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March/April 2008
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Susquehanna Group

We Are Transitioning to Electronic Newsletters

The executive committee of the Susquehanna group has decided that starting in September, we will mail paper newsletters only to members requesting them. Due to rising postage costs, we find that we can no longer afford to mail newsletters to every member five times a year. In addition, we save trees by cutting down on the number of newsletters we print. We will mail out two more newsletters this year to all members besides this one: the May-August and at the end of the year a "Year in Review". We encourage our members who have computer access to go to our web site, to access the newsletters, they will be placed there in both html and pdf format. If you would like to continue to have a newsletter mailed after the May-August one, please contact Jack Davis at 570-553-2081 or


Why We Need to Be Concerned About Sustainability Efforts
Recycling Presentation, Debra Smith
Gas-Drilling HERE?
Local Environmental New
'Green' Reading
Getting Informed
Sierra Club Websites
Sierra Club 2008 Calendars
Group Elections
Membership Application


Everyone interested is welcome at all Sierra Club activities, whether or not a member (except for Executive Committee meetings).
General Meetings: These are held at 7:30 pm on the third Tuesday of each month, except July and August. They are held at Central United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott, NY (it is on Route 26 - from Route 17, follow 26 n. to Endicott, w. on E. Main, n. on Nanticoke). The public is welcome and refreshments are served following the meeting. Call Jack Davis, 570-553-2081, or Scott Lauffer, 341-3746 or for further information.

Tuesday, Mar. 18
6pm - 7pm Potluck Dinner
7pm - 9pm Roundtable Discussion

The Susquehanna Group of the Sierra Club will host a special roundtable discussion on sustainability efforts in the Southern Tier. This is a follow on of a Sustainability Conference held in Binghamton last October. Andrew Leslie Phillips, of the Hancock Permaculture, will give a keynote speech on "Nodes of Permanence", followed by speakers on zero waste, composting, food production, and food accessibility. The organizers of the meeting hope for the group to decide on a next step in building sustainability in the Southern Tier. Since there are several initiatives towards sustainability happening in our area, the time seems right to promote these now and encourage further efforts, like a Sustainability Center and Food Cooperative. We have teamed up with other groups, including the City of Binghamton, Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Earth Day Southern Tier and VINES. Note that the meeting will start 30 minutes earlier, at 7:00, preceded by a potluck dinner at 6:00. We encourage all to bring locally grown food, organic and/or vegetarian. Please bring your own place setting. Coffee and tea will be provided. We plan to promote this meeting much more than normal, hoping to get large attendance. Please pass the word on to those who may be interested.

Tuesday, Apr. 15
Continuing Discussion on Sustainability 7:30PM

Since we have an ambitious agenda for the March 18 Roundtable, we anticipate further discussion will be needed and thus are slotting this meeting for that purpose. If certain segments of the March 18 Roundtable cannot be adequately covered, or if topics raise enough interest, then we will have the chance to explore them more. More will be known by the end of the March 18 Roundtable, or soon after. Updates about this meeting will be posted to the Susquehanna-NEWS listserv.
Sierra Events: These are held several times per year (see Activities note above). "In order to participate on one of the Sierra Club's outings, you will need to sign a liability waiver. If you would like to read a copy of the waiver prior to the outing, please see http://www.sierraclub. org/outings/chapter/forms or call 415-977-5630. In the interests of facilitating the logistics of some outings, it is customary that participants make carpooling arrangements. The Sierra Club does not have insurance for carpooling arrangements and assumes no liability for them. Carpooling, ride sharing or anything similar is strictly a private arrangement among the participants. Participants assume the risks associated with this travel."

Leader Training
Effective July 1, 2008, Sierra Club Outings Leader Standards require that all outings leaders complete OLT 101 (Outings Leader Training) and renew it, as well as First Aid training, every four years thereafter.
There are several ways leaders may fulfill the OLT 101 requirement, including self-study options and group workshop options. Persons interested in leading Sierra Club outings, and completing the required training can contact Kathy Cronin at 648-6240.

Fri, Mar. 28, 2 pm
Tour the Delaware County Composting Facility

Susan McIntyre, Delaware County Solid Waste Director, will host a Susquehanna Group tour of the facility, located at the Delaware County Landfill in Walton, NY. The facility processes organic materials from municipal solid and liquid wastes, including food and wood scraps, non-recyclable paper, soil, biosolids, and other organics. The finished product is sold to Delaware Co. residents and businesses. A facility such as this would be a welcome addition to the Broome County Landfill. Muck boots, long pants and shirts - clothing that you won’t mind getting dirty or smelly - will be required. Call Kathy Cronin at 648-6240 to reserve your spot on this grand tour, as the group is limited to 10 participants.

