Categories: New York State, Long Island, New York City, Upstate, Westchester, Rockland, Putnam, Dutchess, Orange Counties


Food latest luxury lure

What do you do if you're a luxury-home builder and you've got the pool with a retractable roof and the Zen garden, but you're not that close to a supermarket?

You build a room with a huge refrigerator and freezer and let people get their FreshDirect purchases even when they're not home — freeing them up to do their important things during the normal two-hour window the service typically specifies for its deliveries.

In the increasingly competitive world of luxury real estate, where there's a citywide surge in building, developers are pulling out all the stops to close a sale.

Indeed, in Brooklyn alone, there are currently over 1,000 units up for sale.

FreshDirect fridge rooms are one of the newest weapons in the competitive battle for homebuyers' dollars.

Three condo projects have already signed on to participate in the program.

Two are in Brooklyn — the Aurora, at 30 Bayard St. in Williamsburg, and 133 Water St. in DUMBO. The third is the Echelon Condominium, at 13-11 Jackson Ave. in Long Island City, Queens.

The no-wait FreshDirect service is designed to appeal to buyers of upscale condos in nabes like these, which are short on supermarkets. The online grocer has a strong following throughout metro New York with 250,000 customers.

In Williamsburg, condo builders are stepping up their amenities — and seeing a payoff, by drawing buyers who initially wanted apartments in Brooklyn Heights and Park Slope, Maundrell said.

The Aurora offers the kinds of amenities that developers are deploying in Williamsburg. The apartments will have fancy finishes, top-name kitchen appliances and bathrooms with sunken tubs.

There will be a 24-hour doorman, a rooftop gym with floor-to-ceiling windows and private parking.

Builders do careful cost-benefit analysis before choosing their amenities — because some extras require increased common charges. If they get too high, prospective homebuyers could be turned off.

But common charges don't have to be increased to cover electricity and maintenance for the fridge and freezer used for the FreshDirect service, Behin said.

Buying the equipment costs a total of about $4,000, FreshDirect estimates, a tiny fraction of the cost for a typical apartment in these buildings.

After homebuyers move in and the service starts, the FreshDirect fridge room will be locked for security's sake.

The doorman will open it for deliveries, and residents will get keys or access codes.

If their groceries are heavy, they can use their building's luggage carts to take the food to their apartments.

Deliveries will come in boxes marked with recipients' names. Behin does not expect problems with residents taking other people's groceries — either accidentally, or on purpose.

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS www.nydailynews.com

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Teens to study brownfield: They'll learn about science at site that city is seeking to clean up

East High School is less than a mile from a brownfield, a contaminated site that's not quite hazardous enough to make the Superfund list but remains undesirable real estate because of its pollution.

Some students walk by the site, an empty lot at 1200 E. Main St., every day, probably unaware that city and state environmental officials are planning for the site's cleanup and reuse.

But starting this week, two eighth-grade classes at East will be intimately involved in the issue. Graduate students from Cornell University in Ithaca will begin an eight-week curriculum in hopes of bringing science home to the students.

For 65 years, the property was home to a gasoline station and auto repair shop. Underground fuel tanks and pipes are believed to have leaked, and it's suspected that waste oil was dumped on the ground. Tests found components of gasoline such as methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE), naphthalene and benzene.

The city took ownership of the property through foreclosure in 1998, tore down a small, dilapidated building in 2003, and began working with state officials to research the extent of the contamination, funded in part by a $45,000 state grant. In early February, the state Department of Environmental Conservation released its results in a proposed remedial action plan.

Costs for the various cleanup strategies range from $75,000 for monitoring the natural breakdown of pollutants over 30 years, to more than $10 million for a more aggressive approach.

The city is proposing a mix of strategies, which would require a one-time investment of $224,000 plus $51,500 annually for a decade to maintain the program — a total of about $739,000. If the city's proposal is accepted, some contaminated soil would be removed and other soil would be oxygenated to increase the breakdown of petroleum products.

by Misty Edgecomb
Democrat and Chronicle www.democratandchronicle.com (Rochester, New York)

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STATE SECURES $6 MILLION TO CLEAN UP BRONX HAZARDOUS WASTE SITE: Two-Thirds of Cleanup Cost to be Provided by Polluters

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Denise M. Sheehan today announced that the state has reached agreements with 31 companies for the cleanup of the Hexagon Laboratories hazardous waste site in the Bronx. Payments from the companies, including the value of construction work they are providing, exceed $6 million and will cover most of the cleanup costs.

"It is only fair that those who made money in operations that polluted this site now contribute to its cleanup," said Attorney General Spitzer. "Once this site is fully cleaned up, it can be put to new uses that will help revitalize the community."

DEC Commissioner Sheehan said: "New York State continues to be committed to holding polluters responsible for the natural resources and community impacts their actions can cause. The parties responsible for the Hexagon contamination will be required to clean up the contamination, under DEC oversight, to ensure that when the cleanup is complete, it is fully protective of public health and the environment."

Hexagon Laboratories occupied a one-acre site at 3536 Peartree Avenue in the Bronx, between Boston Post Road and Heathcote Avenue. The company made pharmaceuticals and organic chemicals there from the mid-1940's through 1989. There were numerous chemical spills at the site. In 1990, the New York City Police Department Bomb Squad removed explosives, water-reactive metals, poisons and compressed gas cylinders from the property.

The soil and groundwater at the site were contaminated by a range of hazardous wastes that pose a threat to the public health and the environment, including benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, xylene, chlorinated volatile organics, phenolic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and PCBs.

The DEC determined that the Hexagon site posed a significant threat to public health and the environment in 1993 and placed it on the State Superfund Registry.

In 1997 and 1998, the DEC removed asbestos, petroleum tanks and some contaminated soil and demolished several buildings at a cost of approximately $1 million. The most costly elements of the cleanup are being conducted under the settlements announced today, including the excavation and removal of an extensive amount of contaminated soil and, later this year, a project for cleaning contaminated groundwater.

The cleanup settlements, which were approved by Judge Richard C. Casey, require two-thirds of the cleanup costs to be paid by Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation and its affiliates, Solutia Inc. (formerly the Monsanto Company), Ciba Specialty Chemicals Corporation and 28 additional companies. In addition, it requires Boehringer Ingelheim to contribute $50,000 to Pelham Bay Park for environmental benefit projects. The remainder of the cleanup will be funded by the State Superfund, which was re-authorized and refinanced by Governor Pataki and the State Legislature in 2003.

The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Eugene Leff of the Attorney General’s Environmental Protection Bureau and DEC Senior Attorney Rosalie Rusinko.

New York State Department of Law Office of Attorney General www.oag.state.ny.us
120 Broadway, New York, NY 10271
The State Capitol, Albany, NY 12224
For More Information: 212-416-8060

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Perx site cleanup cost jumps

The cost of cleaning up contamination on the former Perx property has nearly doubled, thanks to unanticipated expenses and the discovery of ground pollution on adjacent lands.

Dutchess County legislators are expected to vote Tuesday on a resolution allocating an additional $1.2 million for remediation work at the site off U.S. Route 9. Members of the Legislature's Budget and Finance Committee on Thursday endorsed the additional expenditure.

Of the total additional cost, $194,427 will come from the county's coffers. The remaining funds will come from the state.

Local and county officials have been working for the past several years to transform the 20-acre property, once the site of apple orchards and a frozen food processing plant, into senior citizen housing site. Putnam County Developer Ken Kearney, who is buying the property from the county, plans to construct a complex of 80 to 100 apartments.

Cleanup of the site was originally pegged at $1.76 million, with the state carrying 50 percent of the cost of building demolition and 90 percent of in-ground cleanup and soil removal costs.

Ken Moynihan, building administrator for the Dutchess County Department of Public Works, said cleanup crews discovered underground fuel storage tanks that they were not previously aware existed, along with some contaminated soil on at least three neighboring properties and on-site contaminated water.

Additionally, he said, a building with an asbestos roof that had been slated for demolition collapsed, forcing the county to treat the entire structure, rather than just the roof, as a hazardous cleanup site.

"At every step of the way, we're finding the unexpected," said Moynihan.

Because the county agreed to accept funding under the state's brownfields cleanup program, it has to finish the job it started, Moynihan said.

"The county was bound to remediate this property no matter where it took us," he said. "If we choose not to go (forward), not dollar one will be reimbursed to Dutchess County, not even what we've spent already." -->
Under the state program, the county pays for the cost of the cleanup and is reimbursed by the state.

By Patricia Doxsey
Daily Freeman www.dailyfreeman.com

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12:00:01 am, Categories: Non-Environmental, New York City, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 508 words   English (US)

1 year later: Assessing the value of Central Park's huge, saffron-colored art installment

A recent New Yorker cartoon pictures an older couple walking their leashed dog through the snowy landscape of Central Park. The requisite bench and lamp posts stand out against silhouetted skyscrapers in the distance. And the caption below reads: "Winter in Central Park just isn't the same without all of last year's Christo crap."

Part of that commentary is true, but the adjective, as alliterative and amusing it may be, is far from the truth. However it does evoke vividly the vocal comments first heard when 7,500 Christo "Gates" were about to be installed in the 23 miles of walkways throughout the park at a cost of about $20 million. The knee-jerk reactionaries (which constituted a chorus from Manhattan to Malibu), after the inevitable "Who? -- Never heard of them -- are they crazy? What a waste of money. Who's paying for it?" was an after thought as if suddenly their IRAs or discretionary funds were in danger.

As for it being a waste of money, yours, theirs or anyone's, it didn't happen. The Christos' investment of nearly 21 million dollars was recouped through the sale of sketches, etc., attendant to The Gates project over the last two -- plus decades of planning, and from Christo's paintings of the actual event. No tickets were sold. Four million people, twice the number the bean-counters had projected, for free viewed, walked through, around and under the miles of suspended saffron (some referred to it as "Home Depot orange"), vinyl curtains, seeing and being part of history; "witnessing something that happens once in a lifetime," says Jeanne-Claude. The visitors, natives and tourists alike spend almost a quarter of a billion dollars in New York stores, restaurants, theaters and hotels.

Recently on CBS radio, Metro North attributed a 4 percent increase in ridership to the Christo installation.

There were plans for the recycling of The Gates from its very inception, and the removal of the 7,500 vinyl frames, nylon drapes, aluminum braces and steel pedestals began on Feb. 27 as promised.

Disassembled, every iota was sent to a warehouse in Queens, N.Y., where the components were separated. The fabric went to a firm in Pennsylvania where it was shredded and respun into "anonymity." The vinyl framing was ground down, literally, to half a million pounds of undeniably orange chips and the metal, right down to the screws, went to a scrap yard in New Jersey where it was melted down and sold worldwide.

According to Lukas Alpert writing in the New York Post, the oblate-saffron chips were remade in a Chicago factory into fencing. Mixed with white vinyl, they are now fence posts, white on the outside, but concealing a colorful orange core.

The firm, Plastival, sells the 6-foot by 6-foot panel fencing through chains like Lowes in the southwest, Menards in the mid-west and ironically, Home Depot in Canada -- but you won't see that color unless you bore inside the posts. Also, Plastival doesn't do business in New York.

by Margery Leonard
Waterbury Republican American www.rep-am.com

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06:45:52 pm, Categories: Non-Environmental, Long Island, Research Institute/NonProf, 1380 words   English (US)


A growing number of Long Island residents expect to move out of Nassau and Suffolk Counties in the next five years to places with lower housing costs and property taxes, according to a survey conducted for the Long Island Index by Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research. Long Island’s third annual indicators report, the Long Island Index 2006 – “At the Breaking Point? Taxation and Governance on Long Island,” finds that Long Island has reached a critical juncture and residents have indicated that changes must be made if they are to be able to continue living here. This was the first time that a strong willingness for change has been demonstrated. Necessitating the desire for change is the ongoing dismay over the extremely high cost of living on Long Island. The Long Island Index 2006 will be formally released by the Rauch Foundation on Thursday, January 26th from 8:00 am to 9:30 am at the Long Island Children’s Museum.

Residents are increasingly worried about whether they and their families can continue to live on Long Island. The percentage of residents who report that it is somewhat or very difficult to meet monthly mortgage payments rose from 35% in 2003 to 54% in 2005. 56% of local residents said they are somewhat or very likely to move in the next five years to an area with lower housing costs and property taxes. Demonstrating their discontent, Long Islanders voted down 36% of all first time school budgets in 2005, compared to only 12% that failed statewide.

For the first time, residents surveyed have expressed that they are open to change to help alleviate some of the burden being placed on residents. 55% of those surveyed favor replacing a portion of the school property tax with an income tax and 76% favor pooling commercial property taxes and distributing them evenly across all school districts. While changes in tax policy were well received, residents are still divided on school district consolidation.

Carrie Meek Gallagher, Project Director, Long Island Index, stated, “It is no longer a surprise that residents are concerned about high taxes. For the last three years the Index has reflected concern from Long Islanders over the high and increasing levels of taxes imposed. This is, however, the first time those surveyed have expressed such a high level of desire for change. This indicates to us that Long Islanders are saying that something needs to be done or they are going to have to abandon the ship.”

According to Nancy Rauch Douzinas, President of the Rauch Foundation, “Through the results of this year’s Index, it is clear that a large number of Long Islanders cannot continue to manage the cost of living here. It is a significant concern that 70% of 18- 34 year olds surveyed are seriously considering a move in the next five years. The urgency of this need necessitates a call to action on the part of every Long Islander.”

Attendees at the press conference will include business and community organizations, Nassau and Suffolk County government leaders and the media. Speakers at the press event include: Robert S. Lemle, President of the Long Island Children’s Museum Nancy Rauch Douzinas, President, Rauch Foundation Carrie Meek Gallagher, Project Director, Long Island Index Michael J. Dowling, President & CEO, North Shore – LIJ Health System, Steve Levy, Suffolk County Executive Thomas R. Suozzi, Nassau County Executive

Simultaneously, copies of the Index will be distributed to business and community organizations, Nassau and Suffolk County government leaders and the general public. Its conclusions target the region’s leaders who are in the position to gather community support to affect positive change and create viable solutions. Downloadable copies of the Long Island Index 2006 are available at www.longislandindex .org.

The report presents an unbiased, bipartisan view measuring the well being of the Long Island community and details an overall picture of how Long Island is faring as a region, and where there are needs or gaps that should be addressed now to avoid future problems. By identifying emerging trends, the Index has created an annual tool that can be used by government, business and community leaders in their decision-making processes that will affect the quality of life for Long Island residents.

Key findings of the 2006 Long Island Index are:

Government is Big Business on Long Island:

* There are 901 local government entities
* Nearly 50% of spending was by Long Island's 126 school districts; just under one-third was by counties
* The rate of expenditure growth between 1998 and 2003 differed significantly by county

Local Government is Heavily Dependent on Local Sources of Revenue:

* Long Islanders directly bear three-quarters of the cost of local government
* The predominant source of local revenue for all governments is property tax (59%), followed by special fees (24%), sales tax (15%), and interest and earnings (2%)

People are Increasingly Worried about Whether They and Their Families Can Live on Long Island:

* High taxes are rated as the region’s number one problem
* Property taxes are 2.5 times the national average
* Between 2003 and 2005, there was a nearly 20% rise in the number of residents who report that it is somewhat or very difficult to meet monthly rent or mortgage payments
* 70% of 18-34 year olds and 64% of 50-64 year olds surveyed are considering leaving Long Island within the next five years to areas with lower housing costs and property taxes.

Majority of Long Islanders are Ready for Something New:

* 55% of those surveyed favor replacing a portion of school property tax with an income Tax
* Long Islanders are still divided on school district consolidation
* 76% favor pooling commercial property taxes.

The Long Island Index 2006 was developed and spearheaded by an advisory committee representing Long Island’s diverse communities, businesses, labor and civic sector. The specific indicators were selected to reflect region wide impact and interests. The Rauch Foundation provided funding for the project. The report can be found at www.longisland index.org.To obtain print copies of the report, please call (516) 873-9808. E-mail questions and comments to

A Long Island Index 2006 Special Analysis Report, Analysis of Government Expenditures and Revenues on Long Island, 1998-2003, was conducted by Center for Governmental Research (CGR) for the Long Island Index project. The report was written by CGR’s Director, Government Management Services, Charles Zettek Jr. According to Mr. Zettek, “The proportionately higher growth in demand for services in Suffolk County driven by population and infrastructure trends, coupled with cost inefficiencies inherent in providing services in lower density areas, undoubtedly plays a significant role in the explaining the different rates of growth in local government costs between the two counties.”

An opinion poll, "At the Breaking Point? Taxation and Governance on Long Island", was conducted by the Stony Brook University Center for Survey Research during the summer of 2005 for the Long Island Index project. Telephone interviews were conducted with a randomly selected sample of 1215 Long Island residents, with a margin of error of +/- 2.8%. In addition, interviews were conducted with randomly selected over samples of 204 African-American and 104 Hispanic residents of Long Island to enable more detailed analysis of opinion in those groups.

The Long Island Index 2006 Special Analysis Report, Analysis of Government Expenditures and Revenues on Long Island, 1998-2003 and the Opinion poll, "At the Breaking Point? Taxation and Governance on Long Island" are both downloadable at www.longislandindex .org

About the Rauch Foundation: About the Rauch Foundation: The Long Island Index is funded by the Rauch Foundation, a family foundation headquartered in Garden City, New York. In addition to funding the Long Island Index for three years the Rauch Foundation commissioned The Long Island Profile Report and a series of five polls on Long Island to determine how the region is faring compared to other suburbs in the NY Metro area. The polls, (1) “Long Islanders: Who Are We?”, (2) Caring for Long Island’s Children”, (3) “Room for Growth: Long Island’s Changing Economy”, (4) “Where Do We Grow From Here?: Land Use on Long Island”, (5) “Regional Attitudes on Taxation and Governance” and the Island Index 2004, Long Island Index 2005 and Long Island Index 2006 are all available for download at www.longisland index.org. To obtain hard copies of the reports or provide feedback, please call 516-873- 9808 or e-mail questions and comments to

Media Contact: Deanna Morton, email: , phone: (516) 829- 5502; or Sara Rietbroek, email: , phone: (516) 829-5503

Long Island Index www.longislandindex.org
229 Seventh Street, Suite 306, Garden City, NY 11530

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02:19:22 pm, Categories: New York City, Waste & Recycling, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 531 words   English (US)

Online Shopping And Its Impact On The Environment

For New Yorkers, shopping online means less travel time and, on occasion, lower costs. It also means more trash to put out at the curbside. Because most online retailers rely on major private carriers such as UPS and FedEx to deliver their goods, this holiday season saw not only a sharp rise in local deliveries but a similar rise in the amount of paper, cardboard and plastic pushed into the city waste stream.

According to the Department of Sanitation, New Yorkers left more than 8,300 tons of cardboard and mixed paper at the curbside in the first full collection week after the Christmas holiday, a 21 percent jump over the same period last year.

This year’s post-holiday numbers were inflated somewhat. Sanitation spokesman Matthew Lipani notes that an awkward alignment of Monday holidays that forced many residents to hold onto their recyclables an extra week. Still, immediate pre-Christmas tonnage -- 7,258 tons this year vs. 6,033 tons last year -- showed a 20 percent increase in paper recyclables and paralleled a national 25 percent surge in holiday online sales according to the Internet research firm comScore.

Positive Or Negative Effect?

Such numbers indicate a cultural sea change not only in how New Yorkers are shopping but also in how much trash and recyclables the city will have to process in the years to come. Given the lack of studies on the overall online shopping “life cycle” -- the total net effect on the environment once products have made their way from raw material all the way to consumer’s wastebasket -- environmentalists, for the moment, see only a collection of positives and negatives adding up to a giant question mark.

“There is no guarantee that the Internet’s net environmental impact will be positive,” writes Nevin Cohen, a professor of environmental science at The New School. “For decades, technology watchers predicted that the personal computer would result in the ‘paperless office,’ but U.S. shipments of office paper actually jumped 33 percent between 1986 and 1997. E-commerce could have similarly negative effects.”

Boost To Recycling

From a short-term perspective, the cultural shift away from brick and mortar retail seems to offer a net boost to the city’s recycling program. Of the city’s two major recycling contracts, the cardboard and mixed paper contract with Visy Paper is the one that actually pays the city for what it recycles (in pdf format), roughly $7 a ton according to the city’s Bureau of Waste Prevention, Reuse & Recyling.

The day when New Yorkers can simply leave such materials in the blue can at the curbside is still a long way off, however. In the meantime, organizations such as INFORM, a Wall Street-based non- profit firm organization promoting “strategies for a better environment” advocates a European-style system that shifts the responsibility for the waste processing of worn-out products and packaging away from municipalities and consumers and back onto the producers themselves.

“It’s kind of like a welfare system that we’ve generated for manufacturers here in the U.S.,” says Lloyd Hicks, director of INFORM’s solid waste prevention program.

Gotham Gazette's Environmental Newsletter www.gothamgazette.com
c/o Citizens Union Foundation
299 Broadway, Suite 700; New York, New York 10007

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Scariest building in New York: Jitters over demolition of toxic tower near WTC

The 40-story shell at 130 Liberty St. stands as a ghastly testament to the devastation of 9/11; to many residents of downtown Manhattan, it is the scariest building in New York.

The former Deutsche Bank headquarters, located on the edge of Ground Zero, is filled with a toxic brew of asbestos, lead, cadmium, dioxin, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other poisons deposited after the collapse of the twin towers. And now, the planned demolition of the structure — scheduled to begin later this month — has ignited passionate fears that the neighborhood again will be exposed to a cloud of contaminated debris.

The complexity of the demolition has driven up costs from the original projection of $135 million ($90 million to buy the building and $45 million to take it down). As of last week, $153 million had been spent. The LMDC now projects costs will total $164 million.

Of that amount, the state has spent $18 million to monitor neighborhood air for toxic leaks and to maintain the building, documents show. The rising costs also can be blamed on the deconstruction delays.

The LMDC originally predicted the building would be gone by "late 2005, early 2006." Last week, the agency offered a new timetable — spring 2007.

New York Daily News wwww.nydailynews.com

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Tire fuel sparks fiery U.S. environmental debate

A campaign in Vermont to stop a paper mill in neighboring New York from burning scrap tires as fuel has galvanized one of the greenest U.S. states into one of its biggest environmental battles.

But after a two-year fight, the state appears to be on the verge of defeat.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency plans to approve a request by International Paper Co. (IP.N: Quote, Profile, Research), the world's largest forest products company, to burn shredded tires with oil at its Ticonderoga mill in New York, near Vermont's border, in a two-week trial next year.

Environmentalists and residents fear northeasterly winds will blow toxins from the tires into Vermont, which boasts the cleanest air in the Northeast.

"It's probably the biggest air quality issue that we have encountered," said Brooke Mossman, professor of pathology at the University of Vermont and a specialist in lung diseases caused by asbestos and other inhaled particulates.

The United States produces about 290 million scrap tires a year. Of these, up to 140 million become fuel, a nearly six-fold increase from 1990, the Rubber Manufacturers Association says. Cost savings are often big.

International Paper estimates it will save $3.8 million a year in fuel bills by burning 72 tonnes of tire-derived fuel -- in the form of biscuit-sized chips -- each day in its Ticonderoga oil boiler.

Scrubbers and other pollution controls installed in 1998 will catch dangerous toxins from its 30-year-old boiler, said Donna Wadsworth, a mill spokeswoman.

"It's not just adequate. It's good technology," she said.

But it is not the best available technology, underlining the growing debate over America's air quality and the risk posed by fine particles smaller than 2.5 microns -- a fraction of the thickness of a human hair -- which can cause disease and are tough to regulate.

The emissions are linked to premature deaths from heart and lung disease, chronic bronchitis and asthma.

Reuters http://today.reuters.com/investing

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Huge windfall for transit wish list: Projects outside zone helped by 9/11 billions

Rushing to spend billions in 9/11 recovery aid, Gov. Pataki set his sights far beyond the historical definition of disaster recovery, and dusted off a list of transit projects with few links to the physical damage wrought that day.

In the end, a full one-third of the $21.4 billion in federal aid intended to help the city rebuild could end up financing long-envisioned transportation projects that had lacked funding before the attacks.

The biggest expense, $1.9 billion, will go to a glorious new PATH station. That's on top of the $455 million already spent on the temporary station that opened in 2003.

Intended to match the grandeur of Grand Central Terminal, the design by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava calls for soaring glass walls inspired by a bird taking flight.

The rest of the 9/11 money earmarked for transit projects will pay for expensive dreams turned into reality by the influx of disaster recovery cash.

And, if Pataki gets his way, the list will include $2 billion to partially fund a controversial rail link to JFK airport and Long Island. Critics see the link as a gift to downtown real estate interests in their decades' long battle with midtown for big-office tenants.

Plans for the projects match other findings of a four-month Daily News investigation of how New York has spent the $21.4 billion in federal 9/11 aid:

# Few of the transit projects underway had anything to do with repairing the physical damage caused by the attacks, which is the usual mission of disaster recovery.
# Many ferry projects were announced and even funded before the attacks. The aid package simply provided a new source of cash.
# Changes in disaster aid rules played a key role.
# And plans were drawn up with the goal of spending every last dime of the available money, a "make it better" approach that separated this recovery from any before.

The Stafford Act, the law that enables the Federal Emergency Management Agency to fund recovery efforts, allows only for rebuilding areas to their pre-disaster stature. Another rule would have required New York to pay up to 25% of the transit tab.

New York's business leaders and congressional delegation convinced Congress to waive both requirements, allowing a "make it better" approach limited only by the $21.4 billion ceiling.

The temporary PATH station, with a few more improvements, would be an example of what the rules typically allowed. But the $1.2 billion in renovations to the Fulton and South Ferry stops would not have passed muster.

Returning West Street to its pre-disaster condition would have cost $110 million, according to the federal Government Accountability Office. The stunning remake underway will double that price.

But Pataki's $6 billion JFK rail link plan doesn't always garner the same glowing opinions.

Transit experts and urban planners are miffed that the link has leapfrogged other projects they believe would help more riders. Two projects, the long-languishing Second Ave. subway and extending the LIRR to Grand Central, already have passed the stringent cost-benefit analysis required by the Federal Transit Administration for projects it funds.

Those are the only two proposals in the country that the agency, which requires that every dollar save significant time for commuters, has given its top rating of "highly recommended."

Transit experts doubt the rail link would pass that kind of analysis.

Jeffrey Zupan, a widely respected transportation fellow at the Regional Plan Association, determined that under an early version of the proposal some Long Island commuters would save up to eight minutes.

But only those who work within a short walk of the single planned station would benefit; the rest would continue taking the LIRR and subways, he said.

Zupan's study has dimmed interest in the link among planners and mass transit advocates.

But the idea remains very popular among downtown real estate interests.

Sept. 11 aid flowed to New York Waterway as fast as the Hudson River flows into the harbor.

The city awarded Waterway a $592,000 emergency contract to ferry city workers around the Manhattan waterfront.

Waterway received $39.7 million in federal emergency money to provide extra service until the PATH train service returned to lower Manhattan.

The Empire State Development Corp. awarded the company a $358,178 Business Recovery Grant, a 9/11 aid program designed to help small companies that lost money due to the terrorist attacks.

Waterway also will be the biggest beneficiary of $81.5 million in 9/11 aid devoted to improving and building new ferry terminals in Manhattan and New Jersey - some of which were announced before the attacks.

As soon as PATH service returned in November 2003, dropping ferry demand to its pre-attack levels, the company complained it was broke.

Competitors see the 9/11 largess as a continuation of years of official favoritism for Waterway and its founder, Arthur Imperatore.

by The Daily News Investigative Team: RUSS BUETTNER, HEIDI EVANS, ROBERT GEARTY, BRIAN KATES, GREG B. SMITH and Assistant Managing Editor RICHARD T. PIENCIAK. Additional research by Ellen Locker

The New York Daily News www.nydailynews.com

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Farm conservation dollars and sense

New York City has decided that underwriting the costs of farmers' installing conservation practices is a better buy than the technological fix of changing treatment methods for its drinking water.

Making sure that taxpayers are getting their money's worth from publicly funded conservation measures is the goal of the new Conservation Effects Assessment Program (CEAP). Most of the funds for agricultural conservation come from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) through the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act, the “Farm Bill.”

The Farm Bill used to fund mostly commodity-related programs. The legislators shifted emphasis in 2002 by increasing conservation funding by 80 percent, compared to the 1996 bill.

This intensified demands to ensure that conservation funding be used effectively. USDA decided to do a cost-benefit analysis of the conservation practices funded over the past 50 years and report the results to the Office of Management and Budget, Congress, farmers, ranchers and environmental policymakers. CEAP is the result, with a goal of putting dollar-and-cent values on the practices’ farm and environmental benefits.

The program includes watershed projects in states from New York to California, involving farmers, ranchers and local, state and federal partners. Clarence Richardson, director of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) Grassland Soil and Water Research Laboratory in Temple, Texas, coordinates ARS watersheds in the program.

CEAP’s Town Brook, N.Y., watershed is a good example. Its nearly 9,150 acres drain into Cannonsville Reservoir, the second-largest reservoir in the Catskill/Delaware reservoir system that supplies about 94 percent of New York City's drinking water. Excess phosphorus, probably from dairy manure, stimulates algal blooms that interfere with chlorination.

New York City’s water authority decided it was economical to help farmers control phosphorus.

It is this type of costs and benefits CEAP will measure over the next several years, along with improving practices.

Read more about ARS research as part of CEAP in the December 2005 issue of Agricultural Research magazine, available on-line at

http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/dec05/money1205.htm. ARS is the USDA’s chief scientific research agency

The Iowa Farmer www.iowafarmer.com

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The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) Model: Allocation, Offsets, and Linkages - Resource for the Future's Official Side event at the UN Climate Conference COP 11 / MOP 1 Video

Over the past few years, state programs addressing climate change in general and emissions of greenhouse gases more specifically have proliferated. Perhaps the most significant of these programs is the joining together of nine northeastern and mid-Atlantic states to develop a regional cap-and-trade program known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).

RGGI was launched in April 2003 when New York Governor George Pataki sent letters to fellow governors in the region proposing an emissions trading program. Initially, RGGI seeks to address CO2 emissions from the electric power sector. Ultimately, the program may be expanded to include additional sectors and other greenhouse gases (GHGs). RGGI advocates argue that the program could serve as a model for a future national GHG cap-and trade program.

Programs such as RGGI have engaged state policymakers and stakeholders in the important task of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. However, they also raise a number of questions, including what the role of state governments should be in climate change, which is essentially a global problem. Also, given the need for a national if not international solution, will state programs help or hinder the development of effective national institutions for emissions trading? In particular, can states pioneer innovative approaches to some of the unique issues associated with emissions trading of greenhouse gases?

Resources for the Future's (RFF)'s work on RGGI has centered on those areas in which experimentation with new approaches could be useful for the design of a national program.

Resources For the Future www.rff.org

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World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein's plans for five new buildings at Ground Zero would create nearly 48,000 construction jobs, says a report obtained yesterday by The Post.

The figure was in a cost/benefit analysis by the Industrial Development Agency on Silverstein's request for several billion in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds.

The "one-time city tax impact of new construction" would be $220 million, according to the IDA.

The analysis clears the way for a public hearing to be held on the issue as early as next week, even as Mayor Bloomberg — in a rebuke...

For Full Story Go To
The New York Post www.nypost.com

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Green roofs are growing in New York, but slowly

Community arts center ABC No Rio is renovating its notoriously dilapidated four-story tenement building at 156 Rivington St. on the Lower East Side in the fashion of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Well, sort of.

“One aspect of the renovation is that we’re installing a green roof,” said Steven Englander, the director of ABC No Rio.

And while green roofs are not among the Seven Wonders of the World, they are in fact ancient technologies that resemble the stone terraces in Babylon’s Gardens, which were waterproofed with layers of reed, tar and tiles and which supported soil and vegetation. Green roofs — building tops covered with a layer of soil and foliage — are gaining popularity in modern urban settings.

“For the next generation of architects and designers, it’s almost inherent that if at all possible you install a green roof,” said Cameron Sinclair, executive director of Architecture for Humanity, an international nonprofit currently working on reconstruction projects in India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, as well as several projects in New York, including ABC No Rio’s.

Sinclair said green roofs have an obvious aesthetic value amid the concrete expanse of a city. And they provide environmental benefits that are undeniable. Enough green roofs clustered together can reduce the urban heat island effect: cities are hotter than surrounding areas because of the heat-trapping properties of concrete and tall buildings. Green roofs can reduce air pollution by absorbing carbon dioxide and, acting both as insulator against the cold and shield against the sun’s radiation, they can lower energy costs of heating and cooling. Green roofs can also alleviate pressure on the city’s wastewater system by absorbing storm-water runoff.

“The role of the architect is to improve the environment of the community,” said Sinclair. “And if you’re not doing that, you’re doing the community a disservice. It’s not a question of why would you install a green roof. It’s why wouldn’t you?”

Well, for one thing, cost. According to Craig Tooman, an architect with the Manhattan-based firm Cutsogeorge, Tooman & Allen Architects, which has designed a green clubhouse building for the Lower East Side Girls Club, green roofs typically cost between $8 and $10 a square foot more than regular roofs. And the cost of maintenance for green roofs is obviously higher.

By Daniel Wallace

Downtown Express www.downtownexpress.com

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Battle Lines Set as New York Acts to Cut Emissions

New York is adopting California's ambitious new regulations aimed at cutting automotive emissions of global warming gases, touching off a battle over rules that would sharply reduce carbon dioxide emissions while forcing the auto industry to make vehicles more energy efficient over the next decade.

The rules, passed this month by a unanimous vote of the State Environmental Board, are expected to be adopted across the Northeast and the West Coast. But the auto industry has already moved to block the rules in New York State, and plans to battle them in every other state that follows suit.

Environmentalists say the regulations will not lead to the extinction of any class of vehicle, but simply pressure the industry to sell more of the fuel-saving technologies they have already developed, including hybrid systems that use a combination of electricity and gasoline. And that, they say, will curtail one of the main contributors to global warming.

The standards are the most ambitious environmental regulations for automobiles since federal fuel economy regulations were enacted in the 1970's. They will be phased in starting with 2009 models and require a roughly 30 percent reduction in automotive emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases by the 2016 models.

The new rules will also effectively require an improvement in fuel economy on the order of 40 percent for vehicles sold in the state.

New Yorkers will certainly notice the regulations should they survive the court challenges. The state estimates that the rules will increase the cost of a new car or truck by more than $1,000 when fully phased in, an amount it expects car owners to recoup over time through savings at the pump. Vehicles will need to comply with the new standards to be registered in the state.

An analysis by the State Department of Environmental Conservation said it would take one to five years for drivers of cars, smaller sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks to make up for the higher initial cost of their more fuel-efficient vehicles, assuming a gas price of $2 a gallon. For drivers of heavier S.U.V.'s and pickups, it would take one to three years.

But automakers estimate that the regulation will add about $3,000 to the cost of new cars and trucks and be hard to make up over time. To comply, they say, they will have to restrict sales of their vehicles with the poorest mileage, or redesign them to add new technologies, or to be more aerodynamic and lighter in weight.

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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Alternative to holiday lights environment friendly

On the first big day of the holiday shopping season, a local environmental group targeted retailers on Long Island that don't stock energy-efficient LED bulbs, calling them "Energy Grinch" stores.

There's now an alternative to the familiar holiday incandescent lights: strands fitted with LED bulbs, or light emitting diodes. They are long-lasting, energy efficient, and better for the environment, according to the group, the Neighborhood Network.

While Harrow's and other big stores such as Lowe's, Costco, Sam's Club, Fortunoff, Wal-Mart and Target carry LED lights, Neighborhood Network, an environmental group, said in a study released Friday that the lights are not widely available to Long Island residents.

The group sent surveyors last week into 16 different name brand stores on Long Island. They visited 30 stores in total, one to three stores in each chain.

Sears, Kmart, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS, ACE Hardware, Eckerd and Home Depot do not stock LED lights, the group said.

Phone messages were not returned at the corporate offices for Home Depot, CVS, Eckerd, Walgreens, or Rite Aid. At the Sears and Kmart headquarters, no one there was able to comment on LED lights, a spokesman said.

Neal Lewis, the group's director, stressed the possible savings to be gained on residents' electric bills if they switched to LED lights.

"A Christmas tree using jumbo lights costs an average of $20 to $40 for the month of December to run, while the LED lights cost 72 cents," Lewis said.

The LED lights cost an average of two to three times the amount of incandescent bulbs. They range from $10 to $20 for a strand of 100 lights. Lewis said they are fairly priced, and the lights will save money significantly over their lifetime, as well as reduce pollution by burning less fuel and oil for electricity.



Newsday www.newsday.com

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Affordable Housing Goes 'Green'

It's an inside-out apartment house: The boiler is on the top floor, the insulation is outside the concrete walls, and the garden's going to be on the roof.

On New York's Lower East Side, this brick apartment house — still under construction — is one of a number of environmentally conscious and energy-efficient building projects.

It's also one of the more tangible manifestations of a trend taking off in cities across the country: the merging of affordable housing and "green" building. City officials and others are recognizing that energy-efficient buildings, while they may cost a bit more to build, are far more affordable than traditional housing in the truest sense of the word. They cost less to operate and live in, and they provide tenants with a healthier atmosphere that can save on healthcare costs.

This fall, when reviewing certain grant proposals, New York City will start giving developers who want to build affordable housing "extra points" if builders pledge to incorporate green building principles. At the same time, Chicago is offering housing developers and apartment-building owners incentives if they build "green roofs," which are essentially roof gardens that help both insulate buildings better and improve overall air quality. And in Los Angeles, city officials have incorporated green standards into parts of the city's building code.

In the past year, the Enterprise Foundation, a leading provider of capital and expertise for the development of affordable housing, has helped start 77 green developments in 21 states, which will create more than 4,300 environmentally efficient homes for low-income families.

"If you just take the 4,300 homes in the pipeline right now, each year we will have $1.5 million of energy savings in those homes, more than 5,000 tons of reduced greenhouse-gas emissions per year, and 30 million gallons of reduced water use a year," says Bart Harvey, CEO of the Enterprise Foundation.

by Alexandra Marks

FOR FULL STORY GO TO: http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1122/p03s03-ussc.html
Christian Science Monitor www.csmonitor.com

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Regional Economic Models Inc. (REMI) Seminars

Regional Economic Models Inc is holding a half-day seminar (8:30am - 12:30pm) in New York City on December 15th, 2006. They will be discussing many different aspects and applications of the REMI Economic
Model, as well as recent projects and new products we've been working on, including the new upgrade of their land use analysis Capabilities, REMI 20/20 Insight and, to analyse the role of airports as economic facilitators, REMI TranSight-Airports.


* November 15; Montgomery, AL
* November 16; Portland, OR
* November 17; Tallahassee, FL
* November 21; Albany, NY
* December 5; Houston, TX
* December 5; Victoria, BC
* December 6; Edmonton, AB
* December 7; Tulsa, OK
* December 7; Winnipeg, MB
* December 8; Lincoln, NE
* December 9; Des Moines, IA
* December 9; Toronto, ON
* December 14; Madison, WI
* December 15; New York, NY
* December 15; Pittsburgh, PA

The seminar includes, but is not limited to, the following topics:

- Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Transportation and the Economy.
Presenting REMI TranSight/Airports: Airports in the Economy.
REMI TranSight: Economic Analysis of Transportation Projects Case Study.

- Introducing REMI 20/20 Insight: Land Use Policy Analysis Modeling.

- Special Guest Speaker in New York City:
Dr. Stan McMillen, Center for Economic Analysis at the University of Connecticut.
Modeling Strategies Using REMI Policy Insight.

- REMI's Long-Term Demographic and Economic Forecasting.

This information will enable attendees to make more detailed and efficient forecasts about policy change.

Frederick Treyz, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer
Regional Economic Models, Inc. www.remi.com
306 Lincoln Ave.; Amherst, MA 01002
T. 413-549-1169; F. 413-549-1038

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Hybrid Cabs Debut in New York

Hybrid taxis that get double the gas mileage of traditional cabs and generate far less pollution have begun rolling in small numbers on New York's streets.

Delighted environmentalists, city officials and the chairman of Ford Motor Co. posed with the owner of the first hybrid cabs atop a Manhattan auto showroom Thursday to belatedly celebrate last week's quiet debut of the vehicles.

For now, there are only six of the bright yellow Ford Escapes in the city's vast taxi fleet, but owner Gene Freidman said he planned to have 18 on the street by Thanksgiving.

The small SUVs run on a combination of gas and electricity and generally emit no exhaust when they are moving slower than 25 mph. They drive the same as regular cabs and never have to be recharged, but passengers will notice some differences.

The Escape has less leg room and a narrower back seat bench than the big Ford Crown Victorias that make up the bulk of the city's fleet. Some cabbies may also balk at the lack of a security barrier between the front and back seats. There wasn't enough room, officials said, to include the partitions.

Drivers, however, might be willing to risk lessened security in exchange for lower fuel costs.

Cabbie Gennadiy Abramov, who was on hand for Thursday's rollout, said he has saved an average of $20 per shift since he started driving a hybrid.

Over time, those savings could mean thousands of extra dollars per year for cabbies, most of whom pay for gas out of their own pockets.

Whether or not the vehicles proliferate, however, may depend most on whether the owners of the city's cab fleets can find some long-run financial benefit to justify their extra cost.

Freidman, who operates a fleet of about 650 cabs, said he only got interested after the city offered a chance to buy new taxi medallions for alternative-fuel vehicles at a deep discount.

Under the deal, Freidman and two business partners purchased 18 of the licenses at a savings of about $170,000 each — more than enough to offset the extra $5,000 to $6,000 cost of buying a hybrid.
On the Net: New York Taxi and Limousine Commission: http://www.nyc.gov/html/tlc/html/home/home.shtml

Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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05:23:03 am, Categories: Energy, New York State, Companies, Research Institute/NonProf, 969 words   English (US)

New York Energy $martSM Cool It!: Market Research Report

This research was conducted at the end of the New York Energy $martSM Cool It! campaign in order to characterize the New York State marketplace for energy-efficient commercial packaged refrigeration equipment. In 2003, at the beginning of the Cool It! campaign, ACEEE conducted research that established baseline evaluation metrics and an initial depiction of the marketplace (Smith 2003). This report updates that research, describes some of the changes over the past two years, draws conclusions, and makes recommendations. As in the earlier study, ACEEE focused on three particular types of equipment: commercial icemakers, reach-in solid-door refrigerators and freezers, and refrigerated beverage vending

The retail chain for each type of commercial refrigeration equipment consist primarily of three familiar groups of market actors: the equipment manufacturers, the distributors (who sell to consultants, contractors, and end-users), and the end-users. In the case of vending
machines, there is a fourth actor, arguably the most influential one: the major international beverage companies that write the specifications that govern the purchase of beverage machines for their retail chains nationwide.

ACEEE surveyed the targeted market actors to meet the following objectives:

• To identify market actors’

o awareness of energy-efficient equipment and standards
o perceptions of energy-efficient reach-in refrigerators and freezers, icemakers, and refrigerated beverage vending machines
o perceptions of the comparative purchase and operating costs of energy-efficient equipment

• To identify manufacturers’ and distributors’
o opinions about the current market share of efficient equipment
o beliefs about the features most attractive to customers/end-users

• To identify the view of customers/end-users about necessary and desirable features

• To identify market actors’ awareness of NYSERDA’s Energy $mart and Cool It! programs

The survey forms varied for the different actors and equipment types and ACEEE designed them to reveal respondents’ differing knowledge of energy efficiency standards.

