News from the Associated Press - December 16, 2013

Associated Press
December 16, 2013

Hunger groups ask Schumer to block food stamp cuts

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Anti-hunger groups are calling on New York Sen. Charles Schumer to block cuts to food stamps.

Anti-hunger activists have launched a statewide campaign urging Schumer to vote against any farm bill that includes cuts in food stamp funding. They also want Schumer to push to restore recent cuts.

Mark Dunlea of the Hunger Action Network says food stamps participants in New York state would bear the brunt of the new round of cuts in the farm bill that have been agreed to by the lead negotiators.

Activists say an estimated 850,000 households would see their food stamp benefits cut an additional $90 a month under the new farm bill - and 300,000 of those households are in New York state, primarily in public housing.

Schumer was not available for comment.


Delta adding flights between NYC and Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Delta Airlines is expanding its reach in upstate New York.
New York Sen. Charles Schumer says Delta will add several new flights from Syracuse to major airline hubs in 2014, including two new daily flights to JFK International Airport in New York City.

Schumer says he secured commitments to add the Syracuse flights during a meeting with Delta CEO Richard Anderson.

Two new round-trip flights from Syracuse to JFK will be added in April, and Schumer says Delta has agreed to add an unspecified number of flights to Minneapolis during 2014.

Schumer says Delta also will bolster its service from Syracuse to Atlanta by flying larger airplanes on the existing flights. The move will increase seating capacity by 8 percent.


Power settlement to help upstate NY refugees

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — New York state is providing nearly $2.2 million to expand the Buffalo Green and Healthy Homes Initiative.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says the state is committing $193,000 to a two-year project to improve participation among Buffalo's community of resettled political refugees. The state also is creating similar initiatives in Rochester and Buffalo and will provide $1 million to each city to replicate the Buffalo model.

State officials say the program has already helped more than 200 of Buffalo's neediest families lower their energy bills and eliminate serious health and safety hazards in older homes.

The program expansion is funded by $9.5 million obtained in a 2007 court-ordered settlement with American Electric Power for violations of the federal Clean Air Act.


EPA awards $345K for NY wetlands study, protection

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency is providing $345,000 for projects to protect wetlands throughout New York state and identify strategies to reduce the impacts of climate change.

The Adirondack Park Agency will use a $173,000 EPA grant to install permanent monitoring stations that will collect environmental data within the Adirondack Park. The money will also be used to train volunteers to operate their own citizen science monitoring program at these locations.

The College of Environmental Science and Forestry will use a $172,000 EPA grant to assess the status of plants in wetlands around the state. The project is being done in partnership with the New York Natural Heritage Program.

Information on the wetlands plants will be used by agencies and organizations involved in wetland management, protection and restoration.


Paper: drilling under Pa. park could reap millions

PITTSBURGH (AP) - A newspaper says documents show the county that includes Pittsburgh could reap more than $73 million by leasing a public park for gas well drilling.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Sunday about documents that show Range Resources and driller Huntley and Huntley sent a proposal to the Allegheny County executive last month that lists a signing bonus of $3,000 an acre and a 17 percent royalty on future sales.

Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella tells the paper royalties could be generated for decades, and there won't be an impact on the park.

The plan is to reach the gas through horizontal drilling from neighboring properties, so rigs wouldn't be located on county property.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald isn't confirming details while talks with the company are being conducted.

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