June 25, 2019
This week New York’s Governor Cuomo is expected to sign The New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. It is far from perfect, and just as far from useless. It establishes net-zero carbon emissions, for the entire state economy, by 2050. Net-zero carbon schemes are notorious for not reducing carbon emissions. It remains to be seen whether net-zero means remediation of emissions in the same locale the emission occur. Industry will surely strive to convince New York that we have done a great job, time to move on to more important things. It is important that New Yorkers let their government know this legislation is a beach head, not a fortress.
Now, the news.

But first, about The Banner’s summer fundraiser

We have been able to sustain The Banner since becoming an independent newsletter for two years now, solely through an outpouring of small donations from grass roots activists. That is something to be proud of everyone in the grass roots activist community, and we hope this years 52 newsletters have answered that generosity with news, science, and reader opinion pieces of value to our 2,000 readers. Over the next few weeks we will remind you again to help support The Banner in some small way. You can either donate at paypal.com to editor@thebanner.news, or email editor@thebanner.news for a mailing address. (By the way, we are still looking for a night owl who is a smashing copy ediotr). And thank you all for your past generosity! Now for that news…


Action Alert! Build the sustainable and renewable world
we know is possible

  • Connect Communities Across New York State
  • Ensure that no new fracking infrastructure projects are built, as well as any other fossil fuel projects
  • Ensure that no new fracking infrastructure projects are

    built, as well as any other fossil fuel projects

  • Build an inclusive movement that includes and supports all residents including poor people and people of color
  • Build follow up events that keep people connected and continuously educated for action/advocacy work.

Join People for a Healthy Environment, Sane Energy Project, FracTracker Alliance and 350.org for Sit-Stand-Sing, a movement building event.

Tuesday, June 25 5-9 PM
The Park Church
208 W. Gray St.
Elmira, NY 14901
Dinner provided

Open to all, including those relatively new to activism or interested in exploring or becoming involved
Forward and share widely.

Please RSVP here: Sit, Stand, Sing Tour: Southern Tier and Finger Lakes, NY
Or RSVP by email: Doug Couchon: dcouchon@gmail.com

Further info: You Are Here Tour Website
Face Book Event Page: Elmira: Sit, Stand, Sing State-wide Tour


Action Alert! Downer from the NYS legislature on landfill reform.
But carrying the fight at Campbell, NY
Your help needed

Though the NYS Legislature closed without voting on closing the drilling waste loophole in the state’s Environmental Conservation Act, we still have a chance to convince the Department of Environmental Conservation to stop the proposed expansion of the Hakes Landfill, Campbell, NY.

The close of Public comments is Friday, June 28. Here are some resources for commenting, and details of how to submit your comments:

A legislative public hearing on the complete applications will be held before Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Molly McBride to receive unsworn statements from the public at 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. on June 27, 2019 at the Campbell American Legion Post 1279, 8458 County Route 333, Campbell, NY 14821

• Public Hearing commenting resources : Talking Points for June 27 Hakes Hearing_draft062319.pdf (PDF download)

• Geologist Dr. Raymond Vaughan’s affidavit to the NY Supreme Court, Steuben County, regarding radioactive compounds and heavy metals in leachate from Hakes Landfill (PDF download)

• Background on this issue from the DEC Application: Environmental Notices Bulletin – Region 8 Notices 5/29/2019:

Hakes C&D Disposal Inc.
4376 Manning Ridge Road
Painted Post, NY 14870

DEC Applications and Id Numbers:

Article 27, Title 7, Solid Waste Management, DEC No. 8-4630-00010/00001
Article 19, Air State Facility, DEC No. 8-4630-00010/00011
Section 401 Clean Water Act, Water Quality Certification, DEC No. 8-4630-00010/00015

Project Description:

Hakes C&D Disposal Inc. (Hakes) has applied to modify the above-referenced solid waste management permit for the proposed expansion of the Hakes C&D Debris Landfill (Landfill) located at 4376 Manning Ridge Road in the Town of Campbell, Steuben County, New York. As proposed the landfill would be expanded from 57.9 acres to 78.9 acres to increase the disposal capacity and site life. Hakes is also proposing to add a 22.2 acre soil borrow area at the same site for construction and cover materials. The project will include the expansion of other ancillary facilities, including the storm water ponds and site roads. The Landfill’s approved design capacity of 1,494 tons per day, the types of wastes accepted, and the maximum elevation will not change.

Two variances from solid waste management regulations have been requested: one pertains to the 100-foot setback requirement in 6 NYCRR § 363-6.2 and would allow a transition from the current 90-foot setback to the required 100-foot setback along the western boundary of the landfill, and the other pertains to 6 NYCRR § 363-6.7(a)(2)(i) and would allow the use of stone greater than one inch diameter – up to three inches diameter – in the low permeability soil component of the single composite liner system. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYS DEC) has made tentative determinations to approve these two requested variances. A third variance request was submitted at the time of application, pertaining to the requirement in 6 NYCCR § 363-6.4 for 10 feet of separation between the base of the liner system and bedrock. The requested variance would have allowed 5 feet of separation using a constructed soil layer and additional groundwater monitoring. NYS DEC made a tentative determination not to approve the requested variance and the applicant has withdrawn the request from the proposed expansion.

