Environmental News

“Speaking of Climate Change”, Jennings Center, February 12

Climate change is an issue that can be complex, overwhelming, alarming, and sometimes divisive. We invite you to increase your own understanding of
climate change science, develop your skills in sorting through the myriad of
messages you hear, and build your confidence in discussing this issue with

2:00 – 4:00 pm, Sunday, February 12
Jennings Environmental Education Center
2951 Prospect Rd, Slippery Rock, PA 16057

This free, public program will include:

  •  Presentations by experienced panelists, including Dr. Julie Snow and Dr. Shawn Davis of Slippery Rock University,
  • An overview of key concepts and effective ways of communicating messages about the earth’s changing climate
  •  Introduction to opportunities for further learning and action, with representatives from the Citizens Climate Lobby and the climate action group 350 Pittsburgh.

For more information contact Rebecca Lubold at rlubold@pa.gov or call (724) 794-6011.

Public Forum: Holding Polluters and Regulators Accountable in 2017, Feb. 16

In today’s political climate, it’s more important than ever for citizens to understand how they themselves can go after illegal polluters and use our bedrock environmental laws environmental laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts.

7:00 pm, Thursday, February 16
University of Pittsburgh’s Barco Law Building, Room 107,
3900 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Join PennEnvironment and national experts who’ve taken on illegal polluters and the agencies that regulate them and won major victories. Learn more about strategies to hold polluting industries accountable in this critical time.

The Panel will consist of:

  • Eric Schaeffer, Executive Director, Environmental Integrity Project
  • Heather Govern, Attorney, National Environmental Law Center
  • Grant MacIntyre, Director, University of Pittsburgh Environmental Law Clinic
  • Stephen Riccardi, Western PA Field Organizer, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center

Free and open to the public. Please register HERE. For more information contact Stephen Riccardi at stephen@pennenvironment.org.

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



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.

Do YOU Want to Make a Real Difference? – Learn How to Run for Local Office, Feb. 8

In these alarming times progressive organizations like the Sierra Club are encouraging people to run for local offices where significant impact can be had on policies that directly affect our communities. Such local experience can lead to offices with broader influence, but we need to begin at the community level.

6:30 – 8:30 pm, Wednesday, February 8,
Allegheny County Department of Human Services Building
1 Smithfield St. Liberty Room
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

Find out how to file for office, get petitions signed, find your voters, and
run a successful campaign. Then take the action you want to see in your community. Local decisions can be implemented quickly and make a real difference in your community. You will leave the workshop with all the tools and a plan to run and win!

Sponsored by the Allegheny Group of the Sierra Club, this workshop is FREE. Please REGISTER by contacting Lisa Mekovsky at lisamekovsky@gmail.com.

Parking is FREE in a lot next to the building, just off Fort Pitt Blvd. Details will be sent directly to registrants.

Watching Too Much Depressing News? – Take a Hike on Feb. 5

To shake off the concerns of the day and experience the natural world, join what has become an annual 5-6 mile deep winter hike from the Harmony Trail to the Rachel Carson Trail

10:00 am to 2:00 Pm, Sunday February 5.

Start at the Beaver Shelter on Babcock Blvd. in North Park and carpool to the
at the Harmony trailhead on Rt. 910. Follow the Harmony Trail to the Bluebird Trail, to the Braille Trail, to the North Ridge Trail, and end at the Rachel Carson Trail. Moderate difficulty with some modest ascents.

Hot tea, cocoa, and treats afterwards. FREE and open to everyone (no need to sign up)! For more information contact Mark Eyerman at me.2341@yahoo.com.

Sponsored by the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy.

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.

Allegheny Group Preserves Selected Federal Climate Information

The Trump Administration intends to remove all references to climate change from Federal Government web sites.

To protest this action, the Allegheny Group has preserved selected climate information from the NOAA web sites.

You can view the NOAA home page (as of January 25, 2017) at:


NOAA’s climate page (as of January 19, 2017) at:

NOAA Climate


As you know, we face vigorous attempts by the incoming Trump administration to roll back on all environmental protection that we have gained over the past decades.  Environmental groups in Pittsburgh are rising to this challenge.

