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PA Environmental Scorecard Shows Local Legislators Less Supportive than Easterners

November 4, 2014
7:00 amto8:00 pm

ACTION: Let your legislator know what you think about their Conservation Voter score.

Few of the western Pa incumbents in the state House and Senate are being seriously challenged in the Nov. 4 election. East of Harrisburg the Conservation Voters of Pennsylvania (CVPa) found it necessary to only endorse Lisa Stout Bashioum (39th Dist in the Mon valley) out of a total of thirteen endorsed candidates for the state House.  So it is useful to know how these incumbents behaved environmentally during the 2013-2014 sessions.

Developed in collaboration with Clean Water Action and the Sierra Club, the CVPa has published a scorecard that treats 8 key votes in the Senate and 12 in the House. Out of a total of thirty House and Senate members who had a 100 pct score on the CVPa scorecard only three were from the west: Representatives Dan Frankel, Ed Gainey, and retiring Erin Molchany. Scoring 75 pct each in the second tier in the Senate were Jay Costa, Jim Ferlo, and Matt Smith. In the House Frank Dermody scored a respectable 91 pct followed by Jake Wheatly (89 pct), Joseph Markosek (83 pct), and Adam Ravenstahl (82 pct) followed by Dan Deasy, Dom Costa and Tim Mahoney with 75 pct each.

Fracking, Methane, and a Climate-Sensitive Energy Policy

NASA image

A key component of President Obama’s ‘All of the Above’ energy policy is a reliance on natural gas as a ‘clean fuel’. The initial premise was that the methane emissions from fracking are insignificant and would have little effect on climate change. In January 2014 environmentalists urged the President to adopt a “Best of the Above’ policy, in part acknowledging that methane emissions are significant. In fact, over 20 years methane traps 86 times more heat than does CO2. In March the EPA announced a plan to assess potentially significant sources of methane and other emissions from the oil and gas sector, but in May the Cornell researchers claimed that the EPA’s estimate of CH4 emissions from fracking was too low. (more…)

Mountain Top Removal and Cancer

Photo: Mountain Justice

How to move away from our reliance on coal as a fuel for electric power production without damaging the communities in Coal Country is a challenge. But there is little doubt that the coal mining practices like mountain top removal (MTR) are not good for the health of those communities. As reported by the Post-Gazette, a recent study at West Virginia Univ. provides a strong link between the air blown particles from MTR and high rates of cancer in the surrounding communities. For more on MTR see the showing of “Moving Mountains” in Dormont, Nov. 9

DEP’s Fracking Woes Continue

Coming to a school near you? Photo from the PA DEP

Whether considered as an overall benefit or not, the access to natural gas in the Marcellus shale has been developed at a rate too fast for adequate protection of the environment. For example, recent studies found that in their report of air pollution from fracking operations at a Washington County site the state Dept. of Environmental Protection failed to account for all the carcinogens and toxins. Unfortunately, Gov. Corbett and then DEP Secretary Krancer used the incomplete report to justify their opposition to federal regulation of fracking operations. This latest revelation follows a tracking of the DEP’s poor performance regarding fracking operations, caused in part by inadequate funding and perhaps the Governor’s close relationship to the fracking industry.

Sierra Club Endorses Tom Wolf for Governor

Given the promise of a more environmentally sensitive resident in the Governor’s Mansion this coming January, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club has endorsed Tom Wolf for Governor in the November 4 general election. Incumbent Tom Corbett has dismayed environmentalists by his close association with the fracking industry, resulting in his questioning of climate change, wishing to open up state lands to fracking, and failure to support clean energy initiatives. For more information, please contact Barb Grover at < BarbGrover1@gmail.com > or (412) 521-9526.

Petition to Place a Hold on Further Fracking of Allegheny County Parks

Shale gas flaring.

The Protect Our Parks coalition is collecting signatures on a petition to bring a citizen-sponsored Ordinance to Allegheny County Council. The purpose of the petition is to place a “hold” on the fracking of our eight remaining county parks now that Deer Lakes Park is leased for fracking! If you are willing to help collect signatures, please contact Joni at 412-241-8359.

Local Protesters to Help Close Down FERC Over LNG Export Facility, Nov. 10

November 10, 2014

Artwork: Mike LaMark

In response to a call for larger, escalated action on climate change a coalition of frontline communities, regional and national organizations, and concerned individuals will take nonviolent direct action in Washington DC during the week of November 1. The target of the action will be the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, specifically calling on FERC to reconsider and withdraw their permit for a dangerous gas export facility at Cove Point LNG plant in Maryland. Transportation is being arranged for Western Pennsylvanians to participate in the action on Friday, Nov. 10 with an overnight stay in DC on Nov. 9. For more information contact Michael Badges-Canning at 724-791-2754 (land) or 724-431-8560 (cell).

Warm Welcome for ‘Climate Action Now’ Marchers as they Crossed Our Region

Marchers and friends with Shenango coke plant across the Ohio. Photo: T. Popovich.

A group of about thirty-five hardy souls spent a week in our area on their march from Los Angeles to Washington DC. Drawing attention to the need for immediate ACTION NOW to avert the climate crisis, they participated in the FrackDown rally in Butler, held a rally on the Northside, met scores of local folk at two potluck dinners, got a snootful of bad air near the Shenango coke plant on Neville Island, shared a quaff at Green Drinks, and talked with students at Seton Hill University. Thanks are due to all the good folk who opened their homes to the marchers, and to Wanda Guthrie, Warwick Powell and many others who helped provide such a warm and well organized welcome to our visitors.

Citizen-Scientists Help Map 1,358 Fracking Wastewater Impoundments in PA

What happens to the approximately sixty percent of the four million gallons per well of water used in fracking that becomes wastewater at the wellhead? This wastewater contains an unknown mix of toxic chemicals, and is either recycled, injected into deep wells, or stored in an impoundment for what might be a long time. The impoundment route has raised serious concerns among communities and environmental groups. (more…)

San Gabriel Mountains NM –Obama Continues to Build his Land Conservation Legacy

In the new San Gabriel Mountains NM. Photo: The Wilderness Society

ACTION: Thank President Obama for preserving another great wild place for the American people.

On October 10 President Obama establishted the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument, using his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act. This latest move by the President will protect 350,000 acres of public land in the Angeles National Forest, a rugged area in the San Gabriel mountains near Los Angeles and the largest section of open space in Los Angeles County. This is the twelfth National Monument established by Obama, following the creation of the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks NM in New Mexico in June, and it will not be the last according to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. Thus the President continues to build an impressive land conservation legacy.

Residents Fight Proposed Walmart in Flood Prone Pine Creek Watershed

Over the years development in the Northern suburbs of Allegheny County has produced severe flooding in the Pine Creek watershed and in communities down to Etna. Much money has been devoted to mitigate that flooding. Residents in McCandless Township are concerned that a proposed Walmart will help undo some of that effort. Below is an article written by Giovanna Bochicchio of the group “Citizens of McCandless”.

The Town of McCandless council recently approved a development plan for a Walmart Supercenter on Blazier Drive, located off of Ingomar and McKnight Roads. The proposed store would be adjacent to several wetlands, Pine Creek, and less than one mile away from the beautiful North Park. (more…)

Sierra Club Endorses Re-Election of Dan Frankel to the State House

In recognition of his strong support on environmental issues over the years, the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club has announced its endorsement of Dan Frankel in the upcoming General Election. Rep. Frankel currently represents citizens in the 23rd District, which includes Hazelwood, Squirrel Hill, and parts of Oakland and Point Breeze.

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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