Saturday, November 20, 2010

African American Environmental Association: 25th Anniversary


By Norris McDonald

Today is our 25th anniversary.  We was incorporated on November 20, 1985.  The African American Environmentalist Association (AAEA) is the outreach arm of the Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy (Center).

You can see a listing of many of our activities during that time at our original website, which we converted to Multiply when the original Msn Groups platform ended).  There is more activity information at our History page. My career has been very satisfying.  From my beginning in the Fall of 1979 at the Environmental Policy Center (now Friends of the Earth) until today, the adventure has been incredible.  I started out in the Washington, D.C.-based environmental movement.  Jimmy Carter was president and was just finishing a rough 4-year run.  I shook his hand at the Democratic National Convention in New York in 1980 not knowing that Washington was about to get a completely new makeover.  The Reagan era was interesting and quite the challenge for the environmental movement.  I still remember his 'no standard standard' for appliance efficiency standards.  I also remember the Air Florida crash and the Metro subway accident on the day that I was walking back from the U.S. Department of Energy after testifying on appliance standards.

Well, without sounding like the old guy in the room sharing old war time stories that nobody really wants to hear, the situation today is as exciting as ever.  We are embarking on trying to build biomass power plants in Mississippi, California and in Kenya.  The adventure continues and I am having more fun than ever.  Our team is lean and mean and green. 

I have kept the AAEA small on purpose and will continue to do so.  I almost died from respiratory failure in 1991 and 1996 (intubated for 4 days in ICU each time).  After getting divorced and full custody of my son when he was 2 years old, I decided that I wanted to stick around to see my son grow up.  But I also wanted to continue with my entrepreneurial environmentalism.  So keeping it small worked.  Although I still struggle with a chronic acute asthma that could kill me any day, my son is now 18 and I am still 'doing my green thing.'  Life is good.  Hey, and we just opened a new Center Hollywood blog this week (Also see AAEA Hollywood).  Oh, and if you're feeling generous, feel free to click on our Donation button on our sites.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Monday, August 9, 2010

Remembering Environmental Justice Legend Dana Alston

Dana Alston was 47 years old when she died 11 years ago on August 7, 1999.

Dana Alston, left, was a leader of the original environmental justice movement that started in the 1980's. She was one of the organizers of the first National Environmental Justice Leadership Summit in 1992. She participated in the meetings to convince the U.S. EPA to open an Office of Environmental Justice. She was a committed environmental justice activist and the movement clearly benefited from her leadership. We remember you Dana. And we will never forget you.

Dana Alston received a Bannerman Fellowship in 1992 in recognition of her leadership in the development of the environmental justice movement. The Bannerman Fellowship Program was founded in 1987 on the belief that the most effective approach to achieving progressive social change is by organizing low-income people at the grassroots level. In 2002, the Fellowship Program was renamed the Alston/Bannerman Fellowship Program in honor of Dana Alston.

Dana died on August 7, 1999 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Dana was a native of New York and lived in Washington, D.C. She was in San Francisco for treatment of kidney disease and consequences of a stroke when she died.

Her son, Khalil Alston-Cobb, now 17, resides in Clinton, Maryland. He is (or was at 16) a skateboard enthusiast (see videos). Here is how Khalil describes himself on his MySpace page:

"I like Skateboarding, Playing videogames, listening to music, talking to Gurls, surfing the Web, and Chillin wit the Homies."
Khalil is also on Twitter. He has a great skateboarding video on He is listed on Children of the Struggle. Dana would be very proud of her teenage son. All who knew her are not surprised that Khalil is an energetic and productive young man.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

How Cooling Towers Work: Guide For the Non-Engineer

"Cooling Tower Heat Transfer 101"

By Brad Buecker


"Evaporation is utilized to its fullest extent in cooling towers, which are designed to expose the maximum transient water surface to the maximum flow of air – for the longest period of time.”1

For water to evaporate it must consume a large amount of energy to change state from a liquid to a gas.

