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

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Vote on Fracking Hold for Allegheny County Parks due Feb.3

February 3, 2015
5:00 pmto7:00 pm

ACTION: Please attend the Feb. 3 meeting and urge Council members to follow Gov. Wolf’s state parks example and place a hold on fracking of Allegheny County public parks.

After failing to obtain a stay on fracking beneath Deer Lakes County Park the Protect Our Parks coalition launched a petition calling for County Council to place a two-year hold on fracking of any of the remaining eight County Parks. With 1,900 signatures on the petition an unprecedented Citizens Ordinance was accepted for consideration by Council. On January 28 the Government Reform Committee, with neither a Yea nor Nay recommendation, moved the ordinance to the full council for a vote on February 3.

5:00 pm, Tuesday, February 3
County Courthouse, 4th floor Gold Room
436 Grant St, Pittsburgh PA 15219

To make a statement, please register online BEFORE 5 pm, Monday, Feb. 2.

What We Learned from the Keystone XL Pipeline Votes

ACTION: Contact Sen. Casey and ask why he voted in favor of the Pipeline.

With 66 votes needed to overcome the President’s declared intent to veto the bill, on January 29 the Senate passed Keystone Pipeline Act (S.1) by 62 to 36, rendering the vote somewhat symbolic but nevertheless instructive. In the final vote Sen. Bob Casey joined eight other Democrats to vote in favor of the bill. It is assumed here that Casey was persuaded by union arguments for jobs. Sen. Toomey sided with the Republican leadership throughout the debate.


Obama Protects Alaskan Lands and Waters but Proposes Drilling off Southern Atlantic Coast

The Obama Administration has taken four important steps towards planning how oil and gas drilling should be done in Alaska and off the nation’s coastline. First, in large part to protect the fishing industry, on December 17 the President designated 30 million acres off the waters of Bristol Bay in Alaska off-limits to oil and gas drilling.

Then, in a welcome move that caught environmentalists and native people unawares, on January 25 the Interior Department announced that 12.3 million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge would be set aside as wilderness; 1.52 million acres of the oil rich Coastal Plain, 5.85 million acres of the Brooks mountain range, and 4.92 million acres of the Porcupine Plateau. In a video President Obama stressed the fragility and uniqueness of these areas, and the need for Congress to provide full protection. It will remain for the next Congress to work with the next President to make the wilderness designation permanent.


Wolf Puts Fracking Moratorium Back on State Lands.

ACTION: Thank Gov. Wolf and urge him to strengthen protection of citizens from drilling on PRIVATE land.

As he promised during his election campaign, January 29 Governor Wolf signed an executive order placing a moratorium on new leasing for oil and gas drilling in our 1.5 million acres of state parks and forests. This action reinstates a 2010 moratorium on new leases of state lands that was established after agency review determined that no additional state forest acreage was suitable for natural gas development without compromising its natural character.

Power Plant Emissions and Winter Blizzards

ACTION: Contact your Congressman, tell them about this NYT poll, and ask them what they are doing to curb climate-changing emissions of carbon-dioxide and methane.

It really should not be too difficult for members of Congress to grasp the connection between emissions from power plants and the recent record-setting winter blizzard Juno in New England.   Burn the coal or gas, pump CO2 and CH4 into the atmosphere, warm the ocean, produce warm moist air off the coast that meets cold air coming in with the disturbed jet stream, and bingo – close to three feet of snow in the Boston suburbs.

NOTE. The economic risks of climate change are discussed in a recent report by Michael Bloomberg, Henry Paulson Jr., and Thomas Steyer.

Protesters at Wolf’s Inauguration Call for Fracking Ban

Using the recent ban on fracking in New York as an example, about 250 people marched and called for a similar ban at the Inauguration ceremony for Gov. Tom Wolf. Organized in part by Pennsylvanians Against Fracking, a number of protesters entered the formal ceremony and eight were taken into custody after causing a disturbance. Photos of the demonstrations are available here. The anti-fracking community will now have to wait and see how strongly Gov. Wolf protects state lands from fracking, strengthens regulations, and for what purposes he uses the promised severance tax.

Local Fracking Tied to Fate of LNG Terminal off NJ Shore

Artwork: Mike LaMark

In a strange way Vladimir Putin and the folk in Washington County are connected. The connection lies in proposals to build Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminals off the Eastern seaboard, proposals that take place in the risky world of Putin’s ambitions, Saudi oil output, and Chinese demand. Yet plans to build LNG terminals are being pursued. The terminal off the Long Island shore near Port Ambrose is being proposed for importation of LNG, and must be approved by the U.S. Coast Guard, and is opposed by local Members of Congress as well as supporters of an off-shore wind form. It will require no such approval to change it to an exporting facility, and that will be good news for the gas drillers in Washington County.

Fracking Update: Boom busts; Data crowd-sourcing; Lonely NY ban; Pope Francis interview

Photo: Phil Coleman

When the Fracking Boom Goes Bust. This is the first of a six-part series by the Washington Post on how people and communities handle the down-side of the fracking ‘boom’ in Pennsylvania.

Citizens Fill in the Drilling Data What DEP Misses. Several non-profit, volunteer organizations have turned to crowd-sourcing to gather data about fracking activities, data that DEP is missing

Status of Fracking Bans Around the States. Although fracking has been banned in a large number of communities, with the City of Pittsburgh being the first, what makes Gov. Cuomo’s recent decision unique is that New York is the only state with a fracking ban. (See map.) A longer-term moratorium is proposed for Maryland.

Pope Francis Talks with Argentine Anti-Fracking Leader. In a taped interview with the director of an anti-fracking movie that was banned in Argentina, Pope Francis continues his with his message that we are “stewards, not masters’ of the Earth.

Tribute to Long-Time SC Member Bruce Sundquist

As he approaches eighty, Bruce Sundquist has retired from his numerous conservation activities, not the least of which was leading outing programs for the Sierra Club and the American Youth Hostels association. Jennifer Szweda Jordan has prepared a nice tribute at the Allegheny Front radio show .

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