The Banner, Vol. 5, No. 12 – Global Climate Strike!

March 19, 2019
Last Friday, the world’s children, perhaps a million or more, walked out of school for reasons of sanity in an insane world driven mad —for money. We review these youths’ marches.
But first the news.

Renewable Heat Advocates Celebrate Cuomo
Administration’s Response
to Con Ed’s Gas Moratorium Threat

Advocates for renewable heating as an alternative to fossil fuels are celebrating the announcement that New York will make big investments in renewable heating and energy efficiency in Westchester County. The announcement came from the New York Public Service Commission in response to the public outcry over plans by Consolidated Edison to impose a moratorium on new gas customers starting today. Groups say the newly announced Westchester Clean Energy Action Plan can be used as a model to find alternatives to all new proposed gas infrastructure in New York, and they praise Governor Cuomo and state agencies for their visionary approach.

The Plan was released after residents, organizations, and elected officials spoke at public hearings and submitted comments on how to respond to the utility’s claims that its gas system had reached capacity in most of Westchester County.

Catherine Borgia, Westchester County Legislator (District 9), responded to the news: “When Con Edison announced their moratorium on natural gas hookups, I expressed my confidence that we could find a solution that would serve the current and immediate future needs of Westchester residents and businesses while simultaneously encouraging movement away from fossil fuel heating sources entirely. It is good to see that the state is taking up this critical charge. I applaud NYSERDA, NYPA, the Department of Public Service, and Governor Cuomo for investing in a strategy to reduce demand for natural gas. This strategy will serve to provide space for those new customers who have already built the infrastructure for gas heating, while putting us on the path toward 100% adoption of carbon neutral heat sources, as soon as possible.”

Courtney M. Williams, the co-founder of Safe Energy Rights Group who sits on the City of Peekskill Conservation Advisory Council, said: “We cannot continue to pretend that our energy choices don’t impact public health and the climate. Westchester is already home to fracked gas infrastructure and coping with the health and safety implications of that. Conserving energy and investing in renewables is what we must do.”

“When the moratorium was announced we saw it as an opportunity for New York to demonstrate a commitment to ending gas expansion and replacing fossil fuels with renewable heating, said Andra Leimanis, Communications Director at Alliance for a Green Economy. “We’re glad the Cuomo administration also saw the opportunity for fossil-free solutions. The new Clean Energy Action Plan is a decisive step in the right direction, and we look forward to more of the same in response to upcoming claims of gas moratoria from other utility companies.”

“The Public Service Commission (PSC) gave the public the chance to weigh in on Con Ed’s gas expansion proposal. It is very inspiring that PSC heard our message loud and clear that New Yorkers do not want new fossil fuel infrastructure of any kind. The fact that they delivered this message to the Governor, and that the Governor is acting on this issue, should give all of us hope in the fight against climate change.”Eric Wood, Hudson Valley Regional Coordinator, NYPIRG

Con Edison’s claim that their current gas system is at full capacity had developers, the gas industry, and some elected officials pressuring the Governor and the Commission to put more gas supply in place. However, many local elected officials, residents, and organizations fought back, calling instead for state regulators to go in a visionary direction — turn away from gas infrastructure and put resources into alternatives like renewable heating alternatives and energy efficiency.

Hundreds of utility customers submitted comments and testimony to the Public Service Commission calling for non-gas alternatives. Meanwhile, local elected officials and environmental organizations sent letters to the Governor and submitted technical comments to the Public Service Commission supporting the case for a strategy to serve new customers with alternatives. Advocates held press conferences and demonstrations calling out the utility for using the moratorium to try to gain support for more gas infrastructure. And they called for a big investment from NYSERDA to help with public education and incentives for heat pumps so that anyone impacted by the moratorium could get access to alternative heating, hot water, and cooking sources.

In response, the Public Service Commission, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), and the New York Power Authority (NYPA) yesterday announced a $250 million program they are calling the Westchester Clean Energy Action Plan. The plan utilizes $165 million in funds for heat pumps and efficiency that the Commission recently approved for Con Edison to spend on heat pumps and efficiency in Westchester. And it adds another $85 million in NYSERDA and NYPA money for a number of initiatives, including:

  • Community-based and NYSERDA public education efforts around fossil-free heating alternatives
  • Grants to customers to use renewable heating methods and adopt energy efficiency measures in buildings, including grants for low and moderate income housing providers
  • Support for local government buildings to reduce their heating needs and adopt heat pumps
  • Support for the geothermal and air-source heat pump industries to scale up in Westchester to provide renewable heating alternatives

Renewable heating advocates hope the Cuomo administration sticks to this approach as the Public Service Commission continues to investigate and respond to Con Ed’s gas moratorium.

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Water Law for Activists Symposium: RSVP Today!

Water Law for Activists Symposium: RSVP Today!

Access to clean water is one of the most important environmental and social issues facing our communities. To support activists working on water protection issues, the Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter Water Committee has worked with the Cornell Law School Environmental Law Society to organize a Water Law for Activists symposium on Friday, March 22 at the Cornell Law School in Ithaca.

The purpose of the symposium is to bring together lawyers and activists working on water law issues in New York to learn from and network with each other.

The conference will focus on best ways to support water advocates in our efforts.

Confirmed Speakers Include:

    • Maya Van Rossum, The Green Amendment – The Delaware Riverkeeper
    • Roger Downs, Protecting Wetlands – Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
    • Richard Lippe, SEQRA
    • Serenna McCloud, CLEAN Article 78 against DEC and Cargill
    • Rachel Treichler – Ravenswood
    • Yvonne Taylor and Joe Campbell – Seneca Lake update
    • David Dorfman – Necessity Defense
    • Peter Mantius – How the media can impact water law?
    • Karen Edelstein
    • Bill Mattingly – Water Sentinels – Water Testing
    • Walter Hang – Compiling Evidence – TOOLS
    • Karen Biesanz – Citizen Research

WHAT: Water Law for Activists Symposium
WHERE:
Cornell Law School, Ithaca
WHEN: Friday, March 22, 9am – 5pm
Click here to learn more and RSVP!

Thank you for all you do to better New York’s environment, and hope to see you in Ithaca!

Ann Finneran
Chair, Water Committee
Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter

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A Future Without Fossil Fuels?

A Future Without Fossil Fuels?

At what point does a new technology cause an existing industry to start losing significant value? This may turn out to be the most important economic and political question of the first half of this century, and the answer might tell us much about our chances of getting through the climate crisis without completely destroying the planet.

2020 Vision: Why You Should See the Fossil Fuel Peak Coming
a report by Kingsmill Bond
41 pp., September 2018, available at carbontracker.org

A New World: The Geopolitics of the Energy Transformation

a report by the Global Commission on the Geopolitics of Energy Transformation

88 pp., January 2019, available at irena.org

Bill McKibben reviews two reports on changes in energy source transformation

“Kingsmill Bond” certainly sounds like a proper name for a City of London financial analyst. He looks the part, too: gray hair expertly trimmed, well-cut suit. He’s lived in Moscow and Hong Kong and worked for Deutsche Bank, the Russian financial firm Troika Dialog, and Citibank. He’s currently “new energy strategist” for a small British think tank called Carbon Tracker, and last fall he published a short paper called “2020 Vision: Why You Should See the Fossil Fuel Peak Coming.” It asks an interesting question: At what point does a new technology cause an existing industry to start losing significant value?

…in 2017, for instance, sun and wind produced just 6 percent of the world’s electric supply, but they made up 45 percent of the growth in supply

This may turn out to be the most important economic and political question of the first half of this century, and the answer might tell us much about our chances of getting through the climate crisis without completely destroying the planet. Based on earlier technological transitions—horses to cars, sails to steam, land lines to cell phones—it seems possible that the fossil fuel industry may begin to weaken much sooner than you’d think. The British-Venezuelan scholar Carlota Perez has observed that over a period of twenty years, trains made redundant a four-thousand-mile network of canals and dredged rivers across the UK: “The canal builders…fought hard and even finished a couple of major canals in the 1830s, but defeat was inevitable,” as it later was for American railroads (and horses) when they were replaced by trucks and cars.

Major technological transitions often take a while. The Czech-Canadian academic Vaclav Smil has pointed out that although James Watt developed the coal-powered steam engine in 1776, coal supplied less than 5 percent of the planet’s energy until 1840, and it didn’t reach 50 percent until 1900. But the economic effect of those transitions can happen much earlier, Bond writes, as soon as it becomes clear to investors that a new technology is accounting for all the growth in a particular sector.

“hopeful” piece “the opportunities for bribes on colossal projects mean…that a number of developing countries may indeed continue down the fossil fuel path” Also right here in NY!

