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climate change

KUZMINSKI: Let’s Take Control Of Our Energy Future

Column by Adrian Kuzminski, August 24, 2018

Let’s Take Control

Of Our Energy Future

Adrian Kuzminski

Recently, nearly 100 people crowded the Oneonta Town Hall to respond to a report by Otsego Now head, Jody Zakrevsky, about the controversial gas decompression station proposed for Oneonta.
The backlash was overwhelming. A long series of speakers unanimously condemned the project and demanded instead a full-scale effort to transition to renewables as soon as possible.
As the speakers pointed out, a myriad of solutions exist to the problem of inadequate natural-gas supply affecting some institutions and businesses in Oneonta. We heard about retrofitting buildings for energy efficiency, replacing gas and oil furnaces with heat exchange systems, and developing local renewable energy sources, including solar and wind.
This isn’t pie in the sky. The Otsego County Conservation Association, for instance, is currently supporting a NYSERDA-funded program, Heat Smart Otsego, to promote the financial and environmental benefits of currently available non-fossil fuel technologies. Check it out.
The speakers also made clear the gravity of this issue.
We’re not just talking about inconvenience, higher costs, or limits to local economic development. We’re talking about a global crisis increasingly affecting us all.
The inability of our local community to do its part in getting us off fossil fuels is symptomatic of a larger political failure which is dangerous to our future. We have mostly relied on someone else to deal with this problem, usually in Albany or Washington.
They haven’t done the job, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to, at least not unless they’re prodded from below.
Yes, our community continues to be divided over energy policy. The editorial in last week’s edition of this paper characterized speakers at the town of Oneonta meeting as “anti-gas true believers.”
There were a couple of strident speakers, as with any large group, but nearly all were thoughtful people pointing out the very real and harmful consequences of using more gas.
Mike Zagata in last week’s paper also misinforms the public by talking about “clean-burning natural gas,” when in fact there’s no such thing. The combustion of natural gas unavoidably produces CO2, a polluting greenhouse gas. Zagata admits as much by worrying if plant growth will absorb the extra CO2.
Even worse, he ignores the seepage of methane from wells, pipes and compressors, which adds another, more potent greenhouse gas to the mix, making natural gas as bad as any other fossil fuel.
By contrast, Zakrevsky, to his credit, bemoaned his fate at the Town of Oneonta meeting, confessing to the crowd his own confusion and lack of expertise. He was hired to promote local economic development, he noted, not to make energy policy. He’s exactly right. He and Otsego Now are not qualified to make energy policy and should not be tasked with that burden.
What was painfully obvious at the meeting was the lack of coordination among capable parties interested in developing a local energy plan. Currently we have groups too often confined to their respective silos – elected officials, economic development people, the local business community, the colleges, the hospitals, the environmentalists, etc.

Ian Austin/HOMETOWN ONEONTA & The Freeman’s Journal – Otsego Now President Jody Zakrevsky details decompressor-station plans to the Oneonta Town Board and 100 audience members Aug. 9.

Each of them is working on their piece of the elephant. What’s lacking is an effective mechanism for combining their resources and talents to develop a plan for all of us.
In my last column I mentioned the Tompkins County Energy Roadmap (Google it!) as a precedent for what should happen here. That initiative began in 2010 as part of a Tompkins County Energy Strategy for 2020. It was first developed as a project by Cornell graduate students.
In 2014, a steering committee was formed composed of individuals “who represent the breadth of experience, interest and perspectives within the community regarding our energy future.” The draft Energy Roadmap was then presented to numerous community groups and has since become the focus of Tompkins county energy policy.
This Energy Roadmap doesn’t rely on hiring expensive outside consultants, who are often ignorant of local circumstances; nor does it narrow options by handing authority to a single, unprepared agency. Instead it utilizes the expertise already found in a variety of existing organizations and individuals.
We may not have Cornell University, but we have SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College. We have Otsego 2000, OCCA, Citizen Voices, chambers of commerce, the Land Trust, Farm Bureau and Sustainable Otsego, and others. We have individual engineers and scientists and retired executives who’ve worked for multi-national corporations. We have the talent.
Let me suggest, again, that the Otsego County Board of Representatives, in a bi-partisan spirit, is the logical authority to establish an Otsego Energy Task Force. A large, diverse umbrella group is far more likely to develop a comprehensive, viable energy strategy that gets it right, and to do justice to the needs of the community as a whole.
The point is to get key people in the same room and tackle the problem. It’s up to the County Board to make this happen. The time is NOW.

