May 28, 2019
Last Friday, hundreds of thousands marched around the world to wake our leaders up to climate change.They skipped school to do that, asking ‘why do you want me in school if you are unwilling to create a world I can live in?’ Good question. This week we explore adult responses, some creative, some from hardened minds.
But first the news.

Action Alert! Albany Loop/ E37 Fracked Gas Pipeline Proposal Public Forum

Wednesday, June 12, 2019 at 7 PM – 8:30 PM
East Greenbush Public Library
10 Community Way
East Greenbush, NY 12061-3918, United States
Hosted by Stop NY Fracked Gas Pipeline

National Grid has recently proposed to build a new fracked gas pipeline called “E37 Reliability and Resiliency Pipeline”. It would traverse Bethlehem, East and North Greenbush, NY.

They have inadequately documented this need and they have not seriously analyzed non-pipeline alternatives to meet our twenty-first century energy needs. They are blindly following an old path to planetary ruin by using last century’s technologies.

If we continue to build fossil fuel infrastructure, there is no incentive to find alternatives. Fossil fuels are causing climate change that endangers the future of our planet, so we have to find alternatives quickly.

The NY State mandated goal of 100% clean power by 2040 can not be met if we continue to build fossil fuel infrastructure. New pipelines will last approximately 50 years and will likely become “stranded assets” before then.

Click for full size map

By paying for a new pipeline with our rate payer money, there is not enough incentive for National Grid to find alternatives.
Why not use the rate hike money on our electric bill to incentivize the use of geothermal heating and cooling for new growth and also better credit entities to not use gas or to use less gas on the few “peak energy” days each year? Such actions are referred to as “demand response” reduction.

Energy users should seek out ways to have a back up energy source, including battery storage, and to conserve and become more efficient with their energy consumption.This will mitigate, if not eliminate, the worry about “peak energy” periods.

The New York State Public Service Commission (PSC), which is the lead agency herein, needs to pressure National Grid to look at demand-response, non-pipe energy alternatives (not including CNG tractor-trailers or CNG storage).

In Westchester County, NY the PSC  told National Grid to use renewables instead of building any new pipelines. The same should be done with this new Albany Loop/E37 fracked gas pipeline proposal.

If our country was at war, we would ask our citizens to make sacrifices for our national interests. We believe it is time to ask people to make creative choices to ensure the continuation of a sustainable environment.

For more info see our Facebook event page Albany Loop/E37 Fracked Gas Pipeline Proposal Public Forum or visit http://www.caseonline.org

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Action Alert! NoNAPL Sit Stand Sing: Join us June 2nd!


Despite NYSDEC’s denial of the Northern Access Pipeline Project, National Fuel continues attempts to move ahead. As they PERSIST, NoNAPL Coalition will RESIST from the fracking fields in PA and northward through Western NY. We are excited to now team up with Sane Energy and 350.org as part of their state-wide tour.

The NoNAPL COALITION
is teaming up with 350.org and SaneEnergy to host a
One Day Workshop/Training Event

Please Join Us for
SIT-STAND-SING

the many roles of non-violent direct action

Sunday June 2nd, 2019

11am – 4pm
Springville, NY

RSVP HERE FOR SIT-STAND-SING NoNAPL Event

Throughout May and June 2019, Sane Energy Project and 350.org will travel across New York on the ‘Sit, Stand Sing’ Tour. Our NoNAPL Coalition is excited to be one of  the first stops on this statewide tour. Please join us!

This tour is a collaboration with communities featured on the You Are Here map of fracking infrastructure. Each tour stop entails trainings on organizing skills like strategy, direct action and movement building;

The goal is to connect communities across the state to build the sustainable and renewable world we know is possible.

For more info: Sierra Club Niagara Group niagarasierra@gmail.com

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Keeping the Faith: Environmental activist Oren Lyons
continues quest for climate change, indigenous rights

Keeping the Faith: Environmental activist Oren Lyons continues quest for climate change, indigenous rights

At 89, Oren Lyons acknowledges he’s slowing down. A recent back operation “took me off the dance floor and off the lacrosse field,” the Onondaga Nation faith-keeper and internationally renowned advocate for indigenous rights and environmental stewardship said. For decades Lyons has acted as the world’s conscience — or scold, depending on your perspective — advocating an ethic of peace, equality and respect for the world’s resources.

He grew up on the Onondaga Nation, where he, his brothers and friends spent entire days running among the trees. “The whole territory was our playground,” he recalled. “There was a lot of open land. There were big fields of corn and potatoes and beans and squash. Those were fundamental foods.”

Onondaga Creek “was loaded with fish,” he said. “The water was clear. You could see right to the bottom. That same crick, you can’t see 1 inch now. It’s all polluted from the mining in Tully.”