Over the last decade, there has been a staggering fall in the price of solar and wind power, and of the lithium-ion batteries used to store energy. This has led to rapid expansion of these technologies, even though they are still used much less than fossil fuels: in 2017, for instance, sun and wind produced just 6 percent of the world’s electric supply, but they made up 45 percent of the growth in supply, and the cost of sun and wind power continues to fall by about 20 percent with each doubling of capacity. Bond’s analysis suggests that in the next few years, they will represent all the growth. We will then reach peak use of fossil fuels, not because we’re running out of them but because renewables will have become so cheap that anyone needing a new energy supply will likely turn to solar or wind power.…—Bill McKibben, “A Future Without Fossil Fuels?The New York Review of Books, 4/4/19

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Manager of Cayuga Biofuel Facility Says He Quit
After Being ‘Strong-Armed’ to Accept Illicit Waste

Manager of Cayuga Biofuel Facility Says He Quit After Being ‘Strong-Armed’ to Accept Illicit Waste

AUBURN, Mar. 15, 2019 — The former manager of the Cayuga Regional Digester, which was designed to generate electric power from reprocessed farm manure and food wastes, said he quit in January because he felt he was being “strong-armed” to process truckloads of illicit types of waste.

“I ran a methane digester, and they were turning it into a waste operation,” said John Roser, who had managed the CH4 Generate Cayuga LLC facility for about two and half years.

Up until the final weeks of Roser’s tenure, the digester processed manure from local farms and “source-separated organics,” including food wastes from hospitals and cafeterias, he said.

Then in early January it began accepting truckloads of household waste and other items not allowed under its permit from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, he added.

“They brought in a couple of sample loads and I said, ‘No way.’ I kept telling them, ‘No No No,’ and they kept bringing it in. I said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m not going to be doing this for you anymore,’” Roser said in an interview Wednesday.…—Peter Mantius, “Manager of Cayuga Biofuel Facility Says He Quit After Being ‘Strong-Armed’ to Accept Illicit Waste,” Water Front, 2/15/19

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Comptroller Stringer, elected officials
join New Yorkers;
call on Governor Cuomo and DEC
to stop Williams fracked gas pipeline


Photo credit: Maria Ziesche

New York, New York —60 New York City area elected officials have signed on to a letter opposing the Williams Northeast Supply Enhancement (NESE) fracked gas pipeline. Many of them, including NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, joined New Yorkers and youth climate strikers on the steps of City Hall Friday morning to call on Governor Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to stop the controversial pipeline.

“We can’t claim to be fighting climate change while also building new fossil fuel infrastructure,” said NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer. The Williams pipeline is a symbol of a failed status quo. It’s time for change.

The project, which would include a 23-mile-long pipeline that would run from New Jersey out into New York Harbor, passing a mile and a half from Staten Island and connecting to an existing pipeline less than four miles off of Rockaway Beach, would deliver fracked gas from Pennsylvania to New York City.

New Yorkers packed three public hearings and have submitted thousands of comments to the DEC opposing the pipeline citing threats to local communities, marine life and the climate. More than 14,400 people have signed a petition calling on Gov. Cuomo to deny the pipeline, along with over 200 New York organizations.

“We need Governor Cuomo to show the same bold leadership the New York City elected officials opposing the Williams Pipeline have shown,” said an organizer with Sane Energy Project. “It’s not enough to say you believe in climate change. If Governor Cuomo is serious about a Green New Deal for New York he must reject the Williams NESE fracked gas pipeline.”

The DEC has until May 16 to deny, approve or delay necessary permits for Williams to begin construction on the pipeline. This comes ahead of an anticipated report dropping next Tuesday showing lack of demand for the unnecessary and toxic Williams pipeline, and before next Wednesday’s massive #GreenNewDeal4NY Accountability Forum

“I stand with my fellow New Yorkers in opposing the Williams Pipeline, because adding this 23-mile fracked gas pipeline is an unacceptable risk that could contaminate our communities and marine life with toxic chemicals like arsenic, dioxin, and PCB’s,” said Assemblymember Ron Kim. “We have reached a critical moment in our country, and New York should be taking the lead in fighting climate change and greatly expanding our renewable energy usage. This project is a step backwards in the wrong direction, and will greatly harm the health and well-being of countless neighborhoods in our community.”

“The Williams Pipeline is dangerous. We are at a tipping point – our environment is fragile and, frankly, in a perilous state. Now is not the time to build out dirty and dangerous infrastructure that will keep us hooked on fracked gas for years to come,” added Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal.

“The Williams Pipeline works against the need to convert to renewable energy sources,” said Assemblymember Felix Ortiz. “We have seen the destruction caused by changing weather patterns. There are already enough health problems and a weakened environment caused by our reliance on fossil fuel byproducts.”

“Fracked gas shouldn’t be treated like a bridge when we have a clear path to renewable energy now,” said Council Member Costa Constantinides, Chair, NYC Council on Environmental Protection.…—Lee Ziesche, “Comptroller Stringer, elected officials join New Yorkers to ,call on Governor Cuomo and DEC to stop Williams fracked gas pipeline,” SaneEnergy Project, 3/15/19

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Yates County sends messages to N.Y. state officials:
No Incinerator!

Yates County sends messages to N.Y. state officials

PENN YAN — Yates County Legislators are sending messages to state lawmakers about landfills, the state budget, and funding for voting reforms.

At the March 11 legislature meeting, the local county elected officials unanimously approved a resolution supporting the Finger Community Preservation Act (Senate Bill S2270 and Assembly Bill 5029). The legislation would prohibit construction of trash incinerators in the Finger Lakes Watershed, squashing Circular
enerG’s proposal to build one of the state’s largest waste incinerators at the former Seneca Army Depot on the east side of Seneca Lake.

The county resolution says, in part, “Siting a trash incinerator in the Finger Lakes region, with the associated adverse impacts of air and ash pollution, additional traffic on public roads, damage to the local tourism, winery, and agriculture industries, as well as the lakes and farmland throughout the area, will significantly affect the thriving agriculture-tourism region.”

The resolution points out that three of the largest landfills in New York State are now located in the Finger Lakes Region, importing more than 3 million tons of trash annually.

The facility would be constructed between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes, 3,200 feet from a K-12 school and near a residential facility for at risk youth. The Seneca Army Depot is also home to nesting bald eagles and the largest white deer population in the world.

Further reading: Bill banning garbage incinerators in the Finger Lakes passes state Assembly

If built, the facility would include a 260-foot smoke stack that could be seen for miles, producing toxic emissions and residual ash that contain dioxins, lead, mercury, and other toxic chemicals that are harmful to the health of humans, plants and animals.

A Seneca Lake advocacy group, Seneca Lake Guardian, says the Finger Lakes region faces a lengthy, costly Article 10 process that removes local control of decision-making over the project unless the Senate and Assembly bills are passed.…—Gwen Chamberlain, “Yates County sends messages to N.Y. state officials,” Penn Yan Chronicle-Express, 3/13/19

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Help upgrade our Suwannee River Basins in Georgia

We asked the state of Georgia to upgrade our main Suwannee River Basin rivers (and some lakes and swamps) from their current lowest water quality classification as Fishing to what they really are: Recreational Use. You can help!

Click for full view

Every three years, federal law requires each state to review its water quality standards. 2019 is such a year for Georgia, so the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (GA-EPD) is conducting a Triennial Review. The request WWALS sent to GA-EPD, background, and their response are all on the WWALS website. Our request was rather long, with 23 pages asking for reclassification of the Suwannee River, the Okefenokee Swamp, the Alapaha River, Lake Irma, Banks Lake, Grand Bay, the Withlacoochee River, the Little River, and Reed Bingham State Park Lake, all from Fishing to Recreational Use. The WWALS cover letter is included at the end of this blog post. For the rest, see the WWALS website.

The response thus far from GA-EPD has some good news:

Reed Bingham Lake* — Recreation (*This is already recreation in the rules, so let’s check this off as completed. I know that we phrase things in a confusing way, so if I can help with interpretation please reach out.)

So we already have one reclassified before we even asked!

For the others, Victoria Adams of GA-EPD wrote:

Currently, I am building stakeholder email groups by subject/comment; if there are stakeholders that you know of that would like to be included in the discussions on these water bodies, please let me know. For this list I already have your groups as well as Georgia River Network and Georgia Beer Company. Next, I will be looking at our current water quality data, as well as existing permitted facilities for each of these water bodies. After that, I will contact the email group to set up a meeting to discuss.

Yes, Georgia River Network and all the other eight Riverkeepers of Georgia are also asking for such river upgrades.

It’s probably obvious that better water quality standards for our rivers in Georgia will also help people downstream in Florida. She also did not indicate any geographical restrictions on stakeholders. If you live in Florida or elsewhere but paddle or otherwise use Suwannee River Basin rivers or lakes or swamps in Georgia for recreation, you can help along with people who live in Georgia.…—John S. Quarterman, “Help upgrade our Suwannee River Basins in Georgia,” WWALS Watershed Coalition, 3/14/19

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Global Climate Strike!
You Left the Burden of Climate Change
to Us

From Sweden to India, school climate strikes have gone global

From Sweden to India, school climate strikes have gone global

An estimated 1.5 million school students worldwide turned their back on lessons last week to stage the biggest wave of climate strikes since the protests began.