Adrian Kuzminski, a retired Hartwick philosophy professor and Sustainable Otsego moderator, lives in Fly Creek.

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HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, MAY 16
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, MAY 16

Hanford Mills Opening Day!!!

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OPENING DAY – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Kick of the 45th season the museum with guided tours of the water-powered sawmill, gristmill, woodworking workshop. Admission $9/adult. Hanford Mills Museum, 51 Co. Hwy. 12, East Meredith. Call 607-278-5744 or visit www.hanfordmills.org

BE INFORMED! – 6:30 – 8 p.m. Learn about food gardens, including what plants are best for our climate, when to start planting and how to care for your garden. Clark Sports Center, Cooperstown. Call 607-282-4087 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/be-informed-lecture-series-food-gardens/

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KUZMINSKI: More Gas? Only If Paired With Equal-Sized Renewable Project

Column by Adrian Kuzminski, May 5, 2018

More Gas? Only If Paired With
Equal-Sized Renewable Project

Adrian Kuzminski

When fracking was proposed in New York State a decade ago, the potential benefits were jobs, economic growth, lower energy prices, and energy security.
Opponents (like me) worried not only about local degradation of the environment but about the global consequences of methane seepage and emissions for the climate as a whole.
In most places outside of New York State, the frackers won the argument, and in fact much of what they claimed has come to pass.
Vast new reserves have been opened up by fracking, perhaps even more than anticipated. The United States has moved from deep energy dependence on often unfriendly foreign sources to a greater degree of energy self-sufficiency.
The US has become a net exporter of natural gas and is now able to leverage its new energy resources in foreign policy negotiations. Fracking has sparked renewed economic activity and a sense of energy security has been restored.
But the cost of these short-terms gains may yet overwhelm us. Professor Anthony Ingraffea from Cornell has a sobering new video on YouTube: “Shale Gas: The Technological Gamble That Should Not Have Been Taken.” Check it out; go to youtube.com and type “technological gamble” in the search line.
Ingraffea goes back six years and compares the climate change predictions made by a range of experts then with the latest data now available.
The new evidence shows those predictions to have been wide of the mark in the worst possible way. Global warming is happening much faster than predicted.

Cornell Professor Anthony Ingraffea’s conclusion in 2013 that natural gas contributes more to global warming than other fossil fuels changed the debate.

Ingraffea puts the blame for accelerating climate change squarely on the fracking revolution. As its critics have worried all along, the overall greenhouse emissions of fracked natural gas turn out to be as bad if not worse than any other fossil fuel.
Fracking has not been the “bridge fuel” the industry advocated. Ingraffea points out that fracking has extended the fossil fuel age, dramatically increased global warming, and, by providing continued low-priced gas and oil, frustrated the development of renewables.

This issue is playing out locally as well. There’s an energy crunch in Oneonta, with NYSEG interrupting gas service to some of their larger customers (SUNY, Fox, and some local businesses) because of limited supply.
In spite of the fracking boom in neighboring Pennsylvania, the infrastructure for delivering more gas in the Oneonta area right now doesn’t exist. The secondary pipeline serving the area isn’t big enough to meet demand.
The same arguments for the benefits of fracked gas used a decade ago are once again in circulation by those calling for more gas: It’ll bring jobs, stability, and economic growth.
Without a functioning economy we have social chaos, it’s true; but without environmental protections we have eco-catastrophe.
Transitioning to renewables remains the unavoidable answer in both cases. Renewables address the climate issue while providing economic relief with
jobs in the new industries we so desperately need. But it’s not happening fast enough.
That’s a political problem – one unfortunately not about to be solved.
The gas proponents now, as before, are focused on short-term benefits and seem oblivious to the bigger threat. Those who appreciate the long-term threat, on the other hand, have no immediate and practical solutions to the energy challenge.
Yes, of course, we must transition to renewables ASAP, but it’s not just a matter of effortlessly dropping one energy source and plugging in another.
There are serious technical problems (limits to electrical applications, intermittent power and inadequate electricity storage) and financial ones (funding the required large-scale infrastructure changes).
It’s time to recognize both the urgency of climate change as well as the need to buy some time to put in place technologies and financing that can transition us to renewables as quickly as possible.
It’s time to recognize both that the unintended consequences of gas may be worse than the problems it solves, and that those suffering from economic insecurity can’t afford to wait around indefinitely for promised but undelivered jobs in renewable energy.
What’s needed is restraint and prudence. Until we get to renewables, we’re clearly going to continue to overheat the planet to keep the economy going and avoid social breakdown.
How much more warming can we stand? It’s not clear, but major new pipelines and gas power plants are climate-denying projects that promise to take us over the edge.
In the meantime, we have growing local economic distress which might be relieved by delivering more gas to Oneonta by enlarging its existing pipeline.
Improving that pipeline and its capacity would clearly boost the local economy; a redone pipeline might also be more efficient.
But any expansion of gas consumption, even a small one like this, can no longer be justified unless correlated with a funded renewable energy project of at least the same scale.
Nothing less is acceptable any more.

