This morning, demonstrators from Massachusetts blockaded the entrance to the headquarters of Footprint Power to protest the company’s proposed natural gas power plant in Salem, Massachusetts. The Salem plant, originally scheduled to come on-line in June 2016, has been delayed in part by legal battles, local grassroots opposition, and an ambitious timeline. These delays have jeopardized the plant’s financing and ultimate construction.Students protest at Footprint Power in NJ August 20, 2014 The protesters, who bound themselves together with chains and superglue, represent Students for a Just and Stable Future, a New England regional group of youth and students that supports strong policies to address the climate crisis.
Omnitrax had argued the plan to transport oil across hundreds of kilometres of remote rail line built on permafrost was safe and would help create much-needed jobs in the North. But the proposal was vehemently opposed by aboriginal groups, environmentalists and the government of Manitoba. Community consultations were “important factors” in the company’s decision to back away from the plan, Tweed said. “We listened to them. I share some of their concerns,” he said. “I’m not saying we can’t do it. I’m just saying right now, as the president of a company that’s looking to grow, we need to focus on the grain market.” The northern rail line has been plagued by derailments that have intermittently forced the suspension of both freight and passenger services. That bolstered the argument among detractors that shipping oil along the rail line was too risky to the environment and the safety of those who live in the region.
With so many homeowners and businesses making greener energy choices, private utilities – along with big oil, gas, coal, and nuclear companies – see the writing on the wall. Unlike some other denizens of the fossil-fueled set, this gang isn’t beating oil wells into solar panels, retiring nuclear reactors, or embracing wind and geothermal power. Instead, these guys are trying to coax lawmakers into rigging the rules against increasingly competitive new energy alternatives. You see, the bulwarks of conventional energy are good at math. And the math is increasingly not in their favor. Solar panels are growing so affordable, accessible, and popular that sun-powered energy accounted for 74 percent of the nation’s new electric generation capacity in the first three months of this year. Wind power comprised another 20 percent, geothermal 1 percent, and natural gas plus other sources accounted for the final 5 percent. Coal didn’t even register. OK, so that first-quarter surge was kind of an anomaly because it included the inauguration of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, the world’s largest solar-concentrating power plant. Through a vast array of seven-by-ten-foot mirrors located on federal land along the California-Nevada border, this remarkable site produces enough energy to power 140,000 homes. Another vast utility-scale project aptly called “Genesis Solar” ramped up too.
Popular Resistance will be organizing a contingent that brings together our various projects. Look for more on that in later updates and emails. In addition, Popular Resistance is helping to organize the New York City Climate Convergence: People, Planet and Peace Over Profit on September 19-21. The objective is to build and strengthen an environmental movement that addresses the root causes of the climate crises; a social-economic system that values profits above people, planet and peace. As the corporate captured UN proposes false solutions like carbon trading and sets meager greenhouse reduction targets, we will show the world what tackling global warming from the bottom up looks like
A few years ago, I was sure that wave power would soon catch up with wind and solar and become part of a renewable trifecta. Sadly, it hasn’t really happened (yet), which raises the question “why?”. Dave Levitan at Yale 360 has written a great overview of the current state of affairs in the wave power field, providing some clarity on why progress has been so slow. Despite challenges, there is progress. Pilots programs in places like Portugal, Scotland, Australia, etc, are moving forward. Things could start moving faster if a wave power design prototype proves to work really well; sometimes it takes longer to find the right formula than to scale up deployment. But there are also reasons to be pessimistic for wave power. If the cost disadvantages can’t be overcome, it simply won’t make sense to build wave farms in most places when more wind or solar capacity could be built for the same amount of money. So it’s possible to imagine a future where wave power is cost-effective and widely deployed as one more leg to the renewable stool, but it’s an uphill battle. I hope that engineers can figure it out, because we need all the options we can get to clean up our power grid. There might be areas where offshore wind farms can’t be built for whatever reason but wave farms can, for example.
Under the banner of a campaign called “Our Power,” participants hail from dozens of organizations representing indigenous peoples, people of color, and working-class white communities that collaborate through the Climate Justice Alliance. Three days of conversations and strategizing will conclude Saturdaywith a day of action to highlight local alternatives to fossil fuel dependence. This is the first national gathering of Our Power and, according to organizers, builds from an intense season of mobilization, including a gathering of youth and young adults that took place in Detroit in June, as well as ongoing preparation for the the Peoples Climate March and Summit, to take place in September in New York. Those convened in Richmond are ultimately shooting for a big goal: connecting local, national, and international struggles of the marginalized and dispossessed to chart a “just transition” to a new economy.
There’s a new gold rush: sand. The golden-brown stuff has become the latest, hottest commodity on the market — actually, that’s inaccurate. It’s Northern White sand that’s all the rage now, according to The Wall Street Journal, because it can withstand intense heat and pressure underground. Why is that important? Because what’s driving the white sand demand is fracking. The process of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas involves blasting a mixture of sand, water and chemicals into the underground shale rock. It can take millions of gallons of water for a fracking operation (which can result in poisoned groundwater). But dig the numbers on sand: It can take 4 million pounds of sand to frack a single well, according to WSJ’s Alison Sider.
Washing lines, strung up in back yards or criss-crossing courtyards, have become an image of a domestic past. According to the Energy Saving Trust we are all using our washing lines less and tumble dryers take a bigger share of the load. Washing lines, they argue, should not be a thing of the past but have a vital energy saving role in the future. But is the humble line still a useful tool in modern Britain? If you take a look at the earliest images of laundry, there is not a washing line in sight. Instead clothes are spread out to dry upon meadows or draped over bushes. An Elizabethan map of London shows Moorfields in the days when it was still an area of open land on the edge of the city; little figures sit on the ground next to pegged-out clothes, the shape of shirts clearly visible.