He reminisced about his life in a Syracuse New Times interview Sunday, May 19, in the Presidential Suite at the Syracuse Marriott Downtown before a gala celebrating his life. The crowd of about 400 included members of several Native communities, people from Central New York and visitors from as far away as Sweden. Some guests dressed casually; others wore sequined dresses, tuxes or full Native regalia.…

Tributes highlighted Lyons’ intertwined passions: the game of lacrosse both as a sport and a metaphor for the sovereignty and survival of the Iroquois Nation. He was an All-American lacrosse goalie, leading SU to a perfect record in 1957. He has addressed the United Nations many times and played central roles in numerous high-profile Native-rights events, including the 1972 Trail of Broken Treaties caravan that sought to bring national attention to Native American issues; the 1973 Wounded Knee, South Dakota, occupation; and the 1990 land-use dispute at Oka, Quebec.

Gala speakers addressed seven topics — echoing the Iroquois concept of taking actions that will benefit seven generations — that represent Lyons’ life: environmental, global leadership, lacrosse, faith-keeper role, indigenous rights and the United Nations. None of the speakers stuck to the three-minute limit.…—Renée K. Gadoua, “Keeping the Faith: Environmental activist Oren Lyons continues quest for climate change, indigenous rights,” Syracuse New Times, 5/22/19

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Cuomo Signs Law Banning Garbage Incinerators in Finger Lakes

Cuomo Signs Into Law Bill That Bans Garbage Incinerators in Finger Lakes

ALBANY, May 24, 2019 — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo today signed into law a bill that bans development of new garbage incinerators in the Finger Lakes region, blocking a plan to build a proposed $365 million facility in Romulus.

The bill had passed unanimously in both the state Senate and state Assembly more than two months ago.

“The Finger Lakes region remains one of New York’s must-see destinations with some of the most beautiful natural resources in the world. It is crucial that we protect it,” Cuomo said. “We are not willing to put the region’s economy, public health and quality of life at risk.”

The bill, A5029a, is a variation on a bill introduced last year, which died after Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie declined to call a floor vote in that chamber even though the bill had previously passed the state Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support.

“With the Finger Lakes Community Preservation Act becoming law, communities should now be able to refocus their energies on growing the Finger Lakes economy without the looming fear of an environmental or economic disruption,” said Joseph Campbell, president of Seneca Lake Guardian, which spearheaded opposition to proposed Romulus project.

Circular enerG LLC of Rochester had announced plans in November 2017 to develop the state’s largest trash burner on the former Seneca Army Depot property. It stated its intent to obtain operating permits under Article 10 of state Public Service Law.…—Peter Mantius, “Cuomo Signs Into Law Bill That Bans Garbage Incinerators in Finger Lakes,” Water Front, 5/25/19

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Frackers Are Suing To Silence Ray Kemble.
We’re Standing By Him.

Frackers Are Suing To Silence Ray Kemble. We’re Standing By Him.

Scott Edwards, Director of Food & Water Justice (the legal division of Food & Water Watch/Action) explains how Cabot Oil & Gas is using the court system to try to shut down those discussing the dangers of fracking.

Shady tactics to silence critics are common for frackers. But Cabot Oil & Gas has sunk to a new low in suing Ray Kemble.

Ray Kemble, a man in the middle of the fracking fight in Dimock, Pennsylvania, has a right to speak out about the dangers of fracking. But Cabot Oil & Gas is trying to silence him and threatening Food & Water Watch, too. Ray has been a powerful partner in our fight to ban fracking everywhere, and we’re supporting him through this fight.

Scott Edwards is the Director of Food & Water Justice, and he’s leading our effort to support Ray in his fight against Cabot. He’s not willing to let a dirty fossil fuel company get away with manipulating the legal system to bully people who just want clean water and a livable environment.

Cabot is trying to silence its critics by targeting Ray Kemble — a resident of Dimock, PA who just survived his fourth cancer surgery — with a $5 million lawsuit for speaking out about Cabot and fracking.

Further reading Cabot’s Sneaky Attack on Pennsylvania Cancer Survivor Reveals Dirty Agenda to Silence Environmentalists|EcoWatch
Donate to Take on Cabot Oil & Gas!|Food & Water Watch

Here are the details:

  • Back in 2012, Cabot settled a number of lawsuits brought by Dimock homeowners — including Ray — who claimed that the company had poisoned their groundwater, decreased their property values and threatened their health and safety.
  • Since then, Ray has fought alongside Food & Water Watch to demand an all-out ban on fracking — in Pennsylvania and everywhere.
  • Now Cabot’s lawyers are claiming that Ray violated a nondisclosure agreement he signed as a part of the settlement, because he has exercised his First Amendment right to warn others of the risks of fracking and encourage an end to this inherently harmful practice.—Wenonah Hauter, “Frackers Are Suing To Silence Ray Kemble. We’re Standing By Him.Food & Water Watch, 5/20/19

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Project Drawdown:
Events & Workshops in Upstate New York

How do we stay hopeful and engaged in the face of disturbing news about global warming?

One way is to focus on solutions and possibilities! 

Join the Rochester Pachamama Alliance Drawdown team as we explore options and consider how we can each be part of reversing global warming!

For more information: Sue Staropoli at suestar1@rochester.rr.com or 585-734-2816.

