Nel's New Day

April 10, 2017

People Fight against Climate Change

Filed under: Climate change — trp2011 @ 8:29 PM
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With his bombing of Syria, Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may (or may not!) slow down his destruction of the United States. Congress won’t be revoking any orders from President Obama within two weeks because they’ve left town on their junkets. Meanwhile, the environment is winning in some areas of the United States.

A few weeks ago, DDT signed a number of orders to exacerbate climate change with the excuse that it would create jobs and save money. The bad news for him is that the increase of clean energy is moving along like a speeding train. In the United States, clean energy jobs outnumber oil and gas jobs by more than 2.5 to 1, a ratio that grows each year. Only nine states have more jobs in fossil fuels than in clean energy. Massachusetts is currently considering a bill that would mandate the state obtain all of its energy—electricity, transportation, and heating—from renewable resources by 2050, and 25 U.S. cities are committed to transitioning to renewable energy, some of them making this decision after the presidential election. Ironically, the top five wind-energy producing congressional districts have GOP representatives in Congress.

Last year, one in every 50 new jobs in the nation was in the solar industry that employs 260,000 people, double that from 2010 employments. Coal mining jobs number under 100,000 although the National Mining Association, a trade group, counted 195,494 coal-mining jobs in 2012 that included miners, support activities, and transportation. That high number has shrunk in the past five years. Since 2012, the world has brought more power online from renewables than fossil fuels.

Last year, the European Union had 86 percent of its electricity capacity from renewable sources, and Canada gets more than 80 per cent of its power from emissions-free sources and nearly two-thirds from renewable energy. India hopes to add 175 gigawatts of renewable electricity in five years, the equivalent of Canada’s entire electrical system. China adds enough solar panels to cover three soccer fields every hour. Planning to become the world leader in clean energy, China will invest $361 billion in renewable energy and create 13 million clean energy jobs by 2020.

Earlier this spring the utilities that own the massive 2,250 megawatt Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, one of the biggest polluters in the nation, will close it by 2019. Even better, the utilities may be out by the end of the year because the plant can’t keep running unless the Navajo Nation agrees to extend the lease.

In Alaska, PacRim Coal suspended all its permitting processes for a proposed $600 million Chuitna coal mine because it lost investors. The state’s largest strip mine would have destroyed 30 square miles of salmon river and forest. Cheap natural gas and growth of renewable energy is causing coal mines to stall throughout the nation.

Low oil prices have caused Exxon to leave 3.5 billion barrels of its fuel in the tar sands, following the same practice as that of other companies such as ConocoPhillips, Statoil, and Royal Dutch Shell. Instead, Statoil plans to develop a gigantic offshore wind farm off the coast of New York State.

Washington state blocked plans for the nation’s biggest coal export terminal. The Millennium Bulk Terminals project, proposed for Longview, that would export Montana and Wyoming coal to Asia.

Pawnee (OK) is filing a class-action lawsuit against dozens of fossil fuel companies, accusing them of knowingly causing destructive earthquakes by injecting wastewater underground. Since the fracking frenzy in the state, Oklahoma has had thousands of earthquakes with almost all of them traced to the process. Most of the homes in the town, population 2,300 , have been damaged from cracks in walls, foundations, and storm shelters to short-circuited electrical outlets. A 2015 study by the U.S. Geological Survey indicated that fossil fuel production is causing these earthquakes.

The Pawnee Nation is also suing after an earthquake damaged near-century-old tribal buildings.

For the first time, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection admitted a correlation between fracking and earthquakes.

Maryland’s GOP governor, Larry Hogan, has signed a bill to ban hydraulic fracturing in the state. The law follows New York that banned fracking in 2015 and Vermont in 2012. Florida is considering a ban. Environmentalists in Maryland are moving on to protect the Chesapeake Bay where DDT wants to cut over 90 percent of federal funding to restore the bay.