Sat. Apr. 19
Alternative Energy and Green Building Tour
Focuses on green buildings, alternative energy, and energy conservation
Sponsored by Friends of Salt Springs Park

Sat, Apr. 26, 10am-5pm
Earth Fest, Roberson Museum and Science Center
Come out and Support Earth Fest. This year the theme is “How Will We Get There”. Sponsored by Earth Day Southern Tier, your involvement helps support their mission of increasing public education and awareness of environmental concerns. Exhibits and programs at the fest will include government agencies (like Broome County Soil and Water Conservation District), products, and technology available to eliminate waste and reduce pollution, and other organizations and individuals who promote, provide or exemplify positive environmental impact. The Susquehanna Group plans to have a booth there, if interested in helping contact Scott Lauffer at 341-3746 or

Executive Committee Meetings are (usually) held on the Tuesday before each General Meeting at 7:30 pm (0408, 0513).

Why We Need to Be Concerned About Sustainability Efforts

- We may already have reached peak oil, our fossil fuel-based economy cannot continue on the same path.
- Using up our fossil fuels is also contributing to global warming.
- If all humanity ate the way Americans eat, we would exhaust all known fossil fuel reserves in just seven years.
- Food prices will be going up, this can be addressed better by growing and buying locally.
- A throw away society like we are puts a great strain on the earth’s resources, it’s on a collision course with the planet’s geological limits.
- Population growth will continue to add to the competition for the world’s resources and increase poverty.
- Deforestation provides far less value in lumber than the benefits provided by forests and could turn the planet into a wasteland.
- Water scarcity may be the most underrated resource issue the world is facing today.
- China has become a major consumer nation, if they want to embrace the “American Dream” then there won’t be enough resources for two countries whose per capita consumption will equal what we have today in the U.S.
- Accelerating soil erosion is reducing the planet’s inherent productivity, which means the foundation of civilization is crumbling with it.
- The degradation of rangeland is leading to our inability to sustain livestock production.
- Fisheries are collapsing throughout the world. Our demand for fish and seafood will no longer be satisfied by expanding oceanic catches.
- The U.S. is doubling it’s grain production to produce ethanol, this is pitting cars against people.
- Many of these points were taken from the book Plan B 3.0: Mobilizing to Save Civilization, by Lester Brown

further resources: - Permaculture - the practice of obtaining food, energy and shelter by following nature's patterns--is one of
the fastest growing environmental movements on the planet. - is an excellent discussion of our throw-away economy and what needs to be done about it. - Their purpose is to provide a vision of what a sustainable economy will look like and a plan for how to get from here to there. - Our Planetary Crisis, with further references to web sites and books dealing with climate change and sustainability issues, thanks to Wes Ernsberger.

Recycling Presentation, Debra Smith

Thanks to Debra Smith, Broome County Materials Recovery Manager, for her thorough explanation about recycling in Broome County at the February 19 meeting.
Among the things she presented were:
- What is recyclable and what was not
- cardboard with plastic windows can be put in recycle bin just the way they are.
- Cardboard with metal rims can be recycled as they are
- Clean pizza boxes are also recyclable.
- Plastic covered paper and Styrofoam are not recyclable.
- Broome County is strictly a transfer station now, materials are sent up to a recycling plant in Liverpool, NY for processing.
- Paper represents 75-80% of recycling material.
- Clothing is being made out of recycled plastic.
- Liquids have been added at landfill the last few years to help break down materials.
- Aluminum cans have become a valuable material, as aluminum mining has become more expensive.
- Corn based plastic is not distinguishable from other plastics and becomes a problem in recycling.
- It is recommended that compact fluorescent light bulbs be taken to the Hazardous Waste Facility at the landfill, although NY State law exempts households from being required to do this.
- #3 and #7 plastics may end up in landfill as they are not in demand.
- Debra checks out where all recyclable materials are sent to validate that they are going to valid recovery efforts.
- The Solid Waste Plan expires in Broome County in 2010. A new plan must be submitted to the state.
- The Broome County landfill has an estimated 50-55 years left, it is also in the process of being expanded to a new cell as the current cell is near capacity.

Gas-Drilling HERE?

