Some Local Climate Action News…

First Here, Then Everywhere

By Hannah Borowsky, Chloe Maxmin, and Ben Franta

Yesterday we were honored to represent Divest Harvard as we made the case for divestment at our first meeting with Harvard trustees. After 72% of undergraduates showed their support for divestment on the undergraduate referendum, our group was granted a meeting with the Harvard Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility. Dozens of students lined the hallway as the trustees arrived, showing that Harvard students care about climate change and support the University in its first official conversation about fossil fuel divestment.

Overall, the tone of the meeting was very positive. We had the opportunity to make our case for divestment and explain why it is essential for Harvard to be morally and intellectually consistent. The trustees recognized the urgency of climate change and the moral authority of younger generations who will be feeling the impacts of global warming. Yet they questioned whether divestment…

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Today: Tar Sands Protests Across the East Coast 1/21/13

This Martin Luther King Day, our friends at 350 MA have reminded us that actions are planned along the US and Canadian costs protesting expanded distribution of tar sands crude. The bitumen derived fuel source has been widely criticized, as it results in higher green house gas emissions than conventional oil. Extraction from the Athabasca tar sands have received particular scrutiny, due to the impacts that the extraction process has had on indigenous communities in the area.

Export to the west is blocked by legal disputes. Export to the south has been somewhat hampered by legal disputes and protests (primarily in texas). Export to the North is blocked by the Arctic. Todays protests are focused on export to the East.  For a more in depth synopsis, see Susan Redlich’s post: On the Front Lines of  Tar Sands Resistance.

Also, check out the Occupy New England 3rd Regional Convergence in Portland Maine on January 26th. Working with 350 New England this gathering will have a strong focus on transitioning away from fossil fuels including the expansion of tar sands and natural gas derived from fracking (especially the Algonquin Pipeline).

Today’s schedule (via Vanessa Rule):

SOLIDARITY ACTIONS  — to sign up for a MA action.


United States
  MASSACHUSETTS

1/23/2013

Amherst — ExxonMobil Station, No Tar Sands Picket, 399 Northampton Street 12:30 – 1:30pm, Contact: John Berkowitz, johnpberk@gmail.com.

Amherst – Human Pipeline demonstration, Amherst Common, 3pm Contact: Sarai Zelada and Lundy Bancroft at srzelada9@gmail.com

Billerica – ExxonMobil Station, 441 Boston Rd 3-6pm Contact: Debbie Bernstein at djbernstein2@gmail.com

Boston – Mass Canvass and Human Pipeline across Copley Square Copley Square, MA 1/23/2013 4; 5:30 Dorian Williams 773-289-2240 dorianswilliams@gmail.com

Cambridge/Somerville – ExxonMobil Station, 816 Memorial Drive, 3-6pm Contact: Rachel Wyon at r.wyon2010@gmail.com

Concord – ExxonMobil Station, 1089 Concord Turnpike Station, 3-6pm Contacgt: Jas Smith at jasssmith@yahoo.com

Greenfield – ExxonMobil Station, 142 Mohawk Trail, 3-6pm Contact: George Aguiar at geogruven@gmail.com

Mattapan – ExxonMobil Station , 1181 Blue Hill Road, 3-6pm Contact: Sierra Kahn at sierrakahn@hotmail.com

Newton – ExxonMobil Station, 845 Moody Street, 3-6pm Contact: Eric Packer at epacker@fwg.com

NEW HAMPSHIRE/VERMONT

1/23/13

Lancaster, NH – Hands Across the Connecticut River, Lancaster Bridge at Route 2 and the Connecticut River, Noon Contact: Corry Hughes at stoptrailbreaker.nh@gmail.com

MAINE

1/23/13

Bangor – Bangor Tar Sands Free New England Rally and Congressional office visits, 11am – 2 pm Contact: Read Brugger read@350Maine.org

Greater Portland – 1) 11:30 Rally/Protest in South Portland. 2) Possible Congressional Office Visits 3) Attendance @ the City of Portland Council Hearing @ 7 pm regarding anti-Tar Sands Resolution 1) notable Tar Sands target – to be identified 2) Portland 3) Portland Contact: Bob Klotz at 350maine@gmail.com

1/25/2013

Rockland – TB Bank Informational Picket, TD Bank, 34 School Street, Noon Contact: Aimee Moffitt-Mercer at aimee@midcoast.com

VERMONT

1/23/13

Burlington – Flashmob: No Pipelines! Wall of Resistance and Solidarity, Church Street and Main Street 12:30- 1:00 CONTACT: Ruby Perry at ruby@350vt.org

1/26/13

Burlington – Line 9 – No Tars Sands Oil across Ontario, Burlington Public Library, 2331 New Street 2pm-5pm Contact: Elysia Petrone at epetrone@lakeheadu.ca

Canada

1/19/2013

Montreal, Quebec – THE TAR SANDS COME TO QUEBEC: A community forum to build resistance and alternatives to tar sands pipelines Concordia University – Hall Building 1455 De Maisonneuve W. 9AM – 6PM Amara Possian a.possian@gmail.com

1/23/2013

Ottawa – Oil Sands-Free Ontario, Parliament Hill 3 pm Contact: Alex Guest at alexcguest@gmail.com

1/26/2013

Toronto – StopLine 9 – Hendon Ave at Yonge St (at Line 9) 1pm

Toronto – No Line 9! block at Rally for Rights and Democracy, Allan Gardens (Jarvis & Carleton) 1 pm – 4 pm by Rising Tide Toronto

Toronto – No tar sands in our communities – United Across Borders Toronto City Hall, 100 Queen Street West 10:30:00 Contact: Sabrina Bowmansbowman@environmentaldefence.ca

A Tax By Any Other Name…

There has been an ongoing discussion about carbon tax and fee & dividend on the OB CASEJ discussion list. The acronym stands for Climate Action, Sustainability & Environmental Justice, so it comes as no surprise that most comments are in support. While many have brought up the national impact, the argument below addresses potential international consequences. It comes from Milton Takei an activist and scholar living in Eugene, Oregon:

I would like to make some comments on the need for the U.S. Congress to

put a price on carbon.  Under the Kyoto Accord, not all countries had the

same targets, with the poorer countries exempt.  In December 2011, the

poorer countries agreed to have their greenhouse gas emissions limited

under a new treaty, but the question still remains: what should be the

legally binding goals for each country?  For example, China is not as poor

as India, so the two countries should have different targets.

The international global warming negotiations seem to be deadlocked

because of the attitude of the United States, which is unwilling to make

enough concessions to India, China, and other poorer countries.  The

question is: what legally binding target would the U.S. be willing to

accept for itself?  If the U.S. Congress were to pass a carbon tax,

President Obama might have an indication that the U.S. Senate would ratify

a treaty that the poorer countries could accept, breaking the deadlock in

the negotiations.  Hence the need in the U.S. for action in the U.S.

Congress.  National regulation or action below the national level will not

provide the signal to President Obama that his hand are no longer tied.

                                          –Milton Takei

For more information on the international global warming negotiations:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2011/dec/11/global-climate-change-treaty-durban

In related news, the Boston Globe recently published Sage Radachowsky’s reasons for supporting carbon tax. It  was the product of persistent submissions, a good lesson for advocates. An excerpt:

 Phil Flynn suggests that renewable energy technologies are obsolete, and that “If they can’t compete, maybe they shouldn’t” (interview with Erin Ailworth, 30 December). A carbon tax would correct the price of fossil energy to account for the social and ecological costs, and would enable renewable energy and conservation to flourish, creating millions of jobs. The reason we don’t pass a carbon tax is because it would hurt the oil and gas companies who exert far too much control over our government. Fracking is toxic to the environment, and all fossil fuels accelerate global warming. We can let the market lead innovation, and avert the fiscal cliff, with a simple carbon tax, an idea favored by economists both left and right.

http://www.bostonglobe.com/editorial/2013/01/06/carbon-tax-would-level-playing-field-for-renewable-energy/irpMZcc8urAZT5YLRp5ZcK/story.html

If you are looking for a local group working on these issues, check out the local chapter of Citizen’s Climate Lobby , check out 350MA‘s local campaign or bring up it up at the GA. You can also give a quick call to your congress people to find out where they stand on the issue.

To contact Boston CCL chapter email: ccl.boston@citizensclimatelobby.org

Click here to join the OB CASEJ mailing list:

https://lists.mayfirst.org/mailman/listinfo/climate-action

~ Nuevaspora

Quick Update on Westborough Eight

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The Keystone XL protesters who used chains and glue to bind themselves together in TransCanada’s Westborough, MA office have all been processed. They are, left to right, Ben Thompson, 22, a PhD student studying Mathematics at Boston University, Dorian Williams, 21, an Anthropology major at Brandeis University, Shea Riester, 22, a recent graduate of  Brandeis University and a student of social movements, Devyn Powell, 20, and International Relations and Environmental Studies major at Tufts University, Emily Edgerly, 20, an Environmental Studies major at Tufts University, Lisa Purdy, 20, an Environmental Studies major at Brandeis University, Alli Welton, 20, a History of Science major at Harvard University, and Ben Trolio an Environmental Conservation Studies major at the University of New Hampshire.

To understand their reasons for doing this, please see their blog and bios.

Most, if not all, are members of Students for a Just and Stable Future (SJSF). (Some have also been active in CASEJ) Around the time of their release SJSF tweeted the following:

“The costs of action are far less than the costs of inaction.” The hope of these youth is to inspire you to fight w/ @350Mass@KXLBlockade

Later followed by:

Wanna hang out with these kids? @350Mass TOMORROW @ First Church Cambridge 11 Garden St Cambridge, MA [ 6 – 7pm potluck, 7 – 9pm meeting ]

This and other actions around the country kicked off an anticipated series of protests against Keystone XL and tarsands that will span the next several days. Now, what will it take for the present leaders to heed the message of the coming generation?

