It's amazing that the obvious seems to be lost on our local officials..
In Rosendale, the town had an agreement to rent a piece of local property for a small fee plus any raises in the taxes for that property. Apparently, the property-tax increases have risen so fast and so high that the town cannot budget for it, and wants to buy the property so they don't have to pay the taxes on it. The other property owners are just supposed to "suck it up." What choices do they have?
In Saugerties, the school board is crying foul because the town wants them to pay a full year’s salary and benefits for a resource officer that will only be working on the days the teachers are working. The board doesn't feel it should be paying full-time pay and benefits for a partial-year job. Apparently, it is lost on the board that the majority of its full-time paid school staff work the same partial-year schedule. The taxpayers’ arguments also seem to go unheard.
On Monday, May 2 at 10:30 a.m. people from all over the state will gather in Albany to support a ban on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) for natural gas in the state. Banning fracking is the only way to protect our beautiful state. Regulation won’t work because: it can’t prevent the extraordinary squandering of fresh water, 5½ million gallons average per well, 100% of which becomes contaminated — permanently — and removed from the natural water cycle. The oil and gas industry intends to drill 80,000 to 100,000 wells in the Marcellus region. It can’t prevent the salts, heavy metals and radioactive substances loosened by fracking from coming up with the fracking fluids. It can’t scrape together the billions of dollars needed to construct and maintain industrial waste treatment plants that attempt to filter the toxic chemicals, heavy metals and radioactive materials from fracking waste.
In addition, rRegulation can’t avoid the risk from high-pressure disposal of fracking waste water in injection wells — of potential leakage and aquifer contamination, or of earthquakes. It can’t require that gas produced will contribute to “energy independence.” The gas will be shipped overseas if it’s more profitable to export than to sell domestically. It can’t guarantee enforcement. History has clearly shown that without 24/7 oversight, drillers will not obey the rules if it affects their bottom line. The approximately 16 inspectors now employed by the DEC is a number ludicrously inadequate to deal with the level of industrialization the drillers have planned.
Only a drastic change in existing regulation can thwart eminent-domain abuse. New York State’s particularly vicious form is “compulsory integration,” which forces landowners who do not wish to lease to have their property drilled, anyway.
Fracking will affect all of us. The moratorium on horizontal hydrofracking ends July 1. Please come to the rally and show your support for a ban on all hydrofracking in New York State. For more information about the rally and fracking, visit frackfreecatskills.org. and un-naturalgas.org. Email email@example.com
A bond of solidarity
A few weeks ago I had the great pleasure of attending the fourth annual gathering of Arthritis Introspective, a fantastic support group for people living with arthritis during the prime years of life. This was my second year in attendance, and our numbers have grown by 30% over the previous year’s gathering to over 80 people.
The annual gathering is a very special time for me as it is the only time I get to spend with people who have grown up with and/or live with rheumatoid arthritis. The bond of solidarity and true understanding of what each other goes through with this disease is something truly remarkable. I have made some treasured and sure-to-be life-long friends through this group.
Arthritis Introspective is a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in December 2007 by a small group of friends who had met through AJAO (American Juvenile Arthritis Organization) conferences and realized as they grew into adulthood that there was a significant gap in support networks for people coping with arthritis during “the prime of life” (ages 20-50, but we welcome anyone with arthritis, older or younger, as well). Many members, myself included, were diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis as children and have carried the disease into adulthood. Many other members have been more recently diagnosed in their 20s, 30s and 40s. The common thread is that we all have some form of arthritis, or related condition such as lupus or fibromyalgia, during the years we are starting careers and families, we feel the need to not face it alone and we have the desire to spread awareness and education to the general population.
To learn more about Arthritis Introspective, visit www.arthritisintrospective.org. The organization has grown to include about 15 chapters in eleven states so far, with new chapters blossoming in several other states as I type this letter. I am hereby announcing the Arthritis Introspective Hudson Valley Chapter and recruiting members and possibly co-facilitators. If you have arthritis or a related condition, are interested in joining this new local chapter and meeting new friends who face similar challenges, please send an email to AIHudsonValley@gmail.com and/or find us on Facebook by searching Arthritis Introspective Hudson Valley Chapter.
Once we get established with some membership, we will begin to meet socially every other month or so and work our way towards biannual educational sessions and fundraising event ideas. I look forward to meeting you.
The Known Unknowables
In last week’s Night Sky column “To infinity and beyond,” Bob Berman writes that if the universe is infinite our understanding of it will always be incomplete. “It’s not all up for grabs, like we used to assume. Our brain/logic/thought/math systems now appear incapable of knowing the underlying nature of the universe.” He states “The bottom line is that astronomy is now firmly divided between the known and potentially knowable...and the utterly unknown and unknowable.”
I agree there will always be some things utterly unknown and unknowable in an infinite universe. But I think what is today utterly unknown and unknowable could someday be the known and potentially knowable. From Ptolemy to Copernicus to Newton to Einstein the history of astronomy is filled with discoveries that have opened the door to quantum leaps in our understanding of the universe. If the universe is indeed infinite, than we have unlimited potential to learn more about it, endlessly expanding our knowledge ad infinitum.
A Solar Spill Is Just Called A Nice Day
As I write this letter, gasoline and heating oil are near $4 per gallon. The pollution from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill can still be found in its marshes and below its waters and radiation is leaking from Japanese nuclear plants. Locally, hydrofracking appears to be a threat to our drinking water and our rivers.
On a more positive note, two legislators, George Maziarz, a Republican state senator from western New York, and Steve Englebright, a Democratic assemblyman from Long Island, have sponsored the Solar Industry Development and Jobs Act, S4178/A5713, in their respective legislative bodies. This forward-looking legislation offers hope for the future of New York’s economy and the environment of its citizens. Most local legislators are strong supporters of the bills. Senator John Bonacic was an early co-sponsor in the State Senate and Assemblyman Kevin Cahill is a co-sponsor in the Assembly and has played an important role in drafting the legislation. Senator William Larkin, Assemblymen Marc Molinaro, Peter Lopez and Joel Miller have all stated they will vote for the bill when it reaches their legislative floor. To date, Assemblyman Tom Kirwin and Senator Steve Saland have not responded or have not joined their colleagues in support of this critical legislation.
The purpose of this bill is to promote the growth of photovoltaics (solar electricity) and to create jobs. The benefits of this bill and solar energy are many. Solar energy is a perfectly clean energy that is produced when the demand for electricity is the greatest, and will help reduce summertime “brown outs.” Solar can be produced throughout our state, including suburbs and cities, thus reducing the need for long transmission lines. This legislation will also attract solar industry to New York and create an estimated 22,000 jobs.
S4178/A5713 will increase the financial security of photovoltaic systems and banks will have the confidence to lend money for these installations. As a result, the average homeowner will have the financial resources to install PV systems.
To find out more about this legislation, or to show support, please go to the website of Vote Solar or the New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV).