The Banner, Vol. 5, No. 46 – The Ecology of Change

November 22, 2019
As the number of activists and initiatives grow in response to the climate crisis, the question of how we relate to one another rises in significance. It seems neither movements, groups nor individuals conceive of activism the same way – or even completely compatible ways. And honing our skills for working together is central to our ability to convince others to work with us and with each other, in myriad ways. This week we attempt to explore the ecology of activism and change.
But first the news.

Twenty-nine Arrested as New Yorkers Shut Down
Construction of Massive Fracked Gas Power Plant

Citing the plant’s large contribution to climate change and local air pollution, ResistCVE coalition calls on Governor Cuomo to shut down the Cricket Valley plant for good. (Photo by Erik McGregor)

 

Impacted residents and supporters from across the Northeast, including local farmers, used a tractor blockade and climbed a 275ft tall smokestack halting construction of the Cricket Valley fracked gas power plant for a day on November 6, 2019, citing the plant’s large contribution to climate change and local air pollution, they are calling on Governor Cuomo to shut down the fracked gas power plant for good.

Farmers fly a banner and flags from atop one of Cricket Valley Energy’s smokestacks under construction. PHOTO: Erik McGregor – erikmcgregor.com

“Our valley has a lot of important resources, everything from our children, an elementary, middle and high school, to some of the largest freshwater deposits in New York State and our local farms, all which need clean air to survive and thrive,” said local farmer Ben Schwartz, one of the four people who climbed the smokestack.

Further reading: Anti-fracking protesters arrested in Dover

Now we need your support for the legal support. To support us as we continue this fight, please donate here. This is a grassroots effort so your dollar goes a long way. You will help us fund legal costs. Thanks for whatever help you can give us. In solidarity, Resist Cricket Valley!—Jess Mullen, Lee Ziesche, “29 Arrests as New Yorkers Shut Down Fracked Gas Power Plant,” ResistCVE, 11/18/19

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It Takes Everyone to Change Everything

Let’s Do This: East Aurora, Friday 11/22/19

Everyone is needed to address the climate crisis. We’d like to invite you to continue to strike to raise the youth voice demanding that we protect our future. There are over 350 weekly strikes around the nation. You can join a strike near you:

East Aurora
Start: Friday, November 22, 2019 12:00 PM
East Aurora
In front of middle school
East Aurora, NY

Please join us on Friday to demand action on the climate crisis. Bring signs if you have them. Share pictures from the strike. Please tag #FridaysForFuture and #ClimateStrike on social media posts.

Click here to RSVP.

Find other strikes around the nation or add a strike here: https://actionnetwork.org/event_campaigns/fridays-for-future-strikes

We’re changing the world but can’t stop now. We’ll be building through the next Global Strike on November 29 and actions on December 6 leading into the COP25 talks to implement the Paris Accord.

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Con Ed’s Rate Case Proposal Will Mean Higher Bills and More Gas

As Consolidated Edison’s rate hike request is heard before a judge, New Yorkers call out their negligence for locking customers into higher rates for more fossil fuels, ignoring Cuomo’s bold climate law and globally consented climate science.

New York, New York —Con Edison had months to negotiate with parties in this case to plan for the inevitable transition away from methane gas, but instead they chose to thumb their nose at the Governor, the Legislature and most importantly the thousands of New Yorkers who fought hard to enact aggressive climate law. The company is insisting on saddling customers with the costs of what will soon become a defunct gas system. Will the Governor stand up to this utility climate denialism and insist that utilities be held to New York’s climate goals?

Prior to an administrative hearing on a negotiated settlement on Consolidated Edison’s (Con Ed) recent proposal to raise rates in New York City, New Yorkers rallied outside saying the plan fails the climate test by investing nearly a billion dollars a year expanding and extending the life of fracked gas infrastructure.

Con Ed wants to spend hundreds of millions of our ratepayer dollars every year on fracked gas pipelines and a liquefied natural gas facility. Climate science says we need to be getting off gas, but Con Ed wants to continue business as usual because investments in gas infrastructure are what make their shareholders money. We are further dismayed to see that the City of New York and the New York State Department of Public Service, also parties to this case, lack the leadership we need by signing onto this request that keeps business-as-usual, and closes its eyes to the hard work of NYC and NYS legislators who passed a package of bold climate laws this year to protect our frontline city, and comply with international agreements to act on what climate science tells us.”