Kuzminski, a retired Hartwick College philosophy professor and moderator of Sustainable Otsego, lives in Fly Creek.

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HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, MAY 3
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, MAY 3

Oneonta Student Art Show

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ART SHOW – 5-6:30 p.m. Art exhibit featuring works by students of the Oneonta City School District opens at Fox Care Center, Oneonta. Info, www.oneontacsd.org

DEBATE – 7 p.m. The Candidates for the CCS Board of Education will debate each other and answer questions from the audience. Hosted by the League of Women Voters. Jr./Sr. Library, Cooperstown High School. Info, www.cooperstowncs.org/league-of-women-voters-to-hose-board-of-education-candidates-debate/

CLIMATE CHANGE LECTURE – 7 p.m. “US Energy Transition: The Plight of Fossil Fuels and the Rise of Renewables.” A talk by Village Trustee Lou Alstadt on the urgent need to confront climate change by adopting a national carbon tax and dividend policy. Templeton Hall, 63 Pioneer St., Cooperstown. Info, Adrian Kuzminski, moderator, Sustainable Otsego, adriankuzminski@gmail.com

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HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, APRIL 20
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, APRIL 20

Otsego Folklore And History

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LECTURE – 7:30 p.m. Bruce Buckley series presents Robert Baron speaking on “Contemporary Resonances of Mid Century Cooperstown Public Folklore and Public History.” The Fenimore Art Museum Auditorium, Cooperstown. Info, Amanda Berman bermal72@oneonta.edu

TEEN SCENE – 5:30-7:30 p.m. Teens meet to discuss events that are important to them. This months meeting will have a Paint & Dip in which teens will paint a pattern with a twist of their own. Led by artist Diane Stensland. Reservations required. Elm Park United Methodist Church, 401 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Info, visit www.familyrn.org/news_events/event_calendar.html/event/2017/04/20/1492727400/teen-scene/153288 or contact Kristin Winn, info@familyrn.org or call (607)432-0001

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HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, NOV. 20
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, NOV. 20

With Santa, Decorate

Downtown Cooperstown

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To Learn How You Can Help Area Families This Holiday Season CLICK HERE.

SANTA’S COTTAGE –2 p.m. Decorating Party. Help Cooperstown Committee decorate Santa’s cottage and the village lampposts for the holidays. All decorations provided; please bring wirecutters, gloves, and ladders, if available. Meet in Pioneer Park. Free photo of your family in front of Santa’s Cottage as a thank you. To reserve a pole, email Meg Kiernan, megk@oecblue.com Meet in Pioneer Park, Cooperstown.

FILM SERIES –2 p.m. “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” (1952). Fenimore Auditorium, 5798 NY-80, Cooperstown fenimoreartmuseum.org/fenimore/films

CELEBRATE NATIVE AMERICAN MONTH – 1 p.m. Roger Longtoe Sheehan, Chief of the El Nu Abenaki tribe of Vermont, will tell traditional tales and display tools and crafts of Northeastern woodland cultures. Program is free and open to the public. Suny Oneonta College Camp Lodge, 119 Hoffman Rd., Oneonta. For more info call 436-3455 or CLICK HERE.