ACEEE had good participation rates from equipment manufacturers and beverage companies. Very few distributors of reach-in refrigerators and beverage vending machines responded to our survey. End-users of all equipment types and icemaker distributors considered themselves somewhat familiar with energy-efficient equipment, understood as those models
that surpass pertaining specifications (like ENERGY STAR® and Consortium for Energy Efficiency [CEE] Tier 1.) Their respondents reported little price difference between the energy-efficient and standard-efficiency versions. Across equipment categories, their median estimates of the price increment ranged from 0 to 7%. However, price, along with
availability, was most often cited as the customers’ most important factor when purchasing icemakers and reach-in refrigerators. Energy efficiency is sometimes mentioned by customers and occasionally it swings a sale, most often when the customer is a university or hotel chain that shops according to in-house specifications and has a purchasing manager to wrangle prices. The ACEEE survey indicated that distributors remain “somewhat familiar” with energy-efficient versions of the equipment lines they represent yet, while some could recognize efficiency specifications, few could mention those specs by name. The middlemen of the retail chain are today unable or unwilling to highlight energy efficiency and total cost of ownership in their marketing efforts.

Among their recommendations at the end of this report, they suggest a response to this circumstance. They examined California Energy Commission (CEC) and Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI) databases to count the models that meet current and forthcoming ENERGY STAR and CEE specifications. We learned that it is easier now than it was two years ago to find energy-efficient icemakers and reach-in freezers because the percentage of units meeting the project’s eligibility criteria has climbed noticeably (see table below.) In the case of beverage vending machines, our survey respondents offered a different impression than our
database work did. Both the manufacturers and the largest purchasers of vending machines claimed that virtually all such machines purchased in the last year bear the ENERGY STAR logo.

They thought our model counts in the database gave a result that was too low for ENERGY STAR Tier 1 and too high for Tier 2. ACEEE attributes this to the fact that the CEC database contains quite a few models that are no longer being sold yet few listings for the new, ENERGY STAR-labeled models. There is a lively debate over the prospects of Tier 2 vending machines becoming similarly cost-effective and thus accepted by large purchasers who have enormous market power in this sector.

The analyses leads to two conclusions as follows:

• Availability, stocking, and sales of efficient packaged refrigeration equipment are on a modest upward trend. There are numerous instances where availability, stocking, and/or market share have increased and no instances where these metrics have decreased.1 However, these trends are not uniform — for example, Tier 2 has not “taken off” for any of the equipment types.

• Distributors and end-users continue to give only limited attention to energy efficiency. Most of the respondents ACEEE talked to were unfamiliar with Cool It!, Energy $mart, and the CEE tiers and, while familiarity with specific names was never an expressed goal of the program, the limited recall is discomforting.

Perhaps the poor retention can be attributed to the fact that the majority of the campaign’s interaction with its audience was via phone and email,

The last section of this report offers an array of recommendations for future efforts to transform the commercial refrigeration marketplace in New York State. Among other recommendations, we suggest coordinating programs regionally in order to win manufacturers’ support and possibly refocusing incentives on the distributors and manufacturers, elements of the supply chain that, given their scale and knowledge, can educate their respective customers to incorporate long-term energy savings into their shortterm purchasing choices.

by Eric Mendelsohn, Steven Nadel, and Sarah Black
American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ACEEE www.aceee.org
1001 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 801, Washington, D.C. 20036
202-429-8873 phone, 202-429-2248 fax
ACEEE Report Number A053 August 2005

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority
17 Columbia Circle, Albany, NY 12203
518-862-1090 phone, 518-862-1091 fax, http://www.nyserda.org


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06:00:01 am, Categories: Air, Energy, New York State, Companies, Northeast, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 498 words   English (US)

Vermont may sue to stop tire burn: Hearings in N.Y. begin Wednesday

If New York environmental officials choose to disregard Vermont's opposition to plans by International Paper Co. to burn up to 72 tons of shredded tires at its Ticonderoga, N.Y., paper mill for a two-week test, Vermont will likely take the matter to court.

Gov. James Douglas and his administration, in cooperation with the Vermont Attorney General's Office, are prepared to exercise every legal avenue at their disposal, the governor's press secretary said last week.

"Gov. Douglas has asked the Agency of Administration to include a substantial appropriation in the fiscal year 2006 budget act for the sole purpose of pursuing our legal options in opposition to the potentially toxic tire burn," Jason Gibbs said. "The Attorney General's Office is looking into all of our options."

International Paper hopes to burn shredded tires to generate electricity for its manufacturing plant.

The potential legal action is a continuation of Vermont's two-year battle to thwart the company's plan to conduct a two-week test burn. The threat comes as New York environmental regulators anticipate hearing from hundreds of Vermonters opposed to the burn at the first public hearing on Wednesday. New York-based experts, citizens and environmental regulators will also testify.


Assigned talking points

Wadsworth said representatives from both politicians' offices will testify Wednesday. In addition, officials from the union representing most of the plant's 700 workers will testify, as will some of the mill's employees.

They will be armed with talking points supplied by the company in a memo. "Speakers … please use the following information to develop a statement in your own words," the memo said.

Among the points they are being asked to make:

# The project is highly important to the Ticonderoga Mill.
# The environmental benefit to the public and the economic importance of this project to International Paper and to the stability of the region make good arguments for proceeding.
# Millions of used tires accumulating in every state are a serious health and safety threat.

The Vermont opponents have talking points of their own, and they, too, will be delivering a consistent message.

For the plant, that review is crucial. International Paper hopes to replace up to 10 percent of its current fuel mix — which is largely No. 6 fuel oil — with shredded tires, a move that could shave as much as $4 million a year off its energy costs. Wadsworth said the company is committed to being environmentally friendly, but is not willing to consider spending millions on pollution control equipment until after the two-week test.

But the review is viewed as crucial for Vermonters living across the lake as well.

"I don't think they can ignore the view of the governor of Vermont and of hundreds of vocal Vermont citizens," said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. "It's not a done deal yet. We are going to do everything we can to reduce threats to public health."

By Darren Allen
The Barre Montpeler Times Argus www.timesargus.com

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Cool(er) Roofs

Tar Beach, those black tarred rooftops where regular New Yorkers got their summer tans, is celebrated in song, in movies like “On The Waterfront” and in a well-known quilt and children’s book by Faith Ringgold. But if they evoke the same kind of nostalgia as stoop ball and stick ball, those roofs turn out to be bad for the environment.

The asphalt and concrete trap sunlight and heat and contribute to what scientists call the “urban heat island” effect that makes the city as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the suburbs. The difference in temperature translates into some $100 million in additional energy costs per year.

That is why a movement is growing to replace New York City’s iconic rooftops with something cooler, literally.

A cool roof, or “white roof” -- as simple as a basic coating of light-colored water sealant – is the roof of the future in New York, says Laurie Kerr, an architect in the Office of Sustainable Design, the eco- conscious division of New York City’s Department of Design and Construction. “The city controls maybe one in ten buildings in terms of square footage. Over the next 20 years, all of those buildings should have cool roofs.”

But others are pushing an alternative -- a “grreen roof,” in effect a rooftop garden, with plants (even trees) atop a layer of soil.

Common in Europe, and growing more popular in American cities out West, green roofs remain a challenge in New York.

“Roof tops are an enormous wasted resource,” says Leslie Hoffman, executive director of EarthPledge, a Manhattan-based nonprofit that has helped build green roofs atop eight local buildings, including the Rheingold Gardens building in Bushwick, a 250-unit senior housing facility. Her organization’s efforts are paralleled by Sustainable South Bronx, the Hunts Point non-profit that recently opened a demonstration green roof project atop the American Banknote Building. In an interview with WNYC at the time of the installation, Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion said the borough was home to at least nine green roof installations. “We can’t force anybody" to install green roofs, Carrion said, "but we are certainly creating incentives by saying we will be very supportive of your project."

Expanding that support to the rest of the city could take some time. Green roofs, while attractive to look at and useful when it comes to minimizing both heat and water runoff, are roughly five times as expensive as the typical roof installation.

Cool roofs demand less of an investment from private property owners and less paperwork for city contractors. With the recent signing of a new law mandating that all major city- funded construction and renovation projects meet energy conservation standards laid out by the U.S. Green Building Council, Kerr from the Office of Sustainable Design expects most projects to go with the easier white roof method.

The Case For Green Roofs

Green roof advocates, meanwhile, are working hard to boost the economic case for green roofs in the hopes of convincing city leaders to set up incentives for builders and property owners.

“The problem is the reflective roofs don’t deliver one twentieth the benefits of a green roof,” says Steven Peck, president of Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, a Canadian advocacy group.

Peck points to green roof’s ability to limit storm water runoff, something the city needs to do in order to bring its sewage system in compliance with the Clean Water Act. The largest green roof on record, a 10.4 acre installation at Ford Motor Company’s Rouge River truck factory, is expected to cut that facility’s storm water runoff -- and the resulting sewer bill -- in half. If New York City were to take a cue from Portland and some European cities and charge building owners for the amount of storm water they send into local sewers, the return on investment issue would quickly balance out.

Peck also points to green roofs’ ability to filter pollutants and to remove carbon dioxide via photosynthesis. Like their counterparts in urban forestry, green roof promoters are hoping to come up with models that put a dollar figure on such services.

Should those dollar figures become available, however, they might not be enough to convince individual building owners to make the switch, says Stuart Gaffin, a scientist at the Center for Climate System Research at NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Sciences. Earlier this year, Gaffin served as host of a graduate seminar on green roofs. In their attempt to put together a model on the environmental benefits of green roof installation, however, they found most of the benefits appearing at the societal level, as opposed to the individual property owner.

“You try to get the economic benefits to the owner and you run out of things pretty quickly,” says Gaffin. “There aren’t a lot of direct cost-benefit effects.”

Gaffin says he has deals with two local schools -- one public, one private -- to install and monitor green roofs. With these plots, he hopes to build up local data which can then be used to convince the city council to offer additional incentives for green roof owners.

Gaffin and his students are joined in their effort by Diana Balmori, the architectural designer of the city’s largest green roof, atop the Silvercup Studios facility in Long Island City. Built with the help of Earth Pledge and the New York Power Authority, the installation is the first of what Balmori expects to be two major installations in that neighborhood. Balmori plans to use rainwater data from both installations to push city leaders to follow in the footsteps of their Seattle and Chicago counterparts and add green roofs to the evolving “green building” concept.

“It would be really great if New York grew some industries around this, but it hasn’t reached the critical mass to make it affordable enough for the majority of the population,” Balmori says. “With just some minimum incentives, that turnaround could happen. All we need is that relatively small push.”

Gotham Gazette, winner of the Online Journalism Award for general excellence, is a nationally recognized web site about New York City.

Help them keep offering this service. To make a tax deductible contribution, please write a check to Citizens Union Foundation (with "For Gotham Gazette" on the memo line) and mail to: Gotham Gazette c/o Citizens Union Foundation; 299 Broadway, Suite 700; New York, New York 10007 or go to http://www.gothamgazette.com/donate.php

By Sam Williams
Gotham Gazette www.gothamgazette.com
Editor Jonathan Mandell

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Asthma-reducing program worth cost: study

Home-based efforts to reduce the amount of allergy triggers in the homes of children with asthma not only work well but also appear to be worthwhile in terms of costs and savings, new findings show.

"Our previous study demonstrated that an intervention designed to reduce the exposure of asthmatic inner-city children to environmental irritants and allergens at home succeeded in reducing asthma symptoms," study author Dr. Meyer Kattan told Reuters Health.

"The current study shows that a reduction in morbidity can be achieved with this home-based environmental intervention in a cost-effective manner," added Kattan, of Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

Asthma is known to be particularly common among children living in the inner city, and is thought to be partially due to various environmental factors such as exposure to cockroach antigen and other indoor allergy-producing substances and irritants.

Findings from the previously published Inner-City Asthma Study showed that a home-based intervention was successful in reducing the levels of such irritants and allergens.

That intervention used trained environmental counselors to teach families to use pillow covers that are impermeable to dust mites, air purifiers to get rid of tobacco smoke or mold, and other ways to reduce exposure to various asthma triggers. The study participants were more than 900 children, aged 6 to 11, with moderate-to-severe asthma from seven urban locations, nationwide.

The current study was conducted to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the initiative.

The intervention cost $1,469 per family, but it reduced the study participants' annual number of unscheduled visits to the clinic by 19 percent and reduced the number of asthma inhalers used each year by 13 percent, Kattan and colleagues report.

This reduction in the use of asthma services was "sufficient to offset approximately one third of the intervention costs," they write in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

During the two-year study period, including one year of follow-up, children in the study group had nearly 40 more symptom-free days -- at a cost of about $28 per day -- than did children in a comparison group.

Whether the intervention is cost-effective, i.e. worth its cost to the payer, depends on how much the payer values symptom-free days, the report suggests.

According to Kattan, the current findings "support current international asthma guidelines stating that attention to exposures in the home environment is an integral part of asthma management."

In light of the findings, Kattan recommends that "environmental interventions should be considered as an important part of public health programs for asthma management of children in inner-cities."

"This economic analysis can be useful for prioritizing decisions regarding asthma care in this underserved population," the researcher added.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, online October 11, 2005
via Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com

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New Spa At Mohonk Mountain House Features Ground Source Heat Pump System And Green Roof

To align with its natural Shawangunk Mountains setting overlooking the deep waters of Lake Mohonk, as well as to embrace the spirit of a holistic spa committed to furthering good health and well-being, architects Saratoga Associates have designed a state-of-the-art energy efficient 30,000-square foot spa and fitness center which has just opened at Mohonk Mountain House.


The spa’s geothermal system, designed to reduce energy consumption and limit noxious emissions by over 40 percent compared to air source heat pumps, and by over 70 percent compared to electric resistance heating with standard air conditioning equipment, uses year-round 50 degree ground temperatures to cool down or heat up the building’s forced HVAC system.

“We anticipate that our geothermal system will save Mohonk approximately $20,000-$25,000 per year in operating costs over conventional HVAC systems, a cost difference that typically results in a payback of between 3-5 years,” said Senior Principal Michael Rudden AIA, of Saratoga Associates. “The system also qualifies for a $50,000 grant from the NYS Department of Energy Conservation (DEC) under the FFA energy saving program.”

Other energy efficient systems in place at the $13 million spa are: lighting fixtures which meet or exceed NY State regulations requiring that less than 2.4 watts per square foot be used for general lighting; and, in the plumbing system, low flow and sensor activated faucets and fixtures to reduce water consumption. The spa also is one of the first projects in New York State to employ a biological stormwater system that reflects the EPA’s newly updated regulations. Stormwater treatment sedimentation filtration tanks, six feet in diameter, were buried beneath wetland plants growing in a wetland substrate comprised of fine stone, in order to filter all particles from the building roof both pre-and post-construction.

Moreover, the mostly gable roof structure features a 2,000-square foot ‘green roof’ element designed to demonstrate the unique use of shallow shade plantings on pre-cast concrete decking above the pool locker rooms. The system is built to extend the life of the roof with enhanced roof membrane durability, as well as filter air, bind dust particles and reduce glare. According to Mr.Rudden, “The green roof is composed of a specialized soil mixture which supports the growth of shallow root structure plants, grasses, herbs, mosses, and ground cover. The predominantly shade tolerant planting highlights many of the native plants found in the surrounding woodlands. Once established, the green roof is envisioned to contain several medicinal and herbal plants that can be used in spa treatments.”


Environmental Design and Construction www.edcmag.com

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It’s an airtight case: New green building is very energy efficient

The new building at 228 E. Third St. was open to visitors earlier this month. People sat in the unfinished ground floor on stacks of foam insulation and heard architect Chris Benedict and mechanical systems designer Henry Gifford explain how their building uses 85 percent less energy to heat than a building with ordinary construction, all for the same price.

As The Villager reported over a year ago, Mary Spink, executive director of the Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Assocition, is developing 228 E. Third St. and three other buildings with Benedict and Gifford as low-income housing. These buildings will rent to tenants making less than 50 percent of median income. For Spink, the logic behind an energy-efficient, “green” building is practical. “We have an affordability clause for 99 years,” she says. “If you’re going to do that, you have to save some money.”

The building at 228 E. Third St. is now virtually complete. Benedict is waiting for the Department of Buildings to issue a temporary certificate of occupancy, which is needed to allow tenants to move in. Benedict and Gifford estimate the building will use 15 percent of the energy of an average new building for heat and hot water, and 50 percent less electricity for the common areas.

They have achieved these savings using standard, off-the-shelf construction products. Outside, Benedict designed the facade with a layer of insulation inserted between the brick exterior and the concrete block of the structure. This design prevents heat loss, and the insulation allows any water to drain out, preventing water damage.

Inside, the apartments are airtight, individually ventilated, and individually temperature-controlled. Benedict tests each apartment for air leaks. Any leaks are identified and sealed.

The boiler, designed by Gifford, is similar to a system he installed for Spink at 535 E. Fifth St. There, in a building with no other “green” features, the boiler uses 23 percent of the energy of a standard building. Gifford measured the boiler on the coldest day of the year. It was running at precisely 100 percent capacity, and the tenants were comfortable. A standard boiler, he says, would run at a maximum of 20 percent to 30 percent capacity.

A small boiler means the boiler room can go on the roof, eliminating the need to excavate basement space for it. Airsealing the apartments also creates a firestop and soundproofs the apartments.

By Anthony Weiss



The Villager www.thevillager.com
Volume 75, Number 21 | October 12 - 18, 2005

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Climate Change, Upstate, Transportation, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 269 words   English (US)

New buses to cut costs, pollution, NFTA says: 30 hybrid vehicles expected next year

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority is out to cut fuel costs and emissions by adding 30 hybrid buses to its Metro Bus fleet.

Diesel engines on the 40-foot, 38-passenger buses will generate electricity, while a highly efficient electric motor will drive the wheels. The electric motors kick in during acceleration and recharge during braking.

In addition to reducing engine emissions by more than 50 percent, the hybrid vehicles also are expected to use at least 25 percent less diesel fuel than a traditional bus.

The NFTA executive board Monday unanimously approved a $16.1 million contract with Gillig Corp. of Hayward, Calif., for the 30 buses, which are expected to start rolling on the authority's routes in Erie and Niagara counties late next year. The agreement also authorizes the NFTA to order up to 150 more hybrid vehicles over five years.

"This will reduce our fuel costs, but it's also the socially responsible thing to do," Commissioner Henry Sloma said. "We're big fuel users, and we should do what can to cut our consumption through this new technology."

The hybrid buses are expected to get 5.3 miles per gallon of No. 2 diesel fuel, compared with 4.6 miles per gallon for the current buses. When the 30 high-tech buses join the fleet, fuel costs are forecast to drop by more than $100,000 annually.

The "low floor" buses, which reduce entry-step climbing for passengers, also will feature automatic stop announcements, video surveillance cameras, cushioned seats, improved driver seating and an automatic passenger-counting system.

The new buses will replace Metro Buses that have been in service since early 1994.

The Buffalo News www.buffalonews.com

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04:58:16 pm, Categories: U.S., New York State, Real Estate, California, Northeast, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 1630 words   English (US)

Is It Better to Buy or Rent?

THE thought has occurred to just about everybody who owns a home in a hot housing market: maybe it's time to cash out.

The hard part is figuring out how to do so. Only a few families can actually pick up their life in, say, California and move it to Nebraska. The other option - renting - has long been derided as the equivalent of throwing money away.

But renting might deserve another look right now. After five years in which rents have barely budged while house prices in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and elsewhere have doubled, renting has become a surprisingly smart option for many people who never would have considered it before.

Owning a home often ties up hundreds of thousands of dollars that might be invested more safely and more lucratively elsewhere over the next decade. And while real estate brokers may hate to acknowledge it, home ownership involves its own versions of throwing money away, like property taxes and the costs of borrowing.

Add it all up - which The New York Times did, in an analysis of the major costs and benefits of owning and renting, including tax breaks - and owning a home today is more expensive than renting in much of the Northeast, Florida and California. Only if prices rise well above their already lofty levels will home ownership turn out to be the good deal that it is widely assumed to be.

In the Bay Area of California, a typical family that buys a $1 million house - which is average in some towns - will spend about $5,000 a month to live there, according to the Times analysis. The family could rent a similar house for about $2,500, real estate records show, and could pay part of that bill with the interest earned by the money that was not used for a down payment.

This gaping difference helped persuade Eloise Christensen to sell her century-old Victorian cottage in downtown Larkspur, Calif., for $1.05 million this year. Now she rents a two-story house in Stinson Beach for $2,400 a month. From her living room, she can sip tea and watch the waves from the Pacific Ocean.

"It just seems out of control," said Ms. Christensen, 43, a massage therapist and graphic designer. "It didn't seem to me that the market was going to be able to sustain these high prices."

There are obviously benefits to home ownership beyond the financial, like peace of mind and a feeling of stability. Owners cannot have their home yanked away by a landlord who has decided to move back in. Owners can also change the color of their living room walls or fix a draft seeping through their windows without asking permission.

Surrounding her Larkspur cottage, Ms. Christensen had built a garden with rosemary, lavender and boxwood hedges to complement the pear and fig trees already there. She is not doing anything like that in Stinson Beach.

Combine these benefits with the transaction costs of a house sale, and renting probably does not make sense for most people who already own their home and feel settled in it.

But the calculation can look quite different for those who are considering a move anyway or who do not yet own a home. At the very least, renters in boom markets, who often lament that they are wasting money, should know that their choice has as powerful an economic rationale as buying does right now.

"I am a proponent of buying," said Tchaka Owen, 37, a loan officer and licensed real-estate agent in Miami who is renting a two-bedroom apartment overlooking the bay there. "But you can get so much more for your money, renting instead of buying. We're paying half the amount we would be paying if we owned this place."

In Manhattan, 1,000-square-foot, two-bedroom apartments on the Upper East Side now rent for about $3,700 a month. Buying a similar apartment costs around $1.1 million, which can translate into monthly payments of $6,000 or so.

To determine the cost of renting, the Times analysis added monthly rent and renters' insurance. For owning, the analysis included typical costs for home insurance, major repairs, property taxes and mortgage payments, as well as the tax deductions they create.

Renters were given credit for a small return - about 4 percent, after taxes - on the money they could have invested in bonds or stocks instead of spending it on a down payment and closing costs. Buyers received credit for the portion of the mortgage they were paying off, as opposed to the interest costs.

When the net costs of owning are less than those of renting, as is the case in Chicago, Dallas, St. Louis and much of the middle of the country, the argument for buying becomes overwhelming. So long as home prices do not fall sharply, home buyers in these places will do much better than renters.

But when owning is more expensive every month, buyers are betting entirely on price appreciation.

For new home buyers, prices in New York would need to rise roughly another 13 percent over the next five years for the average buyer to do better than the average renter over that span. In Northern California, where the gap between house prices and rents is largest, home values would need to go up about 19 percent by 2010.

Over the next decade, the break-even increase is about 25 percent in New York and 40 percent in California.

Such increases have been easily achieved in the recent past. But even economists who do not consider the real estate market to be in a bubble predict that price gains will slow. Other forecasters argue that values will fall, as they did on the coasts in the early 1990's, or be stuck near their current levels for years to come. No matter who is right, the buy-versus-rent debate is a closer call than it has been in years.

"If you believe you'll be moving in the next four or five years, I'd rent," said Thomas Z. Lys, an accounting professor at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University . "If you're a long-termer, I still would buy."

The single biggest misconception about home ownership, some brokers and economists say, might revolve around tax deductions. Many people seem to believe that buying a home can actually save them money because the interest on their mortgage is tax deductible.

But all that deduction does is reduce the cost of borrowing the money - a cost that would not exist if the family were not buying the home. Families spend about six years in a house, on average, according to the National Association of Realtors. In that time, the interest on a $600,000 mortgage would add up to about $120,000, even at today's low rates and even after the tax deduction, according to National City Corporation, a large lender.

"Don't be buying a house because you think you're saving on the taxes," said Frank Borges LLosa, owner of FranklyRealty.com, a brokerage in Arlington, Va. "You'll save even more by not buying and renting."

Mr. LLosa added: "I'm not saying not to buy. I'm saying don't buy just for the tax reasons."

Many homeowners also do not receive the full deductions from home ownership. In the Northeast and California, homeowners now have so many deductions that some must pay the alternative minimum tax. This tax effectively wipes out part of their property-tax deduction, further cutting into the benefits of home ownership.

Other homeowners do not itemize their deductions or, if they do so, end up with total deductions only a little larger than the standard deduction that the government offers to all taxpayers, even renters.

"A lot of people hugely overvalue the mortgage deduction," said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal group in Washington, "because they compare it to no deduction instead of comparing it to the standard deduction."

Mr. Baker is one of the avant garde renters. He and his wife sold their condominium in Washington last year for $445,000 and now rent a similar one nearby for $2,200 a month.

The Times analysis made a number of assumptions favorable to buyers, like giving them full credit for the deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes, noted Mark Zandi, chief economist of Economy .com, a research company. Still, the monthly costs of buying were more expensive than those for renting in any market where the price of a typical house was more than 20 times larger than the annual rent to live in it.

In the Bay Area, this "rent ratio" exceeds 33. In New York, Boston, Los Angeles and Miami, it is just above 25. A typical four-bedroom house in Brookline, Mass., for example, costs about $1.2 million to buy and $4,500 a month to rent, according to Chobee Hoy Associates Real Estate, a brokerage there.

At 20, Washington is right near the cutoff. But renters who live in apartment buildings, like Mr. Baker, often get an extra benefit: some portion of their utilities bill is typically covered by the building's owner.

Mr. Owen, the loan officer in Miami, and his girlfriend, Polly Thompson, pay $1,700 a month for a top-floor apartment that has views of both the city's skyline and the Atlantic Ocean. After talking to brokers, he said he thought that the apartment would sell for close to $650,000, giving it a rent ratio of more than 30.

"It's obvious," he said, "that renting is such a better deal."

But to many people, the psychological benefits of buying are almost impossible to overcome. Owning makes them feel that they have achieved the American dream, or it gives them the secure sense that, if nothing else, they have a tangible asset where they can sleep at night.

Those are nice feelings, indeed. The question is how much they are worth to you.

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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Village will not seek funds for clean up from Quackenbush

The village of Herkimer will not sue to recover the costs of cleaning up the former H.M. Quackenbush site, Deputy Mayor Gary Hartman said Friday.

The Quackenbush company closed it's doors in July, leaving behind barrels of toxic waste including sulfuric acid, nitric acid, chromium, nickel, muratic acid, various solvents and 50 one-ton bags of waste sludge and waste piles.

The cost of the clean up is estimated at $1.2 million, which will be paid for by the federal Environmental Protection Agency Superfund. The EPA is currently cleaning up the site, workers are now testing and categorizing the various waste.

Hartman said that his priority is to clean up the site and then make long-range plans. He said the village will not make a claim because the company is bankrupt and recovering money would be too difficult.

"I know the EPA attorneys are going to make a claim," Hartman said. " I'm reaching out to county and state officials."

Also helping with the clean up of the site is Eckhardt Beck of Synapse Partners LLC.

"Mr. Beck has been working pro bono on our behalf to coordinate our response to the discovery of contamination," Hartman said.

Most cities and villages lack the environmental expertise to facilitate liability transfers at heavily contaminated properties, with the result being abandoned, vacant buildings that detract from the character of the community.

Synapse Partners provides the connections that insure and manage environmental liabilities and create community opportunities.

"The H.M. Quackenbush property is a perfect example of an impaired asset we'd like to see turned around," said Beck. "Here you have a site that was dumped into bankruptcy and is burdened with huge negative costs. Our company made a business decision to provide support to the village of Herkimer and to implement innovative strategies to accomplish a return of the property to productive use after cleanup has been completed."

Beck and Synapse Partners LLC have contributed their time to support local communities in addressing abandoned properties burdened with significant environmental contamination. Beck, the former chairman of the Federal Regional Council and EPA regional administrator for Region 2, has worked with the city of Utica and the city of Rome on a number of different contaminated properties, including the proposed Community Recreation Center at the former General Cable site in Rome and the former Foster Paper site in Utica.

Beck applauded the EPA, DEC and the Coast Guard for their efforts to mitigate and manage the imminent and substantial health risks associated with the former electric plating operations conducted by H.M. Quackenbush. However, he noted that even after EPA completes its cleanup work, there will still be residual contamination issues at the site. "We will work on the impaired asset to make it marketable to potential developers or new end users," said Beck.

"Cleanup of the site is obviously critical," said Hartman, "but avoiding a vacant and abandoned landmark in the heart of our village is also essential."

Herkimer Telegram www.herkimertelegram.com

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Dreading a Replay of the 1938 Hurricane

THE national commission that studied the terror attacks of Sept. 11 concluded that the lapses in preventing or responding to the attacks stemmed from a collective failure to imagine that such a catastrophe could happen.

Emergency officials and meteorologists fear a similar failure of imagination on Long Island about major hurricanes.

Conditions are right this year for one or more especially severe storms to lash the Island, they say. But it's been a long time - 67 years - since the last Big One, and officials worry that Long Islanders accustomed to the glancing blows of minor storms have little grasp of just how devastating a major hurricane could be.

"The only people who really have any idea are those who lived through the 1938 storm," said Michael E. Wyllie, the meteorologist in charge at the National Weather Service office in Upton, referring to the unnamed hurricane that laid waste to eastern Long Island that year. "And you are talking about people who are into their 70's to even remember it."

The 1938 hurricane killed more than 50 people on Long Island, even though it struck the sparsely populated East End on Sept. 21, long after the crowds of summer visitors were gone. It killed hundreds more in Rhode Island as it roared northward, flooding that state's cities. Over all, the storm took 600 lives and did about $308 million in damage to insured property, the equivalent of $4.1 billion today, according to the Insurance Information Institute, a trade group.

Scientists and officials using newly refined computer models say that a repeat of that storm today would be many times as destructive, because so much valuable real estate has since been developed on or near the shore, directly in harm's way.

Timely evacuation of threatened areas, impossible in 1938 because there was almost no warning of the storm's approach, could prevent most loss of life in a repeat. But officials cite this danger: many people may think they can ride out a major hurricane as easily as they have the tamer storms the Island has seen lately.

It's been two decades since the last significant hurricane hit Long Island, and that one was Gloria, a Category 1 storm, the lowest rung on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale, with sustained winds of no more than 95 miles an hour. That fast-moving 1985 storm, remembered mostly for tree damage and lengthy power failures, gave little hint of the worst that can be expected from a Category 3 hurricane like the 1938 storm, Mr. Wyllie said.

If ever there was a year for big hurricanes to strike Long Island, 2005 would seem to be it. High water temperatures in the Atlantic, weak atmospheric wind-shear conditions and the storm-steering influence of the seasonal weather phenomenon known as the Bermuda High all seem to be providing a window for a fearsome storm to charge up the East Coast. The season peaks in September.

If the 1938 hurricane, the strongest to strike Long Island in the last century, were to hit today, emergency officials say that Suffolk County alone would suffer more than $24 billion in losses. Nassau's losses would be smaller because the track of the storm would be well to the east, but it, too, might suffer damage in the hundreds of millions or more. The county has not calculated a dollar estimate.

Officials are more circumspect about projecting human casualties. The toll would depend on whether people heeded evacuation orders, they say. Those who did not would be on their own as winds and waters rose and police and emergency crews hunkered down to ride out the hurricane.

"The cavalry will not be coming over the hill," said Thomas O'Hara, an ambulance services consultant in Suffolk's Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services. "So when we tell you to go, it's time to go."

The most prudent residents, Mr. O'Hara said, will bypass public shelters and clear out of Long Island entirely. "Get in the car and go visit Aunt Tillie in Highland Falls," he said. "The last place you want to end up is isolated and alone, and the second-last place is in a public shelter, because I assure you, you will not get a mint on your pillow."

County emergency planners and Federal Emergency Management Agency recommend preparing for a hurricane by taking these basic precautions: gathering a "go kit" of essentials, including medications; filling the car's gas tank; keeping bottled water, flashlights with fresh batteries, and a battery-powered radio or television on hand in case the power goes out; and having a family emergency plan.

The two counties and the State Emergency Management Office are currently surveying residents in coastal areas to gauge their preparedness and to find out what they would do in the face of an approaching storm. The survey results will help officials fine-tune plans for evacuation and shelters.

"Everybody over the years has gravitated towards the water, and we have gotten complacent and are not thinking about the ramifications of that," said Joseph Williams, Suffolk's commissioner of fire, rescue and emergency services.

The projections of economic loss, generated by a new computer program called Hazus-MH that was released to state and local governments last year by FEMA, are one indication of the Island's vulnerability.

Aided by Hazus-MH and other continually updated programs that leave less and less to the imagination, officials see an ever-clearer picture of what hurricanes could do. And it is not a pretty sight.

Gregory J. Caronia, the director for emergency preparedness in Nassau's Office of Emergency Management, recently produced a map that showed how Long Island would fare in a worst-case hurricane - a Category 4 storm hitting at high tide, with winds as high as 155 m.p.h., moving west-northwest at 30 miles an hour. The Island looked like a swamped boat with water pouring over the gunwales.

Based on National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Slosh maps (an acronym for "sea, lake and overland surges from hurricanes"), the map showed the entire city of Long Beach under more than eight feet of water, enough to obliterate houses and put oceanfront high rises at imminent peril of being undermined and toppled. A tidal surge running up to 21 feet above normal high tide would flood low-lying communities all along the South Shore and as far as five miles inland.

Tides could run more than 30 feet above normal in Little Neck Bay and 24 feet above normal around Manhasset Bay and Hempstead Harbor, the map shows, as wind-driven water piles up relentlessly in the narrower westward reaches of the Sound with nowhere to go but ashore.

In Suffolk, Fire Island and its summer communities would be overrun by waves. The surging waters would cut off the eastern end of the South Fork at Napeague, making an island out of Montauk, and would swamp much of the North Fork. Ocean surf would cause major erosion.

In West Hampton Dunes, an Army Corps of Engineers project to rebuild dunes and close a breach in the barrier island, completed in 1993, would be no match for the raging surf, and the multimillion-dollar homes built there in recent years would almost certainly be washed away.

Clifford Jones, the project manager for the corps, said the beach rebuilding was designed to protect against more modest storms, the kind that occur about once in 44 years on average. He said the corps estimated a 50 percent chance that the new beach and dunes would be overcome during the project's 30-year expected life.

Along with pounding surf, a Category 4 hurricane would bring with it lightning strikes, torrential rain, major inland flooding, tons of airborne debris and fallen trees - and, if the winds were high enough, roofs and walls all over the Island would be torn away, not just at the shore.

The Long Island Power Authority estimates that in a major storm, as many as one million homes and businesses - in other words, nearly everyone on the Island - could lose power, some for long periods.

As calamitous as all that would be, it would still pale in comparison to the damage in New York City, where the Rockaway peninsula, parts of Wall Street, many subway stations and all of John F. Kennedy International Airport would be under water.

Forecasters say that while it is possible for such a Category 4 hurricane to reach Long Island, it probably will not happen more than once in 500 years. The strongest storm of all, a Category 5, is considered all but impossible this far north, because water temperatures here are never high enough.

The computer maps generated by Mr. Caronia, Nassau's emergency preparedness director, show how damage would diminish in lesser storms. A Category 2 hurricane - weaker than the Category 3 storm in 1938 but still stronger than Gloria, with 110 m.p.h. winds - following the same track as his hypothetical Category 4 and also striking at high tide, would still swamp Long Beach, but the tidal surge would be 14 feet above normal high tide, not 21 feet. There would still be flooding and wind damage across the Island, but many more buildings would remain intact.

Using Hazus-MH software, Mr. O'Hara, the ambulance services consultant, studied a possible storm in the Category 2 range hitting at high tide in the Babylon area. He estimated that it would cause $122.5 million in property damage and business interruption in Suffolk and generate 1.45 million tons of debris.

Mr. O'Hara's computer studies, combining topographical, storm surge, demographic and building data, project that residences would suffer most of the $24.5 billion in damage that a 1938-type Category 3 storm might do in Suffolk. Members of some 62,000 households would be left homeless, and 37 percent of all buildings in the county would sustain at least moderate damage.

A separate study by AIR Worldwide, a catastrophe risk-modeling company in Boston, came up with somewhat different estimates for such a storm. The company, which does most of its work for insurance companies, said if a 1938 hurricane struck today, the total insured losses for the entire Atlantic Coast would be $24.5 billion. S. Ming Lee, a senior vice president of the company, said that of that figure, $11.6 billion in losses would be in New York State, mostly in Nassau and Suffolk.

Even so, the damage would be greater than from all four hurricanes that battered Florida last year combined, or even from the strongest storm to hit the United States in memory, Hurricane Andrew in 1992, whose 155 m.p.h. winds devastated South Florida and the Louisiana coast.

In dollar-damage terms, it would be a disaster second only to the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center, which led to more than $30 billion in insurance payments.

Insurers say that many Long Island homeowners could be in for a shock after a big hurricane. Those who have not updated their policies to reflect home improvements may find that they have too little insurance to cover replacement costs.

Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, said that a study by her group found that 64 percent of all homes in the United States were underinsured, by an average of 27 percent. Federal flood insurance is capped at $250,000, much less than many shorefront homes are worth.

Officials consider Long Beach, with 60,000 people living on a low-lying barrier island about 10 feet above sea level, to be the most vulnerable point on Nassau's South Shore. "It's the weak link, as far as Nassau is concerned," said Richard Rotanz, the county's commissioner of emergency management.

Emergency plans try to compensate with early evacuation over the three bridges out of the city, two of them at low elevations and certain to flood in a bad storm. At least 18 hours before the predicted landfall of a hurricane, fire sirens are to begin sounding four single blasts, evenly spaced and repeated for 30 minutes. Emergency teams using loudspeakers are to drive through city streets telling residents to leave.

"The biggest thing is early warning," said James P. Hennessy, the president of the City Council.

The city manager, Charles Theofan, said that Long Beach had to be alert. "We really are very vulnerable," he said.

Still, the city has declined to approve a proposal from the Army Corps of Engineers to build new dunes along its beaches as part of a storm protection project.

On Fire Island, the most vulnerable coastal area in Suffolk, evacuations would be mostly by ferry, well in advance of a predicted landfall. Gerald Stoddard, the president of the Fire Island Association, a property owners' group, said hurricanes were the general topic of conversation among summer residents.

Protecting Fire Island and the entire South Shore from Jones Inlet to Montauk Point has been a bone of contention for years. The Corps of Engineers has been discussing a dune-building and beach-widening project since the 1960's and is now studying a revised plan. But Irving Like, a lawyer for the New York Coastal Partnership, a group of Fire Island and South Shore home and business owners, said that the Interior Department and the corps had failed to comply with a directive from Congress to submit a shore-erosion protection plan for Fire Island by the end of 1999.

Close calls with hurricanes do not count with the public, but they are agonizing for emergency officials and meteorologists who are trained to expect the worst. In August 2003, Hurricane Isabel gave them a scare, building up Category 5 winds of 167 m.p.h. and threatening to make landfall anywhere from the Carolinas to eastern Long Island. But wind shear weakened the huge storm while it was still over water, and a high pressure system over New England steered it onto the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where it struck at the low end of the Category 2 range and soon declined to a tropical storm, sparing Long Island.

Still, experts say that the Island cannot count on being lucky every time.

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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Senior housing project gets boost: $7 million will assist effort in Red Hook

Dreams for senior housing in the village are quickly turning into reality, thanks to more than $7 million in state and federal funding.

Gov. George Pataki an-nounced Sunday developer Ken Kearney was awarded nearly $1.4 million in funding and $5,750,000 in tax credits to develop the old Perx site into the 49-unit Red Hook Commons senior housing complex.

"It is my hope these new units will allow our local seniors to stay in the community because of their affordability, but also through their design, location and handicapped accessibility they will allow people to remain independent while living in safe and appropriate housing as they age," Dutchess County Executive William Steinhaus said in a statement released Monday.

The announcement was among $92 million in awards given for affordable housing initiatives across the state. Projects in Dutchess received nearly $4 million in cash and tax credits this year while projects in Ulster County received about $5.4 million.

The 20-acre Perx property, off Route 9 in the Village of Red Hook, was once home to an apple orchard and frozen food processing plant. But the site is hampered by chemical contamination. The county took possession of the property in the 1990s during a tax default proceeding.

Concept is 6 years old

Red Hook town and village officials, along with county officials, began looking at the site six years ago as a location for a senior housing facility.

The nearly $1.4 million of the Perx project funding will come from the state's Low Income Housing Trust Fund program, which uses state funding to rehabilitate underutilized residential and non-residential properties into residences.

The development group will also receive $575,000 annually over 10 years in tax credits from the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, Kearney said. That program is administered by the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal.

The funding will pay for phase one of the project. Another 48 units will be built in phase two, once more funding is secured. Kearney said he wants to get final site-plan approval from the village planning board this year and break ground by spring 2006.

Earlier this year, the county received $1.26 million from the state's Environmental Restoration Grant to clean up the Perx site. Total cleanup costs are expected to be about $1.8 million.

Officials hope to start the cleanup next month.

Red Hook town board member Sue Crane said a needs assessment of the town showed there were more than 100 people looking for affordable senior housing.

"This is a huge benefit and a huge asset to the village and town of Red Hook," she said. "I truly believe that this is going to be an economic engine for the village."

County Legislator Marc Molinaro, R-Red Hook, agreed.

"When these seniors do move, their homes open up for young families to move in," he said. 'It has a multiplier effect."

By Rasheed Oluwa,
Poughkeepsie Journal www.poughkeepsiejournal.com

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Hickory Woods buyout is funded: City to use $1.5 million to help residents relocate

Mayor Anthony M. Masiello, in what could be a breakthrough in his six-year dispute with Hickory Woods homeowners, is preparing a $1.5 million buyout offer so residents can move from their contaminated neighborhood.

The offer, the first fully funded proposal to come from the city, would allow families in the South Buffalo subdivision to sell their homes for fair market value prices and leave the neighborhood, where the soil is contaminated.

The buyout plan, made possible by about $1 million in new money from the city, would go a long way toward fulfilling Masiello's promise to make the residents of Hickory Woods "whole."

"It's pretty encouraging," said Richard Ammerman, president of Hickory Woods Residents for a Clean Environment. "It sounds like the money is there and those are the kinds of dollars the city would need to fund an adequate value protection plan. Of course, the devil is in the details."

What makes this offer different from others floated by the city is that all the funding is in place.

"I want to see the money in the bank, but I think it's good news," said Richard Lippes, a lawyer for about 60 Hickory Woods homeowners. "This is what the mayor promised, so it's good news that it's finally happening. This has been a long struggle for residents who have been trapped there."

Hickory Woods, a community of about 60 homes, was built during the late 1980s and 1990s on land bought and developed by the city. Since then, it became clear that city officials knew, or should have known, about contaminated soil on the site.

The mayor's offer, if it succeeds, would settle one of the homeowners' major demands - the relocation of the 40 or so families who want out of Hickory Woods.

Masiello said he wants the Hickory Woods issue settled before he leaves office, and expressed confidence the city finally has the money it needs to make the buyout plan work for homeowners.

"It's a personal thing for me, and I want it done right," said Masiello, one of two mayors to oversee the construction of homes in Hickory Woods. "The fact of the matter is we have to fix this and I want it done on my watch."

The centerpiece of the deal is $800,000 Rep. Brian M. Higgins, D-Buffalo, added to the federal highway bill that President Bush signed Wednesday. That money will go to city streets projects and will free up at least $1 million in federal community block grant funds that now can go to Hickory Woods.

The balance of the money, about $500,000, is expected to come from the state as part of a pledge Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver made to Higgins last year.

Together, it totals $1.5 million, which Higgins and Masiello believe is enough to finance a buyout plan for the families who want to leave Hickory Woods.

"It's a collaborative effort," Higgins said of the two pots of money. "That should be more than enough for a value protection program and other physical improvements to the neighborhood."

Since Higgins left Albany for Washington, D.C., homeowners have wondered if Silver would honor his commitment to Hickory Woods. Higgins' successor in the Assembly said he spoke to Silver in March and again last month and received assurances the money is still there.

"He was very clear," said Assemblyman Mark Schroeder, D-Buffalo. "The speaker said he's absolutely committed to that $500,000."

Charles Carrier, a spokesman for Silver, confirmed that Silver is still committed to providing that money.

