DEC Relays Decision to Co-Lead Environmental Review in Pilgrim Pipeline Proposal.

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) decision to share the environmental review responsibilities with the NYS Thruway Authority for the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project was a big disappointment to us all at KingstonCitizens.org.

"The three cities who are "involved"  in this proposal - Kingston, Newburgh and Albany - all rejected the Thruway Authority's request." said Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of KingstonCitizens.org. "We count on the DEC to uphold their responsibility to protect the environment and our public, and a co-lead in an environmental review process is not a good compromise. From what I know, it is an unprecedented decision and in my opinion, the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal is the wrong project to test out a shared leadership role. We need the lead to be fully unbiased and do not accept one that shares to gain monetarily in anyway. How is the public to trust that it isn't tainted otherwise?"

"The City of Kingston was quite explicit that the Thruway Authority should not be involved as lead agency for the environmental review of Pilgrim's proposed pipelines, and we voted unanimously to demand the DEC instead," said Matt Dunn, Ward One Alderman and Majority Leader of the Kingston Common Council.  "We will continue our robust opposition to these pipelines, which contradict our commitment to safe healthy energy, and which would put the Rondout, Esopus, Hudson, and other critical waterways at risk, with no benefit to our residents."

Riverkeeper, a critical partner in assuring a transparent environmental review process for the Pilgrim Pipeline sent out their own press release earlier in the week.  "We believe that a joint lead agency status is unprecedented and fails to address the concern that many municipalities in the region that specifically expressed their opposition to the Thruway Authority’s participation in the environmental review process. Furthermore, this decision undermines the effort to conduct an environmental review that adequately protects the environment and critical resources such as drinking water."

Got a Recalled Volkswagen? Donate Your $500 Gift Card to an Environmental Group.

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By Rebecca Martin

When we were looking to purchase a car, it was important to us to find not only one from a company that was environmentally friendly, but also in an age of better technology, to purchase a car that had lower emissions while doing better on gas milage.  Of course, an electric car is perhaps the way to go, however the choices currently are limited for what we need,  and very costly too.

So we opted for a Volkswagen (VW) Diesel which promised as we understood it lower emissions and up to 40 mpg + on the highway.

As the world now knows, cars like ours are being recalled. "It's been dubbed the "diesel dupe". In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found that many VW cars being sold in America had a "defeat device" - or software - in diesel engines that could detect when they were being tested, changing the performance accordingly to improve results. The German car giant has since admitted cheating emissions tests in the US." according to a report by the BBC.

When I first learned of this, I called my dealership in Kingston straight away - requesting to surrender the car. I didn't want to be driving around with an engine "emitting nitrogen oxide pollutants up to 40 times above what is allowed in the US."  But due to it being a lease and with low mileage, I was told that VW wouldn't take ours back. That it was "cheaper to fix a newer model then it was to replace it."

In the meantime, and no one knows how long that will be in America, VW is offering car owners a "Goodwill package" that includes a $500 cash card to spend in any way that they'd like as well as an additional $500 to spend at Volkswagen.  Owners are encouraged to fill out a form online for it to be shipped to your door.

When ours arrived, we were directed to go to our dealership to have the cards activated. So today I made a visit to the one in Kingston where we leased this car.

It was a pleasure to take the opportunity to once again relay how disappointed I was in VW, and to tell them that I wouldn't be purchasing another one of their vehicles in the future on principal.

"Hey, listen," said one of their employees. "they've apologized. Just take the money."  I pointed outside, to the 50 degree weather and downpour on December 17th and said "You don't own me an apology. You owe our environment an apology."  Another employee boasted that sales have been steady regardless of the setback.  I couldn't help but wonder if  that's what $1,000 in gift cards can do - and to me that's nuts. Are we really that easily bought? Marketing is a wonder! Shower us with cash so that we would continue to hold onto our nostalgic impressions (it's that 1970 VW bus that's a killer for me. That and the super beetle).

It occurs to me that there is an enormous disconnect here. We're expected to continue to drive a polluting car while they find a solution - and, in the meantime, to make us feel better as a consumer, we're given a $500 cash card to spend during the holidays?

So what to do.  I believe that at any given moment, we can do better.  In this case, although $500 is a lot of money - what I feel is only right is to donate it to a group/groups who are picking up the pieces for what is an unacceptable and tragically greedy decision (VW is going to pay, too. In more ways than one in my opinion).  There are a handful of noble people who have dedicated their lives to fighting immense battles such as climate change, water and air protection, environmental justice and a whole host of other daunting issues and tasks. Because we rely on them for the work that they do, they are the ones who should be given these resources and more. 

