Energy

Climate Marches Launch Resistance to Trump Administration

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Pittsburghers drive at RFK Stadiumm for the Peoples March, April 29. (Photo courtesy of Fred Kraybill.)

In Washington on April 29 more than 200,000 people in the Peoples March for Climate, Jobs, and Justice showed that the Trump administration’s attacks on the environment and the climate movement will be resisted with passion and reason. Joining the huge throng of indigenous people and members of labor unions, faith-based organizations, and environmental groups were three busloads of people from SW Pennsylvania. Across the nation Sister Marches involved a further 100,000 people, and here in Pittsburgh about 1,000 people marched in Oakland.

The long day for the 150 bus riders began at 4:30 am. In DC the weather was hot and humid, but the atmosphere was exciting and inspiring. As one of the riders wrote afterwards:

“I derived hope from this event. It’s an unfortunate aspect of my nature to envision the worst possible future and to expect very little of my fellow human beings. My default mindset is that people are selfish and primarily look out for themselves. But when I see tens of thousands of diverse people from all over the country (and world) marching to protect the planet for future generations with possibly very little to directly gain for themselves, it gives me hope that all is not lost. While I can’t say I’m optimistic about the future, I can say that I feel energy building and see a light growing brighter. My fervent hope is that this carries us all to a better place where the planet and all living creatures can thrive in a sustainable way. I see this movement as being about more than just the environment; it’s about a just and compassionate way of living and working in the world. Like everyone else, I’m fumbling my way forward trying to be better than I’ve been. For me, this march was a gift of energy and hope to keep me moving in that better direction.”

Our thanks go out to the folk who represented SW Pennsylvania in the national march and who took part in the march in Oakland. Thanks are also due to these local groups for their financial support of the bus riders:  Allegheny Group Sierra Club, Group Against Smog and Pollution, Marcellus Protest, and 350 Pittsburgh.

Sierra Club’s 100 pct Clean Energy Campaign Comes to Pittsburgh

Smaller Mayors iconWith climate deniers blocking climate action in Washington and state capitols, the Sierra Club recently launched a national ‘Ready for 100‘ clean energy campaign. A major goal is to urge city mayors to commit to achieving 100 pct clean energy for their cities by 2035. So far 27 mayors have made that commitment.

Now Pittsburgh has been chosen as the first ‘old industrial city’ to be included in the national campaign, with Eva Resnick-Day as the full time organizer based in Pittsburgh. The immediate goal is to persuade Mayor Bill Peduto to publicly endorse 100% renewable by the June 23-26 U.S. Mayors Conference in Miami Beach. If you don’t believe that 100 pct renewable energy is really doable, please check HERE for 10 case studies.

 

Trump’s Climate Policy Legally Challenged by 17 States, but not PA

On March 27 Donald Trump ordered Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, to review and revise the measures set in place by Barack Obama to reduce the emission of GHG emissions. A central target of these measures is the Clean Power Plan. Following Trump’s order, the EPA asked the US court of appeals in DC to delay proceedings related to the Clean Power Plan while the Obama regulations are being reviewed

In a counter move, on April 5 the attorneys general of seventeen states asked the to reject EPA’s request for a delay. Leading the … was New York’s attorney general, who argued ““In order to repeal Obama-era protections, the Trump Administration must replace those protections, as well — and we know how well repeal-and-replace went the first time around.“

Pennsylvania’s attorney general was not among those of the seventeen states filing the motion

Message to the Trump Administration: 2016 Was Earth’s Hottest Year on Record

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President Trump, please take note, “the globally averaged temperature for 2016 was the highest since record keeping began in 1880”. 2016 was hotter than 2015 and 2015 was hotter than 2014, due in large part to wormer ocean surface temperatures. Sixteen of the 17 record years have occurred since 2000.

In the US 2016 was the second hottest year on record, with 15 ‘weather disasters’ causing $46B in damage. For Pittsburgh 2016 was the second warmest year in the 69 years of record keeping, being 3.0 DegF above the 1981-2010 average.average

According to the World Meteorological Office, the largest contributors to the rising temperatures continue to be man-made greenhouse gases like CO2, resulting in acidification of the oceans and minimum ice caps in the polar oceans.

Keystone XL Pipeline is NOT a Done Deal – Send Trump a Message

Starting with support for the rally in Washington DC in February 2013, Pittsburgh’s environmental community has seen the Keystone XL Pipeline as a major symbol of what is wrong with our national energy policy. Citing climate change, on Sept. 6, 2015 President Obama rejected the pipeline. Since then we have opposed the completion of the Dakota Access Pipeline. On January 24 President Trump signed an executive order that reopens the discussion of whether these pipeline should be built or completed, much to the consternation of groups like the Sierra Club.

Because the actual consequences of Trump’s action are unclear, sending a personal message to President Trump will be timely.

Why there is uncertainty about Trump’s executive order is explained by Duncan Meisel of 350.org:

  • He did *not* approve Keystone XL or Dakota Access. He briefly succeeded in confusing a lot of people on this point
  • On DAPL he told the Army Corps of Engineers to “consider” revoking the environmental review placed on it by the Obama Administration.
  • On Keystone XL, he invited TransCanada to re-apply and if they do, mandated a final decision on the pipeline within 60 days and waived input from environmental agencies.
  • And when TransCanada does re-apply, they no longer have permits in Nebraska, and their permits in South Dakota are being challenged.
  • Trump also placed conditions on approval of the pipelines — like limiting oil exports, and determining where the steel comes from — that the oil companies might not accept.

ACTION: Support the Standing Rock ‘Water Protectors’

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Photo by JOSUÉ RIVAS.

The Water Protectors have been there since the summer. Over the Thanksgiving weekend several thousand people were expected to be camped on the US Army Corps of Engineers (USCoE) managed land on the banks of the Cannon Ball River in North Dakota. As many as 2,00 plan to remain throughout the winter, or until the USCoE denies the permit to construct the Dakota Access Pipeline close to the sacred ground and water supplies of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

As the latest step in this remarkable protest, last Friday the USCoE notified protesters in the camp that they would be evicted beginning December 6. The Water Protectors from hundreds of native American tribes along with environmental justice supporters from across the nation, including Pittsburgh, are likely to stand put, despite the prospect of the state troopers and National Guards using tear gas and water hoses in freezing weather.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
Sign the petition that calls upon President Obama in part

“to direct the Corps to repeal the permits for the Dakota Access pipeline

until formal tribal consultation and environmental reviews are properly and adequately conducted.”

Call the White House Comment Line
Monday – Friday between 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. E.T. via 1-303-816-3559
You’ll hear a recorded introduction that will give you more information.
Then you’ll be connected directly with the White House Comment Line.

NOTE.  In January the responsibility of protecting the Standing Rock Sioux tribe’s water will rest with the Trump administration, raising the possible conflict of interest because of Donald Trump’s holdings in the DAPL owner company.

Obama Protects Arctic and Atlantic Oceans from Off-Shore Drilling

On November 18 the Obama administration released its 5-year plan for offshore oil and gas leasing. Although still allowing O&G development from 2017 through 2022 in ten areas of central and western parts of the Gulf of Mexico, the plan no longer allows leasing in Arctic and Atlantic Oceans. The single leasing area outside the Gulf is part of Cook Inlet off the Gulf of Alaska. Dropped from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s draft plan offered in March is the leasing areas in the Arctic’s Beaufort and Chukchi seas in 2020 and 2022.

The plan now heads to Congress, with a 60-day waiting period until it becomes final. If President Trump wishes to revise these leasing limits it will probably take several years.

Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released the following statement:
For years, the Arctic Ocean has been left vulnerable to oil drilling that would devastate its pristine waters, Alaska Native villages, and coastal communities, and the marine life these communities depend on. But thanks to the Obama administration’s leadership, the Arctic Ocean, like the Atlantic Ocean earlier this year, will remain protected from fossil fuel development.

“Alaska Native leaders, activists across Alaska and the Lower 48, and the American people made their voices heard — and President Obama listened. We applaud the President and his administration for listening to these calls, safeguarding the Arctic and the Atlantic oceans and helping ensure that the Arctic’s coastal communities may continue their way of life.

“From forging the Paris climate agreement, to the Clean Power Plan, to today’s news that he is protecting the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, President Obama continues to build on a climate legacy without equal, and the Sierra Club will mobilize more forcefully than ever to ensure it remains intact.

