Energy

First 100 Days Unity Event: Youth Movie Night- Eat, Watch, Discuss, Resist! March 31

Pittsburghers age 14- 22 are invited to a screening the film “Fenceline: A Company Town Divided,” eating free Chipotle and sharing ideas on how you can become involved in eco-activism.

7:00 pm, Friday March 31
East Liberty Presbyterian Church
116 South Highland Ave.
Pittsburgh PA 15206

Learn how the massive Shell ethane cracker plant in nearby BeaverCounty threatens our communities, and what we can do about it. The discussion will be moderated by local filmmaker and activist, Mark Dixon, (best known for the eco-adventure documentary, “YERT – Your Environmental Road Trip.”)

Facebook info and sign-up HERE (RSVPs requested). For more information
contact 350pittsburgh@gmail.com.

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.

Gorsuch Could be Bad for the Environment

Regardless of which tactical path the Democrats follow, it seems mostly likely that Neil Gorsuch will become the next member of the U.S. Supreme Court. This will not cheer environmental groups like the Sierra Club, who fear that this judge will favor corporations over the environment. In a statement on Twitter Sen. Casey (D-PA) said in part:

“I am concerned that far right groups presented an edict to Donald Trump when he was a candidate, demanding that he select a nominee from their approved list. These same organizations have pushed for legal rulings that rig the system in favor of big corporations and against workers, stacking the deck against everyday Pennsylvanians.”

Let your U.S. Senators know what your think:
    Pat Toomey at Phone: (412) 803-3501 or Fax: (412) 803-3504
    Bob Casey at Phone: (412) 803-7370 or Fax: (412) 803-7379

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.

Democratic Party Platform – Mainly Good, but Some Misses

The 2016 Democratic Party Platform is being hailed as the most progressive ever, and for environmentalists there are some gains. Compared to the GOP platform there is strong recognition of the dangers of climate change, and support for the Clean Air Plan as well as the COP21 agreement, no drilling off the Atlantic coast and in the Arctic, no Keystone Pipeline, protection of public lands, all with a strong call for environmental justice.

However, there is no call for a ban on fracking, although the Halliburton loophole will be closed. The absence of opposition to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) raises the question of just how strong is the stated opposition of Hillary Clinton to the TPP. The  environmental portion of  the platform is presented with bold highlighting.

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