...and so, we challenge those who, like us (and if you can), who are driving around polluting more than we ever intended to in this case and who have received a gift card -  to give the $500 amount to a local environmental group who you appreciate and cherish. Now more than ever they need our support. Furthermore, it's the ethical thing to do.

Tonight, we are making a $250 donation to both Riverkeeper and the Woodstock Land Conservancy.

Join us. Who might you choose?

 

CALL TO ACTION: Citizen Support Needed TONIGHT (12/15) On Critical Resolutions that includes Microbead Ban, Pilgrim Pipeline, Greenline Project in Kingston.

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By Rebecca Martin

THIS JUST IN:  A new public hearing on the Microbead Ban will occur on 1/19/16 and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. It has been tabled for tonight. More information coming soon. But please plan to attend to encourage the legislature to pass the remaining three other resolutions. 

For the past month, KingstonCitizens.org has been following and working towards the public being more aware of the importance to understand the impacts in Kingston of both the Pilgrim Pipeline and proposed Microbead ban proposal - all up for vote tonight at the Ulster County Legislature Meeting located at 244 Fair Street, 6th floor in Kingston. Public comment will begin at 6:30pm.  * THIS JUST IN: Plan now is for new public hearing on 1/19/16  and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. TONIGHT'S vote will only include the below three resolutions. 

We have attached information below on each of the resolutions with some key points for you to research before you speak.  Please keep your speech to 3 minutes or less.

Thank you!

1.  URGE NYSDEC ASSUME LEAD AGENCY FOR SEQR FOR PILGRIM PIPELINE PROJECT 485
Resolution No. 485 December 15, 2015
- Urging The New York State Department Of Environmental Conservation To Assume Lead Agency Status For The State Environmental Quality Review Process For The Pilgrim Pipeline Project.

In the City of Kingston were our municipality is a lead agency in SEQR for the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal, both the Mayor and Common Council voiced their concern of the Thruway Authority's request as Lead Agency in SEQR.  We were pleased to see our County Executive take the same stance, and now - the Legislature is working towards the same outcome.

It is in our best interest to support the legislature in their efforts here.

READ: Kingston Common Council unanimously rejects Thruway Authority Lead Agency in SEQR request.

 

THIS JUST IN:  A new public hearing on the Microbead Ban will occur on 1/19/16 and vote by full legislature sometime before the end of January. It has been tabled for tonight. More information coming soon. But please plan to attend to encourage the legislature to pass the remaining three other resolutions. 

2. MICROBEADS PROHIBITED IN UC 457 
Resolution No. 457 December 15, 2015
- Adopting Proposed Local Law No. 14 of 2015, A Local Law Prohibiting The Sale Of Personal Care Products Containing Microbeads In Ulster County.

We are pleased that our legislature is looking to bass a bill prohibiting the sale of ALL personal care products containing Microbeads in Ulster County.

Did you know that companies who advocate for continued use of personal care products containing Microbeads include Proctor and Gamble, Mary Kay and Amway?  Here are some good talking points for this evening:

  • Call on the Ulster County Legislature to pass Proposed Local Law No. 14 Of 2015 “A Local Law Prohibiting The Sale Of Personal Care Products Containing Microbeads In Ulster County”
  • Currently five counties have passed legislation similar to the proposed law for Ulster County. Most recently Albany County became the first in the Hudson Valley to ban the sale of Personal Care Products containing microbeads. Erie, Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Tompkins and Suffolk Counties have also passed similar legislation.
  • In addition to Ulster County, three more are considering microbead ban legislation. Those counties include Putnam, Niagara, and Monroe. In addition, ban legislation is moving forward in New York City.
  • I support the reasonable phase out period in the proposed Local Law No. 14., offering 180 days for compliance
  • Passing this Local Law to protect our water and health further cements Ulster County’s reputation as a leader in protecting our natural resources.
  • Additionally, voting to approve this bill, sends a powerful message to the State leadership that protecting our water from plastic pollution is a top priority for the citizens of New York State

Plastic microbeads in personal care products

  • Plastic microbeads are an ingredient used in over 100 different personal care products on the market today, including facial scrubs, soaps, shampoos, and even toothpastes.
  • Plastic microbeads are typically used as an abrasive.  However, microbeads are also added to products—such as toothpaste—strictly for decorative purposes.
  • Researchers estimate that a single product can contain as many as 350,000 plastic microbeads.
  • Products with plastic microbeads can be identified (and avoided), when any of the following are listed as ingredients: polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), polyethylene terephthalate (PET), nylon or Poly(methyl) methacrylate (PMMA).

