stuff.

Of course, compost heat doesn’t require sophisticated technology or the attention to detail that doctoral students provide to farm chores. However, managing heat generation is tricky. Even academics and professional composters can’t always get everything in the right balance for perfect decomposition. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

Review: Driving an Electric Car in the Adirondacks

VoltLast week I discussed the general concept of electric cars in the Adirondacks and the possible types of electric car one might choose. I suggested that a pure electric car – that is, one with no gas engine backup – would not yet be practical in the park because the odds that one would use up their range and be potentially stranded are too high. But an electric car with gas backup is completely workable – and considerably better in terms of fossil fuel use than a hybrid.

This week I’d like to report on our experience driving a Chevy Volt in the Adirondacks. The Volt is an electric car with a gas engine that acts as a backup generator as needed, giving a total range comparable to typical internal combustion cars. As before, I do not endorse the Volt; it simply happens to be the car I own. However many of its features and the issues attendant to driving it in a vast, mountainous park would be common to any electric car. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, September 6, 2014

Commentary: Electric Cars in the Adirondacks

VoltOur most recent time in the Adirondacks had an interesting dimension for Amy and me. In early August, right at the height of our busy performing season – during which we are almost constantly on the road – our beloved Subaru WRX blew its engine. Thrillingly for us it was just out of warranty, guaranteeing that the curve to fix it, both in time and money, would be a long and brutal one. Having an immediate need to hit the highway for several weeks straight, we were faced with three choices: rent (ouch), buy a used car and hope for the best, or buy a new car.

The only sure option was the last one and although it was a financial obligation we’d rather not have taken, it presented us with an opportunity to take the plunge a few years earlier than planned on a long-term dream we have harbored: to own an electric car. So we did our research, selected a brand, test drove a demo, measured the trunk length with the seats down (very important for professional stilt walkers), miraculously secured credit approval and bought ourselves a Chevy Volt. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, July 16, 2014

First Electric Car Charging Station In Adirondack Interior

ElectCarCharging-1The Tesla pulls silently into the driveway and sidles next to the charging station. With the ease of charging a cell phone, the car is plugged in and its owners make their way into The Wild Center. The Center’s new charging station is a first step to making the Tri-Lakes region of the Adirondacks (Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, and Lake Placid) electric-car friendly.

In addition to plug-in stations already up and running in Canton, Potsdam, Plattsburgh, and Lake George, this electric charging station will provide a battery charge for those visiting the heart of the Adirondacks.

Every major car maker is producing or has plans for electric vehicles, some of which can get the equivalent of 119 miles per gallon and have an annual fuel cost of $500. Federal tax credits are currently available for electric vehicles. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Demonstration Planned Against Champlain Oil Trains

Oil Train ExplosionOn Saturday, July 5, North Country residents will bear witness to the one-year anniversary of the deadly oil train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec that killed 47 people and to raise public awareness of crude-by-rail transport in the Lake Champlain region.

Participants will gather near the mouth of the Saranac River at 3 pm, walking out on a pedestrian bridge about 50 feet from the Canadian Pacific railroad bridge, and gathering in canoes and kayaks below the bridges.

The demonstration is part of a week-long action by citizens and groups across North America opposing the escalation of crude-by-rail shipping. The Plattsburgh event is being spearheaded by Center for Biological Diversity and People for Positive Action. » Continue Reading.



Friday, June 27, 2014

Earthjustice Seeks Info On Routes Of Oil Trains

Rail accident in Lac Megantic, Quebec in 2013 (Wikimedia photo)The environmental organization Earthjustice is asking authorities to disclose the routes of trains that transport Bakken crude oil through New York State.

Earthjustice attorney Christopher Amato filed the freedom-of-information request Thursday with the state Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Emergency Management on behalf of several environmental groups, including Adirondack Wild and the Sierra Club.

Amato is seeking all records submitted by rail carriers regarding the oil-transport routes as well as any requests by the carriers to keep such records secret.

» Continue Reading.



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

David Sommerstein: Trains Carry Oil And Risk

Rail accident in Lac Megantic, Quebec in 2013 (Wikimedia photo)On a summer night last July, the charming French-Canadian town of Lac Megantic literally exploded. A tanker train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire, incinerating much of the downtown and killing forty-seven people.

