Three Mass. Representatives Co-sponsor Climate Bill

The following Contribution is from Gary Rucinski at Citizens Climate Lobby:

CONTACT: GARY RUCINSKI: gary@rucinskis

While most members of Congress sit and ignore warnings from the scientific community about worsening climate change, three Massachusetts congressmen have demonstrated their commitment to a livable world by co-sponsoring the Save Our Climate Act, said Gary Rucinski, founder of the Boston chapter of Citizens Climate Lobby.

In the past month, Representatives Jim McGovern, John Olver and Michael Capuano – all Democrats – have signed on to H.R. 3242, introduced by Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA). The bill would place a steadily-rising fee on carbon-based fuels – coal, oil and gas – which would motivate an economy-wide shift from fossil fuels to clean energy. Revenue from the carbon fee would be returned as equal shares to the public in order to protect consumers from rising energy costs stemming from the fee.

“It only stands to reason that congressmen from Massachusetts – the cradle of our democracy – would step forward to declare our independence from the tyranny of fossil fuels,” said Rucinski. “Citizens Climate Lobby in Boston is proud of the stand our representatives have taken to reduce the greenhouse gases that are heating up our planet.”

Stark’s legislation, which has 18 co-sponsors, awaits action in the House Ways and Means Committee.

“Climate change is a serious environmental challenge,” said Rep. Capuano. “We must work to address it and better understand it so that our environment and our economy will not be negatively impacted. I am supporting the Save Our Climate Act because it will give us some of the tools we need to take on climate change.”

Man Overlooking Coast: Photograph by Ana Ortega

Michael Mershon from Rep. McGovern’s office laid out the reasons for the congressman’s co-sponsorship of H.R. 3242: “Jim McGovern strongly believes we must protect our air, water, and natural resources for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations of Americans. He also believes that our economic security depends on reducing our dependence on foreign oil, improving energy efficiency, and creating new, green jobs here at home.”

Rep. Olver pointed to the revenue-neutral approach of the Save Our Climate Act, which would “return money to overburdened taxpayers.  Additionally, it empowers our green energy technology sector – one of our country’s brightest prospects for re-asserting our leadership in the global economy.”

“That’s the real beauty of this bill,” said CCL’s Rucinski. “It motivates the private sector, rather than the government, to be the primary driver of the green economy. And that’s how it should be.”

Citizens Climate Lobby is an independent, nonpartisan organization dedicated to creating the political will for a sustainable climate. It supports the fee-and-dividend policy endorsed by NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen as a means of reducing the multiple risks of climate change. For more on CCL and fee-and-dividend, visit: citizensclimatelobby.org.

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EPA Roundtable on Limiting Carbon Emissions From Power Plants

Dispatch from our own Susan who was in attendance:
 
Here are some take-away messages from the EPA Roundtable on June 13 held at the Boston Public Library.
 
The U.S. EPA has proposed a rule under the authority of the Clean Air Act, which would limit the amount of carbon emitted from new electrical generation plants.  Fact sheet attached.  The deadlilne for comment of June 25 is fast approaching.   To submit a comment, go to: http://epa.gov/carbonpollutionstandard/actions.html and look for the link.
 
Power plants are the largest source of carbon pollution in the United States. This standard would set the first national limits on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that can be emitted from future power plants — a critical step forward in reducing the impacts of global warming, protecting public health and transitioning to a clean energy economy.
 
In addition to Region 1 Administrator Curt Spalding, Vince Maraventano from Interfaith Power and Light, Dr. Rachel Cleetus from the Union of Concerned Scientists, and Dr. Ari Bernstein of Harvard all spoke in support of the rule, while recognizing that the rule will not reduce current carbon emissions. Vince highlighted the belief by all major religious groups that our nation has a moral obligation to reduce our emissions of carbon that cause climate change.  The proposed rule should be promulgated and implemented by EPA without delay, in light of the global emergency regarding climate change that is already wrecking devastation on impoverished communities vulnerable to flooding and drought from changed weather patterns.  EPA’s rules will not on their own shut down carbon-emitting electrical plants.  We citizens can do our part by lowering our demand for electricity through energy efficiency measures and by purchasing energy supplied from renewable sources.  Buying a more efficient furnace is not as important as turning down the thermostat.
 