On top of the $1.5 million, the city has set aside $1 million in federal housing funds that could be used to help low- and moderate-income home buyers interested in moving to Hickory Woods.

If Masiello can sell homeowners on his offer, it would mark a significant step forward in the cleanup and redevelopment of Hickory Woods, one of the city's first attempts at reusing brownfields.

There are other signs of progress.

Next door, private developers have completed about 70 percent of their $15 million cleanup of the old Republic Steel and Donner-Hanna Coke sites, a 213-acre parcel of land that is home to an inactive hazardous waste site.

The project, one of the most expensive cleanups in Buffalo's history and one of the biggest brownfields projects in the state, covers an area the size of 15 city blocks or an 18-hole golf course.

The developers, a partnership known as Steelfields, plan to reuse the former steel plant for offices and other commercial uses.

Just a stone's throw away, the state and city are putting the finishing touches on the cleanup and reconstruction of Boone Playground, a city-owned park once contaminated with arsenic.

The city also set aside $240,000 for the cleanup of six vacant, contaminated lots in Hickory Woods.

"We want to improve the attractiveness of the neighborhood," said Masiello. State health officials acknowledge Hickory Woods is contaminated with lead and possible cancer-causing chemicals, but say the "average" levels are not high enough to pose health risks.

A team of experts at the University at Buffalo disagrees and has criticized the state report, calling it incomplete.

By PHIL FAIRBANKS, fairbanks@buffnews.com">pfairbanks@buffnews.com
Buffalo News www.buffalonews.com

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A Roof Garden? It's Much More Than That

As temperatures soared over 90 degrees and New York City broke records for electricity use at the end of July, landscapers were installing a "green" roof at Silvercup Studios in Long Island City, Queens, where parts of the HBO series "The Sopranos" are filmed.

Above Tony Soprano's head will be New York City's largest green roof, a thin layer of plants covering 35,000 square feet in a design that aims to reduce air pollution, control heating and cooling costs, and absorb storm water runoff.

Proponents of the project, which has been two years in the making, are hoping to use data collected from it to convince commercial property owners and developers that not only are green roofs good for the environment, they can benefit the bottom line.

The highly visible location near the large Silvercup Studios' sign will be its own best advertisement. A matrix of 1,500 planters will have 20 different species of plants intended to show off their red, yellow and green colors, visible from the Queensboro Bridge when in full bloom.

Not to be confused with a roof garden, however, a green roof is less of an aesthetic amenity than it is a workhorse. The carefully selected plants and soil - engineered to weigh only a fifth as much as typical dirt - help clean the air and absorb rain that would otherwise become storm-water runoff. And when many of them are clustered together, green roofs can reduce the urban heat island effect (densely populated cities tend to be hotter than surrounding areas because of the heat-trapping properties of tall buildings, asphalt and concrete).

Less well established are the benefits of green roofs to property owners and developers. It is known that they can reduce a building's heating and cooling costs, and extend the life of the roof, but the question is, Do the long-term benefits justify the initial cost?

"We are looking to demonstrate to the government, the public and most of all private business that green technologies are an economic benefit," said Stuart Suna, co-owner of Silvercup Studios. "What exactly that benefit is will be determined by this green-roof demonstration project."

The Silvercup project originated with a study undertaken by Diana Balmori of Balmori Associates, a landscape design firm.

Ms. Balmori's interest in the submarket of green-roof design led to a comprehensive assessment of New York City's flat-roof buildings. What she discovered is that Long Island City has 667 acres of empty flat-roof surfaces suitable for vegetation, an area more than three-quarters the size of Central Park. Given the available flat roofs, the air pollution generated from the area's heavy industry and traffic, and a nearby power plant that produces 25 percent of the city's electricity, Long Island City turned out to be the perfect green-roof laboratory.

Ms. Balmori took her idea to build a demonstration green roof to the Long Island City Business Development Corporation, the neighborhood's business improvement district; Mr. Suna is a member of the group. They secured a grant from Clean Air Communities, an organization devoted to reducing air pollution and energy consumption in the city's low-income neighborhoods.

The $500,000 grant is paying for the green-roof design by Balmori Associates, and the installation by Greener by Design, a landscaping company based in New York that specializes in green roofs. Ms. Balmori estimates the outlay will be about $10 a square foot, not including the structural engineering costs paid for by Silvercup Studios, or the yearlong study to be undertaken by the Earth Pledge Foundation, a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization based in New York.

Leslie Hoffman, executive director of Earth Pledge, said that once the green roof was established, her organization would measure energy savings as a result of reduced temperature fluctuations in and around the building. The study will also measure the amount of storm-water retention, which alleviates pressure on the city's overtaxed wastewater system.

A study conducted in Chicago, for instance, demonstrated that a green roof absorbed nearly half the water that was captured elsewhere in a conventional roof rain barrel during a downpour.

Richard Heller, president and chief executive of Greener by Design, said energy savings from green roofs would fluctuate depending on the building type, but the greatest savings would be achieved in low-rise flat-roof buildings. The same Chicago study, conducted in 2003, showed that green-roof temperatures were 19 percent to 31 percent cooler during peak daytime hours in July compared with a conventional roof.

Despite the existing data, Ms. Hoffman and many other green-roof proponents agree that appealing to the enlightened self-interest of property owners and developers is not enough. Getting local government involved is critical to reducing the cost of green-roof installation and achieving economies of scale through mass production. With current technology, green roofs typically cost $8 to $10 a square foot, whereas a regular roof costs about $4 to $6 a square foot.

"Isolated green roofs are expensive insulation," Ms. Hoffman said. "But when you have a whole community of green roofs, it changes the microclimate of the area and reduces demand for energy. Think about one sidewalk in front of a building. That doesn't make a transportation path. But if everyone has one in front of their property, you have a way to walk around the city. Only a citywide effort can achieve that."

To that end, proponents in New York have been lobbying City Hall to offer incentives to developers and property owners. While green-roof incentives are still in the "nice idea" phase at City Hall in New York, Chicago has been a proponent of green roofs since Mayor Richard M. Daley installed the country's first municipal green roof on top of City Hall in 2001. Chicago now has both requirements and incentives in place for private businesses to follow the city's lead.

As a result, Sadhu Johnston, Chicago's commissioner of the environment, said there were approximately two million square feet of green roofs already built or in various stages of construction in Chicago. Currently, New York City has approximately 60,000 square feet of green roofs built or under construction.

Two years ago, Chicago began offering a density bonus in the central business district in exchange for green-roof installation. The city uses a complex formula to calculate the bonus, but at least 50 percent of the roof must be covered with vegetation before the bonus starts to apply. More significantly, of the estimated 150 green-roof projects currently in development, only 12 are taking advantage of the city's incentives. The rest are being built because the city requires that new developments that benefit from city financing must install a green roof.

"It's a combination of incentives and requirements," Mr. Johnston said. McDonald's built a flagship restaurant in downtown Chicago and installed a highly visible, 3,150-square-foot, bi-level green roof. Target and Apple Computer have also installed green roofs on their stores in Chicago.

While studies in Chicago and other cities in Canada and Europe have demonstrated the environmental benefits of green roofs, green roof proponents know they need hard numbers to convince New York's developers of the economic benefits.

"We want to bridge the gap between theory and reality," said Glenn Goldstein, program director for Clean Air Communities. "Having definitive data that informs developers and other real estate people how a green roof could perform for them is critical."

The New York Times www.nytimes.com


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10:50:00 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Upstate, Companies, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Regulatory Analysis, Savings, 149 words   English (US)

Paper mill revises permit request

International Paper has submitted to the state a revised permit request for test-burning tires for fuel at its mill in Ticonderoga.

Company spokeswoman Donna Wadsworth said the changes from its February request are procedural.

She said state environmental officials are expected to review the new application followed by a draft permit.

But before the mill can run the two-week test burn of 72 tons per day of tire-derived fuel -- essentially shredded tires -- the proposal still faces at least 10 more weeks of public and environmental compliance scrutiny.

The company estimates that adding tire-derived fuel to the boiler system would save about $1.5 million per year at the mill in the eastern Adirondacks.

But environmental groups and political leaders downwind in Vermont said the potential harm to their air quality outweighs the cost benefit.

The Associated Press via Capital News 9 www.capitalnews9.com

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Region faces water rate hike; UC could see costs rise: EPA rules mean $18M in local improvements

Utica-area water users face higher rates as the Mohawk Valley Water Authority braces for stiffer federal rules that could cost about $18 million.

"We'll be looking at another rate increase next year, which could be substantial," authority Executive Director Patrick Becher said. "We'll have a good idea in January or February what those rates might look like."

The Environmental Protection Agency's new regulations call for eliminating open-air reservoirs from public water lines and using several tanks instead, Becher said. The authority also must lower the amount of compounds it puts into the water, Becher said.

A water rate increase in 2006 would come on the heels of an 8.7 percent increase in April, which drew criticism from some area residents.

Utica resident Bader Reynolds said she understands paying more money to improve the water system, but she'd like to be sure those improvements are necessary.

"No one wants to pay more money, but the infrastructure has to be improved and maintained," Reynolds said. "The regulations that come into effect would be for the good of the community and the environment, but a lot of times those regulations become burdensome not only for the people who have to implement them, but also for the people who have to bear the costs."

When the regulations are finalized, two reservoirs will be removed from the water system, Becher said. The Marcy and Deerfield water sources - which are fed from Hinckley Reservoir, the Utica area's primary water source - will eventually be replaced with five or six closed water storage tanks, he said.

The deadline for large water systems to comply with the regulations is 2010, Becher said. Smaller community systems will have an additional two years to make changes, he said.

"Basically, we've got to do a better job disinfecting, but also at the same time be required to lower the level of disinfectant products," Becher said. "It's a whole regulatory issue. It's a major change in the way we disinfect water."

The projected $18 million needed to get the water authority in line with the new federal policies comes on top of $18 million needed to spend for system renovations, which include new mains, tanks and federally required pumping upgrades.

The water authority has said it would like to add more customers to offset rising water rates, but an ongoing dispute with the state Canal Corp. is delaying expansion.

Until both sides agree on the amount of water available in Hinckley Reservoir, the authority cannot add water expansion lines to areas such as Westmoreland or Verona. Among the state's concerns is whether there would be enough water to properly run its canal system.

UC could see costs rise

Any potential increase in water rates is a concern for Utica College, Vice President for Financial Affairs and Treasurer R. Barry White said.

"The college pays between $50,000 and $60,000 a year in water bills," White said Wednesday. "Being a non-for-profit (organization), we pass these costs onto our students, so it is a concern of ours because we try to keep costs down."

The college is one of the top public water users in the region, according to records from the Mohawk Valley Water Authority.

And it could become a bigger user as on-campus housing increases, White said.

"If it's a 10 percent to 15 percent increase, that's about half of what our tuition costs," White said.

Utica Observer-Dispatch www.uticaod.com

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Campaign 2005: The Mayoral Candidates’ Views On Air and Water Quality, Solid Waste, and Sustainability

From an environmental perspective, 2005 is shaping up to be a good year here in New York City. Nearly a half-dozen laws designed to curb vehicle emissions and improve local air quality have sailed through the New York City Council and earned the mayor's signature. A similar accord on energy-efficient "green buildings" is in the works. And despite a much publicized battle over waste reduction and marine transfer station siting, the city's solid waste management plan appears to be on its most solid footing in years.

It seems strange, then, that environmental issues have yet to find their way into the ongoing mayoral debate, apart from discussions of congestion-pricing and the proposed Brooklyn-to-New Jersey railroad tunnel. It doesn't help that the New York City League of Conservation Voters, an organization that normally conducts an exhaustive endorsement process (and that endorsed Michael Bloomberg's opponent Mark Green in the 2001 campaign), has decided to issue no endorsement at all for the Democratic mayoral primary race, and instead come out early in support of Michael Bloomberg's re-election. ("Four years ago, Michael Bloomberg had a lot of interesting ideas but he had no track record," says Marcia Bystryn, the league's executive director. "We feel the mayor has taken a strong leadership role on a range of issues...")

Voters thus have been cheated out of a chance to review and compare some impressive resumes. More importantly, they've missed a frank discussion of priorities when it comes to city-level environmental policy. After all, in a city of 8 million people, only a few issues can command top billing and as the last few years have shown, such issues have a way of pitting one environmental concern against another -- clean drinking water vs. parkland preservation, just to cite one notable example.

With this in mind, a review of the top candidates' environmental agendas show four main areas where differences in opinion or variations in enthusiasm stand to shape mayoral priorities over the next four years.


Since 1998, New York City has been obligated by a federal court order to filter at least 10 percent of the drinking water coming out of the Croton Valley watershed. Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to end more than a decade's worth of city footdragging and authorize the construction of a $1.3 billion filtration plant was one of the decisions that earned him the eventual endorsement of the New York City League of Conservation Voters.

In pushing through a plan to site the plant within the boundaries of Van Cortlandt Park, however, the mayor has quite possibly earned the ever-lasting enmity of park advocates. The mayor has since balanced the loss of green space with $240 million in new funds for Van Cortlandt and other Bronx parks, but from the park advocates' perspective, the exploitation of city owned green space sets a dangerous precedent which other mayors will be tempted to exploit.

When the Ben Franklin Democratic Reform Democratic Club played host to a town hall forum in the Bronx in May, Democratic challengers were hard pressed to deliver an outright condemnation of the mayor's decision-making. Only Anthony Weiner, a Queens congressman with a solid record for channeling federal money to city parks, seemed unequivocal on the matter. Weiner blasted the "closed loop" nature of the negotiation process and the precedent-setting use of park land for industrial purposes. Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields, an opponent of the Van Cortlandt siting in the late 1990s said she remained opposed but doubted such opposition could have an effect if elected. " In all fairness and candor," Fields told the audience., "Unless you have a different way of approaching [the plant], I don't think as mayor I could stop it, as it has been started."

City Council Speaker Gifford Miller admitted that he had voted for the use of the park while adding that more could have been done to acquire watershed land upstate to head off development and protect water quality. Former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer's comments were conspicuously absent in a summary of the forum filed by the RiverdaleReview.com, Although the candidate is on the record opposing the Van Cortlandt filtration plant as far back as 1999.

”As far as I know, Mr. Weiner is the only candidate solidly opposed to the plant," says Marian Rose, president of the Croton Watershed Clean Water Coalition, a group which does not endorse candidates.

In their answers to the League of Conservation Voters questionnaire (which they have not posted on their Web site, and may never), every Democratic candidate said yes to the question of whether they would direct city agencies to establish a goal of shielding 50 percent of the land surrounding the city's other main water source, the Catskill/Delaware watershed land, by 2015. In his own answer to the question, the mayor did not offer a yes or no response but noted that, under his administration, the city increased its share of watershed control and would continue pursuing acquisitions via the city’s Department of Environmental Protection.

"Because the city cannot force or require landowners to sell their land, and because the city is not permitted to purchase land for a price above fair market value, the administration has decided against setting a ten-year goal for watershed protection," the mayor's response reads.

In the case of local waterways, the mayor and the Democratic challengers have expressed a uniform commitment to the reduction of pollutants and nitrogen in the East River and Long Island Sound. In the questionnaire, however, most, including the mayor, felt that current programs, most notably the Department of Environmental Protection's EPA-mandated elimination of combined rainwater and sewage systems, would elicit the desired improvements over time. In terms of creative remedies, Ferrer proposed artificial wetlands, seaweed farms, and other "low cost, simple solutions" above and beyond the existing work by the city department.

New York City's mammoth solid waste output is a case study in conflicting environmental agendas. In seeking to move the city away from its current truck-dependent waste export model back to a barge-based plan involving reactivated marine transfer stations, the mayor has chosen to stress two environmental benefits -- reduced diesel exhaust and fuel consumption -- above all others.

In City Council Speaker Gifford Miller's spring challenge to the mayor's sanitation plan, he spoke up for those long troubled by the lack of waste reduction incentives in the city's current waste management strategy. The new solid waste management plan, passed this summer, makes room for more ambitious recycling than in the past, but advocates say the program's goal of 25 percent of garbage being recycled is too low.

The mayor headed off an 11th hour challenge by Gifford and his council allies. Still, the Democratic candidates say that waste reduction and waste transport efficiency remain signature challenges for the city.

"There is no lack of ideas in the environmental community for materials recovery," argues Fields, who says the city can use its power as a large contract consumer to pressure manufacturers to reduce packaging and offer more support in the repair or reclamation of aging products. Together with Weiner, Fields is a hearty endorser of "pay as you throw" incentive programs which would give homeowners and building-owners who put less garbage on the curb a rebate on their property taxes.

"Conscientious New Yorkers should get a signal of support from the city, rather than having to pay for the waste of their neighbors," says Weiner.

Bottle Bill

Both Weiner and Fields have joined Ferrer as backers of the Better Bottle Bill, a recently-passed state bill which would expand bottle deposits to non-carbonated beverages and which would return unclaimed deposits to local governments to use in their own internal waste management and recycling programs. According to Laura Haight, an Albany lobbyist for the New York Public Interest Research Group, a signature by Governor George Pataki or his successor could mean up to $100 million in annual proceeds for New York City alone.

"We need the next mayor to step up to the plate and fight in Albany with us to get our nickels back," says Haight, whose non-partisan group does not endorse any candidates.

The mayor, who has come out in favor of a straight five cent-per-bottle tax over an expansion of the existing deposit law, emphasizes private sector efficiency over government incentives. The reactivation of marine transfer stations authorized by the solid waste management plan will make it easier to ship recyclables in bulk to the coming Hugo Neu facility on Brooklyn's Sunset Park waterfront. This should free up the company to invest in technologies which speed sorting, improve recovery, and possibly encourage expansion into other portions of the city waste stream. For similar reasons, the Bloomberg administration has focused its transportation efforts on reviving the rail link between Visy Paper's Staten Island paper recycling facility and the Howland Hook Marine Terminal.

In its 2005 Mayoral Scorecard grading the Bloomberg administration's first term performance, the New York League of Conservation Voters reserved its lowest score ("average") for the mayor's efforts in the realm of sustainability and sustainable development. Although Bloomberg established his Task Force on Sustainability to examine the city's own internal policies, concerns about clean water, clean air and Sanitation have taken precedence over the last four years.

Expect that to change. The city council is considering Intro 324, a bill which, if enacted, would require building projects greater than $2 million in scope to meet national energy efficiency and other "green" standards set out by the U.S. Green Building Council. Similar bills to encourage the use of heat-reducing "green roof" materials and to press the city to incorporate green building standards into its own buildings and facilities are also in the works. Meanwhile, the Bloomberg administration is backing the potential offering of water and energy rebates to private sector companies via a separate bill, Intro 478.

This is the one issue where City Council Speaker Miller stands out, as a sponsor or supporter of these green bills. "We need to support more innovative legislation," says Miller in response to the League of Conservation Voters questionnaire. "As mayor, I plan to focus on the same issues I have as speaker -- reducing the city's use of materials and emissions, encouraging green building practices by developers, and protecting quality of life by working for parks and expanding and improving mass transit."

Some candidates, however, would like to see even more creativity when it comes to giving residents and workers a stake in city resource conservation. According to Weiner, the city shouldn't just aim for monitoring the energy demand within its own departments -- already a Bloomberg administration aim -- it should give departments that demonstrate improving efficiency a cut of the cost savings. Meanwhile, Fields sees the everyday consumer as a true swing vote in the attempt to force industry-wide change. She holds up the city's large scale buying power as an effective stick but also sees incentives such as the low-flow toilet rebate as a model for how the city should reward consumers who install heat deflecting roofs or reduce their energy demand

"My preference is reward positive behavior rather than punish negative behavior," says Fields.

Although the city earned a failing grade for air quality in four of its five boroughs in April, the resulting media coverage has facilitated the passage of recent laws seeking to increase the number of hybrid taxicabs and low sulfur diesel buses on city streets.

Where things go from here, however, is up in the air. Under Mayor Bloomberg, the city joined Attorney General Eliott Spitzer and other regional attorneys general in their successful effort to force out-of-state energy companies to clean up their coal-burning power plants, a major source of air pollution here in the northeast. Some of the Democratic mayoral candidates, however, think the city could be even more audacious in this strategy. Former Bronx Borough President Ferrer has suggesed emulating the attorney general's equally successful campaign against truck and bus idling and "create a city-wide zero idling rule on school buses with increased fines and eventual suspensions of any driver who continually puts our children's health at risk." Manhattan Borough President Fields, again, feels that incentives for "good corporate citizens" are the better route.

Congressman Weiner, meanwhile, is the one candidate who sees ferry service as the missing piece in the city's current air quality puzzle. "An expanded network of ferries would shorten commute times and develop a healthier means of transit," Weiner told the New York League of Conservation Voters.

Cross-Harbor Rail Link

Where the mayor and the Democrats most notably part ways, however, is on the proposed Cross-Harbor rail link, a $700 million project which would link New Jersey to Brooklyn, reducing the number of current trans-Hudson truck trips by 11 percent according to project supporters. Then again, the same project would dramatically increase the number of short haul truck trips ending in Maspeth, Queens, the link's easternmost terminus. Citing the increased air pollution burden on Queens residents, Mayor Bloomberg has opposed the plan. Every Democratic challenger, meanwhile, supports the cross harbor link.

by Sam Williams, August, 2005
The Gotham Gazette.com www.gothamgazette.com

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10:00:00 am, Categories: Water, Long Island, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Contamination Cost, 647 words   English (US)

This weed is fishy: Concern about the invasive, destructive cabomba weed is growing almost as fast as the weed itself

A really nasty South American plant sold in aquarium shops has invaded Long Island, strangling three lakes already and almost certain to spread to more.

It's called cabomba weed and Lower Yaphank Lake in Brookhaven Town has become so choked with the plant's feathery tendrils that some residents won't let their dogs take a swim. Earlier this week, Chad Trusnovec, 40, stood on a dock behind his house, trying to hold his squirming Labrador puppy Bonnie away from the water.

"If she goes out in the thick stuff and gets tangled," Trusnovec said, "I don't want to have to dive into the water to get her."

Suffolk County and town officials are trying to secure funds to dredge the lake of the weeds, but experts say that this won't kill it and may help it to spread.

"Unfortunately it looks as though it's already choked the lake," said Kathy Schwager, an invasive species specialist at The Nature Conservancy's chapter in Cold Spring Harbor who visited the site last week.

She said the cabomba weed kills off native plants and fish, and the plant has spread all along the river between Upper and Lower Yaphank Lakes. She said that it could infest the entire Carmans River watershed if left unchecked. Cabomba infestations have also been found in the Peconic River system, which runs through Riverhead Town, and in Mill Pond in Wantagh.

A number of states, including California, Washington and Vermont, have classified cabomba as a noxious weed, and Connecticut has banned sales of the plant. The worst cabomba infestations have been seen in Australia, Schwager said, adding that once the weed takes hold, it is almost impossible to exterminate. According to the Australian Department of Environment and Heritage, the plant grows up to 2 inches per day and its long feathery tendrils can glut an infested waterway in less than a season.

The plant, native to South America, is used for fish tank greenery, according to the department, and many infestations begin when people empty old tanks into waterways. Experts say that is probably what happened in the Long Island lakes. Bunches of the plant sell for $2-$4 in local pet stores. Scott Hiller, the manager of Aquarium Adventure in Glen Cove, says his store moves about 125 plants a week.

At Lower Yaphank Lake, Trusnovec has watched this 17-acre swimming hole degenerate into a vast seaweed soup in just the past few summers. "I don't have a lakefront house -- I have swamp front," said another homeowner, Charles Piciullo, 65. "My property value went down the toilet."

Boaters and bathers hate the weed for the way it tangles legs, paddles and propellers. Environmental experts say cabomba ultimately renders lakes unfit for native life, choking off fish and even turtles.

Suffolk Legis. Peter O'Leary (R-Moriches) has proposed a law imposing $1,000 fines for anyone caught dumping it into local waterways. He is also working with Brookhaven Councilman James Tullo to raise $600,000 to dredge the weeds from the lake. "We're going to try dredging but it can only minimize the damage that has already been done," said Maria Ammirati, an O'Leary aide.

Tullo said he would meet with O'Leary next week to discuss funding for the project, but he could not say when dredging by the county might begin.

Which is just as well, some experts say. "It's almost just a temporary Band-Aid," said Eric Lamont, the president of the Long Island Botanical Society. "When you dredge it, it'll look good for the rest of the season -- maybe."

But, Lamont added, because even small bits of the plant's detached leaves can re-root and grow anew, dredging is a little like sowing cabomba seeds. "You're ripping it to shreds and little bits of it are floating away," he said. "You're actually helping to spread it."

Newsday www.newsday.com

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City leaders affirm $1.2 million bond plan: Cash is share in landfill cleanup

The City of Poughkeepsie has approved a $1.2 million bonding plan to cover its share of higher-than-expected costs to clean up a former municipal landfill near the Dutchess County Airport.

The Common Council approved the funding Monday, increasing its share of the estimated $10 million cleanup to slightly more than $3 million.

"We want to move the project along," said city Corporation Counsel Stephen Wing. "Unfortunately, it has to be done."

The city joins the Town of Poughkeepsie, the Town of Wappinger, the Village of Wappingers Falls and the Town of LaGrange in funding the cleanup.

The total cost of the project was at one time estimated to be around $6 million. But the cost came in at $10 million after bids were received.

Officials said the amount of fill needed to cap the site was more than had been anticipated.

"This did come as a pretty big shock," Wing said of the increase.

The municipalities used the landfill decades ago, but the state Department of Environmental Conservation has mandated they help pay for capping the New Hackensack site.

Municipalities paying for the work are expected to be reimbursed in part by the state at a later date. The landfill ceased operations in 1976 and was closed a few years later under regulations of that time.

Taking precautions

The state is now mandating municipalities pay for a new system to prevent possible soil and groundwater contamination near the Wappinger Creek.

The municipalities will pay amounts based on the original landfill contract, officials said.

The Town of Poughkeepsie's share is about 42 percent. The other percentages are the city, 30 percent; Town of Wappinger, 14.5 percent; Town of LaGrange, 9.5 percent; and the Village of Wappingers Falls, 4 percent.

Town of Poughkeepsie Supervisor Joseph Davis said the bid for the cleanup could be formally awarded soon. Work could begin this fall with completion set for the end of 2006.

By Michael Valkys,
Poughkeepsie Journal www.poughkeepsiejournal.com

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Environmentalists see ongoing harm from Hudson dredging delay

Environmentalists gathered Wednesday near the dam that holds back the upper Hudson to say that 500 pounds of toxic PCBs continue to flow downriver annually while federal officials delay dredging them from a Superfund site upriver.

Friends of a Clean Hudson, a coalition of 10 environmental advocacy groups, urged the Environmental Protection Agency to either force General Electric to begin the cleanup now or do the dredging itself and later bill GE for triple the cost as provided under federal Superfund law.

In a letter to the EPA administrator, the group said polychlorinated biphenyls continue to contaminate the estuary's ecosystem, while GE has engaged in drawn-out dispute with the EPA over project details.

"They haven't agreed to the actual cleanup," Scenic Hudson's Alix Gerosa said of the corporate giant.

GE spokesman Mark Behan said Wednesday the company has so far spent or committed $100 million to the project, including sediment testing and ongoing design, and is making "substantial progress toward an agreement" with the EPA for the dredging itself.

On June 23, citing the complexity of the estimated $500 million project, the EPA pushed back the start of dredging PCB-contaminated river sediment from 2006 to 2007. It was the second delay since the EPA ordered dredging in 2002. Work on the 40-mile stretch of the river north of Albany was originally supposed to begin this summer.

"Every year there's a delay, 500 pounds go down the river that will never be cleaned up," said Jeff Jones of Environmental Advocates, citing an EPA estimate that more than a pound a day go over the federal dam at Troy. The suspected carcinogen has been found in fish, birds and other wildlife, while people continue to catch and eat Hudson fish.

A key report identifying "hotspots" to be dredged the first year, originally due in spring 2004, was held up amid disagreements between the agency and GE. That report is now done, as well as GE agreements for sediment sampling and project design, the analysis of 50,000 samples, and the company's payment of $35.5 million of EPA costs, agency spokesman Leo Rosales said Wednesday.

"We really needed the additional time to make sure this project is designed safely," Rosales said.

The six-year dredging is to start in the Fort Edward area, then progress downstream, with about 10 percent done the first year, Rosales said. The agency expects construction of a sediment processing, or dewatering, facility in Fort Edward to start in 2006 and finish before 2007 dredging.

"We're sitting down with GE now to negotiate the actual work, the actual dredging itself, the actual dewatering itself," Rosales said. They hope to conclude negotiations shortly, he said.

While doing the work and billing the polluter triple remains an EPA option, Rosales said they prefer having the polluter pay upfront.

GE dumped an estimated 1.3 million pounds of PCBs _ a viscous liquid coolant used in transformers _ into the river from its plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls before the federal government banned the substance in 1977.

The EPA blueprint calls for dredging 2.65 million cubic yards of contaminated sediment, expected to remove at least 150,000 pounds of PCBs.

"The EPA and GE both believe strongly that the most important priority is to design and execute the dredging project safely and effectively," Behan said. "No one's interests are served by short cutting the design and planning process."

On the Net: Environmental Protection Agency: http://www.epa.gov/hudson

Associated Press via Newsday www.newsday.com

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State studies Hudson River's rough beach gems

Rachel Mohl has nothing but good things to say about swimming in the Hudson River.

On hot summer days, she and her husband take their three kids and friends to a little secluded spot in Putnam County to splash around for most of the morning, or until other people start to gather.

Mohl, a Carmel resident, isn't so sure she'd like to see lifeguards and crowds changing her spot into something more formal than what now amounts to a summer swimming hole for her family.

"We like the natural look, and we like it because not very many people know about it," Mohl said recently on a sandy shore in Philipstown, while watching her children try to surf on bodyboards in the water. "We usually come every week, for about four years now. The kids always ask 'Is it swimming day today?' "

A recently completed state study designed to identify swimming sites with greater potential along the Hudson came up with 17, including seven spread among Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties.

Unfortunately for Mohl, her Little Stony Point Park spot made the list.

Yet, she may not have to worry too much about public officials developing her location, or many others noted in the study. The amount of money needed to improve and operate the sites isn't part of any state or county budgets.

And there's always the issue of whether communities want to create bigger swimming venues.

"The good news in this study is that it reaffirms that the Hudson River is clean enough for people to swim in it," said Rockland County Executive C. Scott Vanderhoef. "But we're not prepared to invest in that now."

For the seven local sites in the study — three each in Westchester and Rockland and one in Putnam — the total amount needed to improve the beaches and build facilities could run to $7 million.

In addition, annual combined operating costs are estimated at $190,000 for five sites; two have no estimates and would require further evaluation.

Besides Little Stony Point Park, local spots on the list are Croton Point Park, Verplanck's White Beach and Sleepy Hollow's Kingsland Point Park in Westchester; and Stony Point's Riverfront Park, Haverstraw's Rockland County Park and Nyack Beach State Park in Rockland.

Two potential sites — Louis Engel Park in Ossining and Dobbs Ferry's Waterfront Park — were deemed to have too many obstacles to overcome, including dubious water quality and strong river currents.

Still, state officials say access to the Hudson is important enough that the administration of Gov. George Pataki spent $227,000 on the five-year, 109-page study.

One of the seven local sites — Croton Point Park — already has a beach and lifeguards but is open only on summer weekends.

Even so, it is one of only four official public swimming beaches left along the Hudson — a fifth recently closed in Port Owen. Moreover, three of the four are in Ulster County.

Pataki, who grew up in Peekskill, outlined in 2004 a plan to honor the 400-year anniversary of Henry Hudson's 1609 sail up the river by making its entire length swimmable.

Fran Dunwell, a Hudson River estuary coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, has a lot to do with getting the river ready for that goal, including overseeing the study's preparation. She's hopeful that one area named in the report could be improved and opened to swimmers by the anniversary in 2009.

Dunwell said the state already had spent billions of dollars to improve the Hudson's water quality and create a desirable environment for swimmers.

But she acknowledged that the public's perception of the river as still too polluted for swimming would slow efforts to increase access.

"The Hudson in the 1960s was an open sewer," Dunwell said. "People have lost touch with the Hudson. We have to reintroduce the river to people."

Public use of Westchester's Croton Point Park beach would more than triple, the study estimates, if $600,000 to $1 million were spent on beach house renovations.

The report called Croton Point one of the most important beaches on the Hudson.

Joseph Stout, Westchester County's park commissioner, said he knew of the park's potential before he read the study.

The parks department has allocated about $800,000 for on-site improvements set to begin in 2007 and, with the addition of a large covered picnic area, Stout believes more people will use the site.

"It's not actually as popular a location as you might think," Stout said of the Croton beach. "We get probably 150 to 200 people a day. A lot of people sunbathe, but they don't go into the water."

Park officials said other swimming locations with chlorinated pools draw an average of 1,000 people a day, so apparently the current wave of swimmers prefers chemicals in their water over flora and fauna.

Ibelka Pena was doing her own brand of cooling off during a recent visit to Rockland County Park.

The Haverstraw resident was drenched from the super soaking she got from her 6-year-old daughter, Ashley, who chased her mom with a giant squirt gun across the park's manicured grounds, laughing until her mother shot her back, eliciting squeals from her daughter.

"She likes to swim," Pena said of Ashley after the pitched battle was over. "But she likes the pool."

Asked if she or Ashley would swim in the river if a beach were built at the park, Pena wrinkled her nose.

"In that water?" she asked, shaking her head.

Another location with seeming potential is Kingsland Point Park, a few hundred strokes away from Philipse Manor Beach Club, a private beach that hosts all-day swimming throughout the summer.

Kingsland was a swimming spot until 1974, but Stout said the $2.5 million estimated by the state to fix a beach house built early last century was probably not enough.

He said a change in how the beach has been filled in at the site also could prove difficult to overcome, because at high tide the entire beach disappears under water.

"It would be hard to set hours around the tides, wouldn't it?" Stout said. "I don't know how we'd solve that."

Still, the news downstate is better for swimmers interested in the Hudson River than for other stretches of the 150-plus miles of waterway the state studied from Troy to Manhattan. The area from Albany to the northern Greene-Columbia County line, for instance, is not open to swimming.

Also, the DEC's Dunwell said the potential dredging of PCBs in the river's northern section should have no effect on swimmers in this area.

The state has grant money available each year through the DEC and the state parks department for projects like those on the study's list of potential swimming sites. Kingston Point Beach soon will receive a 2005 grant of $20,000 to spruce up its location.

Dunwell is hopeful that's the beginning of a trend.

"We want to put the idea out there that this is something you can do," she said. "Right now, people are afraid of it."

For the full Hudson River swimming report, visit www.dec.state.ny.us/website/hudson/swimhudsonfearpt.pdf.

THE JOURNAL NEWS (Westchester) www.thejournalnews.com

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Greenbush residents get clean water: Supply clear of MTBE pollution

Clean water is flowing to homes in the Greenbush area of Hyde Park, nearly five years after state environmental officials identified widespread gasoline pollution in local wells.

The $4.6 million system pipes Hudson River water treated at the Poughkeepsie Water Treatment Facility to about 270 properties. Officials staged a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday to celebrate the completion of the piping system earlier this month.

Groundwater in the area was polluted with the gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether, or MTBE, which the Department of Environmental Conservation alleges spilled from leaking underground storage tanks at several Violet Avenue gasoline station properties. Some wells also had high levels of bacteria because of the proximity of septic systems to wells.

MTBE can taste and smell bad, and some studies suggest ingesting it could cause health problems, including cancer.

Neighbors chipping in

Residents in the Greenbush Water District have already been charged about $430 per year to cover construction costs. Ongoing costs for residents will depend on how much water they use. An estimate now considered outdated put the yearly tab at about $185, town engineer Peter Setaro said.

It's worth the cost to Dick Martineau, a resident who lives on Greenbush Drive and was one of the first to hook up to the water system.

"It takes the worry off you," he said.

Setaro could not say how many of the eligible households had tapped into the new system, which has been available for about two weeks.

New York's Oil Spill Fund paid $1.9 million to cover some costs, and Sen. Steve Saland, R-Poughkeepsie, arranged for another $300,000 grant.

The Attorney General's Office has yet to sue those gasoline stations believed to have caused the pollution because the DEC is still working on other aspects of the cleanup, said Marc Violette, spokesman for Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

"The state has not yet begun a cost recovery in this matter because we're still spending money on a cleanup at that site, so we don't yet have the final figure for the costs in this matter. Until we get that, we can't start," Violette said.

Town officials said the state should go after the gas stations responsible for the pollution, even though it won't relieve any of the ongoing costs to local residents.

"My first hope and wish would be more money would come to the people of the Greenbush Water District," town board member Victoria Kane said. "The attorney general should go after the companies because they need to recognize and understand and be taught a lesson they can't contaminate the water and put people at serious health risk and walk away."

Dan Shapley,
Poughkeepsie Journal www.poughkeepsiejournal.com

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07:29:35 pm, Categories: Health, New York State, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Regulatory Analysis, 3307 words   English (US)

As Medicaid Balloons, Watchdog Force Shrinks

New York's Medicaid program pays more than a million claims a day, feeding a $44.5 billion river of checks to radiologists and ambulance drivers, brain surgeons and orderlies, medical centers and corner pharmacies. Many who get those checks pocket more money than they deserve, and millions of taxpayer dollars are believed to be lost every day to theft and waste.

Yet the state, charged with protecting those dollars, has done little to stop them from draining away.

A yearlong New York Times investigation found only a thin, overburdened security force standing between this enormous program and the unending attempts to steal from it. Even as spending by New York Medicaid has more than tripled since the late 1980's, the number of fraud investigators who guard its cash register has fallen by half, and several of their leaders have quit or retired in disillusionment.

Of the 400 million claims that Medicaid paid last year, Health Department regulators uncovered just 37 cases of suspected fraud, far fewer than their counterparts in any other large state, even though New York's Medicaid budget is by far the largest in the nation. Many experts say that it is likely that at least 10 percent and probably more of New York Medicaid dollars are stolen or wasted.

In dozens of interviews, prosecutors, lawmakers and former regulators said the program paid for almost everything and scrutinized almost nothing, in large part because its primary mission has been to ensure that there are enough health care providers in the system to address the needs of the poor. It often appears that the Health Department is barely even looking: There are more than 140,000 hospitals, nursing homes, doctors and other health care providers in the system, but the department visited just 95 in the 2004 fiscal year to audit their billings.

Analyzing Medicaid data obtained under the state's Freedom of Information Law, The New York Times identified scores of instances in which the claims of health care providers jumped markedly in a single year. These spikes are a classic indication of possible improper billing, yet few of those providers had even part of their billings audited by the department, state records show.

New York's Medicaid program, once the pride of the Great Society era, has become a system "that almost begs people to steal," said Michael A. Zegarelli, a senior New York Medicaid regulator until 2003 and a past president of the national association of Medicaid oversight officials.

Meanwhile, other states, including California and Texas, have increased their antifraud efforts and discovered what seems a simple truth: The effort to seek out theft and unnecessary spending can more than pay for itself, just as a parking violations bureau brings in revenue. Workers assigned to Medicaid fraud prosecution units around the nation help bring in an average of $200,000 each in recoveries, according to federal statistics.

Twenty-five years ago, New York was in the vanguard of fraud prevention. But over the decades it has failed to maintain the investment in employees necessary to close the door on thievery and abuse. Repeated delays stretched the replacement of a 1970's-era computer system that could barely detect fraud into a seven-year ordeal, allowing billions to slip by with little scrutiny.

As dozens of former employees describe it, the state's antifraud effort has been plagued by the same gridlock that has stifled innovation in Albany for years: bureaucratic infighting, allegiance to campaign contributors from the health care field, reliance on public indifference.

In an interview, Dennis P. Whalen, executive deputy commissioner of the Health Department, said combating fraud remained a major goal. He denied that the department had been lax in policing Medicaid and excluding providers who had cheated the program, saying that new computer systems have improved the state's detection efforts.

But State Senator Kemp Hannon, a Nassau County Republican who is chairman of the Senate Health Committee, called The Times's findings deeply troubling, and said they showed that the Medicaid fraud detection system was broken. Mr. Hannon said the Health Department, run by a fellow Republican, Gov. George E. Pataki, was failing to oversee the system.

"This is a red flag for them," Mr. Hannon said. "I have not seen anything that would indicate that there has been any sort of focus at all from the department."

New York's failures have come at a high price, according to advocates for the program's recipients.

"There is all this money that is being drained away and not being spent on care for the poor people who need it," said Elisabeth Benjamin, who spent eight years as a lawyer at the Legal Aid Society specializing in Medicaid. "It's analogous to the $5,000 toilet seat in the military."

Investigation Staff Is Cut

More than a dozen years ago, in the heyday of the unit charged with fighting Medicaid fraud and abuse in New York City, dozens of state employees would troop out to locations throughout the city for a regular ritual. With reporters in tow, they would serve papers on scores of shady doctors operating low-quality, high-volume clinics known as "Medicaid mills," said James Mehmet, who retired from the State Health Department in 2001. Mr. Mehmet was the unit's chief of investigators in New York City.

Most days, more than a dozen investigators went undercover as patients to see how they were treated by a doctor or a pharmacist, and then how their visit was billed. In the office, they worked alongside auditors and lawyers, as well as nurses, dentists and doctors - a full medical review staff.

But the energy and ambition of the office have dissipated along with the staff, Mr. Mehmet said. By the time he retired, he said, the 15 lawyers in the office had been reduced to one. The medical review staff was gone. And with the Medicaid budget growing rapidly, it was not the fraud that had diminished, he said, but the will to pursue it.

"The volume of work was so much different," Mr. Mehmet said, recalling earlier days. "The caliber of work was so much different. There was much more emphasis on going after people that were committing fraud and abuse."

Mr. Mehmet and other frustrated former regulators say the drop in the New York City office mirrors the statewide decline in staffing over the last decade, at a time when thieves have become more sophisticated.

In the late 1980's, more than 200 people in the New York Medicaid bureaucracy were devoted to fighting fraud and abuse, said Philip J. Natcharian, who directed those efforts until 1990. Now only 50 people, including clerical staff, have that job, along with a few dozen outside contractors, said Mr. Zegarelli, who worked at the Health Department's headquarters in Albany until his retirement. He said that was far too few to be effective, an assessment echoed by four other former senior department officials.

The former officials said reducing the fraud force made little sense to them, given the huge increase in Medicaid spending in recent years, which has brought the program to more than 40 percent of the state budget.

"How do you not increase the staff to monitor the largest expenditure in New York State?" said Mark J. Ives, who directed the state's fraud and abuse efforts until he retired in 1998.

One likely result of the staffing decline is that since 2000, the amount of money the Health Department has recovered from fraud investigations has fallen by 70 percent, according to data compiled by federal regulators.

At the same time, the state has virtually stopped excluding doctors from Medicaid for violating its rules, excluding only eight out of the 43,000 doctors enrolled in the program last year, a Times analysis shows.

"I think the department's reached the point of Smokey the Bear with a shovel," Mr. Zegarelli said. "They're just running around putting out fires."

The former regulators said they did not believe there had been a deliberate decision in Albany to loosen enforcement. Instead, they described a gradual move away from regulation as Albany focused on expanding and plugging holes in the program.

"They want recipients to get medical care," said Michael P. Sofarelli, who retired as a Medicaid prosecutor in the attorney general's office in 2003 after handling some of the state's biggest Medicaid fraud cases. "Investigating is a small part of the job."

The Health Department reports to Governor Pataki, and in recent years, his budget aides have actually reduced goals for recouping money from Medicaid providers for improper billing.

The decline of fraud control in New York contrasts sharply with the situation in other states. In 1998, California, which had several high-profile Medicaid fraud cases in the 1990's, added about 400 employees to an existing staff of about 40 charged with rooting out abuse. The number of fraud cases referred to prosecutors has since doubled.