Multiple parties in the rate case including Alliance For a Green Economy, Sane Energy Project and Pace Energy and Climate Center have argued for months that Con Ed’s plans to heavily invest ratepayer dollars in fracked gas infrastructure goes against recently passed New York State climate legislation, a position supported by those who fought for it.

Stephan Edel, Project Director, NY Working Families, pointed out that “The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) is now the law of the land, informing the operations of all the departments of the State of New York, including the Department of Public Services and the entities they regulate. Corporate utilities cannot simply declare that the law doesn’t apply to them. It contradicts the clear intent of the Governor, Legislature, State agencies, and communities across the state to say otherwise. Utilities can and must begin to change their operations to avoid wasted investments that the law will preclude in the future as it comes into effect and New York works to meet our new legally mandated climate goals. (NY Working Families is a member of the NY Renews coalition, which includes environmental justice advocates, community groups, labor unions and faith communities. NY Renews was the lead group organizing to get the CLCPA passed.)

New York’s climate law, passed by the New York State Legislature and signed by Governor Cuomo in June mandates 40% greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2030 and 85% emissions reductions by 2050. The law requires state agencies — including utility regulators — to align their actions with those targets. Yet Con Edison’s plan to bring more fossil fuels into New York City while rejecting calls to immediately begin reducing its sales of the potent greenhouse gas methane, the main component of the gas it delivers to customers. The company has repeatedly argued that the CLCPA is not yet in effect and that it’s not clear whether the gas system will need to be reduced in favor of renewable heating.—Lee Ziesche, Jessica Azulay, “Con Ed’s Rate Case Proposal Will Mean Higher Bills and More Gas,” Sane Energy Project, 11/20/19

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Cap and Trade: More Pollution for the Poor and People of Color

An analysis by Food & Water Watch confirms that pollution trading schemes like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) compound the toxic burdens on disadvantaged communities.

Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic states that purports to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power plants. Lower-income communities and communities of color, already burdened by the disproportionate number of polluting facilities located in their communities, often lack the political influence to combat these inherently unfair market-based schemes. Under cap and trade, polluters are allowed to continue — or even increase — emissions that are hazardous to human health and the environment. An analysis by Food & Water Watch confirms that pollution trading schemes like RGGI compound the toxic burdens on disadvantaged communities.

Under RGGI, each state places an industry-wide “cap” on CO2 emissions from power plants and then auctions off a set number of “allowances” to polluters based on this steadily reducing cap. Power plants must hold one allowance for each ton of generated CO2 emissions in order to be considered in compliance with the program. Power plants can also choose to bank excess allowances for future use or sell them to other polluters.1

Food & Water Watch analyzed the communities that experienced either aggregate increases or decreases in CO2 and toxic fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions from RGGI power plant facilities by comparing the average change in emissions from 2011-2013 to 2014-2016, before and after a reduction in the RGGI cap. The results of the analysis found that: • RGGI operates in areas with extreme underlying environmental justice disparities — areas with RGGI power plants had disproportionally more people of color, more poverty, lower incomes and lower rates of educational attainment than areas without RGGI power plants.

Further reading: A Review of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Cato Institute, 2018

Under RGGI, each state places an industry-wide “cap” on CO2 emissions from power plants and then auctions off a set number of “allowances” to polluters based on this steadily reducing cap. Power plants must hold one allowance for each ton of generated CO2 emissions in order to be considered in compliance with the program. Power plants can also choose to bank excess allowances for future use or sell them to other polluters.1 Food & Water Watch analyzed the communities that experienced either aggregate increases or decreases in CO2 and toxic fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions from RGGI power plant facilities by comparing the average change in emissions from 2011-2013 to 2014-2016, before and after a reduction in the RGGI cap. The results of the analysis found that:

  • RGGI operates in areas with extreme underlying environmental justice disparities — areas with RGGI power plants had disproportionally more people of color, more poverty, lower incomes and lower rates of educational attainment than are without RGGI power plants.
  • Neighborhoods that experienced CO2 emission increases over the study period had disproportionally more people of color, more poverty and lower median household incomes compared to neighborhoods that experienced decreases in CO2 emissions.
  • Neighborhoods that experienced increases in both CO2 and PM2.5 emissions over the study period displayed even wider disparities — with higher proportions of people of color and lower median household incomes – compared to neighborhoods that experienced decreases in both of these pollutants.

