01 Dec

Reckless Advance of Spectra AIM Pipeline

The time has come for our state and national leaders to step in and put an immediate stop to the further development of the Spectra AIM (Algonquin Incremental Market) gas pipeline — recklessly located within 105 feet of vital structures at the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant and not much more than 1,000 feet from the reactor itself.

It is surprising — to say the least — that approvals were granted for a commercial enterprise that puts an aging nuclear facility — already considered an environmental risk — in unnecessary danger. For if the pipeline were to explode, as Spectra’s line in Pennsylvania did last April, the entire plant could be engulfed — with catastrophic consequences — according to Physicians for Social Responsibility.

The $876 million AIM expansion of the existing Algonquin pipeline system, which runs through New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Rhode Island to eastern Massachusetts and transports close to 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas a day, will move some 342 million cubic feet more. It calls for adding a 42-inch pipeline that will traverse the Hudson River between Stony Point in Rockland County and Buchanan in Westchester County, home to Indian Point.

Had we understood the implications sooner, we might have had more leverage with state and federal authorities in arguing to stop further development of the pipeline. However, while it is late in the game, it is not too late. It can’t be, because public safety is at stake, particularly among more vulnerable populations. That’s why so many members of the New York State Sustainable Business Council have joined the struggle against the pipeline.

Gas pipelines have a spotty track record for safety, at best, and the consequences of a rupture at Indian Point are horrific to contemplate (there were 143 gas transmission line incidents in the United States in 2015, according to the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration). Of course, there ought to be extensive emergency protocols, safety and evacuation plans in place before Spectra AIM goes into operation. There are not.

The nuclear plant’s required evacuation plan covers a 50-mile radius and includes much of New York City. It makes no provisions for a gas explosion. Residents as far west as Port Jervis, as far north as Rhinebeck and as far east as Danbury, Conn. would be affected.

The Spectra AIM fracked gas pipeline epitomizes federal regulators’ ongoing disregard of the risks to climate, public health and the economy associated with the gas and oil industry’s fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure. These regulators have routinely ignored the continual protests of ordinary citizens, elected officials —including our own governor, national organizations such as Physicians for Social Responsibility, New York’s Riverkeeper and others calling for thorough independent risk, safety and health assessments.

So far, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has not listened, and plans to allow the AIM pipeline to be operational in a matter of days or weeks.

The time has come for our state and national leaders — including U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and President Barack Obama — to amp up the pressure on FERC by speaking out loudly and without delay, demanding a stop to the AIM pipeline now and an immediate implementation of a national energy policy that expresses an undeniable commitment to clean, renewable energy and rejection of further fossil fuel development.

We must avoid the temptation of further fossil fuel development: Its economic gains are proving to be short-term and its losses infinite. This is imperative to our survival.

Ajax Greene is president of On Belay Business Advisors and chairman of the New York State Sustainable Business Council.

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.



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.



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!



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


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


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


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






Our waste manager







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.