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March/April 2009
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Susquehanna Group

This newsletter also available as a PDF file.

Special thanks to outgoing Chair Scott Lauffer, who served two terms, Outings Chair Kathy Cronin and Dave Ketchum, who edited the newsletter for many years.

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

Inside this Issue

Earth Fest
Wood: Renewable Fuel
Biofuels Analysis
Earth Fest Tioga
Salt Springs Outing
Sustainability Conference
List of Offices

Tues., March 17, 7:30 p.m.

March General Meeting: PA Native Warns of Dangers of Gas Drilling
United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott (see below for directions)

Susquehanna Group Sierra Club, in conjunction with the Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition, is hosting a gas drilling presentation by Barbara Arrindell and Ron Gulla titled “Gas Drilling is Unsafe- We MUST Do Better.” Barbara is well-known on our listserv. She’s an active, concerned and knowledgeable individual who is one of the founders and the chief science officer of Damascus (PA) Citizens for Sustainability. She holds a B.A. in Bioengineering from Columbia University.

Ron Gulla is a western PA (south of  Pittsburgh) owner of a 141-acre farm, which has been made uninhabitable by gas drilling. He, his wife and two children, ages 27 months and 4 years, have been forced to leave their home and property due to fears of adverse health effects from their contaminated water. Ron is a college-educated, outspoken critic of the drilling process and the industry, with which he is now in litigation. He and his family are devoting as much time as they can to inform and unite people around the dangers of drilling, to work toward helping others from going through the “travesty” he's experienced, and to stop these destructive activities.

Attendees: Bring your friends, neighbors, community members who are not aware of the dangers, so that they will become more informed. The “drill on” folks and industry reps are welcome too — just bring an open mind by setting aside the pictures of dollar bills in your minds and mistaken images of drilling being clean and leading toward energy independence.

Tues., April 21, 
7:30 p.m.
April General Meeting: Wood as a Renewable Fuel-  Kevin Mathers
United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott (see below for directions)

Kevin Mathers- extension educator, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County. Wood and fuels made from wood have received increasing interest as energy consumers look to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels. Our forests can provide renewable energy that will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but only if sustainable and ecologically responsible harvesting techniques are employed. This presentation will provide info on local forests, wood energy technologies, and harvesting practices.

Directions to General Meeting:
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 (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. Contact Julian Shepherd, 722-9327 or or Erin Riddle, 372-5503 or

Earth Fest Broome 2009
20th Anniversary: 20 Years and Growing Greener
Saturday, April 25th, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
MacArthur Elementary School and Park
1123 Vestal Avenue, Binghamton
Food by Nezuntoz; Children's area by The Clay Ground
Live Music, free seeds and tree seedlings
All for $1 or CHOW donation

Earth Fest Tioga!

April 18, 2009, 9 a.m.—3 p.m.
Waterman Center, 403 Hilton Road, Apalachin
Food, fun, entertainment, environmental education
For information, 607-625-2221

Sierra Club Websites:
Each of these provides links to the other two:
Atlantic Chapter (NY State):
Susquehanna Group (NY Southern Tier- Binghamton - area):
Lynda Spickard Environmental Award: Virginia Oggins
Click for Larger Image

Robbin Oggins accepts the Lynda Spickard Environmental Award on behalf of his wife, community environmental activist
Virgina Oggins.

Also pictured are
Scott Lauffer and Cindy Westerman.

Biofuels Deemed Inefficient
Julian Shepherd, Group Chair

Known for his big-picture environmental studies, David Pimentel of Cornell University gave a devastating analysis of the utility of biofuels at a talk at Binghamton University on February 2.

His calculations show that it takes much more energy in the form of fossil fuels than you receive from the ethanol produced from biofuels.  And that does not take into account the cost of many other necessary inputs such as labor, machinery, processing, hybrid corn production, irrigation, and the environmental costs of pesticide, fertilizer and silt pollution.

His take-home message was that biofuels of any type are generally inefficient to produce and will provide at best only a few percent of our demand at the moment, and that proponents of their use rarely take into account their full costs. He advocates significant energy conservation as the best policy option.

Growing a Sustainable Community
Conference at BCC on April 17-18

Many practices we engage in today endanger the prospects of a strong, healthy tomorrow. This two-day conference will explore various elements of what it means to plan and act as if the future mattered. A keynote address by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo will begin the event on Friday evening, followed by workshops and plenary sessions on Saturday, which will include panels of elected officials and specialists in the fields of energy, green architecture, transportation, resource use, waste reduction, sustainable agriculture, green jobs, economic justice, and community engagement. A vendor fair also will be featured.

For more information, contact Chris Burger 692-3442.

Stop the POPulation Bomb

Harry Barnes, POPulation Chair

Spaceship earth continues to spin off into eternity with its load of remaining and evolving life forms, some human like you and me.  Concern for our fragile spacecraft has forced us to come to terms with the sustainability of life as we know it on planet Earth.

Population growth is at the root of all social and environmental issues – managing resources is the process of managing people, Ask any park ranger, forest resource manager, corporate executive, or your mom.

More than a decade ago, as a result of this concern, nearly 100 countries participated in an International Conference on Population and Development which took place in Cairo, Egypt. After five days struggling with a multiplicity of spacecraft problems – natural resource allocation, social justice, cultural and religious differences, etc. an amazing thing happened. Unbelievable as it might seem, this large conference reached consensus that the root cause of all problems was explosive population growth on our planet and an action plan was drawn up and agreed on.
To view details of this Cairo “Programme of Action,” visit  The most interesting thing you will learn is that the education and empowerment of women, including control over their reproductive lives, was primary to solution of all other global problems.  Basic human rights and equality for women  in many countries and cultures was not going to happen overnight, but as Pete Seeger said, “Take it easy…but take it!” and good things are happening.

An organization known as PCI (Population Communications International) has struggled for 30 years to find ways to empower people to make value judgments that lead to sustainability in their communities and in their families. A decade ago, PCI began to “infiltrate” soap operas with open and honest discussions about family planning, community development, human sexuality, etc.  For a glimpse into what PCI does, you can visit

We may not defuse the POPulation bomb, but empowering people to make informed decisions does make a huge difference.

Events Waivers/Carpooling Urged

Sierra Events: These are held several times per year. 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 .

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.

Salt Springs Outing

Three-mile moderate hike at Salt Springs Park near Franklin Forks, PA. Meet at 9 a.m. at the Vestal Library to carpool. Sat., March 21. Trip leaders: Nancy McGee and Jack Davis. Contact Nancy at 722-5393 or for information.

Stay for the Maple Syrup making/tasting program at 2 p.m. Must register for this by calling 570-967-7275.  Registration costs $15 per person, $10 for kids 12 and younger.

Group Offices for 2009

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

Education: Harry Barnes
Fundraising: Vivian Stevens

Membership: Jack Davis

Media/Publicity: Fiske Hanson

Outings: Nancy McGee

Newsletter Editor: Lee Shepherd

This page last updated March 11, 2009