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Dairy farmer Mike Kiechle of Philadelphia, NY, spreads manure from his tractor. He's the kind of small farmer the new rules are trying to target, but he says he doubts he'll grow his herd bigger. Photo: David Sommerstein
Dairy farmer Mike Kiechle of Philadelphia, NY, spreads manure from his tractor. He's the kind of small farmer the new rules are trying to target, but he says he doubts he'll grow his herd bigger. Photo: David Sommerstein

Will easing dairy manure rules do much at all?

Last month, Governor Cuomo carried through on a promise he made to dairy farmers, loosening environmental regulations for small farms.

Right now, a farm with 200 cows or more has to prepare detailed and costly manure management plans. Starting this week, that threshold will be bumped up to 300 cows.

Speaking at last summer's Yogurt Summit, Agriculture Commissioner Darrel Aubertine said the change would help boost milk production to meet demand fueled by Greek yogurt's popularity. "Simply put," said Aubertine, "this will make it much easier for small farms to grow."

North Country lawmakers and the state Farm Bureau praised the rule change. But environmental groups say more unregulated manure means more farm runoff in rivers and streams. It remains a big question whether the change will do much of anything at all - to the environment or for the economy.  Go to full article

What Is Liquid Manure?

Following the 3 million-gallon liquid manure spill in the Black River last week, we wanted to know why farmers use liquid manure in the first place. So David Sommerstein called Brent Buchanan of the Cornell Cooperatve Extension of St. Lawrence County. He says in the old days on dairy farms, each milking cow had its own stall with its own bedding.  Go to full article

Alcoa Tries to Clean Grasse River, Again

The EPA is testing new ways to clean up toxic waste in the Grasse River this summer. Alcoa dumped PCBs downstream from Massena before the cancer-causing chemicals were banned in 1979. As David Sommerstein reports, an earlier attempt to cover up the contaminated river bottom failed.  Go to full article

Carp Barrier Clears Another Hurdle

Two federal agencies say they've worked out safety problems that might've caused delays at a new electric barrier designed to keep Asian carp out of the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium's Chuck Quirmbach reports.  Go to full article

"Contaminated Cove" Update

After a 14-year impasse, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe will allow General Motors on to tribal land to clean up an inlet on the St. Lawrence River. Turtle Cove is contaminated with PCBs, a cancer-causing chemical. The EPA ordered the work to be done in 1990. But tribal officials wouldn't allow it because General Motors giant toxic landfill is right next to the cove and they feared the water would get re-contaminated. Different visions of what "clean" means have stalled clean-up of the GM landfill Superfund site near Massena. Listen again to David Sommerstein's report from 2001 on how GM, the EPA and the Mohawks see the PCB problem.  Go to full article

Swimming the Hudson for Clean Water - An Update

Jody Tosti checks in with Christopher Swain, who plans to swim the entire 315 miles of the Hudson River from Lake Tear of the Clouds to Manhattan and the Atlantic Ocean to raise awareness of the need for cleaner water. Swain began his odyssey in early June.  Go to full article
Lake Ontario fisherman John Rorabeck on Point Traverse
Lake Ontario fisherman John Rorabeck on Point Traverse

Saving the American Eel

For centuries, the American eel dominated the waters of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River. Only 50 years ago, the snake-like fish accounted for half of the biomass of Lake Ontario. Today it has all but disappeared. Researchers and fishermen see the decline as a shrill warning about changes in climate and the environment. And they say now is the time to do something about it. David Sommerstein reports.  Go to full article

Fish Diet Down in Diporeia Die Off

One of the basic building blocks of the Great Lakes food chain is disappearing. The bottom of the lakes used to be teeming with tiny crustaceans known as Diporeia. But their numbers are declining, and in wide stretches they're just simply gone. Commercial fishers are beginning to see the effect on fish. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium's Lester Graham has an update.  Go to full article

Trust Fund for Great Lakes Restoration?

Some members of Congress feel the timing is right for the long-anticipated federal legislation to help restore the Great Lakes. A bill introduced in the Senate recently proposes EPA monitoring of Great Lakes water quality. Now, a bill in the House proposes a $4 billion Great Lakes Restoration Fund. The Great Lakes Radio Consortium's Joyce Kryszak reports.  Go to full article

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