Administrator Spalding stated that the rule would not cause unreasonable costs on either the private or public sector. A representative from the organization CERES commented that when the full cost of fossil fuels is factored in, electrical energy produced by renewables is cost-competitive, and the price continues to drop.  The economist from the Union of Concerned Scientists stated that old plants are not economically viable anymore.  She raised concerns that natural gas is contributing to climate change, but the current low price is stimulating more production. From the lively Q&A session with attendees, I learned that the carbon emission limits on new coal-fired plants as proposed for Phase 1 will not address the multitude of existing plants, some of which are located here in New England. The yet-to-be-developed standards for Phase 2 that will apply to existing plants could be far in the future.  Also, the rule falls short in not addressing climate impacts and pollution of water resources caused by the extraction of natural gas by fracking and pipeline transport (methane leaks).
 

Susan

 

 

Riverdale: EMERGENCY UPDATE

According to their website, construction of a water removal site at Riverdale Mobile Home Park begins today. The water is slated for use in a nearby fracking operation. Facing eviction after Aqua America bought the land earlier this year, several families, some with out the means to relocate, chose to stay enlisting the support of sympathetic citizens across the country. In May, concern over the evictions in Riverdale Mobile Home Park spurred bipartisan support and the eventual passing of the Manufactured Homes Community Standards Bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. It has been moved to the Senate for approval. The legislation requires tenants to be notified within 60 days of the sale and development of the land they live on, and to be provided with relocation funds.

The Sun Gazette Reported:

State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, who voted in favor of the legislation, said it will ensure that residents of such communities do not experience what is happening with tenants of Riverdale Mobile Home Park in Piatt Township.

“I have been working on this issue since the previous session when I served on the House Urban Affairs Committee,” he said. “The recent events at the Riverdale Mobile Home Park helped to bring this issue back to the forefront.”

In June the Sun Gazette reported that both Everett and fellow supporter Rep. Rick Mirabito, D-Williamsport, have noted that the bill would be too late to help the residence of Riverdale. This leaves the residence to fend for themselves, which they have done, with success, for over a week.

Now facing a final eviction, their website stated yesterday:

“This morning, we were informed by a utility worker that construction crews affiliated with Aqua America are planning to begin excavation on the land of the Riverdale mobile home community tomorrow (Tuesday).  

We have successfully delayed construction of a massive water withdrawal facility, permitted to suck up to 3 millions gallons of water daily from the Susquehanna River for use in fracking operations, for over 10 days now. The encampment is in urgent need of support at this time!  Now is the time to show your conviction and solidarity with these brave residents and volunteers who have decided to stand their ground in the face of ruthless corporate giant – Aqua America.

The construction crews are already there and, thanks to modern technology, the situation can be watched live.

Actions to take and numbers to call can be found here. Suggestions on the site include calling Aqua America and, for those that have them, the divesting of personal holdings in the company.

~ nuevaspora

Pilgrim’s Progress: Nuclear BWR Safety Called to Question

Protesters Demand Safer Standards From RNC

Report:
Protesters from numerous groups including Pilgrim Watch, Occupy the Cape, and Occupy Falmouth, spoke at a press conference in Post Office Square on the morning of June 7th, 2012 in advance of a hearing by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  The NRC agreed to a hearing in response to Pilgrim Watch’s requests for a hearing on 2 of 3 orders issued by the NRC which affect all nuclear reactors. The protesters have called the orders “band-aids” that do not address the lessons learned from Fukushima’s nuclear plant disaster. “The Orders do not protect public health and safety as they are purported to do.  They affect every reactor.” (from www.pilgrimcoalition.org)

June 7th Protest Press Conference

The two orders which Pilgrim Coalition charges are wrong and inadequate are regarding:
1)Vent Request, and
2) Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation

 

A few examples of what’s wrong with the orders: The existing order to improve reliable vents in Mark 1 and Mark 11 Boiling Water Reactors (BWR) does not require filters. If the contaminant vent is opened without filters, we get 100% of the lethal contaminants. Pilgrim’s reactor is a Mark 1 design, exactly like the design at Fukuskima. Japan is planning to require filters on vents in their plants.  Regarding the spent fuel pool, the order simply requires spent fuel pool instrumentation to provide information about the pool’s water, and yet there is no reasonable assurance that the pool can be refilled in a high radiation field, for example, when the proposed gauges read empty or nearly so.