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Environmentalists protest expansion of compressor station

Environmentalists protest expansion of compressor station | Video | NJTV News

It started with singing and ended with two under arrest.

The protest was of the expansion of a compressor station in Roseland. It’s part of a larger gas pipeline expansion run by Williams Companies, an Oklahoma-based energy company.

Half a dozen people risking arrest today to protest construction of the Roseland fracked gas compressor station. If built, this project would double the gas going through a 60+ year old pipeline. Compressor stations emit benzene, formaldehyde, methane and cancer-causing chemicals. Governor Phil Murphy can stop construction of this polluting compressor station with a stroke of his pen.—Food & Water Watch New Jersey

Environmentalists gathered in a last-ditch effort to stop the expansion. They said it’s unnecessary because the current compressor is only operating at 10 percent and that it has the potential to harm surrounding wetlands and puts local residents’ health at risk with events like blowdowns.

“A blowdown is when, temporarily, they have to release all the pressure in this facility. So that means they’re releasing huge quantities of not only natural gas, but any chemical additives or other harmful gases that are in the facility,” said Matt Smith, organizer of Food and Water Watch.

Williams denies that saying, “There were no noxious gases released, only methane, which is a nontoxic and naturally occurring gas that is much lighter than air and dissipates into the atmosphere when vented.”

But Roseland resident Cassandra Worthington isn’t convinced.

“I have asthma, and since I moved here I’ve been having asthma attacks more than I’ve ever had in my whole life. This affects us personally. It affects the community, this affects our environment,” said Worthington, a Food and Water Watch volunteer.…—Joanna Gagis, “Environmentalists protest expansion of compressor station,” NJTV News, 5/22/19

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Virtual Pipelines:
A Dangerous New Way to Transport Fracked Gas

Virtual Pipelines: A Dangerous New Way to Transport Fracked Gas by Truck

For several years a mysterious fleet of tractor trailers loaded with natural gas cylinders has been crisscrossing U.S. roads, and in the dark early morning hours on Sunday, March 3, one drove off a highway near Cobleskill, New York, careened down an embankment, and flipped over. The driver had fallen asleep, according to a New York State police accident report, the truck was demolished, and “several tanks ruptured and were leaking” natural gas. Five nearby homes were evacuated.

For retired New York Department of Transportation commercial vehicle inspector Ron Barton, an alarm bell he had been ringing for months suddenly grew even more urgent. “This is a catastrophe waiting to happen,” says Barton.

The trucks are part of a little-known system of moving natural gas called “virtual pipelines.”

What Are Virtual Pipelines?

The practice involves loading cylinders filled with compressed natural gas (CNG) onto specially designed trucks and hauling the gas between existing pipelines or to areas not connected to a natural gas distribution system, such as rural towns, and remote factories, universities and hospitals.

Many environmental groups appear unaware of the topic, virtual pipelines have received virtually no national media attention, and some regulatory agencies seem unsure how to handle them.

The concept,” wrote Pennsylvania energy expert John Siggins in a 2016 report, “was born out of the lack of pipeline infrastructure in the New England area,” and a natural gas boom in nearby Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale play that lowered gas prices. “As the shale energy revolution took off,” wrote Siggins, “a system for off-pipeline natural gas deliveries became of interest.”

The 2016 report lists nine virtual pipeline companies, operating from Texas to Maine. Two of the most prominent companies are Xpress Natural Gas (XNG), based in Andover, Massachusetts, and Vermont-based NG Advantage.…—Justin Nobel, “Virtual Pipelines: A Dangerous New Way to Transport Fracked Gas by Truck,” DeSmogBlog, 5/21/19

[Editor’s note: William Huston of FrackBusters has been an early investigator of XNG, CNG truck accidents and the dangers of ‘bomb trucks’ and ‘virtual pipelines.’ His work is not credited in this story, but his photography is.]

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Pipeline Activists Challenge Louisiana Law That Criminalizes Protest

Pipeline Activists Challenge Louisiana Law That Criminalizes Protest

A new lawsuit could set an important precedent for activists fighting fossil fuels nationwide.

Last August, Water Protectors navigated their small boats through the winding bayous of Louisiana’s iconic Atchafalaya Basin to a small plot of land nestled in the swamp forest. They had received written permission from co-owners of the property to set up camp there in order protest pipeline construction, but construction crews had beaten them to it. By the time the activists arrived, ancient cypress trees had been turned into mulch to make way for the embattled Bayou Bridge Pipeline.

Over the next few weeks, about a dozen Water Protectors and one journalist were arrested by local sheriff’s deputies and state correctional officers moonlighting as private security guards during protests against pipeline construction on the private plot of land, according to a complaint filed in federal court this week. The activists were charged with felonies under a controversial state anti-trespassing law that had just gone into effect, and was, according to environmental groups, written to target anti-pipeline campaigns. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison.

