RENewsletter | March 29, 2009


The Free environmental newsletter from  

“Our Environment is changing: Keep up with the Change.”

[03/23/09– 03/29/09]


* Need to vent? | Go to my blog: Environmental Thoughts - Rochester, NY


    Opening Salvo | NewsLinks | Daily Updates | Events | Environmental Site of the Month | Take Action |


[Hyperlinks work by CTRL + click to follow a link]



*** The February Environmental Site of the Month Award goes to Save Auburn Trail.  Go to Award.



Opening Salvo:  “Getting Around Tomorrow



A recent poll in Rochester on high-speed rail (3/20/09 Rochester Business Journal ) showed Rochesterians favoring this flashy mode of travel. Proponents say it will create jobs, reduced air pollution, and get us around more quickly. There are other ideas floating around town as federal dollars float in, including funds to develop hydrogen fuel. 


Realistically, most if not all that fed money will be used for fixing and updating our highway infrastructure. Road construction and bridge repair are shovel-ready; already in regional budgets, and they are going to create immediate jobs.  For the time being, traveling around Rochester will not leap suddenly into the breath-taking fictional world of The Jetsons


What will the future bring? Change will certainly occur in Rochester’s transportation. Indigenous peoples walked on well-work paths, then came horse and carriages, then ole Clinton’s Folly (which some are talking of resurrecting through the city), then train, bicycling, the automobile, and the airplane. Some modes make it, some don’t. A helicopter in every garage did not and probably will not ever happen.   


Forces other than speed and cost are driving our future transportation.  Back in the day, when the miracle of the horseless carriage fulfilled all our dreams of privacy and accessibility (not to mention one’s own music sound chamber) no one thought that the stuff coming out the tailpipe would question their viability. Anthropogenic climate change (get used to it, it’s real) and the horrendous cost of building and maintaining the seemingly endless growth of highways is going to force us to reconsider the private automobile as the dominate form of Rochester travel. Today’s transportation is not sustainable.


As a species seemingly at times capable of thinking and adapting, we can not only speculate on what getting around will look like in Rochester’s future, we can be the driving force of that change. Things don’t just occur; there is always a cause. If you want high speed rail in Rochester, you have to provide the people who maintain your highways and bridges the reason for billions of your dollars to go elsewhere. If you continue to buy large polluting vehicles to commute an hour to work and play, your government will have to put the majority of public transportation funds in that pot—until, of course, the gas-guzzling automobile fails economically and environmentally. By the way, that is happening now.


FDR supposedly said to A. Philip Randolph: “I agree with everything that you've said, including my capacity to be able to right many of these wrongs and to use my power and the bully pulpit. ... But I would ask one thing of you, Mr. Randolph, and that is go out and make me do it." We must demonstrate to our representatives that we want a sustainable future.


If we want our streets made easier for walking and bicycling, less money spent on highways, and more money spent on public transportation (maybe high-speed rail), then we must prove it our representatives. We must walk more, bike more, and use public transportation. We must demand that vehicles slow down on our streets, respect one’s right to bicycle on our streets, and always give way to pedestrians. Increase these free community-empowering modes of transportation and our representative will hear you. The biggest and most profound change we can make in Rochester’s transportation future is to change our attitude: Be a community that accommodates people instead of the car.  (Click on my email for feedback)




NewsLinksEnvironmental NewsLinks – [Highlights of major environmental stories concerning our area from the past week]


         EPA & Jobs

         NYS DEC Tree Programs

         Drugs in Fish

         EPA Says Decline in NYS Toxic Emissions

         Major Off-Shore Wind Study NYS

         Dry Spring Could Mean More Fires

         Flushing Drugs I Bad

         No Re-opening Climate Regulations

         State of the Bottle Bill

         Tuberculosis Reminder

         How Climate Change will Affect our Agriculture

         New York's Toxics Release Inventory

         Declines in Bird Populations

         Lights Out for One Hour

         Great Lakes Invasives Move Inland

         Signs of Climate Change in Great Lakes Ice Cover

         Tyron Park & Bikes

         Rochester Likes High-Speed Rail

         Our Infrastructure

         Louise Slaughter on Antibiotics



UpdatesDaily Updates – [Connecting the dots on Rochester’s environment. Find out what’s going on environmentally in our area—and why you should care? Clicking on -DISCUSSION – will take you to my blog “Environmental Thoughts, NY, where you can add your comments.]




EventsRochester Environmental Events Calendar – [The most complete listing of all environmental events around the Rochester, New York area.]  If you don’t see your event, or know of a local environmental event, please send me the info: with (EV event) in the subject line.




ActionTake Action - Often, I receive request to pass on alerts, petitions, Public Comments on local developments, and environmental items needing action by the Rochester Community and around the world. I’ll keep Actions posted until their due date. 




AwardEnvironmental Site of the Month Award – [On the last Sunday of each month, we present an environmental award for the Rochester-area environmental web site or blog that best promotes the need to protect and offers solutions for our area's environmental issues.]


This month’s winner of the Environmental Site Award reflects the vision of the award: that best helps promote the need to protect and offers solutions to our area's environmental issues. As our media transforms and moves to the Internet, one of the tragedies of that evolution is the lack of local environmental reporting.  There just isn’t going to be the monies available to local environmental investigating reporting as their used to be when each community had competing newspapers.  [Read this critical essay Who'll Unplug Big Media? Stay Tuned By Robert W. McChesney & John Nichols – from The Nation | Unconventional Wisdom Since 1865.]  So, a new way to focus attention on crucial environmental is being heralded by web sites like Save Auburn Trail that bring their case to the public with all the connectivity and special capabilities of the web. Instead of the (mostly fictional) objectivity of the news reporter, the future will rely on the education and reason of the viewer and the reasonableness of the case brought by groups hoping to save our environment.


I think that Save Auburn Trail brings its case to save a small portion of an environmentally fragile area to the forefront in a calm, descriptive, and measured way that best depicts what an environmental site should do.  Rather than passively being told what to think by Big Media, sites like Save Auburn Trail asks that you engage in them in a thoughtful discussion on an important environmental matter and lays out its case. To the future then…   


Save Auburn Trail -  “Help preserve this special part of the Auburn Trail -   The Town of Victor, NY is planning a six foot wide stone dust trail to replace a narrow footpath through a unique environmental area known as the  Railroad Mills Special Environmental Area (RRMSEA) The Coalition to save RRMSEA believes Victor's plan will have serious environmental impacts and will eliminate the wilderness feeling that makes the area so special.  We propose a compromise that creates an accessible trail that can be enjoyed by a wide range of users, and preserves the sensitive and unique environment.”