The applicant has also applied for a new Section 401 Water Quality Certification to fill approximately 0.672 acres of federally-regulated wetlands for the expansion. To compensate for wetland losses, the applicant proposes to purchase in lieu fee wetland mitigation credits in the amount of 1.34 acres (a 2:1 ratio) at a Corps of Engineers approved wetland mitigation bank.

An application for modification of the existing Air State Facility permit has also been submitted, associated with the anticipated increase in landfill gas (hydrogen sulfide and methane) generated as a result of the expansion. According to the application, the peak flow of landfill gas will increase from 600 scfm to 750 scfm over the increased life of the landfill. Current landfill gas is collected and controlled by a single, 750 scfm capacity open flare to combust hydrogen sulfide and methane. A 400 scfm backup open flare is also currently permitted and on-site for additional gas control. Additional gas collection infrastructure will be installed within the additional landfill area, but no additional flares are necessary to the control the additional landfill gas that will be generated. The permit modification would require sampling of the gas and calculations to verify SO2 emissions, generated by combustion of hydrogen sulfide, are below major source thresholds.…

Written Public Comments:

Any interested person may submit comments on the permit applications in writing at the hearing, and to the NYS DEC contact listed below by June 28, 2019. Comments sent by regular mail must be post-marked no later than June 28, 2019. E-mail and Fax comments must be received by 5:00 p.m. (EDT), June 28, 2019.

NYS DEC Contact Person:

Kimberly Merchant
NYSDEC – Region 8 Office
6274 East Avon-Lima Road
Avon, NY 14414
Phone: 585-226-5400
Fax: 585-226-2830
E-mail: HakesPermitHearing@dec.ny.gov


Vote on Bill to Close Oil & Gas Industry’s
Hazardous Waste Loophole
Skipped Over in Closing Hours of Legislative Session

Vote on Bill to Close Oil & Gas Industry’s Hazardous Waste Loophole Skipped Over in Closing Hours of Legislative Session

ALBANY, June 21, 2019 — A bill to close the oil and gas industry’s hazardous waste loophole died early this morning when the state Legislature adjourned for the 2019 session without bringing the measure to a final vote.

The legislation (A2655), which easily passed the state Senate on June 3, had overwhelming support in the Assembly and had been on that chamber’s list for debate and final vote since June 17.

“This is disappointing,” said Elizabeth Moran, environmental policy director of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “I want to believe it was primarily a question of timing. There were a lot of bills on that debate list.

“Sadly, a dangerous practice is now going to continue for at least another year.”

NYPIRG and other environmental groups have criticized New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation for failing to systematically analyze and track dangerous wastes produced by natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania that are exported to landfills in New York’s Southern Tier.…—Peter Mantius, “Vote on Bill to Close Oil & Gas Industry’s Hazardous Waste Loophole Skipped Over in Closing Hours of Legislative SessionWater Front, 6/21/19



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.

Here is complete video of the conference.—David Walczak, “WATER LAW II,Walczak|YouTube, 6/24/19


One Courageous Man Is Standing Against Cabot Oil,
But He’s Not Alone

One Courageous Man Is Standing Against Cabot Oil, But He’s Not Alone

Since settling with Ray Kemble in July 2012, Cabot has accrued 243 violations for fracking in Ray’s home county — are they still allowed to frack?

Ray Kemble is a man who has courage. When fracking riddled his community with public health issues like polluted water, he stood strong against Cabot Oil and Gas in order to protect people. Because it was the right thing to do.

He didn’t let Cabot’s intimidation tactics stop him from doing the right thing, and that has made him the kind of fighter Food & Water Watch is proud to stand with — because it’s the right thing to do. 

Further reading How a Judge Scrapped Pennsylvania Families’ $4.24M Water Pollution Verdict in Gas Drilling Lawsuit, DeSmogBlog, 4/11/17
Fracking Giant Cabot Sues Pennsylvania Water Contamination Victim for $5 Million, DeSmogBlog, 8/13/17
Oil and Gas Industry’s 2017 Suing Spree Could Set Speech-Chilling Precedents, DeSmogBlog, 1/2/18
Gas driller Cabot wants Dimock man thrown in jail for contempt, StateImpact Pennsylvania, 2/1/19
Cabot’s Sneaky Attack on Pennsylvania Cancer Survivor Reveals Dirty Agenda to Silence Environmentalists, EcoWatch, 2/13/19

Since settling their lawsuit earlier this decade, Cabot has continued to rack up violation after violation in Susquehanna County, where Ray lives — 243 violations, to be exact. They’ve also taken aggressive measures to silence him, like suing him for speaking about the dangers of fracking.…—”One Courageous Man Is Standing Against Cabot Oil, But He’s Not Alone,” Food & Water Watch, 6/21/19


New York’s Climate Change Beach Head

NY State’s Ambitious New Climate Change Legislation: ‘Really Major’ Or ‘Partial Victory’?

NY State’s Ambitious New Climate Change Legislation: ‘Really Major’ Or ‘Partial Victory’? – Gothamist

‘This is really a partial victory. We have so much work ahead of us to make sure this is true climate justice.’

After a spirited debate, the New York State Senate passed one of the most ambitious climate change bills in the country on Tuesday night. An agreement has been reached so that the Assembly will soon pass its own version, and Governor Andrew Cuomo will sign it into law. But what does the bill actually do to address anthropogenic global heating? And does it do enough to hold public officials accountable, and empower the communities who have disproportionately shouldered the burdens of climate change?

Perhaps the most significant feature of The New York State Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is that it codifies a goal to reach net-zero carbon emissions, for the entire state economy, by 2050, including an 85 percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

By 2030, the state must also generate 70 percent of its electricity from renewable sources (up from 23 percent currently, the vast majority of that coming from hydroelectric power). 

The zero-carbon to carbon neutral shift was one of several compromises that were created in the latest version of New York’s bill. Earlier versions had more benchmarks between now and 2050, which Moran said “add an important element of accountability and tracking to make sure the state sticks with the ultimate target.”

…Elizabeth Moran, the environmental policy director at the New York Public Interest Research Group, said that the goals of the legislation were in line with the most recent report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). That report warned that “global net human-caused emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) would need to fall by about 45 percent from 2010 levels by 2030, reaching ‘net zero’ around 2050” to avoid the worst effects of global heating.

New York’s 85 percent reduction in greenhouse gases appears to lead the nation (other states have a target of 80), but Washington state’s climate bill passed in April sets a target for 100 percent carbon-free (not carbon neutral, which allows for offsets) electric grid by 2045.…—Christopher Robbins, “NY State’s Ambitious New Climate Change Legislation: ‘Really Major’ Or ‘Partial Victory’?Gothamist, 6/19/19


New York’s climate opportunity: The state has a chance to seize the initiative in curbing greenhouse gases

New York’s climate opportunity: The state has a chance to seize the initiative in curbing greenhouse gases

[Editor’s note: Soon after its original publication,  The Banner solicited permission to reprint this important commentary on the proposed CCPA-CLA legislative bill, now sent to the governor as the “Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act” (CLCPA), and engaged a leading proponent, Mark Dunlea of the other notable proposal for legislation, the OFF Act. Unfortunately we could not publish these materials in a timely manner, but do so now.

We solicit comment from activists, interested organizations and public thinkers to write critiques of the CLCPA. The Banner hopes to have a full critical review of this historic – and limited – major step toward reducing carbon and other GHG emissions in time to get the state’s total emission in line with the proper global goal of eleven years to achieve 350ppm (parts per million) of atmospheric CO2, as well as addressing the more dangerous GHG gases, notably methane and various refrigerants and aerosol propellants.

If you or your group would like to contribute to this critique of the CLCPA legislation, please contact The Banner at editor@thebanner.news We aspire to be the gathering point for important exchanges of views on this matter, and a center for New York and surrounding area grass root activist voices.]

Courtesy New York Daily News— New York has done a great job of marketing itself as a climate leader. But the ground game looks very different. Fossil fuel power plants are still being built, gas-infrastructure continues to expand, and renewables in the state are growing at a snail’s pace. Less than 4% of electricity produced in New York comes from wind — a figure that has barely budged in half a decade — and utility-scale solar is still too thin of a slice to appear on a pie chart.

So perhaps it’s good that the Legislature stepped in. Despite its flaws, the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) deserves credit for getting Gov. Cuomo’s attention. Earlier this year, it even prompted him to propose his own bill, the Climate Leadership Act (CLA). But now, with only about a month remaining in the 2019 session, it’s incumbent upon state leaders to roll up their sleeves, examine both proposals and craft legislation that doesn’t just sound bold — but is bold, makes sense, and can be implemented.

The governor’s bill does have merit. With a much stronger electricity mandate that the CCPA, it would turn the state’s new goal of carbon-free electricity by 2040 into law. Some criticize the CLA for not focusing enough on other sectors. However, eliminating emissions associated with transportation and heating will require nearly twice as much electricity than today. Therefore, greening those sectors goes hand-in-hand with generating the electricity needed to power them.

What would benefit both bills, and whatever legislation moves forward, is language fostering programs for the beneficial electrification of transportation, heating, and industry — while synchronously planning for a grid to support it.

The CLA also avoids loopholes, present in the CCPA, that allow targets to be missed. Still, it would be a mistake to trade one loophole for another. Advocates of the CCPA are not wrong in raising concerns about “carbon neutrality,” a loosely defined term appearing in the governor’s bill.

The fact is that it may be impossible to completely eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from some activities like cement-making, air travel, agriculture and certain kinds of heavy industry. So instead of imposing an unrealistic requirement of cutting emissions 100%, the CLA allows offsets through the planting of trees or other natural methods of drawing carbon from the atmosphere.

But there is a limit to how much that works. When plants die, they aren’t buried miles underground. They burn or decay, eventually putting much of their carbon back into the environment. It is not a simple task to demonstrate that liberating fossil fuels trapped deep within the earth for millions of years can be permanently offset by natural systems that function on biological life-cycles. Nor is it easy to maintain a tally of every tree planted or bulldozed in the state.