The climate strike movement was inspired by Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old Swedish climate activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee. Last year, she announced she would go on strike every Friday until the government in Stockholm took steps to guard against climate change.

Her uncompromising speech at January’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos catapulted her and the movement into the global spotlight: “I often hear adults say: ‘We need to give the next generation hope’,” she said. “But I don’t want your hope. I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I do. Every day. And want you to act. I want you to behave like our house is on fire. Because it is.”

From Sweden to Australia, from the USA to India, strikes took place in more than 2,000 cities across more than 100 countries. Many parents and even schools have given their support to the strikers, along with organizations like Greenpeace and public figures such as US Senator Bernie Sanders. But the reaction hasn’t been unanimously positive.

The strikers are calling for a global state of climate emergency to be declared and for the views of younger people to be properly listened to by governments.

The financial costs of climate change are already being felt. Between now and the end of the century, an estimated $43 trillion of losses could be generated by climate change and extreme weather events. Climate change is also contributing to a loss of biodiversity, which is putting global food production in jeopardy…—Sean Fleming, “School climate strikes have gone global,” World Economic Forum, 3/18/19

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School Strike for Climate: What Today’s Kids Face
If World Leaders Delay Action

School Strike for Climate: What Today’s Kids Face If World Leaders Delay Action

Scientists were warning about the risks of climate change and the burning of fossil fuels when today’s world leaders were Greta Thunberg’s age.

The Swedish 16-year-old, frustrated with the pace of government action to deal with climate change, launched a “school strike for climate” last year. It set off an international youth movement that is drawing attention to the growing risks for their generation as global temperatures continue to rise.

“People always tell us that they are so hopeful. They are hopeful that the young people are going to save the world, but we are not. There is simply not enough time to wait for us to grow up and become the ones in charge,” Thunberg told the European Economic Social Committee in one of several speeches she has given to government and business leaders in recent months.

On March 15, young people in over 100 countries planned to hold school strikes calling for action on climate change. These charts help explain why.

Click for full view

CHART 2: https://insideclimatenews.org/sites/default/files/styles/icn_centered_medium/public/image_large/School-Strike-Climate-Futures-529px.png?itok=sgckRuEy

Click for full view

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U.S. government understood climate risks in 1970s

U.S. government understood climate risks in 1970s, documents show

A series of newly discovered documents clarify the extent to which the U.S. government, its advisory committees and the fossil fuel industry have understood for decades the impact carbon dioxide emissions would have on the planet.

The documents obtained by Climate Liability News show how much the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an oil and natural gas advisory committee to the Secretary of Energy, knew about climate change as far back as the 1970s. A series of reports illuminate the findings of government-contracted research that outlined the dangers associated with increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere.

They also shed light on how this advisory group to the federal government understood the fossil fuel industry’s contributions to climate change, and unveil the strategies it used to downplay the industry’s role.

“These documents reaffirm that, to one extent or another, the fossil fuel industry as a whole has known for decades about the basics of climate change and its implications. But rather than warning the public and taking action, many of them turned around and orchestrated anti-science, anti-policy denial campaigns dwarfing even those of Big Tobacco,” said Geoffrey Supran, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard who has extensively studied those denial campaigns.

Further reading: Losing Earth: The Decade We Almost Stopped Climate Change

Many of the documents were compiled by Hugh MacMillan, then a senior researcher on water, energy and climate issues for Food & Water Watch, an environmental nonprofit. He was preparing to file a public comment to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in response to the Trump Administration’s plan to replace the Clean Power Plan. MacMillan compiled archived NPC reports published on the organization’s website, copies of federal laboratory findings on climate change, which were published in scientific journals, and a book that documented the history of the NPC. MacMillan shared those documents with CLN.

“I wanted to educate myself on the evolution of rhetoric on climate change within the federal energy policy making apparatus. The archived NPC reports chronicle that evolution—from early acknowledgment of the potential for an ecological crisis, to acceptance of the notion of carbon budgets, to deploying de-regulation in the decades since,” said MacMillan, who no longer works for Food & Water Watch.

According to Supran and other experts, the documents are an important step in explaining what fossil fuel companies knew and how long ago they knew it, a critical element in any attempt to hold oil companies accountable in climate liability lawsuits.

“This illustrates that the National Petroleum Council’s failure to advocate for bold government action to avoid the worst effects of climate change and to facilitate a transition to a low-carbon economy hasn’t been based on ignorance of the problem,” said Kathy Mulvey, accountability campaign director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ climate & energy program.…—”U.S. government understood climate risks in 1970s, documents show,” Climate Liability News, 3/18/19

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UK fracking policy ruled illegal
for ignoring climate impacts

UK fracking policy ruled illegal for ignoring climate impacts

United Kingdom authorities must take climate change objections into account when approving local fracking licenses, the High Court of England and Wales has ruled.

