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Charles Schumer

April 21, 2017 - 12:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, agriculture, news, trade.

Press release:

“President Trump and I spoke yesterday about reversing Canada's new and unfair dairy-pricing policy. It is an unwise policy that violates our agreements and hurts our farmers, and we agreed to work together to immediately address the issue.

"Since Canada’s damaging policies also impact dairy farms in Wisconsin, I suggested reaching out to Speaker Ryan. The three of us, in conjunction with Senator Tammy Baldwin and other stakeholders, will develop a comprehensive plan to tackle this issue.

"We can all agree that, it is critical to level the playing field for our hard-working dairy farmers and make sure our Canadian neighbors rescind their unfair policy and again play by the rules,” said Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.

Previously: Schumer uses stop in Bergen to raise concerns about rail safety and trade with Canada

April 19, 2017 - 11:59pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Charles Schumer, trains, agriculture, business, bergen.

schumertrainsbergenapril2017-2.jpg

Sen. Chuck Schumer was in Bergen today to talk trains and trade.

He's concerned about volatile sweet light crude oil being shipped from North Dakota by CSX on lines that pass through many populated Upstate communities, such as Bergen, and he's ready to get tough with Canada over new barriers to imports of dairy products from WNY.

He also answered questions about a potential wall along the border with Mexico, President Donald J. Trump's tax returns, immigration and high-speed rail.

"Even with the new oil cars, if the train is going faster than 25 miles (per hour) a big explosion will occur and that kind of explosion could occur on these tracks right here in Bergen," Schumer said. "Look, there are houses all around and businesses all around."

He reminded reporters of a derailment involving fuel cars in Canada few years ago that claimed several lives.

The fuel car issue has been on Schumer's radar for a few years, but what brought him to Genesee County today to raise the issue again was the derailment of a train carrying gun powder in Batavia during the windstorm in March.

As he held an enlargement of a picture of the derailment published by The Batavian, Schumer said, "as you can see it’s frightening to look at. These are large, large cars going at a very fast speed and if they had contained flammable materials they can be dangerous."

The fuel coming through Upstate New York in recent years comes from oil wells in North Dakota that tap reserves inaccessible until new technology changed the oil business. 

That has been a very good thing, though not without a cost, Schumer said.

"It's made us much less dependent on foreign oil," Schumer said. "It’s reduced the cost of gasoline and home heating oil and other things over the years, so it’s a good thing. But they don’t refine it out there in North Dakota. It gets on our rail cars and comes right across Upstate New York and Albany. They turn south and they go to those huge refineries in New Jersey."

According to this NPR story, the number of train cars carrying oil out of North Dakota has increased 4,000 percent since 2008. It was shipped by rail because, at the time these new fields opened, there was no other infrastructure in place to deal with the new supply of oil.

The trains can be a hundred cars long, Schumer said, and that's just too dangerous. If the oil companies won't voluntarily change the way they do business, then he wants the Commerce Department and Energy Department to write new regulations requiring oil companies to burn off the mixture of methane, butane, and propane that comes out of the ground with the oil.

The natural liquid gasses, stored in a confined space, are explosive if suddenly exposed to air and a spark.

The oil companies already do what Schumer wants in Texas, he said, without government regulation.

That's one reason, Schumer said, the economic impact of his proposal would be minimal and since the gas is going to be burned off one way or another, there is no additional environmental impact by burning it off in North Dakota instead of New Jersey.

Schumer believes bringing pressure to the issue can lead to change. He said his efforts have already led to rule changes that forced rail companies to ditch older tanker cars, what he called 1-11 cars, for newer, safer tankers. 

"We pushed very hard, and it hasn’t happened as fast as I’d like, but the law now is they have to get rid of all of these unsafe cars and put safer cars in.  More than half the oil cars now are now safer."

Schumer also wanted to talk about changes in dairy import policies in Canada that he said are hurting New York dairy farmers and in particular, O-AT-KA Milk Products, which employs nearly 300 people in Batavia.

According to Schumer, Prime Minster Justin Trudeau campaigned on a promise to protect Canada's dairy industry and has since started to implement measures that are closing the market to U.S. dairy products, mostly what's known as ultra-filtered dairy product, which is used in cheese production. O-AT-KA is one of 70 producers in New York and Wisconsin that are affected by the change in trade policy.