Officials in Illinois and Ohio, where the Medicaid budgets are roughly a quarter the size of New York's, visited more than three times as many health care providers in the 2004 fiscal year to audit their billings.

Mr. Whalen, the executive deputy commissioner of the Health Department, said it frequently stopped Medicaid payments it considered questionable. He acknowledged that the staffing for fraud prevention had dropped, but described the change as insignificant, saying the state employed roughly 400 workers whose jobs involve fighting Medicaid fraud and abuse, supplemented by 200 outside contractors.

"The number, in terms of a pure number, has declined, but I would say that it has not been a huge decline," he said.

"Every agency, I am sure, would love to have more staff, and we are no different," he said. "But we are also realistic about the state's fiscal situation."

But former senior department officials said most of the workers cited by Mr. Whalen are not actually investigating fraud. They are accountants, nurses, computer analysts, clerks and others doing administrative jobs, making sure basic regulations are followed, leaving only about 50 state employees dedicated to fraud work.

Mr. Whalen and his aides said new computers and software were helping the department shift its focus from reviewing Medicaid claims already paid to preventing questionable claims from being paid in the first place.

But state statistics show that the department rejected a much smaller percentage of claims in the 2004 fiscal year than its counterparts in California, Florida or Pennsylvania.

Asked to list cases that they developed that led to arrests and prosecutions, Health Department officials could point to only a handful in the last two years.

The result of the cuts is evident in case after case that the state simply missed. The billings of a Queens pharmacist, Newton Igbinaduwa, rose to more than $1.4 million in 2002 from $78,000 in 1998, according to billing records analyzed by The Times. But the department never referred the case to the state attorney general's office.

It was only when prosecutors in the attorney general's office got a tip through another case that they found out about Mr. Igbinaduwa, who pleaded guilty last year to grand larceny after billing for drugs he never dispensed.

Prosecution Unit Shrinks

The Health Department is only half of the dwindling security force posted outside Medicaid's gate. The responsibility for prosecuting Medicaid fraud lies with the state attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, who runs the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. And in the attorney general's office, too, Medicaid abuse has had a reduced priority for more than 15 years, with far fewer prosecutors than it had in the days when Medicaid was a much leaner program.

Though New York has the largest Medicaid fraud prosecution staff in the country, several other states have fraud offices that are larger in proportion to the size of their Medicaid budgets, and they recover a larger percentage from fraud prosecutions. As a percentage of the overall Medicaid budget, New York's 301 employees won less than half as much as those in Texas, Florida and New Jersey, according to statistics compiled by the federal government for its 2003 fiscal year.

Mr. Spitzer's office said New York used a more conservative method of calculating recoveries than other states, but even using that method, New York still fails to make the nation's top 15 states in the amount recovered as a percentage of the overall Medicaid budget, going back as far as 1999.

Mr. Spitzer's zeal in fighting corporate abuses has not been matched by his efforts in fighting Medicaid fraud, former employees say.

"I didn't think there was that much focus at the main office," said John M. Meekins, who retired in 2003 as the director of the Albany regional office of the Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Referring to Mr. Spitzer, he added: "I'm not faulting the man. His focus was on Wall Street."

Mr. Spitzer said his office had made strides, especially in investigating the abuse of nursing home residents. The fraud unit's prosecutors have made a philosophical shift, he said, cutting back on the number of inquiries to concentrate on what they consider cases with bigger impact, which could lead to industrywide changes.

"The strategies that we have pursued have made sense and have been successful," Mr. Spitzer said.

However, the attorney general's office has had few such breakthroughs. None have shaken the health care industry in the manner of his successes on Wall Street and in the insurance industry, or the inquiries into nursing homes conducted by his predecessors in the 1970's.

The relatively low profile given to antifraud efforts dates to before Mr. Spitzer's term in office. The size of the fraud control unit dropped by more than 40 percent between 1979 and the early 1990's. Even after Mr. Spitzer became attorney general in 1999, the size of the fraud unit remained about 300 workers, the same as in the early 1990's. Back then, though, Medicaid cost about $14 billion a year, and its cost has since more than tripled.

The state could have a much larger prosecution force with a relatively small investment, because the federal government has made a standing offer to pay three-fourths of the cost, and New York's current allotment is well under the maximum. If the state spent an additional $24 million on its fraud prosecution unit, the unit's current budget of $45.7 million would more than triple to $148 million, mostly from the federal match.

Mr. Spitzer said state budget officials had repeatedly demanded hiring freezes for his office.

"The possibility of increasing simply has not been presented by the Department of Budget," he said, emphasizing that he believed that hiring more staff members made sense.

Last year, Mr. Spitzer said, the fraud unit recovered a record amount in overpayments: $62.5 million, up from $40 million in 2003. But the higher figure includes $30.8 million that was New York's share of a major nationwide settlement with two pharmaceutical companies over drug pricing. That case was spearheaded by federal prosecutors, not New York officials.

Behind the Scenes, Turf Battles

The Health Department and the attorney general's office must contend not only with growing fraud and depleted resources but also with another opposing force: each other. Over the years, they have accused each other of foot-dragging, incompetence, or resistance to change. Their mutual animosity and suspicion have come at the expense of the battle against fraud.

By law, it is the Health Department, not the attorney general's office, that is primarily responsible for identifying fraud. But the department's principal task is to keep the huge flow of payments moving swiftly, and at this point, with its shrunken enforcement bureau, the department sends very few cases to prosecutors.

Former officials of both departments say their different missions have left them clashing instead of cooperating.

Former prosecutors complained that Medicaid regulators often crippled their criminal cases by suing those they suspected of overbilling in civil court, hoping to get some money back to the system before the attorney general filed criminal charges. In those cases, prosecutors said, the state would often settle a case quickly for only a fraction of the amount overbilled.

Mr. Spitzer, a Democratic candidate for governor, said his prosecutors could not depend on the Health Department.

"They are just not a useful resource for us in the sense of providing us with ideas, places to look, referrals," he said.

Asked about Mr. Spitzer's criticism, a department spokesman, William C. Van Slyke, said, "We believe that his political ambitions are the motivation for his comments, as opposed to the facts."

Former Health Department officials said that when they turned over evidence of fraud to the attorney general's office, the prosecutors often took months or even years to piece together a case, all while the fraudulent activity continued to siphon money from the system. Medicaid officials said they preferred a civil case to stop the fraud immediately.

"They were malingerers," said Mr. Ives, former director of the department's fraud section. "They would take forever and ever to process a case."

Mr. Van Slyke said 70 percent of the cases the department referred to the attorney general's office since 2000 were still open. The office responded that many of those cases were fully investigated but just not technically closed.

Whatever the cause of the tensions, the department refers far fewer cases to prosecutors than its counterparts in other large states. Texas referred nearly seven times as many cases to its Medicaid prosecutors as New York did in the last fiscal year. California referred nearly four times as many, and Ohio more than three times as many.

Resisting Reform

In the fight against fraud, New York's inadequate arsenal is not an accident. In Albany, reformers have repeatedly been outspent and outmaneuvered by the health care industry.

Several large states, including California, Florida and Illinois, have laws that encourage whistleblowers to come forward with information about fraud schemes, offering them a portion of any money recovered. There is a similar federal law to fight fraud in Medicare, the program for the elderly and disabled.

But when Mr. Spitzer has had this type of bill, called a false claims act, introduced in New York, it has died. The bill was denounced by the Healthcare Association of New York State, which represents hospitals, nursing homes and other providers, as well as the State Medical Society, which represents doctors. The groups, which spend millions annually on lobbying and campaign contributions, predicted that the bill would lead to an epidemic of frivolous allegations.

"New York State's health care provider community has faced unprecedented, overzealous investigations by regulators and law enforcement officials," the association said in a memo.

Daniel Sisto, president of the association, said that its members believed that federal officials had used inappropriate tactics to crack down on fraud, and that they had fought the whistleblower law out of fear that the state would follow suit. He said the group's members faced a raft of different requirements from Medicaid, Medicare and numerous private insurance companies, and as a result made billing mistakes that were wrongly criminalized.

"What concerns me from our past experiences is that there is overzealousness in the interpretations of any overpayments as fraud and abuse," Mr. Sisto said.

In May, the Republican-controlled State Senate approved legislation, sponsored by Senator Dean G. Skelos of Nassau County, that would create an independent Medicaid inspector general. The measure would take away some of the responsibility for combating fraud from the Health Department and the attorney general's office and give it to the new agency and to local prosecutors.

Mr. Pataki and Mr. Spitzer opposed the measure, as did the Democratic majority in the State Assembly, which has long allied itself with large health care lobbies and unions. Assemblyman Richard N. Gottfried, a Manhattan Democrat who is chairman of the Health Committee, said he did not believe that the system needed to be changed.

Asked whether the Democrats would take any action on the issue, Mr. Gottfried said, "Maybe that would be a good one for us to hold hearings on in the fall."

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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The Battle of Brooklyn: Grassroots groups split on whether arena plan scores for borough: Divided and conquered: Brooklyn's divided not only by rail but also by the Atlantic Yards plan.

In February 2000, the veteran activists at ACORN—the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now—demonstrated against developer Bruce Ratner over hiring practices at the Atlantic Center mall he operates. The protesters wanted the stores there to hire more kids from the community and pay living wages. Cops threw the rabble-rousers out. They kept shouting from the sidewalk.

Five years later, Ratner's firm Forest City Ratner has proposed a massive development comprising an NBA arena for his New Jersey Nets and thousands of residential units across the street from the mall, over the MTA's Atlantic Avenue rail yards and on surrounding blocks. But ACORN won't be rallying against Ratner this time. Instead, the group will help sell the Atlantic Yards deal to government agencies, community groups, and the media.

Under a deal with the developer, in exchange for Ratner's promise to provide affordable housing and a host of other community benefits, ACORN and several other nonprofit organizations have agreed to support the Atlantic Yards plan. That alliance pits them against longtime allies who think the goodies that Ratner has offered are not worth the price: perhaps 15 new high-rise buildings—one of them possibly 60 stories tall—built with the help of public subsidies and, perhaps, the bulldozers of eminent domain.

The way the rail yards split the landscape, the Ratner proposal has divided Brooklyn. ACORN has fallen out with local city councilwoman Letitia James, whom the group helped to elect but who now opposes the plan. Reverend Herbert Daughtry, a well-known clergyman, has broken with an organization he founded and set up a new group to support Atlantic Yards. Some residents in the footprint of Ratner's proposal have sold out to the developer. Others are hanging on.

It's all about hanging on—for everyone involved—in the face of gentrification, which has accelerated in Brooklyn in recent years. Some of the people affected by Atlantic Yards arrived in earlier waves of displacement. That makes project supporters unsympathetic. "We just think that folks who have been part of the gentrification of the community don't get to define the community," says New York ACORN executive director Bertha Lewis.

Not everyone in the footprint is a newcomer. But if a new wave of new residents is coming, ACORN asks, why not ride it for all you can? "Downtown Brooklyn is growing, and if it's growing, let's get a piece of the action. Let's get something for the community," says Greg Blankinship, co-chair of ACORN's Prospect Heights/Crown Heights chapter. "This is progress."

ACORN, which has chapters in many cities, has always prided itself on being the kind of nonprofit that delivers results and not just rallies. That means its workers have adopted roles that grassroots activists don't usually play. Longtime advocate for tenants, it's also the landlord of several properties. It has partnered with banks it once criticized for redlining. And an independent political consulting group for which some ACORN activists have worked has done $400,000 worth of organizing for city candidates since 2001.

That pragmatic approach shaped the group's response to Ratner's proposal. Lewis says she didn't find opponents of the arena compelling, because "it's not really up to us if this thing comes to fruition or not." But if it happens, she says, "we shouldn't wait until it's all done and we can't affect it."

So when ACORN came up with a housing plan that it thought would create long-term affordability and Ratner was willing to listen, the seeds of a deal were sown. The fruit of months of negotiations was a 50-page "community benefits agreement" in which Ratner pledges to make 50 percent of the apartments affordable (2,250 units), set aside construction contracts and leased space for minority- and women-owned businesses, give public housing residents and low-income people from the immediate area priority for any jobs, and house a health clinic and day care center in the project. A long list of other benefits is also included. Along with Ratner, ACORN, and Daughtry's Downtown Brooklyn Neighborhood Alliance, signers include Brooklyn United for Innovative Local Development, Public Housing Communities, and the New York State Association of Minority Contractors.

Lewis contends that the deal is the first such legally binding community benefits agreement in city history and calls it unique because it imposes a stricter income ceiling in the affordable-housing component. The pluses of Atlantic Yards, she says, outweigh the worries about its size and the people it might displace.

"I think that when you take all of it together this is a net gain for Brooklyn especially and for New York City," Lewis says. "The net gain is it can stop some of this tidal wave of gentrification. It can supply, over the next 10 years, 15,000 jobs—good-paying jobs."

But there's disagreement about the size of those benefits. Forest City Ratner quotes an estimate of a $1.55 billion net gain to the city and state over 30 years. But the New York City Economic Development Corporation arrives at a much smaller $524 million fiscal gain to the city. (The EDC doesn't report a figure for the state.) To break even, the city and state have to get back more in taxes than the $500 million in public financing Ratner would use.

Critics of the proposal—including Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, the Fifth Avenue Committee, and the Pratt Area Community Council—see far larger costs than the dollar figures. The character of the neighborhood might change dramatically. Eminent domain could be used to force people out of their homes for a private development. And there's the precedent set by such a major project as Ratner's not going through the city's land use approval process, which does not apply to state property like the MTA-owned rail yards.

Ratner's plan is still a long way from a green light. Assuming his bid for the rail yards beats rival developer Extell's smaller-scale proposal, Ratner still faces a state environmental review and the Public Authorities Control Board—the body that doomed the West Side stadium. "And who knows what can happen at that point?" Forest City Ratner's Bruce Bender tells the Voice.

As that process unfolds, the community groups will play the important role of giving Ratner street credibility. But critics say the deal between Ratner and the community groups makes promises it can't deliver. Ratner can't tell his tenants to hire local or low-income people; he has agreed, instead, merely to spur discussions. If Ratner sells Atlantic Yards, the deal doesn't require that the community benefits agreement remain in place.

Even in the affordable-housing plan, critics see the devil in the details. As in all housing programs, the income tiers are based on regional statistics, which cite income levels much higher than Brooklyn's. The effect is that 10 percent of the apartments might be set aside for people making more than $60,000 a year and who would pay rents that aren't much lower than market rate. Given those potential income levels, and the fact that the project includes 2,250 market-rate apartments and 1,500 condos, City Councilman Charles Barron calls Atlantic Yards "instant gentrification."

None of the community groups allied with Ratner are getting any fees under the agreement, although they might be well positioned to eventually bid for contracts to provide some of the services that the agreement covers, like affordable housing and the day care center.

As the best known of the groups involved, ACORN will play a particularly important role in selling the Atlantic Yards deal (a recent picture of Lewis smooching Mayor Bloomberg, for example, was priceless publicity for hizzoner). For several years Ratner, like several other city business figures, has donated money to ACORN, but officials at the group scoff at the idea that they've been bought off.

Critics, however, say ACORN has bought into the dubious notion that it faced a choice between joining with Ratner or being left with nothing for Brooklyn's low-income people. In fact, the deal's opponents say, it's possible that a smaller-scale development could have generated similar community gains.

"Ratner's project is probably the least efficient, most harmful way of creating affordable housing," says Daniel Goldstein of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. "I believe that ACORN has been trying to do the right thing. I don't think there's anything nefarious. I just think it's shortsighted and that they've set up false arguments. It's a false debate."

by Jarrett Murphy
The Village Voice www.villagevoice.com

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School district to clean up PCBs discovered by a parent

The EPA has ordered Yorktown school officials to clean up PCB contamination from an elementary school window-replacement project, a decision that could cost town taxpayers up to $250,000 and spur similar cleanups in schools nationwide.

The land surrounding French Hill Elementary School was contaminated by old caulking that fell on the ground when windows were replaced two summers ago.

County health officials say the soil in Yorktown is unlikely to cause harm because it's not in an area where people walk or play. Also, scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency say Yorktown's PCB levels are not very high.

Still, the EPA is requiring the district to replace the soil according to state guidelines because someone could eat it or get it on his or her skin, said EPA chemist Leonard Pappalardo from the Division of Enforcement and Compliance Assistance that serves New York.

Starting in the 1940s, polychlorinated biphenyls were used in numerous products, including electrical transformers, paints and commercial sealants. Their use was banned by the federal government in 1976. But while the government has regulations about what levels are acceptable in buildings, and requires special cleanup and disposal procedures once elevated levels are found, there is no requirement to test for PCBs. As a result, many cases related to caulking may have gone unnoticed.

That could change as a result of the discovery in Yorktown.

"Probably, there will be a lot of concerned parents and administrators," Pappalardo said. "They're going to be replacing windows and checking the caulking on them."

EPA scientists say no one should panic, however.

"If you ate caulk that had a high level of PCBs, that would not be good, obviously," said supervisory environmental scientist Daniel Kraft. "But in my recollection going through school, I didn't see any of my classmates or myself running to the window and licking around the window."

Besides, he said, the caulking is usually protected by coats of paint. And unlike chipped asbestos, which has fibers that can be inhaled, PCBs are a heavy, oily material used to soften caulking, so it won't chip.

Health officials say that while PCBs are harmful to ingest, researchers are still trying to determine safety levels and health risks. A state Health Department spokesman said this is the first time he saw PCB contamination of this type.

In Yorktown's case, Kraft said, the soil concentrations were barely above federal guidelines of 1 part per million for unrestricted areas, except below one window, which had 40 parts per million.

The problem was discovered in the fall by a parent on the district's safety committee who found a piece of caulk outside the school, had it analyzed by a lab and showed the results to the county Health Department without telling anyone in the district. His actions sparked consternation and debate among school officials who agreed in January to more testing.

At the time, Daniel Lefkowitz, a retired podiatrist with a son at the school, said he was motivated by the research of Harvard industrial hygienist Robert Herrick, who found that PCBs were common in industrial caulk from the 1960s and 1970s.

"It's definitely a public health issue. It has to be addressed — it's putting our children at risk to exposure to a possible carcinogen (and slows development)," Lefkowitz said. The question of PCB contamination was widespread, he said, and should not be ignored by health officials. School districts are likely to take little interest in the subject, he said: "Unless they're ordered to, they're not going to do it. They're taking a 'don't ask, don't tell' policy."

Liz Mangione, a French Ridge parent and PTA mom, said she approved of the PCB removal. "I feel like they're doing what needs to be done. I'm comfortable with the way they've handled it. It's obviously something that needs to be taken care of. Unfortunately, things like that cost money," she said.

Yorktown school officials are putting out bids for the work, which will include excavating 2 feet of soil up to 10 feet away from the building this summer. Dennis Verboys, director of operations and maintenance, said cost estimates range from $200,000 to $250,000, although school officials plan to run one more test to see if they can remove less soil.

"The biggest criticism of this community is going to be when they find out these costs," Verboys said. "What is one, two, three parts per million in soils 6, 8, 12 inches deep? How does that effect you health-wise? No one has an answer for that. ...

"Had it not been for this resident, obviously we would not be in this predicament," he said. "It's certainly not an everyday occurrence that you have community members testing construction debris left at a job site and then doing soil sampling."

THE JOURNAL NEWS www.thejournalnews.com

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Business Q&A: Why does organic food cost more than conventional?

Q: Why does organic food cost more than conventionally grown food?

A: There are a bushel of reasons why organic food costs more than conventional food. Some of them:

Organic produce, meat and dairy simply cost more to produce than their conventional counterparts.

Limits on pesticides, for instance, mean more hand-weeding. They also mean farmers run a higher risk of losing all or part of a year's crop.

"There aren't as many tools in the toolbox to deal with pest outbreaks or diseases," said Nancy Creamer, director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at North Carolina State University.

Some of the things organic farmers can't use that conventional farmers can: Sewage sludge, which is cheap to buy, and chemical fertilizers, which are both cheap to buy and cheap to transport. Instead, organic farmers fertilize their land with compost and animal manure, which is bulkier and more expensive to ship, Creamer said.

While conventional farmers can use every acre to grow the crops that fetch the highest prices, organic farmers use crop rotation to keep their soil healthy. Instead of planting a cash crop on every acre every year, they rotate fields and plant "cover crops" that are plowed to improve the soil's nutrients for the long term.

"When you're rotating crops, you're not necessarily growing all your highest value crops all the time, which is different than a conventional system," said Catherine Greene, an agricultural economist at the USDA.

Organic feed for cattle and other livestock can cost twice as much as conventional feed, said George Siemon, CEO of the Organic Valley co-op, the largest organic farmers' co-op in the country. A ton of organic cattle feed can cost from $350 to $400 a ton versus $220 or less for a ton of conventional feed, he said.

Certifying food as organic also involves additional administrative costs.

The demand for organic food is greater than the supply, Greene said. But she added "we don't have enough data to tease out how much (of the price difference) is due to higher-cost production versus the imbalance between supply and demand."

Some of the cost difference comes from retailers, Siemon said, since some organic products don't sell as quickly as their conventional counterparts. "The retailer wants to make the same amount of money, per space," he said.

Finally, organic farming proponents say conventionally grown food includes invisible costs, including a higher incidence of some cancers and other diseases in farm workers and their children and contamination of water supplies.

They argue that large corporate farms can make money on high volume and low prices, but those low prices have pushed millions of family farms into bankruptcy.

Four million farmers have disappeared in the last 40 years, Siemon said.

"Farmers have seen organics as a glimmer of hope for their economic survival," he said. "They're trying to overcome bankruptcy pricing."

One tenant of organic farming is sustainability, he said. "Shouldn't that also be about economic sustainability?"

Chef Alice Waters, a champion of locally grown and organic foods, justified one farm's $3 organic peaches to The New York Times.

"Maybe they'll make $5,000 more a year," she said. "Well, hooray. We're not making millionaires here. We're supporting sustainable agriculture."

The Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA) www.post-gazette.com

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Green Buildings, Long Island, Companies, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 1044 words   English (US)

Greener pastures

Greener pastures To the untrained eye, it looks like just another building renovation. But that untrained eye wouldn't spot the system to catch and reuse rainwater, or the pricey filters to cleanse the air.

And who could know that the mountains of white paper this office will soon generate are slated for recycling?

These and other environmentally friendly touches are transforming this 110,000-square-foot structure at 1001 Franklin Ave. into Long Island's first "green" office.

"We've always tried to stay ahead of the curve in terms of design and construction," said Russell C. Albanese, president of Albanese Organization Inc., the privately held Long Island developer spearheading the project. "We think it's important as developers and wise as investors."

A goal is certification by the U.S. Green Building Council, a Washington group that rates projects based on factors including energy use, recycling, light and air quality. If certified, 1001 Franklin Ave. would join an elite club - 231 buildings nationwide and nine in New York awarded the green label.

"It is a rigorous standard," said spokeswoman Taryn Holowka. "We take building code and just kind of push it to the next level."

Not that Albanese isn't ready.

It partnered with The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. to erect The Solaire - country's first environmentally advanced residential tower.

The $124.8 million project that opened two summers ago boasts its own water treatment plant and a rainwater collection system that feeds a rooftop garden. Solar panels made of recycled computer chips generate 5 percent of its energy.

Because its 293 apartments filled quickly, Albanese is erecting another nearby - The Verdesian, 253 residences that should be available in January. The $105 million building's HVAC system beats New York state's energy efficiency standards by nearly 40 percent.

For its third project, Albanese came closer to its Garden City headquarters and partnered with Castagna Realty in Manhasset for an $11.5 million revamp of 1001 Franklin Ave. - the largest commercial site along the town's bustling financial corridor.

"This is their first foray here in their home market and I'm pleased to hear it," said Peter Caradonna, an architect and president of the Green Building Council's Long Island Chapter, adding: "As people start to see these buildings, they'll stop being afraid of the cost."

Because the changes were implemented beforehand, going "green" added $300,000 - or just 2.6 percent to Albanese's tab. Environmentally sound features typically increase upfront costs by up to 7 percent, but if the changes are attempted after construction, the price skyrockets.

"The initial investment returns itself through operating cost savings in terms of energy use," Albanese said about the project that should be done this fall. "There's a definite payback."

The rent rates at 1001 Franklin Ave. are in the low-$30s per square feet, competitive with other Class A buildings in Nassau, according to Albanese. (In the first quarter, class A office space in central Nassau County commanded an average of $32.23 per square foot, according to statistics compiled by Cushman & Wakefield of Long Island.)

That's partially why even before construction is complete, the third floor is taken: Law firm L'Abbate, Balkan, Colavita & Contini LLP aims to move in by the end of the year, said Jane Myers, the partner who leads the real-estate practice group.

"The fact that it is environmentally sensitive is critical .... We're totally into it," she said.

The firm - one of the Island's largest - will relocate from 25,000 square feet in a nearby Albanese building and is redoing its 39,000 square feet with recycled or natural materials including stone floors and recycled furniture fabric.

The building's biggest selling point, Myers said, is that the pricey state-of-the-art HVAC system will ultimately lead to a "substantial savings" in power bills, Albanese said. Across the building, the energy recovery should save about $16,000 each year.

That system also has a high-quality filtration system to catch dust, pollen and other impurities. The $35 filters - versus the typical $4 filter - are changed twice a year to "ensure the air is far cleaner that you would find in a conventional office building," said Russell G. Matthews, Albanese's executive vice president.

Rainwater will be collected and stored in a 5,000-gallon tank in the basement. The cost return of the $20,000 system hasn't been explored, but the rescued water will irrigate the extensive landscaping.

"We're not doing this to save money, but think this is a relatively inexpensive measure that if done on a large scale would help conserve a precious resource," Russell Albanese wrote in an e-mail.

Holowka agreed: "If you can use water that you've collected, then why not do that instead of using fresh water that you have to pay for?"

Much of the building's materials - including paints, adhesives and wall coverings free of vinyl - are more environmentally sensitive. Holowka explained that many people associate the smell of paint with a new building, but the scent is actually toxins floating in the air.

"They don't realize it's not good for them to be smelling that," she said.

Even the building's cleaners are clean - they're ammonia free and peroxide-based as opposed to chlorine-based, which can introduce pollutants into the air.

"We definitely want to keep watch of our use of chlorine," said Caradonna, whose office floor is made from recycled tires. "It's not a good chemical."

Finally, there's recycling. Albanese plans to hire a vendor to frequently pick up paper. Like the cleaners, it won't add much to the building's cost.

While 1001 Franklin Ave. can't officially earn certification until it is finished, the Green Building Council's Holowka said its features "sound like stuff that we would recommend."

Several local brokers weren't aware of the potential green status and said most deals likely hinge on rent instead of whether rainwater is recycled.

Albanese, however, maintains the work creates a higher-quality building with long-term value.

"We think there's a market transformation taking place and it's just a matter of time before green buildings become mainstream design," he said.

Other developers must agree: About 2,000 projects aiming for green certification are underway around the world, including a handful across Long Island.

"We think it's a better way to do the building," Holowka said. "The public can know this is a company that is thinking about the future instead of slapping up a building that's cheap and easy."

Long Island Business News www.libn.com

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Turning Green: A city engineer's efforts have Syracuse on the forefront of environmentally sound energy practices

If you wait until winter to ask Central New Yorkers what they think about global warming, many of them will probably say, "Bring it on." But despite any tempering effect it might have on January cold, a majority of scientists worldwide are warning that climate change is one of the most pressing global problems we face.

Syracuse, for one, is leading the charge to confront the issue with collaboration between activists and community leaders that is resulting in real reductions in the city's mark on the atmosphere. Through their cooperation, the city raked in two substantial environmental awards in the past year for working to curb greenhouse gas emissions, control excessive energy use and find sustainable solutions for environmental problems. Syracuse University is also making progressive strides to tackle the climate change problem, agreeing earlier this year to purchase 20 percent of its energy needs from sustainable sources such as wind, hydroelectric or biomass after a long campaign from the Students for Environmental Action Coalition and the Turn the Grid Green campaign.

The SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry school's 2004 Sol Feinstone Award recognized the city's efforts toward sustainable design and, according to Rick Smarden, chair of the environmental science department, "it was an inducement of sorts, a way of honoring what's been done and saying continue on." Syracuse also competed internationally with other cities and won one of the federal Environmental Protection Agency's Climate Protection awards, becoming only the seventh U.S. city to have done so.

But despite such local momentum, on the federal level the Bush administration still dismisses global warming as mere theory, making it tough to effect substantive changes in the United States. It doesn't seem to matter to the Bushies that the National Academies of Sciences from 11 nations, including the United States, stated in a June 7 release: "Carbon dioxide levels have increased higher than any previous levels that can be reliably measured. Further changes in climate are therefore unavoidable. Nations must prepare for them."

The academies admit that there is always going to be debate over the data behind something as complex as climate change. However, they point to the overwhelming observations that say that glaciers are melting and water levels and air temperatures are rising thanks to greenhouse gas-producing human activity.

In addition to Bush's blind spot, last week the Senate rejected, by a 60-38 vote, the Climate Stewardship Act that would have set goals for curbing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. It also appears that despite agreement from all the other participants, the United States will again refuse to negotiate about the issue at the July 6 Group of Eight (G-8) meeting of industrialized nations in Scotland. Add all that to America's continuing high-profile abstention from signing the UN's Kyoto Protocol, which boasts 141 other nations committed to reducing greenhouse gases.

Despite federal reticence on the issue, the EPA's Dr. Stephen Anderson, director of strategic climate projects, says he's encouraged by the prospects of individual and grass-roots action. "I'm very optimistic for the very reason that you find individuals and companies that take action through regulatory incentives, sometimes voluntarily, sometimes for financial reasons."

Environmental groups in Syracuse and around the country are pushing at the local level for everyone from big business to municipalities to families to find their own reasons to curb their greenhouse gas output, and the efforts are catching on.

Act Locally

At the state level, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is totally recalling his Commando days, coming out as a one-man Republican force against climate change with ambitious greenhouse gas-reduction goals for the automobile-loving state announced last week. Govs. George Pataki (New York) and Bill Richardson (New Mexico) have also rolled out attempts to control their states' contributions to the problem.

At the National Conference of Mayors in Chicago in early June, more than 150 mayors signed a non-binding Climate Protection Agreement to meet or beat the emissions reductions as outlined in the Kyoto Protocol. Even the same Senate that shot down the Climate Stewardship Act embraced its spirit when it passed a hollow but symbolic resolution last week stating that something needs to be done to address greenhouse gas emissions in this country.

Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll didn't attend the Mayors' Conference, but he later signed its Climate Protection Agreement and back in March 2002, Syracuse enrolled in the Cities for Climate Protection program sponsored by the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives. The Syracuse Common Council passed a resolution introduced by 5th District Councilor Bill Simmons that signed the Salt City on to the non-binding agreement. "I put forth a resolution that called for the city of Syracuse to undertake steps to be more energy-efficient and control its emissions and as a result the mayor appointed Paul Thompson, which led to the award," Simmons explains. Thompson, an engineer, is a former Niagara Mohawk energy specialist turned city energy impresario.

Simmons sees green initiatives such as the energy curtailment efforts not only as a way to save money and the planet but as a means to jolt the upstate economy back to life. "The city is in a position to become a place where you can have spinoff industries in renewable energy," he says. "From the long view there's potential there for growth. {The city of} Syracuse along with the universities could be a real incubator."

While they've been around for more than 25 years, Energy Automation is a local company that contracts with the city, county and city school district doing energy audits and studying energy prices to find customers like the city the cheapest possible energy. Thompson says the company, contracted this year for up to $139,000, has saved the city as much as $800,000 in a year by helping them buy the right energy in the market. As energy production, use and conservation become more and more important, other companies like Energy Solutions will likely emerge to fill various and growing needs for help dealing with this precious commodity.

The Climate Protection award given in May to our fair city by the EPA at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., represents not only a resume builder for city politicians, but recognition of the hard work of concerned citizens inside and outside of City Hall. "This award is quite an honor and a commentary on the excellence of the work Paul Thompson has done," says Ollie Clubb, a retired SU professor of political science and a global-warming activist.

Thompson's employment with the city can be traced to the work of local environmental activists like Clubb, affiliated with the Syracuse-based Global Warming Action Network and the Turn the Grid Green campaign. Clubb and other climatically concerned citizens worked with Simmons to get the resolution before the Common Council, which passed it and helped start Syracuse on the path to becoming a greener city.

Stacy Smith works with the Turn the Grid Green campaign to promote renewable sources of energy. "The city responded favorably and immediately to {the Cities for Climate Protection resolution}," she notes, "but we strongly encourage them to do more. We have to think long-term and holistically about our energy choices."

In light of that Common Council resolution, Driscoll created the position of energy coordinator and hired Thompson, who had worked in the city engineering department years earlier before gaining several years of valuable experience with NiMo. Since his appointment Thompson has been a man possessed, collecting grant money and implementing energy- and money-saving measures wherever he can.

Paying Attention

Simply having someone like Thompson on staff to monitor the city's energy bills has paid dividends already. Thompson recounts how he's caught various billing errors, no doubt calling on his experience at NiMo, totaling roughly $46,000 in rebates for City Hall.

Driscoll, for one, couldn't be happier to have him on board. "Paul's paid for his salary a number of times already. He's gone over and above what we expected," Hizzoner explains. Harder to explain is why the mayor's press secretary, Colleen Deacon, refused to reveal Thompson's exact salary, a matter of public record that Thompson couldn't recall exactly but said is less than $50,000.

Thompson is a straightforward, affable man who is capable of reciting city energy statistics like they're a friend's phone number. And he's crystal clear on his mission. "Anything that costs the city energy dollars I'm looking at. I learn as much as I can from experts and make presentations {about potential projects} to the mayor's staff and Common Council and they say 'yea' or 'nay.'"

Given his early successes, Thompson says his ideas aren't always rubber-stamped but elected officials sense that he knows what he's doing. "They've been very good with everything I've asked for so far," he says.

And with good reason. Thompson's programs have generally saved, rather than spent, city dollars. One, which replaced outdated incandescent traffic lights with energy-saving LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, may seem inconsequential until Thompson rattles off the statistic that there are 319 controlled intersections and 10,534 individual traffic lights within city limits. That one change alone regularly saves the city between $14,000 and $16,000 per month, he says. Replacement costs totaled $1.2 million but were cut by $537,856 in grant money from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which researches and provides grants for certain energy projects. The remaining cash outlay will be earned back in energy savings in roughly four years from its implementation.

A tangential benefit of the replacement red, yellow and green lights is decreased upkeep. Jeff Wright, public works first deputy to the commissioner, says that since the city has switched to LEDs, his department has gone from fixing "12 to 14 lights a day to only about eight in the past year." Apparently, the old incandescent lights wore out from being turned on and off constantly; Thompson estimates their life at less than a year, while the new lights are guaranteed for at least five years and often last longer.

Thompson explains that illuminating the Salt City eats up a whopping 40 percent of municipal energy costs, making efficiency a high priority. While he's replaced nearly all the municipal lights from parking garages to city schools to street lighting with more efficient "luminaires" (jargon meaning light fixtures), he also is looking at what he calls the "lighting infrastructure."

According to Thompson, "Replacing poles, wires, foundation and luminaires chews into how much we pay for lighting. We're looking at the cost-benefit ratio of owning it ourselves." He explains that right now, NiMo owns some parts of the street-lighting grid and the city owns others, but the city is moving toward more ownership to cut down on costs by doing it themselves.

Starting in the fall, Energy Automation will be implementing energy management systems in high-use public buildings such as City Hall. Thompson says these systems will allow him to track when and where energy is being consumed so that the city can make reasonable cutbacks and participate in emergency energy-curtailment programs designed to prevent blackouts. "When I came on this job it was like walking into a grocery store with no price tags," explains Thompson. "We're going to be putting price tags on everything so we know where our energy dollars are going."

The LED traffic lights use 90 percent less energy than their incandescent counterparts, so their greenhouse gas output is equally affected, amounting to 1,998 tons of carbon dioxide kept out of our atmosphere. It's hard to imagine what nearly 2,000 tons of CO2 looks like so think of it as taking (very roughly) 382 cars off the road for an entire year, assuming fuel economy of 21 miles per gallon and 10,000 miles driven. Various efficiency projects at the city schools take another 1,335 "cars" off the road. Add to that the upgrades at city parks, ice rinks, airport, community centers and streets and the city has taken the equivalent of more than 2,100 earth-warming cars worth of carbon dioxide out of our atmosphere on Thompson's watch.

The Road Not Yet Taken

Now, if we could just get some of the real cars off the road. Syracuse's suburban commuter culture, brought on by some serious sprawl, is one of many concerns bigger than Thompson's job description that are keeping the city from being a truly green place.

Howie Hawkins is the founder of the local Green Party and as such keeps an eye on environmental issues. "We need to look at the whole urban design question," Hawkins says. "Transportation is an ecomonstrosity. We need walkable neighborhoods that include shopping, school and work. The energy issue at this point is a question of transportation."

Onondaga County's very visible Centro bus system attempts to tackle the transportation issue and even does so in a green manner, with 120 of the 156-bus fleet running on cleaner-burning natural gas. Centro offers park-and-ride service from most of Syracuse's 'burbs such as Tully, Baldwinsville, DeWitt and even Auburn. While Centro doesn't keep track of how many passengers use the park-and-ride system, the total is likely insignificant compared to the thousands of vehicles streaming into the city daily. Perhaps rising gas prices may "drive" more SUV pushers to the park-and-ride service soon, but stopping or even reversing sprawl seems like the only viable long-term solution to the high demands of long-distance commuting. The city has converted parts of its fleet of vehicles to cleaner-burning natural gas or even electric engines, but again the problems are bigger than municipal vehicles.

At the What Works II economic development conference on May 2, Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution warned Syracuse that Interstate 81 and other highways are dividing the city and reinforcing sprawl and that we should "tear it down." While these problems are of an intimidating, long-term scale, the current green initiatives represent just the kind of far-sighted thinking and momentum required for elected representatives to wrap their minds around. "The important thing with all this is that when you have a city moving in this direction, you create the kind of environment that makes Syracuse competitive in the area of tourism and as a place to relocate and stay and work in," Simmons believes.

Driscoll says the city's Comprehensive Plan 2025, a long-term outlook for the city devised by engineering and consulting firm Clough, Harbour & Associates LLP in 2001, provides the proper guidance to work on the problems of sprawl and the environment. "When you talk about urban planning," Driscoll explains, "you have to talk about smart growth in your infrastructure and mixed-use neighborhoods." Driscoll also said he's in the process of creating an Office of the Creek and Environmental Resources that would focus on "looking at Onondaga Creek as an asset rather than with disdain."

Among many potential green initiatives for the future, Simmons says the city is waiting for Driscoll's OK on a formal proposal laid out by Turn the Grid Green to switch over City Hall and Hancock International Airport to renewable or green energy such as wind, hydroelectric or biomass. NiMo would still provide the city's energy but the company would acquire the kilowatts from a green supplier that uses some combination of wind, hydro and biomass. Driscoll declined to comment on the proposal, saying only that to do so "would be premature."

The switch would certainly remove a large quantity of greenhouse gases, but arguably its greater impact would be symbolic. Prominently labeling City Hall, the municipal face of the city, and the airport, the city's national and international welcome mat, as green entities would send a clear message that Syracuse is turning greener. Activists are hoping that high-profile green energy users like SU and the city would raise awareness of the wide availability of green energy to businesses, churches, homeowners and renters alike.

Any hesitation from the mayor's office may rest on the fact that buying green energy costs about 4 percent more, an additional $4,400 on City Hall's annual energy bill, according to Thompson. Those monies could come from some of the thousands Thompson has saved the city or, say, a mere 176 $25 parking tickets, but small government purists might object to spending taxpayer money in such a way.

Simmons doesn't see things so myopically. "Many of the initial costs of these environmental programs are recouped in the long run in environmental benefits and savings down the road," the councilor explains. "In the long run those costs will pay off and will give us a competitive edge in seeking out good workers."

True enough: Everyone from economic development guru Richard Florida to former President Bill Clinton have been encouraging American cities to stay competitive in the global marketplace by being pioneers on environmental and energy frontiers.

"If you look at the whole Northeast and the old industrial cities," Smarden says, "whichever city is able to push in terms of sustainable energy and energy reduction practices in the Great Lakes region is going to be in a very good place in the future. If we take care of the environment and our infrastructure, we'll be in a good position. We have lots of water and a good labor pool. The issue is energy."

By Justin Park
Syracuse New Times http://newtimes.rway.com

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05:06:11 pm, Categories: Energy, New York State, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 1337 words   English (US)

It's Getting Cheaper to Tap the Sun

Annette Benedict gave a party to celebrate the installation of solar panels on the roof of her Bronx home over a year ago.

John Sunde bought three systems in three years for the two Long Island homes he owns - two for the Brentwood house he lived in and a third for a Hampton Bays home he lives in now.

Susan Ferraro and her husband, Nick, featured their new network in the sales ad for their summer home on Shelter Island, N.Y., earlier this year.

Excitement over residential solar energy may not be running this high everywhere, but providing homes with electricity and heat from the sun is getting more buzz than it has in decades.

In the 70's it seemed that buyers of solar systems were mostly isolated tree huggers who somehow had a small fortune to spend on panels, but now urban and suburban homeowners are looking to the sun hitting their roofs for relief from rising electricity and heating costs.

Higher utility bills, though, are just the stick. The carrot is the falling cost of solar systems that are lighter and more efficient and feature new designs, like solar panels that double as window awnings. Standardized installations and economies of scale for equipment production have helped drive costs lower.

In moving toward the energy mainstream, solar expenses have dropped to around $8 a watt, from roughly $100 three decades ago; the cost is even less if a system is installed as part of a new home's construction.

In either case, that puts the price of a system that can reduce electric bills significantly - like a three-kilowatt system - in the $20,000 range. That's still a lot of money, but buyers may be able to get a lot of it back immediately, through government incentives. And with energy prices rising, the payback period for the rest is getting steadily shorter.

State programs developed in the last few years are making it possible for homeowners to cut the cost of a system by more than half, to less than $4 a watt. These programs include rebates, tax refunds and access to utility grids, enabling homeowners to sell excess electricity back to power companies.

"Oil prices give people a reason to look, but then it's all about the incentives," says Gary Minick, president of Go Solar, in Riverhead, N.Y., who has been installing systems for 26 years. "I get eight calls a week now. I'm all booked."

While incentives can be found across the country, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut tend to give good deals. Forty states allow selling excess power back to utilities, according to the Database of State Incentives for Renewable Energy, and 19 offer rebates.

Typically, California led the charge when one of its utilities opened its grid to homeowners over a decade ago. Within a few years, New York was establishing itself as an East Coast solar beachhead. Now more than 700 New York homeowners have solar energy systems hooked up to utilities. New York has also licensed some 50 solar equipment installers.

"We've building for the long term," said Adele Ferranti, who works for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which regulates solar installations. "We haven't had one failure for anything installed by the people we certify."

On Long Island, Mr. Sunde's systems are working smoothly, and he expects them to keep doing so over their guaranteed 25-year life. A staunch environmentalist who had dreamed of owning solar panels since he was a boy, he now has more power than he needs.

He couldn't have done it without the incentives. With rebates and tax refunds, he chopped nearly 75 percent off the $115,000 bill, bringing the cost down to $30,000. With about 7.5 kilowatts for each house, he wound up paying about $2 a watt.

He did so well because Long Island kicked off New York's incentive programs with rebates of up to $6 a watt. Now it's in line with the rest of the state, offering $4, while the newer New Jersey program, is the most generous in the New York metropolitan area, with incentives of $5.50 a watt.

Exactly how much electricity a system provides and how long it takes for an installation to pay for itself, though, depends on many factors besides costs and incentives. Also important is the amount of shade at a house, the pitch of a roof (25 degrees is good, and typical for the Northeast except in areas that get heavy snow), and the direction the roof faces.

An additional factor is the amount of sunshine received, which depends on both latitude and average number of days with cloud cover. In Mr. Sunde's case, his new home has the edge over the old because its roof faces south. Over all, he calculates the payback period at a bit over 15 years.

