Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Fracking Observations, continued...

Anybody see this?  Anybody care?  160 million cubic feet of natural gas wasted, in North Dakota alone, EVERY DAY.  Do you trust the oil & gas companies when they advocate an URGENT NEED for more hydrofracking across New York and along the Marcellus Shale Formation?  They cannot even manage the wells already drilled and "functional."  

NY Times article on North Dakota Wasted Gas

AND because math is fun:

96.7 cubic feet of natural gas 1 therm; 400 therms consumed annually per household (CA) = 38,680 cubic feet

 160,000,000 / 38,680 c.f. = 4,136 households

4,136 households X 365 days = 1,509,824...that's how many houses of 3 occupants each could receive electricity, FROM THE WASTED NATURAL GAS IN NORTH DAKOTA.

The next time you hear someone spew about the alleged virtues of natural gas drilling, tell them to go hydrofrack themselves.  As if the chemicals in the ground and water wasn't enough of a reason to ban the process outright, already!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Woodstock, NY: Taking The "Fun" Out Of Dysfunctional

As the architect for Woodstock Commons, a 53-unit affordable and senior living community, I thought I had seen and experienced everything a small town planning board could throw at a proposed mid-sized residential development, over an excruciating, mind-numbing, patience-testing, grossly over-regulated 5-1/2 year planning review process.

I was wrong.

Caving and capitulating to the constant, harping annoyances of provocateur Robin Segal and SAGE (Sensible Action for Growth and Environment)  ringleader, Iris York, Woodstock Planning Board chair Paul Shultis, Jr. called an unprecedented hearing AFTER construction was well under way - ostensibly due to violations committed by the developer.  I can understand that he had to react in some manner to the concerns of York, Segal, and several neighbors et al., but to react by threatening to revoke the S.U.P. (special use permit) was nothing short of reckless and ham-handed.

Where was self-described environmentalist Iris York when the wetlands behind Bradley Meadows (the small shopping center on Mill Hill Road) was being illegally dumped in during the years prior to Woodstock Commons being proposed?  Or when homeless people set up unhealthy camps, literally IN the wetlands?  I guess she found her true environmental religion only when it suited her own self interests.

Where was Robin Segal during the first three years of intensive SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) and Planning Board review?  Not living in Woodstock or anywhere near, for one.  As a very recent resident, she sees fit to slam the door shut after her arrival.  What a self-important hypocrite, dressing up her concerns of governmental oversight as a faux-intellectual wolf-in-sheep's clothing.

Where was Paul Shultis, Jr. in the year since unanimous, conditional SUP approval was issued, during which time detailed, final public funding and private financing logistics were being ironed out, and a building approval was being obtained?  More importantly, where was he since construction started in late July, and why didn't he go through the proper channels before calling a public hearing based upon the emotional, unsupported accusations of messrs. York and Segal?  Instead of knee-jerking, placating, and appeasing, Mr. Shultis, Jr. should have done some homework and consulted with the Town attorney.  He did not, and in the process poured fuel on an arbitrary fire, lending credence to complaints that bear no credibility.

The merits of Woodstock Commons have never been acknowledged by its single-minded critics.  Instead, they suggest "spreading out" affordable dwellings throughout town, seemingly unaware that this is an economically unfeasible approach, ill-advised for accessibility, creates excessive vehicle travel, and would take decades to address the affordable housing crisis that exists - and must be solved - today.  Not one existing property has been identified or suggested, because no such properties are technically "affordable" in Woodstock, a second-home enclave where real estate values are out of reach for most residents - both its renters and prospective home owners.  

The energy invested in combatting this benign housing is entirely misplaced.  The very few residents in direct opposition, together in concert with an overwhelmed, exasperated volunteer planning board, are determined to redefine the reticence foisted upon fair housing initiatives well beyond the NIMBY and BANANA banners ("not in my backyard," and "build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything").  It's so nice when you have your own comfy home, why worry about others who may be suffering, unable to find a home close to where they work, living in tight quarters with their families,  struggling to keep up with tax payments on a fixed income or after losing a loved one.  Better to feign great compassion for the Indiana Bat habitat than for one's neighbors in Woodstock, at least in the world according to York and Segal.          

Woodstock Commons will survive this latest barrage of arbitrary nonsense, and ultimately become an integral part of the larger Woodstock community.  I know a number of my old Woodstock neighbors - one in particular forced out of town due to no available housing - are looking forward to opening day.  I will rejoice, and take solace that perhaps Woodstock will be functional once again.  And fun, for the enjoyment and healthy living of ALL.   

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fracking Observations...

When the first dozen natural gas fracking rigs start showing up across New York's uniquely beautiful landscape, when the second hundred artificial ponds of toxic muck start oozing into the groundwater, when the third thousand homeowner experiences benzene-laced tap water...will that be when you wonder why you didn't call your congressman or what the price of inaction really is?