The decision, handed down on Thursday, means the government will also have to redraw its national policy on shale gas extraction to take into account the latest scientific evidence on climate change.

The case was brought by the advocacy group Talk Fracking, which challenged the government’s update of its shale gas planning policy in 2018. Talk Fracking said the government had not properly consulted the public when rewriting the policy. The High Court heard the case in London in December.

The UK government has long positioned fracking as a way to transition to low-carbon energy, saying it will help wean the country off higher-carbon fuel sources such as coal and help meet national climate targets. It also sees fracking as a means of boosting domestic energy security by reducing gas imports.

The latest ruling is important because it recognizes climate change as an issue at a local level, which is likely to give heart to other anti-fracking campaigners in the UK, where fracking already has little public support.

“I’m very pleased that the court has confirmed that the government has behaved irresponsibly and recklessly with our democratic rulebook,” said Joe Corré of Talk Fracking. “It is also clear, with guidance from the court, that climate change objections to fracking must be considered at a local planning level.”…—Isabella Kaminski, “UK fracking policy ruled illegal for ignoring climate impacts,” Climate Liability News, 3/8/19

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N.H. town passes law recognizing right
to a healthy climate

N.H. town passes law recognizing right to a healthy climate

The town of Exeter, N.H. passed an ordinance recognizing the right to a healthy climate, the second ordinance of its kind to be passed in the U.S,.

The law, dubbed the Right to Healthy Climate Ordinance, recognizes the “right to a healthy climate system capable of sustaining human societies.” Exeter residents voted 1176 to 1007 to pass the ordinance at the annual town meeting on Tuesday.

It follows a similar law passed by the town of Lafayette, Colo., which enacted a “Climate Bill of Rights” ordinance in 2017. These local right-to-climate laws are part of a growing movement by communities across the country to ban corporate activities that threaten residents’ health, safety and welfare. With assistance from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), more than 200 communities have passed community rights ordinances securing rights to water, a healthy environment, sustainable energy and other issues. They prohibit an array of industrial activities from factory farms and dumping of sewage sludge to fracking and building fossil fuel pipelines.

Exeter, home to about 15,000 residents, is one of eight towns in New Hampshire fighting a proposed pipeline project that would transport fracked gas across the Piscataqua River Watershed, an ecosystem that hundreds of thousands of people and countless species depend upon for clean air and water. The 27-mile Granite Bridge pipeline, a project of Liberty Utility, is not specifically mentioned in Exeter’s ordinance, which instead asserts the broader right to “be free from all corporate activities that release toxic contaminants into the air, water, and soil,” including from fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure.

“Our right to a healthy climate is an unalienable right. Any new energy infrastructure in our town must align with that right. We live here, and what we envision for our community comes before what any project developer and state government envision if it threatens our rights,” said Maura Fay, co-founder of the community group Citizen Action for Exeter’s Environment.…—Dana Drugmand, “N.H. town passes law recognizing right to a healthy climate,” Climate Liability News, 3/14/19

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Indigenous people – best forest stewards?

Indigenous people – best forest stewards? » Yale Climate Connections

One study found that granting forest property rights to indigenous inhabitants significantly reduced logging.

Cutting down trees leads to more carbon in the atmosphere – and it’s happening at an alarming rate. In 2017 alone, tropical forests lost 39 million acres – that’s larger than the state of Georgia.

Seymour: “If tropical deforestation were a country, it would rank third after China and the United States as a source of emissions.”

Frances Seymour of the World Resources Institute says deforestation is not only a climate issue. Forests are important sources of food, fuel, and medicine for people around the world.

Seymour: “They’re also a source of cultural identity and livelihood for the indigenous peoples who inhabit those forests, and it turns out, are the best stewards of those forests. I mean, you can look at the maps and see that where there are tropical forests remaining, you know, there’s a good chance that indigenous peoples are present there.”

Seymour says when countries give indigenous people more control over land, deforestation slows.

A study in the Peruvian Amazon found that granting forest property rights to indigenous communities reduced tree clearing by more than three-quarters.