Figure 1
Figure 1 shows process conditions that could easily exist in a cooling system. We will calculate the mass flow rate of air needed to cool 150,000 gpm of tower inlet water to the desired temperature. We will also calculate the water lost by evaporation (go to link for full calculation). So, with an inlet cooling water flow rate of 150,000 gpm (1,251,000 lb/min), the calculated air flow is 1,248,000 lb/min, which, by chance in this case, is close to the cooling water flow rate. (Obviously, the air flow requirement would change significantly depending upon air temperature, inlet water temperature and flow rate, and other factors, and that is why cooling towers typically have multiple cells, often including fans that have adjustable speed control). The mass balance of water = 146,841 gpm. Thus, the water lost to evaporation is 3,159 gpm. A very interesting aspect of this calculation is that only about 2 percent evaporation is sufficient to provide so much cooling.

Evaporation causes dissolved and suspended solids in the cooling water to increase in concentration. This concentration factor is (logically) termed the cycles of concentration (C). Cycles of concentration can be monitored by comparing the ratio of the concentration of a very soluble ion, such as chloride or magnesium, in the makeup (MU) and recirculating (R) water. Very common is a comparison of the specific conductivity of the two streams, particularly where automatic control is utilized to bleed off recirculating water when it becomes too concentrated.

Besides blowdown, some water also escapes the process as fine moisture droplets in the cooling tower fan exhaust. This water loss is known as drift (D). Where towers are well-designed, drift is quite small and can be as low as 0.0005 percent of the recirculation rate.2 Drift particulate minimization is very important, as regulations on particulate emissions from cooling towers continue to tighten. Leaks in the cooling system are referred to as losses (L).


1. J.C. Hensley, ed., Cooling Tower Fundamentals, 2nd Edition; The Marley Cooling Tower Company (now part of SPX Cooling Technologies, Overland Park, Kan.), 1985.

2. Personal conversation with Rich Aull of Brentwood Industries.

Power Engineering, July 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

AAEA Testifies at Nuclear Power Plant Water Quality Hearing

AAEA President Norris McDonald, right, presented testimony before two administrative law judges at a hearing near the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The hearing was held in Cortlandt, New York at Colonial Terrace. The hearing was to address the New York Department of Environmental Conservation's denial of Entergy's Water Quality Certificate Application.

Excerpts of McDonald's written statement:

"AAEA disagrees with DEC's denial of Entergy's Water Quality Certificate and will provide information that the agency overlooked in its evaluation of the certificate application. Entergy's application, including the addition of a cylindrical wedge-wire (CWW) screen system (as proposed in Entergy’s February 12, 2010, submission), not only complies with existing New York State water quality standards, it also enhances those standards.

But nowhere in its discussion of these “other impacts” is there any acknowledgement by the DEC of the air impacts its decision will have on minority communities. This omission is egregious, particularly in light of the DEC’s numerous policy pronouncements, including DEC Policy Statement CP-29: Environmental Justice and Permitting, issued on March 19, 2003, where DEC expressed its commitment to environmental justice. In Policy Statement CP-29, DEC stated:

'It is the general policy of DEC to promote environmental justice and incorporate measures for achieving environmental justice into its programs, policies, regulations, legislative proposals and activities. This policy is specifically intended to ensure that DEC’s environmental permit process promotes environmental justice.'
CP-29 applies to permit applications received after its effective date (March 19, 2003) and the WQC application was submitted to the DEC on April 6, 2009. Thus, CP-29 clearly applies to this certification process.

To date, DEC’s permitting procedure for the Indian Point 2 and 3 facilities, and in particular, DEC’s Notice of Denial, and other considerations and investigations for these facilities, wholly ignores the issue of environmental justice and turns a blind eye to the significant harm to human health. These substantive and significant deficiencies render the Notice of Denial null and void, and preclude the DEC denying the WQC."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Wedgewire Screens- Best Available Control Technology

Cylindrical Wedgewire Screens would significantly reduce entrainment and impingement of Hudson River fish.

Wedgewire screens allow water to be “filtered” prior to entering the plants' cooling system eliminating the possibility of clogging pumps.