"I'm telling Trudeau to back off because it would just lead to a lot of trouble on both sides," Schumer said.

Canada exports some $260 billion in goods to the United States, and trade with New York includes $17.7 billion in goods being shipped to New York while it imports $12.6 billion worth. Top Canadian exports to New York include aluminum ($626 million), paper ($571 million), precious metals ($444 million), motor-vehicle parts ($417 million), plastics ($354 million).

Canada has a lot to lose in a trade war with the United States sparked by a fight over dairy exports, Schumer said.

"If they persist, they’re going to suffer with their exports, not necessarily with dairy, but with something else," Schumer said. "I am just adamant about this."

He said he was surprised that Trudeau has actually been pushing the issue.

"We didn’t really think they would go through with it at the end of the day," Schumer said. "We just thought it was a campaign promise up there, that they would realize the damage it would do to the Canadian economy if we started going back and forth, back and forth, but they’re persisting, so we have to up our game."

Schumer suggested Canada's actions are a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"That shows you what a lot of good NAFTA does," Schumer said. "I’m glad I voted against it way back when."

On trade, Schumer said he agrees on a lot more with President Trump, at least the way Trump campaigned, than people might think. He's not a fan of the World Trade Organization (on the dairy issue with Canada, he said it would take the WTO six years to issue a ruling and dairy farmers don't have six years to wait); he opposed NAFTA out of concerns with trade imbalances with Mexico and losing American jobs to Mexico; and thinks more needs to be done to promote and protect American jobs.

"My position on trade, frankly, has been closer to President Trump than to President Obama or President Bush," Schumer said. "Now I just hope he follows through on all of it. That hasn’t happened yet."

Schumer does have reservations about Trump's proposed border wall with Mexico. Trump wants to put it in the 2017 budget, but Schumer said he needs to slow down and come up with a workable plan.

"Here’s what no one knows about the wall: A -- how much it would cost?" Schumer said. "Today we were told there it is an estimate of $70 billion. That’s a huge amount of money. Wouldn’t we rather have that money fixing our roads and bridges and everything here?

"Second," he added, "no one knows where it should be or what side of the river it would be on. The Secretary of the Interior, whom the president appointed, said he can’t build it on the U.S. side because it would cut off us from the river. We can’t build it on the Mexican side because they won’t have it. Maybe we have to build it in the middle of the river. There are no plans for it. So you can’t go ahead and allocate money until there are plans.

"The final thing is, eminent domain, there are tons of property owners who own land right up to the border. It would take forever to get their property and you might not even succeed in court. So instead of rushing it through, there ought to be a discussion about it."

On immigration, he said he is pushing for reforms in the H1B visa program because foreign workers should be paid less than U.S. workers.

He said he understands the concerns local farmers have about immigrant labor but didn't express much hope that anything will change soon to help them get the help they need.

He noted that last year, there was an immigration reform bill that Dean Norton, an Elba dairy farmer who was then president of the New York Farm Bureau, helped draft, that would have given farmers the relief they need, but it didn't pass and he doesn't think there will be any movement on it this year.

"We had a really tough bill and it got bipartisan support in the Senate but it never made it in the House," Schumer said.

As for Trump's tax returns, he said the president will have an easier time with tax reform if he is completely transparent about his own tax returns. He said Trump is no longer a private citizen and he should release his returns.

"He should do it because it's going to slow down tax reform," Schumer said. "Any proposal he might make for cutting something, people will say, 'is he doing that because it's good for the American people or is he doing it because it's good for his own real estate holdings?' "

The last time Schumer was in Bergen, it was to push construction of a high-speed rail line between Bergen and Churchville as a demonstration project. We've heard nothing about the proposal since then.

"We did get a big transportation budget and in that budget, there was money for high-speed rail," Schumer said. "The Republicans took out the money for high-speed rail. Now, this is an area where there is some agreement, if we could get a major infrastructure bill, there could be money for high speed rail.

"I know there is division here in Bergen about whether we should have it or not," Schumer added. "I would want to come back to the communities, but if people thought it was a good idea I would probably try to get the money."

schumertrainsbergenapril2017.jpg

February 16, 2015 - 1:12pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Charles Schumer, synthetic drugs, Batavia HS.

Synthetic drug use hasn't hit the epidemic proportions of 2012, but with reports of related hospitalizations and law enforcement issues on the uptick, Sen. Charles Schumer is calling on the DEA to step up its enforcement efforts.

