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NCPR News Staff: Matt Richmond

Reporter, The Innovation Trail

Stories filed by Matt Richmond

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Cows grazing at Bob Zufall's farm in Lisbon, NY. Photo: David Pynchon
Cows grazing at Bob Zufall's farm in Lisbon, NY. Photo: David Pynchon

Environmental groups challenge new NY dairy waste rules

A coalition of New York State environmental groups filed a lawsuit against New York late last month objecting to a rule change for dairy farms.

The groups claim that the Department of Environmental Conservation violated environmental law when it loosened a key standard in the pollution rules the farms must follow.

It could prove a major roadblock to the state's often-stated support for the growing yogurt industry.  Go to full article
Johan Jelsma at his garden in Binghamton. Photo by Matt Richmond
Johan Jelsma at his garden in Binghamton. Photo by Matt Richmond

Urban farmers hope for zoning help

Urban farms are spreading in cities in the northeast and beyond. In Binghamton, a decreasing population and severe floods have left behind scarred neighborhoods.

Now supporters of urban farming are calling on the city to change its zoning so more farms can move in.  Go to full article
Coal-fired turbines at Cayuga power plant in Lansing, NY. Photo: Teresa Peltier-WSKG
Coal-fired turbines at Cayuga power plant in Lansing, NY. Photo: Teresa Peltier-WSKG

How old coal-fired plants challenge NY's greener future

New York has some of the oldest coal-fired power plants in the country.
Their place in the state's changing energy landscape is still to be settled.

The state's Public Service Commission is considering the future of one of them, the Lansing plant on the shore of Cayuga Lake near Ithaca. The pending decision has sparked a debate that says a lot about the challenges New York will face if it's serious about switching to new sources of power.

Once every week, a freight train loaded with coal makes its way through Ithaca to the coal-fired power plant north of town, in Lansing, on the shore of Cayuga Lake. Those shipments may stop soon.  Go to full article

Critics weigh in on "Tax Free New York"

Gov. Andrew Cuomo released legislation outlining his plan for tax-free zones Monday after spending a week in May touring upstate to build support for the proposal.

"I mean no taxes. That's what I mean when I say tax free - no business tax, no corporate tax, no franchise fee, no income tax," Cuomo told officials at the University at Buffalo.

Under the measure, any new business that sets up on or near a SUNY campus, or at selected private universities or state-owned properties will pay no taxes for up to ten years. After five years, high-wage earners will have to pay income taxes. The locations are mostly upstate.

The plan has come under fire from all sides.  Go to full article
Colony Collapse Disorder caused a loss of about 30 percent of U.S. hives between 2006 and 2011. Photo by Matt Richmond.
Colony Collapse Disorder caused a loss of about 30 percent of U.S. hives between 2006 and 2011. Photo by Matt Richmond.

Farmers and beekeepers respond to colony collapse

Since 2006, honey bees have been abandoning seemingly healthy hives in large numbers.That's raised the alarm worldwide among beekeepers, farmers and researchers.

Honey bees are big business, and some of the industries that are dependent on bees are adapting, finding ways to manage the losses.  Go to full article
H2A workers on a North Country Farm. Photo: David Sommerstein
H2A workers on a North Country Farm. Photo: David Sommerstein

Will immigration reform ease NY's farm labor shortage?

As lawmakers in Washington debate the immigration reform bill released last month, farmers in New York State are hoping to find enough workers to fully staff their operations.

The Senate Judiciary Committee spent a day last week amending the 844-page bill, legislation that includes changes to guest worker programs. The changes may be good news for New York farmers.  Go to full article
Hispanic men and women - some of them quite young - provide labor illegally on many dairy farms. Photo: David Sommerstein
Hispanic men and women - some of them quite young - provide labor illegally on many dairy farms. Photo: David Sommerstein

Undocumented farmworkers weigh benefits against risks

New York's farms employ about 60,000 people and no one knows how many of those workers are here illegally. According to one estimate, 70 percent of the state's agricultural workforce is undocumented.
Some stay for years, long enough to raise a family. But it's risky.  Go to full article
Drilling rig in the Marcellus Shale region. Photo: Laurie Barr
Drilling rig in the Marcellus Shale region. Photo: Laurie Barr

Court upholds local fracking bans

New York State's second highest court has ruled in favor of two towns which passed laws banning gas drilling.

In two decisions released Thursday, the court ruled unanimously in favor of local control in Dryden and Middlefield.  Go to full article
Schlumberger's gasfield services facility in Horseheads, just outside of Elmira. Photo: Matt Richmond
Schlumberger's gasfield services facility in Horseheads, just outside of Elmira. Photo: Matt Richmond

Elmira thinks twice about its fracking boom

The City of Elmira is just seven miles from the Pennsylvania border. And for four years, the natural gas boom in Pennsylvania's Northern Tier crossed over the border and boosted Elmira's economy.

But that natural gas rush has slowed down, and there's disagreement in Elmira about whether a temporary boom is worth the costs.  Go to full article
Sonostics CEO Chuck Schwerin says his company's treatment offers a way to resolve knee pain before going to surgery. Photo by Matt Richmond, Innovation Trail.
Sonostics CEO Chuck Schwerin says his company's treatment offers a way to resolve knee pain before going to surgery. Photo by Matt Richmond, Innovation Trail.

Startup looks for a way around knee surgery

Knee pain is among the most common medical complaints across age groups from young athletes to aging baby boomers. Often, the trouble is in the meniscus cartilage, and often, the prescription is surgery.

But recent studies comparing results of physical therapy to outcomes of surgery find PT to be equally effective in many cases. A Binghamton company is working on one less invasive treatment.  Go to full article

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