Other train explosions followed in Alabama and North Dakota. Now people are wondering if it could happen here in the Adirondacks.

Since the disaster in Lac Megantic—located 180 miles northeast of the Adirondack Park, in Quebec—officials in northern New York have taken notice that similar trains, up to a hundred tankers long and filled with eighty-five thousand barrels of oil, roar regularly through the Champlain Valley. Most of the oil is in tankers that federal regulators have deemed unsafe. » Continue Reading.



Monday, March 10, 2014

APA Seeks Expedited Approvals For Some Wetland Activities

APA officeThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is seeking public comment on two new general permits related to wetlands in the Adirondack Park that would expedite APA approval for qualifying activities. One relates to the the management of invasive species within 100 feet of a wetland, the other to access and replacement of power poles in wetlands. Both General Permits will apply throughout the Adirondack Park and will be effective for three years unless revoked or modified by the Agency.

The APA will accept public comments until March 28, 2014. If there is significant concern with, or opposition to these General Permits, a public hearing may be required. Approval of a General Permit by the Agency is a SEQRA, Type 1 action. A negative declaration and Full Environmental Assessment Form has been prepared by the Agency and is on file at its offices in Ray Brook, New York. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, February 13, 2014

Firewood: Tips For Keeping Insects Out

Fire Wood by John WarrenIt’s economical, sustainable and keeps you in shape, not to mention that nothing feels so good as a seat by the woodstove on a sub-zero night. What’s not to like about heating with wood?   Certain things do bug people. The mess, for one. Stacking and splitting can get old. Adjusting the ‘thermostat’ may involve a trip to the woodpile. And occasionally, unexpected guests arrive.

Firewood, I’ve discovered, comes from “trees” which are covered in “bark,” under which insects can hide. As wood brought inside warms up, it feels like winter’s over to these critters, who gleefully sally forth. Inevitably, insects and homeowners are both disappointed. » Continue Reading.



Friday, January 17, 2014

Build A Greener Adirondacks Conference Planned

BAGAAlmost 40 percent of all the energy used in the United States is used by buildings or by activities in those buildings, such as heat, lights, computers and other equipment. The older housing stock and cold winters in the Adirondacks mean that even more energy is wasted in this region than in others.

The Build a Greener Adirondacks (BAGA) conference on January 30th is a day-long conference and vendor exposition designed to provide contractors with an overview of current green building practices. Topics will include understanding the Building Envelope, heating with Renewable Energy, communicating with clients about Green, new code guidelines to anticipate in 2014 and more. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, January 16, 2014

Moratorium Sought On Local Bakken Oil Rail Transport

800px-Lac_megantic_burningIn the wake of two explosive derailments in the past two weeks involving crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota and western Canada, the Center for Biological Diversity is calling for a moratorium on rail transport of the oil in the Northeast.

Trains travel to Albany and the Hudson River Valley from the north as well as west-east rail lines that border the Adirondack region, bearing the same incendiary crude that has been involved in a total of five major rail accidents since summer 2013.

» Continue Reading.



Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Random Notes on Climate Change in 2013

namgnld_season22013 was another watershed year in climate change news. The reality of life on a warmer planet was seen in a variety of ways. The reality of the inability of U.S. and international efforts to reduce reliance on fossil fuels was also stark as use continues to rise. Here are some new data points about life on a warming planet.

The year’s biggest news was made last summer when scientists at a Hawaii research station measured 400 ppm (parts per million) of carbon in the earth’s atmosphere. NASA climate scientist James Hansen has famously called the 350 ppm carbon mark the safe zone for avoiding the worst of climate change impacts. Some terrific charts in The Guardian (probably the best news site for tracking climate issues) provides important context to carbon loading to the earth’s atmosphere. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cabin Life: The Wet Firewood

The Little StreamAs is my new custom, I’m sitting at the table looking out the big window at the winter weather, and I’m sweating.  The new stove is amazing, but way too large for my little cabin.  A wealth of heat is not necessarily a bad thing, but having the cabin feel like a too-hot summer is a little disconcerting.