Protesters Oppose Pilgrim Nuclear. June 7th 2012

Occupy Falmouth’s fact sheet states that:
The Pilgrim Nuclear Plant has been operating for 40 years.  Against all common sense and real safety concerns, the NRC has re-licensed the plant for 20 more years.  There is no evacuation plan for Cape Cod.  The spent fuel at Pilgrim is in a pool, vulnerable to a loss of power just like Fukushima. Highly radioactive spent fuel is in a crowed ‘swimming pool’ high in the main reactor building, and outside the reinforced primary containment area.  The spent fuel pool was designed to hold only 880 radioactive bundles.  It now holds more than 3,270 bundles and the number is increasing.  A safer way to house spent nuclear fuel is in dry casks.  Entergy, the corporate owners of Pilgrim, must put safety before profits and invest in dry casks before it is too late.
~ Susan

 

UPDATE: Entropy’s Corp.’s Pilgrim Nuclear is now three days into a lockout of unionized employees. A standoff in negotiations over salary and benefits has come to a head, and temporary personnel are currently serving in the place of these workers. Anyone looking for an exciting temp job?  ~ Nuevaspora

 

Pilgrims, Nukes and Refugees

A belated weekly rundown…

10 families in PA barricade themselves to avoid a fracking eviction, reports of 14 people arrested in MA for protesting Pilgrim Nuclear power plant, and it’s just the start of the week.

10 Families in Jersey Shore PA Refuse To Be Displaced for Fracking Operation

In Jersey Shore PA, over 30 families were told that they would have to vacate Riverdale Mobile Home Park to make way for the construction of a water withdrawal site to support hydraulic fracturing. 10 families refused to leave, and are now standing their ground. At least some of these families lack the means to move their homes. Construction was scheduled to start on Friday. What started as a vigil on Thursday night has extended through and past the weekend as people from a myriad of groups and organizations (including OWS) have gone to the park to stand with them. The protest has been peaceful and they have set up barricades preventing vehicle’s from entering. Aqua America, the company that bought the land and initiated the evictions can be reached at: (610) 527-8000.

Riverdale Mobile Home Park, Jersey Shore PA

Fortune has begun to shift at least a little, and the company is scheduled to go into negotiations with residence today.

The water withdrawal its self was permitted in March by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission, a water shed management agency. More information can be found on the Save Riverdale blog.

An update on our own Charles River via Michael:

 

 

The New England Regional office of the EPA released its annual report card on the Charles River. EPA water quality data shows that during 2011, the Charles River had an acceptable water quality for boating and swimming. The grade issued this year is a ‘B”. The grade reflects that the river met bacteria-based water quality standards for boating 82% of the time and for swimming 54% of the time. The EPA launched its Charles River Initiative in 1995 when the river received a D for meeting boating standards 29% of the time and 19% for swimming. The EPA has been measuring the cleanup of the Charles River against the objectives set in the Clean Water act of 1972.

The New England Regional Office of the EPA is designated as Region 1 and includes all of New England and the ten tribal nations recognized by the Interior Department Bureau of Indian Affairs. The ten tribes include the Mashpee Wampanoag Indian Tribal Council and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head in Massachusetts, The Mashantucket Pequot Tribe and the Mohegan Indian Tribe in Connecticut, The Narragansett in Rhode Island and five tribes in Maine. The tribes in Maine include the Aroostook Band of Micmacs, Houlton Band of Malaseet, Passamaquoddy (Indian Township), Passamaquoddy (Pleasant Point) and the Penobscot.

Source:epa.gov news release 4/21/12

CASEJ:

CASEJ met last night deciding plans for the Summer. This will likely include joining a rally in protest of the re-permitting of the Pilgrim Power Plant on June 7th and another advocating for clean sustainable energy on June 14th.  Details:

Pilgrim Coalition protest at NRC hearing on nuke plants Thursday June 7 at 9:15 a.m. (yes, this Thursday!) at Post Office Square. Bring signs. Why? According to the invite: “While the hearing will be held in Boston, the content pertains to all Mark 1 boiling water reactors in the U.S., which have the same faulty design as the Fukushima reactors.”

On a related note, fourteen people were arrested in Plymouth on May 20th as part of a protest to close the unsafe Pilgrim plant. Some of them will be at the rally. Check out the story in the Boston Occupier.

Lobby Day for Renewables Bill Senate 2214 at State House on Thursday, June 14 (next week).  Meet on State House steps at 11 a.m. next to big banner for Climate Action–Connect the Dots, followed by visits to key legislators with support letter. This is part of an entire week of events with Energy Week Boston. (*Those of us who speak with legislators will be introducing ourselves simply as concerned and active citizens, not as Occupy, Occupy Boston or OB CASEJ.) Whether you want to support it or say that it’s not enough, lets make the clean energy discussion loud!

The full text for Renewables Bill Senate 2214 can be found here.

We will also be training more of our members to tweet, wiki and blog, so watch out!

Young Protester Refusing Eviction From Riverdale Mobile Home Park. Jersey Shore, PA