22 Sep

Introducing our New Director: Bob Rossi

We are excited to announce our new Executive Director, Bob Rossi, who will be leveraging his experience in business startups and nonprofit development to grow NYSSBC and to serve as your go-to connection for policy advocacy that builds a just and sustainable economy in New York State. As we welcome Bob, we also salute our former ED, Laura Ornstein, as she begins her graduate career at UNC Charlotte focusing on GIS and Urban Planning.

Since we began just a few short years ago, so much of our success can be attributed to Laura’s incredible talent and dedication. For the past two years, Bob worked with Laura as a volunteer for NYSSBC. This working relationship plus their efforts together over this transition month have laid important groundwork for our continued growth and success. Thank you, Laura and Bob!!

Laura & Bob

Right out of the gate, Bob will be heading to the 5th annual Sustainable Business Summit in Washington, DC next week hosted by the American Sustainable Business Council (ASBC). If you wish to join the Summit, contact Bob (bob@nyssbc.org) or click here: bit.ly/SustyBiz16; there are tickets still available and discounts for members of NYSSBC!

At the Summit in DC, Bob will be representing YOU.  We invite you to wish him success and to post your questions or ideas to our Facebook post here.

For NYSSBC, Bob brings many assets to the table. He has nonprofit development experience most notably through his work in co-founding the Green Resource Hub and the Sustainable Enterprise & Entrepreneur Network (the SEEN), a local “triple bottom line” business community, of which Bob later served as Director.  Bob’s experience in starting and growing a business network and strengthen its value for the network members will clearly inform his work as your new Director.

Bob can also speak from the business perspective as he has been involved in several business startups in software, manufacturing, and green building.  Most Recently, Bob founded the CommonSpot, a coworking space and social enterprise incubator — a place designed to help other businesses startup and thrive. As we — the staff and steering of NYSSBC — are spread across New York State, the CommonSpot in Ithaca is our new home. Centrally located (or “centrally isolated” as Ithacans like to say) in the middle of New York State, it is where we can all convene as we did last month for our retreat. In addition to Bob’s wealth of experience and beautiful energy, he has the dedication to bring NYSSBC to the next level.

None of our current success would be possible without people like you; sustainable and equitable business owners, customers, workers and movement builders. We invite you to join us in this period of growth and find ways to participate. Please don’t hesitate to email Bob (bob@nyssbc.org) with any questions, concerns, ideas or offers. Look for future posts from Bob with opportunities to get involved. We’re looking forward to it.

So, here’s a big “thank you” to Laura Ornstein and a big “welcome” to Bob Rossi.  Here’s to a bright future of our State and the future of a sustainable and equitable economy!

21 Aug

Policy Update: NYSSBC 2016 Legislative Session Priorities

Policy Update: NYSSBC 2016 Legislative Session Priorities

On May 9, 2016, NYSSBC convened business leaders at the State Capitol from across the state for the 3rd Annual Albany Sustainable Business Summit. Attendees were briefed on NYSSBC’s priority issues (listed below), heard about next steps for the victorious Paid Leave campaign, had time to connect over shared interests, and met with state legislators and staff to make the business case for policies promoting a sustainable economy. Read more details on the event here.

Updates on Priorities:

Tax Incentives for Geothermal Energy

As a sustainable alternative to natural gas, geothermal heating & cooling is essential for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and combating climate change.  Parity with solar incentives is being aggressively sought before federal incentives expire at the end of 2016.   While both of the bills (see below) passed the Senate & Assembly unanimously in 2015, they were vetoed by the Governor saying he was waiting for a renewable heating and cooling plan from NYSERDA, the state energy agency,which is still unpublished.  The effort is focused now at the close of 2016 on the tax credit bill being signed.

 

  • Geothermal Tax Credit S.6249 (Ortt, R-Lockport)/A.9925 (Ryan, D-Buffalo)
    Geothermal Tax Credit (S.6249/A.9925) establishes a tax credit for the purchase and installation of geothermal energy systems.

 

Bill Status: On the way to victory! Both the Senate and Assembly passed S.6249/A.9925. Legislation has been delivered to Governor Cuomo to sign into law.  

Take Action:  Call or write Gov. Cuomo and ask him to sign the geothermal tax credit now. Learn more.

 

 

Geothermal Sales Tax Exemption (S.6250/A.9128-A) provides an exemption for the sale and installation of residential and commercial geothermal heat pump systems equipment.

Bill Status: Defeat. S.6250-A passed the Senate, but the Assembly failed to pass their version of the bill.

Updating the Hemp Pilot Program S.6960-A (O’Mara, R-Elmira)/A.9310-A (Lupardo, D-Binghamton)

Since the New York State Legislature passed legislation to create an Industrial Hemp Pilot Research program in 2014, farmers and research institutions have expressed tremendous interest in participating in the program and in the potential of industrial hemp as a major agricultural crop in New York State. As the program has moved forward, participants have expressed their desire to pursue the marketing and final products of industrial hemp. By adopting these changes, New York will be in the position to become a national leader in the growing industrial hemp industry once it is fully legalized by the federal government.

Bill Status: Victory! Passed both the Assembly and Senate; signed into law by the Governor August 18, 2016

Calling on Congress to Overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission

The goal of this effort is to pass a resolution making New York the 17th state to call for a constitutional amendment to overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which in 2010 unleashed a flood of money into our political system by ruling that, contrary to longstanding precedent, corporations and unions are able to spend unlimited amounts of money to promote or defeat candidates. The District of Columbia and sixteen states, including our neighbors New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont, have passed resolutions calling on Congress to adopt a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United decision.

Status: Victory! A majority of legislators in both the Senate and the Assembly signed a letter urging the U.S. Congress to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC) and McCutcheon v. FEC decisions. New York is the first state legislature with at least one chamber controlled by Republicans to call for a constitutional amendment to rein in uncontrolled spending in elections

Safer Chemicals: Child Safe Products Act S.4102-A (Boyle, R-Bay Shore)/A.5612 (Englebright, D-Setauket)

The Child Safe Products Act (A.5612/S.4102) will require the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to publish a list of chemicals of high concern based on hazard (list adopted from Maine), and name a subset as priority chemicals (i.e. formaldehyde, lead, mercury, and arsenic). Children’s product makers will have to disclose which products contain priority chemicals and eventually phase the chemicals out in order to continue sale of such items in New York.

There was an end-of-the-session effort to get the disclosure component of the Child Safe Products Acts by having a separate bill, the Parents Right to Know Act, passed but neither the Assembly nor the Senate voted on it.

Bill Status: Defeat. A.5612 passed the Assembly on May 4, 2016 for the 5th year in a row. S.4102-A died in the Senate Environmental Conservation Committee.

Take Action: Join other businesses like Beauty Counter, Seventh Generation, EILEEN FISHER, and ABC Carpet & Home by signing onto NYSSBC’s campaign, Companies for Safer Chemicals New York, to demonstrate your support for improving disclosure of toxic chemicals and eliminating them from the market.

GMO Labeling S.485-B (LaValle, R-Port Jefferson)/A.617-B  (Rosenthal, D-Manhattan)

This legislation will require the labeling of genetically engineered seed, seed stock, and human food offered for retail sale in New York.

Bill Status: Defeat. S.485-B died in the Rules Committee. A.617-B died in the Rules Committee. Neither the Assembly nor Senate had a floor vote on the bills.

Support & Incentives for Employee-Owned Enterprise A.9618 (Ryan, D-Buffalo)

This bill will exempt members, directors, and executive officers of a worker cooperative from workers’ compensation coverage; will make employee-owned enterprises eligible for a “best value” awarding of public contracts; provide business and industry training to members of an employee-owned enterprise; create an advisory panel on the viability of increasing employee-owned enterprises in the State; and provide a 50% capital gains exemption for the sale of stock to an employee-owned enterprise.

