Author: John Szalasny

John Szalasny

John Szalasny is someone who cares about our planet. Born too late to join in on the first wave of organized environmental action in the 60’s, I’m making up for lost time as I get nearer to retirement on various environmental concerns including the plastic waste crisis.

A common belief of indigenous people throughout the world is that their relationship with nature is sacred and that we should treat our natural environment with dignity and reverence. One doesn’t have to look far to realize that our modern world does not have the same relationship with the Earth. Recent efforts around the world have sought to give rivers and forests “rights of nature” to protect its rights to be a healthy ecosystem and would give governments and other caretakers the ability to represent the natural world in a court of law. Assemblymember Patrick Burke is trying to…

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Government and community leaders met on Earth Day at the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority’s Cold Springs garage to mark the arrival of the first electric bus in the fleet. The NFTA currently has 330 buses and is committed to having an all-electric bus fleet by the year 2035. Photo by Sierra Club member Roger Cook It helps that the Transportation Chair in the New York State Senate is Senator Timothy Kennedy.  His efforts to obtain funding from the state was key.  He was at the event to remind us the “not only are we investing into the future…

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A recent Buffalo News editorial showed the Editorial Board’s support for an upcoming fundraiser for Kleinhans Music Hall. According to the News, among the reasons for the fundraiser is to replace a boiler that supplies heat for the building and is at the end of its lifespan. That brought out a number of letters to the editor calling for the City of Buffalo to plan for the electrified future and convert the facility’s climate control needs to a geothermal system. In a city that has seen its share of bold ideas that never get off the drawing table, is this…

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In a recent webinar hosted by the League of Conservation Voters, Mayor Byron Brown was part of a panel discussing the federal Build Back Better bill.  Among the many programs in the infrastructure bill, Mayor Brown talked the provision to replace lead pipes and the City of Buffalo’s ROLL program.   Cities with old infrastructure like Buffalo will have lead pipes, and ROLL – Replacing Old Lead Lines, covers the costs for a City of Buffalo residential property owner to replace a leaking or broken lead water service line that is not covered by their homeowner’s insurance. You may now…

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New York will enact two laws in 2022 that will make your take-out orders a little safer.  You may know about the Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Foam Food Container ban that goes into effect on January 1st.  But you may not know about the New York State ban of PFAS (Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances) in food packaging which goes into effect on December 31st.  These two laws will apply to sales by covered food service providers and stores within the state. The EPS Foam Food Container ban mirrors the ban currently in place in New York City.  That ban, which went…

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Niagara Square was the kickoff for a state-wide event to call for a “Bigger Better Bottle Bill.”  A group of environmental and social justice organizations was brought together Friday by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), calling on Governor Kathy Hochul to modernize the 40 year old Returnable Container Act (commonly known as the Bottle Bill) and include it as part of her 2022-2023 executive budget. NYPIRG spokesperson Ryan Carson laid out the changes that the coalition was asking for to the Bottle Bill.  First, expand the types and number of beverage containers covered by the Bottle Bill. …

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Carved out of ancient riverbeds by glaciers approximately 12 thousand years ago1, the Great Lakes are the world’s largest freshwater source.  This will likely be the driving force for the resurgence of the City of Buffalo and other Rust Belt cities as climate change forces the migration of populations from flooded coastal areas or areas lacking water resources.   As we see the southwestern US suffer through wildfires, partially caused by the continuing drought conditions, there are again pressures to move waters from east to west.  The Colorado River Basin, which supplies water to many major urban centers, is drying…

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The phrase to remember from 2021 may be Extended Producer Responsibility or EPR.  Whether it is a reaction to the Pandemic Plastic of 2020, with its explosion of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) clamshell takeout containers, or the realization that our plastic waste doesn’t magically disappear, bills to make polluters pay have been introduced on the state and federal level. Even before the plastic documentaries and PBS Frontline reports of the past two years aired, the plastic pollution crisis became my personal cause during a stay at Buffalo General in 2018.  While there, the news reports…

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July 2021 was not a good month in the court of public opinion for Bayer AG, the owners of Roundup, the world’s leading herbicide.  The beginning of the month saw the release of the book Toxic Legacy: How the Weedkiller Glyphosate is Destroying Our Health and the Environment by Stephanie Seneff, PhD, Senior Research Scientist at MIT.  The end of the month had Bayer’s executives announcing that they were withholding $4.5 billion dollars in second quarter earnings1 in expectation of settling thousands of US Roundup lawsuits.  This announcement came one month after the company said it was paying $10.9 billion…

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In President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, one of his environmental planks is to spend $16 billion to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells throughout the nation.  Three questions probably are coming to your lips right now.  What is an orphaned well?  Why isn’t the petrochemical industry forced to clean up their mess?  And finally, $16 BILLION?? What kind of boondoggle is that? The next three paragraphs will give you the answer to your questions, but let’s start with the question you didn’t ask.  How is this environmental?  The estimates in 2020 by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showed that…

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