However, co-owners of the land said that the protesters had permission to be there last summer, and it was the pipeline and the companies behind it that were guilty of trespassing. A state court agreed with the landowners in December 2018 and ruled that the pipeline companies indeed trespassed by starting construction without first receiving permission or legally “expropriating” the property under state eminent domain laws. By then, the arrests had already been made.

This week, environmental and civil liberties groups filed a lawsuit on behalf of a long list of landowners and activists that asks a federal court in Baton Rouge to declare Louisiana’s “anti-protest” pipeline trespassing law unconstitutional. The law expanded the definition of “critical infrastructure” in the state to include the oil-and-gas rich state’s vast 125,000-mile network of pipelines, making trespassing on or near them a felony rather than a misdemeanor.…—Mike Ludwig, “Pipeline Activists Challenge Louisiana Law That Criminalizes Protest,” Truthout, 5/24/19

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The human toll

The human toll | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Risk and exposure in the gas lands

There are high numbers of childhood cancers — some of them rare — in mostly rural areas of southwestern Pennsylvania, and no one knows why.

Most notably, the Canon-McMillan School District in Washington County has seen six rare Ewing sarcoma cases in a decade, including two diagnosed in 2018; only 250 cases are diagnosed each year in the U.S. And 10 other students and preschoolers currently living in the district have other types of cancers.

In addition, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has confirmed seven young cancer patients in recent years in and near the Fort Cherry School District, a smaller, rural school district next to Canon-McMillan. And over the past decade, as many as 12 students living in Bethlehem-Center School District in southern Washington County have had cancer.

Farther south, in Greene County, three students who lived in the West Greene School District have died from rare cancers since 2015; five students living in the Jefferson-Morgan School District have had cancer; and in the Carmichaels School District, there is a student with Ewing sarcoma and one with leukemia. A child with Burkitt’s lymphoma, a more aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma, lives in the Southeastern Greene School District, where 600 students are enrolled.

There are multiple childhood cancers in other school districts in Washington and Greene counties, and cases have been reported throughout Fayette County. The Post-Gazette analysis did not include cases of childhood cancer in Allegheny County.

Many parents, health advocates and public officials point to the proliferation of natural gas wells that have been drilled throughout these mostly rural counties over the last 15 years. Nearly 700 chemicals are used in fracking, which involves extracting oil and gas from rock by blasting chemicals, sand and water into drilled wells. Pollution emissions also occur through a network of pipes and other operations to process the oil or gas.

But so far no studies show a direct link between shale gas development and rare cancers.

“I think there are too many to be random,” said Carrie Simkovic of Jefferson Township, Greene County, founder of the Colby’s Stars Foundation Inc., which helps children and their families who are dealing with cancer. She started the foundation in 2011 after her son Colby was diagnosed in 2010, at age 8, with a rare nongerminomatous germ cell tumor of the brain. He’s now in full remission.…—David Templeton, Don Hopey, “The human toll,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/14/19

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Supporting the School Strike for Climate
We’re Stepping Up
Join Us for a Day to Halt This Climate Crisis

We’re Stepping Up – Join Us for a Day to Halt This Climate Crisis

n 20 September, at the request of the young people who have been staging school strikes around the world, we’re walking out of our workplaces and homes to spend the day demanding action on the climate crisis, the greatest existential threat that all of us face. It’s a one-day climate strike, if you will – and it will not be the last. This is going to be the beginning of a week of action all over the world. And we hope to make it a turning point in history.

We hope others will join us: that people will leave their offices, their farms, their factories; that candidates will step off the campaign trail and football stars will leave the pitch; that movie actors will scrub off their makeup and teachers lay down their chalk; that cooks will close their restaurants and bring meals to protests; that pensioners too will break their daily routines and join together in sending the one message our leaders must hear: day by day, a business as usual approach is destroying the chance for a healthy, safe future on our planet.

Further reading: Young people have led the climate strikes. Now we need adults to join us too

We are well aware that, by itself, this strike and a week of international climate action won’t change the course of events. The good news is that we have the technologies we need – the price of a solar panel has plunged 90% in the past decade. And we know the policies to make them work: all across the planet some version of a Green New Deal has been proposed, laws that would speedily replace fossil fuels with the power of sun and wind, along the way providing good jobs and stabilising strong local economies. We salute the people – many of them young – working hard to pass those measures against the entrenched opposition of the fossil fuel industry.

The September day of global action is designed to support those people. We hope all kinds of environmental, public health, social justice and development groups will join in, but our greatest hope is simply to show that those working on this crisis have the backing of millions of human beings who harbour a growing dread about our environmental plight but who have so far stayed mostly on the sidelines. It may take a few attempts to get those kind of numbers in the streets, but we don’t have too long: our window for effective climate action is closing fast.

