Wednesday, September 6, 2017

What happened to 2017?

So - obviously I have been on something of an unintended hiatus. The combination of being Department Chair and Life have totally overwhelmed me for awhile now.

On the plus side - I have been more active in Twitter - so I am still alive, but apparently only able to communicate in 140 word bursts. Sigh.

I have been working on some new research in addition to lots of administrative planning/drowning in a sea of paperwork.

This is cool stuff ... remotely controlled underwater vehicle that I can videotape with as well as collecting samples (water and soil and grabber arm) ...


So still alive but goodness knows when I can get back to more regular blogging. Probably not while stuck in admin mode. 

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Environmental Legislation Links and Links for Homework

For Homework #1

League of Conservation Voters Score Card

Open Secrets 114th Congress List

From Class 

Library of Congress  (this is where you follow the progress of Bills)

United States Code Office of the Law Revision Counsel  (official one)

United States Code Cornell Law Library  (easier to search)

Supreme Court 

Executive Orders (which are published in the Federal Register) 
or go to

Treaties (on Senate Website) 

Federal Register 

Electronic Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 
CFR at Cornell Law Library

Key Terms

• Bill – proposed legislation under consideration by a legislature

• Guidance Documents – documents that allow government agencies to provide technical guidelines and background information without the content becoming law. This allows more governmental discretion in applying the standards delineated and makes it easier to update and alter them.

• Regulation - a form of delegated legislation typically created by federal or state administrative agencies. Statues (laws) are usually written in very general terms and administrative agencies, such as the EPA, must provide the technical details in the form of regulations - regulations have the force of law. Also referred to as rules or administrative law.

• Statue – a formal written acts of a legislative body such as Congress or a state legislature. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Feeling very cranky

'cause National Parks and holding lands in trust for the public is totally a 
waste of exploitable resources! 

Obviously clean water costs too much and impedes business growth! 

And clean air regulations are a huge impediment to growing the economy  

Blow up more mountains, drill more holes, get at those fossils fuels! Regardless of the costs

Bring back those great jobs! 

* like I said - feeling very, very cranky. 

Friday, September 30, 2016

Hoyt Lake Closed to Recreation

According to the news, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) has confirmed the presence of a harmful algae bloom in Hoyt Lake at Delaware Park. Yesterday, Buffalo's Department of Public Works began installing signs in Delaware Park notifying park patrons that "recreational water activities have been suspended until further notice. That includes no swimming, no boating, no fishing and no pets in the water."

First question - who in their right mind would have been trying to swim in Hoyt Lake even *before* they announced the existence of the algal bloom?? The dead fish and the horrible smell at the Forest Lawn end of the lake should have put anyone off long before this.

And then WIVB had this puzzling statement "The algae still has to go, but fixing the water in Hoyt Lake will require fixing the Scajaquada Creek, which no longer runs continuously through the city."


I have no idea why this Google map image shows the Lake as dark brown. That is really, really weird.

The creek still runs through the city - I took the bridge right over it this morning on the way to campus. I assume that this is an utterly mangled reference to the fact that Hoyt Lake is an artificial feature that is disconnected from the creek. The Scajaquada flows through Forest Lawn Cemetery then enters a short tunnel through a debris-collection grate. The tunnel runs through the park, bypassing Hoyt Lake, and the creek reemerges at the western end of Hoyt Lake, where is separated from the Mirror Lake section of the Lake by a cement wall. During high precipitation events water from the lake overflows the wall into the creek.

Smelly section of creek where it enters the tunnel that goes under the park

Apparently when Frederick Law Olmsted originally designed 'The Park' his 'Gala Lake' feature was connected to the creek and there were small wetlands at either end. But during construction of the 198 expressway (I think - the story is actually quite hard to follow) the Lake was cut off.

Aerial view of Delaware Lake and North Bay in 1938, before
reshaping and construction of the Scajaquada Expressway

A $50k fountain was installed at the Forest Lawn Cemetery end of the lake in 2013, partly in order to help aerate the water in the lake. It is refilled using a fire hydrant when the water level drops so there is extremely limited flow in the lake. However, the pump for the fountain broke (again) this summer which lead to an earlier period of algae and stink.  The lake was reportedly blue again at the end of August, but now - more algae.  I confess - I usually don't notice if the fountain is going or not.  I am usually to busy paying attention to traffic there so most of this summer's drama played out unnoticed by me.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Over 400ppm permanently ?!?!

Just noticed this depressing news - CO2 readings from the Mauna Loa Observatory for the month of September haven't dropped below 400 part per million. If you remember the Keeling Curve, the graph that shows how carbon dioxide levels fluctuate with the seasons but overall are increasing through time, you might already understand how this is important.
Keeling Curve
Normally near the end of September measured CO2 readings reach their annual low point. The low point reflects the annual transition between summer and fall, when the uptake of CO2 by vegetation slows and is overtaken by the release of CO2 from soils.

This year - with only a day to go - CO2 levels have remained above 400ppm (the daily average or yellow circles - not the red dots which are hourly averages and vary greatly over the course of the day).

Though it is highly unusual, there have been 4 years (2002, 2008,  2009, and 2012) in which the monthly value for October was actually lower than the value for September. However, the decrease from September to October those years was at most 0.45 ppm, which probably isn't enough to pull the overall average for October below 400ppm. So, um, EEK!  Because this probably means that we are now permanently above 400ppm. Not good news.

And in related EEK!

NASA Global Climate Change reported today that 2016 is on track to set a new global temperature record.

Swell news, huh.

For more information see: