180 Clocks Delivered to Gov. Cuomo to Buy Time for Fracking
Green groups delivered 180 water-powered clocks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office in the State Capitol Oct. 4. Environmental Advocates of New York and Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) called on Governor Cuomo to extend the state's public comment period on its draft revised Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement (SGEIS) and draft regulations for gas drilling by means of high-volume hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, from 90 days to 180 days. The groups' members purchased the clocks to send to Gov. Cuomo.
"Governor Cuomo isn't listening to New Yorkers' concerns about fracking. We've held dozens of press conferences, made hundreds of telephone calls, and sent thousands of emails. We've also posted hundreds of messages to the Governor's Facebook page and exercised our organizing muscles on Twitter, but he isn't getting the message," said Katherine Nadeau, water & natural resources program director for Environmental Advocates of New York. "New Yorkers deserve 180 days to review the state's 1,500-plus page fracking proposal and that's why our members are sending the governor these clocks today. We want to buy some time the old fashioned way."
The SGEIS was released for public review on Sept. 7. The purpose of this document is to inform the state's decision-making with regard to fracking. On Sept. 28, the state released draft regulations and a fracking Clean Water Act draft permit for review. The state's current 90-day public comment period and four public hearing schedule puts an unreasonable burden on New Yorkers, who are now expected to simultaneously review the draft regulations and draft permit released last week, as well as the 1,500-plus pages of the SGEIS. The simultaneous review will be particularly challenging for those living in areas have been impacted by recent flooding and are likely to see drilling.
"There is no rush to drill. New Yorkers need time to provide thoughtful and meaningful feedback on the proposed environmental impact statement and regulations," said Sarah Eckel, legislative & policy director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "Hydro-fracking for gas leads to industrial sprawl that could result in devastation to New York's air, land, water and people. Denying the public adequate time to review these extensive proposals is like to shutting them out of the process."
As soon as the original 60-day public comment period for the state's fracking proposal was announced, the organizations began to call on the governor and the DEC to extend the comment period to 180 days and to include at least two additional public hearings upstate. In August, more than 70 groups and dozens of state lawmakers from across the state sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo and the DEC asking to extend the comment period, in addition to hosting more public hearings. Several groups also held a virtual rally during which their members posted messages to the governor's Facebook page and to Twitter using the hash tag #180daysforNY.
To frack a gas well, millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals are pumped deep underground at high pressure. This fractures the rock that has trapped the gas for millennia and allows it to escape. From start to finish, gas development that relies on fracking is an industrial process that threatens water supplies. State after state, from Wyoming to Pennsylvania, has documented its dangers. New York can't afford to put short-term gas profits ahead of the long-term health of water and communities. Visit www.CleanWaterNotDirtyDrilling.org to learn more about fracking.
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Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org
The ghoulishly named ogre-faced spider can "hear" with its legs and use that ability to catch insects flying behind it, the study published in Current Biology Thursday concluded.
"Spiders are sensitive to airborne sound," Cornell professor emeritus Dr. Charles Walcott, who was not involved with the study, told the Cornell Chronicle. "That's the big message really."
The net-casting, ogre-faced spider (Deinopis spinosa) has a unique hunting strategy, as study coauthor Cornell University postdoctoral researcher Jay Stafstrom explained in a video.
They hunt only at night using a special kind of web: an A-shaped frame made from non-sticky silk that supports a fuzzy rectangle that they hold with their front forelegs and use to trap prey.
They do this in two ways. In a maneuver called a "forward strike," they pounce down on prey moving beneath them on the ground. This is enabled by their large eyes — the biggest of any spider. These eyes give them 2,000 times the night vision that we have, Science explained.
But the spiders can also perform a move called the "backward strike," Stafstrom explained, in which they reach their legs behind them and catch insects flying through the air.
"So here comes a flying bug and somehow the spider gets information on the sound direction and its distance. The spiders time the 200-millisecond leap if the fly is within its capture zone – much like an over-the-shoulder catch. The spider gets its prey. They're accurate," coauthor Ronald Hoy, the D & D Joslovitz Merksamer Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior in the College of Arts and Sciences, told the Cornell Chronicle.
What the researchers wanted to understand was how the spiders could tell what was moving behind them when they have no ears.
It isn't a question of peripheral vision. In a 2016 study, the same team blindfolded the spiders and sent them out to hunt, Science explained. This prevented the spiders from making their forward strikes, but they were still able to catch prey using the backwards strike. The researchers thought the spiders were "hearing" their prey with the sensors on the tips of their legs. All spiders have these sensors, but scientists had previously thought they were only able to detect vibrations through surfaces, not sounds in the air.
To test how well the ogre-faced spiders could actually hear, the researchers conducted a two-part experiment.
First, they inserted electrodes into removed spider legs and into the brains of intact spiders. They put the spiders and the legs into a vibration-proof booth and played sounds from two meters (approximately 6.5 feet) away. The spiders and the legs responded to sounds from 100 hertz to 10,000 hertz.
Next, they played the five sounds that had triggered the biggest response to 25 spiders in the wild and 51 spiders in the lab. More than half the spiders did the "backward strike" move when they heard sounds that have a lower frequency similar to insect wing beats. When the higher frequency sounds were played, the spiders did not move. This suggests the higher frequencies may mimic the sounds of predators like birds.
University of Cincinnati spider behavioral ecologist George Uetz told Science that the results were a "surprise" that indicated science has much to learn about spiders as a whole. Because all spiders have these receptors on their legs, it is possible that all spiders can hear. This theory was first put forward by Walcott 60 years ago, but was dismissed at the time, according to the Cornell Chronicle. But studies of other spiders have turned up further evidence since. A 2016 study found that a kind of jumping spider can pick up sonic vibrations in the air.
"We don't know diddly about spiders," Uetz told Science. "They are much more complex than people ever thought they were."
Learning more provides scientists with an opportunity to study their sensory abilities in order to improve technology like bio-sensors, directional microphones and visual processing algorithms, Stafstrom told CNN.
"The point is any understudied, underappreciated group has fascinating lives, even a yucky spider, and we can learn something from it," he told CNN.
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In 'Road Map for a More Sustainable Future,' NY Regulator Tells Banks to Consider Climate Risks in Planning
By Brett Wilkins
Regulators in New York state announced Thursday that banks and other financial services companies are expected to plan and prepare for risks posed by the climate crisis.
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A NASA spacecraft has successfully collected a sample from the Bennu asteroid more than 200 million miles away from Earth. The samples were safely stored and will be preserved for scientists to study after the spacecraft drops them over the Utah desert in 2023, according to the Associated Press (AP).
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