Our first action will be local participation in a nation-wide ‘Day Against Denial’ event calling on Sen. Pat Toomey to reject the nomination of:

  • ExxonMobil’s CEO Rex Tillerson for Secretary of State A top funder of climate denial and attacks on climate action, for Secretary of State.
  • Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt for EPA head.  Even though he spent most of his time in office filing (and losing) lawsuits against the EPA. He even let an oil company write some of his official correspondence.
  • Former Texas Governor Rick Perry for Department of Energy. Perry is on the board of the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, and said he wanted to eliminate the agency altogether.
  • Rep. Ryan Zinke for Department of Interior. Zinke has been fighting to dig up as much coal, oil and gas from public lands as possible.

Join us for a demonstration outside the Senator’s office:

Noon to 1:00 pm, Monday, January 9
100 Station Square Drive
Pittsburgh PA 15219

During the demonstration we will present a petition to Sen. Toomey’s office manager. The same petition will be presented to Sen. Bob Casey at a later date.

And sign the petition HERE.

Bring your friends, relatives, and co-workers to the
noon-time demonstration, and don’t forget your signs.

Current co-sponsors of this event include 350 Pittsburgh, Clean Water Action, Food and Water Watch, GASP, Marcellus Protest, Moms Clean Air Force, and Sierra Club Allegheny Group.

For more information, contact Peter Wray at pjwray@verizon.net.

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Silence Is Consent: Solidarity With All People Fighting Oppression

In 1967 at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave a sermon in which he said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.

In my new role as the Director of Equity, Inclusion and Justice at the Sierra Club, I have a lot of conversations that begin with questions like, “Why should the Sierra Club get involved in issues outside of the environmental movement? Why are we speaking out about Black Lives Matter, or the Fight for $15? What does this have to do with us?”

Whenever I hear these questions, I reflect on Dr. King’s quote. What does it mean to stand silently by while members of our community are suffering? For me, silence is consent.

That’s why the Sierra Club can’t and won’t be silent. This is more true than ever in the wake of an election that has left the progressive movement reeling, and people with marginalized identities in fear for their safety.

As an organization, we do not consent to the violence visited upon the bodies of Black people in the United States. We do not consent to the exploitation of workers, or to attacks on voting rights for disenfranchised people, or to the theft of land from indigenous people. We do not consent to injustice or the oppression of any people, anywhere.

We also do not consent to the normalization of white supremacy that Donald Trump’s election represents. As a person of color living in the United States, I do not labor under the illusion that the virulent hatred Trump has unleashed is a new phenomenon. This ugliness has been part of our community all along – the election just exposed it to the light. Regardless, the Sierra Club will not sit idly by as our volunteers, our staff, and our friends and neighbors are deported, persecuted for their religious beliefs, or denied control over their own bodies and lives.

The Sierra Club strives to be in solidarity with the powerful network of activists and organizers united in the fight against oppression. We are working inside the Sierra Club to become a more inclusive, equitable, and justice-oriented organization, and we seek to learn from the experiences of others on this path.

Our mission statement says that the Sierra Club will “enlist humanity to protect and restore the quality of the natural and human environment.” On November 8th, the human and social environment in which we live got a whole lot less safe and healthy for a lot of folks. Donald Trump’s election threatens the safety and social support of millions of our friends and neighbors. It is our mission, our obligation and our moral imperative to speak up, to lend our resources, and to show up in solidarity with people fighting for justice wherever we can.

This is a dark and difficult time for many of us. It would be easy to retreat, keep our heads down and focus narrowly on what are traditionally known as “our issues.” But justice, equity, and inclusion are our issues. We have a duty to stand with those who are facing persecution on the basis of their race, religion, gender, sexuality or other marginalized identity. Solidarity is our only hope of creating the world we want to live in.

If you, like me, don’t consent to oppression, racism and hatred, then don’t be silent. Educate yourself about how you can show up for the LGBTQ community. Find your local chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice and attend a meeting or a rally. Challenge hate speech when you hear it. Write to your local elected leaders and ask them to stand with immigrants and undocumented people in your community. Leverage the resources, influence, and power of organizations in your own life to lift up equity, justice, and inclusion. Now is the time to engage. We don’t have a moment to waste.

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