We know not everyone can join us. On a grossly unequal planet, some people literally can’t do without a single day’s pay, or they work for bosses who would fire them if they dared try. And some jobs simply can’t stop: emergency room doctors should keep at their tasks. But many of us can put off for 24 hours our usual day to day routine, confident it will be there when we return. We hope some people will spend the day in protest: against new pipelines, or the banks that fund them; against the oil companies and the politicians that spread their lies. We hope others will spend the day putting insulation in the walls of their neighbours’ homes, or building cycle paths. We hope everyone will take at least a few minutes in a city park or a farm field or on the roof of their apartment to simply soak in the beauty of the world it’s our privilege to protect.…—Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben, “We’re Stepping Up – Join Us for a Day to Halt This Climate Crisis,” Reader Supported News, 5/25/19

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What if we covered the climate crisis
like we did the start of the second world war?

What if we covered the climate crisis like we did the start of the second world war? | Bill Moyers

Today marks the official launch of Covering Climate Now, a project co-sponsored by The Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation. Joined by The Guardian and others partners to be announced, Covering Climate Now will bring journalists and news outlets together to dramatically improve how the media as a whole covers the climate crisis and its solutions.

The following is an abridged version of the conference keynote speech by iconic TV newsman Bill Moyers, as prepared for delivery. A video version of the speech is available here. See here for more about the Covering Climate Now project.

I have been asked to bring this gathering to a close by summing up how we can do better at covering the possible “collapse of our civilizations and the extinction of much of the natural world,” to quote the noted environmentalist David Attenborough, speaking at the recent United Nations climate summit in Poland.

I don’t come with a silver bullet. And I’m no expert on the topic. Like you, I am just a journalist whose craft calls for us to explain things we don’t understand. There’s so much I don’t understand that journalism became my continuing course in adult education. The subjects were so fascinating, and the work so fulfilling, that I kept at it “full speed ahead” for half a century, until two years ago, at the age of 83, I yielded finally to the side effects of a long life and retired (more or less). This is the first opportunity I have had since then to be with so many kindred spirits of journalism, and the camaraderie reminds me how much I have missed your company.

Many of us have recognized that our coverage of global warming has fallen short. There’s been some excellent reporting by independent journalists and by enterprising reporters and photographers from legacy newspapers and other news outlets. But the Goliaths of the US news media, those with the biggest amplifiers—the corporate broadcast networks—have been shamelessly AWOL, despite their extraordinary profits. The combined coverage of climate change by the three major networks and Fox fell from just 260 minutes in 2017 to a mere 142 minutes in 2018—a drop of 45%, reported the watchdog group Media Matters.…—Bill Moyers, “What if we covered the climate crisis like we did the start of the second world war?The Guardian, 5/22/19

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One of the largest environmental protests ever is underway.
It’s led by children.

One of the largest environmental protests ever is underway. It’s led by children.

Kids are fed up with grown-ups’ inaction on climate change.

A massive global youth-led protest demanding political action on climate change took place Friday, with 2,300 school strikes taking place in over 130 countries.

In previous strikes, youth have managed to shame some governments into action on climate change, but students around the world are skipping school today to demand even more. Activists say it could be the largest demonstration for environmental action in history.

The demands are clear: more aggressive targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions to keep warming in check, with budgets and legal force to back them. In Australia, for example, students are demanding that the government end all new mining and power the country with 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.

The strikes come as several governments are in flux: United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May just resigned under pressure for her handling of Brexit. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on track to win reelection by a landslide. European Union parliamentary elections are underway. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison secured a majority government this week.

The global youth climate movement was sparked last year when 16-year-old Greta Thunberg began skipping school to picket outside of Sweden’s parliament, demanding tougher policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Since then, her actions have rippled throughout the world, with students striking in solidarity with Thunberg every Friday in the #FridaysForFuture campaign.

“We don’t feel like we have a choice: it’s been years of talking, countless negotiations, empty deals on climate change and fossil fuel companies being given free rides to drill beneath our soils and burn away our futures for their profit,” Thunberg wrote in an editorial for the Guardian on Thursday. “Politicians have known about climate change for decades. They have willingly handed over their responsibility for our future to profiteers whose search for quick cash threatens our very existence.”…— Umair Irfan, “Youth climate strike: children are skipping school in a massive global protest,” Vox. 5/24/19

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Your Love Was Fierce Enough

A beautiful, evocative poem written and performed by Daverick Leggett, who is a Qigong teacher, working throughout southwest England. Daverick is also a successful book author.

We must work, act and rebel together, to heal our wounds and to protect and restore the living planet. —”The Good Ancestor’ – Blessings for generations to come,” UPFSIYouTube, 5/23/19

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The hidden consequences of New Mexico’s latest oil boom

The hidden consequences of New Mexico’s latest oil boom

Carlsbad residents are experiencing health impacts, but the science behind their woes lags behind the pace of drilling.

When Dee George was about 7 years old, his family moved to the outskirts of Carlsbad, New Mexico, where they bought an acre of land, set up a mobile home and planted mulberry trees. They had a clear view of the sunset, and birds flocked to the trees. George, now 53, still lives here with his wife, Penny Aucoin, and daughter Skyler.

