Audio Feature: This week in local environmental news
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.
Raymond Pignone is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media that the Columbia County communities of Austerlitz, Hudson, and New Lebanon have endorsed the state’s Climate Action Council Scoping Plan. Officials in all three municipalities declared their support for the plan, which calls for (1) the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030; (2) accomplishing net-zero emissions by 2050; (3) meeting 70 percent of electricity needs from renewable resources by 2030; (4) meeting 100 percent of electricity needs from zero-emissions resources by 2040; and (5) ensuring a just and equitable transition that leaves no one behind and dedicating up to 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. The New Lebanon Town Board unanimously adopted a resolution emphasizing a halt to investments in fossil fuel producers. The measure also calls for support of proposed advanced building codes that would improve the energy efficiency of new buildings. The Austerlitz resolution notes that more than half of what New Yorkers now spend on energy leaves the state, mostly to purchase fossil fuels, and local communities would be better served by keeping energy spending primarily within the local economy. The measure was approved by the Austerlitz Town Board on a vote of 3 to 2. In Hudson, Mayor Kamal Johnson signed a unanimously adopted support resolution which, “affirms the critical importance of meeting the emissions and equity goals of the Climate Act, which will help mitigate dangerous warming while delivering the additional benefits of improving public health, economic opportunities, agricultural land and open space protection and quality of life for the people of Hudson.” Read the full story at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.
Rick Karlin reports for the Times Union that the Riverkeeper environmental group is getting a $150,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to begin to remove the Mill Creek Dam. The group says that will help American eel and river herring travel from the Atlantic Ocean to this stream off the Hudson River in Rensselaer County. “We’re trying to restore the creeks for migratory species,” said George Jackman, senior habitat restoration manager for the Riverkeeper environmental group. “Since colonial times, the creeks one by one got walled off and dammed,” Jackman says. This dam was built in the 19th century for a felt mill. The numbers of both eel and herring have fallen lately, due to overfishing and disease. Riverkeeper estimates there are 1,600 dams on rivers and streams in the Hudson Valley. Riverkeeper is targeting dams that present the first barriers that fish swimming up the Hudson River might encounter after they head upstream. “Those are the ones that are strategically important to us,” Jackman said. Read more about this story in the Times Union.
Heather Bellow reports in The Berkshire Eagle that bird feeders are not illegal in Great Barrington. The Western Massachusett town did recently pass a new wildlife feeding bylaw. The new rule allows bird feeders, but says all food sources such as bird feeders or unsecured garbage should be removed within 48 hours if it is drawing a bear or other wildlife into a yard or neighborhood. Birds, though, are allowed to keep eating. But if a homeowner disregards a warning about unwanted wildlife outside dining then fines kick in, with a first at $50; a second and beyond at $200. “This regulations shall not be interpreted so as to prohibit bird feeders or bird feeding,” the new bylaws reads. “If a bird feeder or bird feed is determined to be the feeding source for nuisance wildlife, causing an attractant issue, or a public safety threat the bird feeder and seed debris shall be removed within 48 hours.” Great Barrington Board Chair Michael Lanoue said the law is for repeat offenders. “The whole thing is kind of unfortunate,” he said. “It’s usually one or two people.” Read more about this story in The Berkshire Eagle.
Scott Stafford reports for The Berkshire Eagle that beginning November 1, in Massachusetts it will be a state code violation to put textiles and mattresses in the trash. By adding textiles and mattresses to its disposal ban, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is prohibiting those items from being deposited in landfills. The ultimate goal is to reduce the amount of waste buried in the still available space in landfills, according to DEP officials. John Fischer, DEP deputy division director for solid waste, said that “95 percent of textiles recovered can be reused.” The DEP’s final 2030 Solid Waste Master Plan establishes goals to reduce disposal statewide by 30 percent — from 5.7 million tons in 2018 to 4 million tons in 2030. Massachusetts residents and businesses dispose of roughly 230,000 tons of textiles every year, even though nearly 95 percent of it could be reused or recycled instead of thrown away. About six percent of the waste delivered to combustion facilities for disposal is made up of clothing, curtains, towels, and other fabrics. Massachusetts has five landfills left and three will be closed by 2030. Textiles that should now be recycled include pants, shirts, skirts, dresses tops jackets, pajamas, doggie beds, hats, gloves, shoes, blankets, sheets, pillowcases, and mattresses. A list of places in Massachusetts that will accept textile goods for repurposing or recycling is available at the DEP website. Read the full story in The Berkshire Eagle.