Further reading: The heat is on, New York: A new climate law is a major landmark, but now requires work and sacrifice

A way of addressing this may be to codify New York’s existing, unambiguous goal of cutting anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions 80%, while adopting a parallel requirement of 100% carbon neutrality by 2050. Instead of moving the goal line or encouraging shell games over action, this would place proper emphasis on reducing emissions to the greatest extent possible at their source while using natural systems to capture atmospheric carbon, thereby offsetting those that remain. Whatever legislation moves forward must also require an unimpeachable inventory of all emissions — whether they can be eliminated or not. It is impossible to measure progress otherwise.

Finally, let’s recognize that the most “unjust transition” is the one that does not happen. Before inserting wage mandates and funding carve-outs into climate legislation, it will be important to ensure that doing so will not undermine greenhouse gas reduction goals.

The good news is that by tackling the climate crisis head-on, New York can create far more jobs and provide relief to communities that suffer most from our addiction to fossil fuels. Most importantly, if disparate parties come together, we can give our children — and our planet — hope for the future.—Anthony Ingraffea, Jannette Barth, Keith Schue, “New York’s climate opportunity: The state has a chance to seize the initiative in curbing greenhouse gases,” NY Daily News, 5/22/19

Ingraffea is the Dwight C. Baum Professor of Engineering Emeritus at Cornell University. Barth is an economist and managing director of the Pepacton Institute. Schue is an electrical engineer and technical adviser on energy issues.


New Yorkers Must Demand State Lawmakers Act
to Avoid Climate Disaster

Mark Dunlea, Special to The Banner— I found the recent opinion piece by Dr. Ingraffea et al – “New York’s climate opportunity: The state has a chance to seize the initiative in curbing greenhouse gases” – both disappointing and confusing.

The authors make many valid points. The state needs to improve its tracking of greenhouse gas emissions, starting with methane leakages. They point out that climate action is also a job producer. And New York has been moving at a glacial pace to develop wind and solar, which accounts for a meager 4% of the state’s electricity (which itself accounts for less than a quarter of the state’s carbon footprint). The state needs to strengthen “beneficial electrification of transportation, heating, and industry — while synchronously planning for a grid to support it.”

As one of the authors of the NYS OFF Act to go to 100% renewable energy by 2030 along with an immediate halt for new fossil fuel projects, I remain disappointed by the authors’ continuing opposition to the need for and feasibility of pursuing a faster climate timeline than the state’s existing 10-year old goal of trying to achieve only an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. I was also surprised by the lack of a call to halt fossil fuel projects.

The world’s understanding of the accelerating threat posed by climate change has increased significantly in the last decade. The developing world which is most threatened by global warming rebelled in Paris three years ago against the industrial world’s promotion for similarly slow action (e.g., we need to keep warming to 1.5 degrees C not 2 degrees). Late last year, the IPCC – which consistently understates the severity and speed of climate change – warned the world that we have 11 years left for an unprecedented global mobilization to end fossil fuel use.

Other scientists like James Hanson have long contended that the goal should be closer to 1 degree C, that we need to keep the carbon levels in the atmosphere below 350 ppm rather than the 450 outlined in the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) promoted by the NYS Assembly. Scientists are now raising the possibility of human extinction and/or the end of civilization as we know it.

The OFF Act seeks to implement the “Jacobson study by Stanford and Cornell professors during the anti-fracking fight to show that by 2030 we could meet all our energy needs by wind, solar, geothermal, hydro and other renewables without the need for natural gas or other fossil fuels. Two of the op-ed writers (Ingraffea, Barth) were co-authors of that report.

Since the initial study, Prof. Mark Jacobson of Stanford and others with The Solutions Project had focused more on a goal of 100% by 2050. Before we wrote the OFF Act, we asked Jacobson to clarify his position. He said that he had always been clear that 2030 was technologically feasible but that he added 20 years to deal with the political posturing and economic challenges. We said that we don’t need to give politicians 20 years of wiggle room, they will seek to drag it out anyway.

The Jacobson report was not a detailed blueprint on how to achieve 100% clean renewable energy and there are certainly many barriers and problems that would have to be addressed, several of which are raised in the op ed. Three years ago we got the Assembly to include in its budget resolution funding for a study by Prof. Howarth of Cornell (another co-author of the Jacobson study) on how fast would it be possible to get to 100% renewable energy. While the Senate balked, we did get the Governor in his January 2017 State of the State to say that NYSERDA would produce such a feasibility analysis by the beginning of 2018. We are still waiting – and pushing for the draft to be released. We want a debate grounded in science.

Advocates for a much faster timeline than those pushed by Cuomo (CLA), CCPA or the op ed are fully aware of the myriad problems that would have to be solved. We know that we will not meet such deadlines – and save life on the planet – absent a full-scale mobilization of research and resources to make it happen, to make possible things that are not presently achievable. Like we did when we put a man on the moon. We realize that it will be the last 5 to 10% of the conversion that will be the most expensive and technologically challenging. This is why the OFF Act uses the goal of net zero emissions by 2030, 100% renewable energy, and incorporates regenerative agriculture.

