Practices and Policies for Global Sustainability — Summer Short Course

by Duane Nichols on February 13, 2020

Heavy sustained rains bring down boulders onto the roads in WV and elsewhere

What’s the Big Deal? Practices & Policies for Global Sustainability – Summer Adult Education Course, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

From Prof. David Lodge, Cornell University, February 5, 2020

Can this planet be saved? Yes, we think so !!

In this timely program, David Lodge, director of Cornell’s Atkinson Center for Sustainability, will challenge us with bold ideas that may help us and our planet survive our current environmental challenges.

We’ll weigh the costs and benefits of changing the ways we produce human necessities such as food, shelter, clothing, transportation, and water—to conserve energy and finite natural resources.

Join us in figuring out how to minimize environmental impact without diminishing economic growth and our quality of life.

Details: July 5 to 11, 2020 on Campus in Ithaca, NY

Course highlights — 1. Explore the controversies surrounding efforts to reduce and respond to climate change.

2. Discuss the urgent need for more sustainable practices and policies. Become acquainted with the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability, the hub of collaborative sustainability research at Cornell University.

3. Learn about the work of the passionate experts and innovators, theorists, practitioners, business leaders, and philanthropists who are developing strategies and shaping policy to protect our planet.

4. Discover how you can participate in sustainability efforts.

Faculty for This Course Professor David Lodge

David Lodge serves as Cornell University’s first Francis J. DiSalvo Director of the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability. His academic home is Cornell’s Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, with a joint appointment in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the College of Arts and Sciences..

David has led research on freshwater biodiversity as part of the United Nations’ Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and led an expert subcommittee providing advice to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on reducing biological invasions from the ballast water of ships. He recently served as a Jefferson Science Fellow in the U.S. Department of State.

Under David’s leadership, Cornell Atkinson Center is focused on working with NGO, corporate, foundation, and government collaborators to move knowledge to action in reducing climate risks, accelerating energy transitions, increasing food security, and advancing the One Health Initiative.


See also: CLEARWAY Signs Power Contracts for WV Wind Farm, WV News, February 6, 2020

CHARLESTON, WV — Clearway Energy Group announced Thursday that it signed power purchase agreements with AEP Energy and Toyota for Clearway’s 110-megawatt Black Rock wind farm, in Grant and Mineral counties, West Virginia.

The power contracts will enable both AEP Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of American Electric Power, and Toyota to meet their energy management objectives while helping each company achieve their respective clean energy goals.

“We’re thrilled that Black Rock will provide economic benefits to AEP Energy and Toyota while helping meet their sustainability goals,” said Craig Cornelius, CEO of Clearway Energy Group. “Black Rock, along with our nearby Pinnacle wind farm, reaffirms Clearway’s commitment to West Virginia and wind energy’s growing role in the state’s economy and environment.”

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WVU News #1 February 13, 2020 at 11:13 am

Morgantown rock slide injures three @ WVU

From Staff Reports, WV News, February 10, 2020

MORGANTOWN —Three people, including two West Virginia University students, were taken to the hospital after being injured by a rock slide Monday.

Two of the injured were in a Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) car that was struck by a large rock, according to a WVU press release.

The third person was in a passenger car on Monongahela Boulevard that was damaged by a large rock.

The section of Monongahela Boulevard between 8th Street and Patteson Drive was closed after the rockslide until state Division of Highways crews could stabilize the hillside, according to the Morgantown Police Department.

Monongahela Boulevard has since reopened between 8th Street and Evansdale Drive.

The PRT will remain closed between the Beechurst and Engineering stations on Tuesday. It will run between the Walnut and Beechurst stations, as well as on a separate loop between the Engineering, Towers and Health Sciences Center stations on a normal schedule beginning at 6:30 a.m.

Buses will run between the Beechurst and Engineering PRT stations. Pickup will be at Life Sciences Building and Evansdale Crossing.


WVU News #2 February 13, 2020 at 11:26 am

WVU BOG amends agreement with Morgantown power plant
Article by Mike Nolting, WV Metro News, January 24, 2020
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The WVU Board of Governors voted Friday to amend its contract with Morgantown Energy Associates regarding the switch from waste coal to natural gas at MEA’s power plant on Beechurst Avenue in Morgantown.

Under an agreement approved by the state Public Service Commission last month, the plant stopped producing electricity for Mon Power on Jan. 1 and began producing only steam for both WVU campuses.

The PSC approved a $60 million settlement between MEA and Mon Power. The utility bought out the remaining years of its contract with MEA saying it no longer needs the power it generates. The facility has been producing 50 mega-watts of power since 1992.

WVU Vice president for Strategic Initiatives Rob Alsop told the BOG an amendment was needed to allow the switch.

“We have a contract to take steam from MEA through 2027,” Alsop said. “They have made a proposal to the university to no longer produce steam with coal, but with natural gas boilers.”

Alsop explained the original coal-based contract was negotiated about 25 years ago and it needed board authorization to substitute natural gas for coal.

“The existing contract price resets several times each year based on the price of coal, natural gas and industrial commodities,” Alsop said. “We don’t know the extent of the savings, but we do believe it will be more stable than the previous contract.”

Workers are expected complete the switch in the spring when the university can shut the steam supply down for a few days.

The PSC order requires MEA to provide LP Mineral, the company that supplies the waste coal to the plant, six months notice before the coal fired boilers are shutdown. The PSC has also ordered MEA to make “certain reporting requirements.”

LP Minerals President James Laurita testified in November the jobs lost through the contract termination would cost the economy $17 million a year, the same amount Mon Power says terminating the deal would save ratepayers. Laurita believes as many as 40 jobs could be cut at the plant.

“I’m saying $17 million, just those three vendors and the 40 employees, the value is $17 million a year that’s going to be lost just to the community of Morgantown,” Laurita said. “That’s $300 million over (the remainder of the contract). So there’s $300 million that’s lost to the community.”


WV News #4 February 13, 2020 at 12:34 pm

WV RIVERS Rise From Latest Rains

By MetroNews Staff in News | February 13, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Several school systems in West Virginia closed their doors Thursday because of high water with state emergency crews on standby for possible flooding.

The National Weather Service issued flooding warnings, meaning it was flooding, in several counties including Cabell, Jackson, Mason, Lincoln, Mingo, Wayne and Northern Putnam. Water had covered several roadways in those areas.

All schools in Mason, Roane and Lincoln counties were closed while other counties closed individual schools and some other counties had two or three-hour delays.

Meteorologists reported the Ohio River was running about a foot above flood stage Thursday morning at Point Pleasant. The river could crest at three feet about flood stage early Saturday morning.

There was concern about the Ohio River heading into Wednesday.

“Particularly the Ohio River from Point Pleasant southward,” Meteorologist Ray Young told MetroNews.” We already have a flood warning up for the Ohio River at Point Pleasant which we’re expecting flooding there and depending on the level of rain all of the points south of Point Pleasant could go into a flood.”

Gov. Jim Justice activated the state’s Emergency Operations Center on Tuesday and agencies who are the front line responders are already coordinating and getting ready for a response. It is officially on partial activation.

“Approximately 60 people from the Guard are on a four-hour standby,” said Major Hollie Nelson with the West Virginia National Guard.

The personnel ready to react with the National Guard are teams who handle liaison, community action, a med-evac flight crew, and the guard’s swift water rescue team.

“We want to make sure people are paying attention to what’s going on. You can get the rain and it won’t be until a day later before the rivers crest. People really need to be on alert,” said Nelson.

There were power outages reported Thursday morning and additional mudslides impacting some highways.

The coldest temperatures in a few weeks are scheduled to enter the state Friday with highs predicted for the mid-20s


Lawrence - Friedlander February 14, 2020 at 8:39 am

Cornell, Nature Conservancy to study key climate projects
By Mark A.B. Lawrence Blaine Friedlander |

Cornell Chronicle, January 15, 2020
A new collaboration between the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) this year will fund three studies that could have significant ramifications in the face of intensifying climate change.

The funded research will:

assess state buyout programs of homes built on flood plains;
gauge optimal fishing policies in Alaska; and
examine sustainable, agricultural land management in China.
Each of these two-year, $200,000 projects – funded through Cornell Atkinson’s Innovation for Impact Fund, TNC and a gift from Rebecca Quinn Morgan ’60 and Jim Morgan ’60, MBA ’63 – will aim to find long-term solutions to difficult sustainability problems.

“The projects funded this year address some of the biggest challenges facing our planet today – how to adapt to a changing climate,” said David Lodge, the Francis J. DiSalvo Director of Cornell Atkinson. “Connecting Cornell’s research expertise with TNC’s global reach will enable us to have a greater impact than either organization could achieve alone.”

One group will examine flood plain home buyout programs in New York, New Jersey, Florida, Texas and Washington. National flood buyout programs have had limited success restoring sites after homes are removed. Researchers hope to learn whether and how these state programs are able to better incorporate ecological restoration, help vulnerable populations and prompt community cohesion. The researchers hope their work will influence TNC’s North American adaptation strategy, and inform policies of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state agencies.

The researchers hope their work will influence TNC’s North American adaptation strategy, and generate a public report and policy briefs for the Federal Emergency Management Agency on states that have yet to create buyout programs.

The buyout research will be led by principal investigators Linda Shi, assistant professor in city and regional planning, and by TNC’s Anna Brown, the North America climate adaptation lead, and Christine Shepherd, director of science. Serving as co-PIs are Amelia Greiner Safi, core faculty, Master of Public Health program in the Department of Population Medicine, and senior research associate in communication; Jamie Vanucchi, assistant professor in landscape architecture; and Marci Bortman, TNC’s New York director of climate adaptation.

The second research project will focus on establishing climate-ready fishing communities. More than 60% of the U.S. wild seafood production is in Alaskan waters, so the state has a high reliance on fisheries. Outcomes from this research will aid Alaska’s fishing communities in finding ways to adapt to changes in the ocean, such as assessing climate-driven fisheries risk, developing a framework for optimizing fishing rights and evaluating community fishing portfolios.

Serving as the principal investigators on this project are Suresh Sethi, assistant professor of natural resources; and Adrianna Muir, director of conservation, TNC-Alaska. Co-PIs are Alex Flecker, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology; Carla Gomes, professor of computing and information science; John Tobin, professor of practice of corporate sustainability in the Dyson School in the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business; Kate Kauer, TNC associate director of the Oceans Program; and Rich Bell, lead scientist of the TNC Fisheries Program.

The third project will focus on sustainable land management in China and improving soil health to ensure that country’s future food, water and energy security. Agricultural land in China is scarce; farmers there must feed 18.5% of the world’s population on 7% of the world’s arable land. Rapid urbanization, pollution and soil degradation have put great pressure on soil resources in China.

The group intends to adapt and develop the Cornell Soil Health Assessment Framework, identify soil constraints, establish management solutions, and create educational and policy initiatives.

The principal investigators for the project are Harold van Es, professor of soil and crop sciences; and Ying Li, conservation and agricultural director of the TNC-China program. Co-PIs are Rebecca Schneider, associate professor of natural resources; Joseph Amsili ’13, extension associate and Soil Health Program coordinator; Nan Zing, TNC-China agriculture project officer; and Junling Zhang, a professor at China Agricultural University.


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