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Community-Owned Solar Power and Micro Grids

David Yovanoff — Aug 1, 2018

This policy brief discusses how community owned solar projects and micro grids offer a sustainable alternative to reliance on the large power grid and polluting fossil fuels. It explains how micro grids work and looks at how they are connected to and can improve standard power grids or macro grids.  

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Electric Buses for the NFTA

Zachary Persichini — Aug 1, 2018

This brief discusses many reasons that the NFTA should invest in using electric buses. After explaining the differences in bus technologies, it details numerous environmental, public health, and economic benefits of electric buses. The brief closes with case studies to show how other cities and counties across the world are beginning to use electric buses.

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Methane Leaks from Natural Gas Pipelines: Solutions for New York

Jordan Hawkins — Aug 1, 2018

This brief explores the problems with methane leaks from natural gas pipelines, the obstacles that prevent change, and solutions that have been proposed by New York State and others. While most methane leaks do not pose an immediate threat to safety, they can have serious and sometimes deadly consequences, and methane is a major contributor to climate change. New York has proposed a Methane Reduction Plan. The plan is a good start to combat the issue, but research reveals additional tools to …

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Good Food Buffalo Policy Brief

Jessica Gilbert — Jun 26, 2018

This policy brief provides a snapshot of the current status of school food at Buffalo Public Schools and several ongoing school food improvement initiatives.

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Urban Expressway Removal in Buffalo: The Historical Context

Daniel Cadzow — Mar 30, 2018

This policy brief was drafted by Daniel Cadzow, Policy Fellow at PPG and an advocate for environmental justice and equitable traffic infrastructure.  

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Lead Poisoning: Triggers and Thresholds

Adam Hains — Feb 10, 2017

Hains reviews the basic framework of federal and state laws aimed at preventing lead poisoning.  Given the growing body of research that even small amounts of lead cause can decrease cognitive performance and increase behavioral problems, Hains suggests that New York State lower its threshold of concern and supply additional funding, so that more children receive case management services and more units get their lead problems abated.

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The Public Service Commission Should Deny National Fuel's Request for a Rate Hike

Sarah Wooton — Oct 26, 2016

National Fuel (NF) has requested a rate hike of $41.7 million per year.  The Public Service Commission (PSC) should deny this request because: It will unduly burden low-income customers, who are already struggling to pay their utility bills; NF is a very profitable company, with skyrocketing executive compensation and large dividends; As noted by the PSC’s auditors and other experts, many of NF’s claimed expenses are questionable; and Instead of investing in additional fossil …

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A Plan that Bears Fruit: A Community Land Trust and Other Tools For Neighborhood Revitalization in the Fruit Belt

Jun 22, 2016

On December 1, 2015, the City of Buffalo’s Common Council passed a resolution placing a moratorium on the sale of city-owned lots in the Fruit Belt neighborhood.  The Fruit Belt includes the area enclosed by Cherry Street, Jefferson Avenue, Best Street, Main Street, Goodell Street, and Michigan Avenue – a neighborhood where the City of Buffalo owns over 200 vacant lots.  The City promised not to sell lots to developers until “a duly approved strategic plan” had …

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A Planning Board for Erie County

Apr 13, 2016

The Partnership for the Public Good (PPG) unites 212organizations working to build a better western New York.  Each year, the partners vote on their top policy priorities for the coming year; these priorities become the PPG Community Agenda.  The very first Community Agenda, formed in 2008, included a provision calling for a planning board in Erie County.  Since that time, the reasons for a planning board have only become more compelling.  There is a reason that every other …

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Redesigning the Scajaquada Expressway

Daniel Cadzow, Justin Booth — Feb 8, 2016

The Scajaquada Expressway was constructed in the early 1960’s and is now at the end of its functional life.  The redesign and rebuilding of the roadway offers the opportunity to make it less dangerous and more compatible with the natural, historic, and cultural fabric of the parks, parkways, neighborhoods, schools, colleges, and museums it serves and impacts.

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Reshaping Buffalo's Recycling Initiatives

Sam Magavern, Lauren Schwarzenholzer — Apr 5, 2012

The city of Buffalo recycles approximately eight percent of its curbside waste per year.  This is far below the national average of 27% and pales by comparison with cities such as San Francisco, which recycles at a rate of 72%.  Within Western New York, there is also great disparity in regard to recycling.  The Town of Tonawanda, to give one example, currently recycles 13.5% of its curbside waste.