Bill Status: Defeat. A.9618 died in the Labor Committee. A similar bill was not introduced in the Senate.

Take Action: If interested in being involved in NYSSBC’s work on cooperatives, please contact NYSSBC member Andrew Delmonte of Buffalo First! and Cooperation Buffalo (EMAIL).

22 May

Recap: NYSSBC’s 3rd Annual Albany Sustainable Business Summit

Business leaders from New York City to Buffalo and Binghamton to the Capitol Region convened in Albany on May 9 for NYSSBC’s 3rd annual Albany Sustainable Business Summit, a non-stop day of briefings, legislative visits and networking. It was the first time many of the attendees had ever been to the Capitol buildings.

 

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Some of the founding members of NYSSBC (L to R): Hilary Baum of Chefs for the Marcellus; Chris Burger of Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition; Laura Ornstein of NYSSBC; Jan Rhodes Norman of Local First Ithaca; and Ajax Greene of Re>Think Local

 

Our agenda was packed with NYSSBC’s priority issues for 2016: clean energy, safer chemicals, GMO labeling, rural economic development, worker-owned cooperatives, and campaign finance reform. We were inspired by the successful New York Paid Leave Coalition; well-fed thanks to lunch sponsor Clean and Healthy NY; and well-recycled and composted by Zero to Go.

 

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Presenters of issue briefings (L to R): Andrew Delmonte of Cooperation Buffalo & Buffalo First! on employee-owned enterprises; Jan Rhodes Norman of Local First Ithaca & Silk Oak on Citizens United; Kathy Curtis of Clean and Healthy NY on safer chemicals and the Child Safe Products Act; and Artie Malkin representing Food & Water Watch on GMO labeling. Not pictured: Bill Nowak of NY-GEO on geothermal energy and Jeffrey Quain from the office of Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo on industrial hemp

 

IMG_6735NYSSBC partnered with NY-GEO to highlight two bills that would provide tax parity for geothermal energy by creating a sales tax exemption (S6250A/A9128A) and tax credit (S6249/A9925). Our work on GMO labeling (S485/A617) was enriched by our collaboration with Food and Water Watch and the NY GMO Labeling Coalition. We advocated for the updating of the Industrial Hemp Pilot (S6960/A9310A), designed to spur rural economic development especially in the Southern Tier, and educated legislators on the needs of incentives and support for worker-owned cooperatives (A9618). The business perspective on overturning Citizens United was presented to encourage New York to become the 17th state to pass a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to limit special interest money in elections.

IMG_6737Attendees were provided a folder with summaries of the policies and their current status, a schedule of legislative meetings and legislator bios, and talking points memos on the various issues.

NYSSBC will continue to monitor these issues and update our business community on opportunities to participate and support them. Sign up for our newsletter (on the right) to stay in the loop!

 

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L to R: Nicole Matteson, NYSSBC member Andrew Delmonte of Buffalo First! & Cooperation Buffalo, and Bill Nowak of NY-GEO

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L to R: Sarah Womer of Zero to Go & Laura Ornstein of NYSSBC

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L to R NYSSBC Members: Anne Sherman of Staach, Bob Rossi of the CommonSpot, and Leslie Ackerman of Local First Ithaca

 

A special thanks to:

Our lunch sponsor

a2c2a6_6ce08852dcf14ae6a4f32c8d993e2fe6

Promoting safer chemicals, a sustainable economy and a healthier world.

 

 

 

 

 

Our waste manager

1461246807779

 

 

 

 

 

Our promotional partners

summit promotional parner

24 Mar

Update on Fracking Waste in NYS

road-saltThe issue of fracking waste disposal and road spreading is currently on the legislative table in New York City and on the regulatory table in New York State.

Governor Cuomo recently announced that the Department of Environmental Conservation will amend its related rules with a comment period through July 15 and hearings in early June.

