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

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Campaign Urges City of Pittsburgh to Divest from Fossil Fuels

Sign the PETITION calling on the City of Pittsburgh to divest from fossil fuel companies.

Last week we posted an item about the world-wide campaign calling on the Gates Foundation to divest its funds from fossil fuel companies. Following the examples of Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco and recently Oslo, here in Pittsburgh Divest Pittsburgh has launched a campaign calling is lobbying the City of Pittsburgh “to immediately freeze any new investments in fossil fuels and to divest from direct ownership and any commingled funds that include fossil fuel public equities and corporate bonds within 5 years”. Residents of the city are asked to sign the petition HERE.

For more information contact Gabe McMorland at Gabriel@thomasmertoncenter.org or (412) 719-3424.

Legislation Introduced to Reduce GHG Emissions in Pennsylvania

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ACTION: Click HERE to ask your legislator to sign on and help reduce carbon emissions in PA.

In 2012 the GHG emissions in Pennsylvania totaled 233 Mtons of CO2 equivalent, or 3.5 pct of the total 6,623 Mtons US emissions. Since the state’s Climate Change Action Plan was published in 2009 the state has fallen short in promoting green energy and energy efficiency. On February 23 Rep. Greg Vitali of Delaware County introduced bills HB 100, HB129, and HB200 that according to PennLive would: (more…)

Gallup Poll Shows Greatest Public Concern for Water Pollution and Least Concern for Climate Change

According to Gallup’s annual Environmental poll released March 25 “Americans’ concern about several major environmental threats has eased after increasing last year. As in the past, Americans express the greatest worry about pollution of drinking water, and the least about global warming or climate change.(more…)

ALCOSAN Gets Push for a Green Storm Water Solution and Ratepayers Get Potential Help

Array of petitions prior to ALCOSAN board meeting, April 26. Photo: Tom Hoffman

Two good things happened on March 26 regarding the problem of sewage flowing into our rivers during a rain storm. As a result of lobbying by the Clean Rivers Campaign and allies, Mayor Peduto and County Executive Fitzgerald wrote to the EPA calling for an extension of the time for ALCOSAN to produce a ‘greener’ solution to the storm water problem than building huge holding tunnels beneath the rivers. As Tom Hoffman, Sierra Club Clean Rivers coordinator explains, “With this letter Peduto and Fitzgerald are showing leadership for a “green first” plan. They are saying that ALCOSAN is going in the wrong direction, and that is going to be critical if the EPA is going to let us change our plan.

Because of the skyrocketing rates at ALCOSAN, rates that will be made worse by a ‘grey’ solution, on the same Thursday members of the Sierra Club, Clean Rivers Campaign, and Action United presented 2,500 ratepayer signatures at the ALCOSAN Board of Directors meeting, urging creation of a Customer Assistance Program (CAP). To the pleasure of citizens, the Board promptly and unanimously created a committee to develop such a program.

‘Frack Pack’ Bills Seek to Clean Up the Fracking Industry

Photo: Phil Coleman

ACTION: Email your Congressman and urge him to remove the unhealthy fracking exemptions to Federal laws.

For years the oil and gas industry has been able to operate with exemptions from some of the country’s bedrock environmental laws designed to protect the health of people and communities: the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. On March 19 a packet of bills known as the Frack Pack was introduced in the House in an effort to close these loop holes, including the infamous Halliburton loophole. At the same time Senator Bob Casey has introduced a bill specifically addressing the Halliburton loophole. In a letter to House members, some ninety environmental organizations expressed strong support for the Frack Pack.

‘The Guardian’ Targets Gates and Wellcome Foundations for Fossil Fuel Divestment

ACTION: Sign the Gates and Wellcome foundations petition HERE.

‘The Guardian’ is respected as one of the world’s finest newspapers. Recognizing that “The argument for a campaign to divest from the world’s most polluting companies is becoming an overwhelming one, on both moral and financial grounds”, the paper has partnered with 350.org to launch a petition campaign urging the Gates and Wellcome foundations to “to commit now to divesting from the top 200 fossil fuel companies within five years and to immediately freeze any new investments in those companies.

Fracking Regulations Introduced for Federal Lands

After more than three years of analysis and 1.5 million comments, on March 20 by the Secretary of the Interior announced the first set of regulations for fracking on public and tribal lands. Not only will these regulations, to come into force in 90 days, cover 11 percent of the nation’s land, they set a standard for states to meet if they do not already do so. Reaction from environmental groups varied from calling the regs “toothless” to the Sierra Club‘s acceptance that they at least make industry more accountable. Industry was quick to denounce the measures, and 27 Senate Republicans promptly introduced a bill to block Interior’s move. As a side note, the new regulations are not expected to affect drilling on the Allegheny National Forest.

Administered by the Bureau of Land Management the regulations address five key areas by requiring companies to: (more…)

Wolf’s DEP has a Chance to Clean Up 2014 Smog Reduction Plan

Artwork: Mike LaMark

Under the Clean Air Act the federal EPA is requiring states to develop their own state-wide smog-reduction plan. In April 2014 under the Corbett administration the DEP prepared a smog-reduction plan which the Sierra Club at the time claimed had too many loop-holes. On March 17 the DEP’s Citizens Advisory Council tabled the proposed 2014 plan. This allows the DEP to revise the plan to better fit the EPA criteria. In a press release Tim Schuster of the Club’s Beyond Coal said:

DOE: Wind Energy Sector Can Reach 35 pct by 2050

Photo courtesy of Oceana

On March 12 the Dept. of Energy (DOE) issued its updated Wind Vision report with the sub-title “A New Era for Wind Power in the United State.” Based on two years of research, the DOE forecasts that America could get 10 percent of its power from wind in five years time; 20 percent in fifteen years; and 35 percent by thirty-five years. But this favorable forecast depends on Congressional support such as the federal Wind Production Tax Credit that expired at the end of 2013.

According to the DOE press release, the principal findings of the report are::

Celebrate Formation of Climate Action Group ‘Pittsburgh350′, April 1

April 1, 2015
7:00 pmto8:30 pm

A group of local participants in the Climate Action March in New York City last September has formed ‘Pittsburgh350’ to increase awareness of climate change on our communities and to hold elected officials accountable for decisions affecting the Earth’s climate. The public is invited to celebrate the launching of ‘Pittsburgh350’ at:

7:00 to 8:30 pm, Wednesday, April 1
Kingsley Community Center
6435 Frankstown Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Come meet fellow Climate Activists and learn about the collaborative projects of divestment/investment, carbon fees, clean energy, and green infrastructure. As a local affiliate of national 350.org, Pittsburgh350 intends to build a collaborative network of partners from individuals and community, environmental, labor, and faith-based organizations

We hope you can join us on April 1, and if so please Register HERE. For more information, contact Peter Wray at pjwray@verizon.com.

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.

Confirmation of Quigley as DEP Secretary is Under Attack

ACTION: Please urge your State Senator to vote for confirmation of John Quigley as Secretary of the Dept. Environmental Protection. Locate your Senator and get contact info HERE.

Gov. Tom Wolf’s nominee for Secretary of the Dept. of Environmental Protection has a background far different than those of the DEP Secretaries in the Corbett administration. A former DCNR Secretary, John Quigley earned the respect of conservationists with his opposition to fracking in state forests. Quigley’s confirmation requires a favorable vote by at least 26 Senators, but friends of the fossil fuel industries are already working to defeat the confirmation.

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