Oil and gas development has existed for years in the Permian Basin, which stretches from southeastern New Mexico into Texas. But about five years ago, the boom landed on the George family’s doorstep when Mack Energy started clearing a well pad in the field just across the road. In Carlsbad, wells can legally be drilled within 500 feet of homes. Outside city limits, where this family lives, the minimum is 300 feet. That well shook the family’s home like an earthquake — literally and figuratively. “I always thought, ‘This is a good thing,’” said Aucoin, noting the jobs and revenue drilling brought to the state’s southeastern corner. “Until they moved in next door to me.”

Further reading: New Mexico oil producers brace for tighter regulation as output jumps

Fueled by high oil prices and advances in drilling techniques, the Permian Basin has become the nation’s busiest oilfield. Meanwhile, for people like George and Aucoin, life has become noisy, the once-quiet roads crowded and dangerous. The family has also suffered from enigmatic illnesses that might, or might not, be related to the boom; the science can’t keep pace with the frenzied rate of drilling. The lack of information and options has the family reeling. Others I spoke to had similar experiences.

After the well pad went in, the drilling began, shaking the house day and night and keeping the couple, their teenage son (whose name they asked me to withhold) and daughter awake. The noise and vibrations made Skyler, who was four years old at the time, hold her ears and shake her head, until George and Aucoin put earmuffs on her.

That was only the beginning. More wells have popped up, clogging even the narrowest back roads with traffic. Accidents in Eddy County shot up by 70% — not including those with fatalities — between 2016 and 2018 alone, according to the sheriff’s office. Once, when Aucoin’s son was trying to turn onto the county road, with Skyler in the backseat, a truck crashed into his vehicle.

GEORGE AND AUCOIN NOW park their car directly between their house and the road, for safety. This way, if a speeding truck runs off the road, it will hit the parked car before it hits their bedroom wall. When oilfield trucks started rumbling down the dirt road just south of their house, they kicked up rocks that flew like projectiles toward Skyler’s trampoline. So they got rid of the trampoline. But there was no such easy fix for the constant dust and exhaust from the trucks, nor for the family’s persistent, unexplained ailments. Skyler contracted a dry cough that didn’t go away, and the humidifiers the doctors recommended did not help.…—Tay Wiles, “The hidden consequences of New Mexico’s latest oil boom,” High Country News, 5/22/19

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Swedish activist Greta Thunberg addresses climate march in Copenhagen

Swedish activist Greta Thunberg addresses climate march in Copenhagen

 

Swedish youth activist Greta Thunberg addressed marchers at the “People’s Climate March” outside the Danish parliament on Saturday, just one day after young people skipped school in 125 countries to march for the climate.

“It is absolutely crazy that things have gone so far that children feel like they must sacrifice their education to compensate for the inaction of our leaders and most adults,” the 16-year-old climate activist said, referring to young people striking on Friday and earlier as part of her Strike for Climate Change movement.

As many as 1.8 million young people skipped school in 2,350 cities to join a global climate strike on May 24, according to a tally by the youth climate movement, Fridays for Future.

Holding signs that said “Don’t burn my future,” and “12 years to save ourselves”, students took to the streets around the world to spread the message, calling on leaders to take action.

Thunberg first started her climate movement in 2018 when she stood on the steps of the Swedish parliament and said she would not go to school because she was on strike for climate.

On Saturday, she addressed marchers in Copenhagen with an equally firm message.

”Why waste precious time arguing who and what should change first?” she asked the crowd. “Everyone and everything needs to change but the bigger your platform the bigger your responsibility, the bigger your carbon footprint, the bigger your moral duty.”…—Lauren Chadwick, “Swedish activist Greta Thunberg addresses climate march in Copenhagen,” Euronews, 5/25/19

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This federal agency is quietly, profoundly shaping climate policy

This federal agency is quietly, profoundly shaping climate policy

A chat with Commissioner Richard Glick of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Some of the most consequential decisions about how the US government deals with climate change are being made by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an agency few people are aware exists and even fewer people track closely.

But FERC sits at the heart of the clean energy transition, overseeing two key areas of frequent conflict. The first is bulk electricity — interstate transmission lines and regional wholesale power markets. The second is natural gas infrastructure; the agency licenses the siting and building of all new pipelines.

FERC is composed of five commissioners; by law, no more than three may be from one party. In a series of 3-2 decisions, the Trump-appointed Republican commissioners have effectively refused to take climate into account at all in pipeline decisions. This has prompted a series of scathing dissents from Commissioner Richard Glick, a former Democratic Senate aide whom President Trump appointed to the commission in 2017.

Further reading How a New White House Memo Could Undermine Science in U.S. Policy
E.P.A. Plans to Get Thousands of Pollution Deaths Off the Books by Changing Its Math

Now Glick has taken a step back and, along with his adviser Matthew Christiansen, gathered his thoughts into an academic article, just published in the Energy Law Review. It’s called “FERC and climate change.”