Cityside, the City Council Committee on Environmental Protection held a hearing in late February on Int 446, proposed legislation that will keep toxic oil and gas brine from being used or disposed of in New York. A campaign to find additional sponsors is underway. Are you a resident of NYC? If so, look up your councilmember here and encourage them to support passage of Int 446 immediately!

Waste products from certain forms of gas and oil drilling that are still legal in NY coupled with fracking waste from PA are found in some New York wastewater treatment facilities and landfills and on many New York roads for de-icing and stabilizing. While more than 15 counties have already taken the lead to prohibit disposal practices, passing legislation for a state-wide ban is essential for New York businesses. See NYSSBC’s perspective here.

To learn more, watch the webinar “Fracking Waste in New York: A Business Perspective” presented by NYSSBC & Riverkeeper about the waste being disposed and the impacts to businesses.

17 Dec

Letter to Gov. Cuomo: Don’t Allow Gas Storage on Seneca Lake

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The Honorable Andrew Cuomo
Governor of New York State
NYS Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224

December 17, 2015

Dear Governor Cuomo,

You have shown the rest of the country why it is not only possible — but smart — to say no to hydraulic fracturing and liquefied natural gas facilities, and we applaud your actions.   We know that it is also possible — in fact it’s imperative — to reject the further expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure such as the proposed liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) industrial storage facility and methane expansion facility in the heart of the Finger Lakes, an area with a vibrant future as a multi-billion dollar center of wine, grape production, and tourism. Wine-related tourism is a major economic driver for our entire state, accounting for more than 5 million tourist visits a year along the state’s 20 wine trails found from Lake Erie to Long Island.

We are business organizations with members across New York, and we are concerned that the realization of your ambitious economic development initiatives — especially those benefiting the Finger Lakes’ burgeoning wine and recently estimated $2.8 billion tourism sectors — will be compromised by the industrialization and potential contamination of its landscape and waterways.

We ask that you oppose Houston-based Crestwood Equity Partners proposed storage facilities in the salt caverns at the southern end of Seneca Lake.

Crestwood hopes to create the largest hub in the Northeast for fracked gas transportation and LPG storage. This risky dream is antithetical to the reality of the Finger Lakes as a world-class wine region today. And it is antithetical to the opinion of hundreds of businesses, thousands of residents and 31 local governments that oppose the development of the storage facility. As business organizations that work to promote our local economies, we call on you to listen to those who know best what threatens their community character and livelihoods rather than those representing out-of-state business interests.   And we know that the locally-owned businesses, such as those threatened by the establishment of this fossil fuel hub at Seneca Lake, generate substantially more benefit to the local economy.

According to the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, this project is estimated to create only 8-10 permanent full time jobs and approximately 50 short-term construction-related jobs, which may or may not go to local workers, if their proposal is approved. But, by increasing the possibility of gas and brine leaks, explosions and derailments, it puts at risk a growing regional economy that is already responsible for more than 15,000 full-time equivalent wine-related jobs.

For now, LPG is an important fuel for many businesses, farms and households in the state, and it is important that supplies and prices remain stable — but not at the expense of transitioning to a clean-energy economy or degrading clean water sources, which are becoming ever more precious in this era of unprecedented drought. We believe that with your leadership, our state can lead the transition to 100% renewables. Many of our businesses have already implemented conversions to renewable energy and minimized our energy use, and should be looked to as models for reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

New York State has made important investments in the success story that is the Finger Lakes Wine Region, and its incentives have put many of its businesses and residents on the fast track to a bright, sustainable future. In addition to the region’s renown as a tourist destination, its wines, fruits and grains grace restaurants, the state’s licensed Taste NY stores, wine stores, food cooperatives and farmers’ markets in New York City and throughout the state, and in Europe.

We thank you for your commitment to this path and urge you to put the needs of New York based businesses above out-of-state interests, and rigorously protect our local economies from the further expansion of infrastructure for finite, climate-changing fossil fuels.

Respectfully,

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