These results provide concrete evidence that cap and trade programs like RGGI disproportionately harm people of color and low-income communities, exacerbating underlying disparities such as the concentration of polluting facilities in vulnerable neighborhoods.…—”Cap and Trade: More Pollution for the Poor and People of Color,” Food & Water Watch, 11/19/19

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Following Seneca Lake Guardian’s repeated Efforts,
EPA Says Greenidge Power Plant’s Coal Ash Landfill
Compliance Not “Optional”

DRESDEN, NY – As Greenidge Power Plant strives to convert to a large data storage facility in order to justify its existence, the facility, which used to be a coal burning plant, has a legacy of a toxic coal ash landfill called the Lockwood Landfill. While the public focus and media coverage has been primarily on the Greenidge Generation Power Plant, the Lockwood Ash Landfill where the coal ash was disposed of proves to be more of an immediate threat to the Keuka Outlet and Seneca Lake since this landfill, which was already in violation, has been discharging heavy metals into the groundwater.

Seneca Lake Guardian’s Research Director, Mary Anne Kowalski, first reported Lockwood to the EPA in October 2018. The EPA agreed, upon receipt of Seneca Lake Guardian’s documentation, that this landfill is still active and requires oversight by EPA. Lockwood’s attorneys had argued in a May 2019 letter to the EPA that “Coal Combustion Residual Rule (“CCR Rule”) does not apply to the Lockwood Hills Landfill because no CCR material has been received by the Lockwood Hills Landfill since October 19, 2015.” Despite this, they stated that Lockwood would choose to comply and that they would let the EPA know when they had completed the CCR rule requirements. The EPA responded in a letter recently obtained by Seneca Lake Guardian that they appreciated the offer to choose to comply, but that it was really not an option. The letter went on to state that, “Based on EPA’s review…. (the) EPA has determined that CCR was placed in the landfill during 2015, 2016 and 2017.”

“Recent reports indicate that the Lockwood ash landfill in Dresden has exceedances for a number of heavy metals, despite a consent order signed in 2015, and that the Lockwood Landfill is not monitoring for all the EPA mandated coal ash groundwater contaminants. Seneca Lake Guardian will continue to test and monitor this situation”, said Joseph Campbell, President of Seneca Lake Guardian.—”EPA Says Lockwood Coal Ash Landfill Compliance Not ‘Optional’,” Seneca Lake Guardian, 11/18/19

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Pennsylvania families demand investigation
into rare cancers

The families of young people diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer confronted Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday over what they called his administration’s insufficient response to a health crisis they blame on pollution from the shale gas industry.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The families of young people diagnosed with a rare childhood cancer confronted Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday over what they called his administration’s insufficient response to a health crisis they blame on pollution from the shale gas industry.

Dozens of children and young adults have been diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma and other forms of cancer in a four-county region of southwestern Pennsylvania where energy companies have drilled more than 3,500 wells since 2008. An investigation by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this year identified six Ewing cases in a single school district.

The cause of Ewing sarcoma is unknown, and there’s been no evidence linking the Pennsylvania cases to drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the method that energy companies use to extract natural gas from shale rock. The American Cancer Society says there are “no known lifestyle-related or environmental causes” of Ewing, a rare bone cancer that’s diagnosed in about 200 children and teens across the U.S. each year.

But the families, joined by anti-drilling activists, demanded that Wolf launch an environmental investigation into the cancers that have devastated their loved ones.

“I want answers, and I want answers now. Give us the truth,” said Carla Marratto Cumming, whose 19-year-old brother, Luke Blanock, died of Ewing sarcoma in 2016. “What’s going on is killing our families, and it’s not OK.”

