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Audio Feature: This week in local environmental news

Oct 08, 2022 2:03 am

Here is a roundup of the biggest environmental stories locally this week from the WGXC Newsroom. Click here to download or play this week's environmental news from WGXC.

Emilia Teasdale is reporting for The Columbia Paper that the Valatie Planning Board's public hearing on an application from Seaboard Solar for a solar panel project on Running Creek Road, in Kinderhook and Stuyvesant, opened on September 15. Pedro Rodriguez, from Seaboard, based in New Milford, Conn., presented the plan at the meeting. The proposal calls for the use of about 65 acres of a 140-acre farm for solar panels. Rodriguez said Seaboard Solar will buy the land and has an agreement with the farmer to continue farming the parcel. Steve Wilson from Bohler Engineering presented images of what the site would look like with tree cover around the panels and how far the panels are from the nearest house. Several neighbors attended the hearing and expressed their concerns about the project. They questioned the decision to install them on what they called “prime farmland” and had concerns about chemicals from the equipment contaminating their water. There was also a discussion about the upkeep of the current solar panel farm on Route 9 and what the company would do with damaged panels. Residents also had concerns about the potential for fires at the installation. Rodriguez said in the 10 years he had been with the company there had never been a fire at any of their sites. He also said his company has created a decommissioning account for when the time comes to remove the panels in 25 or 30 years. The board adjourned the public hearing to be reopened October 20. Read the full story in The Columbia Paper.

Heather Bellow is reporting for The Berkshire Eagle that the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection on October 3 was investigating the source of an oil slick on the Housatonic River. The source of the pollution was believed to be located north of the Elm Street bridge in Pittsfield, where the slick was first seen late last week. Three members of the DEP’s emergency team were present Oct. 3, looking down at the river, where the sheen of some type of fuel could be seen. Pittsfield resident Maria Vasquez was taking a walk along Elm Street on Sept. 30 when she spotted something in the river she had never seen before. “I’ve never seen a slick there,” said Vasquez, who is familiar with the area near the road bridge where the river flows southwest. On Oct. 3, the DEP workers declined to be identified, but said they had just been called about the contaminant and were about to start tracing it north to figure out where it came from. Vasquez said the area has always teemed with wildlife such as ducks and raccoons, and she once saw a bobcat cross the river. She found the presence of pollution troubling. “That’s really sad to see,” she said. Read more in The Berkshire Eagle.

Liz Montgomery reports for Porcupine Soup that the Greenville pond has been emptied. Work continues on the pond, in Veterans Park in the center of town, to eliminate the algae that covered the water this summer. Greenville is removing up to 1,250 cubic yards of materials from the pond, the first time it has been dredged since 1997. Halstead Excavating, Inc. is getting $42,800 of Greenville's federal COVID-19 funding for its work on the pond. They'll use what they dredge from the pond to fill in low areas of the park, according to Town Supervisor Paul Macko. Read the full story at Porcupine Soup.

Lissa Harris reports for the Times Union about how New York will spend the $70 billion its getting from the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act. That money from the federal legislation signed by President Joe Biden in August will be spent between now and 2050. Much of the bill addresses the climate crisis, with both direct funding and incentives for citizens and companies to move to renewable energy sources. New York residents will get large new tax credits, and much funding, for purchasing heat pumps, electric vehicles, and other climate-friendly technology. Electricity producers throughout the country will get tax credits for investing in and producing wind, solar, nuclear, and other forms of zero-carbon energy. That should keep the businesses producing wind turbines at the Port of Albany busy. The funding and incentives could also lead to more windmills on the sides of mountains in New York. Previously climate planners assumed New York would import most wind power from out of state. But the new federal incentives may lead to more local windmills. New York State Energy Research and Development Authority analyst Carl Mas believes that the Inflation Reduction Act funding won't move New York to green energy faster, but it will make things cheaper for residents. “Because our policies and our adoptions are so aggressive, we aren’t estimating that it accelerates the achievement of our goals,” he said. Read the full story in the Times Union.