Enjoy, Explore, and Protect the Planet Sierra Club Allegheny Group, Pennsylvania Chapter

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Endorsed Candidates for May 19 Primary

After a thoughtful review of the completed candidate questionnaires and following personal interviews of the candidates, the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club has wholeheartedly endorsed the following ten candidates in the May 12 Primary Election. Support for these worthy candidates is encouraged.

For Pittsburgh City Council:

  • District 3: Bruce Kraus (Incumbent)

For Pittsburgh City Controller

For Allegheny County Council

  • District 11 – Barbara Daly-Danko (Incumbent)
  • District 13 – Dan Connolly (Open Seat)

For Allegheny County Controller

For Mount Lebanon Commissioner –

Ohio’s Earthquakes and Pennsylvania’s Fracking Waste

In 2009 the number of earthquakes in Oklahoma totaled 20. In 2011 it was more than 60. In 2013 the number was 103. And in 2014 there were 585 quakes. Although not necessarily damaging, these quakes were detectable. But their increase did coincide with an increase in the use of deep injection wells to dispose of fracking waste water. This month scientists at the US Geological Survey confirmed that the use of injection wells can cause earthquakes, leaving some to wonder why it took the government so long.

What does this have to do with Pennsylvania? In our state the use of an injection well for disposal of frack waste water has to be finally approved by the federal EPA. Not so in Ohio, where the state has primacy of deep well waste water injection. In Ohio in July 2014 there were 200 active injection wells helping to dispose of the toxic waste water from Pennsylvania’s fracking operations. A number of quakes in March 2014 in northeast Ohio were related to neighboring injection wells. A later quake near Youngstown registered a magnitude of 3.0. With the DEP rejecting the use of injection wells, as happened recently, we will continue to export our frack waste water to Ohio with consequent risk of more earthquakes.

Maryland Ready for a 2-Year Ban on Fracking

The portion of Maryland that lies above the Marcellus shale formation is squeezed between Pennsylvania and West Virginia. On April 9 Maryland’s House passed a bill 102-34 to ban fracking in the state for two years. This follows a Senate vote of 45-2 in favor of the ban. With these veto-proof votes it is now up to Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to sign the bill, which is a compromise from a permanent ban.

Frick Environmental Center Will be as Green as Phipps

May 28, 2015
5:30 pmto6:30 pm
June 25, 2015
5:30 pmto6:30 pm
July 24, 2015
5:30 pmto6:30 pm
August 24, 2015
5:30 pmto6:30 pm

The new Environmental Center that is under construction in Frick Park in Pittsburgh’s East End will not only be a welcome facility but it will be a fine ‘green’ companion to Phipps Conservatory. The previous center burned down in 2002, but its replacement is expected to earn a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design LEED Platinum certification similar to that for Phipps. Perhaps of even greater import will be the Living Building Challenge designation, making the Frick center one of only eight buildings so designated in the nation. The center will be open at the end of 2016. Hard Hat tours of the construction site will be held on Thursdays May 28, June 24, July 23, and August and August 27, but early Registration is recommended.

Credit: Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy

Congress Needs to Hear Our Opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

: Send a message to your Congressman now.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement being negotiated between 12 Pacific Rim countries; eventually, every Pacific Rim nation may be included. While the TPP would have significant consequences for our government’s ability to tackle the climate crisis, not a single word of draft text or U.S. government proposals has been released to the public. Congress is being asked to ease the way for the TPP agreement with the Fast Track legislation that will exclude amendments and limit debate. If the TPP is signed into law then banning fracking, or stopping a pipeline, or putting a price on carbon pollution could all be overturned by the fossil fuel industry suing under the TPP agreement with foreign countries.

DEP’s Proposed Fracking Regulations are Inadequate. Hearings April 29 and 30.

April 29, 2015
6:00 pmto9:00 pm
April 30, 2015
6:00 pmto9:00 pm

ACTION: Submit comments at hearings, by Email, or by letter.

Right now the PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is trying to revise the state’s oil and gas regulations, known as Chapter 78. While many of these changes are improvements, they are not protective enough of our natural resources. Public participation at these hearings is imperative to ensuring protective proposals are adopted.
Each hearing will run from 6 – 9 pm on the following dates:

6 – 9 pm , Wednesday, April 29
Washington and Jefferson College, Washington, PA.

