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

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Wilderness Bill to Protect the Arctic Coastal Plain

. Urge your Congressman to co-sponsor the “Udall-Eisenhower Artic Wilderness Act”.

In January 2007 then House member Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a bill to permanently protect the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. In honor of President Eisenhower and Senator Morris Udall, who promoted the protection of the pristine area, the bill was titled the “Udall-Eisenhower Arctic Wilderness Act”. On January 9 of this year Congressmen Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reopened the call for protection of a 1.56 million acre portion of the coastal plain with H.R. 239.

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 .

Guidelines for Methane Emissions from Fracking a Needed but Inadequate Move

Riding the shale gas treadmill. Photo from the PA DEP

President Obama is steadily rolling out his program to curtail climate change, as well as improve air quality across the nation. On January 14 the Administration announced a goal to cut methane emissions from the oil and gas industries by 40 – 45 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. This follows the setting of GHG emissions standards for transportation in 2010 and 2012 and the creation of standards for existing power plants beginning in June 2014.

Wolf’s Nominees for DEP and DNCR Secretaries Restore Environmental Balance

Governor-elect Tom Wolf has announced his nominations for the two key posts in his administration; John Quigley as Secretary of DEP and Cindy Dunn as Secretary of DCNR. In contrast to the people in the same positions for Gov. Corbett, both Quigley and Dunn are professionals with strong experience in protection of the environment and our natural resources. Since serving as DCNR Secretary, Quigley is remembered as an outspoken opponent of any fracking in state lands. Dunn holds a MS in biology, and her experience goes back to working in Harrisburg for Audubon Pennsylvania.

In addition to Quigley and Dunn, Wolf can benefit from another person with a strong environmental background, his Chief of Staff Kathy McGinty, herself a former DEP Secretary and chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality under President Clinton.

Deep Coal Mine Proposed for Laurel Highlands

January 28, 2015
1:00 pmto3:00 pm

If permitted, the Rustic Ridge deep coal mine will occupy approximately 3,000 acres in Donegal, Jones Mills, Champion, and Indian Head at a popular entrance to the Laurel Highlands. DEP will hold an ‘informal public conference’:

1:00-3:00 pm, Wednesday, January 28,
Donegal Community Center,
113 Community Center Lane, Donegal, PA 15628.

Mountain Watershed Association staff will be available at the community center from 12:00PM – 1:00 PM and 3:00PM – 5:00PM to assist you with questions or in writing comments. For more information contact Beverly at 724/455-4200 ext. 1# or mwa@mtwatershed.com.

Europeans Broke Clean Energy Records in 2014

Photo courtesy of Oceana

Although domestic investment in clean energy surged in 2014, it was in Europe where records were broken. Denmark led with a world record for wind power production of 39 pct. Clean energy overtook nuclear power in Scotland with renewables providing nearly one third more power than nuclear, coal or gas in the first six months of the year. In the U.K wind power generated electricity for a quarter of the homes in 2014. And Germany is on track to break its own record with 27 pct of energy being from renewables during the first nine months of 2014.

Green Job Opportunities for Young Adults

Thanks to Conservation Consultants on the Southside for bringing to our attention news of job opportunities for young people in Pittsburgh and elsewhere around the country:

The Student Conservation Association is offering its eighth year of sustainability fellowships in Pittsburgh. SCA Green Cities Sustainability Fellows serve with organizations to implement a wide range of urban sustainability solutions, while gaining hands-on training as a team. First round interviews begin in February. SCA is a national service organization that provides a set of stipends for community service internship placements.

2014 was Earth’s Hottest Year on Record

Source: Japan Meteorological Agency website

NOTE: On January 16 NOAA and NASA confirmed that 2014 was the our planet’s hottest year on record.

A number of government agencies around the world have already reported that for our planet 2014 was the hottest year on record. Last winter’s freezing weather lowered the temperature for the US as a whole, but parched California did record by far its hottest year on record. Further north, 2014 was the warmest year of record for Alaska. And abroad, Australia appears to be set thhaving broken in 2014 its record average temperature in 2013.

Ten Current Reasons to be Hopeful about Tackling Climate Change

Avoiding the worst of climate change is challenging, requiring more from ourselves and our leaders, but there are some signs for hope. In a detailed article Karl Mathieson of the Guardian provides ten good signs:

  1. Barack Obama has made it one of his defining issues
  2. China has ordered coal power plants to close
  3. The cost of solar has fallen by two thirds
  4. People are taking their money out of fossil fuels
  5. Bangladeshi women are being retrained as solar technicians
  6. Renewable energy will soon take the lion’s share of new power
  7. European homes are using 15% less energy than they were in 2000
  8. Cutting emissions has become a business imperative
  9. Oil is becoming much more expensive to find
  10. Electric car sales are doubling each year
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