To draw attention to the issue, Schummer held a press conference this morning in the library at Batavia High School, joined by Superintendent Chris Daily, Principal Scott Wilson, GCASA Communications Director Pamela LaGrou, and Sgt. Greg Walker, head of the Local Drug Task Force.

"We gave the DEA the authority (with legislation in 2012) to ban a long list of chemical look-alikes," Schumer said. "If it's almost marijuana, or almost methamphetamine, or almost Ecstasy, or almost cocaine, and they can switch a few molecules, we told the DEA you don't need legislation to make it a Schedule 1 drug. You can ban it. The problem is, the DEA is moving much too slowly."

The DEA is battling against a worldwide network of independent chemists, small labs and distributors who are constantly reformulating their drugs. Schumer thinks the DEA can keep pace.

"The DEA has a panel of scientists, experts, keeping tabs on new drugs," Schumer said. "We would hope they can ban these before they are actually sold on the market."

Schumer came to Batavia High because of reports of four students who were hospitalized as a result of using synthetic drugs.

It's important to education young people about the dangers of these often unknown substances, school officials said.

Walker said that while opiate-based drugs remain the number one drug enforcement issue in the county, there has been a slight increase in synthetic drug usage locally.

"Like the senator said, in 2012, we did have a big influx of the synthetics and since then, it has dropped off," Walker said. "Now that Cloud 9 has come up, it's starting to come back, but we're not seeing that huge surge we saw in 2012."

Schumer said he fears a repeat of 2012 in 2015 if the DEA isn't more aggressive in its enforcement efforts.

"They've banned 20 (substances)," Schumer said. "But there are another 300 on the list. We're asking the DEA to move much more quickly. The drugs are powerful. They have severe side effects and some kids develop permanent mental problems as a result of using them."

November 6, 2013 - 11:36am
posted by Howard B. Owens in business, Alabama, Charles Schumer, STAMP.

Press release:

Today, in a letter to the Board of Directors of the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), U.S. Senator Charles Schumer pitched Upstate New York as the international center for the growing semiconductor- and chip-fabrication industry. Schumer touted several Upstate locales and specifically pointed to the newest potential mega-site (1,250 acres) for chip fab, the Genesee County Science, Technology, and Advanced Manufacturing Park (STAMP).

Schumer highlighted the development of Upstate New York’s nanotech sites, underlining the many advantages offered by the Luther Forest Tech Campus, the Marcy Nanotech campus, and now the Genesee County STAMP site. Schumer, who recently hosted the SIA at a Capitol Hill briefing with newly elected senators, urged the 18 semiconductor industry CEOs who comprise the SIA Board to consider Upstate New York sites, including STAMP, when establishing their next semiconductor manufacturing and research facility, citing advantages like access to affordable power, and world-class research universities and proximity to a large qualified workforce.

“The STAMP site will join existing hubs like the Luther Forest Tech Campus and Marcy Nanotech campus, and will become the second semiconductor mega-site in New York State, bolstering the state’s reputation as the preeminent destination for high-tech semiconductor research, design, and development,” Schumer said.

His letter to industry leaders was released in advance of the 2013 Annual Semiconductor Industry Association Dinner, to be held on November 7th in San Jose, California, when representatives from STAMP will make a presentation to the Board of Directors to outline the advantages of the site. Representatives of other New York centers, including Marcy and Luther Forest will also be present.

Schumer continued, “Thanks to decades of joint public-private investments in infrastructure and education, and a talented workforce, Upstate New York is the number-one place to establish semiconductor manufacturing in the nation. The promise of the Genesee County STAMP site only adds to New York’s reputation as fertile ground for high-tech and, specifically, semiconductor manufacturing. Simply put: the high-tech manufacturing sector has the potential to remake Western New York and the entire Upstate economy, delivering a new generation of middle-class jobs. It has already begun in the Capitol District, is spreading to Utica, and is poised to take-off in Western New York, too.

"Upstate New York’s proximity to transportation and energy networks, its access to the creativity and large workforces of major metropolitan cities, and its world-class technology and engineering universities are exactly what the semiconductor industry needs to ensure national and global success – and I made that known to the CEOs of the leading companies.”