Fish, fish larvae, and fish eggs larger than the slot size are excluded from the intake screens.
Flow-through slot velocity (0.5fps or less) eliminates the possibility of extrusion.

Wedgewire Screens in operation at Unit 2 in April 2013/14, and at Unit 3 in April 2014/15.
Wedgewire screens can be installed in 5 years.

Wedgewire Technology offers the best environmental solution to protect human health, the environment and the fish populations in the Hudson.

The screens can be installed by 2015, and begin to further enhance fish protection efforts a full 15 years ahead of Cooling Towers.

Cooling Towers pose significant environmental and permitting problems that are highly likely to generate numerous law suits that will delay the permitting and construction if in fact they can be permitted.


Saturday, May 1, 2010

Addressing Environmental Justice in New York City

EPA, DEC, & DEP Host Discussion on Environmental Justice at EPA Region II Office

Norris McDonald at 290 Broadway
AAEA President Norris McDonald participated in the latest meeting of environmental justice activists and New York government agency officials. The meeting was held on Friday, April 30 from 3-5 pm. Approximately 50 environmental justice activists and others attended the meeting.

Opening and closing remarks were given by Judith Enck, EPA Region 2 Administrator, Pete Grannis New York State DEC Commissioner, Cas Holloway, New York City DEP Commissioner. They also answered questions from the participants.

Various commenters listed their respective complaints from process to local problems. Topics on the agenda include: 1) EJ Concerns and Government Responses and 2) Opportunities to Strengthen Community-Government Relationships to Effectively Address NYC EJ Concerns.

Pete Grannis, Cas Holloway, Judith Enck
The meeting was a follow up to the previous meetings to address EJ issues. The particular focus of the meeting was supposed to be to address the August 2009 report: "New York City Environmental Justice Listening Session: Responses to Questions, Comments and Concerns." Most comments were on other issues but there was also some discussion about the issues included in the report. Questions about report, contact:

Terry Wesley, Environmental Justice Coordinator, EPA Region 2

Lisa F. Garcia, Chief Advocate for Environmental Justice and Equity, NYSDEC

Kizzy Charles-Guzman, Policy Advisor NYC Mayoral Office and Agencies

AAMW Hosts Successful Luncheon on 'Smart Grid'

Larry Gottlieb, Norris McDonald, Tony Savino, Hugh Marriott, Melvin Burruss

The African American Men of Westchester (AAMW) April 30th luncheon on the Smart Grid was very informative and about 55 people showed up to participate in the discussion and ask questions. The luncheon, at the elegant Renaissance Westchester Hotel, is another of a series of events AAMW has organized over the past few years to keep county residents informed about the latest energy and environmental issues. Melvin Burruss of Peekskill is president of AAMW and he has been a leader in providing valuable energy and environmental information to his members and the community at large.

A “smart grid” delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital technology to control equipment at the consumer‘s premise to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability. Such a modernized electricity network is being promoted by many as a way of addressing energy independence, global warming and emergency resilience issues. The panel addressing the smart grid issue included:

• Tony Savino – Business Development of the New York Power Authority

• Larry Gottlieb – Director of Westchester County Economic Development

• Norris McDonald – President of African American Environmentalist Association

The moderator was Hugh Marriott, CEO, InService Enterprise, LLC. A series of questions were posed by the moderator to the panelists:

· What are your thoughts on the Smart Grid and its implications to the business community? Is this a good thing?
· Why is it taking so long for it to hit mainstream?
· Where should the intelligence of the smart grid reside – in the meter, in the appliance, on a PC platform, the utility, the consumer, somewhere else, some or all of these?
· Will the market sort this out or is this a matter of regulatory policy? (follow up to the previous question).
· Security: energy consumption, pricing, and load control or demand response data could also be accessible to anyone in cyberspace. Does Smart Grid technology make us less secure or more secure?
· What are the real incentives for companies/consumers to adopt and embrace this technology?
· From an energy management perspective, what choices and opportunities can this technology enable for businesses?
· Can most (or a significant portion) of the net benefits from smart grid choices be captured much more cheaply through other means (e.g. load curtailment, critical peak pricing, traditional rate design, etc.)?
· What are the biggest obstacles to deploying Smart Grid equipment and to generating benefits from these deployments?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