The region’s lawmakers recently secured a $100,000 state grant for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to perform genetic testing of Ewing patients, but the families said it’s not enough. They gave Wolf an earful when he met with them in the hallway outside his office at the Capitol on Monday.…—Michael Rubinkam, “Pennsylvania families demand investigation into rare cancers,” Star Tribune, 11/18/19

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FBI Investigating Wolf Administration
Over Mariner East Pipeline Permits

<h3style=”display: none;”>AP: FBI Is Investigating Wolf Administration’s Issuing of Mariner East Pipeline Permits – The Allegheny Front

FBI agents have interviewed current or former state employees in recent weeks about the Mariner East project, which has a long track record of drilling mud spills, fines and regulatory shutdowns.

The Associated Press is reporting that the FBI has begun a corruption investigation into how Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration came to issue permits for construction on a multibillion-dollar pipeline project to carry highly volatile natural gas liquids across Pennsylvania.

The AP said it has learned that FBI agents have interviewed current or former state employees in recent weeks about the Mariner East project and the construction permits, according to three people who have direct knowledge of the agents’ line of questioning.

All three spoke on condition of anonymity because they said they could not speak publicly about the investigation.

The focus of the agents’ questions involves the permitting of the pipeline, whether Wolf and his administration forced environmental protection staff to approve construction permits and whether Wolf or his administration received anything in return, those people say.

Mariner East 2 carries volatile natural gas liquids from Marcellus Shale fields in Ohio and western Pennsylvania to an export terminal at Marcus Hook in Delaware County, near Philadelphia. It’s part of a three-stage project: Mariner East 1 involved reversing the flow of an existing line; the company has plans to build Mariner East 2x. All three lines will run along the same right of way.

Mariner East 2 went into service in December 2018. It has a long track record of drilling mud spills, fines and regulatory shutdowns. As of August, the Department of Environmental protection had entered into several consent orders and agreements with the company resulting from permit violations, and issued just under 100 separate notices of violations resulting in more than $13 million in penalties.…—Susan Phillips, Scott Blanchard, Reid Frazier, “FBI Is Investigating Wolf Administration’s Issuing of Mariner East Pipeline Permits,” The Allegheny Front|State Impact Pennsylvania, 1/13/19

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The Ecology of Activism
Ways to Change the World

Naomi Klein is a Canadian author, social activist and filmmaker. She has recently released her latest book ‘On Fire: The Burning Case for a Green New Deal’, which explores how bold climate action she says can be a blueprint for a just and thriving society.

She talks to Krishnan about the impact of Extinction Rebellion, the rising demand for a Green New Deal and whether fast fashion has to go.—Krishnan Guru Murthy, “Naomi Klein on Extinction Rebellion, the Green New Deal and fast fashion,” Channel 4 News|YouTube, 10/6/19

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Amid flooding and rising sea levels,
residents of one barrier island wonder if it’s time to retreat

OCRACOKE, N.C. — On any normal late-fall day, the ferries that ply the 30 miles between Swan Quarter and this barrier island might carry vacationing retirees, sports fishermen and residents enjoying mainland getaways after the busy summer tourist season.

But two months ago, Hurricane Dorian washed away all signs of normalcy here. After buzz-cutting the Bahamas, the giant storm rolled overhead, raising a seven-foot wall of water in its wake that sloshed back through the harbor, invading century-old homes that have never before taken in water and sending islanders such as post office head Celeste Brooks and her two grandchildren scrambling into their attics.

Ocracoke has been closed to visitors ever since. Island-bound ferries carry yawning container trucks to haul back the sodden detritus of destroyed homes. And O’cockers — proud descendants of the pilots and pirates who navigated these treacherous shores — are faced with a reckoning: whether this sliver of sand, crouched three feet above sea level between the Atlantic Ocean and Pamlico Sound, can survive the threats of extreme weather and rising sea levels. And if it can’t, why rebuild?