In his letter, Schumer highlighted the unique advantages various Upstate New York State sites, including Genesee County’s STAMP site, provide to the semiconductor industry. The industry has benefited from the State’s advanced transportation networks, industrial infrastructure, and utilities at its other leading semiconductor sites. Schumer explained that the STAMP site would continue with this trend, offering close access to Interstate-90, high-capacity electric transmission lines, a large-scale high-pressure gas line, and the New York Power Authority’s hydropower low-cost electricity zone.

These assets ensure that the semiconductor factory would receive robust utility capacity, redundancy, and reliability at competitive prices, in some cases at a 75-80 percent market discount. The STAMP site is also situated between the Rochester and Buffalo metropolitan areas, which contain international airports, active customs stations, and a 2.1 million workforce population.

Last year, Schumer successfully advocated on behalf of STAMP by calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide necessary wetlands permit assurances so that STAMP’s developers could advance the site’s development and begin marketing the site to prospective tenants. Schumer has also taken a lead advocacy role for the semiconductor industry in the 113th Congress, which has led to the passage of major immigration reform legislation and a long-term reauthorization of the federal helium reserve, a critical lifeline for semiconductor manufacturers.

The growth of the semiconductor industry in Upstate New York has also been encouraged by the region’s strong research and educational base. The State is home to some of the world’s leading technology and engineering universities, including the University of Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), the Rochester Institute of Technology, the University at Buffalo, the University of Rochester, and Cornell University — all of which are spearheading efforts in research, commercialization, workforce development, and collaboration in the high-tech and semiconductor fields.

Schumer called on the SIA companies to consider the advantages offered by the New York’s high-tech resources, and mega-sites like STAMP primed for development, when choosing the location of their next chip fab. Schumer noted that the long-term development of the STAMP site would bring long-lasting, stable jobs to New York and make the region a hub of high-tech manufacturing.

March 28, 2011 - 5:58pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Le Roy, Bethany, Charles Schumer, Veteran's Cemetery.

After much talk about the need to locate a new veterans' cemetery close to Batavia, only two potential sites announced today by Sen. Charles Schumer are in Genesee County.

Three sites are in Alden and one is in Akron.

The two potential sites in Genesee County are in Le Roy and East Bethany.

Schumer was in Batavia on March 7 to announce his plans to fast track the construction of a cemetery, ideally close to Batavia since it's centrally located between Rochester and Buffalo.

Currently, the closest veterans' cemetery to either city is in Bath.

Officials from the Department of Veterans Affairs are expected to visit the six potential sites this week.

The exact locations were not released.

The sites were identified after the VA solicited proposals from area landowners willing to sell at least 200 acres of land to the government

“I have long fought for this veterans' cemetery in Western New York to become a reality, and today’s news that the VA will be visiting six potential cemetery sites in Western New York is an important step towards finally finding a suitable resting place for Western New York vets,” Schumer said in a statement.

Full press release after the jump:

March 7, 2011 - 2:17pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in veterans, Charles Schumer, Veterans Cemetery.

After years of indecision, it's time to put the construction of a new veterans' cemetery in Western New York on the fast track and Genesee County is the perfect place to build it, said Sen. Charles Schumer today at a press conference inside Batavia's American Legion Hall.

Schumer called on Gen. Eric Shinseki, secretary of veterans affairs, to set a hard and fast deadline for construction to begin and to appoint a regional ombudsman to move the process along.

"The purpose is twofold -- to get it done quickly and to have local input from our veterans' groups," Schumer said.

There are 200,000 veterans in Western New York -- representing a proud tradition of service, said Schumer -- and they and their families deserve a cemetery closer than Bath, which is more than an hour from Batavia.

"Families shouldn't have to drive 75 miles to see a loved ones simply because you want to give them a proper burial in a veterans' cemetery," Schumer said.

"If you looked at all the veterans in Western New York and dropped pins on a map, and you had to find the middle, it would be here, in Genesee County."

In January, the Veterans Administration announced it had narrowed its range of possible locations to the Batavia area. The VA is looking for a suitable 200-acre location and a willing seller.

Schumer said the role of the ombudsman will be to act as a liaison between the local veterans' groups and the VA, enabling the groups to make one or two site selection recommendations to the VA and then moving the process along quickly.

The ombudsman should be someone all of the veterans' groups respect and can work with, Schumer said.

"I will bird-dog this until we make sure a veterans' cemetery is built."

