The initial February 2008 legal petition issued by the plaintiffs was rather simple: the White House’s Council for Environmental Quality (CEQ) should provide guidance to federal agencies it coordinates with to weigh climate change impacts when utilizing the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) on energy policy decisions. A legal process completely skirted in recent prominent tar sands pipeline cases by both TransCanada and Enbridge, NEPA is referred to by legal scholars as the“Magna Carta” of environmental law. In the midst of the procedural lawsuit filed against it, CEQ finally responded to the 2008 petition for the first time on August 7, writing a ten-page denial letter to the plaintiffs. The conclusion of this legal battle royale, at least for now, occurred just over a month after Judge R. Brooke Jackson struck down a coal mining expansion plan proposed in Colorado at the West Elk coal mine owned by Arch Coal. Jackson cited climate change in his judgment, saying several federal agencies that originally permitted the mine expansion proposal did not consider climate impacts when they did their NEPA analysis and accompanying environmental impact statement (EIS).
Shining. Soaring. Skyrocketing. Solar is so exciting, we’re running out of adjectives. The what, the why, and the where-to of America’s solar power revolution are the subjects of a new UCS report and infographic. It’s a story worth celebrating. The 4 Ps of rooftop solar The story of solar, as told in UCS’s new Solar Power on the Rise report, is full of great news, such as: The amount of solar power installed in the United States by 2013 was more than five times 2010’s level. Our country has enough solar to power some 2.4 million typical U.S. households. In June California set a one-day solar record, with solar meeting 8 percent of its overall electricity needs. Rooftop solar, the photovoltaic (PV) panels dotting the roofs of a rapidly growing number of homes and businesses, is one big piece of the charge, worthy of a closer look. And one way to consider its progress is to borrow business types’ “4 Ps” of marketing, for our own 4 Ps of solar—Product, pricing, place, and policy.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources plans to release rules governing hydraulic fracturing (fracking) this Friday, August 29. SAFE, Illinois People’s Action, and other members of Fair Economy Illinois are eager to see strong rules that protect the health of Illinoisans and preserve the quality of our air, water and other natural resources. “On January 19th, Governor Quinn’s staff made a public commitment that the Governor would refuse to issue fracking permits until the Department of Natural Resources made specific changes to strengthen the thirty weakest proposed fracking rules as outlined by our coalition. If the latest draft of IDNR rules fails to address these issues, our coalition expects that Gov. Quinn will fulfill his pledge to withhold fracking permits,” said Annette McMichael of Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing our Environment (SAFE).
Thanks to the courageous and indefatigable efforts of pipeline fighters everywhere, the tide has finally turned on Keystone XL. As it becomes increasingly clear that Keystone XL’s northern leg is not going through, it is time to set our sights on ending all tar sands exploitation. The Obama administration’s latest election year delay on Keystone North is not a victory, but the dominoes continue to fall. Earlier this year, a citizen lawsuit denied TransCanada a route through Nebraska. Last month, it lost its permit through South Dakota. Now it faces a gauntlet of “Cowboys & Indians” vowing to stop it in its tracks. . . .We need to heed the indictment of the tar sands industry issued by Ponca Nation matriarch and grandmother Casey Camp-Horinek of Oklahoma: “We’re suffering from environmental genocide from this extractive industry.”
The People’s Climate March on September 21st is not the only activity going in NYC around the UN climate meeting. A website is being developed, Beyond the March, that will be a hub for direct action being planned during the week of the UN Climate Summit. We’re pleased to see this aspect of planning because direct action, especially on the days of the summit, is an essential ingredient for the movement combating the UN’s sell-out to corporate interests on climate. Below is information on how this is developing and how you can get involved. The website will grow as plans develop. Also planned during the UN meetings is the Global Climate Convergence which seeks to bring people together on September 19-20 to continue to build a united movement for action on climate change as well as an agenda for which the movement should advocate. The direct action support hub connects working groups in the areas of media, medical, legal, research, art, outreach, and tactical coordination to action groups performing direct actions during the week of action around the UN Climate Summit in NYC. This allows for action groups, from both in and out of town, to plug into a larger structure to get support for their actions—allowing them to be coordinated in a way that makes the subsequent actions bigger than the sum of them individually.
In a strong statement of opposition, two activists locked their necks to the front doors of the building that hosts the offices of America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) while a crowd of supporters held signs and cheered around them. This action was taken by Chesapeake Earth First! as part of the Rise Together mobilization, a series of actions and events against extreme energy perpetrators from August 16-24. The activists locked to the doors wore shirts saying “DC says no to LNG exports” and “Maryland says no to LNG exports,” representing the places they live and their opposition to the Cove Point liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility and liquefaction plant proposed to be built by Dominion Energy in Southern Maryland. The front doors were successfully blocked for two and a half hours.
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.