The state Department of Environmental Conservation has released a new pollution permit for large animal farms that discharge into waters of the state.
The permit had to be revised after an Albany County Supreme Court judge ordered the DEC to address concerns brought up in the case, Riverkeeper vs. (Basil) Seggos.
Justice David Weinstein found the permit violated the Clean Water Act.
One significant change that the nonprofit organization Riverkeeper had called for was to have the DEC approve any changes made to a farm’s nutrient management plan. A nutrient management plan details how soil and manure is used on a farm and includes water quality protections, among many other things.
Before, according to the first permit, the farm’s own hired planner could make changes without the DEC’s approval.
Weinstein had called this “an inherent conflict of interest,” since the planners are hired by the farms.
The DEC made that change to the new permit, and will review all changes to nutrient management plans.
A state Supreme Court has ruled that the Department of Environmental Conservation’s pollutio…
The new permit will go into effect on July 8, 2019. To obtain coverage under the new permit, according to a DEC fact sheet, a farm must complete a notice of intent and nutrient management plan at least 60 days beforehand.
The DEC has said that eight farms in Washington County and two farms in Saratoga County fall under the permit.
State to EPA: Fix smog problem
The state through the Department of Environmental Conservation is calling on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to address upwind ozone pollution affecting New York and other states.
Smog emitted from power plants out west has affected the air quality in New York state. Through the federal “Good Neighbor” provision, states upwind that emit pollutants must not cause downwind states to fail to attain federal air quality standards. It’s up to the EPA to address any petitions submitted by states.
The DEC submitted a petition to the EPA on March 12, 2018, showing that large polluters upwind are hurting the state’s ability to achieve federal air quality standards for smog.
Smog can cause health problems like lung tissue damage and coughing, and can exacerbate medical conditions like heart disease and asthma.
The EPA has not yet made a decision, which has prompted the state attorney general to threaten to sue if it does not do so soon.
“EPA needs to do its job of reducing pollution,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos, in a news release. “As the past summer’s elevated ozone levels demonstrate, progress to reduce ozone has stalled despite the success of New York and other northeastern states in reducing emissions. Rather than calling to limit pollution from coal-fired power plants and industrial sources, EPA is allowing these companies to continue or even increase pollution. Our communities suffer as a result, with increased asthma attacks and other respiratory and cardiovascular illnesses to show for it.”
Backyard bird count
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society are looking for the public’s help to document birds.
A nationwide Great Backyard Bird Count starts Friday and will go through Monday, Feb. 18. Participants should count birds for at least 15 minutes for one or more of the days, according to the DEC.
Trust protects Chester land
About 250 acres in the town of Chester will be protected by the Adirondack Land Trust, according to a release.
The land includes Moxham Mountain and cliffs between Minerva and North Creek.
The town, the DEC and the land trust are looking to create a new hiking trail on the south side of the mountain and to build a trailhead with parking off Route 28N.
There is currently a trail on the north side to the mountain’s 2,360-foot summit.
The land trust bought the property for $160,000 from the Brassel and Zack families.
“This exceptional Adirondack landmark will remain forever undeveloped and beautiful, and eventually accessible to those who want to enjoy its unique terrain,” said Mary Brassel Zack. “Moxham’s cliffs command attention and challenge hikers to reach the top, where they can enjoy views of Gore Mountain and the Hudson River to the south and the High Peaks to the north.”
Senate reauthorizes fund
A fund instrumental in protecting public spaces has been reauthorized by the U.S. Senate, according to a news release.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund, which has invested more than $336 million to protect public lands and water resources, expired last year. It was reinstated through the Natural Resources Management Act.
The fund does not rely on taxpayer dollars but rather revenue collected from offshore oil and gas development to buy lands for conservation.
U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand thought the passing was a win.
“I’ll keep pushing to ensure that this critical legislation is passed by Congress and signed into law, to ensure that New York’s natural and historic treasures — from Niagara Falls to the Adirondacks to Long Island’s beaches — can be enjoyed by generations of New Yorkers to come,” Schumer said in a release.
Gillibrand said the fund has played a key role in preserving New York’s natural and historic treasures including the Adirondack Park’s lakes and the Saratoga Battlefield National Historical Park.