PROGRAM – 3 p.m. “The Very Greatest Victory: Recognizing Women’s Right to Vote in NY State” with Dr. Susan Goodler. Friends of the Village Library Lecture Series. Village Meeting room, Library, 22 Main St., Cooperstown. Info @ Sunday Programs page villagelibraryofcooperstown.org

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As Climate Changes, Resilience Trumps Efficiency, Expert Says

As Climate Changes, Resilience

Trumps Efficiency, Expert Says

Dr. Laura Lengnick, author of "Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate," keynotes today's annual "Celebration of Agriculture" at The Farmers' Museum's Louis Jones Center.  "Efficiency makes systems really easy to break," she said, using "just in time" distribution as an example:  Any breakdown along the supply chain disrupts the whole chain.  Farmers, she said, are can no longer depend on rainfall and temperatures and wind within general parameters.  Planners and academics studying future are concluding, "It's probably the regional scale that's the regional scale, not to the local scale," adding that New York State is on the cutting edge of such thinking and planning.  Today's program includes workshops throughout the day, all focus on climate change and farming.  (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Dr. Laura Lengnick, author of “Resilient Agriculture: Cultivating Food Systems for a Changing Climate,” keynotes today’s annual “Celebration of Agriculture” in The Farmers’ Museum’s Louis Jones Center. “Efficiency makes systems really easy to break,” she said, using “just in time” distribution as an example: Any breakdown along the supply chain disrupts the whole chain. Farmers, she said, can no longer depend on rainfall and temperatures and wind within general parameters. Planners and academics studying future are concluding, “It’s probably the regional scale that’s the resilience scale, not to the local scale,” adding that New York State is on the cutting edge of such thinking and planning. Today’s program includes workshops throughout the day, all focused on climate change and farming. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
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Happenin’ Otsego Saturday, Nov. 5
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY NOV. 5

Farmers Museum Conference

Examines Ag Climate Change

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FOOD & FARMING CONFERENCE – 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. The Farmers’ Museum Conference on Food & Farming 2016: Climate Change & Its Impact on Farming in Central New York. Info, http://www.farmersmuseum.org/food-farm

LATINO COMMUNITY BAZAAR – 11 a.m.-4 p.m., at Cooperstown Baptist Church, Elm Street.  Everyone welcome. Offering arts, music, and activities presented by CCS Spanish classes to encourage familiarity with the Spanish language and Hispanic Culture. Everyone is encouraged to participate by bringing an item reflecting your families own immigration or migration story. Donations benefit the Children’s Home in Azacualpa, Honduras. Info, william.walker@oneonta.edu or (607)547-2586 or check out the FACEBOOK page.

CRAFT FAIR – 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Milford Central School Gym, 42 W. Main St., Milford. Info, web.milfordcentral.org

EXHIBITION – 10 a.m.-4 p.m.Final day for exhibits “Oneonta & Aviation History” and “183 Main Street: 150 Years of History.” Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. Info: (607)432-0960 or http://www.oneontahistory.org/

GALA – 6:30 p.m. A.O. Fox Hospital 26th annual gala. 1920s soiree @ The Fox Speakeasy. Market style dining, open bar, benefit wine pull 6:30-8:30 p.m. Music by Blues Maneuver and The Honey Taps. Guests encouraged to dress the era. $150 per person. The Fox care Center, One Fox care Dr., Oneonta. Info, reservations: (607)431-5472, foxgala@aofmh.org or http://wzozfm.com/26th-fox-hospital-gala-features-1920s-soiree/

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HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, NOV. 2
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, NOV. 2

Thinking about the Future

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DINNER – 6:30 p.m. “The Future of Food: A Dinner & Conversation with the Local Youth Food Movement.” Cost: $40. Farmers Museum, 5775 NY-80, Cooperstown. Info, farmersmuseum.org/origins

 

MEETING – 4:30 p.m. SUNY Oneonta College Council meeting. Open to public. rm. 209, Physical Science Building, SUNY Oneonta, 108 Ravine pkwy. Oneonta. Info, http://www.oneonta.edu/general/collegecouncil.asp

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Program Helps NYS&W Reduce Emissions, Costs

Program Helps NYS&W

Reduce Emissions, Costs

By SAM ALDRIDGE • for www.AllOTSEGO.com

rail logoCOOPERSTOWN – The worldwide movement of climate change awareness has come home to the New York Susquehanna & Western Railroad.

The railway company, based in Cooperstown, has partnered with the state Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the Department of Environmental Conversation (DEC) to install four anti-idling engines on their locomotives to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions.  The Utica-based Mohawk Adirondack and Northern is also participating.

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103