Natural Resources

Fall 2011 Natural Resources Law Class at UB

My Favorite Band’s Efforts To Reduce Their Carbon Footprint September 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mleafe @ 4:47 am

Since my first show in 2003, I have spent countless hours every summer following the Dave Matthews Band.  I have attended 27 shows at 12 different venues, in three states, and two countries.  The typical budget for these trips includes costs for food, lodging/camping, spending money, and… gas.  For every DMB concert, enormous amounts of fossil fuels are consumed in transportation by the thousands of concertgoers, resulting in the release of substantial CO2 pollution into the atmosphere.  As an environmentally conscious band, DMB recognizes the negative impacts their touring activities have on the environment, and are maximizing efforts to reduce their carbon footprint.

In 2006, DMB committed to offset all CO2 emissions generated by the band for the past 15 years.  To achieve this goal, the band partnered with NativeEnergy; a group that focuses on the construction and operation of renewable energy generators.  DMB began purchasing renewable energy credits from NativeEnergy to help fund the company’s operating and research costs.  Each credit represents a MWh of renewable energy generated by the company that has displaced energy derived from sources emitting CO2.  The band has also taken strides to reduce their own carbon emissions by reducing the number of vehicles used for transportation on tour, and using generators that run on sustainable bio-diesel fuel.  As a fan, I’m pretty pumped to see DMB take responsibility for their own CO2 pollution, something that many who claim they are “pro-environment” fail to do.

The band also is committed to helping fans make environmentally sound choices.  Whether providing links to websites that facilitate carpooling, or listing the available public transportation details, the amount of resources that DMB provides to fans is amazing.  This summer, I attended the Dave Matthews Band Caravan at Governor’s Island in New York City, one of four festival-style stops the band made.  Inside the venue, there were a number of services that helped attendees minimize their impact: filtered Brita water for ticket holders with reusable water bottles; food products made primarily from local organic crops.  In addition, many environmental groups had set up booths in a section called, “the eco village,” where you could get information about the causes they were involved in.  However, the thing that surprised me the most were the recycling bins.  As I thought hard about all the shows I had attended, I don’t ever remember a venue having anything but a garbage.  It’s the subtle choices the band makes, like providing recycling bins, that show a real passion and concern for our planet, and I applaud them for that.

I think this would be a good place for people to share stories relating to the environmental conservation efforts made by a person or group that they have an interest in!

Sources:

Personal Experience

http://www.webwire.com/ViewPressRel.asp?aId=16497

http://www.dmbcaravan.com/caravan-greening/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Renewable_energy_credit

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Budget Cuts Threaten To Close NYS Parks September 17, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — mleafe @ 10:29 pm

The New York State park system is facing the possible closure of up to 40% of state parks as a result of significant cuts to its operating budget.  While budget cuts are nothing new for NYS parks, closing the parks to the public is.  In spring 2010, the New York state park system, comprised of 178 state parks, shut down the operations of 41 parks for the first time in it’s 125 year history.  This unprecedented action is especially troublesome for an agency that maintained park operations throughout two world wars and the Great Depression.

 

The severity of park system’s current plight can be attributed to years of underfunding has left its infrastructure in a state of deterioration.  Park facilities and maintenance mechanisms are in such disrepair that officials have become increasingly concerned about the effects on public health.  If the parks are deemed unsafe and are forced to close, the state will be lose some of its most valuable assets.

 

The NYS park system is home to a plethora of natural resources.  In addition to the variety of waterways and plant life, 20 of New York’s “rare” species can only be found in the state parks. Among these animals is the Chittenango ovate amber snail, the entire population of which can be found no where else on the planet.  The park system is also an attractive source of revenue for the state; something that Albany has seemingly overlooked.  As an integral part of the state’s tourism industry, state parks provide vacation destinations, recreational venues, and attract both residential families and private businesses to the areas surrounding them.  The parks are a source of substantial economic benefit to New York, and has been estimated by independent studies to generate $1.9 billion in revenue annually.  Additionally, in a time of concern about unemployment rates, the park system contributes to the creation of 20,000 jobs needed for their operation.

 

However, Albany keeps increasing cuts to the park system’s budget in response to the state’s growing deficit problems.  Between 2008 and 2010, the park system saw an 18% decrease in it’s operating budget which amounted to over $35 million.  Accordingly, the park system was forced to eliminate many of their programs (Empire State Games, Green Thumb program), decrease staffing and park maintenance, and increase public access fees simply to keep the parks open.  As a result, park attendance is declining, and the once fruitful revenue streams are slowly disappearing.

 

If the parks are forced to close, the local wildlife will face dangers many dangers: deteriorating facilities becoming hazardous; declining numbers of park staff to ensure their protection; the possibility that park land may be sold to private industry and their habitat destroyed.  In addition, people will be deprived of access to the region’s natural beauties that have been enjoyed for years.  It is upsetting to think that the most powerful mechanism for facilitating the public appreciation and support of the park system — experiencing the natural beauties firsthand  — is exactly what is threatened to be denied if state parks are forced to close.

 

Sources:

http://www.ptny.org/pdfs/advocacy/parkreport2011.pdf

http://nysparks.state.ny.us/newsroom/press-releases/release.aspx?r=776