Microbeads can enter into the environment

  • Products that contain microbeads are designed to be washed down the drain.
  • It is estimated that 19 tons of microbeads enter the wastewater stream in NY annually.
  • Microbeads can enter into waterways through sewage overflows or by passing through sewage treatment plants, which are not designed to remove such tiny particles. 
  • Two-thirds of NY’s sewage treatment plants do not have advanced treatment technology needed to remove microbeads. Of the other one-third of treatment plants that do have some form of advanced treatment, plant by plant analysis would be necessary to determine the efficacy of microbead removal.
  • Microbeads can also pass through septic systems.

Microbeads threaten wildlife and public health

  • Microbeads attract and accumulate toxic chemicals present in the water, including Poly-Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs) and flame retardants (i.e. PCBs).
  • Microbeads can be mistaken for food and consumed by fish and wildlife.
  • Ingesting plastics can result in reductions in food consumption, stunted growth, and starvation.
  • When fish and aquatic life consume plastic, these chemicals are passed up the food chain to larger fish, wildlife, and ultimately humans.  Exposure to these chemicals is linked to a broad range of ailments, ranging from birth defects to cancer.

Voluntary efforts alone will not solve the problem

  • Safer, non-polluting alternatives (e.g. apricot shells, cocoa beans, pumice, walnut shells) can be used as abrasives in personal care products instead of plastic microbeads. 
  • Some companies, such as Burt’s Bees, never used plastic microbeads in their products
  • Several companies, including Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, L’Oreal, The Body Shop, Unilever, and Colgate/Palmolive, have agreed to phase-out microbeads
  • Some companies have set phase-out deadlines, others have not.  Many others have made no commitment at all.  Voluntary efforts alone will not solve the problem.
  • Even if a company agrees to phase out microbeads, there is no way to ensure that they will switch to a safe, truly biodegradable alternative.

3. U&D RAIL TRAIL Policy 488
Resolution No. 488 December 15, 2015
- Amending Resolution No. 275 Of 2014, Establishing A Policy For A “Rail With Trail” Along The County-Owned Ulster And Delaware Railroad Corridor.

READ: "Kingston Land Trust - Where we stand on R488 - An Amended Policy on Rail and Trail for the U&D Corridor

 

4. ASHOKAN RAIL TRAIL Planning 480
Establishing Capital Project No. 459, To Provide for Design and Engineering Work for the Ulster County Rail Trail Project along the Ashokan Reservoir (“Ashokan Rail Trail”).

More information coming shortly. 

 

 

 

 

City of Kingston Planning Board Meeting: Public Hearing and Testimony on Proposed Shooting Range

8:03 -  10:00
Introduction of Proposed Shooting Range project. New information regarding the application including a membership makes it not possible for the planning board to take an action this month. The planning board will reconvene a public hearing on January 11th, 2016 meeting.

10:05 - 17:02
Scott Dutton of Dutton Architecture and Dr. Soyer

Public Comment

17:21 - 20:00
James Richer,  not specified

20:07 - 21:50
Donald Gladstone, Hyde Park 

21:56 - 23:40
Elmer LeClair, Kingston

23:49 - 25:40
Frank Ostrander, Olivebridge NY

25:46 - 27:30
Christine Williams, Maybrook NY

27:35 -  28:12
Brian Patterson, Kingston

28:34 - 29:39
Harold Gruenwald, Kingston

29:42 - 31:30
John Grossbohiln, Kingston

31:33 - 34:20
Matthew Ozbia, Kingston
ENGINE

34:38 - 38:26
Kristin Wilson, Kingston

38:27 - 39:49
Kaycee Wimbish, Kingston

39:54 - 41:39
Denise Kynoch, Kingston

41:46 - 45:15     (TESTIMONY TEXT)
Debra Bresnan, Kingston

45:20 - 47:28
John McCovern, Kingston

47:31 - 48;35
Nick Annas, Red Hook, NY

48:46 - 50:55
Jay Martin, Accord, NY

51:02 - 53:25
Glenn Debrowsky, High Falls, NY

53:33 -  End
Eli Dueker, Kingston

00:00 - 00:14
Eli Dueker, Kingston (Continued)

00:21 - 5:23 (End)        (TESTIMONY TEXT)
Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Kingston

00:10 - 2:50
Johannes Sayre, Kingston

2:56 - 4:58
Butch Dener, New Paltz, NY

5:05 - 5:49        (TESTIMONY TEXT)
Robin Jacobowitz, Kingston
City of Kingston Board of Education