The article in the March 7 Press & Sun-Bulletin about Endicott and gas leasing inspired some thought by Jack Davis:
We have been approached with an offer to lease, but have not done so yet. The terms offered are very slanted to the drilling company. Local people are getting together to hire a consultant who can broker a deal faverable to the landowner. The Friendsville Group will have more than 10,000 acres. I would expect what we saw in the paper is the tip of an iceberg as to what will happen in Broome County. The formation extends from northern PA into NY and wells have been drilled in Susquehanna County and the Corning area. The proximity to the Millennium pipeline is key to where the leasing will occur. The question for the Sierra Club and Broome County is should all large parcels (the parks, golf courses, and the IBM glen) be leased? It might not be a bad thing if the terms protect water, and local residents. Local municipalities need to work together for better terms. The terms of the offer in the paper are low compared with what people are getting in NEPA. There would be a need to build roads for drilling and pipelines in the parks, but the roads could be used for hiking and xcountry skiing.
We have committed to joining the local group, and if the terms protect the land, we will lease. What do other Sierrans think?

Local Environmental News

- U.S. Rep. Maurice D. Hinchey and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced legislation on March 4 that would mandate protective standards for the industrial solvent TCE in air and water, taking into account the vulnerability of women and children.

- TCE vapors are affecting homes across the Vestal Parkway from American Family Fitness, which use to house Hidden Valley Electronics. The DEC is continuing to test in the area and to date 13 of 15 homes affected by the TCE intrusion have installed mitigation systems.

- TCE testing is also continuing in dozens of properties in West Endicott. Two facilities, a former Canada Dry plant and a former Chenango Industries plant are the likely sources of the toxic chemical.

- Endicott Interconnect Technologies is applying to renew a five-year permit to emit 25 tons of hazardous chemicals per year at its micro-electronics plant on North Street. The application, adhering to federal clean air standards, also seeks approval for more than 300 tons of greenhouse gases and other emissions.

- State lawmakers will again introduce legislation requiring landlords to notify tenants who live in polluted buildings, after similar measures were vetoed by two administrations in 2006 and 2007. Assemblyperson Donna Lupardo and Senator Thomas Libous are sponsoring this.

'Green' Reading
Request for 'Green' Book Recommendations

It has come to our attention that local library collections are lacking up-to-date information on books about sustainability, permaculture, climate change, energy efficiency, and 'green' literature, in general.
We are looking to improve this void by making recommendations to both the Finger Lakes Library System and the Four County Library System (with our initial recomendations based on what we collect by Feb. 1). Please share information about your favorite resources so that we can help to better educate the public as well as ourselves.
Send your recommendations to Colleen Wolpert at or share them at an upcoming Sierra Club meeting.
Thank you in advance,
Colleen Wolpert

Getting Informed

Like to be on our news listserv? It offers announcements about local events, such as sometimes come up on too short notice to usefully appear in the Newsletter. To join, send an email to either Scott Lauffer at or Erin Riddle at Announcements come from
Sierra Club Websites
Each of these provides links to the other two:
Atlantic Chapter (NY State):
Susquehanna Group (NY Southern Tier - Binghamton - area):

Dave Ketchum, Newsletter Editor

Sierra Club 2008 Calendars
(our prices remain tax inc.):
Wilderness - list $12.95, our price $12.00. All the grandeur of the North American Wilderness.
Engagement - List $13.95, our price $13.00. Stunning images of Flora and Fauna.
Call Viv Stevens, 748-9865, to get your calendars, Proceeds support your local Sierra Club group.

Officers (2008)

Group Chair: Jeff Bohner, 772-8304,
Vice Chair: Scott Lauffer, 341-3746,
Secretary: Helena Garan, 797-7108
Treasurer: Vivian Stevens, 748-9865
Chapter ExCom Rep: Scott Lauffer, 341-3746,
Conservation: Julian Shepherd, 722-9327,
Cool Cities Coordinator: Erin Riddle, 372-5503,
Education: Harry Barnes, 829-5307
Fundraising: Vivian Stevens, 748-9865
Membership: Jack Davis, 570-553-2081,
Media/Publicity: Gaynelle Gauvin, 729-8306,
Newsletter Editor: Dave Ketchum, 687-5026,
Outing: Kathy Cronin, 757-0736,
Population: Harry Barnes, 829-5307
Wetlands/Clean Water: Cindy Westerman, 748-9792,
(Ex Com member): Fiske D. Hanson,772-1236,

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This page last updated March 10, 2008