The OFF Act also includes specific recommendations on buildings (e.g., all new buildings new zero emissions by 2022, similar to California) and transportation (e.g., all vehicles to be zero emissions by 2025, like Norway). It embraces energy efficiency, the most cost-effective climate action strategy. It requires local climate action plans as well as the state, and mandates that government agencies comply with them. We need to give citizens the right to sue to enforce the climate laws. We need short-term goals in no more than 2-year intervals with annual reviews and updates.

In the last Congressional session, every NYS House Democrat except Tonko sponsored the federal OFF Act with its 2035 timeline for 100% renewables for electricity and transportation. Jacobson wrote an op ed with Food and Water Watch’s Executive Director, “We can still dodge the worst of fuel-driven climate change supporting that timeline. 13 members of the NYS Congressional delegation, including Senator Gillibrand, endorse the Green New Deal with its 2030 timeline. How can NYS elected officials and advocates push for a much slower timeline at the state level? Across the planet the Extinction Rebellion is calling for a 2025 timeline.

We need to start with how fast do we need to cut greenhouse gas emissions to give human life the best chance of surviving – and hopefully thriving. We then work backwards from there. We will not survive an approach based on what is “realistic” in light of our present political and economic dynamics. It is the “market” after all which created the crisis.

The part of the op ed I find most confusing is the authors’ linking their support for the slower emissions reduction timeline advocated by the Governor with a call for 100% carbon neutrality by 2050. The issue of carbon offsets, carbon neutrality, and net zero emissions has become one of the central debates in Albany over the climate deal – yet everyone seems to frame the debate in their own terms, talking past one another at least in public. This op ed continues that. The examples cited by the authors are not reflective of the core issues being debated in Albany over the use of carbon offsets.

GELF (Green Education and Legal Fund) is all in for regenerative agriculture and healthy soil practices to restore carbon to the soil. The Drawdown Project, which outlines 100 ways to reduce carbon emissions, including a plant-based diet, proposes for example reducing methane emissions by going back to the ancient silvopasture practice that integrates trees and pasture into a single system for raising livestock. 

When Cuomo talks about carbon neutrality, he starts with nuclear power, which accounts for 31% of the state’s electricity. I have opposed this expensive and dangerous technology since I co-founded NYPIRG in the early 70’s. The OFF Act calls for a phase-out of nukes by 2025. One can have a long debate about the role of nukes in mitigating climate change, but it should focus more on the issue of continuing to run existing plants rather than building new ones which would be too late to have much impact if any on preventing runaway global warming. Building new nuclear plants, mining and processing fuel, and storing radioactive wastes for tens of thousands of years is also hardly carbon-free.

Cuomo is also talking about the problematic expansion of biomass, including the burning of wood (and possibly garbage) and the “Hail Mary” / corporate welfare boondoggle of carbon sequestration and capture, which is nowhere close to working after tens of billions of dollars have been spent on research. The authors do raise the valid issue of how to ensure that carbon put into the ground stays there (a huge problem with sequestration efforts).

Environmental justice advocates are rightly opposed to carbon offsets that would enable fossil fuel polluters to continue to pollute low-income communities in exchange for “offsets” elsewhere. The “planting of trees in Brazil” has not helped much as a recent story, “An (Even More) Inconvenient Truth: Why Carbon Credits For Forest Preservation May Be Worse Than Nothing” in ProPublica detailed.

Unlike the op ed, I think perhaps the most commendable part of the CCPA is its focus on environmental justice, including its call for 40% of (certain) climate funds to go to disadvantaged communities most impacted by climate change. While the final deal will be for significantly less, environmental and community justice is critical to effective climate action.

The CCPA also seeks to enact standards to ensure that the climate transition provides living wage jobs and strong labor standards. The OFF Act has the strongest Just Transition provisions, ensuring displaced workers during the transition with a guaranteed job and wages, and assisting local governments presently dependent on tax payments for fossil fuel and nuclear plants.

In order to win public support for the revolutionary overhaul of our energy and industrial systems needed to avoid climate catastrophe, the public needs to believe that they will be better off from the transition. We saw that with the recent Yellow Vest protests in France and the Australian elections.

We have also seen across the planet that increasing the use of renewables does not automatically lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (including methane from natural gas). That is why we need clear mandates to slash emissions, starting with halting the construction of new fossil fuel projects. This includes prohibiting the conversion of oil furnaces to gas; instead, we need to require clean renewable heat like air heat pumps and geothermal.

It is true that the federal government has the lead jurisdiction over the approval of most large fossil fuel projects, with the state role usually limited to permits under the Clean Water Act. But more states, including neighboring New Jersey and Vermont, are asserting their right to halt such projects in light of the climate emergency and the threat to public health and safety. New York should be leading the charge on this, fighting back against the Trump administration.

There are far more details that need to be examined as the Governor and state lawmakers draft their climate deal behind closed doors. It is likely that the climate deal will end up as part of the end-of-session “Big Ugly,” where controversial issues are horse-traded into one final grand deal.