February 26, 2009 - 8:10am
posted by Philip Anselmo in budget, schools, school aid, stimulus, Charles Schumer.

Nearly $1.7 billion in education aid will make its way to New York schools from the stimulus package, Sen. Charles Schumer announced today. That $1.7 billion will be direct aid, he stressed, in addition to another $4.7 billion "in additional education and other aid to New York State schools."

Of that, the Western New York districts will see $102 million. We have not received the details on a county-by-county breakdown, but we hope to have the specific figures for you later this morning.

Details from the press release:

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that the economic stimulus package will include nearly $22 billion in direct education aid through the Title I and Special Education/ Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) federal formulas nationwide. Upstate New York is estimated to receive a total of approximately $320 million in new funding for Special Education and approximately $176 million in Title I grants, according to the Congressional Research Service (CRS) and the Department of Education respectively, for a total of $496 million in new direct funding to Upstate New York schools. This funding will give New York’s school districts the flexibility and tools they need to keep serving and educating our children.
 
Here is how the funding will break down across the state:

    * Capital Region schools will receive an additional $36 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $14 million in Title I grants for a total of $50 million in direct school aid.
    * Central New York schools will receive an additional $37 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $25 million in Title I grants for a total of $62 million in direct school aid.
    * Hudson Valleyschools will receive an additional $94 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $37 million in Title I grants for a total of $131 million in direct school aid.
    * North Country schools will receive an additional $21 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $11 million in Title I grants for a total of $31 million in direct school aid.
    * Rochester-Finger Lakes schools will receive an additional $48 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $32 million in Title I grants for a total of $79 million in direct school aid.
    * Southern Tier schools will receive an additional $24 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $13 million in Title I grants for a total of $38 million in direct school aid.
    * Western New York schools will receive an additional $58 million in Special Education/IDEA funding and $44 million in Title I grants for a total of $102 million in direct school aid.

Updated (11:55 a.m.): We received the full report from Sen. Schumer's office. Genesee county will receive a total of $3 million in direct aid stimulus funding. That will be divided as follows:

• Alexander Central School District: $265,618
• Batavia City School District: $983,317
• Byron-Bergen Central School District: $340,026
• Elba Central School District: $172,529
• Oakfield-Alabama Central School District: $309,421
• Pembroke Central School District: $332,549
• Pavilion Central School District: $258,944
• Le Roy Central School District: $371,503

You can download the complete report here.

February 25, 2009 - 12:53pm

Sen. Charles Schumer, in tandem with newly appointed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, issued nearly twenty press releases this morning on funding earmarked for upstate New York communities in the upcoming federal omnibus bill. None of that money has yet been tagged for projects in Genesee County, at least not according to the announcements out of Schumer's office. Buffalo and Niagara Falls were both listed as recipients of significant funding.

Buffalo was awarded $950,000 for its Main Street revitilization project. Niagara Falls will receivie $950,000 to ramp up its "international railway station." Tack on funding for university and medical projects, railway infrastructure and tourism, and the funding level for the greater Buffalo region tops $3 million.

From an article in the Buffalo News this morning:

The money for Buffalo and Niagara Falls will be included in an omnibus federal spending bill funding government operations through the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30. The House is scheduled to vote on the bill today, with Senate consideration set for next week.

Rochester also looks to benefit. The George Eastman House is on the bill for $381,000 "to preserve and allow access to museum library collections through new Web applications."

From the press release:

"This is terrific news for the entire Rochester community," said Schumer.  "The George Eastman House is one of the oldest and most revered photography and film museums worldwide. In these technology-driven times, it’s important for the federal government to do everything in its power to ensure that such historic, cultural gems as this one are able to adapt in ways that allow them to both preserve their heritage and expand their resources.”

“These federal dollars will go a long way to preserve the collections at the George Eastman House while making them accessible through the internet,” said Senator Gillibrand. “These snapshots are an important part of our history. I will continue to work with Senator Schumer to ensure that New York receives its fair share of federal funding.”

A significant portion has been eyed for higher education in the state. St. John Fisher College is on tap for $475,000. Albany's College of Nanoscience and Engineering is marked for $1 million. Binghamton University is in line to receive $2 million.

Batavia City Council members Charlie Mallow and Marianne Clattenburg were in Albany recently meeting with "key officials," according to Mallow, in the hopes of securing fundig for the city. We hope to soon hear what progress they made.

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