So Seymour says protecting indigenous land rights and tropical forests go hand in hand.…—Sarah Kennedy, “Indigenous people – best forest stewards?Yale Climate Connections|ChavoBart Digital Media, 3/12/19

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‘I Wouldn’t Be Anywhere Else’: Students
Around the World Strike for the Climate

‘I Wouldn’t Be Anywhere Else’: Students Around the World Strike for the Climate

On March 15 droves of students around the world walked out of school to protest politicians’ inaction on climate change, with approximately one million people participating in the strikes, according to organizers. From Sydney to Stockholm, students had planned more than 1,600 school strikes in over 100 countries, inspired by the weekly Friday climate protests of Swedish student Greta Thunberg.

And in New Orleans, Louisiana, a small but resolute group of students and supporters gathered a few blocks from Lusher Middle and High School, on St. Charles Avenue, one of the city’s most famous thoroughfares, to confront their state’s heightened urgency to stop climate change or face losing the land they are standing on.

Further reading: Trump Budget for Renewables Slashed 70% Under Former Koch Insider’s Leadership

The handful of students, in a group of about 20 in all, ranged from pre-Kindergarten to college.

This strike is to help stop climate change from turning into something disastrous – it’s not too late turn back,” 14-year-old Angelika S. from Oakland, California

Berelian Karimian, a 14-year-old ninth grader who attends Lusher, felt compelled to follow Greta Thunberg and set up the strike in New Orleans. She was joined by fellow Lusher student, Hector Alda, 15. Despite the low turnout, they were energized by the protest.

Though only two from Lusher turned up, neither was disappointed that others from their school didn’t join in. Their classmates have exams this week, and the principal wasn’t on board with students walking out.

I hope this raises awareness,” Karimian said. “I wouldn’t be anywhere else.”

Those who did gather were painfully aware of the state’s ever-present juxtaposition: Its long reliance on the fossil fuel industry and its vulnerable position in the crosshairs of climate change.

Battered by storms, historic flooding, heat waves, and sea level rise coupled with coastal erosion worsened by global warming, Louisiana students at this point are familiar with the impacts of climate change on a personal level. For example, New Orleanians live with the threat of forced evacuation during hurricane season. Meanwhile, their various politicians have spouted climate science denial talking points, embraced the 2015 Paris climate agreement, and embraced the expansion of the oil, gas, and petrochemical industries in Louisiana.…—Julie Dermansky, “New Orleans Student on Global Climate Strike: ‘I Wouldn’t Be Anywhere Else’,” DeSmogBlog, 31519

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Energy Execs’ Tone on Climate Changing,
But They Still See a Long Fossil Future

Energy Execs’ Tone on Climate Changing, But They Still See a Long Fossil Future

The contradiction was evident at a major energy conference as some oil executives talked of a need to reinvent the industry as the world turns to cleaner energy.

HOUSTON — A week-long energy industry conference that came to a close on Friday revealed an oil and gas industry in the midst of a working contradiction.

In speeches that would have been unimaginable just a few years ago, executives from some of the world’s largest oil companies said the future is low-carbon and the industry needs to reinvent itself or risk becoming irrelevant as the world turns to cleaner energy.

Yet at the same time, their peers talked about a future where oil and gas demand would remain strong for decades. They spoke of natural gas not as a bridge to some fossil-fuel-free world but as a “forever fuel.”

Further reading Shell urges Trump White House to tighten methane leak rules
Shell faces lawsuit in the Netherlands, a new legal front in climate battle

The public debate highlighted the gap between a stated desire to become part of a climate solution and the reality of a booming oil and gas industry that remains the biggest part of the greenhouse gas problem.…—Nicholas Kusnetz, “Energy Execs’ Tone on Climate Changing, But They Still See a Long Fossil Future,” InsideClimate News, 3/18/19

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Civil Disobedience to Stop Ecocide

On Contact: Civil Disobedience to Stop Ecocide

Some environmental activists argue the only way to stop the impending ecocide is to carry out nonviolent acts of civil disobedience to shut down the capitals of the major industrial countries, crippling commerce and transportation until the ruling elites are forced to publicly state the truth about climate catastrophe, implement radical measure to halt carbon emissions by 2025, and empower an independent citizens committee to oversee the termination of our 150-year binge on fossil fuels.

The British-based group Extinction Rebellion has called for nonviolent acts of civil disobedience on April 15 in capitals around the world to reverse our “one-way track to extinction.” Joining Chris Hedges in a two-part discussion from London is Roger Hallam, the co-founder of Extinction Rebellion.——Roger Hallam, Chris Hedges, “Civil Disobedience to Stop Ecocide,” RT: On Contact|YouTube, 3/9/19

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We’re Living in the Warmest Decade
Since Record-Keeping Began

We’re Living in the Warmest Decade Since Record-Keeping Began

We’re Living in the Warmest Decade Since Record-Keeping Began

Some people are in an outright panic. Some are in full-blown denial. Indeed, human responses to runaway climate disruption are spanning the spectrum. From profiteers plugging books containing “solutions” to geoengineering attempts like this one “blocking out the sun,” many are understandably anxious to move forward with a plan.