5:56 - 6:58
Jen Hynes, Kingston

7:04 - 9:00
Carol Struve, Kingston

9:07 - 11:23
James Shaugnessy, Kingston

11:31 - 13:13
John Granston, Kingston

13:18 - 15:15
Deborah Mills Thackrey, Kingston

15:18 - 16:08
Frank Falazyn, Kingston

16:11 - 17:55
Ken Cooper, Kingston

17:58 - 21:18      (TESTIMONY TEXT)
Pat Courtney Strong

21:20 - 22:46
Owen Harvey, Kingston

22:48 - 25:32
Bryant Drew Andrews, Kingston

26:00 - 30:07
Resident, Kingston

30:18 - 32:33
Joe, Tillson, NY

32:41 - 34:24
Jordan Scruggs, Kingston
St. James Methodist Church

34:31 -36:53
Darrett Roberts, Poughkeepsie, NY

37:02 -38:25
Resident, Tillson, NY

38:38 -39:42
Resident, Kingston

39:46 - 41:27
Resident, Kingston

41:28 - 43:15
Resident, Bloomington

43:18 - 45:03
Allison, Kingston
Owner, Art Bar (Midtown)

WHAT TO EXPECT: Public Hearing 12/14 on Proposed Shooting Range project in Midtown Kingston

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By Rebecca Martin

On Monday, December 14 at 6:00pm (VIEW KingstonCitizens.org's Facebook event invitation) , the Kingston Planning Board will host a public hearing on the Proposed Shooting Range project. The sponsor of the project Dr. Adam Soyer,  an orthopedic surgeon from Kingston, is looking to build a membership based indoor gun range and gun shop at 90 and 92-94 Prince Street by next fall.  The range would be meant for mostly short-range handgun target shooting, with a plan that would host five lanes for shooting as well as a room for education and a gun shop.   It has been reported that gun rentals may also be available.

VIEW
SafeShoot Fact Sheet

The concerns of citizens who are opposed to the project include not only questioning whether or not the location - in the heart of midtown - is best suited for a shooting range where many renters, businesses and schools are located, but also environmental factors such as proper lead disposal (known as "projectiles" or ammunition), safety/quality of life issues such as potential stray bullets, gun sales and rentals and the upcoming adoption of Kingston's Comprehensive Plan and an imminent citywide zoning overhaul that will follow to clarify the highest use of property in our Midtown area based on years of public input.

Those in favor of the proposal speak to the the need for a safe place to practice shooting for liscensed gun holders and also, the need for education on proper gun use for others.  Some are concerned about turning away the potential investment of up to the proposed amount of $500,000.

Recently, the Kingston Board of Eduction took a strong stand on Ulster County Sheriff's recent comments, and passed a memorializing resolution opposing the project:

"The Kingston City School District Board of Education unanimously adopted a public statement designed to remind KCSD residents that it is illegal to possess a firearm on school grounds. In a separate resolution, the Board also voiced their unanimous opposition to a proposed shooting range and gun store in Midtown.

The BOE #48 resolution states:

BE IT RESOLVED that the Board hereby directs the issuance of the following public statement that shall also be communicated to all local law enforcement agencies, be posted on the District's website and social media accounts, and prominently displayed at the entrance to every district building and sports venue: While the Ulster County Sheriff has advised all county residents who are licensed to carry a firearm to arm themselves, it is important to know that weapons are prohibited from being in the possession of students, faculty and all other individuals on school grounds, in school buildings or other school facilities unless they have the express written permission of the Superintendent of Schools. The New York State Penal Law makes it a felony to possess a rifle, shotgun or firearm on school grounds (Section 265.01-a Penal Law). It is also illegal to possess spring-guns, air-guns or C02 cartridge guns on school grounds. Anyone found to possess such weapons on school grounds without authorization from the Superintendent of Schools shall be reported to the police authorities."  

VIEW: The BOE's memoralizing resolution opposing the Shooting Range project.
VIEW: The BOE's memoralizing resolution opposing the Shooting Range project. http://bit.ly/21Wr2sb

 

Whichever end of the spectrum you might be on, what is important to remember is that you, Kingston citizens, have a public speaking opportunity on Monday night to address the planning board. Therefore, along with everything else that you have in mind to relay, we suggest that you also incorporate items specifically for this body to contemplate that are within their purview.

