10:06am

Fri December 10, 2010
Morning news round-up

Freebie from NYS: energy audits and efficiency loans

Free energy audits

The "Green Jobs-Green New York" program is now providing free energy audits to people who make less than 200 percent of their area's median income (AMI), reports the Democrat and Chronicle.  Loans for energy efficiency improvements are also available.  Are you eligible for a free audit?  Here's what 200 percent of AMI looks like across the Innovaiton Trail:

  • Albany County: $151,000
  • Broome County: $120,800
  • Onondaga County: $128,600
  • Monroe County: $133,200
  • Erie County: $127,400

Poor enough?  Get the application here.

Fracking

Protests against hydrofracking have continued their westward expansion, with Buffalo citizens being the latest to speak out against the controversial drilling technique.  The Buffalo News reports that about 20 people showed up outside National Fuel Gas Co.'s headquarters to protest the firm’s use of fracking in Pennsylvania.

At the heart of the controversy is water: how much drillers can take from local rivers, whether or not fracking could contaminate local water tables, and what to do with wastewater that contains unspecified drilling chemicals.  The AP reports in the Press & Sun-Bulletin that an agency has just issued a set of rules to deal with those concerns:

The Delaware River Basin Commission published the long-awaited regulations on its website. They govern a range of drilling activities, including water withdrawals, well-pad siting and wastewater disposal, and require drilling companies to post a bond of $125,000 per well to cover the plugging and restoration of abandoned wells and the remediation of any pollution.

You can see the regulations here.  The public comment period on the draft rules runs until March 16, 2011.

The other issue at the heart of the fracking flap is money.  Yesterday Governor David Paterson said that he continues to mull over whether or not to sign a six month moratorium on hydrofracking - he has until Monday at midnight to decide.  The governor says he's puzzled that legislators included vertical fracking - a longstanding practice - in the temporary ban, and says that could have a big economic effect on New York. 

Meanwhile the village of Owego is considering the economic impact that selling its wastewater to driller Inflection could have; the firm has offered 5 cents a gallon for up to 200,000 gallons a day, reports the Press & Sun-Bulletin.  But village leaders tabled the idea until later in the month, and some have expressed concerns that the deal could lead to more trucks rumbling in and out of the village:

"We thought we were doing the Village of Owego a favor by finding a use for their wastewater," Inflection CEO Mark Sexton said. "There are certainly other sources of water available to us that are, in fact, cheaper, but we've been telling people we can work with the community and give back and this is one example of that."

Inflection is the same energy firm whose deal to lease public land from Broome County was rejected earlier this month.

Governor Cuomo

Some of the folks who will serve in the incoming Cuomo administration have been announced, reports the Democrat and Chronicle.  The appointments mainly come from Cuomo's inner circle at the attorney general's office, but on advisor, Yrthya Dinzey, formerly of Toyota's philanthropic foundation, will serve as his chief diversity officer.

Also made public Thursday were Cuomo's 2009 tax returns.  The Times Union reports the big find is that while Cuomo is registered to vote at the home of his girlfriend (and semi-homemade celebrity) Sandra Lee, he doesn't own it - so he doesn't pay property taxes there:

John Milgrim, a Cuomo spokesman, said he is "domiciled" in the Mount Kisco home, but was splitting his time in 2009 between the suburban spread and a Manhattan apartment.

He noted that Cuomo and Lee "do share in expenses on the house and they do share the property tax expense." Cuomo has owned other residential properties in New York, Milgrim added, and "has always paid property taxes on any property he has owned."

Plastics!

Schenectady could be the site of a start-up that replaces petroleum with biomass materials like corn and sawdust, to make fuel, reports the Times Union.  A principal on the research team that made the discovery told a Massachusetts paper that the town was in the running.

Ta-ta to telemarketers

The Post-Standard reports that Saturday is the day that new protections against robo-calls kick in, with calls being limited to the hours of 8 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Public pensions

The Press & Sun-Bulletin's "Watchdog" blog has a link to a calculator that allows you to estimate the pension you might receive as a public employee.

Good news and bad news for your weekend

Or, "wholesome family fun" news and "naughty college frat party" news.  Both items are courtesy the Post-Standard.

Here's the good: the "It's a Wonderful Life" museum is opening in Seneca Falls (the alleged inspiration for the film's "Bedford Falls") this weekend.  And yes, ZuZu will be in attendance.

And here's the bad: today is the last day that distributors can sell Four Loko, meaning that what's on store shelves currently is the last of the controversial beverage:

In the case of Four Loko, “one too many” can be liberally defined as “one.” It packs a 12-percent alcohol content, along with caffeine and the stimulants guarana and taurine, into a 23.6-ounce can. That’s the alcoholic equivalent of about four 12-ounce cans of beer, along with the jolt of coffee. The FDA worried that the caffeine masks some of the “sensory clues” that let people know they are becoming intoxicated. In other words, you’re fine for a while, so you feel like drinking more. And then the alcohol hits you like a ton of bricks.

Happy Friday everyone!

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