Their conclusion, in a nutshell, is that FERC doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel to address climate change. It doesn’t need a new regulatory regime or new authorities. It just needs to diligently obey its current mandates.…—David Roberts, “Climate change: how one obscure federal agency is quietly shaping policy,” Vox, 5/22/19

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Virginia Senators and Representatives
Urged to Protect Appalachian Trail

Virginia Senators and Representatives Urged to Protect Appalachian Trail | Friends of Nelson County

Virginia Senators Urged to Protect Appalachian Trail

WASHINGTON, DC — Today more than 50 organizations from across the state called on Virginia Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Virginia’s members of the House of Representatives to push back on Dominion Energy’s political pressure seeking legislation allowing it to get around a decision by a federal court.

“Dominion’s permitting problems for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline are entirely self-inflicted—it never made sense to force this project through a national park, two national forests, and some of the steepest mountains in Virginia. But rather than rethink its plans, Dominion wants political favors to get around the laws in place to protect our public lands,” said Greg Buppert, Senior Attorney for the Southern Environmental Law Center. “Congress should not open the door for Dominion’s last ditch effort to build this destructive and unnecessary pipeline.”

A federal court in December 2018 ruled that the U.S. Forest Service lacked the authority to authorize the Atlantic Coast Pipeline crossing of the Appalachian Trail.  Since that decision, Dominion has searched for a way to get around the law in order to remedy its ill-conceived route through treasured national land.

“We’re not even talking about a project that is something in the public interest of Virginians, we’re talking about a project that is over budget, overdue and as time passes we can see is unneeded to meet energy demands,” said Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley’s Executive Director, Kate Wofford.  “Why should lawmakers, or anyone bend over backward for this project to get built?”…Virginia Senators and Representatives Urged to Protect Appalachian Trail,” Friends of Nelson County, 5/16/19

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A fight for the future as climate change school strikes grow
for fourth month running

A fight for the future as climate change school strikes grow for fourth month running

An estimated 4,000 teenagers and young people turn out in Manchester – and another 1.5m around the world – to demand they inherit a planet that is not dying

It is a hot, sunny day in Manchester and 14-year-old Carmen King is dressed in full black funeral garb, complete with veil and thick white face paint.

“It’s pretty warm,” she says of her outfit. “But then, if adults don’t get it sorted, it’s only going to get hotter anyway.”

 

The year nine student was one of some 4,000 children, teenagers and young people who flooded into the city centre on Friday to protest against climate change.

They themselves were among an estimated 1.5 million-plus youngsters doing the same in hundreds of towns and cities across the world: in London, Paris and Berlin, of course, but, crucially, in the provinces too, in places – like Manchester – where the battles for hearts and minds are often truly won.

 

They went on strike from school classes and university lectures, as they have done one Friday a month since February, to demand adults do just one thing: save the planet and their futures.

“No one’s here because they enjoy protesting,” said Carmen, one of six friends and an adult mentor from the city’s Z-Arts drama school who donned mourning attire to symbolise the death of Earth. “I’d rather be at school – well, probably – but this is too important. What’s the point of going to lessons when we’re not going to have a future if things don’t change?”

How did her teachers feel about her absence, I wondered?

“Pretty mixed,” she noted. “Some think we shouldn’t be here. But then I think they shouldn’t have allowed the planet to be destroyed.”

Well, touché.…—Colin Drury, “A fight for the future as climate change school strikes grow for fourth month running,” The Independent UK, 5/24/19

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15-minute approvals: Alberta plans to automate licences
for new oil and gas drilling

15-minute approvals: Alberta plans to automate licences for new oil and gas drilling | The Narwhal

Lobbying records obtained by The Narwhal show that as Alberta’s new government pledges a ‘rapid acceleration of new wells,’ the province’s energy regulator is moving ahead with plans that mean the vast majority of new wells will be approved by a computer in a matter of minutes

The vast majority of approvals for Alberta’s oil and gas wells will soon be automated, reducing waiting times for drilling companies to as little as 15 minutes, The Narwhal has learned.

The Alberta Energy Regulator confirmed to The Narwhal by e-mail that it expects to begin implementing automated approval for routine well licences later this year, though lobbying records indicate the system could be rolled out as early as next month.

With the change, staff will no longer review most applications from companies seeking to drill a new oil or gas well.

Further reading: The Weather Network – 2X Faster: Severe weather events are a new Canadian normal

In lobbying records obtained by The Narwhal through a freedom of information request, Richard Wong, manager of operations with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), said the association anticipates 90 per cent of routine well applications could soon be automatically approved by OneStop, the online tool used to submit requests for permits and licences to the Alberta Energy Regulator.…—Sharon J. Riley, “15-minute approvals: Alberta plans to automate licences for new oil and gas drilling,” The Narwhal, 5/23/19

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Trump Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science

Trump Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science

WASHINGTON — President Trump has rolled back environmental regulations, pulled the United States out of the Paris climate accord, brushed aside dire predictions about the effects of climate change, and turned the term “global warming” into a punch line rather than a prognosis.

Now, after two years spent unraveling the policies of his predecessors, Mr. Trump and his political appointees are launching a new assault.

