Should New Yorkers Pay for Trash Pick-Up by the Bag?

Photo credit: dandeluca via Compfight cc
The Citizens Budget Commission wants New York to rethink how it pays for trash. And if they get their wish, you might want to rethink tossing that recyclable yogurt cup into the trash, because you'll be the one footing the bill.

The CBC — a good-government group that lobbies New York City and the state to reduce wasteful spending — wants residents to pay more attention to what they throw away, and has just released a report suggesting that the city begin charging a variable fee for trash removal — one that would require those who waste the most to pay more. Currently, garbage disposal in New York is paid for by general tax revenues.

"New York City diverts less than half the material we could be diverting into recycling or composting," says Tammy Gamerman, senior research associate at the CBC. And the resulting trash often goes on a pricey road trip to an out-of-state landfill, she adds: "Right now, most of our garbage goes to Virginia, Ohio, or Pennsylvania."

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'Flood Wall Street,' Massive Sit-In, Planned for September 22

Image via Facebook
A flyer being circulated for the event.
Happy third birthday, Occupy Wall Street. This time last year, some former Occupiers embarked on a small-scale, nostalgic march through the Financial District -- one that, for a change, ended in zero arrests. But this year, many of their minds are on next week, when a massive civil-disobedience action is planned for the steps of the New York Stock Exchange. "Flood Wall Street" is being billed as a sit-in and blockade to "shut down the institutions that are profiting from the climate crisis." Blue-clad protesters are expected to meet in Battery Park and then descend on the Financial District sometime on September 22; people affiliated with the event have told us to expect mass arrests.

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Environmental Activist Daniel McGowan, Jailed for Blogging, Is Suing the Bureau of Prisons

Photo by Brandon Jourdan courtesy of Daniel McGowan
Daniel McGowan, the environmental activist and former member of the Earth Liberation Front who spent five and a half years in an extreme prison isolation unit, is suing the federal Bureau of Prisons for violating his right to free speech. McGowan, a New York native, was imprisoned in a highly restrictive Communications Management Unit in Terre Haute, Indiana in 2007, after being convicted of burning down two Oregon lumber mills on behalf of the ELF in 2001, an action that was deemed an act of domestic terrorism. (McGowan says he left the ELF soon after the second arson). After his release in December 2012, he was sent back to New York to begin his probation at the Brooklyn Residential Reentry Center, a halfway house near his home in downtown Brooklyn. But in April 2013, when he wrote a blog post for the Huffington Post about his time in the CMU, the Bureau of Prisons and the "reentry manger" in charge of the Brooklyn RRC reacted very, very poorly.

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That Smoky Air from the Wharton Forest Fire is as Unhealthy as It Looks

Categories: Environmental

Google Maps
By now you've probably heard: that smoky smell you may have encountered in the city today is from New Jersey. Specifically, from a brush fire in Wharton State Forest.

Of course you may not have noticed the scent at all. New York City is a cauldron of weird and strong and ever-changing smells, and our nostrils gave up caring within three to four months of moving here.

But this smell is at least mildly more unhealthy than the rest of the vile fumes we inhale on a daily basis. At 11:45 a.m. the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued an air quality warning for the city.

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Daniel McGowan, Put in an Extreme Prison Isolation Unit for Writing Things, Loses Lawsuit Against Bureau of Prisons

Photo courtesy of Family and Friends of Daniel McGowan
A New York environmental activist stuck in an extreme isolation unit for writing letters and publishing articles -- and then re-jailed for writing about being put in that isolation unit in the first place -- has had his lawsuit against the Federal Bureau of Prisons dismissed, a development he calls "gross and unjust."

We've written before about Daniel McGowan, a 39-year-old environmental activist from Rockaway Beach, Queens who was once affiliated with the Earth Liberation Front, a group he says he left in the summer of 2001. He spent five and a half years in a federal prison in Terre Haute, Indiana, convicted of arson and conspiracy to commit arson, for trying to burn down two Oregon lumber yards in 2001, actions for which the ELF as a group claimed responsibility.

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Mayor Bloomberg's New Public Health Target: Styrofoam

In more ways than one, no one should really like Styrofoam. It has the half-life of most nuclear substances; it doesn't really keep your coffee that hot; it litters the streets of our beloved city; and, most importantly, it indirectly costs you money. How? Landfills.

Last week, the Sanitation Department requested a citywide ban on the material all together solely for the final reason. Besides the environmental aspects, the Department argued that the spongey substance is costing them bills to keep in landfills; all of which are filled to the brim. The legislation would target businesses that sell Styrofoam like hot cakes (read: Dunkin' Donuts) and put the responsibility of paying for its waste removal in the hands of the owners.

Also, it's not the first of its kind. The ban has been proposed to the City Council before but to no avail -- mostly because of the apparent economic strain it would potentially have on businesses.

However, the other day, the ban received a huge boost from a man who's never shy about his agenda: Mr. Michael R. Bloomberg.

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Setback for Spectra Pipeline Opponents as State Judge Throws Out Lawsuit

Categories: Environmental

Eric Walton
Opponents have tried both legal challenges to the pipeline and less legal challenges, like this protester who climbed onto digging equipment to halt construction last autumn.
The juggernaut that is the NJ-NY Expansion Project, familiarly known as the Spectra Pipeline, has crushed another obstacle, bringing the operation of a 30-inch-diameter transmission line full of highly-pressurized explosive natural gas in the heart of the West Village one step closer to reality.

Opponents of the pipeline had challenged the legality of the pipeline in state court, alleging that the trustees of the Hudson River Park Trust broke the law when they allowed the Spectra energy giant to run the pipeline through the park.

But in a recently released ruling, New York Supreme Court Judge Eileen Rakower threw the suit out, finding that whatever state laws might be involved are trumped by the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve pipeline construction.

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Spectra Pipeline Construction Halted By Activist

George Pingeon chained himself to construction equipment Wednesday, temporarily halting construction on the Spectra pipeline.
Eric Walton
Construction on a pipeline that will bring fracked natural gas under the Hudson and into the West Village was halted for two hours Wednesday when George Pingeon, a member of the opposition group Occupy the Pipeline, chained himself to a backhoe on the construction site.

Opponents have been fighting the pipeline since it received approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in May, escalating their tactics once construction on the Manhattan side of the 16-mile pipeline began this summer.

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Naked Green People Fighting The Spectra Gas Pipeline Construction In The West Village [UPDATE: Video]

Stacy Lanyon
Protesters painted themselves a toxic green to protest the construction of a new pipeline for fracked natural gas in Manhattan.
Activists protesting the construction of a new natural gas pipeline into the heart of Manhattan stepped up their efforts to draw attention to the issue this weekend by getting naked, painting their bodies green, and dancing along the West Side Highway.

See More: Naked Green People Fight Pipeline Construction (NSFW)

The NJ-NY Expansion Project, known familiarly as the Spectra Pipeline after the Texas-based energy company behind it, runs about 16 miles from Staten Island, through New Jersey, and under the Hudson before surfacing in the West Village.

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Sky High: How Are New York's Roofs Changing? (UPDATE)

If you've ever wondered what goes on above the city -- on New York's rooftops -- this new video series has some answers for you.

Mother Jones' James West and Tim McDonnell ascended the heights of NYC's buildings to track changes in the skyscape. What they found was that the Big Apple's roofs weren't just going green: They were going white and solar-paneled, too.

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