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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Bad Science? Peer-Reviewed Study Promoting Fracking Was Not Peer Reviewed (UPDATE)

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If you have been following the fracking controversy clusterfuck at all, you will know this: hydraulic fracturing, still under consideration by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has gotten a lot of flack for reportedly polluting water, as well as posing other potential health risks.

So when a peer-reviewed, university-backed study comes out promoting fracking -- and suggests that it's getting safer -- it's huge news.

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Fracking Dangers: Does Hydraulic Fracturing Cause Deadly Lung Disease?

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As fracking spreads across the Marcellus shale formation and the rest of America with the White House's support, a government researcher has announced today that sand dust emitted during hydraulic fracturing might be one "of the most dangerous threats to workers."

Citing a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health scientist, Bloomberg Businessweek reports that "four out of five" air samples from wells "in five states in the past two years exceeded recommended limits for silica particles."

These particles can get stuck in the lungs, and can lead to "potentially fatal silicosis."

It's still unclear whether the silica particles spread to the communities near these wells.

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Andrew Cuomo Plays Non-Musical Chairs With Department of Environmental Conservation (UPDATE)

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Andrew Cuomo really doesn't like unused office furniture -- or office furniture he thinks is unused, that is.

So, the Times Union reports, his administration instructed staffers to go into the Department of Environmental Conservation offices on the weekend and overnight to transfer furniture and set up offices for the Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation. The idea is that this department will share previously empty office space with the DEC.

One problem: Much of this furniture was still being used by DEC staffers for meetings or for visitors at their cubicles. And they were not told about the removal ahead of time.

The move has caused so much uproar that it prompted the publication of "a satirical memo, complete with official DEC letterhead."

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Will Fracking Spread Across America?

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The Prez has hardly made it a secret that he supports fracking as part of his push for domestic oil and natural gas development, with the Obama administration announcing last week that it plans on setting environmental standards for hydraulic fracturing.

And what happens in D.C. does not stay in D.C. -- states other than those sitting atop the gas-rich Marcellus shale are eager to get on the bandwagon, though environmental and public health concerns have yet to be resolved.

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Michael Bloomberg Talks Trash: Will Mayor's Waste-to-Energy Plan Survive Critics?

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New York has a lot of trash! (Both the people-kind and the garbage can-kind.)

Today, though, Mayor Mike is concerned with the latter: He wants to build what's called a waste-to-energy plant, a fancy way to describe an electricity-generating, trash-processing factory. His administration is accepting proposals until June 5, and he hopes to have a contract inked by September.

In the past, these plants incinerated garbage and had few controls to prevent air pollution. Newer, cleaner processes can now turn it into organic gas -- or vaporize it to turn turbines.

Now, this sounds like a good idea -- in theory, it basically means that instead of taking up space in a dump or landfill, garbage will give us power. But a lot of people aren't sold.

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Fracking Secrets: Hydraulic Fracturing Still Shrouded in Mystery

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As Albany pols weigh the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing, it seems like full disclosure of fracking practices remains iffy.

Shortly after reports surfaced that physicians in Pennsylvania couldn't publicly discuss info about fracking chemicals, some New Yorkers have started to begging Department of Environmental Conversation staffers to spill secrets about the policymaking process.

Their concern? They think the DEC might not pay much attention to the 66,000 public comments collected during a "proposed state roadmap for hydrofracking," the Times Union reports. So, they think insider tipsters might be the only way to access data.

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Water Wars: What's Up With The Upstate-Downstate Debate?

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The Times reports today on the "slow boil" over water issues now playing out between Upstate communities and New York City. Ulster County, for example, has been pissed at the City for years. The county says that it's unfairly had to endure "development bans, flooded basements and ruined crops" just to protect NYC's water supply.

Delaware County also approved a resolution demanding reparations from the City and Albany. The claim is that hydrofracking restrictions -- intended to protect NYC's water supply -- prevent the county's residents from making money off their own land.

But complaints have come a crux lately, as Catskills and Delaware River-area residents said that the City's water managers were wrong in dumping turbid water into locals' favorite creek. One local official, according to the Times, even compared the city's policies to "an occupying nation."

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Dangerous Dioxins: NYC Green Groups Call for Stronger Enforcement

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A little more than a month after the Environmental Protection Agency released its long-awaited report on the non-cancer dangers of dioxins, consumer groups have called on Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration to officially stop buying products which contain these chemicals.

New York's Center for Health, Environment & Justice -- which had previously decried Mike for flouting anti-dioxin regulation -- says that Bloomberg's administration has greatly improved enforcement, but now needs to target PVC plastic. (A 2005 rule requires that NYC cut back on dioxin-containing purchases.)

The organization worries that the mayor who succeeds Bloomberg might not be as willing to enforce the guidelines -- unless there is a clear, written mandate on PVC.

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Will Woodstock Criminalize Hydraulic Fracturing?

Categories: EPA, Environmental

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From a report earlier today, it looks like Woodstock might try outlawing hydraulic fracturing -- the highly controversial natural gas extraction method that many fear will pollute New York's water supply with carcinogenic chemicals and radiation.

The Town Board has decided to consider a proposal that would cite "civil rights as the basis for a ban," according to the Daily Freeman , and make fracking a criminal matter -- not a regulatory one.

A town councilman says that he has worked with other municipalities in upstate New York, some of which have considered adopting similar codes.

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