“The removal of our waters from offshore drilling plans is paramount to protecting coastal communities in Alaska and across the Eastern and Western seaboards. The action taken today by the Obama administration recognizes this, and we must and we will continue to build on these efforts to ensure all our coastal communities — including the Gulf of Mexico — are protected from the threat offshore drilling presents.

On September 22 Pittsburgh Said NO to Trump

The following is an account by Tom Hoffman of the rally held last Thursday in Downtown Pittsburgh:

On Thursday, September 22, Donald Trump rolled into Pittsburgh town to speak to an Oil and Gas Convention and attend a Republican Fundraiser at the Duquesne Club. To make sure that he knew that his racist, sexist and anti-environmental campaign was NOT going to play well here in the home of the Three Rivers, about 400 Pittsburgh’s gathered at the convention center and then followed the Republican candidate to the Duquesne Club on 6th Avenue

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Marchers making their way to the Duquesne Club.      Photo: Paul Heckbert.

In her book This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein tells of her hope that the issue of climate will build a large progressive movement. The seeds of that movement here in Pittsburgh came to stand up to Trump on that Thursday. Pittsburgh’s labor, faith, environment, social justice and community movements were all represented. While the rally was a bit fragmented, everyone came together behind one banner – literally – when it was time to march to the Duquesne Club.

The banner read “Edgy Elders – Leaving a Legacy – Justice: Racial Economic Climate” and was carried by seniors from the Thomas Merton Center. People on the march carried signs ranging from “Black Lives Matter” to “Still We Rise” to “Hate Has No Place Here” to “Love Trumps Hate” to “Climate Voter”.

After blocking traffic at Wood and Sixth for ten minutes, the march moved on to the Duquesne Club. When chants of “Let Us In” filled the air, Pittsburgh Police arrived in full battle gear and used horse mounted police to move demonstrators away from the doors of the Duquesne Club. One protester, Michael Bagdes Canning was arrested for trying to enter the large donor fundraiser event.

This will not be the last time Pittsburgh rallies to say NO to Trump but it was certainly a definitive statement to that effect from a very broad coalition of progressive forces in Pittsburgh. Here’s hoping that the movement they brought together on that September afternoon survives beyond the November election.

Hearings on Mon-Fayette Expressway Extension

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Completed in July 2012 at a cost of $1.8 billion, the current stretch of the Mon-Fayette Expressway extends from I-68 near Uniontown WV to Rte 51 in Jefferson Hills. Originally this PA Turnpike Commission (PTC) tollway was intended to travel along the Mon valley, though Hazelwood, and empty out near Brady Street n Oakland. That idea was squashed by Pittsburgh City Council, community groups, and environmentalists; citizens proposed a network of urban boulevards instead.

In a final attempt to complete the tollway, the debt-loaded PTC has proposed routing the last leg of the tollway from Jefferson Hills through Duquesne and across the Mon up Turtle Creek Valley to Monroeville. Citizens wishing to express their views on this more than $1 billion extension of the Mon-Fayette are encouraged to attend one of the following PTC public meetings, all held from 6 to 8 pm:

Tuesday, Aug. 9, Skyview Volunteer Fire Dept., 660 Nobel Drive, West Mifflin

Wednesday, Aug. 10, St. Agnes Center, Carlow University, 3325 Fifth Ave, Oakland

Tuesday, Aug. 16, Gateway Middle School, 4400 Old William Penn Highway, Monroeville

Wednesday, Aug. 17, Woodland Hills Jr/Sr. High School, 2550 Greensburg Pike, Churchill

For more information contact Renee Colborn, Manager of Media and Public Relations at 717 939-9551, Mon. – Fri. (8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.).

GOP Platform Doesn’t Bode Well for the Environment

According to the 2016 Republican Platform the GOP is prepared to set aside many of the measures to protect the environment and our health. The folk at Grist have captured the environmental highlights of the platform that can be further summarized as:

  • Cancel the Clean Power Plan
  • Build the Keystone XL pipeline and more like it.
  • Kill federal fracking regulations.
  • Oppose any carbon tax.
  • Expedite export terminals for liquefied natural gas.
  • Abolish the EPA as we know it.
  • Forbid the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide.
  • Turn federal lands over to states
  • Revoke the ability of the president to designate national monuments.
  • Halt funding for the U.N.’s Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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