6 – 9 pm Thursday, April 30
Warren County Courthouse, Warren, PA.

If you’d like to speak our for protective measures at a hearing, please call Sierra Club at 717.232.0101. Some key points: (more…)

Rally for $15 Minimum Wage Draws Big Crowd in Oakland

Photo: P. Wray

As part of a nationwide event, on April 15 fast-food workers, adjunct-professors, faith leaders, hospital workers, students, and environmental activists gathered 1,500 strong on the Pitt campus to call for a fair minimum wage of $15. The rally was followed by a march down Forbes Ave. To understand why the environmentalists support the $15 minimum wage see the articles about a Livable Planet, about the impact of Income Inequality, and about an Irreversible Collapse of society.

Vatican Announces Major Summit On Climate Change

NASA image

As part of the build-up to Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment expected in early summer, on April 14 the Vatican announced that a conference “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity: The Moral Dimensions of Climate Change and Sustainable Development” will be held in Rome on April 28. Environmentalists have welcomed the Pope’s previous highlighting of the morality of maltreating the earth, and wait to see how Catholic politicians will react. The percentage of Catholics in Congress is 30.7 pct, including Speaker Boehner. Of our regional members of a Congress that is loath to touch climate change legislation Senators Casey (D) and Toomey (R), and Representatives Kelly (R), Murphy (R), Rothfus (R), and Shuster (R) are all listed as Roman Catholic.

Monsanto’s ‘Generosity’ and the Effort to List the Monarch Butterfly as an Endangered Species

Photo: docentjoyce, Wikimedia Commons

ACTION: Sign the Sierra Rise petition calling for protection of the Monarchs from pesticides.

Why would Monsanto give $3.6 million to protect Monarch butterflies? Unlike the plight of the honeybees, the diminishing population of Monarch butterflies can be explained fairly simply; Monarchs rely on milkweed for food, but Midwest crops are sprayed with chemicals such as Roundup (produced by Monsanto) to kill the pesky milkweed, hence fewer and fewer Monarchs. In August 2014 the Center for Biological Diversity and two other organizations petitioned the US Fish and Wildlife Service to provide endangered Species status to the Monarchs. In December 2014 the USFWS determined that endangered species protection for Monarchs may be justified. The USFWS is now in a 12-month review period, during which a public PETITION is underway.

‘Hard to Recycle’ and ‘Household Chemical’ Collection Events In 2015

Again the Pennsylvania Resources Council is managing collections of e-waste, household chemicals, materials for reuse and more in Southwestern PA.

Hard-to-Recycle Collections. Individuals can drop off “e-waste” such as computers, cell phones, printer/toner cartridges, CFLs and expandable polystyrene packaging material at no cost. For a nominal fee, individuals can drop off alkaline batteries, fluorescent tubes, small Freon appliances and tires. For detailed questions call 412-773-7156 or click HERE.

DEP Meeting on Shell Cracker Plant, May 5

May 5, 2015
6:00 pmto8:00 pm

Photo: Leo Reynolds

Although it remains somewhat uncertain whether Shell Chemical Appalachia will actually build an ethane cracker plant in Potter Twp., Beaver County, the DEP will hold an information meeting:

6:00 to 8:00 pm, Tuesday, May 5
Central Valley High School Auditorium,
160 Baker Road Extension,
Monaca, PA 15061.

At issue is the permit application from Shell for the proposed petrochemicals complex on the site of the former Horseheads zinc smelter. As reported by the Clean Air Council, the proposed plant is a likely source of unhealthy emissions in the Ohio valley. “It is important that the community have access to good information about the current state of local air quality and information about potential changes in air quality after a facility like the proposed plant is constructed,” said John Lee, MPH, Community Health Director and Environmental Justice Program Director at the Clean Air Council.

THE 18th ANNUAL HUPLITS WILDLIFE GRANT COMPETITION: A challenge to protect wildlife and habitat in Pennsylvania

The Allegheny Group Sierra Club’s Huplits Wildlife Grants Committee is seeking grant proposals to help protect animal wildlife and wildlife habitat in Pennsylvania. Approximately $50,000-$60,000 will be available for the 2015 Huplits Wildlife Grant Competition. Six (6) grants were awarded in last year’s (2014) competition, totaling $45,000.

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