“That’s the unspoken question. That’s what nobody wants to say,” said Erin Baker, the only doctor to serve this community of 1,000. “It’s a question of how do we continue to have life here.”…—Roger Straw, “Amid flooding and rising sea levels, residents of one barrier island wonder if it’s time to retreat,” The Benicia Independent, 11/11/19

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ON LOCATION: ‘Frightening.’
Scientists contemplate the melting Arctic

Leaving the central Arctic is a special kind of bittersweet. For many travelers, there’s a good chance they’ll never visit again. And for those who do, the region could look dramatically different the next time they see it.

That’s because Arctic temperatures are rising at least twice as fast as the rest of the globe. And as the region warms, the sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean is steadily melting away.

For now, there are large swaths of the central Arctic that remain frozen all year round. But as the thickest, oldest ice disappears and summer temperatures skyrocket, some scientists worry it won’t last forever. Recent research suggests that the Arctic could experience its first totally ice-free summer within a few decades.

Even winter ice cover is thinner and smaller than it was a few decades ago. And as long as greenhouse gas emissions warm the Earth’s climate, it will continue to shrink.

“It still feels impressive and positive and fascinating to be here and be able to witness this change,” said Mauro Hermann, a doctoral student at ETH Zurich. “So it’s something big. I would call it … majestic. But, yeah, in a frightening way.”…—Chelsea Harvey, “ON LOCATION: ‘Frightening.’ Scientists contemplate the melting Arctic,” E&E News, 10/30/19

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Perhaps we made the mountain god angry

Nomadic Changpa pastoralists at the high grazing grounds of Ladakh find their yak-related economy in a crisis that is driven by major climatic shifts in their fragile mountainous ecosystems

Those headlines of May 12 this year hit me hard. From my own trips as a photojournalist into the Himalayas, I know that the nomadic pastoralists who rear these animals go to any length to protect them. Across vital stretches of those great mountains, yaks are the lifeline for high-altitude herders – nomadic pastoralists driving a seasonal movement of livestock between fixed summer and winter pastures. Yaks are among their primary means of earning and a food source during wintertime.

Some of the articles with those headlines linked the yak deaths to global warming. It was clear that if the hardy animals were taking such a hit, their herders would be in trouble too. I decided to return to the Changpa families in Ladakh’s Hanle Valley and look at how both were doing.

Further reading 300 Himalayan yaks starve to death in Sikkim
Trapped in Snow Nearly 300 Yaks Die Due to Starvation in North Sikkim
Melting snow bares Sikkim yak tragedy

The Changpas of the Changthang region in India – a western extension of the Tibetan Plateau – are among the foremost producers of cashmere wool, and they also rear yaks. Hanle Valley of Leh district’s Nyoma block is home to several herding units of Changpa – Dique, Kharloog, Maque, Raque and Yulpa. The Dique and Raque are perhaps the finest yak herders there are.

“We are losing a lot of yaks,” says expert Dique herder Jhampal Tsering, 35, in Hanle. “Now, the weather here [in the high mountains] is unpredictable.” I met Tsering thanks to Sonam Dorjee of Khaldo village in the valley, who works at the Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle. Tsering talked to us in his spacious khur (army tent in the Ladakhi language) at the Taknakpo grazing ground located at about 14,000 feet.

Three years before the May 2019 disaster in Sikkim, the Nepal-based International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development had published a paper noting “the yak population in Bhutan, India and Nepal has shown a declining trend in recent years.” The researchers found a fall in the yak population in India “from 132,000 in 1977 to 51,000 in 1997.” A decline of over 60 per cent in just three decades.…—Ritayan Mukherjee, “Perhaps we made the mountain god angry,” Rural India Online, 7/22/19

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“The bottom line is, everyone is sort of complicit, you can’t live your life without participating in the destruction of the next generation, and that makes everyone uncomfortable.”—Roger Hallam,”Hypocrisy ,” Extinction Rebellion|YouTube, 11/15/19

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An Erie biology professor felt like he couldn’t control
what’s happening in Washington. Then
he led a campaign against a polluting coke plant in his community

Some of the wildflowers in the overgrown field reach Mike Campbell’s head.

He walked through them one recent day, pointing out where to watch for railroad tracks, as he got closer to Erie Coke.