Unfortunately, the deal is unlikely to include the simple but powerful step of requiring the state pension fund to divest its ten-billion-dollars plus investments in Exxon and other fossil fuel companies, despite the financial risks.

We need to demand the fastest climate action possible. It is far better to try to go too fast than to go to slow. We need to give our children and grandchildren a chance of a future.—Mark Dunlea, “New Yorkers Must Demand State Lawmakers Act to Avoid Climate Disaster,” The Banner, 5/28/19

Mark Dunlea is founder of the Green Education and Legal Fund


The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is a partial victory for New Yorkers

Last week the New York State Legislature and Governor Cuomo released several iterations of a bill now titled the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act. While the bill does set mandates for deep emissions cuts, including a zero emissions target for the electric sector, we are deeply concerned that changes in the legislative language over the versions of the bill will weaken the bill’s original intent to directly invest resources in vulnerable communities. Additionally, although the bill includes a nod towards a living wage, the Governor’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act removes mandates to secure specific worker protections, job growth and training included in previous editions of the Climate and Community Protection Act, which are essential to a just transition off of fossil fuels.

Ultimately, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is a partial victory for New Yorkers. The fight for true climate justice demands transformative change, and we will bring that fight until our communities win.

We stand strong knowing that as recently as last week, the Governor dismissed any funding for frontline communities, and in his Climate Leadership Act, refused to set a timeline for economy-wide emission reductions. This new legislation does both, and that is a direct result of years of tireless organizing by the members of the NY Renews coalition. NY Renews organized countless lobby meetings, hearings, rallies, town halls, and civil disobedience actions.

Further reading Nevada passes bill for 50% renewables by 2030, 100% carbon free by 2050
Washington State Passes Law Requiring 100% Clean Energy by 2045
Oregon GOP State Senators Go Into Hiding To Avoid A Climate Vote

Legislators, executives, and government institutions must be pulled in the direction of justice by organized people, and that is what NY Renews has done.

On climate, New York activists have won the strongest emissions reduction standards in the country in the face of immense resistance from the powers that seek to preserve the status quo. On climate justice and labor justice, Activists must continue the fight for New Yorkers to win and maintain true investment in low-income and black and brown communities that too often bear the brunt of the climate crisis, as well as other half-measures in this legislation. Activists are calling on the Governor and the legislature to join us in this effort, through the strengthening and implementation of the strongest parts of this bill and amendments through the legislative process in years to come.

We cannot solve the climate crisis without strong legislation focused on economic and racial justice. NY Renews is not going home. The fight for climate justice for all New Yorkers continues.— Arielle Swernoff, “The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act is a partial victory for New Yorkers,” New York Renews, 6/18/19


‘We Are Unstoppable, Another World Is Possible!’
Hundreds Storm Police Lines
to Shut Down Massive Coal Mine in Germany

‘We Are Unstoppable, Another World Is Possible!’: Hundreds Storm Police Lines to Shut Down Massive Coal Mine in Germany

Hundreds of climate activists stormed a massive open-pit coal mine in Germany on Saturday, entering a standoff with police inside the mine while thousands of others maintained separate blockades of the nation’s coal infrastructure as part of a week-long series of actions designed to end Europe’s dependency on fossil fuels.

Coordinated by the Ende Gelände alliance, the campaigners targeting the Garzweiler mine in the German state of North-Rhine Westphalia as they evaded security forces across roads and fields before reaching the pit and descending its banks.

“We are unstoppable,” the activists declared, “another world is possible!”

“This is not only about coal power,” said Sina Reisch, spokeswoman of Ende Gelände, in a statement. “This is about changing a destructive system that is based on the quest for infinite economic growth and exploitation. We are fighting for a future in which people count more than profits.”

This is what it looked like, as one group put it, when “a thousand heroes enter the #Garzweiler mine”:

The climate action group 350 Europe said the collective action gave them “chills” to witness…—Jon Queally, “‘We Are Unstoppable, Another World Is Possible!’: Hundreds Storm Police Lines to Shut Down Massive Coal Mine in Germany,” Common Dreams News, 6/22/19

“This is not only about coal power,” said one Ende Gelände spokesperson. “This is about changing a destructive system that is based on the quest for infinite economic growth and exploitation. We are fighting for a future in which people count more than profits.”

This is what it looked like, as one group put it, when “a thousand heroes enter the #Garzweiler mine”:

The climate action group 350 Europe said the collective action gave them “chills” to witness…—Jon Queally, “‘We Are Unstoppable, Another World Is Possible!’: Hundreds Storm Police Lines to Shut Down Massive Coal Mine in Germany,” Common Dreams News, 6/22/19


World’s biggest sovereign wealth fund to ditch fossil fuels

World’s biggest sovereign wealth fund to ditch fossil fuels

Norway’s Government Pension Fund Global gets go ahead to divest $13bn of investments

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, which manages $1tn (£786bn) of Norway’s assets, has been given the go ahead for the largest fossil fuel divestment to date by dropping more than $13bn of investments.

Norway’s parliament voted plans into law on Wednesday for the fund to dump investments in eight coal companies and an estimated 150 oil producers.