However, this is also an important time to pause, take some deep breaths, and reconnect with the Earth to listen for each of our personal callings as to how to be — and then, what to do — during this time of crisis. Fear and panic are not going to take us where we need or want to go.

I see fear responses resulting from the fact that the gravity of our situation is sinking in now to larger swaths of the general population.

2018 was the fourth warmest year ever recorded, with the only warmer years being 2015, 2016 and 2017.

On top of that, the Met Office reported that we are currently in the middle of what is likely to be the warmest decade since record keeping began, so expect more “record warmest” years in the near future.

A recent report warned that if current climate disruption trends continue (and there is no reason to believe they will lessen) the Himalayas could lose most of their glaciers by 2100 as they warm up by 8 degrees Fahrenheit (8°F). This would bring radical disruptions to food and water supplies for upwards of 1.5 billion people, in addition to a mass migration crisis.

On that note, as 2 billion people around the globe rely on groundwater aquifers for their freshwater, another study showed that climate disruption has placed nearly half of the groundwater of Earth in danger. Climate disruption is shifting rainfall and will make it harder for 44 percent of Earth’s aquifers to recharge.…—Dahr Jamail, “We’re Living in the Warmest Decade Since Record-Keeping Began,” Truthout, 3/12/19

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Focus on the Emitters

Kevin Anderson – Focus on the Emitters

Got a minute? That’s all it takes Kevin Anderson, Deputy Director of the Tyndall Center for Climate Change Research, to get right to the point. We need to focus policies on curbing the emissions of the wealthiest members of society, and he sizes the benefits to humanity of adjusting the patterns of this small percentage of humanity.—Kevin Anderson, “Focus on the Emitters,” UPFSI|YouTube, 3/9/19

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Trump EPA Science Advisers Push Doubt
About Air Pollution Health Risks

Trump EPA Science Advisers Push Doubt About Air Pollution Health Risks

The new advisers include industry allies and consultants with ties to the fossil fuel, tobacco and chemical industries.

For two years, the Trump administration has been planting seeds of change in the Environmental Protection Agency—installing allies of regulated industries onto its elite panels of science advisers. That effort now has borne fruit in dramatic fashion.

The EPA’s new science advisers, sweeping aside decades of research on the grave health risks of fine particle air pollution, have launched a drive to force the agency to give greater weight to a handful of contrarian studies that dispute the harmful effects of soot.

Particulate matter is the pollution caused by combustion, a mixture of solid and liquid droplets that forms in the burning of fossil fuels or wood. The health risks of particulate matter have been an underpinning of the EPA’s cost-benefit analysis of a number of air pollution regulations, including those meant to address climate change, like the Obama administration’s Clean Air Act.

The science is well-established—the World Health Organization estimates that there are 4.2 million premature deaths a year due to fine particle pollution, making it one of the leading environmental health risks globally. But allies of the fossil fuel industry have vigorously disputed the validity of fine particle pollution studies since they first emerged in the 1990s.

Significantly, the health damages from particle and other pollution coming from the combustion of fossil fuels have also been used by the EPA to justify controls on carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas. Controlling climate change has important co-benefits, the agency has reasoned. The Trump administration and its industry allies oppose this logic.

More Weight for ‘Discordant’ Claims?

…Now, in a harshly worded draft review, the Trump administration’s science advisors are blasting those findings as based on “unverifiable opinions” and lacking in scientific support.

The advisers are members of a seven-member panel called the Clean Air Science Advisory Committee. Although it is clear the members are not unified in their critique—individual members attached separate letters—the document calls for “substantial revisions” to EPA’s assessment of PM, including giving more weight to what it called the “discordant” evidence among the 2,800 published studies cited in the EPA’s 1,900-page science assessment.…

When asked for comment on the critique, a spokesperson for the EPA said by email: “We appreciate the work of the CASAC and we will review the report.”…—Marianne Lavelle, “Trump EPA Science Advisers Push Doubt About Air Pollution Health Risks,” InsideClimate News, 3/15/19

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And That’s A Wrap! Thanks to everyone who sent in news, action announcements and comments this week. Send kudos, rotten tomatoes and your story ideas, your group’s action events, and news of interest to intrepid climate change and environmental justice warriors! Send to editor@thebanner.news.