I open one of the windows a little more, since all the windows that can open, are already open.  I’m greeted with sounds that are both welcome and unwelcome at the same time.  The sound of snow and ice dripping off of the roof is nice, but the sound of freezing rain is unpleasant.  I woke to a half-inch of ice covering everything.  I can also hear the small rushing stream out back.  It typically only flows in the spring, but now it sounds like constant traffic.  It’s eerily out of place.

Around noon I went out and started my car.  I wanted to get as much ice off as possible before the second round of sleet and freezing rain began.  It was only a little below freezing, but because it was thick and took me most of an hour with the defroster and an ice scraper.  The radio playing in the car told me to stay off the roads for unnecessary travel, but I was out of beer. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cabin Life: Wrestling With The Dark

Recycled CandlesI currently have twelve independent fires going inside of my cabin.  The one scented candle is making the mixture of burning candles, lamp oil, and spiced apple almost pleasant. Almost.

This time of year is the roughest, psychologically, out here.  When the sun starts to dip before most people eat dinner, it’s tough for me to stay positive.  Especially on a day like today, when it was overcast all day and never really that bright out, the night seems just about unbearably long. » Continue Reading.



Monday, September 30, 2013

Lake Champlain Power Line Public Informational Meeting

Champlain Power ProjectThe public, organizations, businesses, municipalities, and others interested in the plans for running an underwater power transmission line on the bottom of Lake Champlain from Canada to the southern end are invited to a Champlain Hudson Power Express Public Informational Meeting to learn more about this project and have an opportunity to ask questions.

Representatives from Transmission Developers Incorporated will be in Plattsburgh to provide an update on the current status of the project along with near- and long-term plans and timeframes for constructing this power line.  Information on what this project might look like for Lake Champlain, the route of the power cable and how it will be installed, equipment needed for the installation, and time frames will be included in the discussions.  Updates on progress to date including such items as approvals and permits, as well as, underwater surveying and mapping will be presented. » Continue Reading.



Friday, September 13, 2013

Mining in Ironville: An Early Electromagnet

jack_laduke_ironvilleThere was a time in the Adirondacks when American ingenuity was plugging into a new invention, called electricity.

I recently attended a yearly celebration at  The Penfield Homestead Museum in the hamlet of Ironville, Crown Point, where they harnessed that new-age power to create an amazing tool used in the processing of iron ore – an early electromagnet.

Watch the full report here.



Sunday, August 18, 2013

Cabin Life: Installing A First Solar Panel

The PanelWell, it’s finally happened, I have electricity.  Granted, it’s not much electricity, but it’s a start.  I don’t need enough to run appliances or a whole house, just enough so that my phone and computer don’t go dead, and hopefully a light or two to read by.

A few months ago I got an e-mail from a reader who said he had an old solar panel lying around and didn’t need or want it anymore.  It was mine, he said, if I just came and picked it up.

You never know who you’re meeting through an e-mail, so I was a little wary.  So, fighting the urge to tell everyone where I was going and with whom just in case I didn’t make it back, I drove the little ways to his camp.  I did bring my girlfriend with me, you know, for protection.  » Continue Reading.



Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cabin Life: Building A New Wood Shed

The Wood ShedI really enjoy fall weather, but not in July.  The last few nights have been beautiful, but cold.  I really struggled on Wednesday over whether or not I should get a fire going in the stove.  I decided not to, based solely on principle that I will not use my woodstove in July.  I just won’t do it.

But it has made the evenings pleasant.  The water is warm when we go swimming, and the heat isn’t as oppressive as last week.  » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Clean Energy Conference Focuses on Local Success

Adirondack Energy ConferenceWhat follows is a guest essay by Daniel Mason who is the Director of the North Country Clean Energy Conference and a Board Member/Clean Energy Leader of the Adirondack North Country Association. He retired as an engineering manager after 34 years from a Fortune 100 petrochemical corporation.

People get excited about clean energy for a number of reasons. Clean energy use helps businesses and organizations save money, homegrown renewable energy keeps more money in the region’s economy, and creates local jobs.  » Continue Reading.



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