This is what hydrofracking ("coal seam") looks like in Australia...imagine the same in New York. The difference here SEEMS to be the gas company still needs permission to drill on one's private property - in Queensland and elsewhere in Australia they have imminent domain. Large sections of New York, becoming industrial waste lands. Are YOU concerned?
What the frack is it going to take for people to wake up? An environmental disaster is at our kidding!

     Thanks to Dick Cheney and the "Halliburton Loophole," the states are left to write and enforce regulations on an otherwise highly unregulated industry with significant health implications to our communities and the environment. If Ohioans are okay with seeing another 80,000 wells drilled in their great state, remain curiously incurious about exactly what toxic stew of chemicals is being introduced to their groundwater, waterways, and air, and prepared to sell out their children's future all for a short-term economic high, then by all means Ohioans should go for it.
I like to think that New York still has an opportunity to avoid the serious mistakes other states have made in allowing the natural gas companies to run roughshod over the land, for a few gold coins. You (and too many Americans) fail to understand the magnitude of the destruction this practice can wreak. I recommend that folks do some homework before giving the gas companies the green light, and celebrating unbridled excitement for the economic boon the towns will enjoy. In NY, we are going to fight the P.R. companies that candy-coat the natural gas chemical treats, strongly voice our opinions to our representatives, and scrutinize the DEC fracking rules that were just made public.
If only we had a Federal government that had the constitution to stand up to corporate puppets placed in "public service." There are many better ways to generate heat and electricity, just not the big money or big P.R. to counter the fake "clean energy" corporations. Unfortunately, the big wallets usually win...but not always, and not in Our State.

Hydrofracking 101, for those interested in the future of our environment and collective health.


...and on the BRIGHT SIDE...

What a nascent, TRUE green economy looks "JOBS":

"Rhone Resch, President of The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said that the solar industry employs 100,000 Americans and that that number could double in the next two years. Within a few years, the US will be the world’s largest solar market, according to SEIA."

This country needs a comprehensive energy policy that is NOT heavily ramping up relianance on hydrofracking in any way, shape or form.  Geothermal, Solar, Hydro, Wind, much potential, and the technology to tap these non-fossil fuel resources available TODAY.  What are we waiting for?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Government Waste, Part 1: Walter Reed Hospital

I find it implausible that construction costs alone can be a significant factor in the tripling of closing WRAMC and relocating it's services and functions. Construction costs have risen over the past six years, but only about 22% for basic materials (lumber & wood products, cement, iron products). All sector average wages in the Mid-Atlantic region have risen 14% - rounding up to 20% for the construction trades still suggests that the total fiscal impact of the six-year delay/adjustment in the closing/relocation plans would be impacted marginally and not by several X. There must be other factors at work here, possibly coordination with the Navy, programatic evolution, and bureaucratic inefficiencies are why the costs have skyrocketed. But it's not construction costs, as the article suggests. The GAO should aggressively market the property for reuse and repurposing, as it's imbedded real estate value must be tremendous. This would offset much of the cost increases, and prevent further fleecing of taxpayers due to uncreative governmental management.

Shame of the Nation: Capital Punishment

Troy Davis set to be executed in Georgia before midnight tonight. If ever there was a reason and cry to revisit and abolish capital punishment, it has presented itself tonight in a swift, tragic unfolding of events. The Supreme Court has utterly failed in it's mission to exact justice, it has given new meaning to "Justice Is Blind." Never mind that President Jimmy Carter, the Pope, Desmond Tutu, a group of retired prison wardens, and millions of citizens around the world urged the Georgia State Pardon and Parole Board to at least - AT LEAST - consider new evidence and recanted testimony of SEVEN eyewitnesses. I am ashamed of our Supreme Court, and that our country even has capital punishment - a medieval concept.

If Texas Governor Rick Perry - who gleefully, sadistically endorses executions and swaggers about his State's tally of executions - were to become President, I AM OUTTA HERE. At least in Canada, there is still civility.

The Great Divide, Part 1: The Job Creator Myth

NAILED IT. Rachel Maddow tonight unmasked the Republican "Job Creator" myth for what it really is: A LIE. It is a manufactured myth/lie that is being repeated in the Extreme Right echo chamber. The Koch Brothers (Charlie, David) saw their privately-held company net worth grow by 40% over the past 4 years...good for them! They are now worth $50b, that's $11b more than Warren Buffet. During that same period, the Koch companies shed over 13,000 jobs, not good for those employees!

So..."Job Creators?" No, "Self-Wealth Creators." It's all a lie folks, and if you out there have any sympathy for the Koch Brothers, or any non-job creators making multi-millions per year, then you are FAR more compassionate a person than I. And very, very easily duped.

Thank you, Rachel Maddow, thank you, "spirit of investigative reporting," thank you, Census Bureau.
A week after the Census Bureau reported that American poverty has hit an all time high, America has learned the wealth of Charles and David Koch has increased 43% since March of 2010.