Small California towns are defeating fossil fuels:

  • Benicia rejected a huge crude-by-rail project from Texas’ petroleum giant Valero after it wanted to send Bakken crude through the town.
  • Oxnard is fighting California Energy Commission plans to put a large gas-fired power plant on a local beach. Now choked with power plants, landfills, and a toxic waste Superfund site, the town plans a deindustrialized beach and restored coastal wetlands.
  • Santa Paula, near Oxnard, has decided to oppose a gas-fired plant after a company sets their sites on that town following Oxnard’s rejection.
  • Arvin elected a 23-year-old councilman as mayor because he promised to protect the city’s water and air. A future plan is to ban fracking.
  • San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors rejected a Phillips 66 crude-by-rail plan to bring oil into its Nipomo Mesa refinery in a location that had long supported refinery projects.

The importance of developing renewables is growing throughout the United States.

  • An increasing number of people in the United States oppose opening federal land for oil exploration, now 53 percent up from 34 percent just five years ago.
  • Another Gallup poll shows that 59 percent of the people are more concerned about protecting the environment and limiting human pollution that energy production cost.
  • Over 70 percent prefer the development of alternative energy to that of oil, gas, and coal; and about two-thirds favor higher emissions standards, including the enforcement of regulations. Only 35 percent of the respondents favor fracking.
  • Among voters, 78 percent think climate pollution should be regulated and/or taxed.
  • A new survey from the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication found that large majorities of registered U.S. voters want the federal government and businesses to do more to address climate change.
  • Most voters think the U.S. should transition to using more renewable energy and fewer fossil fuels.
  • Renewable energy is heavily supported across party lines, with 85 percent of Democrats, 78 percent of Independents, and 76 percent of Republicans agreeing that the U.S. needs more of it.
  • Sixty-nine percent of U.S. voters also want their country to participate in the Paris Agreement, a landmark climate deal reached by nearly 200 nations last year.
  • And 66 percent say the U.S. should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions whether other countries join in or not.

Looking to the future, the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum is now solar powered because it saves money.

A recent NASA study by NASA shows that rising sea levels may be almost eight inches during the past century, almost twice what they thought it would be. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40073-as-seas-around-mar-a-lago-rise-trump-s-cuts-could-damage-local-climate-work   One place at great danger if nothing is done to slow down climate change is DDT’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach County (FL). One of DDT’s budget cuts is the $73 million program Sea Grant along with $177 million for other NASA projects to protect communities. Other places that will probably be underwater by 2100 are AG Jeff Sessions’ hometown, Mobile (AL), and Ben Carson’s Detroit will lose drinking water to toxic algal blooms. But they’re all old and don’t care because they’ll be dead by then.

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August 3, 2013

Taking Action Moves the U.S. Forward

When I looked at today’s email, I saw a the usual plethora of petition seekers, this time asking me to sign onto protests against egregious acts of environmental and political abuses.

  • Major bank executives such as Chase CEO Jamie Dimon who lost $9 billion of depositors’ money through his fraudulent actions are regulating the banking industry by the law that allows them to serve on the New York Federal Reserve Board. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is introducing legislation to make this practice illegal.
  • Virginia’s Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, gubernatorial candidate, refused to repay $18,000 of gifts from Star Scientific, a dietary supplement company that benefitted from its relationship with the AG, because, Cuccinelli said, “There are some bells you can’t un-ring.”
  • New Hampshire state Rep. Bill O’Brien compared Obamacare to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that allowed slave-owners to take African-Americans out to the state back to the South.
  • The Securities and Exchange Committee has not yet passed regulations to require the disclosure of corporation CEO’s salaries despite the three-year-old Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law that mandates this action.
  • Cumulus will reportedly not re-hire Rush Limbaugh, but they may also be trying to jockey a better deal with the misogynist radio show host.
  • Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other stores that sell toxic pesticides containing neoicotinoids (neonics) because these are killing bees, vital for food production, at an inordinate rate; last winter beekeepers reports losses of 50-70 percent of their hives.

These petitions are just the proverbial drop in the bucket. As an activist, I want to make changes in the world; I write a monthly newspaper for the local chapter of PFLAG, help with the local chapter of NOW, and write this blog. But there’s so much more to do. Fortunately, other people are also taking action.

Popular Resistance has a website for people who want to create a sustainable future. It reports that one-third of the people in the United States are members of at least one cooperative, including credit unions. In Seattle, the Community Sourced Capital formed to help people avoid Wall Street and invest in their local communities.

