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

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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.

City Council Action on Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership, April 21

April 21, 2015
10:00 am

ACTION: Attend this meeting in support of Rudiak’s resolution opposing this NAFTA-like trade agreement.

From Pittsburgh the talk of anything ‘trans-Pacific’ seems somewhat remote, but the current negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) can have a direct impact on trade but also on the environment – for example, foreign companies may override US environmental laws. Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak will introduce a Will of Council resolution in opposition to the TPP:

10:00 am, Tuesday, April 21
City Council Chambers
Fifth Floor City-County Building
414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Citizens of Pittsburgh are urged to attend this meeting in support of Councilwoman Rudiak’s resolution. No need to pre-register inorder to make a two-minute comment in opposition to TPP (see a set of Sierra Club talking points.)

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.

Coal Mine Proposed near a Washington County Park

ACTION: Submit comments to DEP.

For two years Protectors of Mingo, a community group of concerned residents, has fought the proposed Ram No. 1 Mine near Mingo Creek County Park in Washington County. Now the Ram Mining, LLC has submitted a mining application to the DEP. Of concern to the citizen group is the as increased traffic of 280 trucks per day on Little Mingo Road and other small country roads, a problematic wastewater treatment plan, and mine safety concerns due to the anticipated shallow mine roof. Citizens are urged to submit their comments, as suggested in these sample letters, before April 24, to Department of Environmental Protection at California District Mining Office, 25 Technology Drive, California Technology Park, Coal Center, PA 15423.

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.

Obama Links Climate Crisis to Human Health

NASA image

With the Surgeon General and the EPA administrator at his side, at Howard University on April 7 President Obama kicked off a campaign to educate the general public about the relationship between the changing climate and human health. A White House report describes how carbon pollution causing climate change is affecting our communities. In addition to educating the general public, the President announced a series of initiatives to better prepare the medical community to tackle climate-induced emergencies, etc.

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.

Allegheny Front Series: Whys and Wherefores of Fracking Water

On April 4 our friends at Allegheny Front devoted their one-hour broadcast to fracking and water issues in our region. The four segments cover radioactivity, the contents of frack water, the challenge of cleaning up frack water, and groundwater contamination.

The California Drought Blame Game

Source: Michael Brewer, NOAA / NCDC

Comparing the April 7 2015 and April 8 2014 US Drought Monitor maps shows the drastic increase of Exceptional Drought areas in California over the past year. It is little wonder that Gov. Jerry Brown has imposed mandatory restrictions on water use and called for a $1billion package of emergency legislation. (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.

Climate Action Group ‘Pittsburgh350’ Celebrates Launching

At the Kingsley Association Community Center on April 1 about eighty people celebrated the formation of Pittsburgh350, an affiliate of the national 350.org. A majority of the celebrants had participated in the Climate Action march in New York in September 2014. Speakers discussed the impacts of climate disruption, spoke of the fossil fuel divestment campaigns at the City of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh, and described the progress of solar power. The founding ‘Friends and Allies of Pittsburgh350’ include Citizen’s Climate Lobby; Divest Pittsburgh; Environmental Justice Committee, TCM; Fossil Free Pitt Coalition; Nature Abounds; Sierra Club; and Solarize Allegheny. See Mark Dixon’s photo gallery from the event.

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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