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Buffalo's Sprawl: Fiscal, Environmental, and Social Costs

Feb 16, 2012

Rolf Pendall has aptly summarized Buffalo’s development pattern as “sprawl without growth.”  Between 1950 and 2000, the region gained only 80,881 people, but the urbanized area nearly tripled, going from 123 square miles to 367 square miles.  The city of Buffalo’s population declined from 580,132 to 292,648 (a loss of 287,484), while the rest of Erie County grew from 319,106 to 657,617 (a gain of 338,511).  From 2000 to 2010, the trend continued, with the …

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State Funding for the NFTA Reduces Pollution, Fights Poverty, and Promotes Economic Development

Feb 7, 2012

New York State should support public transit in Buffalo-Niagara by increasing Transit Operating Assistance and increasing the NFTA’s allocation of low-cost electric power.  There is no more effective tool for reducing pollution, cutting poverty, and promoting economic development than affordable and comprehensive mass transit.  In recent years, New York State has been cutting its funding to the NFTA, even as the NFTA’s costs have been rising.  State funding has been …

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Refugees, Food Insecurity, and Community Gardens

Dorian Rolston — Aug 10, 2011

Nearly nine in ten resettled refugee households endure food insecurity, meaning that they are without “access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life.”  Because western New York resettles hundreds of refugees per year, many of them on Buffalo’s west side, we have a unique opportunity to combat refugee food insecurity.

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Greening Buffalo's Vacant Lots

Christopher Szczygiel — Jul 5, 2011

Greening vacant lots is one of the most cost effective ways for Buffalo to improve its neighborhoods.  At a bare minimum, Buffalo can combat blight, raise property values, raise property tax revenue, lower crime rates and improve residents’ quality of life with a simple program to clean up, green up, and maintain vacant lots.  Vacant lots are also prime locations for parks, playgrounds, bike trails, walking paths, community gardens and urban farms.  Greening lots can …

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A Green Building Ordinance for Buffalo

Donna Budniewski — May 27, 2011

All new building projects in the City of Buffalo totaling 5,000 square feet or more that are city-owned, city-financed or city/state subsidized should be LEED-Silver certified.  The City of Buffalo should mitigate its contribution to global warming and reduce reliance on energy and natural resources while improving the quality of life or its residents, employees, and visitors.  Multiple federal/state funding incentives and significant tax credits exist for going green.  Green …

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Looking for Trickledown Under the Peace Bridge: A Critique of the Public Bridge Authority's Economic Impact Claims

Apr 19, 2011

The Public Bridge Authority’s economic impact analysis, presented in its environmental impact statement for the Peace Bridge Expansion Project, offers a grossly exaggerated impression of the project’s benefits.  The Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority has proposed a significant expansion to the operations of the international crossing between Buffalo and Fort Erie known as the Peace Bridge.  The plans presented to the public in 2007 would radically alter a five …

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How City Hall Can Foster the Urban Farming Revolution in Buffalo

Michael Raleigh — Mar 17, 2011

The City of Buffalo has made strides in recent years to make urban farming an accepted use of vacant land.  However, the fact remains that the City is unwilling to “take risks” in this area.  There are a number of policies that restrict the freedom of farmers to get access to land, gain long term land security, grow a diversity of foods (including animals), and sell the food.  In order for farming to really take hold and have a transformative effect on the local food …

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What Climate Change Means for Buffalo

Sam Magavern — Mar 17, 2011

Why should state and local governments respond to a problem with so many national and international ramifications? As we have seen, Buffalo and New York have much to lose from climate change, and much to gain from preventing it.  Moreover, it is clearer than ever that states and localities will have to lead the way.  In the past two years, the Democrats have failed to pass meaningful climate change legislation despite controlling the Presidency, Senate, and House.  The chances …

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Green Municipal Building Ordinances

Donna Budniewski — Oct 27, 2010

In 2006 the town of Babylon, NY adopted a local law that requires LEED certification for “new construction of commercial buildings, office buildings, industrial buildings, multiple residence, or senior citizen multiple residence over 4,000 square feet”.  As an incentive, the town will refund certification fees paid by developers if a new project achieves LEED status.

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Transportation and Low Wage Work

Michael Raleigh — Apr 28, 2010

Living on a low wage can be extremely difficult, yet the number of low wage jobs in metro Buffalo grew by 17% from 2004 to 2008.  This means that many more people are struggling to figure out how to survive with less money.  It also means that it is becoming increasingly difficult for many people to afford transportation.  As the location of employment has dispersed throughout the region, transportation has become a basic need similar to food, clothing, and shelter.  A …

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