"It's worth it," he said. "There's nothing to break. No moving parts. When I've saved as much as it cost me in the first place, I'll have free electricity."

Irene Pletka has two different solar energy systems at her Sag Harbor, N.Y., summer house. Copper tubing panels are used to heat her swimming pool, while silicon panels provide all the electricity for her home.

The copper panels for the pool's heating are alongside the roof deck, and the silicon modules providing electricity are attached like awnings above a bank of first-floor windows to keep out the summer sun. Copper trumps silicon for heating. For one thing, it warms water directly, where silicon panels must first convert solar energy to electricity. While there are no rebates or tax breaks for thermal heating systems in New York, her $2,500 pool system will still pay for itself in about two seasons.

"You're also not limited the way you are with oil," she said, "thinking about swimming too early or late in the season because of the fuel you may use up."

A big challenge for solar heating comes during the winter, for the simple reason that the sun is around the least when it is needed the most. It is also difficult to heat interior space; hot air cannot be stored the way water can.

Brian Flanagan, though, had special reasons for installing a solar heating system in the Brooklyn house he bought last year. The building had a boiler with only enough capacity to heat the commercial space he rented out on the ground floor; the upstairs was too big, with too many windows, to heat in the winter.

Buying a small boiler and installing a roof-top solar unit with vacuum tubes (which do not lose heat the way copper tubes do) - plus large hot water storage tanks to save heat for a cloudy day - would, he reasoned, be more economical in the long run. The package cost $33,000 compared with $20,000 for a separate large boiler for his living space. But with lower heating bills, he expects the system to pay for itself in eight years.

"I'm no longer a slave to oil prices," he said. "I pay a fifth of what my tenant pays."

It's still too early, though, to tell if the added expense of solar equipment makes a home more valuable. Based on Susan Ferraro's experience selling her vacation home, the answer just might be: not yet.

"We thought it very pioneering, and we put it in our ads, thinking people would think it was as exciting as we thought it was," she said of her year-old system. "But it never even came up, even with the people who bought the house."

Some things will never change, though, like what got everyone interested in solar energy in the first place.

"I read about it in a Sierra Club magazine," Annette Benedict said of her decision to install solar equipment. "It made sense. It was good for the environment."

And good for her: she bought a piano with her rebate.


The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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Reducing Emissions from the Electricity Sector: The Costs and Benefits Nationwide and in the Empire State

Recent federal policy proposals to reduce emissions of SO2, NOx, and mercury from the electricity sector promise important improvements in air quality and reductions in acid deposition in New York State and across the nation. The cost of achieving these reductions depends on the form and stringency of the regulation. In particular, the fact that technologies designed to reduce SO2 and NOx can reduce mercury emissions as well has important implications for how producers respond to different types of mercury regulation and for the cost of multipollutant policies aimed at all three pollutants.

Using four models, this study looks at EPA's Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) as originally proposed, which differs in only small ways from the final rule issued in March 2005, coupled with several approaches to reducing emissions of mercury including one that differs in only small ways from the final rule also issued in March 2005. This study analyzes what costs and benefits each would incur to New York State and to the nation at large.

EPA has taken steps toward requiring greater reductions in emissions of SO2 and NOx than mandated under current law from electricity generators. To facilitate compliance with the 8- hour ozone standard and with new air quality standards for fine particulates with a size of 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller (PM 2.5) and to meet statutory requirements for reducing emissions of hazardous air pollutants such as mercury, the EPA adopted two new rules early in 2005 that together address SO2, NOx, and mercury emissions from the electricity sector.

In its Clean Air Interstate Rule, or CAIR, EPA caps emissions of SO2 and/or NOx in a large region covering more than 20 states, mostly east of the Mississippi, and the District of Columbia. This regulation allows for emissions trading, and restrictions are imposed in two phases with the first beginning in 2010 and the second beginning in 2015.

In the first phase, the program allocates 3.7 million tons of SO2 allowances and 1.6 million tons of NOx allowances to electricity generators within 25 states and the District of Columbia. In 2015, the total allocations for annual emissions drop to 2.6 million tons for SO2 and 1.3 million tons for NOx. Actual emissions are expected to exceed these targets for some years beyond 2015 due to the opportunity to bank emission allowances distributed in earlier years for use in later years. The percent reductions in emissions within the CAIR region are comparable to those that would be required nationwide under the Clear Skies Initiative, except they happen on a somewhat accelerated schedule. The regulation also institutes a cap on seasonal summertime emissions of NOx in a region with a slightly different boundary.

In the second new rule, EPA adopts a national plan to reduce emissions of mercury from electricity generators using a cap-and-trade approach applied to all coal-fired generating units in the nation. The rule distributes allowances for 38 tons of emissions from all coal and oil-fired electricity generators beginning in 2010 and 15 tons beginning in 2018. The rule allows for emission banking. According to the EPA actual emissions are expected to exceed 15 tons for many years beyond 2015 due to the role of banking.

In the final rule, the cap-and-trade approach to reducing mercury was selected over a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) approach, which was also included as an option for consideration in the proposed rule.

Karen Palmer, Dallas Burtraw, and Jhih-Shyang Shih analyze four different multipollutant policy scenarios that coincide with recent proposals. All of these scenarios include EPA's Clean Air Interstate Rule for SO2 and NOx in its original proposed form in combination with different approaches to reducing mercury emissions from electricity generators nationwide.

1. CAIR plus EPA Mercury Cap: The Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) as originally proposed coupled with a companion national mercury cap, based on EPA's mercury cap in the proposed and final mercury rule, with unrestricted trading of mercury emission allowances. Under this scenario, the seasonal cap-and-trade program for NOx for electricity generating units in the State Implementation Plan (SIP) seasonal NOx trading program is no longer in effect. In all of the CAIR and national allowance trading programs, allowances are distributed initially based on historic emissions.

2. CAIR plus EPA Mercury and Seasonal SIP NOx Policy: This scenario combines scenario 1 with the continuation of the seasonal cap-and-trade program for NOx emissions from electricity generating units in the NOx SIP Call region. Although the originally proposed CAIR rule would have suspended the current seasonal NOx policy, in the final rule a seasonal program is reconstituted.

3. CAIR plus Tighter Mercury with MACT: This scenario includes the CAIR as represented in scenario 1 coupled with a national requirement that all coal-fired generators achieve either a 90% reduction in mercury emissions or a target emission rate of 0.6 lbs of mercury per trillion Btu of heat input, whichever is less expensive at the particular facility.

4. CAIR plus Tighter Mercury with Trading: This scenario models the CAIR coupled with a national cap-and-trade program for mercury where the national annual emission cap for mercury in each year is set at the mercury emission level realized under the version of the Tighter Mercury with MACT rule modeled in scenario 3.

Their analysis shows that benefits to the nation and to New York State significantly outweigh the costs associated with reductions in SO2, NOx, and mercury, even under cautious assumptions about the valuation of the expected health effects. Depending on the policy, between 10 and 13% of the total national health benefits associated with reduced emissions of SO2 and NOx occurs in New York State, a function of the state's population and its location downwind of major emission sources. This estimate is based on a calculation of expected improvements in human health resulting from changes in particulate matter and ozone concentrations, which are thought to capture the most important benefits. They find the health benefits of reducing particulate matter are nearly two orders of magnitude greater than the health benefits of reducing ozone. Several benefit categories including visibility effects, reduced acidification and other ecological improvements and the effects of mercury on human health and the environment would increase the calculated net benefits even further. The magnitude of benefits for ecological improvement in the Adirondack Park and for reduction of mercury emissions, based on recent unpublished estimates, is discussed in the analysis.

They find that, with one exception, the set of policies will have fairly small impacts on the average price of electricity nationwide and in New York. However, the manner in which mercury emissions are regulated will have important implications not only for the cost of the regulation, but also for emission levels for SO2 and NOx and where those emissions are located.

Their research also shows that contrary to EPA's findings, the CAIR rule, as originally proposed, by itself would not keep summer emissions of NOx from electricity generators in the SIP region below the current SIP seasonal NOx cap. As a result, average summertime 8-hour and 24-hour ozone concentrations in New York and elsewhere are higher under the originally proposed version of the CAIR policy than under the baseline. The remedy to this could include either tighter annual caps or continuation of seasonal controls.

They find combining a continuation of the SIP seasonal NOx cap with the CAIR plus EPA Mercury scenario corrects this situation and does so at relatively low cost to firms and virtually no cost to electricity consumers nationwide. In the final version of the CAIR rule, EPA reconstitutes a seasonal cap-and-trade program for NOx in a subset of the region to address this concern.

As an alternative to the EPA schedule of caps, they model a more stringent set of mercury policies that lead to about 67% further reductions in mercury emissions.

An important environmental effect of the tighter mercury cap is that it brings about substantial ancillary reductions in emissions of SO2. Under Tighter Mercury with Trading, the SO2 cap is no longer binding by 2010 as generators rely more on installation of 3 flue gas desulfurization (FGD) units (known as SO2 scrubbers) to reduce mercury and less on activated carbon injection (ACI).

Despite showing positive and significant net benefits, Palmer, Burtraw, and Shih hasten to add two important qualifications that preclude an endorsement of the CAIR policy coupled with EPA Mercury Cap and the continuation of the NOx SIP Call - the policy that comes closest to the one embodied in the EPA's final CAIR and mercury rules. First, this calculation does not include benefits from mercury reductions, which would increase the benefit estimates of the tighter mercury standard. In a discussion of potential benefits we draw on recent research by Rice and Hammitt (2005) on the benefits of mercury emissions reductions associated with the Clear Skies Initiative to infer estimates of potential benefits of different levels of mercury control. This information suggests that inclusion of benefits from the tighter mercury standard would reduce the gap in net benefits between the Tighter Mercury policies and the policies with the EPA Mercury Cap. Second, our study indicates the benefits of additional tons of SO2 reduction beyond the CAIR rule far exceed the costs. We do not investigate alternative levels of SO2 control.

The authors provide an uncertainty analysis that varies the most important parameters in their estimations--the atmospheric model and value of a statistical life--and that includes somewhat more speculative estimates of the human health benefits of reduced mercury emissions and a partial analysis of ecological benefits. For the Low values in the uncertainty analysis, the CAIR policy coupled with EPA Mercury Cap and the continuation of the NOx SIP Call remains the policy with the greatest net benefits. However, under the High value cases, although all policies show dramatic net benefits, the policies with the Tighter Mercury standard have the greatest net benefits.

The effect of the different policies on the mix of fuels used to supply electricity is also fairly modest. The scenarios that combine CAIR with the EPA Mercury Cap see a significant switch among types of coal, accounting for about 45% of the reduction in SO2 emissions, but there is only a slight switch away from coal to natural gas, which accounts for just 4% of the reduction in SO2 emissions. The switch from coal to natural gas tends to be much larger under the Tighter Mercury with Trading Policy, and this switch accounts for roughly 19% of the reduction in mercury relative to the baseline.

The policy also produces large ancillary reductions in emissions of CO2, which fall by 11% of baseline levels nationally and 26% in New York State in 2020. Since it is often stated by the current federal administration that it is not the purpose of environmental regulation to force fuel switching away from coal, then a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) approach may be preferred to a trading approach as the way to achieve tight mercury targets (beyond the cap in EPA's mercury rule) because it preserves the role of coal in electricity generation.

A key factor in the design of environmental policy is the incidence of burden, which varies for consumers and for producers depending on whether a trading approach is used. Consumers bear all of the cost of EPA's proposed policies in 2010. In New York, producers benefit from the policies. By 2020, nationwide we find the burden is shared fairly equally between consumers and producers. In 2020 the cost in New York State is very small, due in part to the implementation of New York's multipollutant rule that is included in the baseline.

Replacing the EPA mercury rule with the tighter mercury standards yields additional costs for both consumers and producers in 2010, when consumers bear an additional cost of about $1.3 billion nationwide and producers bear an additional cost of $2.2 billion. In 2020 the additional cost of the Tighter Mercury with MACT policy falls entirely on consumers, who bear an additional cost of $2.8 billion, while producers bear no additional cost. Overall, consumers bear over 75% of the cost of the Tighter Mercury with MACT policy in 2010 and over 70% in 2020. There is no additional cost of the tighter mercury standard using a MACT approach in New York State in 2010 or 2020.

Implementing tighter mercury standards using a trading approach imposes significantly more cost on the electricity sector than using a MACT standard to achieve the same emission target due to the internalization of the opportunity cost of mercury emissions allowance prices and the corresponding change in resources use including fuel switching to natural gas. Consumers bear the entire burden from tight mercury controls with trading. In the aggregate producers actually benefit substantially due to higher electricity prices, but the effect on individual firms is likely to vary greatly, depending on the portfolio of generation assets they operate.

In conclusion, they find that all four policies we investigated which would regulate multiple pollutants from the electricity sector, including policies with the tighter mercury controls, would deliver substantial benefits to residents of New York State and the nation. Contrary to EPA's findings, CAIR as originally proposed by itself would not keep summer emissions of NOx from electricity generators in the SIP region below the current SIP seasonal NOx cap. In the final CAIR, EPA added a seasonal NOx cap to address seasonal ozone problems. The final CAIR with the seasonal NOx cap produces higher net benefits relative to the originally proposed CAIR. Our modeling indicates that additional SO2 emissions reductions beyond those called for by the EPA rules would yield benefits that substantially exceed the additional cost. Their evaluation of scenarios with tighter mercury emission controls shows that the net benefits of a maximum achievable control technology (MACT) approach exceed the net benefits of a cap and trade approach. It is important to note that they do not include estimates of the benefits of mercury reductions, which if included, would improve the net benefits of more stringent mercury controls.

This report was sponsored by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. This project was funded as part of the New York Energy $martSM Environmental Monitoring, Evaluation and Protection (EMEP) program. More information on the EMEP program may be found on NYSERDA?s website at: www.nyserda.org/programs/environment/emep.asp. The research makes use of modeling capability developed as part of research funded under the EPA National Center for Environmental Research (NCER) STAR Program, EPA Grant R828628.

by Karen Palmer, Dallas Burtraw, and Jhih-Shyang Shih
Resources for the Future (RFF) www.rff.org
Discussion Paper 05-23
June 2005

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Dermot Wins $130M Courthouse Development

The New York City Economic Development Corp. has selected the Dermot Co. to acquire and develop a two-acre parcel here in a $130-million project. The site is the former home of the Queens Family Courthouse. The project, which is expected to be completed in 2008, includes 380 residential units, 25,000 sf of community/cultural space, 18,500 sf of retail and parking for approximately 190 cars.

A recently completed project in Kew Garden Hills--the 388-unit residence called the Opal--prompted the Dermot Co. to pursue the RFP on the project, says Dermot partner Stephen N. Benjamin. “We believe the project will help pave the way for further new residential development in Downtown Jamaica and bring additional job growth to the local community.” He anticipates the project will create 750 construction jobs and 80 permanent ones.

The Jamaica property contains an existing four-story courthouse building and a three-story annex. Dermot plans to demolish the annex building, but retain and restore the Italian Renaissance-style facade of the courthouse building. Dermot expects that the residential portion of the project will include approximately 300 low-income, middle-income and market-rate units, as well as about 75 affordable co-ops. Amenities are expected to include a health club, clubhouse and an outdoor terrace. The Queens Public Library, the original tenant of the courthouse, is expected to occupy a portion of the community space. Any excess space will be put out as an RFP to another community group.

The development team includes Fox & Fowle Architects and construction manager Kajima Construction Services. Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson LLC will provide legal services. The project will be LEED certified by the US Green Building Council.

Dermot currently manages more than $1 billion in assets and owns or holds investments in more than 5,000 multifamily units. In addition to this project and the one in Kew Gardens Hills, Dermot is also involved with the renovation of the Williamsburg Savings Bank Building in Downtown Brooklyn and its conversion to condominiums, and the construction of the 633-unit, Clinton Green, at 53rd Street and 10th Avenue in Manhattan.

Globest.com www.globest.com

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Hidden costs aboard school buses

When voters look at the cost of new school buses and think of their most recent tax bills, they may not consider the air they breathe.

Six requests to purchase school buses were turned back at the polls last month in Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties. While some of the proposals have been altered and will be resurrected for follow-up votes this month, the cost of keeping bus fleets up to date affects every district's bottom line.

Yet clean-air advocates say residents need to do their part to clean up the region's dirty air, and paying higher school taxes to replace older buses is one of the most direct ways to do that.

"It's especially important for the kids and the drivers that older school buses be retired because they're the most polluting," said Peter Iwanowicz, vice president and chief policy officer for the New York chapter of the American Lung Association. "They're the ones that are going to place the biggest environmental burden on all of us."

Residents of the New York City metropolitan area, including the northern suburbs, continue to breathe dirtier air than federal regulations allow, and the region leads the nation in estimated deaths from diesel air pollution among metropolitan areas.

School buses contribute only a portion of that pollution, with factories, construction vehicles, public transit and cars significantly adding to the problem.

But school buses serve children, whose developing lungs and circulatory systems are most at risk, experts say.

According to a study released in February by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force, there are 13 million diesel vehicles at work in the nation, contributing to an estimated 60,000 premature deaths from exposure to fine-particle air pollution, the type no one can see or feel yet is breathed into the lungs most deeply and without much natural filtration by the body.

"Ozone is a problem, but with school buses the issue really is the exposure of kids to the fine-particle matter," said Don Anair, a vehicles engineer with the Union of Concerned Scientists. "It's not a myth about in-bus air pollution. They've measured the air quality inside the vehicles and the levels spike up."

The nonprofit science group estimates that most of the 442,000 school buses on American roads still use diesel fuel. Exposure to that exhaust has been linked to a variety of illnesses, including cancer and respiratory ailments such as asthma and chronic bronchitis.

Iwanowicz said people need only compare two handkerchiefs his agency tied to the end of tailpipes of a clean-burning diesel bus and its older counterpart to see what is or isn't going into their lungs. The newer bus leaves few visible traces on the white cloth; the older one leaves a giant sooty polka dot.

State Department of Motor Vehicles statistics show that about three out of five, or about 60 percent, of all buses registered with the state are 2000 models or older. Westchester and Putnam beat the state's percentage, according to DMV numbers. Rockland does not.

The cost of a new bus can set a school district back from $75,000 to more than $100,000. When officials try to replace their fleet every 10 years, the additional money asked of taxpayers can seem too much, even for a district such as the Tarrytowns, with only 48 buses and vans.

Robert Surovich, a mechanical engineer from Tarrytown, said he voted against the district's budget last month because he didn't believe officials had done enough to keep costs down.

"It wasn't just the bus proposal, it was the proposal in general," Surovich said. "I do know things wear out and the buses get used quite heavily in the village, but do they have to spend as much as was proposed? I don't know."

Surovich said he would again oppose the budget because officials chose to put it up for a new vote without revisions, a move he said was a standard tactic in the district.

Howard Smith, Tarrytowns' schools superintendent, said the district opted not to ask residents to vote again on a $270,00 proposal for three new buses and a van. The decision means the district will have to spend more time and money to maintain its current fleet, some of which dates back to 1990, officials said.

"We're hoping to get by with a little extra maintenance," said Cy Hughes, who oversees the district's bus operations. "The state (Department of Transportation) checks the emissions twice a year. and sometimes we lose a bus because of emissions, but the older the buses are, the more you have to coax them to keep them on the road."

Private transportation companies serving districts like North Rockland and Yonkers are basically subjected to the same regulations as district-owned buses and face many of the same financial pressures.

This year, Clarkstown school voters approved some buses and said no to others, going along with purchasing 10 replacement buses, but knocking down a plan to buy seven new buses and provide transportation to all kindergarten through eighth-grade students regardless of the distance from home to their schools.

The district routinely buys enough buses to replace its fleet about every 10 years, but in summer 2004 it also used an $83,600 state grant to retrofit 38 of its 110 buses and vans with better emission-filtering equipment.

Seven districts in the three-county region took advantage of the $5 million program.

"All my buses are passing the emissions tests," said Harold Foley, who has worked on Clarkstown's school vehicles for 27 years. "When they're going down the road now, you don't see as much black smoke."

Foley said one of the added benefits of having newer buses was the cost savings on fuel.

"The older ones get three miles to the gallon, going downhill with good strong tailwind," he said. A new bus can get as much as eight miles to the gallon.

Carmel school officials watch fuel consumption carefully because their buses travel 1.4 million miles a year to 69 buildings. Ron Wilson, the district's assistant superintendent for business, said emissions also were an issue, especially since 22 vehicles out of 100 were 15 to 20 years old.

"We share the concern about the environment," Wilson said. "The new buses are certainly better. We wanted to reduce the average age of the fleet and unfortunately won't be gaining anything on that this year. It's not just the environmental problem, however; the old vehicles can require costly repairs."

The district's transportation costs are projected at $4.3 million next year, out of an overall proposed budget of 83.7 million. District officials are hopeful that cutting the bus and equipment proposal from $814,150 to $618,000 may help pass a budget that failed by 14 votes last month.

"Unfortunately with buses, it's a situation of pay me now or pay me later," Wilson said. "And down the road, the costs are often much greater."

THE JOURNAL NEWS www.thejournalnews.com

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Senior housing project advances

An infusion of public money should get a Red Hook site cleaned up and senior housing built more rapidly. It can't happen soon enough.

Since 1999, officials from Red Hook, Dutchess County and the state's Department of Environmental Conservation have been working together to clean up the Perx property. Once the site of a frozen food factory and apple orchard, the 20-acre parcel — in the southern part of the village, along Route 9 near Firehouse Lane — was polluted with fuel and chemical contamination. The county came into possession of the land because of tax defaults.

Last year, four cleanup options, with costs ranging from $144,000 to $3 million, were considered. Despite some Red Hook residents' concerns that it wasn't enough, the middle-of the-road $1.8 million plan was rightly supported by DEC officials. Underground fuel tanks, asbestos and contaminated soil will be removed and buildings will be demolished.

Such actions will make way for construction of the needed senior housing project.

The county's release of $1.26 million, announced last week, means the cleanup should be completed by the end of the year, according to Red Hook village Mayor David Cohen. The state will reimburse the county from its Environmental Restoration Grant, money used for building demolition and soil remediation on contaminated sites.

Once the property is cleaned, the county will deed the property to Red Hook, which in turn will sell the property rights to developer Ken Kearney. He has already applied to the state for $1.3 million in grant funding and $500,000 a year in tax credits for the senior project. The speedier cleanup should lend additional support as the state reviews those applications.

Senior housing is desperately needed in the area. The aging population is putting new demands on the housing market. The 48 units in Red Hook, with monthly rents from $305 to $645, will help fill that need. At the same time a contaminated parcel will be cleaned up.

With all its benefits, this project is certainly deserving of any effort to aid its completion.

The Poughkeepsie Journal www.poughkeepsiejournal.com

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New York Banks Team up to Fund Development of First "Green'' Housing Complex in South Bronx: Investment In CRA Qualified Investment Fund Finances Borough's First Environmentally-Friendly Affordable Apartments

Affordable rent and lower energy costs have residents of Bronx, New York's Taino Plaza seeing "green." The mixed-use complex, recently constructed by the South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation (SoBro), is the borough's first multi-family "green" building. Funded in part by a bond purchased by the CRA Qualified Investment Fund (CRAIX) on behalf of Apple Bank for Savings, Atlantic Bank of New York, Israel Discount Bank of New York, and North Fork Bank, the project combines 105 units of affordable housing with 18,400 square feet of retail space. The banks' participation in the mutual fund demonstrates responsiveness to the community's development needs.

The $20 million building has the potential to catalyze continued community development in the blighted neighborhood. "North Fork Bank is able to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to fostering a strong, safe and clean community in which families can grow right here in our backyard," said Stacey M. Cooper, Vice President of North Fork Bank(a). "We're hopeful that more buildings in New York City will follow the example set by this environmentally-sound project."

Aside from providing affordable rental housing, Taino Plaza's environmentally-conscious design sets the building apart from other housing options in New York City. Partially funded by The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the solar powered complex includes appliances, insulation, heaters, and lighting - all selected for their energy efficiency. The savings resulting from this conservation allows for expanded services for residents as well as affordable rents.

"We've always been committed to investing in environmentally-friendly projects, and we're delighted that four of our shareholder banks in New York City are demonstrating their support by helping finance the first `green' project in the Bronx. By investing in a project that provides affordable housing and simultaneously works to ensure a healthy environment for families in the South Bronx, we've made a positive social impact on two different fronts," said Barbara VanScoy, the CRA Qualified Investment Fund's portfolio manager and managing director of CRAFund Advisors, the Fund's registered investment advisor.

The CRA Qualified Investment Fund, founded in 1999 by CRAFund Advisors, is a high-credit quality, fixed income mutual fund that aims to deliver competitive financial performance while supporting community and economic development in neighborhoods across the country. With $600 million under management representing 300 institutional shareholders with combined assets of $1.8 trillion, the Fund has purchased $1.2 billion in securities that have advanced community development activities such as housing, healthcare, and job creation in all 50 states.

The Fund's investments have helped fund environmentally-conscious projects across the country, including the construction of additional "green" facilities as well as brownfield redevelopment. To date, the Fund has financed 92,936 affordable rental housing units; 2,638 home mortgages for low- and moderate-income families; $23.4 million in affordable health care facilities; $77.8 million in community development activities including neighborhood revitalization; $162.9 million in down payment assistance and statewide home ownership programs; and $26 million in job creation/job training programs(b).

For more information about the CRA Qualified Investment Fund, visit http://www.crafund.com, or call CRAFund Advisors at 877-272-1977 (1-877-CRA-1977).
Contact: Daniel Weinbach, 305-668-0070, CRAFund Advisors
Source: CRAFund Advisors Press Release

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A weighty law on lead: Landlords say costs have hurt efforts to comply with city's new measure to protect kids from poisoning

Landlords say their efforts to comply with the city's stringent new law to protect children from lead poisoning have been hampered by high costs and an ordinance they say is hard to understand.

As a result, they say, the escalating number of lead abatement violations are being fixed at a slower rate than complaints under the previous regulations.

"Landlords and tenants want children to be protected from lead, but it is a difficult law to implement," said Frank Anelante, president of Lemle and Wolff Inc., which owns more than 8,000 rental units in the city.

Anelante is a member of the Rent Stabilization Association, a trade group that represents 25,000 landlords who control nearly 1 million units of rent-stabilized apartments, which is leading the charge for modification of Local Law 1, the city's new lead abatement law.

Landlords' biggest problem with the new law, according to several recently interviewed, is the escalating cost of lead abatement, which must be done by a contractor certified by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Hazard reduction costs have more than tripled since August, when the law was enacted, Anelante said. He used to pay about $225 a room to fix peeling lead paint on a window, compared with the $725 it now costs just for dust cleanup, he said.

"It's a big problem, and there should be a balanced solution where children are protected from lead ... and we can afford this," Anelante said.

Corrections under new law

The new law took effect on Aug. 2. Statistics from the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development show that under the old law, 2,967 out of 10,581 lead violations in the previous year, or 28 percent, were certified as having been corrected.

Since the new law took effect, 3,742 of 27,143 lead violations, or 14 percent, have been certified as corrected, the statistics show.

The old lead abatement law, in place from 1999 until the new measure took effect, placed the burden on tenants to initiate city inspections and limited a tenant's ability to sue the landlord. It covered cleanup of lead-paint chips but not dust.

The new law puts the onus on landlords to eradicate lead-based paint and dust. It also requires lead abatement workers to be better trained and shortens the compliance time to 21 days. If violations are not corrected, landlords face greater liability.

Landlord Chris Anthineos said he has spent $40,000 on lead abatement since August in several small apartment buildings he owns in Brooklyn.

"I am very concerned about lead poisoning; I have a 17-month-old of my own," he said. "I try to stay on top of my inspections and repairs ... but I don't know how long I can continue to forgo maintenance improvements to pay for lead abatement."

Council Deputy Majority Leader Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) was a major sponsor of the tougher law and said its benefits far outweigh its drawbacks. "When these children are poisoned, they are crippled for life."

City Health Department statistics show a marked decline in the past decade in the number of new lead-poisoning cases. The most recent statistics available show the number of cases fell from 3,985 in 2002 to 3,413 in 2003 - a 14 percent drop.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, the city's health commissioner, has maintained that "childhood lead poisoning is a preventable tragedy" that persists at unacceptably high rates in certain neighborhoods in Queens, Brooklyn and the Bronx. Lead-based paints were banned for use in housing in 1978, but exposure still occurs from lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust in homes, apartments and deteriorating buildings, officials said.

A litany of problems

Harold Shultz, special counsel at the Housing Preservation and Development Department, said that when the new law was being crafted, there were no assurances it would better protect children. "We felt there was a lack of targeting and that the set time frames were unrealistic," he said. "We always believed that it was an important function of such laws to get owners to correct rather than make it impossible to correct."

Landlords interviewed cited a litany of problems with the law, including forced tenant vacancies during major lead cleanups and the mandated 21-day time period to fix problems.

Still, Perkins said, "The priority has to be the welfare of children, not the profit of landlords."

Old law
10,581 violations
2,967 fixes (28%)

New law
27,143 violations
3,742 fixes (14%)

Risks of lead exposure

Q: What health problems can lead exposure cause?
A: Short-term exposure to large amounts can cause vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions, coma or death. Symptoms of long-term exposure include anemia; damage to the nervous system; appetite loss; abdominal pain; constipation; fatigue; sleeplessness; irritability; and headache. Even low-level exposure may harm development and behavior in infants and children.

Q: How do I protect my family?
A: Report any peeling paint to your landlord, who is required to fix peeling and chipping paint if a child lives in a building with three or more units built before 1960. Call 311 if your landlord does not fix paint. Clean floors and windowsills frequently. Avoid using imported pottery to cook, serve or store food.

Q: What are the main sources of lead exposure?
A: Peeling and chipping lead paint and dust containing lead; lead-glazed pottery; imported food and spices; folk remedies and cosmetics; travel to countries with lead contamination; lead from jobs or hobbies; contaminated soil; drinking water supplied through lead mains.


Charting lead poisoning, Documented cases in the city.

1995 - 19,232
1996 - 14,406
1997 - 11,537
1998 - 9,575
1999 - 7,045
2000 - 6,231
2001 - 4,618
2002 - 3,985
2003 - 3,413

Newsday www.newsday.com

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EPA Rejects Ethanol Waivers From States

Motorists in California, New York and Connecticut will have to continue using corn-based ethanol in their gasoline to cut air pollution at an extra cost of up to 8 cents a gallon.

The three states had asked the Environmental Protection Agency to waive a 1990 requirement in the Clean Air Act that gasoline contain an oxygenate — either ethanol or MTBE — to help fight air pollution.

In a boost to corn and ethanol producers, EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson decided Thursday that the states had not shown that using an oxygenate has prevented or interfered with their ability to meet federal air standards.

The agency said it considered other factors, including "increased energy security and support for rural and agricultural economies." Critics accused the agency of playing "ethanol politics."

Oxygenate additives on average increase the price for gasoline by 4 cents to 8 cents per gallon, the EPA estimates. But the benefits include at least 100,000 tons per year fewer smog pollutants nationally. That is equivalent to the tailpipe emissions of 16 million vehicles.

Federal law requires that the gasoline used in certain metropolitan areas with the worst smog contain 2 percent oxygen by weight. The law does not say which oxygenate must be used, but most refiners use either ethanol or methyl tertiary butyl ether, known as MTBE.

Only ethanol is used in California, New York and Connecticut because they banned MTBE, which has been found to pollute groundwater.

Lawmakers from the affected states were disappointed by the EPA's decision.

"With gas prices already through the roof it is unconscionable for the EPA to play ethanol politics," said Sen. Charles Schumer (news, bio, voting record), D-N.Y. "There are many other ways to keep the air clean without using ethanol, but the EPA is more interested in political games than the costs to New York drivers."

Connecticut's attorney general, Richard Blumenthal, said the order was a "gargantuan gift to the ethanol industry."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (news, bio, voting record), D-Calif., said her state's gasoline is formulated to a higher standard than required by the Clean Air Act before ethanol is mixed in. She said some research shows that ethanol even contributes to summer smog.

"The scientific evidence linking ethanol blended gasoline with air pollution continues to mount," Feinstein said. "Yet the EPA continues to resist taking the right action."

The EPA in 2001 rejected California's request for a waiver. A federal appeals court ordered the Bush administration to reconsider the decision.

The American Farm Bureau Federation, a trade group, said the decisions benefits everyone, not just farmers and ranchers.

"Ethanol burns cleaner, is lower cost and contains a renewable fuels component," said Bob Stallman, the federation's president.

Ethanol or MTBE gasoline blends have been in use since 1995. Currently they are in use in 17 states and the District of Columbia.

In April, the House passed an energy bill that would eliminate the 2 percent oxygenate requirement.

On the Net:
Environmental Protection Agency background on reformulated gasoline: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/rfg.htm

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press
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Aquatic Nuisance Species in the New York State Canal and Hudson River Systems and the Great Lakes Basin: An Economic and Environmental Assessment

A total of 154 aquatic alien species have invaded the New York State Canal and Hudson River systems and a total of 162 aquatic species have invaded the Great Lakes Basin. Some of these invasive species are causing significant damage and control costs in both aquatic ecosystems. In the New York State Canal and Hudson River systems, the nonindigenous species are causing an estimated $500 million in economic losses each year. The economic and environmental situation in the Great Lakes Basin is far more serious from nonindigenous species, with losses estimated to be about $5.7 billion dollars per year. Commercial and sport fishing suffer the most from the biological invasions, with about $400 million in losses reported for the New York State Canal and Hudson River systems and $4.5 billion in losses reported for the Great Lakes Basin.

Keywords Aquatic - Invasive species - Environment - Economic - New York State - Great Lakes

by David Pimentel1; Agriculture and Life Sciences, Cornell University, 5126 Comstock Hall, Ithaca New York, 14853, USA;

Environmental Management via Springer-Verlag http://springerlink.metapress.com
ISSN: 0364-152X (Paper) 1432-1009 (Online)
DOI: 10.1007/s00267-004-0214-7
Volume 35, Number 5, May 2005, pages: 692 - 702

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Schumer to fight bill letting oil firms escape cleanups: Speaks on dangers of spills to ground water

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer wants oil companies to continue to be responsible for gasoline tank and pipeline ruptures that contaminate ground water.

On Friday, Schumer used Akron as the backdrop for his opposition to a provision that was added to the energy bill that absolves oil companies of this responsibility. The measure recently passed in the House.

Specifically targeted is a provision in the bill that would hold oil companies harmless for damages resulting from gasoline spills from ruptured tanks and pipelines.

"I will do everything I can when this energy bill hits the Senate floor in June to take out this . . . provision," said Schumer, vowing a filibuster if necessary.

Gasoline from these spills contains a cancer-causing additive called methyl tertiary butyl ether or MTBE, a chemical used in the late 1970s to make gasoline burn cleaner and reduce air pollution, Schumer said. If the chemical leaches into the ground water, it can permanently pollute nearby water sources. Schumer said oil companies should bear the brunt of cleaning up their own mess.

Schumer said oil companies have long known about the dangers of MTBE. Toxics Targeting, a database firm in Ithaca, has documented 108 sites across the state where such spills or leaks are known to have occurred. The problem is acute in areas that rely on well water, Schumer said.

Locally, most of the affected areas are in southern Erie County and outlying areas, like Akron, in the northeast part of the county. Schumer said the cost of remediating MTBE contamination and finding new water sources is too enormous for homeowners or local municipalities like Akron to bear.

A gasoline spill at a backup water well off Crittendon Road in Akron six years ago forced it to close. Though the well was used only for emergencies, Akron Mayor Ray M. Perkins said the closing left the village without a backup water supply. Its main water source is from a reservoir in Bennington. The village is suing to have the responsible parties pay for the cleanup at the backup well located near a former gas station. Perkins supports striking down the provision in the energy bill.

Schumer said the provision absolving oil companies of responsibility for cleaning these contaminated sites was tacked onto the energy bill only following a successful lawsuit against the oil companies in Lake Tahoe, Nev.

Schumer said the bill also includes $2 billion to compensate oil companies for no longer being able to produce MTBE.

"That was salt in the wound, but the main part of this is you couldn't sue, because in the past when the water system was polluted, you would go to the oil company and say: "Hey, you guys did this. You're responsible. Help us find some new water.' Now people are stuck," Schumer said.

Walter Hang, president of Toxics Targeting, said the cost of treating water from wells contaminated with MTBE or constructing the infrastructure to draw water from another source could range from hundreds of thousands of dollars to as much as $8 million.

Buffalo News www.buffalonews.com

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City of New York Awards Environmental Contract to Clean Up Long Island Sound Using ThermoEnergy's Ammonia Recovery Process Technology

In a move to improve harbor water quality and increase the long-term recreational and marine environments within the Long Island Sound for the millions of people who reside along its shores, ThermoEnergy Corporation (OTC:TMEN - News) has been awarded a $7 million contract by the City of New York's Department of Environmental Protection to employ the company's ammonia-recovery process at the Bowery Bay Water Pollution Control Plant in Queens. The large-scale environmental project is a culmination of seven years of developing ThermoEnergy's patented Ammonia Recovery Process (ARP) technology to remove 90 percent of the ammonia in the liquid discharged from the wastewater treatment facility into the East River. It is considered a significant step in eliminating a major source of the harsh pollutants and high nitrogen levels that now suffocate the delicate marine ecosystems of both the Long Island Sound and Jamaica Bay.

"Ammonia removal is fast becoming a critical regulatory issue for many municipal wastewater plants that discharge into vulnerable estuaries and waterways such as the Mississippi River, Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound and Long Island Sound, where excess ammonia can lead to eutrophication, or 'dead zones'," said Dennis Cossey, CEO of ThermoEnergy Corporation. "ARP is not only the leading technology to solve the problem, it will save the ratepayers hundreds of millions in future disposal costs over age-old biological nitrogen reduction methods."

Traditional ammonia removal methods that rely on biological organisms require large amounts of space, a wide array of chemicals (some of which are hazardous) and are prone to process upsets that take weeks or months to repair. In addition, they generate secondary wastes and other materials resulting in additional off-site disposal costs. ARP is the only ammonia removal technology that provides for the beneficial reuse of the recovered ammonia by converting it into ammonium-sulfate, a widely-used and consumer-ready fertilizer product.

ThermoEnergy's ARP technology was successfully proven in a large-scale demonstration project at the City's Oakwood Beach wastewater plant on Staten Island in 2000. The recent Bowery Bay contract is a direct result of the Staten Island project, which was a joint effort between ThermoEnergy, the US EPA, the Civil Engineering Research Foundation and New York City's Department of Environmental Protection.

"Historically, municipalities seek to answer two questions when searching for solutions to critical clean water issues such as eliminating ammonia discharge: does the process meet all regulatory requirements, and does it meet those requirements at the least possible cost? Based on these two criteria, ARP will be the technology of choice," added Cossey.

This technology has received enthusiastic support from citizen groups that are concerned both for the environment and the costs of protecting it. Gene Flatow, who currently serves on the EPA-sponsored Harbor Estuary Program and chairs the Coalition for the Bight and the Board of the NYC Soil and Water Conservation District, has championed cost-effective innovations to protect both the environment and the limited resources available to the City.

"I believe that New York City has been given too little credit for its efforts to clean the waters around the City," said Ms. Flatow. "Use of this technology is an important advance in the City's efforts to accomplish this goal. It shows a concern not only to the environment, but also the ratepayers who ultimately must pay for these improvements. I am confident that this will not only be critical for NYC meeting its obligations for the Long Island Sound, but also will be instrumental in solving the problems in Jamaica Bay."

Founded in 1988, ThermoEnergy is an integrated technologies company that provides cost-effective and environmentally-responsible solutions for problems associated with industrial and municipal wastewater treatment and air emissions from power plants. ThermoEnergy's core business is the design, fabrication and operation of patented and/or proprietary municipal and industrial wastewater treatment and power generation technologies, including ThermoFuel, Ammonia Recovery Process (ARP) and ThermoEnergy Integrated Power System (TIPS). More information on ThermoEnergy and its technologies can be found online at www.thermoenergy.com.

Contact: Stanton Crenshaw Communications, Ryan Murphy, 212-780-1900 ext. 568,
Source: Company press release
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DestiNY's Child: A mega-mall in upstate New York could give birth to a clean-energy awakening

As the Senate deliberates over the Bush-backed energy bill and enviros send out another round of distress signals over America's obdurate fossil-fuel dependency, who would believe that the next big thing in renewable energy is being driven by a tenacious commercial developer with strong GOP affiliations and 25 mega-malls under his belt?

Picture a gargantuan shopping complex in upstate New York -- a so-called "retail city" big enough to make Mall of America look like a five-and-dime -- with thousands of shops plus restaurants, theaters, hotels, a high-tech research park for commercial R&;D, and a sprawling, climate-controlled biosphere for recreation. Yet another environmental abomination, you say?

Not so fast.

Shopping-mall titan Robert Congel, one of the world's biggest commercial real-estate developers, is about to begin building a multi-billion-dollar, 800-acre shopping and entertainment complex with all of the above-mentioned amenities, but without -- and here comes the part that strains belief -- so much as a barrel of oil or a kilowatt of fossil-fuel-generated power. That's right, folks, a 100% clean-energy mega-mall. He vows that it will be the closest thing to an "Apollo Project" for renewable energy that America has ever seen -- one that grows the economy, strengthens national security by encouraging energy independence, and protects the environment.

Congel's bulldozers -- fully powered by pure biodiesel, along with the rest of his construction equipment -- are scheduled to begin leveling the development site in early June on a massive brownfield in Syracuse, N.Y., formerly dubbed "Oil City" for the giant tanks of crude it once housed. On it he plans to erect the optimistically named "DestiNY USA," a retail complex powered entirely by wind turbines, solar panels, fuel cells, and biofuels.

Despite skepticism from a number of Syracuse locals, commercial-development analysts, and renewable-energy experts that the immense and unprecedented scheme can be pulled off, Congel doesn't hesitate to make grandiose predictions for DestiNY, claiming it will attract tourists from around the world and become a paradigm-shifting catalyst for the nation's renewable-energy markets. Muckraker heard these forecasts firsthand during a lavish investor symposium in February at the developer's 6,000-acre retreat an hour north of Syracuse where, in the interest of full disclosure, room and board were provided for a night.

Congel so relishes the symbolism of his project that he is working with a bipartisan cohort of politicians to get a provision into the energy bill that would call on the president to select and recognize "renewable and sustainable mega-projects that can move America toward energy independence," as Rich Pietrafesa, a DestiNY managing director and policy adviser to Congel, explained it. The measure does not entail any subsidies or tax breaks for the venture; it's purely symbolic. "If the White House says, 'This kind of project is fundamental to the future and safety of America,' it will go a long way to accelerate the commercial acceptance of [renewable-energy] technologies," Pietrafesa said.

That's not to say that the complex isn't getting any tax breaks. On the contrary, the DestiNY team has managed to secure a staggering raft of tax benefits at every level -- city, county, state, and federal -- with the help of New York politicians on both sides of the party line, including Sens. Hillary Clinton (D) and Charles Schumer (D) and Gov. George Pataki (R). On the federal plane, Clinton and Schumer went to bat last year to add $231 million to the corporate tax bill to finance $2 billion in "green bonds" for eco-friendly shopping developments. DestiNY is expected to reap a significant portion of these funds due to its unparalleled size.

That is, of course, if the developers can meet the bond requirements, which will be no small task, according to Ashok Gupta, the senior energy economist at Natural Resources Defense Council. "The green guidelines for these bonds are as stringent as I've seen -- hardly a giveaway from a policy standpoint," he told Muckraker. Gupta said he was impressed by the DestiNY team's enthusiasm for the strict guidelines, but wasn't sure the mall builders knew what they were in for. "I have a hard time believing that the DestiNY executives can deliver on their green promise," he said. "These are not developers who have ever attempted a green project, and it's not clear to me that they understand the extent of their commitment, financially and practically." Even developers who have worked on multiple green buildings would find a project of this scale to be extraordinarily challenging, he said.

Rick Fedrizzi, president of the U.S. Green Building Council, who consulted with the DestiNY executives on their green-building goals, was less skeptical. "At first, it had a lot of us in disbelief. I had never seen anything of this magnitude," Fedrizzi told Muckraker. "But the DestiNY team kept pushing us further and further to develop a plan that not only meets but exceeds LEED standards," the council's green-building guidelines, considered the benchmark for the industry. Fedrizzi added that Congel "clearly knows how to execute," as evidenced by his decades of success as a developer. "This is his legacy project. He's dead serious about making this into a world-class showcase."

A Touch of World-Class

Congel's renewable-energy goals for DestiNY are world-class indeed. To take solar, DestiNY would produce and consume "at a minimum 32 megawatts of solar electricity," according to Pietrafesa. To put this in perspective, 32 MW would not only be the world's biggest solar installation, it would account for one-third of the total solar capacity installed annually in the United States.

The complex would also consume a minimum of 28 MW of electricity from fuel cells (with hydrogen derived from renewables), said Pietrafesa, which in turn would increase the total amount of installed "electricity-generating" fuel-cell capacity in the country by roughly 60%. DestiNY would also rely on a minimum daily feed of 120 MW from biodiesel and biomass combined, and 44 MW of wind power -- both mind-boggling numbers as well.

Congel has gone so far as to predict that DestiNY could accelerate economies of scale to the point where the price of renewable energy would become cost-competitive with fossil fuels in as little as a decade, thereby revolutionizing the energy industry far sooner than experts forecast.

Renewable-energy advocates are more circumspect. Thomas Leyden, a vice president with the solar-development firm PowerLight Corp., one of DestiNY's potential energy partners, said, "It may be the biggest solar installation and renewables project in the world, but there's no way DestiNY will move markets to that extent within a decade, or even move markets in any substantial way." Leyden pointed out that Germany is adding 600 to 800 MW of solar a year and Japan is in the same ballpark -- meaning that DestiNY is a drop in the bucket in terms of global economies of scale. "Nevertheless," he quickly added, "I applaud Congel's vision, and want to be a part of it."

Pietrafesa countered that the mega-mall's long-term impact on the energy economy will stem from its role as a trendsetter. Congel's team is in discussions with developers nationally and overseas who are eager "to create, as it were, their own DestiNYs," he said. He also predicted that the DestiNY model will "inspire visitors to make clean-energy decisions in their own lives," in turn moving markets from the grassroots.

But could a trend in green mega-malls backfire, if it means more people traveling farther distances to shop? Gupta pointed out that there's a contradiction inherent in a fossil-fuel-free tourist destination that requires a huge volume of fossil fuels to deliver the hordes of visitors expected daily -- whether by plane, train, car, or tour bus. "There's just no way around the fact that the energy associated with traveling to the mall would offset the environmental benefits of a fossil-fuel-free destination."

And then, of course, there's the obvious fact that it's a mall -- a massive temple to American-style hyper-consumerism.

Still, all this doesn't negate the breathtaking ambition of Congel's plans to construct a zero-energy retail mecca -- a powerful symbol that profits and cheap fossil fuels aren't inextricably entwined. Who else in this country is willing to commit the staggering sum of an estimated $20 billion to such a vision? Who else is willing to grandstand for renewables with a project as eccentric as a zero-energy mega-mall? At a time when Republican leaders are pushing a myopic, five-year-old energy bill with massive handouts to Big Oil and King Coal, Americans should applaud the optimism and sheer audacity of Congel's dream.

By Amanda Griscom Little
Grist magazine www.grist.org

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Bill would allow GE-defined PCB dredging study

The National Academy of Sciences would investigate the effectiveness of dredging PCB-contaminated sediment under a directive written largely by General Electric Co. and attached to a House of Representatives spending bill last week.

The prospect of a potentially influential national study being defined by GE has caused a stir on the Hudson River, where the company is slated to begin one of the largest PCB dredging projects in the nation late next year. Proponents of dredging fear the study could delay or ultimately kill the cleanup.

GE, U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor, R-North Carolina, and staff of a subcommittee he chairs drafted the directive at Taylor's request, according to a member of Taylor's staff and GE spokesman Mark Behan. Taylor is chairman of the subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, part of the House Appropriations Committee. When the subcommittee took over responsibility for spending on the environment, Taylor invited GE to offer its thoughts on needs related to pollution cleanups.

Taylor received $8,250 for his last campaign from groups and individuals associated with General Electric, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit group based in Washington that tracks money in politics.

Schumer against delays

Unless the Senate blocks the measure, the Environmental Protection Agency will commission a National Academy of Sciences study of about 140 PCB sites, with an emphasis on the largest and most costly "mega" sites, like the Hudson River. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he opposes further study that would delay the Hudson cleanup.

The study would analyze how well the EPA estimated the cost and effectiveness of those cleanups, and whether dredging resulted in environmental benefits faster than other remedial alternatives would have. It would also analyze whether the EPA promotes dredging over other options and whether the agency adequately considers the negative consequences of dredging.


GE is responsible for the estimated $500 million dredging project in the Hudson River north of Albany. The company discharged upward of 1 million pounds of polychlorinated biphenyl oils into the river from capacitor manufacturing plants in Fort Edward and Hudson Falls for decades until the 1970s.

The Hudson was named a Superfund site in 1984. In 2001, the EPA ruled that dredging contamination from parts of a 40-mile stretch of mud was the best option for a cleanup. PCBs enter the food chain and accumulate in fish. Those fish, if eaten, could pose a risk of cancer and damage to the nervous and reproductive systems in humans.

The EPA would not comment about the appropriations bill, but defended the peer-reviewed science it used to decide dredging was the best remedy for the Hudson River.

"This site has been studied for many years, and we have the data to prove this is the best thing for this river, for the environment, and for the communities here," EPA spokesman Leo Rosales said. "We've done our homework. We stand behind the science and the remedy selected."

GE vigorously fought the EPA's decision to dredge. Since then, it has cooperated in planning for the dredging project, spending about $100 million on engineering studies, reimbursement of EPA costs and other related expenses.

The study would be the second National Academy of Sciences study about PCB cleanups in five years.

Taylor and GE see the new study as an update to a 2001 study that affirmed the health and ecological risks posed by PCBs, but did not endorse any particular cleanup method as superior.

Others say the study would only add delays to the project.

The focus of dredging efficacy studies should not be defined by GE, which argued against the wisdom of dredging for years, said Rich Schiafo, environmental project manager for Scenic Hudson, an environmental group based in Poughkeepsie.

"I see it as a threat to the Hudson project," Schiafo said, "and I see it as a threat to river cleanups across the nation."

For more about the Hudson River cleanup, visit www.epa.gov/hudson

by Dan Shapley,
The Poughkeepsie Journal www.poughkeepsiejournal.com

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05:05:55 pm, Categories: Water, Legal, Government Report, New York City, Companies, Contamination Cost, 497 words   English (US)


A concrete manufacturer in Brooklyn, New York admitted to illegally discharging concrete slurry into Newtown Creek, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today. The company, Empire Transit Mix, Inc., yesterday in federal court pleaded guilty to violating the Rivers and Harbors Act and agreed to pay a $300,000 fine. Half of this fine will be given to the Hudson Riverkeeper to help in its work to protect New York City's rivers and harbors. EPA's Criminal Investigation Division teamed up with Riverkeeper, FBI and the U.S. Attorney's Office to collect evidence in the case.

"This was a team effort. The information that Riverkeeper provided corroborated evidence that EPA collected and their involvement as well as that of the FBI helped ensure a successful outcome," said George Pavlou, Acting EPA Deputy Regional Administrator. "Water is a precious resource and together the federal government and Riverkeeper have stopped this company adding pollution to an already over-stressed creek."

"Riverkeeper commends the EPA for its commitment to bringing environmental
lawbreakers on Newtown Creek to justice," said Alex Matthiessen, Executive Director for Hudson Riverkeeper. "This action demonstrates how dedicated government regulators can work with citizen groups to stop polluters and restore our environment."

In May 2001, an EPA inspector was conducting a routine inspection of a nearby facility when he observed a significant discharge of grey-colored liquid from the Empire facility, into Newton Creek. Following these observations, EPA and the FBI set up surveillance of the facility and subsequently observed numerous discharges. EPA sampled the discharge and found that it had a pH of 12, making it highly caustic and adding to the
already serious pollution problems in Newtown Creek. The sampling allowed EPA to determine that the discharges were concrete slurry being discharged through a hole in the retaining wall of the Empire facility.

The Hudson Riverkeeper joined the investigation in 2003 by bringing what it believed to be an illegal discharge pipe to the attention of EPA's Criminal Investigation Division. Riverkeeper and EPA continued to separately compile evidence of the illegal discharges, and conducted a joint investigation in November 2003.

While the details have not yet been worked out, Riverkeeper will use the $150,000 to extend its commitment to revitalize Newtown Creek, one of the nation's dirtiest waterways. The group will focus on preventing pollution, conducting expanded public education and outreach, and helping to lead community visioning for creek restoration.

Building on the public-private model developed during this case, the group will also increase its collaborative approach to pollution prevention with EPA, state and local regulators.

The Rivers and Harbors Act prohibits the deposit of refuse into navigable waters. The statute allows the federal government to give one half of a criminal fine to the party that gave the government information leading to a plea or conviction.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2
New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
290 Broadway, New York, New York 10007-1866
Contact: Mary Mears 212-637-3673

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State Brownfield Financing Tools and Strategies

Because capital gaps remain the biggest barrier to brownfield redevelopment, more than half the states have created some type of brownfield financing program. Direct financial assistance, such as loans and grants, and indirect financing tools, such as tax abatements and
credits, meet several objectives. They can target specific parts of the project, such as site preparation. They can increase the level of comfort among other lenders that finance these projects by providing loan guarantees that limit their potential losses. They also can ease the
borrower’s cash flow by plugging certain capital holes or off-setting some up-front costs of site cleanup. These state incentives recognize that no specific type of public-private partnership or single financing approach can meet the needs of every brownfield project. This report describes some notable examples of successful state tools and strategies for
filling capital gaps in brownfield cleanup and redevelopment projects. They include:

Targeted Financial Assistance
• Connecticut: Dry Cleaner Remediation Fund
• Florida: Loan Guarantees
• Illinois: Flexible Terms Under Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund
• Indiana: Revolving Loan Fund
• Mass.: State Brownfields Redevelopment Access to Capital Insurance
• New Jersey: Project-Based Coordination of Financing Tools
• Ohio: Environmental Bond Issues
• Ohio and Pennsylvania: Water Pollution Control Loan Fund

Tax Incentives
• Colorado: Cleanup Tax Credit
• Florida: Voluntary Cleanup Tax Credit and Tax Refund for Job Creation
• New York: Cleanup, Real Property, and Insurance Tax Credit
• Wisconsin: Cancellation of Delinquent Taxes

Planning, Assessment, and Cleanup Programs
• Michigan: Local Brownfield Redevelopment Authorities
• Wisconsin: Brownfield Site Assessment Grant Program

Infrastructure Development
• Massachusetts: Transportation Construction

Targeted Financial Assistance

Connecticut: Dry Cleaner Remediation Fund

Thanks to a 1 percent sales tax on dry cleaning services, every clean shirt in Connecticut supports brownfield financing. The tax supports the Dry Cleaner Establishment Remediation Fund, which provides grants of up to $50,000 a year for three years, totaling up to $150,000, to
dry cleaner business operators to deal with the unique environmental problems caused by dry cleaning solvents and chemicals. The grants may be used for site cleanup, containment, and mitigation of pollution from releases of tetrachloroethylene, stoddard solvents, and other dry
cleaning chemicals, and also for the prevention of such pollution and to provide potable drinking water when necessary.

To be eligible for the funding, applicants must prove that at least two banks have refused to provide them with conventional financing on reasonable terms or in reasonable amounts.

They also must currently operate the establishment, be current in filing all state and federal taxes, and certify that they are involved in no outstanding litigation proceedings. Grant applications are evaluated based on risk to public health, magnitude of the problem, cost and environmental
effectiveness of the proposal, and the availability of funds. So far, the state has awarded grants totaling up to $3 million to about 40 applicants. About 10 sites are in the monitoring stage and will complete remediation within the next two years. Contact: Dimple Desai, Program Manager, Connecticut Department of Economic & Community Development, 860/270-8151,dimple.desai@po.state.ct.us.

Florida: Loan Guarantees

Florida’s Brownfield Area Loan Guarantee Program targets primary lenders that finance brownfield redevelopment, providing coverage of up to 10 percent of the original loan balance or the outstanding balance, whichever is less. The program covers losses from default due to environmental and other causes for up to five years, but the council that approves applications may consider a request to renew or issue a new guarantee for up to five additional years for loans and/or projects that demonstrate continued prospects for ultimate success.

Although the program shows promise for resolving a small project funding gap, only one developer has used the guarantee to date. It appears that for most projects, the coverage of 10 percent is not enough. The program may be amended to increase the maximum coverage during Florida’s legislative session beginning on March 1, 2005, when the state’s entire brownfield program will be reviewed.

Contact: Mary Helen Blakeslee, Executive Office of the Governor, OTTED, 850-922-8743,

Illinois: Flexible Terms Under Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund

Illinois’ federally funded Brownfield Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund has provided $1.5 million in loans to municipalities, with almost $1 million more in the works, thanks to very flexible terms that make the loan payment contingent on the redevelopment of the property.

After launching the program, the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA) realized that many municipalities could not use the loans, despite interest rates as low as 2 percent, because local regulations required the municipalities to establish a repayment stream.

For most brownfield sites, a repayment stream cannot be assured because there is no guarantee a developer will purchase the remediated site. In fact, often municipalities gift brownfield sites to developers, realizing no profit but spurring economic growth. In response to this barrier, IEPA
negotiated with EPA Region 5 to amend the loan rules.

Under the rules, the loan agreement specifies that if during the agreement period (up to 15 years) the site or a portion of the site is sold or the title transfers, or if the site or portion of the site is leased, traded, or developed, the borrower will repay a portion of the loan. Repayment is
based on profit or cash flow realized by the municipality. These terms not only enabled municipalities to apply for the loans, but also freed Illinois EPA from having to pursue inaction on loans that municipalities cannot repay. To date the terms have been well worth the risk; two
developers are interested in the first site to be cleaned up using $425,000 in program funds.

Contact: Steve Colantino, Manager, Illinois Office of Brownfields Assistance


New Jersey: Project-Based Coordination of Financing Tools

The New Jersey Brownfields Redevelopment Interagency Team (BRIT) offers
brownfield project developers, municipal officials, and others engaged in brownfield redevelopment projects coordinated information and access to a full range of state resources in more than 24 agencies. Coordinated by the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs’ Office of Smart Growth, the team convenes to review specific projects and identify the particular
mix of resources best suited to assessing, cleaning up, and developing the project, emphasizing the application of smart growth principles in the plans and design.

Since its inception in 2003, the BRIT has fully reviewed 50 brownfield
projects and provided additional consultation at another 50 sites. The BRIT also creates special task groups to find ways to improve brownfield policies and programs when its work points to specific needs. These issues are collaboratively explored by the BRIT and the NJ Brownfields Redevelopment Task Force, created by statute pursuant to the state’s
Brownfield and Contaminated Site Remediation Act of 1988 (N.J.S.A58:10B-
1 et seq). The task force then makes policy recommendations to the governor and legislature.

Typically the municipality or entity seeking to redevelop a brownfield site—or an entire redevelopment area that includes brownfield properties—contacts Frances Hoffman, chair of the BRIT, for guidance
in accessing state technical and financial assistance. If a site seems to require the attention of just one or a few state agencies, Hoffman connects the project contact with the appropriate agencies. However, for
complex brownfield sites that require the involvement of more than four or five state agencies, Hoffman visits the site for a preview and then convenes the BRIT to identify and weave together the resources needed for addressing legal issues, planning, environmental requirements, infrastructure development, and financing.

The BRIT draws on numerous state financing tools in various agencies, such as:

NJ Economic Development Authority
• Hazardous Discharge Site Remediation Loan and Grant Program: provides loans and grants to private, municipal and applicants for assessments, remedial investigation, and remediation, following approval by DEP.
• Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation Upgrade and Closure Program: provides loans and grants to business owners, homeowners, and municipalities to upgrade, close, and remediate discharges associated with underground storage tanks.
• Revenue Allocation District Funding: available to assist municipalities in encouragin revenue-generating development projects in a revenue allocation district as part of a locally approved redevelopment plan.
• Redevelopment Area Bond Financing: provides long-term, low-interest bonds for infrastructure improvements and other predevelopment costs, including demolition and remediation. Sites must be in formally designated redevelopment areas, with an agreement for payments in lieu of taxes between the municipality and the site owner.
• Fund for Community Economic Development: helps finance feasibility studies and other pre-development costs to determine if real estate-based economic development projects involving profit or nonprofit organizations are viable.
• Brownfields Redevelopment Loan Program: provides low-cost interim financing for brownfields remediation costs for business owners and developers with a signed brownfield reimbursement agreement with the New Jersey Commerce and Economic Growth Commission and Treasury.

NJ Redevelopment Authority
• Bond Program: provides qualified small-issue bonds for acquiring, constructing, and renovating capital facilities.
• NJRA—Urban Site Acquisition (NJUSA) Program: provides funds for the acquisition, site
• assembly, and redevelopment of properties that are part of urban redevelopment plans.
• NJRA Loan Guarantee Program: provides credit enhancements through loan guarantees for projects unable to obtain conventional bank financing.
NJ Commerce and Economic Growth Commission
• Brownfields and Contaminated Site Remediation Reimbursement Program (in
cooperation with the state Department of the Treasury): allows for qualified developers to obtain reimbursement of up to 75 percent of authorized remediation costs incurred during the redevelopment process. Reimbursement funds come from the generation of new taxes associated with a completed, approved project.
• Urban Enterprise Zone (UEZ): revitalizes the local, regional, and state economies by funding economic development projects–including infrastructure improvements, economic development planning, and brownfield remediation–in the state’s designated urban enterprise zones in the state.

NJ Department of Community Affairs, Office of Smart Growth
• Smart future planning grants: provides funds for planning initiatives that meet smart growth objectives, including more livable and sustainable communities, and are consistent with statewide and regional planning precepts. Matching funds are no required, but applicants are encouraged to seek multiple sources of funding, including offerings of in-house staff time.

NJ Environmental Infrastructure Trust
• Low-interest loans: financing at half the market rate or better to public agencies and private water purveyors for the construction of infrastructure that benefits water quality and drinking water safety, including acquisition, cleanup, and project completion.
NJ Housing and Mortgage Finance Agency
• Market-oriented Neighborhood Initiative: financing for the development of market-rate and mixed-income homeownership units in urban areas and neighborhoods that need revitalization and redevelopment.
• Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits: for developers of qualified rental properties to reduce their federal tax liability, with awards of eligibility points for brownfield projects.
• Multifamily Housing Loans: permanent take-out financing, construction-only loans, and construction loans that convert to permanent financing.

Contact: Frances Hoffman, Chair, Brownfields Redevelopment Interagency Team, Department of Community Affairs, Office of Smart Growth, 609/292-3096, , Web site: www.njsmartgrowth.com.


New York: Cleanup, Real Property, and Insurance Tax Credit

Effective in the tax years beginning April 1, 2005, New York State will offer tax credits to participants in the Brownfield Cleanup Program and have entered into a brownfield cleanup agreement with the Department of Environmental Conservation. The tax credits offset the costs of site preparation, property improvements, on-site groundwater cleanup costs, real property taxes, and environmental insurance premiums. Tax credit eligibility requires a certificate of completion, issued by DEC, stating that remediation requirements that were set forth in the brownfield cleanup agreement have been achieved. To claim the tangible property credit (similar to an investment tax credit for development), the property must be placed in service after the certificate of completion is issued. All the credits available under the Brownfield Cleanup Program are refundable credits.

The state offers three types of credits:
• The brownfield redevelopment credit provides business tax credit consists of three separate and distinct credits that provide a business tax credit of 12 percent or a personal tax credit of 10 percent for the costs of site preparation, tangible property (i.e., development), and on-site groundwater remediation. These percentages increase by 2
percent for sites cleaned up to unrestricted condition, and increase by 8 percent if at least half of the qualified site is located in an area designated as an environmental zone by the commissioner of economic development.
• The remediated brownfield credit for real property taxes provides a tax credit based on the real property taxes imposed on a qualified site. The credit is available for 10 consecutive years, beginning in the year a taxpayer is issued a certificate of completion.

The credit is for 25 percent of the eligible real property taxes imposed on the site, multiplied by the “employment number factor”–a percentage based on the number of people employed by the taxpayer or his lessee. If the entire qualified site is located in an environmental zone, the percentage for purposes of calculating the credit increases from
25 percent to 100 percent. There is no limit on the total amount of this credit allowed for a qualified site, which is determined by multiplying $10,000 times the number of employees at the site. If the taxpayer also is eligible to claim the HEZE real property tax credit, he or she must make an irrevocable choice between the two.
• The environmental remediation insurance credit provides a one-time credit for up to $30,000 or 50 percent of the premiums paid for environmental remediation insurance, whichever is less. Such insurance is required for one or more of the following: on-site cleanup of pre-existing pollution; third-party claims (for bodily injury or property damage); cost of each policy covering on-site cleanup of pre-existing pollution
conditions; cost-coverage; and re-opener coverage.

Contact: Chris Costopoulos, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, 518/402-9711,

by Charles Bartsch and Barbara Wells
April 2005

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Florida Federal Judge Upholds $43 Million Bankruptcy Ruling For NYC Property Damage Suits

A federal judge on April 22 affirmed that a bankruptcy judge properly held that an asbestos trust could not deny payment of claims submitted by the City of New York after those claims were approved by the property damage claims administrator (Asbestos Settlement Trust v. City of New York, No. 8:04-cv-2780-T-26TgW, M.D. Fla.).

Lexus-Nexus Mealey Publications and Conferences www.mealeysonline.com

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Wind Industry Eyes Record Year of Growth, Job Creation

The U.S. wind energy industry appears set this year to shatter the previous record for installation of new projects, generating clean power and creating new jobs from New York to Arizona, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) said this week.

In its quarterly market outlook estimate, the trade group nudged its 2005 forecast for the expanding industry from "over 2,000 megawatts (MW)" of new capacity upward to "up to 2,500 MW," based on a private survey of wind turbine manufacturer plans. A megawatt of wind capacity generates about as much electricity as is used by 250-300 households, so the new forecast translates to the equivalent of approximately 700,000 homes.

AWEA executive director Randall Swisher called the forecast "excellent news," adding, "We are seeing a series of positive trends, from new major players entering the industry to strong economic activity in hard-hit rural areas, and we continue to press for a timely long-term extension of the federal wind energy production tax credit (PTC) so that this latest boom can continue." The PTC expires at the end of this year, and Congress has previously allowed it to expire three times before renewal, each time creating uncertainty about the industry's future, Swisher said.

AWEA views wind energy as one of the most promising new sources of manufacturing jobs for the 21st century, and notes that evidence of that aspect of its growth is widespread:

* Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell (D) announced in January that Spanish wind turbine maker Gamesa will build a turbine blade manufacturing plant in his state. The firm also plans to locate its U.S. headquarters and East Coast development offices in Philadelphia, and with construction, operation and maintenance, its activities are expected to lead to 1,000 new jobs in the Keystone State over the next five years.
* Blade manufacturer LM Glasfiber, which has added 100 new jobs at its Fargo, N.D., plant since the PTC was extended in October 2004, said recently that it hopes to hire 40-50 more workers by June.
* Turbine manufacturer Vestas-American Wind Technology is also currently advertising for 100 new positions.
* A report issued in March by the New York State Comptroller's office said that state's new requirement that electric utilities boost the amount of power they obtain from wind and other renewable energy sources from 20% today to 25% by 2013 could create 43,000 new jobs in manufacturing and energy industries and through related increased economic activity. Gov. George Pataki (R) originally proposed the requirement in 2003.
* Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), calling in his February State of the State message for 3,000 MW of new wind farms to be built in Illinois by 2012, said the move "could mean 1,000 new jobs over the next two years."
* Wind projects now under construction, and jobs resulting from them, include: Maple Ridge Wind Farm (N.Y.), 300 jobs; Horse Hollow Wind Energy Center (Tex.), 130 jobs; Velva (N.D.), 50 jobs; two plants in Iowa for MidAmerican Energy, 250 jobs; and many more.

"More states are looking seriously at wind energy these days as an engine of economic development," Swisher commented, "and what they are seeing confirms a major study released last fall by the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP). It reported that boosting wind energy from 6,000 MW to 50,000 MW nationwide would create 150,000 manufacturing jobs.

"With its energy, economic, and environmental benefits, wind is the technology that is ready today to power America's future."

The new market forecast, AWEA said, means the U.S. wind industry is within striking distance of exceeding its previous record year (2001, with 1,696 MW) by 50%. 2,544 MW of new capacity would be needed to reach that mark.

A state-by-state listing of existing and proposed wind energy projects is available on AWEA's Web site at http://www.awea.org/projects/index.html.

A table showing manufacturing jobs that could be created in the U.S. by an eight-fold expansion of wind energy installations (a capital investment of $50 billion), according to the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP) study, is included.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection www.depesf.state.pa.us
PA DEP Daily Update
Monday, May 02, 2005
Edward G Rendell, Governor; Kathleen A McGinty, Secretary
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Environmental Protection
P.O. Box 2063, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2063, (717) 787-1323


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The Costs and Benefits of High Performance Buildings

*The Economic Case *

9 *The Costs and Financial Benefits of High Performance Buildings*
Greg Kats, Capital E
21 *Examining The Cost of Green
Ethan Burrows and Lisa Matthiessen,
Davis Langdon
27 *Defining LEED Costs for the US General Services Administration *
John Amatruda, Steven Winter Associates


The Market For High Performance Buildings

33 *Developing Long-Term Competitive Value: A Primer on Sustainable
Development *
Bert Gregory, Mithun
39 *Public Policy and Action: Mainstreaming High Performance Buildings *
Timothy Carey, Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority
43 *Looking To The Future *
Bob Berkebile, BNIM Architects



47 *The New York Times: A Melding of High Design and Performance *
Bruce Fowle, Fox & Fowle
51 *Getting It Right: Providing Energy Efficiency and Comfort in an
All-Glass Building *
Stephen Selkowitz, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
55 *Building On a Mission: Sustainability and Good Business*
Sara Fox, Swiss Re
57 *The Hearst Headquarters: The Green Matrix *
Thomas Scarola, Tishman Speyer



65 *Brooklyn Children's Museum: Green Building, Green Kids! *
Rafael Vinoly, Rafael Vinoly Architects
69 *Clearview Elementary: A High Performance Low Cost School *
John Boecker, L. Robert Kimball & Associates
75 *Architecture, Energy, Urbanism: The New York Sports and Convention
Center *
William Pedersen, Kohn Pedersen Fox



79 *Living Green in a Gold Building *
George Aridas, Albanese Development Corporation
85 *The Helena: Achieving LEED in Multifamily Urban Residential Housing *
Craig Wasoff, Rose Associates, Inc. and Pamela Lippe, e4, inc.
89 *Greening Affordable Housing at the 1400 Fifth Condominium *
Carlton Brown, Full Spectrum of NY, LLC
94 *From Green Buildings to Green Neighborhoods *
Bert Gregory, Mithun


High Performance Systems

102 *Thermal Storage: Dollars and Sense*
Eugene Garcia, ECM Energy Management Services, and Todd Coulard, Trane
New York
105 *Distributed Generation and Combined Heat & Power *
Chris Wissemann, Northern Power Systems
108 *Geothermal at the Center for Architecture *
Frederic Bell, AIA, New York Chapter and Joyce Lee, NYC OMB
111 *Discovering the Fifth Facade: Green Roofs Make Good Sense *
Amanda Clontz, Earth Pledge


Construction Best Practices

114 *The CMs Role in Achieving LEED Certification*
Michael Deane, Bovis Lend Lease
117 *21st Century Demolition *
Robert Licopoli, Skanska
119 *Avoiding Mold Through Good Construction and Maintenance Practices *
Eileen Lee, PhD, National Multi Housing Council


*Tools and Resources *

121 *Tools of The Trade *
126 *Listings*

*Earth Day New York* 201 East 42nd St. Suite 3200 New York, NY 10017
Tel: 212-922-0048 Fax: 212-922-1936

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09:19:00 am, Categories: Air, Energy, Green Buildings, New York City, Companies, Waste & Recycling, 942 words   English (US)

Millennium Partners Breaks Ground and Launches Sales on Millennium Tower Residences in Lower Manhattan

Millennium Partners, which in recent years has developed a major portfolio of luxury residences in tandem with The Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, has found a new partner for its latest high-rise residence in lower Manhattan: itself. The developer's new 35-story project, with 236 condominium apartments, will be called Millennium Tower Residences, Battery Park.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the new project occurred on April 14, attended by New York Governor George Pataki, who welcomed Millennium's Battery Park residence as a major milestone in green design for lower Manhattan and New York City.

Offering more than 340,000 square feet of residential space, Millennium Tower Residences will be located on West Street, adjacent to The Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park, another Millennium property that has become a downtown anchor since it opened in 2001. The Residences at The Ritz-Carlton have been a total sell out, with more than 70% of the owners coming from Battery Park City and surrounding zip codes.

Millennium Partners reports that its new project has received extraordinary pre-sale interest, with a waiting list of more than 1,000 potential buyers. It arrives as lower Manhattan continues to rebound as one of the city's prime residential areas, especially for professionals and families.

Construction on Millennium Tower Residences, with panoramic views of the Hudson River, the Statue of Liberty and the Financial District, is expected to be completed at the end of 2006. Units range from 875-square-foot 1-bedroom apartments starting at $705,000, to 2,400-square-foot 4-bedroom homes starting at $1.8 million. The average 3-bedroom unit, one of the hardest configurations to find these days in New York, will start at $1.37 million, below market average. Prices are expected to increase soon after sales commence.

"After creating a new generation of premium residential buildings alongside the two greatest names in luxury lodgings, we felt the time was right to fly our own flag again in New York for our new Battery Park project," said Philip E. Aarons, principal and founding partner of Millennium Partners.

"We've learned a thing or two about hospitality working with The Ritz- Carlton and Four Seasons, but our Battery Park Residences will be a true signature property, setting new standards in residential comfort, design, security, services, and of course, luxury," Mr. Aarons added.

The project promises to hit an especially high bar in environmental sensitivity, in keeping with a pledge by the Battery Park City Authority to create a sustainable community. Millennium Tower Residences will be LEED gold-certified as a green building, close to the highest category in the emerging field of environmental design.

Externally, the building will rely heavily on recycled construction materials, including steel, wood and even concrete drawn primarily from local sources to reduce energy and transportation costs.

For residents, the real benefits from green design will be in the apartments themselves. Each unit will receive fresh ducted air that has been treated for desired year-round humidity levels, and also filtered to remove 85% of all particulates from the outside, greatly reducing soot and other airborne toxins.

Materials -- including flooring, paint, wallboard and electric fixtures -- will be chosen based on low emissions of volatile organic compounds. Many so- called "VOCs" have been identified as major allergens.

"Battery Park City Authority has helped blaze a new trail in urban development that is environmentally enlightened, and our Millennium Tower Residences fit into that model perfectly," Mr. Aarons said. Besides enhancing quality of life, green design techniques should translate into significant economic savings for residents.

In terms of energy efficiency, the Millennium Tower Residences are expected to exceed New York State code by 25%, which will have a direct effect in lowering monthly utility costs for owners. That includes advanced mechanical systems for the entire building, as well as solar rooftop panels to lessen outside electricity needs. The Tower roof garden will also be landscaped to capture and recycle rainwater for re-use and irrigation.

Of course, as a Millennium property, the Residences will offer the maximum in residential pampering, akin to what guests have come to expect at some of the developer's hotels and residences. Among some of the features that make the building a true stand-out:

- 24-hour concierge to arrange dinner reservations, child-care, theater tickets and car service
- Valet parking at the entrance, an unheard of amenity for a New York City apartment house
- On-site resident manager and engineering staff to maintain building operations day and night
- Oversized panel windows and 9-foot ceilings, uncommon for new construction in Manhattan
- Brazilian cherry wood floors nailed to plywood underlayment (not engineered product)
- Open, loft-like kitchens in many units, with granite slab counters, etched-glass backsplashes and custom white oak and frosted glass cabinetry
- High-end appliances include Viking range, Sub-Zero refrigerator, Miele dishwasher, U-line wine cooler
- Large marble-tiled bathrooms w/Kohler soaking tubs, frameless glass showers and under-mounted sinks
- On-site fitness center with range of cardio and weight training equipment, outfitted with personal TVs
- Furnished Kid's Club, complete with creative toys for infants, toddlers and older children

The Millennium Tower Residences are being designed by Handel Architects, which is also the designated designer for the World Trade Center Site Memorial. Millennium and Handel have enjoyed a fruitful partnership in recent years, working together on The Ritz-Carlton Hotel and Residences New York, Battery Park, as well as the makeover of The Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park South. Other Millennium residences in New York include: the four building development known as Lincoln Square that helped transform, Manhattan's upper west side and 28 East 70th Street on the Upper East Side.

For more information and to view the floor plans, visit http://www.millenniumptrs.com or ttp://www.millennium-tower-residences.com
Source: Millennium Partners

Yahoo Business http://biz.yahoo.com

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09:13:48 am, Categories: Air, Health, Contaminated Properties, Upstate, Academic Study/Journal Article, 528 words   English (US)

Researchers Link POPs to Respiratory Diseases

Researchers at the University of New York at Albany have found a link between respiratory diseases and New York state residents who live in or near hazardous waste sites containing persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Their report was published in the December 2004 issue of Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology (vol. 18, issue 3, available at ScienceDirect.com).

The researchers analyzed hospitalization statistics in 1595 state zip codes - 213 (with a 2000 Census population of some 2.8 million) containing or abutting a hazardous waste site containing POPs, including polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and persistent pesticides, and 1382 (with a 2000 population of 4.7 million) identified as clean sites. The POP-contaminated sites were identified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, and the International Joint Commission, which advises the U.S. and Canadian governments on issues relating to boundary waters.

To eliminate other factors that contribute to respiratory diseases, such as income, excess smoking, and lack of exercise, the researchers also studied a subset - 78 zip codes - of residents living in or near POP-contaminated sites along the Hudson River, from Hudson Falls to Manhattan. This area has fewer smokers, higher per capita income, and better diet and exercise habits than much of the rest of the state. Researchers discovered that residents of this area were hospitalized for respiratory infections more often than people not living in or near POP-contaminated sites.

Chest x-rays such as this illustrate the damages of respiratory disease.

Altogether, researchers found that hospitalization rates due to chronic bronchitis and other infectious respiratory diseases were about 20% higher for residents of POP-related zip codes than for the general New York state population. Specifically, results showed statistically significant increases in pneumonia, influenza, and chronic bronchitis in men and women aged 45 to 74, and in unclassified chronic airway obstructions in men and women over 45.

"These observations show us that the higher frequency of respiratory dis ease cannot be explained by the usual suspects of bad diet and smoking," said David O. Carpenter, one of the study authors and director of the university's Institute for Health and the Environment. "It strengthens our hypothesis that populations living by the Hudson are breathing in PCBs, which causes their immune systems to malfunction, leading to more infections.

"It is usually thought that exposure to POPs comes primarily from eating contaminated fish and other animal products, but our observations cannot be explained by different patterns of ingestion," Carpenter said. "Our results suggest that simply living near a contaminated site increases the risk of exposure to POPs, and that this increases the risk of infections as a result of suppression of the immune system."

In an earlier report, Carpenter showed that hospitalization for five infectious childhood diseases was 30% greater in POP- contaminated areas than in clean zip codes. And another study shows that Dutch infants exposed to dioxins and PCBs have elevated incidence of recurrent middle-ear infections and chicken pox, and a lower prevalence of allergic reactions [Weisglas-Kuperus et al. (2000) Environmental Health Perspectives 108: 1203-1207].

For more information, contact Carpenter at edu.
Copyright Water Environment Federation Apr 2005
Source: Water Environment & Technology

Water Environment and Technology via Red Nova www.rednova.com

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Pollution net widens in Endicott: Officials work to pin down extent of west side chemicals

The prospect of vapor intrusion -- a process where gases from subterranean chemicals seep into basements -- has brought new urgency to cleaning a Broome County-owned site on Maple Street where pollution has been flowing underground for a decade or more.

Work is expected to begin this summer at the former Chenango Industries site, once a circuit board assembler at 312 Maple St., county planner Frank Evangelisti said. Public meetings detailing plans will be scheduled in coming weeks.

The site is surrounded by businesses and small single-family homes, between West Endicott Park to the west and the Cider Mill Playhouse to the east. How the pollution affects the neighborhood is still unclear.

The Broome County Department of Health is overseeing studies, scheduled to be completed this summer, "to determine the nature and scope of (the pollution's) impact on site and off site," said Robert Denz, director of Environmental Health for the county. Data should be available in the fall.

"I don't have a sense of how far it goes," Evangelisti said.

Nearby residents, following the story of similar pollution affecting hundreds of homes south of the former IBM plant about a mile to the east, were unaware of the situation on their own street.

"No one has ever said anything about there being problems," said Lillian Ambrose, who has lived in a nearby house for 91 years. She has seen a lot of business come and go on her street, including a coal plant, a shoe company and circuit board assembly contractors.

Scientists are still trying to determine whether they have to excavate polluted soil at the site or take other measures to protect the area from risks associated with exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) and 111-trichloroethane (TCA), which were found in the ground at concentrations ranging from 5.8 to 263 parts per billion.

Plans also call for sampling air and inside the building, now occupied by J. Anthony Millwork, a cabinet maker.

The chemicals -- once favored by many industries that needed to clean parts -- can cause illnesses ranging from rashes to cancer in people exposed to enough of them.

The county budgeted up to $35,000 to investigate the site when it discovered the pollution problem, after it acquired the property for a tax debt in 1994.

But the problem became more urgent after the 2002 discovery at the IBM site -- now owned by Huron Associates -- that TCE moved through the ground more freely than previously thought.

The Maple Street site has qualified for more than $330,000 from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The county must contribute $10,000 to receive the state money, which comes from the Environmental Restoration Program.

The party responsible for the pollution has not been determined, but the state will continue to pursue the matter for possible reimbursement of cleanup costs, Evangelisti said. If the pollution extends beyond 312 Maple St., the county will seek additional help from the state Department of Environmental Conservation for the cleanup, Evangelisti said.

Removing the polluted soil could cost $100,000 or more, Evangelisti said. "That's up in the air, whether we will go that way or use some other means," he said.

Systems to vacuum chemical vapors from the ground are being designed or used at sites in Endicott and Hillcrest polluted with similar types of chemicals.

The cabinet business is paying $300 a month to rent the site, which is going toward a $59,000 purchase price, Evangelisti said. But the transaction can't be completed until the site is cleaned.

Joseph Belardinelli, owner of the business, said Friday he was frustrated the site hasn't been cleaned yet after years of expectation. Because he doesn't own the building, he said he is unable to borrow money to maintain it.

"The business is severely impacted. You can't get a mortgage without a clean bill of goods," he said.

Press & Sun-Bulletin www.pressconnects.com

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11:07:00 am, Categories: Energy, Green Buildings, New York City, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 874 words   English (US)

Durst Organization Buildings Go 'Green' for Earth Day

In what is considered to be one of the largest "single destination" usages of renewable "green power" in New York City, The Durst Organization, one of New York City's most prominent real estate developers and owners, will fully power its eight commercial properties with renewable wind energy on April 21 and 22, to coincide with Earth Day.

The power will be supplied by ConEdison Solutions, a leading energy services company that annually provides The Durst Organization with approximately 8.9 million kilowatt-hours of clean and renewable "Green Power" for its 8.5-million-square-foot portfolio of high-rise office buildings in Manhattan. This amount represents ten percent of the total energy consumed within the company's New York office portfolio.

"Green Power" is clean, renewable energy generated in New York State that is now available to all residential, commercial, industrial and government energy users in New York from ConEdison Solutions. "Green Power" used by commercial users consists entirely of NewWind Energy®, a product of Community Energy, Inc. NewWind Energy® is supplied from the 30-megawatt Fenner Wind Power Project, located east of Syracuse in Madison County.

"By using wind power, The Durst Organization is setting an example about the benefits of renewable energy for all New Yorkers," said JoAnn F. Ryan, president and CEO of ConEdison Solutions. "Environmentally sophisticated companies like The Durst Organization make New York a cleaner and greener place to live for all of us."

The Durst Organization, founded in 1915, is widely recognized as a world leader in the development of technologically advanced and environmentally responsible commercial and residential real estate. The firm's office portfolio includes the multi-award-winning 4 Times Square (the Conde Nast Building), a 48-story tower, which, in its design and construction, is considered one of the "greenest" commercial buildings in the world, and has served as a model for subsequent green development in New York.

Among the newest Durst projects are the 2.1-million-square-foot Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park (co-developed with Bank of America), which will take environmentally-friendly design to yet a higher level; and The Helena, a 600-unit "green" rental residence recently opened on Manhattan's West Side, which is expected to become one of the first multi-family buildings to earn a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Buildings Council.

"ConEdison Solutions, and its green power, have been integral to supporting our corporate mission to be an environmentally-conscious consumer of energy," said Douglas Durst, co-president of The Durst Organization. "With their services, ten percent of our everyday energy is both fossil-fuel-independent and pollution-free."

The unprecedented use of green power will occur on the 35th annual Earth Day, April 22, 2005. Since the first Earth Day in 1970, organizers have strived to promote environmental citizenship and year round progressive action worldwide. As a result, Earth Day is celebrated by more than half a billion people each year, making it the largest secular holiday in the world.

This year in New York City, Earth Day New York is presenting EarthFair 2005 on Vanderbilt Avenue at the western entrance to Grand Central Terminal on Friday April 22 and Saturday, April 23. The public is invited to a free fun event where they can learn more about wind power in New York State and many other green lifestyle choices, sample delicious organic food, hear live music and enjoy lots of kid's activities and dancing in the streets. For more information, contact Earth Day New York at www.earthdayny.org or 212-922-0048.

In recognition of The Durst Organization's commitment to renewable energy and the 35th Anniversary of Earth Day, ConEdison Solutions and Community Energy, Inc. will provide "Green Power" to Grand Central Terminal for the entire day on Earth Day, April 22.

The fractional cost of using pollution-free electricity is far outweighed by the benefits to the environment, expanded energy security and the improved quality of life. For residential customers, "Green Power" costs approximately one half cent more per kilowatt-hour than the ConEdison Solutions standard offer. For a typical residential customer using 350 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, the additional cost roughly equals $1.75 more per month than standard electricity rates.

"Green Power" users do not need to re-wire or purchase special equipment. Business or residential customers can sign up by calling 1-888-320-8991, or on-line at www.conedisonsolutions.com. Event sponsors said that as more customers sign up for "Green Power," more wind farms would be brought on-line in New York.

ConEdison Solutions is a leading energy services company that provides cost-effective energy solutions for commercial, industrial, residential, and government customers. Based in White Plains, New York, with offices in Burlington, MA, Cherry Hill, NJ, and Arlington, VA, the company's dedicated team of energy professionals delivers a broad range of commodity, consulting, demand-side management and performance contracting services. ConEdison Solutions creates customized programs and services tailored to help customers achieve their individual energy objectives.

ConEdison Solutions is a subsidiary and registered trademark of Consolidated Edison, Inc. (NYSE: ED - News). More information can be obtained by calling 1-888-210-8899 or by visiting the ConEdison Solutions web site at. Visit the Consolidated Edison, Inc. web site at www.conedison.com for information on all Consolidated Edison companies.