African American Men of Westchester Green Technology

The African American Men of Westchester, Inc. (“AAMW”) host an Environmental Business Luncheon entitled Green Smart Technology “What is the Payback”

Westchester County, NY: Friday, April 30, 2010 at Renaissance Westchester Hotel, from 12:00 PM to 2:00 PM. Free and open to the public, however, there is limited seating.

Technology and market forces are converging to fundamentally change the way the grid operates, with consequences we will feel for generations. A “smart grid” delivers electricity from suppliers to consumers using two-way digital technology to control equipment at the consumer‘s premise to save energy, reduce cost and increase reliability. Such a modernized electricity network is being promoted by many as a way of addressing energy independence, global warming and emergency resilience issues. To make those decisions and to quickly capture the benefits and payback from the smart grid the following panel of experts will give insights on this technology and what the payback could mean for your business and the customers you serve.

• Tony Savino – Business Development of the New York Power Authority

• Larry Gottlieb – Director of Westchester County Economic Development

• Norris McDonald – President of African American Environmentalist Association

Melvin Burruss of Peekskill and president of AAMW

For utilities, there is the possibility of limiting growth in the use of electricity at peak times, and in reducing the year-to-year growth in electricity demand. For residential users, there is the possibility of reducing electricity and saving money. For residential users with home-based power generation, there is the possibility of better compensation for home-generated power, when added to the grid

The smart grid enables suppliers and generators to use digital technology to both control consumption and encourage localized energy production. Smart meters in the home enable communications between supplier and consumer and the user to regulate their consumption.

AAMW is a nonprofit organization founded in 1987 to capitalize on the vast talents of African Americans in our community. The goals of AAMW are to develop strategies for the advancement of African Americans in the areas of the environment, education, economic and community development, while strengthening family institutions. (PRLog)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

AAEA President Delivers Keynote at Medgar Evers College

AAEA President Norris McDonald delivered the keynote address at the 15th Annual Conference on Environmental Issues today in the Founder's Auditorium at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, New York. Approximately 25o people attended the auditorium presentation. The conference was co-sponsored by Con Edison. McDonald stated that this was one of the most inspiring events he has ever participated in and noted that the questions were the best in his 30 year career.

Medgar Evers College initiate this public service event, dubbed the Annual Environmental Issues Conference in March 1996. This conference has become an imporatnt venue for disseminating environmental information to the public and for environmental professionals to interact with students and community members. Today they focused on greening of the academic curriculum. The hope to demonstrate a link between a green inspired curriculum and a green economy.

Message from the Conference Chairperson

"While we in the colleges are developing a green inspired curriculum we must safeguard against any perception of "green" as yet another gimmick. The curriculum must stress the real-world connection of green with healthier communities, more energy efficient homes and environmental sustainability."
McDonald was introduced by Michael G. Flanigan, Development Manager, External Relations MEC. Drs. Wilber Hope and Mohsin Patwary presented awards. The afternoon session inluded panesl on Environmental Sustainability, Green Initiatives, and Science Panel.

Other Co-Sponsors include: NBC/Universal, NASA, National Science Foundation, Department of Physical , Environmental & Computer Sciences, Du Bois Bunche Center for Public Policy, MEC, and the School of Scenic, Health and Technology.

Dr. John A. Gibbs - Medgar Evers College

Dr. John A. Gibbs joined the faculty at Medgar Evers College, City University of New York in 1988 where he has taught basic, general, health science and organic chemistry. In 1994 he spearheaded the development of a new BS degree program in Environmental Science. This degree program, the first environmental science degree program in the CUNY system was approved by the CUNY Board of Trustees and implemented in 1996.

