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HELP MAKE CLIMATE ACTION HISTORY. Join the People’s Climate March in New York City, Sept. 21

ACTION: Register HERE for a seat on one of our two buses.

On Sunday, September 21, tens of thousands will march in New York City to demand that President Obama, the President of China, and other world leaders attending the UN Climate Summit 2014 on September 23 take action on Climate Change before it is too late.

The Allegheny Group and Thomas Merton Center have arranged for two buses to travel to New York:

  • Our two buses will depart Edgewood Town Center (off the Parkway East) at 3 am.
  • Arrive in New York in time for the 11:30 am start of the March.
  • The March will be less than three miles from Columbus Circle., going over to Sixth Ave, across 42nd Street and finishing on Eleventh Ave.
  • Depart New York about 4 pm and arrive back in Pittsburgh shortly after Midnight.
  • The fare is $68 per passenger. Some scholarships are available.

To reserve your seat on the bus register HERE. If you are unable to join us on the bus, you may make a donation with ‘People’s Climate March’ on the Memo line of your check, payable to ‘Allegheny Group Sierra Club’, and mailed to:

Allegheny Group
c/o Sierra Club,
425 N. Craig St. Suite 202,
Pittsburgh PA 15213

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

Mining Beneath Ryerson Station State Park

Sierra Club members and friends high and dry at DRYerson event. Photo: V. Coptis

ACTION: Help prevent long-wall mining beneath Ryerson Station State Park. Comment HERE

The 8th Annual DRYerson Festival on August 16 celebrated the Center for Coalfield Justice’s (CCJ) fight to restore the Duke Lake in Ryerson Station State Park. Although there is hope that the collapsed dam will be restored to create the lake anew, there is a new threat to the Greene County park from planned long-wall mining beneath the park. In the agreement with Consol Energy to restore Duke Lake, the State laid the groundwork for the expansion of the Bailey mine Complex under a portion of the park, a mining expansion that could drain streams feeding the new lake. In May the Sierra Club and CCJ filed suit to appeal the DEP permit. The public are urged to send their comments on the DEP permit HERE

Obama Skirting Congress with Move for Global Climate Accord

NASA image

ACTION: Demand climate action at the People’s Climate March, Sept. 21 in NYC

President Obama is working to gain the support of world leaders for a new global effort to curb climate change. Acknowledging that the US Senate is unlikely to ratify a formal treaty, the President aims to combine the legally binding conditions of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol with new voluntary measures. The first round of talks will take place at the UN Climate Summit in New York, Sept. 23 and move on to the UN Climate Change Convention in Paris, December 2015. The immediacy of required global action is emphasized by the upcoming Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that deals with the risks we face.

Good Fracking News: Growing Opposition – Lake Arthur Victory – DEP Admits Drinking Water Contamination – Couple Able to Sue Township Supervisors

Coming to a State Forest near you? Photo from the PA DEP

Growing Opposition to Fracking. According to Food and Water Watch‘s latest count, the number of communities that have passed measures against fracking has reached 435, spread across the country. Bloomberg News included this count in a description of how the fracking industry is reacting.

Victory for Moraine SP’s Lake Arthur. As the result of a legal challenge the Department of Environment Protection (DEP) has cancelled a needed permit for a proposed Marcellus Shale drilling site in the Lake Arthur watershed. The proposed drilling site was one mile outside the park, but the suit claimed that polluted water from the drilling would drain into waters designated by law as high quality. Thanks go to Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Save Lake Arthur Watershed grassroots citizen group, and attorney Jordan Yeager. (more…)

Corbett’s Fracking Boosterism Ignores Climate Change

Shale gas flaring. Coming to Pittsburgh International Airport.

The scene did not jibe with what is going on elsewhere in the world. With County Executive Rich Fitzgerald serving as Master of Ceremonies, on August 25 officials celebrated the start of fracking at Pittsburgh International Airport. According to WESA, in his remarks Gov. Tom Corbett said that Pennsylvania is “coming after” Texas as the number one natural gas producer. “From number five in the production of natural gas … in the nation, to number two in just about five years,” Corbett said. “We’re number two in the production of electricity and number two in nuclear power generation, because we have adopted an all of the above and below philosophy to creating energy.” (more…)

Marcellus Gas Pipeline Threatens French Creek Watershed.

French Creek State Park Photo: DCNR

The Western Pennsylvania Conservancy describes the French Creek watershed north of Pittsburgh as “arguably the most ecologically significant waterway in Pennsylvania”. As part of the ever-expanding pipeline system to transport fracked gas out of Pennsylvania, the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. is seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a 3 mile, 30 inch pipe loop in the Pine Creek headwaters just over the NY state line. Ryan Talbott of the Allegheny Defense Project is quoted as saying “FERC assumes that because the company is boring the pipeline under the stream there are no impacts, but that doesn’t take into account the risks that its construction could go wrong or that it could rupture under the creek”.

Petition Calls for County to Curb Shenango Coke Plant Air Pollution

Artwork: Mike LaMark

ACTION: Sign the petition.

The Shenango coke plant sits on Neville Island a short distance down-river from the Point. For years polluted air from the plant has spread through the Ohio Valley and up to Downtown and beyond. In April 2014 the owners of the 52-year-old plant agreed with Allegheny County Health Dept. (ACHD) to pay a penalty of $600,000 for past pollution violations and promised to spend $750,000 on new emission control equipment. In May GASP filed a lawsuit against Shenango, charging that the agreement “did not do enough to limit pollution from the coke oven doors or combustion stack”. (more…)

Holes Pop Up as Permafrost Thaws in Siberia

Locally we are worried about methane emissions from fracking operations, but in Siberia and Alaska methane emissions from the thawing permafrost prmoise to be a bigger concern. Back in 2011 the US Dept. of Energy announced a $100 million research program to determine “what will happen when the Arctic permafrost thaws and carbon is released mainly in the form of methane?” Now we have a partial answer to that question. Strange ground holes 100 feet across and of unknown depth have recently been discovered in Siberia.

As explained in a PBS News Hour report this week, the holes are most likely to be produced by the release of methane from the melting underground ice, resulting in an eruption. Russian scientists measured methane concentrations in one of the holes at 9.6 pct or 53,000 times normal.

An Update on the Environmental Effects of Fracking

Photo: Phil Coleman

It is not often that any branch of the media devotes as much as 51 minutes to an in-depth discussion of the impacts of fracking, but that is what Diane Rehm did on August 20 with guests Mark Boling (Southwestern Energy Company), Amy Mall (NRDC), and Abrahm Lustgarten (ProPublica). Worth listening to or reading the transcript. The discussion shows that the impacts of fracking are now sufficiently understood that government inaction is in-excusable.

Egypt and Solar Energy

Egypt is currently experiencing an electric power crisis with daily blackouts occurring in cities like Cairo with its population of 7.7 million. Where is the use of solar power? What is causing such a crisis in the land of the sun god Ra? The causes are perhaps typical of many developing countries; poor condition of the electric infrastructure, greater personal use of electricity, a rapidly growing population, and a 3 deg C increase in average temperature between 1960 and 1990. So how much use is Egypt making of solar power? Currently electricity generation is fueled 70 pct by natural gas, 20 pct oil, and 10 pct hydro. For an overburdened Earth the good news is that Egypt is turning away from fossil fuels, ending its oil and gas subsidies and planning to produce 5 GW of renewable energy by 2017. Part of that new energy supply will come from wind farms, and part from new solar power plants like the 2 MW plant in Luxor.

Ten Current Reasons to be Hopeful about Tackling Climate Change

ACTION: Join the bus to the Peoples Climate March in NYC, Sept. 21

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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