ConEdison Solutions
Christine Nevin, 914-286-7094,
The Marino Organization
Cara Marino, 212-889-0808, ext. 25,

Con Edison Solutions www.conedisonsolutions.com

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Rep. King, NY Republicans rapped for vote on water contamination

A Long Island water official says he's shocked by Republican Congressman Peter King's reversal on a controversial water contamination issue - a vote that pitted local concerns against loyalty to embattled House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Paul Granger, superintendent of the Plainview water district, which is in King's congressional district, says he's shocked.

The issue is M-T-B-E, a gasoline additive that in many parts of New York has leaked from underground storage tanks into drinking water.

DeLay, a Texas Republican, has sought to shield M-T-B-E producers from lawsuits over contamination.

King helped defeat an M-T-B-E protection measure in 2003. But today, King reversed position in a narrow 219-to-213 vote.

Granger estimates it will cost 700 (m) million dollars to protect just Long Island's drinking water from M-T-B-E.

King spokesman Kevin Fogarty says lawmakers were promised the final version of the bill would have a trust fund to help pay cleanup costs.

Also voting for liability protection were Vito Fossella of Staten Island and upstate Republicans James Walsh of Onondaga, Thomas Reynolds of Clarence, Randy Kuhl of Hammondsport, and John McHugh of Pierrepont Manor.

Two upstate Republicans, Sherwood Boehlert of New Hartford, and John Sweeney of Clifton Park, voted against shielding M-T-B-E producers.

No New York Democrat voted to shield the companies.

NBC3 WSTM www.wstm.com Central New York

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12:57:35 pm, Categories: Air, Energy, Government Report, Long Island, Particulates, Contamination Cost, 408 words   English (US)


Officials from Riverhead Central School District were commended today by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for taking actions to curb pollution from 30 of their school buses. The School District installed pollution controls on their buses using $60,000 of a $500,000 grant provided by EPA through NYSERDA to encourage school bus retrofits across NY State. Riverhead is one of two Long Island school districts and one of 11 statewide to receive the grant.

Additionally, the idle time of all buses has been cut back and, when it is available, the buses will use ultra-low sulphur diesel fuel as well.

The district has a fleet of 90 school buses of various types, with 68 on the road daily. They are all powered by diesel engines. The grant from EPA and NYSERDA has enabled the District to retrofit 30 of its full size buses with diesel oxidation catalysts, which, much like catalytic converters on cars, will reduce fine particles by at least 20%; hydrocarbons by at least 50% and carbon monoxide by at least 30%. EPA estimates that this will remove six tons of carbon monoxide, two tons of hydrocarbons and 1.4 tons of particles from New York State's air.

According to NYSERDA director Peter R. Smith, the grant is part of New York State's Clean Water/Clean Air Bond Act of 1996. The Act was a comprehensive plan developed to enhance the environment through the implementation of projects that improve water and air.

The retrofitting consists of two upgrades, the Diesel Oxidation Catalyst Muffler and the Spiracle Filtration System. The Diesel Oxidation Catalyst Muffler reduces pollution in the exhaust through enhanced catalyst performance, and the Spiracle Filtration System further reduces pollution that would otherwise escape through the bus' crankcase. EPA has verified that these two devices operating as a system are an effective way to
control diesel pollution from school buses.

The retrofitting should make the air cleaner for passengers inside the bus as well as for those who are waiting outside the bus, especially during arrival and dismissal from school. The $60,000 grant to install pollution-reducing equipment on 30 of the district's 90 buses, will provide a cleaner, healthier environment for the students, bus drivers, staff and the Riverhead community.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Region 2 - New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands
290 Broadway; New York, New York 10007-1866
Contacts: Courtney A. Katz Phone: 212-637-3669
Sandra Kolbo, Public Information, Riverhead School District Phone: 631-821-1855

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Tar oozing out of former utility: Newburgh site is most tainted of many on river

A former gas plant site in Newburgh is leaching tar into the Hudson River, accounting for the largest contamination among nearly two dozen similar sites along the river.

These long-defunct manufactured-gas plants once supplied light and heat to communities from the late 1800s into the first half of the 20th century, before electric power plants and natural gas lines took their places.

They transformed coal -- or in the case of the Newburgh plant, coal and oil -- into gas, which was piped to homes. A thick liquid waste tar was produced in the process. It seeped into the ground, or in cases such as Newburgh, was piped directly into the Hudson River.

Regional utilities are liable for tens of millions of dollars in cleanup costs at the old plants, many of which were operated by predecessor companies.

Moving toward cleanup

A decade after identifying them as a potential threat to the environment and human health, the Department of Environmental Conservation is moving forward, in cooperation with willing utilities, on the first plans to clean the sites up.

New York is ahead of most states in its efforts to investigate and have old manufactured-gas plant sites cleaned up. Dredging the tar from the river bottom muck could set precedents for other cleanups in the still-young field of river remediation.

Of about 300 statewide, the DEC lists 22 manufactured-gas plant sites in communities adjacent to the tidal portion of the Hudson River, south of the Troy dam. Several others are found in the freshwater reach of the river north of the dam, or along tributaries, including one in Wappingers Falls on the Wappinger Creek.

It's unclear how many of the sites have polluted the Hudson River; the Newburgh plant is one of at least five that did.

''We do know of several others on the river, but most are early investigations and none have the large amount of contamination we've seen at the Newburgh site,'' DEC spokeswoman Wendy Rosenbach said.

Cleanup will cost millions

The Newburgh cleanup could cost Central Hudson Gas & Electric Co. $22.9 million, if the DEC settles on its preferred plan. Environmental groups and some in Newburgh are agitating for a more extensive cleanup that would include more dredging of contamination in Hudson sediments, at an additional cost of $5.1 million.

After the City of Newburgh sued Central Hudson, the company agreed to pay for the cleanup, which it negotiated with the DEC. The cleanup is part of Newburgh's plan to redevelop old industrial sites on its waterfront -- a desire common to all riverfront communities.

It's the DEC's job to define a cleanup plan, and Central Hudson isn't commenting on specifics while the DEC is considering public comments about it, spokesman John Maserjian said.

In a statement released March 16, Vice President of Environmental Affairs and Engineering James P. Lovette indicated the cost of the cleanup would ultimately be covered by customers who purchase electricity from Central Hudson: ''From the first, Central Hudson's goal has been to conduct thorough, professional investigations of the environmental impacts and possible health risks of the former Newburgh [manufactured-gas plant] site and to ensure that any impacted area can remain in safe and valuable use. Central Hudson is committed to conducting an effective cleanup of the site, and will continue to work with the DEC and the City of Newburgh.''

Central Hudson purchases power from producers and distributes it to most Dutchess and Ulster county residents.

Central Hudson expects to spend $1.9 million this year on environmental compliance, which includes cleanups, according to a recent filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The company has investigated, or is investigating, seven other former manufactured-gas plant sites, three of which are not considered hazardous, Maserjian said.

Other utilities that serve the Hudson Valley face greater liability.

Niagara Mohawk has identified 51 manufactured-gas plant sites in New York, according to a recent SEC filing. Together with other environmental compliance requirements, it has a liability of as much as $535 million.

Consolidated Edison expects to spend $90 million this year on environmental projects, including investigations and cleanups at 33 old manufactured-gas plants, according to a recent SEC filing.

Of the 22 former manufactured-gas plants on the Hudson River Estuary, cleanups are under way at three: Niagara Mohawk plants in Troy and Hudson, and an Orange and Rockland Utilities Inc. plant in Nyack.

Dredging may be part of plan

At least one site, in Beacon, was redeveloped, and a Tarrytown site cleanup that included dredging was completed in January.

Cleanup plans typically involve digging up contaminated soil and, if the river was contaminated, sometimes dredging river sediment.

Dredging of a polluted Hudson River bay was ordered at the Hudson plant as part of a $22.4 million cleanup plan issued in 2001. That dredging is complete, and a separate plan will be developed to address lower levels of contamination in the river itself, DEC spokesman Gabrielle Done said. The contamination on land will be addressed this year, she and Niagara Mohawk spokesman Alberto Bianchetti said.

The Troy and Nyack cleanups will cost more than $30 million, and $11.8 million, respectively.

Neither cleanup plan addresses polluted river sediment, however. In both cases, decisions about how to handle contamination in the Hudson itself were deferred in favor of discussing contamination on land.

The tar produced by manufacturing gas was a liquid that contains volatile organic compounds including benzene, a carcinogen. It also contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

Like the most notorious Hudson River contaminant, polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, some PAHs can ''bio-accumulate'' in the tissues of living things.

Bio-accumulation can threaten fish and animals, including humans, at the top of the food chain. Those creatures that live longer and eat more contaminated food accumulate more pollution.

However, PAHs have not been studied enough to know what risk they might pose to wildlife or fishermen, Katherine von Stackelberg said. Von Stackelberg is a scientist who has created a model to predict how PCBs accumulate in Hudson River, and produced a cleanup plan for a manufactured-gas plant site in Missouri. She works for a consulting firm, Menzie-Cura & Associates, Inc., which has offices in Massachusetts, Maryland and Maine.

The body breaks down PAHs into metabolites that have not been studied, she said.

''Here's where the story gets a bit more complicated,'' she said. ''We don't know the toxicological significance of the metabolites. But they could have the potential to cause direct DNA damage -- which is never a good thing.''

PAHs are also very common. They are created by burning anything -- from fuel in a car to chicken on a barbecue.

''I'm not that worried about these chemicals in the food web,'' von Stackelberg said. ''It's not ideal, of course, but as compared to PCBs I'm a lot less worried about these.''

Cumulative exposure to the chemicals, as wildlife moves through the river, could be a concern, she said. But specific studies would be needed to predict whether the multiple sites pose a risk of cumulative exposure.

The DEC believes each of the 22 sites on the river has a limited, local impact -- not a cumulative effect on a river whose tides move both ways, and which has an abundance of migratory fish.

''What department staff have discovered in working to clean up these sites,'' Done said, ''is that a majority of contamination in the river is localized to relatively small portions of heavily contaminated river sediments.''

by Dan Shapley,
for more information, visit the Department of Environmental Conservation's Web site: www.dec.state.ny.us/website/der/mgp/
Poughkeepsie Journal www.poughkeepsiejournal.com

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Lawmakers Seek to Shine Light on Fees for Utilities

In one of three budget vetoes he issued this week, Gov. George E. Pataki rejected the Legislature's bid to shine more light on two pots of money fed by hidden fees on utility bills: almost $1 billion that has been used to subsidize renewable energy projects and even pay for television advertisements featuring the governor.

Aides to the governor, environmentalists and advocates of "green" energy, like wind, solar, fuel-cell and hydroelectric power, say the two steady revenue streams lure investors and jobs to New York and should be kept free from legislative politics in Albany, where money is often sucked into pork-barrel projects or bottled up in annual arguments over appropriations.

But in a year defined by public outcry over Albany's secretive ways, lawmakers from both houses and both parties say legislative oversight would inject a needed level of public accountability into how the money from the utility fees is spent.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, referred to the fees as vehicles for the Republican governor to create a "slush fund." Others in Albany have noted how $300,000 of the funds helped pay for television ads. Some featured the governor and ran in New York City, Albany and Rochester during last year's Republican and Democratic National Conventions and the Olympic Games.

The issue is quickly becoming one of the nastiest post-budget fights this year. Lawmakers are counting heads to see if they can muster enough votes to try to override the veto while aides to the governor are calling the lawmakers' efforts a flawed policy wrapped in a process that violates the State Constitution.

It was seven years ago when utilities first started funneling the proceeds of one fee, worth about $150 million a year, through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which doles it out in contracts to help spur energy efficiency, lower bills and sustain a reliable supply of electricity. A second fee set to hit in October would collect $741.5 million over the next eight years and be used similarly.

Assemblyman Paul D. Tonko, a Democrat who is chairman of the Energy Committee, said he would urge Mr. Silver to push to override. "I would advise that we do," Mr. Tonko said.

Lawmakers in both parties say the money should be put onto the state's regular budget, just as billions of dollars in health care costs were added to the regular budget this year. And concerns are mounting in the Republican-led Senate, where the budget bill seeking to do that first passed on March 31. The governor vetoed it, and an override attempt would have to start in the Senate.

"There is almost a billion dollars in moneys that are off-budget and being spent and we think there needs to be sufficient accountability and transparency and we are going to be reviewing our options on how to proceed," said John E. McArdle, a spokesman for Joseph L. Bruno, the Republican majority leader in the Senate.

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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06:11:54 pm, Categories: Water, New York City, Savings, Research Institute/NonProf, 293 words   English (US)

Flushing Out Water Wasters

In addition to being energy hogs, multifamily buildings can be water hogs. Recent audits by Steven Winter Associates (SWA) of multifamily buildings have revealed that, in some instances, the building’s water bill exceeds the heat-plus-hot-water bill. To help conserve water, building owners and superintendents should keep a few things in mind. Toilets typically are flushed more than five times a day. A toilet using 6 gallons per flush
(gpf) instead of 1.6 (consumed by a low-flush toilet) wastes 22 gallons a day. Joint Canadian-American research flushed out the best of these low-flush fixtures; visit http://www.cwwa.ca and see Maximum Performance Testing of Toilets updated in January 2005. Showerheads can also be prime water wasters, but poorer quality low-flow heads can lead to tenant complaints about low pressure. Several shower massage versions deliver 2.5 gallons per minute (gpm) across a range of pressures; the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) provides excellent
guidelines for showerhead specification. If older 4 gpm showerheads are replaced by 2.5 gpm models, 1.5 gallons are saved per minute, or 15 gallons per 10-minute shower per person per day, or 5,475 gallons per year per person. If toilets averaging 4 gpf are replaced with 1.6 gpf models and average five flushes per day, that's a savings of 4,380 gallons per toilet per year. A family of three might reduce its annual water use by 20,805 gallons, or 27.74 hundred cubic feet (ccf) per apartment. For water rates between $4 and $7 per ccf, this works out to $110 to $194 per apartment. Water use analysis is part of SWA’s multifamily building energy analysis—and worth every drop. If your multifamily complex has landscaped grounds or a pool, chances are you’re consuming more water outside than inside.

Party Walls Steve Winter Associates www.swinter.com/PartyWalls

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Energy, New York State, Companies, West, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Savings, 914 words   English (US)

Deep sea cold system may beat tropical heat

The turquoise blue waters surrounding Hawaii's emerald green isles have long been a source of food and recreation. Now the chilly waters deep below the ocean's surface are being eyed as a source of cool relief from the tropical heat.

Isolated in the middle of the Pacific, Hawaii's energy industry depends heavily on the world's finite supply of imported oil and coal.

So the state began to examine whether cold seawater could be harnessed to meet the islands' year-round air conditioning needs.

''The offshore cold water is certainly the largest source of alternate energy available to the state of Hawaii. And you're not going to run out of it,'' said Reb Bellinger, vice president of sales and marketing for Makai Ocean Engineering Inc.

The company has worked on a number of projects employing seawater cooling, including a system that opened in Toronto last year, and at this nation's trailblazer -- Cornell University. The technology has also been used in Stockholm, Sweden, since the 1990s.

Downtown system planned

A $100 million system proposed for downtown Honolulu could reach about 65 buildings, including several state office buildings, said David Rezachek, associate development director of Honolulu Seawater Air Conditioning, which is working with Kailua-based Makai to put cold seawater technology to work in Hawaii.

Bills to help move the project along, including providing the company with special purpose revenue bonds, are being considered by Hawaii's Legislature. Then it's just a question of getting customers to sign up.

Once underground pipes leading from an oceanside plant are in place beneath the city streets, buildings would be able to tap into the system and save about 75 percent of the electricity used by conventional cooling systems, Rezachek said.

The technology is relatively simple. Cold ocean water is pumped up to the plant through a closed system, cooling down fresh water in an adjacent system. That cold fresh water is then used by buildings to bring down the temperatures of their interiors, similar to a conventional air conditioning system.

The University of Hawaii has built a similar system using deep seawater wells for its new oceanside medical school buildings near downtown Honolulu.

Cornell's system, operating since 2000 at its Ithaca campus, draws cold water from Cayuga Lake and saves 86 percent of the power used by conventional air conditioning, said W.S. ''Lanny'' Joyce, the project's manager.

Conditions are particularly favorable in Hawaii where the sea floor plummets along with the water temperatures not too far offshore, less so in bodies of water such as the Gulf of Mexico, which is more shallow.

It was on Hawaii's Big Island where one of the likely first examples of the concept was pieced together by a few sweltering scientists back in 1981.

During the 1980s, the Natural Energy Laboratory near the Kona Airport was the only place in the world to bring up cold water from a depth of 2000 feet with the intent of studying its usefulness as an energy source.

An aquaculture facility was also operating on the site out of an old sea shipping container, said Jan War, operations manager for the lab.

''What we did is we took an old truck radiator and ran cold seawater through and put a box fan behind it and air conditioned the van for a year with very little energy and cold seawater. ... Sort of the stone age approach to air conditioning but it showed us it could be done for very little investment,'' War said.

Energy lab saves cost

Four years later, the Natural Energy lab tested a seawater system on one of its larger labs and now uses the cold ocean water to cool three of its buildings -- saving about $3,000 per month on its electricity bills, War said.

The technology is touted for using a renewable -- and local -- resource and saving potable water usually lost to evaporation in conventional systems.

And besides the environmental benefits, it should also save money on electricity bills -- eventually.

''Everything in utilities is capital intensive. That's the problem. But once people start to accept the inevitability of renewable energy there will be a greater and greater demand,'' said Bill Mahlum, chief operating officer of Minnesota-based Market Street Energy Co., Honolulu Seawater's parent company.

Jeff Mikulina, director of the Hawaii chapter of the Sierra Club, said that while seawater air conditioning appears far more environmentally friendly than the current alternative, he's awaiting the findings of an environmental impact statement.

The potential for ecological damage depends on how the system is designed to return the seawater to the ocean, said John T. Harrison of the University of Hawaii's Environmental Center in Honolulu.

''If you get cold, deep seawater it's going to be nutrient-enriched. It's going to have a higher concentration of nutrients. If you discharge those nutrients into shallow waters where there's lots of sunlight they're going to cause -- you know, it's just like putting fertilizer on a field. So that is a definite concern,'' Harrison said.

Engineering a system to put the water back at a level below the reach of sunlight would eliminate the problem, he said. That's exactly what Rezachek said Makai planned to do.

Harrison fully endorses the well-conceived use of seawater cooling.

''In this day and age looking for any and all sources of renewable energy that don't release greenhouse gases, that don't require fossil fuels and that basically have extremely low operating costs -- I mean, it's money in the bank.''

The Associated Press via
Poughkeepsie Journal www.poughkeepsiejournal.com

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New state guidelines threaten to yank hundreds of millions of dollars in tax credits from some of the city's biggest new developments, including the New York Times tower planned for Eighth Avenue in Midtown.

Under the state's 2003 brownfield law, which gives tax breaks for cleaning and building on contaminated land, the Times is in line for up to $170 million in breaks.

But now the Department of Environmental Conservation can reject properties whose cleanup costs are not "significant" compared to the total cost of the project, a criterion written specifically for the Times, observers contend.

"That project certainly focused the issue," said attorney Larry Schnapf, who represents a number of developments applying for tax credits.

"What is unfortunate is when one bad apple ruins it for rest," said Rochester attorney Linda Shaw, who is also representing brownfield projects. "This Times building has gotten such attention, it's going to impact real good projects that should get in."

A spokesperson for Forest City Ratner, the developer of the $850 million Times building, had no comment.

Under brownfield rules, a project receives tax credits based on the total cost of the project, not just the cleanup, which balloons the New York Times credits.

The DEC has received 176 applications from developers statewide. The agency could not say how many applications had been filed from the city.

Critics of the new rules contend the DEC is unfairly curtailing one of the most generous brownfield programs in the country.

Schnapf says another large project — a planned $20 million, 500-unit apartment complex on Roosevelt Island — will probably be rejected because of another new DEC rule that scrutinizes properties only contaminated with fill.

The New York Post www.nypost.com

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United in opposition, Hundreds to rally against proposed residential units at former Kings Park psychiatric center

About 500 people are expected at a rally Saturday to put a unified voice on community opposition to the latest plans to develop the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center property - a controversial parcel riddled with developmental pitfalls.

Over the past decade, residents and politicians have been split on development plans, but this time a proposal to build 1,800 residential units on the site has united the opponents.

"We're opposed to high density redevelopment," said Charles Gardner, president of the Kings Park Chamber of Commerce. "The ultimate redevelopment of that property is critical to Kings Park and the region. It can be either really, really good or really, really bad."

And the residences fall on the latter side, meaning no help for taxes, clogged streets and overcrowded schools, residents said.

The event - scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at the Kings Park High School gym and include a march to the site, weather permitting - was set up by the Kings Park Coalition for Economic Development, a mix of civic, community and political groups.

Arker Cos., a Woodmere-based developer, paid $6.5 million to the state for the 370-acre site, of which 95 acres can be developed. It is the third company in two years to attempt building on the site, where the cleanup is estimated to cost about $60 million.

Another developer, LAMB Acquisitions, abandoned plans for a mixed- use community on the site in June. And Maryland-based Erickson Retirement Communities pulled out in October.

Both companies ran up against the cost of cleaning up the hazards left when the state closed the hospital in 1996 - asbestos-laden buildings and buried landfills.

Arker plans to develop the site in conjunction with North Carolina-based Cherokee Investment Partners, which specializes in rehabilitating brownfields, said project spokesman Gary Lewi. Brownfields is a governmental designation for contaminated land.

"Of everyone that's come to the table so far, no one has the credentials of Cherokee," Lewi said, adding that plans for the property are preliminary.

Of the opposition, he added: "We hear that loud and clear."

Days ago the placards and posters were already completed. The most simplistic have a red circle and line across the words, "High density housing."

Kings Park School Superintendent Mary DeRose said the reason for the opposition is simple: All residential housing means no relief on taxes and possibly 2,000 more kids in the schools.

"It will bankrupt us both fiscally and educationally," she said.

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, who is expected to speak at the rally, called on the state to "shoulder its responsibility."

"It should clean up the site before it sells it off," he said. "I'm opposed to the sale in the short term because we need to discuss what is the right kind of development the town and the community could accept."

Chapin Fay, spokesman for the Empire Development Corporation, which handled the sale for the state, said that Arker agreed to pay for the cleanup.

"We think this is positive step for the taxpayers of New York and the community," Fay said.

Newsday www.newsday.com
Apr 2, 2005. pg. A.10

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Hundreds expected to rally vs. Kings Park development

Hundreds are expected at a rally Saturday to put a unified voice on community opposition to the latest plans to develop the former Kings Park Psychiatric Center property -- a controversial parcel riddled with developmental pitfalls.

Over the past decade, residents and politicians have been split on development plans, but this time a proposal to build 1,800 residential units on the site has united the opponents.

"We're opposed to high density redevelopment," said Charles Gardner, president of the Kings Park Chamber of Commerce. "The ultimate redevelopment of that property is critical to Kings Park and the region. It can be either really, really good or really, really bad."

And 1,800 residences fall on the latter side, meaning no help for taxes, clogged streets and overcrowded schools, residents said.

The event -- scheduled to start at 11 a.m. at the Kings Park High School gym and include a march to the site, weather permitting -- was set up by the Kings Park Coalition for Economic Development, a mix of civic, community and political groups.

Arker Cos., a Woodmere-based developer, paid $6.5 million to the state for the 370-acre site, of which 95 acres can be developed. It is the third company in two years to attempt building on the site, where the cleanup is estimated to cost about $60 million.

Another developer, LAMB Acquisitions, abandoned plans for a mixed-use community on the site in June 2004. And Maryland-based Erickson Retirement Communities pulled out in October.

Both companies ran up against the cost of cleaning up the hazards left when the state closed the hospital in 1996 -- asbestos-laden buildings and buried landfills.

Arker plans to develop the site in conjunction with North Carolina-based Cherokee Investment Partners, which specializes in rehabilitating brownfields, said project spokesman Gary Lewi. Brownfields is a governmental designation for contaminated land.

"Of everyone that's come to the table so far, no one has the credentials of Cherokee," he said, adding that plans for the property are preliminary. "It has to work on the business equation, it has to work on a community equation, and it certainly has to work on an environmental equation."

Of the opposition, he added: "We hear that loud and clear."

Days ago the placards and posters were already completed. The most simplistic have a red circle and line across the words, "High density housing."

Kings Park School Superintendent Mary DeRose said the reason for the opposition is simple: All residential housing means no relief on taxes and possibly 2,000 more kids in the schools.

"It will bankrupt us both fiscally and educationally," she said.

Smithtown Supervisor Patrick Vecchio, who is expected to speak at the rally, called on the state to "shoulder its responsibility."

"It should clean up the site before it sells it off," he said. "I'm opposed to the sale in the short term because we need to discuss what is the right kind of development the town and the community could accept."

Chapin Fay, spokesman for the Empire Development Corporation, which handled the sale for the state, said that Arker agreed to pay for the cleanup.

"We think this is positive step for the taxpayers of New York and the community," Fay said.

As many as 500 people are expected.

Newsday www.newsday.com

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01:41:08 pm, Categories: Contaminated Properties, Legal, Long Island, Perc, TCE, Contamination Cost, 370 words   English (US)


ROSLYNN R. MAUSKOPF, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, and KATHLEEN C. CALLAHAN, Acting Regional Administrator, United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 2, today announced the filing of a complaint in federal court in Central Islip, New York, against the ESTATE OF LILLIAN WIESNER, JOHN MAFFEI, and 0.25 ACRES OF LAND, MORE OR LESS, the property in Great Neck, New York, on which Stanton Cleaners, Inc. formerly carried out dry cleaning operations. In the complaint, the government seeks over $7.5 million to reimburse EPA for money it has spent to remove and dispose of hazardous substances used in the former dry cleaning operations. The complaint was brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act ("CERCLA"), commonly known as Superfund, which was passed by Congress to help clean up abandoned toxic waste sites across the country.

The indoor air, soil and groundwater at and near the property have become
contaminated with perchloroethylene (PCE). EPA has installed soil vapor extraction systems to treat soil and indoor air contamination; a sub-slab ventilation system at a building next door to prevent contaminated vapors from entering that building; a groundwater collection, treatment and
disposal system, which is still being operated; and groundwater monitoring wells. EPA has also disposed of the underground storage tanks and their contents discovered at the site.

"We've made great progress in cleaning up the Stanton Cleaners site, and we are continuing that work to protect people's health," said Acting EPA Regional Administrator KATHLEEN C. CALLAHAN. "We've removed over 16,000 pounds of perchloroethylene from underneath the site, and treated over 90 million gallons of contaminated groundwater. This complaint sends the message that EPA will pursue polluters and compel them to reimburse our

Lillian Wiesner, now deceased, was an owner of the property on which the dry cleaning operations were carried out. Accordingly, reimbursement is sought from her ESTATE. The government is also suing JOHN MAFFEI, who is a long-term leaseholder of the property and who, according to the complaint, is a de facto owner of the property. The government is also
foreclosing on liens it has placed on the property, 0.25 ACRES OF LAND, MORE OR LESS, LOCATED AT 110 CUTTER MILL ROAD, GREAT NECK, NEW YORK.


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Court rules for IBM in pollution lawsuit

New York's top court handed Armonk-based IBM Corp. a victory yesterday in a long-running lawsuit over underground pollution at one of the computer giant's former Poughkeepsie sites.

The state Court of Appeals dismissed a lawsuit filed by the owner of a Neptune Road parcel in the town of Poughkeepsie vacated by IBM in 1994. The court rejected the property owner's claim that IBM violated its lease by not leaving the parcel in "good order and condition."

The suit had been filed by South Road Associates LLC, alleging a loss in property values and seeking an unspecified amount of damages.

The case turned on the legal meaning of "premises" as contained in a 1981 lease agreement between South Road Associates and IBM. Ruling in IBM's favor, the court said this meant only the interior of the buildings on the site, not the groundwater beneath the surface.

"Reading the lease as a whole supports the interpretation that the term 'premises' refers only to the interior space," Judge Carmen Ciparick wrote in the 6-0 ruling. "The lease repeatedly mentions the 'premises' separately from the water tower, appurtenances, land, parking lot and buildings. If 'premises' was intended to include not only the interior space but also the buildings and the land surrounding the buildings, the language in these provisions would be superfluous."

The pollution stemmed from an underground chemical-waste storage tank that sprung a leak more than 20 years ago, according to court documents.

In 1984, IBM undertook a clean-up program overseen by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. By 1993, IBM had removed the tank and contaminated soil, and installed a "pump and treat" system for the groundwater. The DEC then deemed the site properly closed with a provision that IBM maintain treatment equipment and monitoring wells on site. The company left the site in 1994.

State Supreme Court ruled that IBM could be liable for damages. However, a mid-level appeals court disagreed and threw out the suit. Yesterday's ruling upheld the mid-level decision.


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NYC Mayor Bloomberg's Trash Plan Garnering Criticism

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's trash plan proposal has some residents concerned about its costs. City residents have argued for years that the trash plan needed to be more environmentally friendly and fair to each of the city's boroughs. The new plan has solved those problems, according to the New York Times. However, in the mayor's new plan, the city would pay $500 million more during the next 20 years than it would under the current trash plan, according to the newspaper.

The proposed plan raises costs between $105 per ton and $115 per ton, up from the $75 per ton it currently pays. The city also would use trains and barges more than trucks to transport waste out of state. The city council, which includes some members who are skeptical of the proposal, has to approve the mayor's plan before it can take effect.

Waste Age wasteage.com

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04:28:48 am, Categories: Air, Energy, New York City, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, Contamination Cost, 925 words   English (US)

New City Pollution Rules Face Trouble From Outset

Once praised as a national model, a new law to reduce air pollution at New York City construction sites may end up being weakened before it can ever be enforced because city agencies and contractors are worried about costs.

Environmental and health groups say draft regulations for the law, which was passed in 2003, are riddled with loopholes that allow minimally effective emission control devices to be installed on heavy-duty diesel engines, a major source of pollution that can cause asthma and other respiratory ailments.

The proposed regulations, which will be discussed at a Department of Environmental Protection hearing this morning, are vague about the types of filters that can be used. Contractors may choose superefficient ones that can cost $12,000 or more per engine and cut emissions by 95 percent, or less effective models for as little as $2,000 that remove only 25 percent of pollutants. Or they could go with a whole range of models in between.

"This draft regulation has enough loopholes to drive a bulldozer through," said Richard A. Kassel, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. By leaving so many options, he said, the city is encouraging contractors to pick the cheapest and least effective models.

The law, which called for the "best available technology" to be used, also requires all city-owned equipment - as well as the bulldozers, backhoes and other vehicles of private contractors working on any city project - to use ultralow-sulfur diesel fuel, which can cost 10 cents a gallon more than regular fuel but is many times cleaner.

Emily Lloyd, commissioner of environmental protection, said the range of choices did not open loopholes. Rather, she said, it ensures that the city does not end up pushing owners to install specific filters and pollution control devices that ultimately prove unworkable.

"We will push hard to use the most aggressive controls," she said, "but we will also allow some flexibility as the regulations are being implemented." She said the range of choices would be revisited every six months to ensure that contractors were not abusing the system.

"I don't really worry that they are going to pull the wool over my eyes," Ms. Lloyd said.

While private contractors urged the department not to adopt regulations that were too complex or rigid, the most serious concerns were raised by other departments, like Transportation or Design and Construction, that are involved in projects throughout the city. The interagency tensions were never made public, and spokesmen say the departments intend to fully comply with the law.

But environmental officials have been warned that if regulations are too demanding, only the largest contractors will be able to meet them. That, in turn, could reduce the competition for contracts, and increase the already high costs of construction in the city.

Francis X. McArdle, managing director of the General Contractors Association of New York, said private companies that work for the city were not looking to water down the regulations, but wanted to ensure that they were clear enough for everyone involved to understand.

Mr. McArdle has urged the city to be sure that the pollution controls added to existing equipment do not end up making them unreliable, and therefore unsafe.

The contractors also asked the city not to adopt the same system of technical classification used by the federal government and the State of California to rate pollution controls. Instead, the requirements should be put into "words that people can understand easily," Mr. McArdle said.

The city first considered ways of cleaning up construction equipment when it assessed the environmental impact of rebuilding the World Trade Center. New federal laws will make on-road diesel trucks cleaner in a few years, but regulations on construction equipment are many years away.

In February 2003, the city passed local Law 77, one of the first in the nation to regulate construction equipment. It extended pollution controls from ground zero to all government projects throughout the city and to every contractor hired by city agencies. The measures were supposed to have been phased in starting last June, but objections from other agencies have delayed the adoption of final regulations.

The law could take full effect as soon as 40 days after today's hearing. When it does, the department will be in the position of monitoring its own projects, which are among the largest in the city. They include construction of the massive water filtration plant at the southern edge of Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx.

"It's like having the wolf taking care of the sheep," said Gil A. Maduro, a local resident and member of The Cove-Environmental Justice, a community group that opposed building the filtration plant in the park. "If they're going to be monitoring themselves, then how will we know if they are complying with the law?"

Work on the site has already begun. Nearby residents say that every weekday morning, just after dawn, several bulldozers, backhoes and drilling machines are refueled and then fired up, releasing clouds of black smoke.

Commissioner Lloyd said the new law would be rigorously enforced, even on the department's own projects.

"The real assurance is that there is so much transparency in the rule making, the monitoring and in the decisions about changes in the regulations, " she said.

The private contractor hired by the city to build the filtration plant, Schiavone Construction Co., of Secaucus, N.J., is already using ultralow-sulfur fuel at the site. The department said it did not know whether the equipment will meet the new standards.

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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Higher Costs Could Upset Trash Plan Mayor Favors

For three years, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has struggled to find a way to get rid of the city's trash that is both environmentally friendly and fair to all boroughs.

He came up with a plan that he thought solved those problems. But now there is a new one: the cost.

Under the mayor's plan, the city will have to pay about $500 million more over the next two decades than it would if it stuck with its current system over the same time span, according to calculations drawn from a report by a consultant for the city. And while virtually no one is arguing for leaving the existing approach in place, the new cost estimates may reshape the debate over a blueprint for removing the city's garbage that is already provoking criticism.

Most of all, the numbers promise to make a politically charged topic even more political as skeptics expand their critiques to include questions about the cost of the plan as well as its impact on certain neighborhoods.

The city expects to pay $105 to $115 on average per ton under the new plan, up from the $75 it pays now, according to the documents, which were given to The New York Times by a city official involved with the cost analysis who believes that the mayor is overstating the advantages of his plan.

"It's not at all clear what advantages we are getting from this plan for the added cost," said the City Council speaker, Gifford Miller. "There are problems with the mayor's plan, but now it's not even clear we are getting enough bang for the buck."

The Council, which must approve the mayor's solid-waste plan before it takes effect, is to hold hearings on Wednesday to discuss the costs.

Over the past several months, Mr. Miller, a Democrat who hopes to unseat Mr. Bloomberg, has sparred with the mayor, who wants to reopen a trash-transfer station on East 91st Street in Manhattan, in Mr. Miller's district.

Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the mayor, said the cost of the existing system is increasing exponentially. "The new solid-waste management plan treats all boroughs equitably, and removes the city's waste in an environmentally benign and economically viable manner," he said.

Sanitation experts and city officials said they were not surprised by the higher cost estimates, because the new system will add steps to the trash-hauling process. Rather than being placed in trucks and taken straight to a landfill or incinerator, as it is now, most of the trash would be compacted into special containers, put on barges and shipped to another location, and then put on a train or truck and taken to its final destination.

But skeptics say the mayor should look for cheaper ways to achieve his sanitation goals.

"Everyone agrees that it's a good thing to get the 100,000 polluting and traffic-clogging trucks off the road and to close the nightmarish transfer stations that disproportionately burden certain neighborhoods in the city," said Michael E. McMahon, chairman of the City Council's Sanitation Committee. "But the sticker shock here may force the mayor to reconsider options that he has taken off the table."

Since the huge Fresh Kills landfill on Staten Island closed nearly four years ago, Mr. Bloomberg has had a hard time finding ways to control the rising cost of getting rid of residential trash and to break the city's dependence on the privately operated transfer stations and out-of-state haulers that are used to move the trash outside New York.

In October, the Bloomberg administration took a step toward those goals by reopening four city-owned marine transfer stations. The mayor also said he would lock haulers into less costly 20-year contracts, rather than the five-year agreements that are currently the norm.

Under the plan, the city would depend more on barges and trains than on trucks to move trash out of state, thereby decreasing the traffic and pollution that currently burden areas like the South Bronx and Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which have a disproportionate number of residential and commercial transfer stations.

Mr. Bloomberg, who inherited the city's waste-management problems from Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani - who closed the Fresh Kills landfill in 2001 without any viable plan for dealing with the city's waste - has struggled to set a firm price for various parts of his plan.

In July 2002, Mr. Bloomberg announced, with much fanfare, his plan to reopen eight marine transfer stations, estimating that it would cost $240 million and take two years to complete the move. A little over a year later, the mayor revised his estimate, explaining that the stations required much more construction work than he had thought to make them operational. The new estimate was $450 million and six years. Last October, the numbers changed again, when the mayor said it would cost close to $400 million to open just four of the transfer stations.

"We got double the price for half the stations," said Councilman McMahon. "This plan just keeps getting costlier every time we look at it."

The price of reopening the transfer stations is now believed to be decided. The disposal costs, however, which include the price of moving the trash from the transfer stations to landfills and incinerators outside the state, are still being completed.

Mark A. Izeman, a senior lawyer with the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, cautioned against losing sight of benefits of the plan that are difficult to quantify, like the public-health repercussions of getting trucks off the road. He said that reducing the 3 million vehicle miles traveled by long-haul trucks each year in the five boroughs and eliminating the highly polluting 18-wheeler trucks that currently take most residential trash out of the city would help lower the stress on the city's health care system.

"These new numbers are also further evidence that recycling is a less expensive alternative to exporting the city's waste," Mr. Izeman said. Under the new long-term recycling contract the city is expected to sign in the next several months, the cost of processing glass, plastic and metal recyclables will start at roughly $48 a ton and decline in the future, while the average cost of exporting a ton of rubbish will rise from about $110 in the next few years to more than $160 within 20.

Councilman McMahon said the mayor should reconsider cheaper options, like sending more of Manhattan's trash to an incinerator in Newark that converts waste to energy. The city could also save money by sending more trash to the West 59th Street marine transfer station instead of reopening the station on 91st Street, he said.

Though placing a new waste-to-energy incinerator within New York City would be politically challenging, some sanitation experts and city officials have said that doing so could be another cost-saving alternative to sending the trash to out-of-state landfills.

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: General, New York City, Economic Development, Newspaper/Mag/TV/Media Story, 330 words   English (US)

The Gates in New York's Central Park Contributed an Additional 85,000 Room Nights and $26 Million in Revenue for New York City Hotels Between February 13 and February 28

According to the PricewaterhouseCoopers Hospitality & Leisure practice, The Gates, Central Park, New York City, 1979-2005 by artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, contributed to record February hotel occupancy in New York City during the last two weeks of the month. Occupancy averaged 84.2 percent during the weeks that the Christo project was in place, compared to an average of 71 percent for the preceding six weeks, based on Smith Travel Research data and PricewaterhouseCoopers interviews and analyses.

People stroll through 'The Gates,' Christo's epic project in New York City's Central Park. City officials announced that the project has drawn one million people to the park in its first four days.

Occupancy for 2005 would have been higher than it was in 2004 even without The Gates reflecting the stronger economy, increases in domestic and international travel to New York and higher levels of group and convention attendance, but the incremental demand generated directly by The Gates was 85,000 occupied room nights, representing 7.1 occupancy points. Higher rates charged by hotels because of the increased demand added approximately $2.00 to average rates for the city.

"Hotels at all rate levels benefited from the increase in tourism and hotel occupancy," said Bjorn Hanson, Ph.D., global industry leader, PricewaterhouseCoopers Hospitality & Leisure Practice. "Even hotels in Brooklyn and New Jersey experienced higher occupancies because from The Gates." The public work of art consisted of 7,500 saffron-colored gates hung with saffron fabric panels placed at intervals over 23 miles of pedestrian walkways in Central Park.

The increase in New York City lodging occupancy between February 13 and February 28 averaged 15.9 percent compared to 2004 levels, nine percent higher than the occupancy increases achieved during first six weeks of 2005. Citywide occupancy peaked during the third and fourth Saturdays of the month at 90.9 percent and 90.8 percent, respectively. The additional lodging demand achieved during the 15 nights that the display was open generated $26 million in incremental revenue for New York City hotels.

CONTACT: Wendy Amstutz, 646 471 -5079,

Hospitality Net www.hospitalitynet.org

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Coal-Fueled Power Plant OKs Pollution Deal

An Ohio company will pay $1.1 billion in fines and cleanup costs at four power plants in the second-largest federal settlement with an electric utility over air pollution.

The case, filed in 1999 against FirstEnergy Corp.'s W.H. Sammis plant north of Steubenville, was the first involving dozens of Midwest plants to go to trial over accusations that the plants spewed dirty air that caused smog and health problems across the Northeast.

A federal judge in Columbus, Ohio, ruled in August 2003 after a three-week trial that Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy had violated the Clean Air Act by making physical changes at its coal-fired plant without upgrading pollution controls.

Friday's agreement, which involved the Environmental Protection Agency (news - web sites), Justice Department (news - web sites) and New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, completes the penalty phase of the case.

"This is a great result for the health of all the people who live downwind from this power plant and for the environment of the Northeast," said Thomas L. Sansonetti, assistant attorney general for environmental issues at the Justice Department.

The agreement — which still must be approved by U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus Jr. in Columbus — would lead to an annual reduction of 212,000 tons of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide, emissions blamed for acid rain, one of the largest reductions in emissions ever.

That represents about 80 percent of the pollutants coming out of the Sammis plant, which must install by 2012 pollution controls on all seven of its units, said Thomas V. Skinner, EPA's acting assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance.

Additional reductions would be achieved by installing pollution control equipment at two other FirstEnergy plants: R.E. Burger plant in Shadyside and Eastlake plant in Eastlake. Sulfur dioxide scrubbers will be updated at the company's Bruce Mansfield Plant in Shippingport, Pa.

"This builds on the significant progress we have been making to protect the environment while resolving uncertainty," FirstEnergy president and CEO Anthony Alexander said in a statement.

The settlement also includes $8.5 million in civil penalties, the second highest ever.

The highest civil penalty ever levied against an electric utility over air pollution was $9 million, lodged March 7 against Dynegy Inc.

A case against Virginia Electric Power Co. was settled in 2003 for an estimated $1.2 billion total cost to achieve 237,000 tons in pollutant reductions.

Environmentalists praised the settlement, saying such a reduction in pollutants would not have occurred had Congress passed President Bush (news - web sites)'s clean air plan allowing power plant owners to buy pollution "rights" from other utilities.

"This cleanup settlement is graphic evidence that the Clean Air Act is working, as long as it is aggressively enforced," said Frank O'Donnell, president of Clean Air Watch.

However, Scott Segal, director of the Electric Reliability Coordinating Council, an industry group, said the five years it took to reach a settlement is evidence that current compliance methods are inefficient. This is the ninth of 15 similar cases to settle.

The settlement also requires FirstEnergy to pay $25 million for environmental mitigation projects; $14.4 million for wind power projects in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York; $10 million for environmental projects in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut; $400,000 for a solar power project in Allegheny County, Pa.; and $215,000 for an environmental project at Ohio's Shenandoah National Park.

On the Net:
FirstEnergy Corp.: http://www.firstenergycorp.com
Electric Reliability Coordinating Council: http://www.electricreliability.org/

By MALIA RULON, Associated Press Writer
via Yahoo News http://news.yahoo.com http://news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20050318/ap_on_re_us/clean_air_settlement_8

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Utility to learn possible cost to clean up site: DEC to present Newburgh plan

Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. would face a $22.9 million cleanup for a contaminated site on the city's Hudson River waterfront under a proposal to be discussed tonight.