It’s an industrial plant on the shore of one of the Great Lakes where workers turn coal into a key ingredient for steel manufacturing. The operation has a long history of environmental violations, and it survived a shut-down attempt by state regulators almost a decade ago.

It’s now being targeted again — in part thanks to Campbell and a group he helped start.

When Campbell reached the fence line for the Erie Coke plant, the 64-year-old college biology professor and part-time activist saw a red smokestack and an area where workers bring coal.

He picked up a smell.

“We’re getting a whiff of air pollution right now that I’ll probably end up sending in a complaint,” Campbell told a reporter. “….It smells like a mix of rotten eggs and fresh tar.”

More than a year ago, Campbell and other members of a group called Hold Erie Coke Accountable launched a public campaign to put increased pressure on the plant — and state regulators.

In July, 2019, the state Department of Environmental Protection denied the company’s application to renew an operating permit and filed a complaint in the Erie County Court of Common Pleas to shut it down. DEP said the plant was unable or unwilling to comply with state and federal law.

That got the attention of environmental activists in other areas of the state.

“I was a little surprised to see such aggressive action,” said Rachel Filippini, executive director of Group Against Smog and Pollution, based outside Pittsburgh. “But I was pleased to see that state regulators are taking this issue seriously.”

Erie Coke appealed DEP’s decision, and a judge recently ruled that it can remain open if it meets certain conditions.

So the fight isn’t over.…—Ed Mahon, “An Erie biology professor felt like he couldn’t control what’s happening in Washington. Then he led a campaign against a polluting coke plant in his community,” StateImpact Pennsylvania|NPR, 9/30/19

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Oregon Youth Climate Case

For the last seven years, we have represented two courageous youth from Eugene, Oregon – Ollie Chernaik and Kelsey Juliana – who are both concerned that the State of Oregon is actively contributing to the devastating effects of climate change. These two young people have bravely chosen to stand up for their generation and to ask that the courts step in where the other branches of government have failed.

Since 2011, Crag has represented two courageous youth from Eugene, Oregon – Ollie Chernaik and Kelsey Juliana – who are both concerned that the State of Oregon is not doing enough to prevent the devastating effects of climate change. These two young people have bravely chosen to stand up for their generation and to ask that the courts step in where the other branches of government have failed. Concerned about rising sea levels, reduced snowpack and water supplies, drought, fire, and disease, they brought a case against the Governor of Oregon asserting that the State of Oregon has a legal obligation to protect the atmosphere, a public trust resource, by limiting greenhouse gas emissions. They contend the state has failed to fulfill its duty under the public trust doctrine to safeguard the atmosphere for future generations.

in January 2019 the Court of Appeals issued a disappointing decision that would allow the state to sit back and allow the waters, wildlife, and other natural resources of the state to waste away in the face of climate change impacts.

Despite the setback to the case in early 2019, these youth are not done fighting. In response to the most recent ruling by the Court of Appeals, Ollie said: “I am saddened to hear the decision that has been made. For almost a decade I have been part of this case, and I am upset that it has taken us so long to move through the courthouse on an issue that will not wait. I am upset that the government won’t preserve all of our resources for future generations. I am upset that the Court of Appeals ruled in our favor before, but has not done so again. This is one fight of many, victory isn’t impossible because of one loss.”

Further reading: Groups, lawmakers rally support for youth climate lawsuit vs. Oregon

On May 23, 2019, the Oregon Supreme Court granted the youth plaintiffs’ request to review a decision in youth-led climate lawsuit against the State of Oregon, Chernaik v. Brown.