The Medgar Evers College environmental science program strongly embraces the pressing and familiar issues of mainstream environmentalism, such as global warming, climate change, wildlife preservation, endangered species, but also gives an expanded focus to the urban environment. The program's unprecedented concentration on the environment of large urban areas fostered extensive research and studies on topics such as air and water pollution, drinking water quality, waste management, indoor air pollution and environmental health.

In conjunction with the implementation of the Environmental Science Degree Program, Dr. Gibbs co-founded the Annual Conference in March 2008. This conference has developed into an annual meeting place where scholars can discuss and make presentations on their research. Dr. Gibbs has guided graduates of the Medgar Evers College Environmental Science program to graduate programs in environmental chemistry, atmospheric science, soil science, occupational science and environmental education.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Energy Experts Discuss Northeastern Energy at National Grid

Norris McDonald, Martin Cook, Carolyn Green, Frank Stewart
The American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) and the Alliance of Black Professionals (ABP)
held an energy forum today at National Grid in Brooklyn, New York with the theme:

“Future of Northeast Energy – What is on the Horizon?”

Panelists included:

Lisa Crutchfield, National Grid

Martin Cook, National Grid

Carolyn Green, National Chair of AABE

Frank Stewart, National President of AABE

Moderator: Norris McDonald, President Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy, African American Environmentalist Association

The forum was held in the Metrotech Auditorium and covered a broad array of electricity, energy and environmental issues facing the Northeast. Some questions considered included: Is there adequate electrical capacity to satisfy the needs of Northeastern states in the next few years? Will energy prices negatively affect the Northeast? How could pending carbon dioxide regulations affect the Northeast? What about the influence of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) on a project 'low-carbon' future? Do you know of any policies that are being put into place to address energy efficiency and alternative technology marketing techniques? How are companies and organizations looking to address the "green divide" to make sure minority communities in the Northeast region are not being left behind? Many other questions were addressed during the forum.

Photo: Stephanie George. Renee McClure, Martin Cook, Norris McDonald, Jose Garcia (kneeling), Carolyn Green, Frank Stewart, Bill Suggs, Akil Friday

Friday, February 12, 2010

New York City Law Review Hosts EJ Discussion

The New York City Law Review is sponsoring a panel discussion on environmental justice issues in New York City, "Whose Survival? Environmental Justice as a Civil Rights Issue, " on Thursday, February 18, 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.Auditorium, CUNY School of Law65-21 Main Street, Flushing, NY 11367


*Majora Carter – President, Majora Carter Group
*David Palmer – Interim Executive Director, Center for Working Families
*Miranda Massie – Senior Staff Attorney, N.Y. Lawyers for the Public Interest, Environmental Justice section
*Elizabeth Yeampierre – Executive Director, United Puerto Rican Organization of Sunset Park

This panel will highlight how the purpose of the environmental justice movement is to combat “environmental racism,” a term used to refer to a multitude of racial and economic injustices wrought upon impoverished communities through the inequitable distribution of environmental burdens. The panel will trace the emergence and development of key issues in the environmental justice movement in New York City, including brownfield redevelopment, school siting and contaminants, air quality, and inequitable distribution of open space.

Panelists will address the role of communities and activists, as well as lawyers and policymakers in identifying and advocating against environmental injustices; the nature of interaction between these roles and the remedies each effects; and how such advocacy dovetails with community-building, local economic development, and the "green" revolution. This panel will be moderated by Professor Carmen Huertas-Noble, Director of the Community and Economic Development Clinic at the law school. Additionally, the CUNY Green Coalition will be hosting a 'wine and cheese' (local wines and organic snacks) reception following the panel to continue the discussion that the panel begins, where they will also be accepting donations for the BLSA-Green Coalition inaugural summer environmental law fellowship.

Attendance is free, but please RSVP for the panel discussion to.

The New York City Law Review is CUNY Law School’s student-run publication that seeks to publish the best of legal scholarship from all points of view on various legal topics within the broad framework of the Law School’s mission statement, “Law in the Service of Human Needs.”

More information about Law Review