Coal tar at the site poses a significant threat to human health and the river environment, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The former gas plant is one of eight operated by the utility in the late 19th century through the 1950s. The plants pumped gas to neighborhoods through pipes much like natural gas is piped to homes now. Gas was also used to light homes and streetlights.

Coal tar used to manufacture gas contaminated the Newburgh land, the groundwater, nearby properties and the Hudson River.

The city wants to see as much contaminated soil removed as possible, especially because this location is important to the city's overall goal of developing its waterfront, City Manager Jean McGrane said. The regional director of the DEC from 1993 to 1995, McGrane said she was also concerned the proposal is ''precedent-setting'' in its call for capping contaminated sediments in the Hudson, rather than removing them.

''We'd like to see a maximum removal of contaminated materials at the site -- obviously,'' she said. ''When you go through any remediation, we feel the more you remove, the better it's going to be, not only for the site but for its potential impact on the river.''

Several former plants were investigated under DEC guidance since 1995, and deemed not to pose a threat to the environment.

Central Hudson and the DEC are discussing a cleanup plan for the former plant on North Water Street in Poughkeepsie that Central Hudson expects could cost $2.5 million to clean up, according to a recent filing with the Security Exchange Commission. The DEC has also asked Central Hudson to clean up a site in Kingston and discuss a site in Saugerties.

The Newburgh cleanup the DEC proposed is one of a range of plans it considered.

''We feel the plan as proposed by the DEC is fair, and responsibly addresses site remediation,'' James Lovette, Central Hudson's vice president of environmental affairs and engineering, said in a prepared statement. ''It is a thorough, extensive, multistep plan that adequately mitigates risks to human health and the environment at a reasonable cost to Central Hudson customers.''

Customers ''ultimately will pay for remediation costs through utility bills,'' the company said.

The cleanup would include removing some contaminated soil, installing wells to remove tar from the ground, injecting chemical oxidants into the ground to destroy tar that can't be removed and constructing a barrier to prevent more tar from reaching the Hudson River. About an acre of Hudson River contaminated mud would be dredged and areas with lower contamination capped with clean sediment.

Totally removing the contamination would cost as much as $150 million, and would involve relocating Newburgh's sewage treatment plant.

Central Hudson has spent $12.1 million on investigation and legal costs associated with the site, according to an SEC filing. In 1998, Newburgh won a jury settlement against Central Hudson, requiring it pay to clean up the site.

The DEC will present its proposal and alternatives at 7 p.m. today in the Multipurpose Activity Center of Delano Hitch Park, 401 Washington St., Newburgh. The plan is available at the Newburgh Free Library, the DEC offices in New Paltz or on the Web at www.dec.state.ny.us/website/der/projects/reg3/#ora
For information, call 845-256-3154.

By Dan Shapley
Poughkeepsie Journal www.poughkeepsiejournal.com

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U.S. Infrastructure Crumbling, According to Report Card

On March 9 at 10:30 a.m., ASCE released the 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure with updated grades on the condition of our roads, bridges, drinking water, transit systems, energy and schools, among others. Members can view a replay of the Webcast of the news conference on the Infrastructure Report Card Web site.

To determine the grades, ASCE evaluated existing data reports of the condition, performance, capacity and funding relative to actions by policy makers for each category. In 2001, ASCE gave the infrastructure an overall grade of D+ and maintained that the nation needed to invest $1.6 trillion over five years to improve the situation.

Congested highways, overflowing sewers and corroding bridges are constant reminders of the looming crisis that jeopardizes our nation's prosperity and our quality of life. With new grades for the first time since 2001, our nation's infrastructure has shown little to no improvement since receiving a collective D+ in 2001, with some areas sliding toward failing grades. The American Society of Civil Engineers' 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure assessed the same 12 infrastructure categories as in 2001, and added three new categories. You can access the complete Report Card with details on each infrastructure category and state infrastructure information over the web.

In 2004, the nation's roads got a little rougher, our bridges a little closer to collapse and our drinking water more likely to be polluted, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. The ASCE estimates in its newest report card on road, electricity and other vital systems that America will have to spend $1.6 trillion to fix its problems as it attempts to create a 21st century infrastructure from an aging 20th century one. The overall grade for the nation's infrastructure slid from a D+ in 2001 to a D in 2004, according to the report released today.

Pat Natale, ASCE executive director, said his group is trying to warn the country that it shouldn't wait any longer to fix problems with vital systems, some of which were designed and built in the 1880s.

It is sliding toward failure and without action we're going to have to deal with disasters, Natale said.

The ASCE estimated that congestion cost the nation $63 billion in lost time and excess fuel in 2004.

America faces a shortfall of $11 billion annually to replace aging facilities and comply with safe drinking water regulations. Federal funding for drinking water in 2005 remained level at $850 million, less than 10% of the total national requirement. The Bush administration has proposed the same level of funding for FY06.

The nation's 54,000 drinking water systems face staggering public investment needs over the next 20 years. Although America spends billions on infrastructure each year, drinking water faces an annual shortfall of at least $11 billion to replace aging facilities that are near the end of their useful life and to comply with existing and future federal water regulations. The shortfall does not account for any growth in the demand for drinking water over the next 20 years.

In 2001, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a national survey of drinking water infrastructure needs. The survey results concluded that approximately $151 billion would be needed over 20 years to repair, replace, and upgrade the nation's 55,000 community drinking water systems to protect public health.

A year later, the agency issued The Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis, which identified potential funding gaps between projected needs and spending from 2000 through 2019. This analysis estimated a potential 20-year funding gap for drinking water capital, and operations and maintenance, ranging from $45 billion to $263 billion, depending on spending levels. Capital needs alone were pegged at $161 billion, a $10 billion increase from the 2001 estimate.[1]

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) concluded in 2003 that "current funding from all levels of government and current revenues generated from ratepayers will not be sufficient to meet the nation's future demand for water infrastructure." The CBO estimated the nation's needs for drinking water investments at between $10 billion and $20 billion over the next 20 years.[2]

Federal assistance has not kept pace with demand. Since in FY 1997, Congress has appropriated only between $700 million and $850 million annually for the Safe Drinking Water Act State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) program, enacted in 1987. The enacted funding level for FY 2005 was $850 million, less than 10% of the total national requirements.

The Bush Administration has proposed an appropriation of $850 million for FY 2006.

New solutions are needed for what amounts to nearly $1 trillion dollars in critical drinking water and wastewater investments over the next two decades. Not meeting the investment needs of the next 20 years risks reversing the public health, environmental and economic gains of the past three decades.

Without a significantly enhanced federal role in providing assistance to drinking water infrastructure, critical investments will not occur. Possible solutions include grants, trust funds, loans and incentives for private investment. The question is not whether the federal government should take more responsibility for drinking water improvements, but how.

The case for federal investment is compelling. Needs are large and unprecedented; in many locations, local sources cannot be expected to meet this challenge alone, and because waters are shared across local and state boundaries, the benefits of federal help will accrue to the entire nation. Clean and safe water is no less a national priority than are national defense, an adequate system of interstate highways, and a safe and efficient aviation system. These latter infrastructure programs enjoy sustainable, long-term federal grant programs; under current policy, water and wastewater infrastructure do not.

Equally compelling is the case for flexibility in the forms of federal investment including grants, loans, and other forms of assistance. Grants will be needed for many communities that simply cannot afford to meet public health, environmental and/or service-level requirements. Loans and credit enhancements may be sufficient for communities with greater economies of scale, wealthier populations and/or fewer assets per capita to replace.

* The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) supports enactment of a federal water infrastructure trust fund act that would provide a reliable source of federal assistance for the construction and repair of water treatment plants to reduce the enormous funding gap.

* In the interim, ASCE supports annual appropriations from the federal general fund for the State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF) program at a minimum of $1 billion annually.

* In addition, ASCE supports the establishment of a federal capital budget to create a mechanism to help reduce the constant conflict between short-term and long-term needs. The current federal budget process does not differentiate between expenditures for current consumption and long-term investment. This causes major inefficiencies in the planning, design and construction process for long-term investments. A capital budget system would help increase public awareness of the problems and needs facing this country's physical infrastructure, and would help Congress to focus on programs devoted to long-term growth and productivity.

* The American Society of Civil Engineers supports the funding of research into improved water reuse and purification technology, which may reduce capital, operations and maintenance costs for producing safe drinking water.

For New York the ASCE found the following


* 34% of New York's major urban roads are congested.
* 35% of New York's major roads are in poor or mediocre condition.
* Vehicle travel on New York's highways increased 26% from 1990 to 2003. New York's population grew 7% between 1990 and 2003.
* Driving on roads in need of repair costs New York motorists $3.2 billion a year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs --- $285 per motorist.
* Congestion in the Albany area costs commuters $208 per person per year in excess fuel and lost time.
* Congestion in the Buffalo area costs commuters $182 per person per year in excess fuel and lost time.
* Congestion in the New York City metropolitan area costs commuters $893 per person per year in excess fuel and lost time.
* Congestion in the Rochester area costs commuters $103 person per year in excess fuel and lost time.


* 38% of New York's bridges are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.


* There are about 54 state-determined deficient dams in New York.
* New York has 383 high hazard dams. A high hazard dam is defined as a dam whose failure would cause a loss of life and significant property damage.
* The rehabilitation cost for New York's most critical dams is estimated at $303.1 million.

Drinking Water

* New York's drinking water infrastructure needs $13.15 billion over the next 20 years.


* New York has $20.42 billion in wastewater infrastructure needs.

Solid Waste

* New York generates 1.29 tons of solid waste per capita.
* New York recycles 17.1% of the state's solid waste.


* 67% of New York's schools have at least one inadequate building feature.
* 76% of New York's schools have at least one unsatisfactory environmental condition.

American Society of Civil Engineers www.asce.org

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Air, Contaminated Properties, Legal, Upstate, Companies, Perc, TCE, Contamination Cost, 664 words   English (US)

45 take settlement from IBM: $2.2M paid out for vapor claims

More than 245 of 490 eligible property owners have accepted a cash offer from IBM Corp. as compensation for pollution affecting land south of the circuitboard manufacturing plant on North Street, a company spokesman said Tuesday.

To date, the company has paid approximately $2.2 million to property owners who accepted the terms of the deal, negotiated through the attorney general's office last fall.

"We are still working with people," IBM spokesman Todd Martin said. The deadline for accepting the deal was in November, but the company is still finalizing details with some of the recipients.

Martin offered the information for the first time Tuesday.

People who accepted the offer are receiving a one-time benefit of $10,000 or 8 percent of the property's value -- whichever is more -- in return for an agreement not to sue the company for property damages. They can still pursue claims related to health.

Rose Sotak, executor of her deceased parents' estate on Tracy Street, is one of the people who accepted the deal.

"It could be a long process if it goes to court," said Sotak, a Town of Union councilwoman and Endwell resident. The $10,000 is cash in hand, she said, and will offset the possibility of selling the property at a loss.

Several others who accepted the offer declined to discuss it Tuesday.

The number of people who accepted the deal did not significantly diminish a pool of about 600 clients who claim the pollution has degraded their property or hurt their health, said Stephen Schwarz,an attorney with Faraci & Lang, a Rochester firm.

His firm is pooling resources with Levene Gouldin & Thompson of Vestal, and other firms to pursue claims against IBM. Between 50 and 60 of the people who accepted the offer were represented by one of the law firms, according to letters from the firms that clients received this week.

Advocates say the number of people who didn't accept reflects the belief by many that the offer falls short of fair compensation for the ill effects of underground solvents that have formed gases tainting the ground and entering some buildings through a process called vapor intrusion.

IBM has installed systems to divert gases from more than 430 buildings and is monitoring the air in others.

Betty Havel, a village trustee and member of Citizens Acting to Restore Endicott, has a ventilation system on her home on Arthur Avenue. She declined the IBM offer and is pursuing compensation through the attorneys.

"I don't want this stuff in my house. I don't want it under my house," she said. "This whole thing is a huge problem and a serious safety concern. I think the people who are holding out are holding out because the problem is not getting any better. It is getting more complicated."

People who accepted the deal include the elderly, who don't have time to see the resolution of a lawsuit that could take years, Havel said. Or they may be leaving the area. Some are absentee landlords, and some own commercial property or empty lots, she added.

The village accepted $50,000 from IBM under the terms of the deal for compensation for pollution of five empty lots.

The pollution has not significantly affected property values in the area, said Sotak, a real estate agent. "There is concern about it, there is no doubt about that. We are watching it very carefully," she said

To date, no action has been filed in court against IBM related to the pollution. The two sides have been negotiating a settlement, but lawyers would not provide any updates on the case Tuesday.

Clients include many past and current residents who lived over a 300-acre plume of subterranean chemicals coming from beneath the sprawling microelectronics plant, now owned by Huron Real Estate Associates.

The chemicals include trichloroethylene, which is linked to elevated risks of illnesses ranging from cancer to skin rashes for people exposed to enough of it.

Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin www.pressconnects.com

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09:30:00, Categories: Water, Energy, New York State, Companies, 219 words   English (EU)

EC Power, Inc. Water Treatment Subsidiary in Advanced Negotiations on Two Waste to Energy Conversion Projects Valued at $1.3 Million

EC Power, Inc. (Other OTC:ECPW.PK - News), which is focused on becoming a leader in selected niches of clean energy and environmental technology, said today that its wastewater treatment subsidiary, FBC Technologies, Inc., is engaged in advanced negotiations on two separate contracts for the installation of its state-of-the-art waste to energy conversion process. If agreements are concluded, the projects are expected to have an estimated combined value exceeding $1.3 million, and would be scheduled for installation in the spring.

According to the company, one project is with an industrial customer, and the other is with a New York State agency seeking to comply with NYS Executive Order 111, requiring increased usage of alternative energy.

Klaus Siebert, Vice Chairman of EC Power in charge of its wastewater treatment operations, stated, "Each of these projects represent a major step forward for us in commercializing the advanced technology we offer with our New Zealand partner, Waste Solutions. We believe there is a very large potential North American market given the tightened waste removal requirements faced by companies and municipalities and the growing clamor for alternative energy usage. Further, the energy generated by our process provides our customers a fairly rapid payback on their investment in meeting environmental obligations."

Yahoo Finance http://biz.yahoo.com

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Evaluation, prioritization and selection of transportation investment projects in New York City

Over the last decade, a large number of high capital cost transportation projects have been proposed for the New York City Region. Many have resulted from addressing evolving capacity needs, changes in regional demographics and economics, meeting the improvements necessitated by operating century old subway systems and recognizing the impact of moving freight in a dense region. But the catalyst for bringing all of these projects to the attention of the public and all regional agencies was the tragedy of September 11, 2001. While these projects entail massive investments ($50-$60 billion), little analytical work has been carried out to measure the transportation and economic costs and benefits they entail and to categorize them accordingly. Competition among agencies to secure adequate resources to implement any of the desired projects makes such analysis necessary; yet there still remain political, vested economic interests and agency rivalry barriers to achieving this important planning objective. This paper reports the methodological approach taken by these authors for consistent and transparent project evaluation and then presents results from the ranking and prioritizing methodology. The policy underpinnings and implications of the analysis are discussed in a subsequent paper and thus only briefly touched upon here in the concluding section.

Joseph Berechman, Robert E. Paaswell. Transportation. Amsterdam: May 2005.Vol.32, Iss. 3; pg. 223

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Diesel and Health in America: The Lingering Threat

Everyone has experienced it: getting hit right in the face by a cloud of acrid diesel smoke. Perhaps you were standing on a street corner when a bus or truck whizzed by. Or maybe you were standing at a bus stop or stuck behind a dump truck grinding up a hill. But breathing diesel exhaust isn't just unpleasant. It is hazardous to your health. In fact, health research indicates that the portion of the exhaust you can't see may be the most dangerous of all. Asthma attacks, respiratory disease, heart attacks, and even premature death – all of these are among the most serious public health problems linked to emissions from the nation's fleet of diesel vehicles. The good news is that the technology exists right now to clean up emissions from these engines, so that most of the adverse health impacts can be prevented.

Today in the U.S. more than 13 million diesel vehicles help to build our cities and towns, transport our food and goods, and take us to and from work. More than three quarters of all Americans live near intersections, bus stops, highways, bus and truck depots, or construction sites with heavy equipment – all of which are concentrated sources of diesel exhaust. In rural areas, those who live near heavy diesel agricultural equipment suffer their share of exposure to diesel as well.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued important regulations that will require dramatic reductions in emissions from new diesel vehicles starting in 2007 – but only the new ones. These regulations, to be phased in over the next quarter century, apply only to new engines. What about the diesels on the road today? The lifespan of the average diesel vehicle is nearly 30 years. Many diesels are driven over a million miles. Because of this longevity, we will be left with the legacy of pollution from dirty diesel vehicles for decades to come. That is, unless we take action to reduce emissions from vehicles currently on the road. We don't have to wait. Control technologies exist right now that can significantly reduce deadly fine particle emissions from diesel vehicles, in some cases by upwards of 90 percent.

American know-how, witnessed by the success of the manufacturers of engines, control devices, and fuel refiners in developing innovative solutions for reducing diesel exhaust, provides a lifesaving opportunity we can seize today. Pollution from dirty diesels on the road now can be dramatically reduced using a combination of cleaner fuels, retrofit emission controls, rebuilt engines, engine repowerings, and accelerated purchase of new, cleaner vehicles. Unlike so many other vexing environmental issues, these affordable solutions present a highly unusual opportunity to actually address a major risk to public health and the environment. In fact, we could virtually eliminate this problem if diesel manufacturers, fleet owners, environmentalists, concerned citizens, and government regulators make the commitment to work together.

What are the health impacts of these dirty diesel vehicles? What benefits will we realize if we act now to clean them up? The Clean Air Task Force commissioned Abt Associates, an highly-respected consulting firm that U.S. EPA and other agencies rely upon to assess the benefits of national air quality policies, to quantify for the first time the health impacts of fine particle air pollution from America's diesel fleet. Using this information, we were able to estimate the expected benefits – in lives saved – from an aggressive but feasible program to clean up dirty diesel buses, trucks, and heavy equipment across the U.S.

This report summarizes the findings of the Abt Associates study. It then reviews the degree to which diesel vehicles increase the level of fine particle pollution in the air we breathe, and recommends reduction measures that will save thousands of lives each year. Key findings include:

* Reducing diesel fine particle emissions 50 percent by 2010, 75 percent by 2015, and 85 percent by 2020 would save nearly 100,000 lives between now and 2030. These are additional lives saved above and beyond the projected impact of EPA's new engine regulations.
* Fine particle pollution from diesels shortens the lives of nearly 21,000 people each year. This includes almost 3,000 early deaths from lung cancer.
* Tens of thousands of Americans suffer each year from asthma attacks (over 400,000), heart attacks (27,000), and respiratory problems associated with fine particles from diesel vehicles. These illnesses result in thousands of emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and lost work days. Together with the toll of premature deaths, the health damages from diesel fine particles will total $139 billion in 2010.
* Nationally, diesel exhaust poses a cancer risk that is 7.5 times higher than the combined total cancer risk from all other air toxics.
* In the U.S., the average lifetime nationwide cancer risk due to diesel exhaust is over 350 times greater than the level U.S. EPA considers to be "acceptable" (i.e., one cancer per million persons over 70 years).
* Residents from more than two-thirds of all U.S. counties face a cancer risk from diesel exhaust greater than 100 deaths per million population. People living in eleven urban counties face diesel cancer risks greater than 1,000 in a million – one thousand times the level EPA says is acceptable.
* People who live in metropolitan areas with a high concentration of diesel vehicles and traffic feel their impacts most acutely. The risk of lung cancer from diesel exhaust for people living in urban areas is three times that for those living in rural areas.

The vast majority of the deaths due to dirty diesels could be avoided by an aggressive program over the next 15 years to require cleanup of the nation's existing diesel fleet. Practical, affordable solutions are available that can achieve substantial reductions in diesel risk. The only thing that stands between us and dramatically healthier air is the political will to require these reductions and the funding to make it a reality.

National Annual Diesel Fine Particle Health Impacts
Annual Cases in the U.S., 2010

Premature Deaths 21,000
Lung Cancer Deaths 3,000
Hospital Admissions 15,000
Emergency Room Visits for Asthma 15,000
Non-fatal Heart Attacks 27,000
Asthma Attacks 410,000
Chronic Bronchitis 12,000
Work Loss Days 2,400,000
Restricted Activity Days 14,000,000

What We Must Do to Protect Public Health from Today's Dirty Diesels.

Although the EPA has mandated the phase-in of cleaner new engines and fuels beginning in 2007 for highway vehicles and heavy equipment, EPA has limited authority to mandate emissions controls on the fleet of existing diesel vehicles. To date, EPA has adopted a "voluntary" approach. Nevertheless, in order to meet the new ambient air quality standards for fine particles, states and cities must require controls to reduce diesel emissions. Diesel cleanup is also an important next step in areas that are having difficulty meeting existing and new ambient air quality standards for ozone such as Houston and Dallas, Texas.

States can enact legislation requiring diesel cleanup as some, such as California and Texas, have already begun to do. States should also consider measures to require early engine retirement and speed fleet turnover. For vehicles like long-haul trucks, ships, and locomotives that are engaged in interstate transport, federal regulations, federal legislation, or both may be needed. Funding for such initiatives may pose a challenge for public fleets (school buses, transit vehicles, garbage trucks, etc.), so support for expanded state and federal funding to help the cleanup of fleets owned by cash-strapped states and cities will be necessary. Local and state budget writers will need a strong commitment to come up with the necessary appropriations or bonds to fund the local share.

Particle filters combined with the use of Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel (ULSD) fuel have been found to reduce diesel particles and particle-bound toxics from diesel exhaust by up to 90 percent. Under the new engine rules, ULSD will be available for highway vehicles nationwide starting in 2006. It is already available in cities in 21 states. Not all vehicles can be retrofitted with a particle filter, but there are a variety of options available for the cleanup of every vehicle regardless of make or model year.

Cities and states should:

* Establish ambitious goals for reducing risk to their citizens by cleaning up existing diesels;
* Identify priority geographic areas and diesel "hotspots" for immediate attention;
* Adopt a package of options for reducing diesel exhaust including:
o Retrofits accomplished by replacing mufflers with an optimal mix of filters or oxidation catalysts depending on vehicle age and type;
o Requiring Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel and cleaner alternative fuels;
o Closed crankcase ventilation systems to eliminate engine exhaust from penetrating the cabin of vehicles such as school and transit buses;
o Engine rebuild and replacement requirements;
o Truck stop electrification programs to give long-haul truckers a way to power their rigs overnight without running their engines;
o Contract specifications requiring cleanup of trucks and construction equipment used in public works projects.
* Adopt diesel cleanup measures as federally-enforceable requirements in State Implementation Plans (SIPs) for the attainment of the fine particle and ozone air quality standards;
* Create and fund programs, such as California's "Carl Moyer" and the Texas Emission Reduction Plan (TERP) program, which provide funding for diesel equipment owners to replace or rebuild high-polluting diesel engines;
* Adopt and enforce anti-idling ordinances and legislation.

The Federal government should:

* Pass legislation providing funding for the cleanup of municipal and state fleet vehicles;
* Explore regulatory options for reducing emissions from existing interstate fleets such as long-haul trucks, shipping, and locomotives;
* Retain and enforce the tighter new engine and cleaner fuel standards for highway and non-road diesels.

The 21-page report sponsored by the American Lung Association, says New York has the nation's highest rates of disease and death associated with diesel fuel exhaust.

Most buses built after 1995 can be retrofitted in three hours with muffler-like devices that block soot. Costs vary, from $2,000 for units bought through some government initiatives to $7,000 for units purchased from the manufacturer.

The Diesel Technology Forum, an industry group in Washington, D.C., agreed that diesel emissions can be nearly eliminated by technologies already available, and it said 160,000 voluntary retrofits have been done in the past five years.

Clean Air Task Force; 18 Tremont Street, Suite 530
Boston, MA 02108; tel: 617.624.0234; fax: 617.624.0230

Clean Air Task Force http://www.catf.us

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11:59:59 pm, Categories: Energy, New York State, 356 words   English (US)

Study says wind power could save money

Wind power could greatly expand in New York state without disrupting the overall grid and would likely ''significantly reduce the cost of system operation'' while cutting pollution, a draft study report says.

The study was commissioned by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and the New York Independent System Operator. General Electric Energy Consulting did the research.

Consultants found that 10 percent of the state's peak load in a 2008 scenario, amounting to 3,300 megawatts of wind power, could be handled by the grid with only minor adjustments to existing practices and plans.

And in something of a surprise, they found overall costs to consumers would fall slightly. Municipalities pay premium rates to get wind power through New York's deregulated system of supply from Community Energy Inc., which has 48 megawatts on wind farms upstate. That is nearly all the existing wind capacity in the state, New York Independent System Operator spokesman Ken Klapp said.

Expansion needed

But if wind power were expanded to the 3,300-megawatt level examined in the study, savings would result, the consultants said.

''Wind generation has the potential to significantly reduce the cost of system operation in New York while also reducing emissions and dependence on fossil fuels,'' the report said. ''The zonal spot prices would decrease by a few percent to as much as 10 percent.''

A zonal spot price is a system operator's charge to utility companies for a particular hour in a particular region. That does not mean consumer prices would fall at the same rate, however.

Sulfur oxides emissions would drop by 5 percent and nitrogen oxides by 10 percent, the consultants said.

''That makes me feel really good that we made the right decision,'' said Town of Fishkill Supervisor Joan Pagones, who will propose next week to raise to 100 percent the town's purchase of wind energy, up from 60 percent.

Steve Sullivan, a spokesman for trade group WindPower New York, said the study would help quiet objections to wind power, which he attributed mainly to ''not in my back yard" sentiments.

by Craig Wolf
Poughkeepsie Journal www.poughkeepsiejournal.com

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$45 Million More Is Sought to Clean Trade Center Tower

Now that they know the extent of hazardous contamination in the former Deutsche Bank building opposite ground zero, state redevelopment officials will seek an extra $45 million to clean the 40-story tower before they dismantle it.

In another measure of how complex this site-clearance project has become, officials estimate that it cannot start until midyear at the earliest. Only three months ago, Gov. George E. Pataki said demolition of the building, at 130 Liberty Street, would begin in December.

"Everyone wants this building to come down," Kevin M. Rampe, the president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, said yesterday. "It's a blight, a constant reminder of Sept. 11. But it's got to come down safely."

The financing request will be made this morning to the development corporation board. It has already approved a separate $45 million demolition contract with the Gilbane Building Company.

The corporation acquired 130 Liberty Street in August as part of an agreement mediated by former United States Senator George J. Mitchell to end what promised to be a long legal battle over the tower between the bank and its insurers.

After the building is dismantled, its site is to be occupied by a small park, a Greek Orthodox church and Tower 5 of the new World Trade Center complex.

Under the 2004 agreement, the corporation's demolition liability is capped at $45 million, so state officials expect to be reimbursed for the extra money they now need to spend.

But they also said they did not expect the bank or the insurers, Allianz Global Risks U.S. Insurance Company and AXA Corporate Solutions Insurance Company, simply to hand over the reimbursement without negotiation or, perhaps, arbitration before Mr. Mitchell.

Therefore, Mr. Rampe said, today's request for $45 million - about $40 million for cleanup and $5 million for administrative and legal costs - is a stopgap that will allow the project to proceed once the demolition plan has been approved by regulators.

"We're putting the money up," Mr. Rampe said. "The overwhelming majority of the money we fully anticipate recovering from Deutsche Bank and the insurers."

The 2004 agreement requires the insurers to pay increased costs from complying with legal requirements governing the cleaning and disposal of debris, dust and mold. The bank may be responsible for material like asbestos-containing tiles and caulking that was in place before the attack.

At a public session on Jan. 24, the corporation released a consultant's findings that confirmed the presence of high levels of asbestos, lead and silica in the tower's cavities, conduits, ducts, shafts and other hard-to-reach places. A study of more accessible areas, released by the corporation in September, also found high levels of contamination.

Last week, the federal Environmental Protection Agency called on the corporation to revise and resubmit its draft demolition plan, saying it needed to be "materially strengthened in several principal respects." Mr. Rampe said the plan would be modified accordingly.

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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As Housing Costs Rise, Nimbyism Is Slipping

The New York Times www.nytimes.com

With growing urgency, civic groups and politicians have been warning that the rise in housing costs on Long Island is a dire problem, that younger workers can't afford to live on the Island and that the resulting "brain drain" is casting a shadow on the region's economy.

The Census Bureau reported that Long Island experienced a 20 percent decline in its 18-to-34-year-old age group from 1990 to 2000, a drop five times the national average. But the Regional Planning Board study, which was released this month, suggested that the decline was not due to an exodus, but to a dip in the number of births 20 years ago.

After looking at several other topics, the committee concluded that the brain drain and the other issues were shaped by a more fundamental one: land use.

Housing is far and away the main acreage eater, accounting for nearly half of Long Island's land. The report showed that from 1980 to 2000, residential development expanded by about 47,000 acres, nearly twice the area of expansion by commercial, industrial and institutional development combined. During those years, the amount of vacant and agricultural land declined by 40 percent. Accelerating the trend is the fact that Long Island residents, who have been fleeing New York City for more space since World War II, have always craved single-family homes. Eighty-six percent of the poll respondents on the Island said they lived in single-family homes, while the number was just under 70 percent in the other suburban areas.

With millions of dollars in public money being spent to preserve open space from development, and with some municipalities setting higher minimum acreage requirements for new property, the land that is left is being claimed at an ever faster rate. How that affects housing prices is just basic economics.

"The land use patterns that in one sense made all that growth possible in the early 50's have now become unsustainable," said Carrie Meek Gallagher, the report's director.

Though they have long been an issue on Long Island, housing costs seem to have become a more urgent issue after they were coupled with the brain drain idea.
"The willingness of more and more Long Islanders to understand the importance of the workforce housing issue to both the quality of life on Long Island and the economy on Long Island is very, very helpful and hopeful," said Mitchell Pally, vice president for government affairs for the Long Island Association, the largest business association on the Island and a leading campaigner for affordable housing initiatives. "More and more people are either being affected directly by it or know people who are being affected directly by it."

Seven in 10 of those surveyed on the Island were concerned that the high cost of housing would force members of their family to leave their county. In New Jersey, only 64 percent were concerned and in the northern suburbs, 59 percent.

The poll showed that many Long Island residents are open to new housing policies. While this may indicate a decline of the Nimby mentality, a closer look at the poll makes this conclusion harder to draw. But when asked whether they would support a change in zoning laws to allow a limited increase in the number of apartments or town houses in areas zoned for single-family homes, less than half said yes, with only 18 percent describing themselves as strong supporters.
"As long as you propose something other than single-family detached in a residential area, you're dead in the water," said Lee E. Koppelman, the executive director of the Long Island Regional Planning Board.

In the poll, questions about support for lower-cost housing referred to it as "affordable middle-class and starter housing."

Respondents were asked what they thought about "having more housing available in your community to those who earn less than $60,000," and specifically mentioned "lower-income families." Even so, 65 percent had a favorable reaction, with only 22 percent opposed.

Despite the wording of this year's poll, the negative connotations of affordable housing seemed to be on many minds. The most pervasive obstacle to supporting affordable housing policies, the report said, was an anticipated decline in school quality. Respondents who linked affordable housing with declining schools were likely to oppose most of the specific policy proposals, which could indicate that some still associate affordable housing with images of urban decay.

Dr. Koppelman said that the shortage of moderately priced homes was being widely portrayed as merely a brain drain problem. But the need went much deeper, he said, though into less politically safe territory.
"In terms of our need for affordability, let me point out that we need this housing not only for the middle-class worker, we need it for the senior citizens, we need it for the working poor and we need it for the disabled poor," he said.

Future battles may also be seen in the answers to questions about open space. Though a 77 percent majority supported a county policy of purchasing land and preserving it as open space.

One does not have to look far to find a possible cause: more than two-thirds of respondents thought that open space purchases would be likely to raise house prices.
Blacks and Hispanics were also less inclined to support the policy.

One question asked whether residents would support a $60 property tax increase to support an open space program. People with graduate level degrees supported the idea by 71 percent to 25 percent. Those with no high school opposed the idea by 50 percent to 41 percent.

This tension between widely shared open space ambitions and affordable housing needs could grow as the land squeeze gets tighter.

Any doubt about how resistant Long Island residents are to an influx of more people, he said, should be dispelled by the recent bond referendums. Long Island residents are shown by the report to be paying among the highest taxes in the country, and 93 percent of those polled said that high property taxes were a serious problem. Yet, this past year, they voted for $255 million in new debt to preserve undeveloped land.
"You can't get a clearer indication than that we're willing to spend our own money to keep more development away from us," he said.

By Cambell Robertson
January 30, 2005
The New York Times www.nytimes.com

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11:00:49 am, Categories: New York City, Economic Development, 540 words   English (US)

Jets Regret: Cost-Benefit of the JETS Westside stadium

Hearing consultants and boosters tell us a new Jets stadium would have a positive economic impact to the city and the neighborhoods. It is a testament to the power of sports that stadium subsidies, given their appalling track record, still enjoy a presumption of innocence in the court of public opinion.

The most convincing argument for subsidizing a stadium is the idea of "externalities”, which raise the social value and the price of the market. But this argument is much more convincing for places that don't yet have a team. The Jets aren't being moved from across the country, but across the river. They are already covered by New York media and followed by New York fans. The social benefits of moving them are negligible, so the externality argument doesn't apply.
Now, they conclude that the stadium is just the economic engine the city needs. Sports loom large in American culture, and some people in sports make a tremendous amount of money. But professional sports, while a business, are not big business; the average revenue of an NFL team is $160 million, classifying them as medium-sized. There is a lot of evidence that academic institution can boost a city’s economy than professional sports.

Why not? For starters, most stadiums are empty most of the time. The Westside stadium will still sit unused almost eight months of the year. And the majority of the stadium's economic output is payroll, the majority going to athletes who are unlikely to live in New York full-time. Likewise, most revenue from concessions and merchandise goes to the companies that make them, which tend to be located in the South and Midwest. Money for t-shirts and hot dogs is economic development for Virginia and Pennsylvania, not New York.

As for creating jobs, a few neighborhood people might pick up part-time, low-wage work selling concessions or taking tickets, but the influx of fans just isn't frequent enough to sustain new businesses. One study shows that the 1994 baseball strike, in stead, increased retail sale in the cities.

Over a 20-year period, Indianapolis built two pro sports stadiums, a track and field stadium, a world-class pool, a tennis stadium, a bike-racing stadium and the National Institute for Fitness and Sports. It spent $2.7 billion in its downtown, about 40 percent of which was public. It hosted the NCAA Final Four three times. But in the end, as political scientist Mark Rosentraub found, sports still accounted for 0.32 percent of the city's economy. And the downtown lost jobs overall.

Sports don't create jobs. They aren't engines of economic growth. They aren't anchors of community redevelopment. They are games that make a few people very rich and a lot of people very happy. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's a truth that gets too easily lost in deceptive cost-benefit analyses. Even if the Jets subsidy did pay for itself, that doesn't automatically make it a good use of public funds. The appropriate measure of a subsidy isn't cost-benefit at all, but opportunity cost. We need to look at the Westside, and at the $600 million, and ask: Is there anything more productive we could do with this land, and this money?

by Michael Manville,
The New York Press

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04:51:03 am, Categories: Energy, Health, Green Buildings, Upstate, Companies, 279 words   English (US)

Millard earns healthy environmental review

A decade in the making.

That's how long it took Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital to obtain an Energy Star label.

The label is a seal of approval for the hospital's efforts to curtail energy usage and update its facilities management system.

The hospital is the second in New York state to receive the label and one of 40 hospitals in the United States with the distinction.

"The wise implementation of energy saving equipment and software has maximized our energy performance favorably impacting our energy use and costs," said Joseph Mangold, manager of plant operations/systems team leader at the hospital. "We want to do this across the system with our other hospitals."

In 1995, the hospital partnered with BCS to develop a comprehensive energy performance contract. The hospital was paying about $600,000 a year in natural gas and more than $1 million for electricity. BCS is an energy services company in the City of Tonawanda. The company has done similar work at other hospitals and school districts in Western New York.

The $1.2 million project included a range of energy conservation measures. Major lighting systems retrofits were made along with the installation of a facility-wide energy monitoring and control system. Over the years the hospital took further action by using variable speed drives for its cooling towers and controls to preheat its domestic hot water.

The hospital saves about $700,000 annually on its utilities.

"The recent Energy Star label awarded to Millard is a true statement of their dedication to cost effective and unsurpassed patient care as well as BCS' ability to successfully and efficiently implement such projects for our clients," said Robert Galdys, BCS president.

by Joe Iannarelli, Business First

Buffalo Business Journal

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04:53:28 pm, Categories: Contaminated Properties, Legal, New York State, Asbestos, 803 words   English (US)

Father and Son Sentenced to Longest U.S. Jail Terms for Environmental Crimes

Father and son owners of asbestos abatement companies in New York State, have been sentenced to serve the two longest federal jail sentences for environmental crimes in U.S. history.

Before the U.S. District Court in Syracuse, N.Y., Alexander Salvagno, 38, and Raul Salvagno, 71, owners of AAR Contractors, Inc., were convicted on all 18 counts on which they were charged for conspiracy to violate the Clean Air Act and the Toxic Substances Control Act; violations of the Clean Air Act’s hazardous air pollutant regulations governing the safe and proper removal of asbestos; and conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO). The RICO count involved obstruction of justice, money laundering, mail fraud and bid rigging – all related to their illegal asbestos activities. Alexander Salvagno was convicted on 14 counts, including tax fraud, and Raul Salvagno was convicted on four counts.

“This criminal case, and the lengthy prison sentences imposed, send a clear message: those who knowingly jeopardize public health will be held fully accountable for their crimes,” said Thomas V. Skinner, EPA's acting assistant administrator for Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. “We are committed to vigorously enforcing the laws governing the safe handling and disposal of asbestos and other hazardous substances.” Skinner commended the work of Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Benedict, noting that the five-month trial was the longest for environmental crimes in U.S. History.

The Salvagnos conducted their illegal asbestos abatement activities over a 10-year period at more than 1,550 facilities throughout New York State – including elementary schools, churches, hospitals, military housing, theaters, cafeterias, the New York State Legislature Office Building, public and commercial buildings of nearly every sort and private residences. The Salvagnos directed the illegal activities of 500 asbestos workers and laboratory officials. The thirteen highest level supervisors pleaded guilty to environmental crimes prior to the Salvagno trial and are currently awaiting sentence.

Judge Howard Munson sentenced Alexander Salvagno to 25 years imprisonment; ordered him to forfeit to the United States of America $2,033,457.70 in assets that were illegal proceeds resulting from their RICO activities, including multiple acts of obstruction of justice, money-laundering, mail fraud, and bid-rigging; and ordered him to pay $23, 039,607 in restitution to the victims. His father, Raul Salvagno, was sentenced to 19 ½ years in prison; $1,707,156.40 in forfeiture; and $22, 875,575.46 in victim restitution. AAR Contractors, Inc. also forfeited $2,033,457.70 to the U.S. Government and was ordered to pay
$22, 875,567.46 in restitution.

Rather than following the legal requirements for the proper removal and disposal of asbestos in order to make sure that this toxic substance was not released into the environment, the Salvagnos used illegal “rip and run” techniques to remove the asbestos, releasing what former AAR workers described at the trial as indoor “snow storms” of asbestos. To conceal his crimes Alexander Salvagnos secretly and illegally co-owned an accredited laboratory, Analytical Laboratories of Albany Inc., which colluded with AAR to create up to 75,000 fraudulent laboratory analysis results. Some false sample results were termed "890 samples," which air monitors created by holding air cassettes out the window as they drove down Interstate 890 in the Albany, N.Y. area. Other results were changed in the laboratory. These false lab results were used to defraud clients into believing that buildings that AAR had “remediated” were free of harmful levels of asbestos.

Residual asbestos contamination was found by federal investigators at numerous locations that the Salvagnos had declared to be safe. Owners of those contaminated buildings were contacted by EPA officials and have had to remove asbestos that had been dispersed throughout portions of their buildings by the AAR crews.

Evidence at trial showed that the Salvagnos knowingly sent workers, many who were in their early twenties, into “hot zones” and encouraged them to work without respirators and other protective equipment. In pronouncing sentence, the district court judge made the specific finding that the Salvagnos' crimes resulted in a substantial likelihood of death or serious bodily injury to numerous individuals. Proof at a sentencing hearing established that as many as 100 former AAR workers are now substantially likely to develop asbestosis, lung cancers and mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer. Up to 500 AAR workers are at elevated risk. Medical experts who testified for the United States informed the judge that members of the public, also were exposed to residual asbestos within specific buildings, and are now at elevated risk of disease. All known victims have been contacted by the United States in order to ensure that they are able to obtain appropriate medical attention.

EPA has determined there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos. Improperly removing asbestos and falsely certifying a building to be free of asbestos contamination creates a public health risk. Exposure can lead to lung cancer, mesothelioma (a rare cancer associated with asbestos exposure) and asbestosis. For more information, see: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/asbestos.html.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

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05:38:19 am, Categories: Land, U.S., New York State, Natural Hazards, 544 words   English (US)

New York sings blues over bedbug invasion / Both rich, poor kept scratching in their sleep

New York City has been infested with bedbugs. "It's the best-kept secret in New York," said Andy Linares, owner of Bug Off Pest Control Center in Washington Heights. A decade ago, Linares would see one or two bedbug cases a week, and only in decrepit buildings. Now he sees about 20 - and they're everywhere.

"I'm repulsed, I'm horrified and I'm disgusted," said a mother of three, who lives in an upscale building in Queens, N.Y., where the beasties have spread to 26 apartments. Nationwide, there was a 19 percent increase in bedbug complaints during an 18-month stretch from summer 2003 to winter 2004, according to a March survey by Pest Control Technology magazine.

While there is no official tally of bedbug complaints in New York City, pest control experts and scientists say the city is in the midst of a serious outbreak.

Tom Nimetz, who has run Better Pest Control Management in Brooklyn for 35 years, said he has been called to more than 500 bedbug jobs in the last two years, up from one or two cases in a year.

The small, flat, wingless pests are about the size of an apple seed and come out of hiding at night to seek out a warm body. They feed for five to 10 minutes, then crawl to a crevice for several days to digest the meal.

The only way to know about an infestation are the telltale red, itchy welts on your skin in the morning.

Once a common problem, bedbugs almost disappeared after World War II, when heavy-duty pesticides such as DDT were put into wider use. But the insecticides are now being used less because they cause environmental damage.
Unlike other bugs, bedbugs are proliferating in Europe and the Middle East and can easily hitch a ride here in travelers' luggage and clothing, said Cornell University entomologist Jody Gagloff- Kauffman in Ithaca, N.Y., who said complaints about the nasty biters are increasing in hotels and residential buildings. The city Health Department has noticed the resurgence but isn't set up to combat the bugs - especially because they do not transmit disease and do not pose an imminent health hazard, said one department source.

"We're only starting to discuss what needs to be done. Who handles it? That's the question," the source said.
The response outraged City Council Member William Perkins, who plans to hold a hearing on the issue.

Gagloff-Kauffman said heavy infestations of bedbugs have been shown to cause anemia in children and the elderly. And, like cockroaches, bedbugs may contribute to allergies.

How not to get bitten:

Be wary of used furniture, especially mattresses from small companies that may be selling refurbished bedding. Check tufts, crevices and seams for bugs.

If you have bugs, thoroughly clean affected areas with hot water. For items that cannot be washed, vacuum and use a hair dryer on the highest temperature.

Use a pesticide recommended for bedbug infestation. For suggestions, go to pmep.cce.cornell.edu

Call a licensed exterminator if the problem persists. Prices for a licensed exterminator should range from $250 to $475. Exterminator should not "bomb" the apartment but rather target affected areas.

by Amy Sacks Houston Chronicle. Jun 6, 2004. pg. 14
The Houston Chronicle

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