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

What's New

Things to do

Help Stop Drilling in the Arctic Ocean

ACTION: Urge our Senators to prohibit drilling in the Arctic Ocean

For the purpose of limiting climate change, on July 16 Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced, the Stop Arctic Ocean Drilling Act of 2015 (SB 1794). This bill, co-sponsored at introduction by five Senators including Sen. Sanders, calls for prohibition of oil and gas leasing in Arctic Ocean areas of the Outer Continental Shelf. The need for such a prohibition was highlighted last week when President Obama gave final approval for Shell’s exploratory drilling operation in the Chukchi Sea, the first step towards Shell reaping profit from its investment in Arctic Ocean leases.

Mayor Peduto to Join Delegation to UN Climate Change Conference in Paris

NASA image

Mayor Bill Peduto will be one of thirteen U.S. mayors and city officials in the Local Climate Leaders Circle delegation to the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP21) meeting in Paris in December. The delegation will call for an ambitious international agreement that addresses our climate crisis and supports further action at the local level.

Other cities represented in the delegation include Atlanta, Boulder, Chula Vista, Columbus, Des Moines, Grand Rapids, King County (WA), Oakland, Salt Lake City, Santa Monica, and West Palm Beach.

Poll Indicates Pennsylvanians Support Clean Power Plan

Artwork: Mike LaMark

According to a multi-topic Quinnipiac poll released on August 24 voters in Pennsylvania overall supported by 67 to 28 percent “the federal requirements that owners of coal-burning power plants reduce pollution. Republicans oppose the proposed limits 51 –45 percent, but every other party, gender or age group supports them by wide margins. Voters say 72 –24 percent these efforts are needed to clean the air, but they are divided 44 – 44 percent on whether these efforts will be too expensive.” In this poll similar results were recorded for Florida and Ohio voters.

Talk: Lead-up and Hopes for the Paris Climate Change Conference, Sept. 24

September 24, 2015
7:00 pmto8:30 pm

The most important climate-related event ever will be the UN COP21 (Conference of the Parties) climate negotiations in Paris this December. Filmmaker and climate presenter Mark Dixon will be there, following his experience at the World Summit Climate and Territories in Lyon, France in July. Mark has prepared an informative and entertaining program on the lead-up and hopes for COP21.

7 to 8:30 pm, Thursday, September 24
Episcopal Church of the Redeemer
5700 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15217

All concerned about the climate crisis are encouraged to attend. You can follow Mark’s climate updates HERE.

Field Trip on the Allegheny NF- Finding Abandoned Wells, Sept. 12

September 12, 2015
10:00 amto5:00 pm

Throughout the Allegheny National Forest there are numerous old and abandoned oil and gas wells that have, or should have, been plugged. The Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club is encouraging members to participate in the following presentation and subsequent field work:

Saturday, September 12
10 am Informational session and use of historical
documents to locate wells,
at Warren Public Library
205 Market St, Warren, PA 16365
Followed by field trip ending at 5 pm.

Both lunch and transportation to the field site will be provided. To participate, please contact Genevieve Elsworth at gwe107@psu.edu – prior to 5:00 pm, Thursday, September 10. (more…)

EPA Proposes Reducing Methane and VOC Emissions in the Gas Industry

Shale gas flaring.

As calls to ban it go unheeded and despite the boom-and-bust nature of the industry, fracking remains a reality in states like Pennsylvania. Now at least the Federal government has moved to reduce one of the concerns, the emission of methane, which has a global warming potential at least 28 times greater than that of CO2. On August 18 the EPA proposed a rule to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 – 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. Some highlights are:

What Deniers and Doubters Need to Know – July was Hottest Ever Recorded

Know anyone who denies or is not sure if the earth is actually getting warmer? Perhaps you can let them know that according to the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July 2015 was the hottest month since records began in 1880, being 1.46 deg. F above the 20th century average. And that was just one of several anomalies that are consistent with the nature of a changing climate. It is also consistent with the finding that the historic drought in California is worsened by the global warming. NOTE. See the VIDEO on how to talk about climate change

Chatham Maintains Top ‘Cool College’ Ranking Locally

In its annual ranking of colleges according to their respect and practice of environmental values, the ‘Sierra’ magazine placed Chatham University 22nd in the nation. Dropping slightly from 20nd last year, Chatham clearly remains the ‘coolest’ of local colleges. Penn State is ranked 35, an improvement from 48 in 2014. Carnegie Mellon improved from 65 to 58 last year, Allegheny saw a big jump from 110 to 66, Pitt improved from 97 to 77, while Westminster remained at 123 out of all 153 colleges that responded.

Shell Gets Obama’s Approval to Drill Deeper in the Arctic

With the safety vessel MSV Fennica now at a drilling location in the Chukchi Sea off the Alaska coast, on August 17 the Obama administration gave Shell final approval to go beyond shallow exploratory drilling and drill down into the oil-bearing seabed. Coming just before the President’s August 30 visit to Alaska, this action contradicts his stated commitment to combat climate change. In an unusual break with Obama, Hillary Clinton opposed the approval, stating “Given what we know, it’s not worth the risk of drilling.”

Room for Better Investment Policy at Local Colleges

One of the measures used in the recent ‘Sierra’ magazine’s Cool College rankings was investment. The magazine determined if a college had a committee on investment responsibility (15 pts), made socially or environmentally responsible financial investments (20 pts), had a policy or directive to consider the social and/or environmental impacts of financial investment decisions (20 pts), and made a snapshot of financial investments accessible to the public (20 pts). For a possible total of 75 pts Chatham earned 40 pts, Allegheny, Carnegie Mellon, and Penn State 20 pts each, Pitt 15 pts, and Westminster 0 pts. For comparison, of the 153 responding colleges 13 scored all 75 pts, and 57 scored 0 pts.

Public Hearing on Rule to Protect Streams from Mining, Pittsburgh, Sept. 10

September 10, 2015
5:00 pmto9:00 pm

Photo: Mountain Justice

A scientifically-based new Stream Protection Rule proposed by the Office of Surface Mining will protect more than 6,000 miles of streams from the impacts of both surface and underground coal mining. With only six hearings scheduled in the country, here in Pittsburgh the public will have an opportunity to comment on the proposed rule at:

5:00 to 9:00 pm, Thursday, September 10
Double Tree Hotel in Green Tree
500 Mansfield Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15205

The Center for Coalfield justice is partnering with the Sierra Club to provide free transportation to and from Pittsburgh for the hearing. (more…)

World Population to Increase One Third by 2050

NASA image

The abstract of a paper at an American Statistical Association meeting on August 10 was brief but ominous – “The world’s population will increase from today’s 7.3 billion people to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion at century’s end, experts in demographic forecasting have predicted.” That will be an increase of 275 pct over the hundred years since 1950.

Basing his paper on a recent report, John R. Wilmoth of the UN Population Division, explained that most of the increase will be in Africa, rising from the current population of 1.2 billion people to more than 3.4 billion by 2100. Due to a high fertility rate the population of Africa’s most populous nation, Nigeria, is expected to increase from 182 million in 2015 to over 400 million by 2100. (more…)

‘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.

  Sierra Club® and "Explore, enjoy and protect the planet."® are registered trademarks of the Sierra Club.