Here are a few suggestions as you organize your comments for Monday night:

WHAT TO REQUEST:

1) A fair interpretation of Kingston's current zoning /land use law (highest use of space) in this case

We notice that most of what exists today in Kingston - Charter, Zoning, etc. - is written in such a way that's up for interpretation. Therefore, it's appropriate for the public to request that the planning board be clear about a decision based on their interpretation of zoning as it pertains to this location.  That could mean that the zoning board of appeals plays a role in the decision making process to help all to clarify.  KingstonCitizens.org's policy and planning advisor Jennifer Schwartz Berky (who is also an expert in urban planning) is working on more information to share with the public, which we will do as soon as possible.

2)  That the Planning Board schedule additional public meetings to answer all of the questions that the public relay on December 14th

We anticipate a large number of questions to be relayed to the Planning Board and City of Kingston in general that will need to be contemplated and answered. Therefore, we suggest that the public request that the Planning Board schedule additional public meetings/hearings to appropriately answer all of the questions from the public - to the public - in real time (and not only in an online document).

 

BE PREPARED:

To help move things along, and to respect everyone who wishes to speak on Monday evening as well as to protect the best use of the planning board's time, speakers should prepare a statement in advance to be no more than 3 minutes in length.

 

Common Council Unanimously Rejects Thruway Authority’s Lead Agency in SEQR Request. Public Encouraged to Stay Focused on Public Scoping Process Next.

 After the Lead Agency determination deadline on December 16th, KingstonCitizens.org urges the community to stay informed on the many upcoming phases of the SEQR review for the Pilgrim Pipeline proposal as it pertains to Kingston. We are anticipating a large scoping effort next.  Please SUBSCRIBE TO OUR MAILING LIST, and join our growing citizen base to become better informed, educated and effective.  

Photo Courtesy: Riverkeeper.
Photo Courtesy: Riverkeeper.

The following quotes were crafted by Iris Marie Bloom from Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines (CAPP):

Last night, the Kingston Common Council passed a memorializing resolution rejecting the Thruway Authority's request to be Lead Agency in SEQR for the proposed Pilgrim Pipeline proposal.

“I’m thrilled it passed unanimously,” said Julie Noble, Chair of the Kingston, New York Conservation Advisory Council, after the Kingston Common Council’s 9-0 vote last night.

“Once again the City of Kingston is helping to lead the charge, as we continue to move in an environmentally sensitive direction, providing leadership locally, regionally and worldwide,” Kingston Alderman Matt Dunn said in his public testimony. “Many organizations here tonight have helped us take this stand against the Thruway Authority’s attempt to inappropriately lead the environmental review.”

Jennifer Schwartz-Berky, legislator-elect as an Ulster County legislator and member of KingstonCitizens.org, thanked the Kingston Common Council for taking this step in her public testimony in favor of the Resolution last night. “We’re not going to accept deals made behind closed doors. It’s clear there’s a conflict [of interest] with the Thruway Authority. There’s a lot at stake here.”

“Kingston’s Climate Action Plan, in 2012, set goals of reducing fossil fuel dependency and increasing renewables by 2020. That’s one of the reasons Kingston passed the Resolution Opposing Pilgrim Pipelines in January 2015,” added Julie Noble, who is also the Environmental Educator for the City of Kingston’s Parks and Recreation Department.

“Your forward thinking in January 2015, when you passed the Resolution Opposing the Pilgrim Pipeline, helps to guide us now,” said Rebecca Martin, of KingstonCitizens.org. “Almost 10 months later, the Thruway wants Kingston, one of only three cities along the pipelines’ direct path [the other two are Newburgh and Albany], to allow it to be the lead agency. Kingston is declining this request, and acting swiftly.”

Kingston Alderman Brad Will said, “I strongly support tonight’s resolution,” adding, “Our next step will be looking at the oil trains barreling through our city.” Pilgrim’s proposed crude oil pipeline would increase, not decrease, the number of oil trains coming through New York State, research has shown. ***  (see below)

###

*** BACKGROUND

Oil trains in New York State would increase, not decrease, if Pilgrim pipelines are built, according to analysis by the organization Riverkeeper and by Stephen Shafer, MD, MPH.

Millions of people in New York and New Jersey would have their drinking water put at risk by the proposed Pilgrim pipelines. This includes those who drink water drawn from the Ramapo River, the Hudson River, the Karst Aquifer, the Passaic River Basin, and many other rivers, streams and aquifers. 

More on these and other topics including eminent domain; climate; the Koch Industries relationship to Pilgrim pipelines; and the type of oil Pilgrim may use, see attached “New Background.” For broader factual background and overview, see attached “Backgrounder.” For arguments against Pilgrim pipelines by the Coalition Against Pilgrim Pipelines, see FAQs at www.stoppilgrimpipeline.com