The divestment plan means the fund will drop coal investments worth an estimated $6bn, which could include shares in the mining companies Anglo-American, Glencore and the German energy firm RWE.

The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund, which manages $1tn (£786bn) of Norway’s assets, has been given the go ahead for the largest fossil fuel divestment to date by dropping more than $13bn of investments.

Norway’s parliament voted plans into law on Wednesday for the fund to dump investments in eight coal companies and an estimated 150 oil producers.

The divestment plan means the fund will drop coal investments worth an estimated $6bn, which could include shares in the mining companies Anglo-American, Glencore and the German energy firm RWE.

The Government Pension Fund Global, which is built on Norway’s legacy oil earnings, will also move ahead with plans to scrap investments worth $7bn in oil exploration and production companies.

Further reading: Congress pushes for storage, renewables to have same private investment incentives as fossil fuels

It will, however, retain stakes in oil companies which are limiting their exposure to fossil fuels by investing in clean energy technologies. These include BP and Shell, but rule out London-listed North Sea companies including Premier Oil and Tullow Oil.

It will also step back from any company which generates more than 10GW of electricity from coal, or mines more 20m tonnes of thermal coal a year.

Alongside the breakthrough for fossil fuel divestment, the fund will for the first time have a legal mandate to invest directly in renewable energy projects rather than listed energy companies. The legislation empowers it to invest up to $20bn, beginning with wind and solar projects in developed markets.…—Jillian Ambrose, “World’s biggest sovereign wealth fund to ditch fossil fuels,” The Guardian, 6/12/19


The climate change lawsuit
that could stop the U.S. government
from supporting fossil fuels

The climate change lawsuit that could stop the U.S. government from supporting fossil fuels

A lawsuit filed on behalf of 21 kids alleges the U.S. government knowingly failed to protect them from climate change. If the plaintiffs win, it could mean massive changes for the use of fossil fuels

…Julia Olson: So this is a timeline that we put together…

It documents what and when past U.S. administrations knew about the connection between fossil fuels and climate change. The timeline goes back 50 years, beginning with the presidency of Lyndon Johnson.

So during President Johnson’s administration, they issued a report in 1965 that talked about climate change being a catastrophic threat.

Whether it was a Democrat or a Republican in office, Olson says, there was an awareness of the potential dangers of carbon dioxide emissions.

Every president knew that burning fossil fuels was causing climate change.

Fifty years of evidence has been amassed by Olson and her team, 36,000 pages in all, to be used in court.

Julia Olson: Our government, at the highest levels, knew and was briefed on it regularly by the national security community, by the scientific community. They have known for a very long time that it was a big threat.

Steve Kroft: Has the government disputed that government officials have known about this for more than 50 years and been told and warned about it for 50 years?

Julia Olson: No. They admit that the government has known for over 50 years that burning fossil fuels would cause climate change. And they don’t dispute that we are in a danger zone on climate change. And they don’t dispute that climate change is a national security threat and a threat to our economy and a threat to people’s lives and safety. They do not dispute any of those facts of the case.

The legal proceedings have required the government to make some startling admissions in court filings. It now acknowledges that human activity – in particular, elevated concentrations of greenhouse gases – is likely to have been the dominant cause of observed warming since the mid-1900s… That global carbon dioxide concentrations reached levels unprecedented for at least 2.6 million years… That climate change is increasing the risk of loss of life and the extinction of many species and is associated with increases in hurricane intensity, the frequency of intense storms, heavy precipitation, the loss of sea ice and rising sea levels. And the government acknowledges that climate change’s effects on agriculture will have consequences for food scarcity.…—Steve Kroft, “Juliana v. United States: The climate change lawsuit that could stop the U.S. government from supporting fossil fuels,” 60 Minutes|CBS News, 3/3/19


Arctic sea ice loss affects the jet stream

Arctic sea ice loss affects the jet stream – Physics World

The jet stream affects northern hemisphere climates. And global warming affects the behaviour of the jet stream. Prepare for yet more extremes of seasonal weather

Did you shiver in a winter ice storm? Could you wilt in a protracted heatwave this summer? German scientists have just identified the guilty agency and delivered the evidence implicating the jet stream.

Blame it on Arctic warming, they conclude: the retreat of the sea ice over the polar ocean has distorted the pattern of flow of the stratospheric winds usually known as the jet stream.

It is not a new idea. But this time, scientists have employed artificial intelligence and a machine-learning programme to accurately model the changes in the jet stream and then link these to changes in the chemistry of the upper atmosphere, and increasing patterns of twisting waves in the high altitude winds which then distort seasonal weather in the northern hemisphere mid-latitudes. They describe their research in the journal Scientific Reports.

“Our study shows that the changes in the jet stream are at least partly due to the loss of Arctic sea ice. If the ice cover continues to dwindle, we believe that both the frequency and intensity of the extreme weather events previously observed in the middle latitudes will increase,” said Markus Rex, who heads atmospheric research at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Potsdam, Germany.

