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

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Land and Water Conservation Fund Still Needs Support

ACTION. Constituents are asked to thank Rep. Mike Doyle for co-signing H.H.1814, urge Rep. Tim Murphy to also sign H.R.1814, and urge Sen. Pat Toomey to sign on to S.890.

At midnight on Wednesday Congress allowed one of the mainstay conservation programs for parks and riversides, the Land and Water Conservation Fund, (LWCF), to expire. The purpose of H.R.1814 is to re-authorize H.R.1814, which now has 175 co-signers including Rep. Mike Doyle. But time for re-authorization of the LWCF is running out and some Republicans in the House are looking to reform the program before reauthorizing it. In the Senate Sen. Bob Casey has already co-signed the comparable LWCF bill S.890, but we wait Sen. Pat Toomey to join him.

EPA Proposes Rule for Ground-Level Ozone

Artwork: Mike LaMark

On October 1 the EPA issued a new rule to protect the public from the harmful effects of ground-level ozone, reducing the standard for ozone from the current 75 ppb to between 65 and 70 ppb. Ozone is formed by the interactions of NOx and volatile organic compounds from industrial facilities, power plants, vehicle exhaust, and chemical solvents. Ozone is particularly harmful to those suffering from emphysema and asthma. Environmental groups like the Sierra Club had called for a reduced level of 60 ppb, while industry wanted the current level of 75 ppb to stay in place. If fully implemented, the lower ozone standard will still improve the air quality in local communities, especially those along the three rivers.

Heads Up: National Day of Climate Action, Oct. 14.

October 14, 2015
10:00 amto11:30 am

The People’s Climate Movement and others are calling for a National Day of Action Wednesday, October 14 to demand bold action on the climate crisis facing our planet. Actions are planned around the world, and Pittsburgh has been chosen as one of the sites in the U.S. On the morning of Wednesday October 14, Pittsburgh United, the SEIU union, Sierra Club, Pittsburgh 350, and other organizations will participate in an attention-grabbing action at the office of a local Congressman. For more information contact Tom Hoffman at tom.hofman@sierraclub.org.

Mayor DeBlasio Calls for New York City to Divest from Coal Companies

The $160bn total assets of the five pension funds of New York City include $33m invested in coal companies. On October 27 Mayor Bill DeBlasio called for divestment of those coal company stocks and a study of all fossil fuel investments stating: “New York City is a global leader when it comes to taking on climate change and reducing our environmental footprint. It’s time that our investments catch up – and divestment from coal is where we must start.” As part of a growing movement, in December 2013 Seattle was the first city to divest from fossil fuels, and the global divestment from fossil fuel companies now totals more than $2.5 trillion. Here in Pittsburgh the call for the City to divest is lead by the Environmental Justice Committee of the Thomas Merton Center.

Shell Pulls Out of Arctic Drilling!

Mark one up to the environmental movement and the wildness of the Arctic. On September 28 Royal Dutch Shell announced that it is ceasing oil exploration in the Chukchi Sea for the foreseeable future. The following is how the Guardian reported the news:

The company has come under increasing pressure from shareholders worried about the plunging share price and the costs of what has so far been a futile search in the Chukchi Sea. (more…)

Pope Calls for Action on Climate Change

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NOTE: A FREE audio-book version of the Papal encyclical on climate change is available HERE.

A steady theme throughout his historic visit to the U.S. was Pope Francis’ insistence that the impacts of climate change are a moral issue that must be addressed. On Wednesday at the White House the Pope said he was encouraged by the EPA’s proposed emission control standards. Referring to the U.N. climate talks in Paris, he said: “I would like all men and women of goodwill in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development.” He expanded on this theme when he addressed Congress on Thursday. How well that appeal will be heeded is dented somewhat by the climate change deniers who question the Pope’s authority to speak about climate science, and even Jeb Bush got into the fray.

