As the nation mourns the passing of George H. W. Bush, the President who signed the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 creating America’s first acid rain program – a conference of scientists and advocates has concluded that the fight to stop acid rain is nearly won. Sadly, victory is now in doubt due to the Trump administration’s proposed pollution rule changes.
It feels like we are a marathon runner who has been tripped with the finish line in sight. In 1990, President Bush understood that the United States was supposed to set an example for the rest of the world when it comes to protecting the environment. The current Environmental Protection Agency is pushing hard in the other direction, imposing reductions to environmental protections that took a generation to enact. » Continue Reading.
At the conclusion of his visit to Bear Pond in the St. Regis Canoe Area on August 10, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer answered questions from press and local residents who were worried about Federal Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. Senator Schumer confirmed that Kavanaugh would be bad news for clean air, clean water and public health in the Adirondack Park.
The Senator had come to celebrate Bear Pond’s recovery from acid rain and to warn federal officials not to backslide on clean air rules. The Senate Minority Leader said he was opposed to Kavanaugh’s confirmation. » Continue Reading.
The Department of Environment Conservation (DEC) has announced that the next round of the statewide Community Air Screen program is accepting applications. The program partners with community groups to conduct air quality surveillance. Applications to participate in the program will be accepted until May 19.
The program enables local community groups and residents to take air samples in neighborhoods across the State to help identify and address local air quality concerns. DEC will analyze the samples for possible air pollutants. » Continue Reading.
The U.S. Supreme Court has issued an injunction that delays implementation of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan’s greenhouse-gas regulations. EPA’s plan must wait until after a legal challenge in a lower court, as well as an expected appeal to the Supreme Court, are decided. These events are expected to take a year or more. » Continue Reading.
On August 3rd the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced it had set tough new standards for controlling greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel power plants.
This final Clean Power Plan would reduce carbon emissions by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. That is a nine-percent deeper cut than EPA’s preliminary plan, announced last year. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Council sent the following statement to the press Monday reviewing Adirondack issues from the last session of the NYS Legislature:
Aside from authorizing the addition of 12 acres to the Adirondack Forest Preserve last week, the NYS Legislature did little in May and June to help the clean water, wilderness and communities of the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Council said today.
“The Legislature and Governor passed a pro-Adirondack budget on April 1, but didn’t accomplish much for the Adirondack Park after that,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “Lawmakers did pass a bill that will add 12 acres to the 2.7-million-acre public Forest Preserve and we are grateful to the sponsors for guiding it through both houses. » Continue Reading.
We tend to think of air pollution only occurring in cities, especially over a century ago when there were no air pollution regulations in place and the industrial revolution was in its hey-day. But it appears that air pollution plagued city-dwellers wherever they went.
I spent a day at the Adirondack Museum reading through the camp diary of the Stott family on Raquette Lake (1882-1900). One of the first entries in 1882 is a remark that it was the year of the ‘Yellow Day’ because for a week or so the sky had a peculiar yellowish color to it and the sun hung in the air like a hazy red ball, obscured by fire smoke that filled the atmosphere. » Continue Reading.
Residential brush burning in towns with less than 20,000 residents is prohibited in the state through May 14 – including all of the Adirondack Park. New York State prohibits residential burning during the high-risk fire season to reduce the number of wildfires and protect people, property and natural resources.
Open burning of debris is the largest single cause of spring wildfires in New York State. When temperatures are warmer and grasses and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily. » Continue Reading.
Negotiations over the NYS budget for fiscal year 2015-16 were messy and dominated by arguments over ethics reforms and education funding, but the final plan contained much-needed investments in clean water, wilderness, wildlife and communities of the Adirondack Park.
Foremost is a three-year, $200-million capital program to repair wastewater treatment and drinking water facilities. Under the program, the state would set aside $50 million this year and $75 million in each of the next two fiscal years to pay for matching grants to communities for up to 60 percent of upgrades for local drinking water and wastewater treatment facilities. » Continue Reading.
Great strides have been made in recent decades to protect the Adirondack Park’s environment from acid rain, but more work still needs to be done. That’s according to scientists, environmentalists and natural resource managers who attended a conference about acid rain in the Adirondacks Thursday at the Hilton Hotel in Saratoga Springs.
The event was organized by the Adirondack Council and the Environmental Defense Fund. » Continue Reading.
Biodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI’s) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS’s) Adirondack Program have announced that three new articles summarizing research on Adirondack loons have been published in a special issue of the journal Waterbirds that is dedicated to loon research and conservation in North America. Research was conducted on the Common Loon (Gavia immer), which breeds on Adirondack lakes, by BRI and WCS in collaboration with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, SUNY ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center, Paul Smiths Watershed Stewardship Program, and other partners.
“We are pleased to have our loon research in the Adirondack Park included in this unique publication,” Dr. Nina Schoch, Coordinator of BRI’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, said in a statement to the press. “The special issue includes fifteen scientific papers highlighting loon behavior, life history and population ecology, movements and migration, habitat and landscape requirements, and the risk contaminants pose to loon populations. The publication will be a valuable resource to help guide the conservation of loon populations throughout North America.” » Continue Reading.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision today has revived the Cross-State Pollution Rule that makes it illegal for states to cause air pollution that harms neighboring states. The rule was reinstated in a 6-2-1 ruling, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself.
“The Cross-State Pollution Rule should never have been struck down in 2011 and we are thrilled that the Supreme Court has revived it,” William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, said in a statement to the press. “The Adirondack Park has suffered for decades from pollution drifting in from Midwest states. Nearly all of our acid rain is created by smokestacks hundreds of miles away.” » Continue Reading.
A team of University of Texas at Arlington biologists working with the U.S. Geological Survey in the Black and Oswegatchie river basins has found that watershed wetlands can serve as a natural source for the improvement of streams polluted by acid rain.
The group, led by associate professor of biology Sophia Passy, also contends that recent increases in the level of organic matter in surface waters in regions of North America and Europe – also known as “brownification” – holds benefits for aquatic ecosystems. The research team’s work appears in the September issue of the journal Global Change Biology. » Continue Reading.
During this season of giving, it is only right to include the environment on your list of those that need a gift. While a tie, sweater, or a pair of socks is not appropriate for Mother Nature, the item that many individuals should consider bringing to our fields and forests is the ashes that are produced by wood stoves, fireplaces and outdoor wood boilers, as this material is one of the most precious commodities that our environment can use.
The off-white, powdery ash that is produced from the combustion of wood contains a variety of compounds that are beneficial to the soil, especially in the Adirondacks. Wood ash has been known for centuries to act as a fertilizing agent, and its importance in agriculture during the colonial era is well documented. The preparation of wood ash for commercial use was routinely conducted by treating the ash in large pots and creating a compound that was obviously labeled “potash”. (In 1790, Samuel Hopkins developed a more effective process for producing potash from wood ash and was granted the first patent. The U.S. Patent Office, a small government agency at the time, required final approval from both President George Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson for a patent.) » Continue Reading.
It seems each autumn, I start noticing sunsets more. They are so pink, so orange, so bright. I’ve always chalked up my autumnal sunset attention to my mood shifting with the changing season; perhaps I’m feeling a little wistful at summer’s end and reflecting on nature’s splendor more than usual. But according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the colors we see during sunsets really are more vibrant in fall and winter than they are in spring and summer – seasonal melancholia has got nothing to do with it.
The intensity of sunset and sunrise colors has to do with Rayleigh scattering. I spoke with meteorologist Chris Bouchard of the Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, who kindly dropped some knowledge on this scattering business. » Continue Reading.
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