On July 31, 2019, Crag filed Kelsey and Ollie’s opening brief to the Supreme Court. The brief argues that the public trust doctrine is grounded in the people’s rights to shared essential natural resources and requires the state to protect those resources in trust for all Oregonians. Five other briefs from “friends of the court” were also filed in support of the youth’s case, representing Oregon legislators, Multnomah and Lane counties, businesses, conservation and justice organizations, faith groups, law professors, and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association. The State will file its responsive brief in the first week of September, and the youth will have one final opportunity for a written reply before oral arguments on November 13 at David Douglas High School in East Portland.”—”Oregon Youth Climate Case,” Crag Law Center, 2019

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Naomi Klein: The Case for a Green New Deal

Author and activist Naomi Klein joins Steve Paikin to discuss her new book, “On Fire: The Burning Case of a Green New Deal,” in which she makes the case for why a Green New Deal is a necessary framework for tackling climate collapse and economic inequality.—Steve Paikin, “Naomi Klein: The Case for a Green New Deal,” The Agenda with Steve Paikin|YouTube, 9/20/19

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Research outlines ‘roadmap’
for land use to slow climate change

Research outlines ‘roadmap’ for land use to slow climate change

Overhauling how humans manage Earth’s surface could account for the equivalent of 15 billion metric tons (16.5 billion tons) of CO2 every year through a combination of lower emissions and higher sequestration, according to a new report.

That amount of carbon is almost a third of what we need to mitigate by 2050 to keep the global temperature rise under 1.5 degrees Celsius (2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels, scientists say.

“Coming on the heels of historically high summertime temperatures, and in the wake of reports sounding alarms about the state of our forests and food system, this report highlights land-based climate solutions — what to do where, and by when — that are feasible now and deliver many other benefits,” Stephanie Roe, an environmental scientist at the University of Virginia and the study’s lead author, said in a statement.

In a paper published Oct. 21 in the journal Nature Climate Change, Roe and her colleagues pulled together research on the predicted impacts of various strategies involving the “land sector” aimed at winnowing down emissions and removing existing carbon dioxide from the air. Their recommendations serve as a roadmap for avoiding the dangers of unchecked climate change, they write.

Among the most important steps in the next decade or so are cutting deforestation and the loss of peatlands and mangroves by 70 percent, bringing back those ecosystems in places where they’ve been lost, and increasing the use of techniques like agroforestry to integrate trees with food crops. The authors also say that bolstering carbon storage capabilities in agricultural soils and human behavior change — such as eating less meat and cutting food waste — are also priorities.…—John Cannon, “Research outlines ‘roadmap’ for land use to slow climate change,” Mongabay, 10/24/19

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DOE must implement 4 long-delayed efficiency standards,
9th Circuit Rules

The rules, initiated under the Obama Administration but delayed by President Trump’s Energy Department, could save U.S. households and businesses at least $8 billion over 30 years, advocates say.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco on Thursday handed clean energy advocates a major win, directing the Trump Administration to implement efficiency standards for four products that have been delayed for years.

The standards cover portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors and commercial packaged boilers. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which sued the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to have the rules issued, expects them to save consumers $8.4 billion in utility costs over the next three decades.

The new rules were put on hold in January 2017 as President Trump came into office, as part of a freeze on new regulations. The rules would typically have been published in the Federal Register following a 45-day review period, but DOE declined, saying they were still under consideration.

The decision hinges on a close reading of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, and whether the word “will” meant DOE was required to issue the regulations following a period for corrections to be identified and made.

“DOE nonetheless contends that … the word ‘will’ was intended to be merely descriptive rather than prescriptive,” the court wrote. “We do not think that is a plausible reading of the provision’s language.”…—Robert Walton, “DOE must implement 4 long-delayed efficiency standards, 9th Circuit Rules,” Utility Dive, 10/11/19

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AJC poll shows Georgia voters
want more done to fight climate change

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution survey found that about 63% of Georgia voters think the country is not doing enough to address climate change.

Nearly two-thirds of Georgia voters believe the U.S. should do more to combat climate change, according to a new Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll, suggesting local voters would like to see a change of course on an issue that’s deeply divided state and federal lawmakers.

The survey found that about 63% of Georgia voters think the country is not doing enough to address climate change, compared with about 31% who replied the U.S. has responded adequately or even done too much.

Further reading: See poll results

Women were more likely than men to believe more should be done — 66% compared with 58% — and richer people making between $100,000 and $150,000 a year were almost three times more likely than the state’s poorest voters to believe the country has acted appropriately.…—Tamar Hallerman, “Poll: Georgia voters want more done against climate change,” Atlanta Journal Constitution 11/14/19

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