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March/April 2010
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

This newsletter also available as a PDF file.

Electronic Newsletters
To be friendlier to the environment, we deliver our newsletters, in both html and pdf format, via our web site,  We also mail paper newsletters with our "Year in Review" articles and those listing the candidates for the Executive Committee elections to all members.  If you would like to have a hard copy of all newsletters sent to you through the postal mail, please contact Jack Davis at 570-553-2081 or .

General Meetings
March 16
Binghamton Architect Jim Bryden discusses little-known “Home Energy Saving Ideas,” including grant and loan programs available to the average home owner. And energy auditor John Patterson discusses “Simple Energy Saving Ideas in Your Home or Office,” including inventorying all things that use electric power; understanding your utility bill; determining how much insulation is enough; and attending Cornell Cooperative Extension’s course on energy saving.
April 20
BU Associate Professor of Biology John Titus speaks on “Adirondack Lakes: Threats from Acidification and Invasive Species,” including an update on the status of the acid rain problem in the Adirondacks.

About General Meetings

Everyone interested is welcome at all Sierra Club activities, whether or not a member (except for Executive Committee meetings). General meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month, except July and August. They are held at Central United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott, NY (on Route 26 — from Route 17, follow 26 north to Endicott, west on East Main, north of Nanticoke.) The public is welcome and refreshments are served following the meeting. Contact Julian Shepherd at for more information.


There are no outings scheduled at this time.

Healthy Planet, Healthy People

Join representatives of the Susquehanna Group of the Sierra Club and other like-minded “green groups,” at Earth Fest 2010 on Saturday, April 24 at MacArthur Park and School in Binghamton. 1123 Vestal Ave., Binghamton.

Earth Fest is held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. This year’s theme is “Healthy Planet, Healthy People.” Come out, be green and get healthy!
Earth Fest, sponsored by Earth Day Southern Tier, is one of the longest-running continuous celebrations of Earth Day in the nation. In 2009, Earth Day Southern Tier celebrated its 20th anniversary as an organization dedicated to environmental education. This year, as always, there will be opportunities for education and fun at Earth Fest. 

Past and current sponsors and exhibitors include: IBM, Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, NYSEG, Gault Toyota, Johnson Camping, Taylor Garbage, and Frito Lay;  the NY State DEC, Broome County Division of Solid Waste, Broome County Environmental Management Council, Susquehanna River Basin Commission and Cornell Cooperative Extension; and non-profit organizations such as the Animal Care Council, Finch Hollow Nature Center, the Binghamton Zoo at Ross Park and Waterman Conservation Education Center.

Earth Day Southern Tier’s mission is to increase public education and awareness of environmental concerns and the programs, products, and technology available to green the Tier and the planet. For further information, visit .

Lynda Spickard Award to Cynthia Westerman
click on image to enlarge
At the January meeting, Julian Shepherd presented Cynthia Westerman with the Lynda Spikcard Award for her outstanding record of environmental activisim.

Systems Should Monitor Water
By Julian Shepherd

On Monday, February 15, chiefs of several sections of the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, centered in Harrisburg, PA, gave presentations at Binghamton University that addressed some of the water quality and quantity concerns we have with the hydrofracture and horizontal drilling for natural gas projected to begin soon in New York State. The activities of the Commission gave me assurance that there are some controls on the process of water withdrawals from rivers and streams for the hydrofracturing process, and some continuous monitoring of water quality in the Susquehanna River and its tributaries.

The Commission sees and passes judgment on all requests to withdraw large volumes of water from streams and rivers in the Basin, basing their recommendations on “Q7-10,” which is the lowest 7-day flow over a 10-year period  -- they allow withdrawals up to 10% of this volume. Michael Brownell, chief of water resource management at the Commission, pointed out that although volumes used for hydrofracture sound high (about 5-6 million gallons per well), these are usually well within those allowed by the Q7-10 rule.

Since the 1980s, the Commission has been regularly monitoring water quality using biological and chemical measures at several hundred sites throughout the Basin. They also classify streams based on their water quality, as well as their wild or scenic value and biodiversity. Their latest development is the establishment of a remote monitoring system, involving submerged “datasondes” which read temperature, pH, turbidity, conductance, depth, and dissolved oxygen of the water. Readings will be taken about every 5 minutes and then relayed hourly to the central office in Harrisburg. They aim to set up 30 such stations by June 2010, especially in locations near public water supplies and major gas-drilling activity and thus should have an early warning system in place to catch any major perturbations in water quality. Although the values measured would not detect pollution with organic chemicals, the other measures should catch almost any major pollution event, man-made or natural.
I find this effort by the SRBC welcome news for those of us concerned about water consumption and pollution by the gas-drilling industry.

Gas Drilling Dominates
By Rich Kellman

Overwhelmingly, as we all know, gas drilling dominates our environmental and health concerns now and for an undetermined time into the future. The more of us who stand up to oppose this extremely destructive process, the greater the chance that we can stop it in the totally unacceptable form in which it now proposed. Many believe it can never be safe, even if the fracking fluids were completely green. Several reasons are cited, including the dredging up of radioactive material in the sub-strata, which is disturbed by the Marcellus drilling. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are also released, which are detrimental to health. Not to mention the destruction and fragmentation of large amounts of our beautiful region and the threats to our water supplies. Because Sierra National has imposed a gag order on the Sierra Atlantic chapter (our chapter),  we cannot represent ourselves as Sierra members calling for a ban — we need to do it as private citizens. Please consider signing the petition to ban hydrofracking: .