In the next few months, the White House will complete the rollback of the most significant federal effort to curb greenhouse-gas emissions, initiated during the Obama administration. It will expand its efforts to impose Mr. Trump’s hard-line views on other nations, building on his retreat from the Paris accord and his recent refusal to sign a communiqué to protect the rapidly melting Arctic region unless it was stripped of any references to climate change.

And, in what could be Mr. Trump’s most consequential action yet, his administration will seek to undermine the very science on which climate change policy rests.

Mr. Trump is less an ideologue than an armchair naysayer about climate change, according to people who know him. He came into office viewing agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency as bastions of what he calls the “deep state,” and his contempt for their past work on the issue is an animating factor in trying to force them to abandon key aspects of the methodology they use to try to understand the causes and consequences of a dangerously warming planet.

As a result, parts of the federal government will no longer fulfill what scientists say is one of the most urgent jobs of climate science studies: reporting on the future effects of a rapidly warming planet and presenting a picture of what the earth could look like by the end of the century if the global economy continues to emit heat-trapping carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels.…—Coral Davenport and Mark Landler, “Trump Administration Hardens Its Attack on Climate Science,” The New York Times, 5/27/19

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Leonardo DiCaprio captures the fight against climate change
in new HBO documentary

Leonardo DiCaprio captures the fight against climate change in new HBO documentary trailer

HBO released the trailer for Leonardo DiCaprio’s upcoming environmental documentary Wednesday, which also coincided with International Biodiversity Day. DiCaprio produced and narrated “Ice on Fire,” which “offers hope that we can actually stave off the worst effects of global warming,” according to an HBO press release.

“The melting of the world’s snow and ice has now triggered multiple climate tipping points, especially increasing levels of methane,” DiCaprio narrates in the trailer. “Scientists have discovered solutions, giving us a chance at reversing climate change. But the clock is ticking.” 

The documentary highlights innovations created to slow down the escalating climate crisis, which has had devastating effects in the Arctic, fueling flooding and droughts globally. It follows scientists, farmers and innovators working to reduce carbon in the atmosphere around the world, from Norway to Costa Rica to Alaska. In a tweet promoting the trailer, DiCaprio called those innovations “never-before-seen solutions.”…—Sophie Lewis, “Ice on Fire: HBO trailer released for Leonardo DiCaprio-narrated climate change documentary,” CBS News, 5/22/19

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A year in the life of a fox family in Central New York

Video: A year in the life of a fox family in Central New York

Theresa Groman found that following a fox family for nearly a year can be eye-opening and educational.

Groman monitored a male, female and their five pups using three to four trail cameras. She said she was particularly fascinated by how much the female fox with her pups relied so heavily “on Dad” in the early going.

“When the mom gives birth, she stays at the den for the whole time and doesn’t leave,” Groman said. “Dad goes out hunting and brings back meals three to four times a day. He brings the food back, grunts and leaves it by the entrance.

“Sometimes, Mom will come out in 10 minutes; other times a couple of hour later. Sometimes, Dad will cover the food with a little dirt (for safekeeping),” she said.…—David Figura, “Video: A year in the life of a fox family in Central New York,” Syracuse.com, 5/21/19

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Harnessing pig power

Harnessing pig power

BEDFORD (Reuters) – John Ibbett and pigs go back a long way. “The pig manager pushed me round in a pram,” recalls Ibbett, whose family have been farming on the same site since 1939.

Now he’s proud his family farm can turn muck into electricity, using new technology paid for by a multi-million pound windfall. His Bedfordia Group is one of only a handful of companies with farm-based biogas plants in Britain.

Scientists complain that the world has so far failed to support agriculture in the fight against climate change, focusing instead on more visible emissions from factories and power plants.

Ibbett raised part of the cash for his multi-million, three-year-old venture from a property sale far beyond the reach of most family-owned farms. Although his is a rarity in Britain, more biogas plants are being established in Denmark, Germany and developing countries.

That momentum could be a precursor for much bigger climate benefits, from changing farming methods to use the soil’s capacity to store vast amounts of carbon. Experts say this is an area so far almost entirely ignored by policymakers.

Soils as well as trees can suck carbon out of the air, boosting what experts call terrestrial carbon. Farmers can nurture carbon underground as well as crops above by using longer rotations, not over-grazing pasture and plowing less.

Low-carbon pigs may not easily fly, but directly curbing greenhouse gas emissions from farming is important. Farming contributes as much to global warming as all the world’s planes, cars and trucks, and that will increase as the world tries to feed an extra 3 billion people by 2050.

Scientists also want more focus especially on the soil at U.N. climate talks which resume in two weeks’ time in Bonn and are meant to thrash out by December a new climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol.

In addition, academics have revived interest in a millennium-old technology to plow into the soil a carbon-rich type of charcoal made from heating plant, food or animal waste, called biochar.

“I think we’re already beyond the safe level of greenhouse gas concentrations and the difference could be met through this terrestrial carbon approach,” said Thomas Lovejoy, biodiversity chair at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment.…—Gerard Wynn, “Harnessing pig power,” Reuters, 3/23/09

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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.