Capping their three-week trans-Massachusetts rolling march at state government’s doorstep Wednesday, some 500 natural gas pipeline opponents rallied for several hours on Boston Common in glorious summer sunshine. Individuals took time out from the rally to lobby their state legislators to oppose the pipeline. Some carried anti-pipeline petitions with 12,000 signatures to the office of Governor Deval Patrick. Buses brought demonstrators of all ages, mostly from towns along the proposed route of the Kinder-Morgan/Tennessee Natural Gas pipeline. The proposal, which follows a call by New England governors for more use of natural gas to generate electricity, threatens eminent domain land-taking if land owners along the route fail to comply with the plan as developed by Texas-based Kinder-Morgan. The company seems prepared to bypass state and local concerns and will soon formally petition the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to approve pipeline construction.
When the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission ordered NGL Water Solutions to stop fracking wastewater injection operations a month ago, a team of University of Colorado Boulder researchers began conducting its own investigation. NGL, formerly known as High Sierra Water Services, was given permission to resume its activities at a 10,800-foot-deep well a few weeks later, but the CU findings suggest that shouldn’t have happened. Anne Sheehan and her team found that the well is linked to more than 200 earthquakes, the geophysics professor in the CU Department of Geological Sciences told Boulder County Business Report. She said the group found “quite a few” earthquakes with epicenters within two miles of the well.
“Israel’s current offensive in the Gaza Strip is by no means an energy war”, writes Allison Good in The National Interest in a response to my Ecologist / Guardian article exposing the role of natural gas in Israel’s invasion of Gaza. This “has not stopped conspiracy theorists from alleging that the IDF’s Operation Protective Edge aims to assert control over Palestinians gas and avert an Israeli energy crisis.” Describing me as a “self-proclaimed” international security journalist engaging in “shoddy logic, evidence and language”, Good – who works as a contractor for Noble Energy, the Texas-based oil major producing gas from Israel’s reserves in the Mediterranean Sea – claims that: “Israel is nowhere close to experiencing an energy crisis and has no urgent or near-future need for the natural gas located offshore Gaza. While Israel gains nothing for its energy industry by hitting Gaza, it stands to lose significantly more.” If you don’t like the evidence – ignore it Yet Good’s missive is full of oversimplifications and distortions. She points out that Israel’s recently discovered Tamar and Leviathan fields together hold an estimated 30 trillion cubic feet of gas – which, she claims “are expected to meet Israel’s domestic energy needs for at least the next twenty-five years” while simultaneously sustaining major exports.
Big Oil has always been a bad, bad loser. And it is therefore no surprise that it has threatened to sue a small coastal city in Maine which on Monday night struck an historical blow against the industry by banning the export of tar sands from its harbour. The decision by South Portland to approve, by 6-1, to ban tar sands exports, has catapulted this small coastal town which is famous for its scenic light-houses against the collective might of the oil industry and Canadian government. The decision is another blow to the tar sands industry which is desperate to find ways of getting its dirty carbon-munching oil to market. It effectively bars any attempt by the oil industry to bring oil from Alberta to the city’s port, the second-largest oil terminal on the east coast of the US. The move has ramifications for the tar sands industry, because it was planning to reverse the flow of the Portland-Montreal pipeline to carry tar sands to the coast. South Portland Mayor Jerry Jalbert told Reuters the vote was an exercise in local democracy. “From the perspective of a locally elected official, it’s a simple issue. People fear this product could be damaging to the community, and they have asked us to act.”
Nearly 500 people turned out for that meeting, many wearing light blue or red T-shirts in support of or opposition to the changes. Monday night, only the light blue T-shirts of supporters were apparent. The Planning Board voted 6-1 last week to recommend the zoning proposal, which aims to prevent the bulk loading of crude oil, including tar sands, onto marine tank vessels and block construction or expansion of terminals and other facilities for that purpose. Supporters of the ban hugged and congratulated one another after the vote. “This is so exciting,” said Mary Jane Ferrier, spokeswoman for the group Protect South Portland. “This is a big thing with impact far beyond our city.” Opponents – including Tom Hardison, vice president of the Portland Pipe Line Corp. – were disappointed but not surprised that the ban passed.
IPPNW concludes that Fukushima’s radiation disaster is “far from over”: the destroyed reactors are still unstable; radioactive liquids and gases continuously leak from the complex wreckage; melted fuel and used fuel in quake-damaged cooling pools hold enormous quantities of radioactivity “and are highly vulnerable to further earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons and human error.” Catastrophic releases of radioactivity “could occur at any time and eliminating this risk will take many decades.” IPPNW finally recommends urgent actions that governments should take, because the UNSCEAR report, “does not adhere to scientific standards of neutrality,” “represents a systematic underestimation,” “conjures up an illusion of scientific certainty that obscures the true impact of the nuclear catastrophe on health and the environment,” and its conclusion is phrased “in such a way that would most likely be misunderstood by most people…”
Residents impacted by shale gas infrastructure and their supporters blocked the entrances to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) headquarters today in protest of the proposed Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility and others proposed around the country. This is the second consecutive day of action to demand that the Obama administration take the voices of impacted communities seriously in the federal regulatory process, and that FERC reject Dominion Resources’ proposed LNG export facility in Cove Point, Maryland, just 50 miles south of the White House on the Chesapeake Bay. Over a thousand people rallied on the National Mall and marched to FERC yesterday despite scorching heat and high humidity.