China Gets Serious About Cutting GHG Emissions

Artwork: Mike LaMark

The success of the UN climate negotiations in Paris in December depends to a fair degree on the commitment of the world’s two largest GHG emitters, the U.S. and China. During his visit with President Obama, on September 25 Chinese President Xi Jinping announced that China will undertake a national cap-and-trade program beginning in 2017. California already has a carbon cap-and-trade program in place as do a group of Northeastern and mid-Atlantic states that misses Pennsylvania. (more…)

Green Development Planned along the Mon

Pittsburgh could take another step in being one of the greenest cities in the nation with the proposed Almono development on the northern bank of the Mon in Hazelwood. A revised master plan for the 178-acre multi-use site calls for carbon neutrality, i.e., no consumption of fossil fuels. Managed by RIDC and owned by a non-profit partnership of four Pittsburgh foundations, construction of roadways on the site is set to begin in October.

Hillary Comes Clean on Keystone XL Pipeline

Protesters at Keystone XL vigil, Feb 5,2014 Photo: Lora Matway

Using what is becoming a familiar word from Hillary Clinton, on September 22 Clinton announced that she now opposes the Keystone XL Pipeline project because it is ‘a distraction from the important work we have to do to combat climate change”. The announcement comes ahead of an expected clean energy policy from candidate, and is a shift from her support of the pipeline when she was Secretary of State. Now with her opposition to Keystone and drilling in the Arctic, environmentalists are waiting to see what Clinton’s position on fracking might be.

Urge Local GOP Congressmen to Sign on to Climate Resolution

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ACTION: Urge Congressmen Mike Kelly, Tim Murphy, and Keith Rothfus, to co-sign Rep. Chris Gibson’s ‘environmental stewardship’ resolution.

As Republican candidates in the Presidential race deny a need for action on the climate crisis, on September 17 eleven Republican members of Congress signed a resolution that acknowledged not only the existence of climate disruption but also the fact that human activities have an impact. Introduced by Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY), the co-signers included three Pennsylvanian Republicans – Ryan Costello (Chester Co.), Michael Fitzpatrick (Bucks Co. ), and Patrick Meehan (Delaware Co.). (more…)

Time Running Out for Land and Water Conservation Fund?

ACTION: To permanently reauthorize the LWCF, urge Sen. Toomey to support S.890 and urge your Congressman to support H.R. 1814. And thank Sen. Casey for co-sponsoring S.890.

Back in the heady days when there was bi-partisan support for the conservation and preservation of our natural environment, in 1965 Congress established the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Since that time the fund has been supported by royalties paid by companies drilling on the Outer Continental Shelf. The LWCF has been used to protect parks, areas around rivers and lakes, forests, and wildlife refuges from development – over 40,000 projects with annual funding of $900 million. Now the LWCF is in trouble, with action stalled on bills in the Senate and House. Due to be re-authorized before September 30, conservatives in the House are holding their votes unless the use of the LWCF for expansion of national parks is stopped.

In More Ways than One ‘Shalefield Stories” Helps People Impacted by Fracking

Photo: PA-DEP

Behind the scientific reports on the impact of fracking on regions and communities lies the seldom-mentioned impact on families and individuals, especially in rural areas. The all-volunteer ‘Friends of the Harmed’ is filling this lapse by publishing ‘Shalefield Stories’ in which individuals recount their experiences living near fracking operations in the shale fields of western Pennsylvania. But with the publication of a second volume of stories, Friends of the Harmed do more than spread the word of hardship – all proceeds from distribution of these booklets goes to supplying water and air filters to affected households

To obtain copies of of Shalefield Stories, Vol. 2 or just make a donation visit HERE. For more information send an Email to < shalefieldstories@gmail.com >.

Maps of Air Pollution in Allegheny County

Artwork: Mike LaMark

If you live or work in Allegheny County then maps of harmful  black carbon (soot) and CO2 concentrations produced by Carnegie Mellon researchers may be of interest.  To discover pollutant concentration in your neighborhood, click on the search icon in the upper right hand corner. The CMU researchers collected data between 2011 and 2014 with a mobile air quality laboratory at 70 sites across the county at different times of day and in multiple seasons. The data used in the maps are the best estimates of the annual average concentrations.

‘Hard to Recycle’ and ‘Household Chemical’ Collection Event, Oct.10

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

Household Chemical Collections. Individuals can drop off automotive fluids, household cleaners, pesticides, paints and other household chemicals for a cost of $3/gallon. For detailed questions call our Household Chemicals Hotline at 412-488-7452 or click HERE.

October 10 (Bradys Run Park, Beaver County)

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