In England, the Church of England has started its own credit union by working with non-profit loan agencies to provide less expensive loan services than the legal loan-shark cost of 1-percent interest per day.

Strike Debt Bay Area is working to reverse the privatizing of public services as in the case of the U.S. Post Office through education.  Another of its projects is to save the historic Berkeley post office, and other groups are focusing on ways the Post Office can expand and provide new services. An early project was to raise money to retire health care debts; as of last January the group had garnered over $11 million.

People in Washington state have put a measure on November’s ballot to require labeling of GMO foods. Companies like Monsanto have poured a great deal of money into the campaign, but success for initiative could lead to a national change. People are also working to buy directly from farmers despite efforts to stop this practice.

In the world, 46 countries get 60 percent of electricity from renewable, clean energy sources. The United States could do this by 2050 at the latest. Last year, the fastest growing source of new energy in the nation was wind that made up 42 percent of new electricity.

Over 600 corporations have been negotiating in secret with the Obama administration and its Office of the U.S .Trade Representative for the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would turn people’s rights over to the corporations around the world. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) said that it will undermine US sovereignty, and former US Trade Representative Ron Kirk admitted that it would not be signed if people knew its contents. The group Flush the TTP is small but growing as it educates people through displaying banners, distributing OccuCards to commuters, and carrying out other actions on #TTP Tuesdays.

Around the nation, people are occupying different spaces in a “dandelion movement” as they disperse seeds to grow their ideas. Through Moral Mondays, people spent 11 Monday evenings in North Carolina getting arrested for being present in the state capitol while GOP legislators continued to try to take away people’s rights.

Wisconsin police are also arresting people who gather in the capitol to sing. For the past two and a half years, Gov. Scott Walker’s opponents have held Solidarity Singalong most weekdays over the lunch hour. They have refused to get permits for their gathering, saying the state constitution allows them to peaceably assemble without the government’s permission. The GOP legislation passed requirements for permits. U.S. District Judge William Conley temporarily blocked part of the law as unconstitutional, but the rest of the law allowed the arrests last week. Retired Evangelical Lutheran Church pastor Carter Dary collapsed with chest pains after his arrest. He was taken to the hospital in handcuffs.

Wisconsin Protests

o-dream-defenders-facebookThe Florida sit-ins didn’t face the same arrests as protesters in North Carolina and Wisconsin. Activists stayed in the capitol for almost three weeks because the state “stand your ground” law freed George Zimmerman after he killed Trayvon Martin. State House Speaker, GOP Will Weatherford, announced that he would ask a House Committee to convene to hold a hearing on the controversial law. The Dream Defenders, primarily young people, say that they will stay in the capitol until their requests are met.

Fast-food workers are striking across the nation to bring up the minimum wage to equal that in the 1960s. Richmond (CA) the city will use its eminent domain power to seize underwater houses threatened with foreclosure and re-finance them.

Because of activism in Ohio, two major oil and gas companies decided not to follow through with fracking in the Delaware River Basin. Nebraska’s Pipeline Fighters are getting their countries to pass zoning laws forbidding tar sands pipelines from crossing through the state as well as writing letters to President Obama, asking him to keep the Keystone Pipeline out of their state.

In May, Gallup released a poll showing that the nation’s shift in ideological attitudes is moving toward the left: more people in the country identify themselves as “liberals” in regard to social and economic issues while fewer of them describe themselves as conservative. A Vanderbilt study shows that conservative politicians overestimate the conservative beliefs of their constituents by more than 20 percentage points on average. Liberal politicians following the same pattern, believing that their constituents are more conservative than they actually are.

Almost 90 percent of Republicans are white; the GOP has only a 13-percent allegiance from Hispanics and less from other minorities. That poll was in February before conservative politicians like Rep. Steve King (R-IA) started talking about how young Hispanics have thighs like cantaloupes because they haul so much marijuana. Polls aren’t always to be trusted, but Republican politicians keep working to alienate everyone in the country except wealthy whites.

At the same time, the percentage of religious progressives is rapidly increasing, particularly among the young. The profile of the Republican is older and white, a demographic that is disappearing. We just need to live long enough to see it disappear and hope that the country has not been destroyed by then. At least two political parties are a good idea, but the United States needs progressives to balance the moderate and right-wing groups.

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