Cold bouts explained

“In addition, our findings confirm that the more frequently occurring cold phases in winter in the USA, Europe and Asia are by no means a contradiction to global warming; rather they are part of anthropogenic climate change.”

Further reading: Hot Arctic and a Chill in the Northeast: What’s Behind the Gloomy Spring Weather?

The jet stream – exploited by jet aircraft on the trans-Atlantic routes – is made up of westerly winds that, at an altitude of 10 km, stream around the planet in the mid-latitudes, at speeds of up to 500 km an hour, and push weather systems from west to east.

But researchers have already observed this: they have been changing, in response to global warming and in particular to the rapid warming of the Arctic, as greenhouse gas ratios in the atmosphere rise, and go on rising, in response to profligate human combustion of fossil fuels.…—Tim Radford, “Arctic sea ice loss affects the jet stream,” Physics World, 6/14/19


Potentially historic and deadly early summer heat wave
o roast Europe, peaking midweek

Potentially historic and deadly early summer heat wave to roast Europe, peaking midweek

Temperatures are expected to be 20 to 30 degrees above normal, near 100 in Paris and Berlin.

An intense heat wave is set to bake Europe in coming days, and it could be historic, potentially shattering records across a large portion of the continent.

“High humidity meant it would feel like 47 °C [116.6 °F], experts warned. —”‘Hell is coming’: week-long heatwave begins across Europe,” The Guardian

The heat wave is expected to peak in the middle part of this week, when a swath from Spain to Poland is expected to see temperatures at least 20 to 30 degrees (11 to 17 degrees Celsius) above normal. Actual temperatures should surge to at least 95 to 105 degrees (35 to 40 degrees Celsius) over a sprawling area, with some spots hotter.

Weather Underground’s Bob Henson notes that this projected heat wave is “unusually strong for so early in the summer.”

Early summer heat waves can be especially lethal, as people have not yet had time to acclimatize to the higher temperatures. Older adults, the homeless and those without air conditioning are most susceptible to heat-related illnesses.…— Ian Livingston, “Heat wave in Europe: Potentially historic and deadly temperatures to roast continent,” The Washington Post, 6/24/19


Nuclear waste will be classified as safer
under a controversial Trump administration change

Nuclear waste will be classified as safer under a controversial Trump administration change

The Energy Department will change how it will dispose of nuclear weapons waste in the future, redefining high-level radioactive waste to a lower standard.

The federal Department of Energy is changing how it will dispose of nuclear weapons waste, reclassifying what was formerly considered high-level radioactive material to a lower standard, officials said in a formal notice Wednesday.

The new approach triggered immediate opposition in Washington state, South Carolina and Idaho, which contend that the Energy Department wants to bury dangerous waste in shallow pits.

Paul Dabbar, the department’s undersecretary for science, said the approach will allow for faster cleanup of contaminated areas and lower cleanup costs, and bring a more realistic approach to public health and safety.

The Energy Department “is going to analyze each waste stream and manage it in accordance with Nuclear Regulatory Commission standards, with the goal of getting the lower-level waste out of these states without sacrificing public safety,” Dabbar said.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, said the move is illegal.

“By taking this action, the administration seeks to cut out state input and move towards disposal options of their choosing, including those already deemed to be unsafe by their own assessments and in violation of the existing legally binding agreement,” he said. “We will consider all options to stop this reckless and dangerous action.”…—Ralph Vartabedian “Nuclear waste will be classified as safer under a controversial Trump administration change,” Los Angeles Times, 6/4/19


500 – Internal Server Error

Court throws replacement of Enbridge Line 3 into limbo
judges rebuke state agency

Court throws replacement of Enbridge Line 3 into limbo; judges rebuke state agency

Line 3 replacement may be delayed further due to “inadequate” environmental study.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed a ruling by state utility regulators on the environmental impact statement for Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, throwing new uncertainty on the controversial project.

The court ruled Monday that the statement was “inadequate because it did not address the potential impact of an oil spill into the Lake Superior watershed.” The decision to omit this issue was “arbitrary and capricious,” the Appeals Court ruled.

The court, acting on appeals from two environmental groups and three American Indian tribes, remanded the adequacy decision back to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and, it would appear, to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which conducted the environmental impact statement, or EIS.

Redoing even a small part of the voluminous EIS could take months, raising questions about more delays in Enbridge’s schedule for Line 3.

Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge said in a statement that the PUC will have to decide how to respond to the court’s objections. The commission has not yet laid out a process or timetable for doing that. Procedural delays and other court rulings have pushed back the project schedule several times.—”Enbridge pipeline project hits another Minnesota obstacle,” The Daily Reporter

The PUC granted Enbridge a “certificate of need” for Line 3 last June, the company’s most critical approval. Still, Enbridge needs several other state permits and the blessing of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Further reading: Will Line 3 Become the Next Major Pipeline Protest?

Those permitting decisions aren’t expected until November at the earliest. And the remaining state permits now can’t be issued until Line 3’s EIS is retooled, the appellate court ruling notes.…—Mike Hughlett, “Environmental impact statement for Enbridge oil pipeline ruled inadequate,”  Minneapolis|St. Paul Star Tribune, 6/4/19


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