Those of us who are unhappy with the position National Sierra has taken on natural gas as a transitional fuel (not taking seriously enough the destructiveness of the fracking process), should contact Mike Brune, the new executive director. He has a strong activist background, so we can appeal to his no-nonsense, straightforward, seemingly sincere approach. Email: or phone: 415-977-5500. With better backing from our 1.3 million member/$80 million organization, much can be accomplished.

March 12 is Lobby Day
The Susquehanna Group will meet with some of our state legislators on or about March 12 to discuss concerns with hydrofracking of natural gas in the Southern Tier and other areas of the state. This is part of a statewide lobbying effort organized by the Atlantic chapter. We intend to say that the supplemental GEIS is inadequate and that the state has to fix this.

Recognizing that the DEC is reviewing public comments to the sGEIS, we nevertheless want to press for inclusion of rigorous regulations that fully safeguard the health and safety of new York’s residents and ensures the long-term social, economic and environmental health for our

The Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter calls for prohibition of the existing practices of hydrofracking. For a policy update, refer to: . For more information, contact Scott Lauffer at or call 341-3746.

Conservation Concerns/Tips
By Rich Kellman

For those of you who enjoy home vegetable gardening and especially enjoy wonderful organic produce, building an unheated PVC "hoophouse" or "high tunnel" can extend our growing season by 2 months or more. We might organize a builder’s group to help construct them for each other. If interested, contact me: . The cost doesn't look very high. For material info: .

Join Citizen Action Fuel Group for $10/year and potentially save 15 to 25 cents/gallon:

New generation deep-storage batteries, developed by Coors' (yes, same as the beer) subsidiary Ceramatec aim to be small and safe enough to power a home. Solar energy costs are reportedly tumbling, driven by new thin-film chemistry and manufacturing techniques. Arizona-based First Solar and Konarka can paint solar cells on to glass and now plans to print cells on to rolls of flexible plastic. .

Clean diesel: A new era of green cars looms. Modern diesel power trains are quiet, clean, smooth, reliable, durable and economical. With proper maintenance, they can last significantly longer than gasoline engines and be able to compete with hybrids. I've heard from one of my mechanics that fixing hybrids is a real chore — requiring specialized tools that only dealers have, and costing more for maintenance. There are considerably fewer non-dealer mechanics who want to work on hybrids or know how.

Waste Management Comes Alive
By Peter McWain

Resource Educator Kevin Mathers of Cornell Cooperative Extension runs a program funded through Broome County Solid Waste in which he develops environmental education programs for local schools. Kevin Mathers uses waste management as a platform for students to analyze and investigate life cycles.  He specializes in recycling and composting and has the uncanny ability of inspiring students K-12 to become environmental stewards as well as critical thinkers. 
“Recycling is more than just waste management,” Kevin explains. “When you recycle, you are saving all of the energy and natural resources that go into the production of goods.”  Kevin has facilitated recycling and composting outreach to individual teachers, small classes and packed auditoriums.  His passion and enthusiasm is contagious. Kevin designs his programs to “address a scientific conceptual framework while outlining basic curricular benchmarks” and he delivers his lessons in a fun and engaging manner.  During Kevin’s workshops, students and teachers participate in a variety of activities; Kevin may help classes build vermin-compost bins to observe how worms turn food scraps into organic soil or students may sort through compost to identify and analyze different organisms that aid in the degradation of waste. Kevin is a consummate resource for all waste management and environmental education purposes.  Community leaders like Kevin Mathers   will help the Southern Tier transition into a more environmentally conscious future.
For more information about this program, please visit:

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Sierra Club Websites
Each of these provides links to the other two:


Atlantic Chapter (NY State):

Susquehanna Group (NY Southern Tier- Binghamton - area):

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To join on our listserv:
To join our emial list (low volume!) for announcements about meetings, outings and other events, send your full name and preferred e-mail address to Erin Riddle at .

Electronic Newsletters
To be friendlier to the environment, we deliver our newsletters, in both html and pdf format, via our web site: If you would like to have all newsletters mailed, please contact Jack Davis at 570-553-2081 or .

Group Officers for 2009-2010

Group Chair: Julian Shepherd

Vice Chair: Erin Riddle

Secretary: Fiske D. Hanson

Treasurer: Vivian Stevens

Chapter Delegate: Jeff Bohner
772- 8304,

Conservation: Rich Kellman
Cool Cities Coordinator: Erin Riddle

Peter McWain
Fundraising: Vivian Stevens

Membership: Jack Davis

Media/Publicity: Fiske Hanson

Outings: Nancy McGee

Newsletter Editor: Lee Shepherd

Mailing Address:
Susquehanna Group of the Sierra Club
P.O. Box 572
Endicott, N.Y. 13760


This page last updated March 5, 2010