~ Nuevaspora

8 Youth Activists Oppose Keystone XL; Lock Down In TransCanada Office

Youth Activists Locked Down

8 Youth Activists Locked Down in TransCanada’s Westborough, MA Office

UPDATES:

Check tweets (to the right) and Pheonix for more updates. Also see Protester’s Bios.

Follow #NoKXL on twitter to follow protests across the nation opposing construction of the Keystone XL pipeline (trending as of 7:10 PM).

~ 6:30 PM Just and Stable reports that chains have been removed and protesters are in jail being processed.

4: 30 PM This just in from youth activist Devyn Powell:

            As you read this email, I am locked down in a TransCanada office with seven other youth activists.  We are engaged in a protest against construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, because building this pipeline to develop the tar sands will lock us irrevocably into the climate crisis.  The Keystone XL, which runs from Canada to Texas, threatens a stable future by perpetuating our oil addiction. Chaining myself to my seven friends is a last resort after our government, heavily influenced by corporate fossil fuel interests, has proved unable to take action against this deadly project.  
 
The fossil fuel industry is knowingly sacrificing our future for its profits. I have decided that I need to fight the injustice, irresponsibility, and immorality of their actions by using all the nonviolent means of protest available to me. TransCanada’s intent to build the pipeline will contribute to drought, flooding and starvation through future Hurricane Sandys, crop failures, and more climate disasters. We are not going to passively let this happen.
 
I’m sending this email to ask for your help. First, please share the image below on any and all social media channels you use in order to raise awareness about TransCanada’s threat to our future. Second, if you are able, we would greatly appreciate any financial assistance you can contribute to cover our jail fees, gear costs, and future actions.  Go to THIS WEBSITE to donate.
 
The next few months will be crucial in halting this toxic pipeline. As Obama considers approving Keystone XL, we all need to put our voices and bodies in TransCanada’s path in whatever ways we are able.  Today’s action marks the beginning of what we hope will be the next chapter in the fight against the fossil fuel industry. If you would like to learn more and get involved, go to:http://www.january7th.wordpress.com.
 
Thank you so much for your support. I appreciate your help very much, and I hope we can continue working together to stop the climate crisis.

Reports of High Greenhouse Gas Emissions In Natural Gas Production

“Alarmingly high methane emissions” from oil and gas fields reported online by the journal Nature on January 2nd, raise questions about industry and legislative promotion of “clean” natural gas as a low greenhouse gas emitting alternative to other fossil fuels.

Reported in Nature News:

The researchers, who hold joint appointments with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of Colorado in Boulder, first sparked concern in February 2012 with a study1 suggesting that up to 4% of the methane produced at a field near Denver was escaping into the atmosphere. If methane — a potent gas — is leaking from fields across the country at similar rates, it could be offsetting much of the climate benefit of the ongoing shift from coal- to gas-fired plants for electricity generation.

Industry officials and some scientists contested the claim, but at an American Geophysical Union (AGU) meeting in San Francisco, California, last month, the research team reported new Colorado data that support the earlier work, as well as preliminary results from a field study in the Uinta Basin of Utah suggesting even higher rates of methane leakage — an eye-popping 9% of the total production. That figure is nearly double the cumulative loss rates estimated from industry data — which are already higher in Utah than in Colorado.

For more check out:

http://www.nature.com/news/methane-leaks-erode-green-credentials-of-natural-gas-1.12123

Check out Occupy Boston and 350MA for civic organizing opposing the expansion of the Algonquin Pipeline.

~ Nuevaspora

Local Climate Activist Arrested In Texas KXL Protest

We have just received word that Murtaza Nek, MIT graduate and active participant in 350 Massachusetts and Students for a Just and Stable Future was arrested in a protest against the construction of the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline. Readers may recognize him as the young man who has voiced the importance of climate justice at several Occupy Boston events.

The southern leg of the Keystone XL is presently under construction with the intent to bring tar sands crude from Alberta, Canada to Huston ports. Last year, Dr. James Hansen, prominent climate scientist, head of NASSA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, and adjunct professor at Columbia University explained the risk in a New York Times Op Ed:

Canada’s tar sands, deposits of sand saturated with bitumen, contain twice the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by global oil use in our entire history. If we were to fully exploit this new oil source, and continue to burn our conventional oil, gas and coal supplies, concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere eventually would reach levels higher than in the Pliocene era, more than 2.5 million years ago, when sea level was at least 50 feet higher than it is now. That level of heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.

The update on Murtaza comes from climate and social justice advocate Dorian Williams, who writes:

Dear fellow proponents of climate justice,

Many of you may know Murtaza Nek as he has been an active participant of 350 Massachusetts and Students for a Just and Stable Future. Recently he took a trip down to Texas to contribute to the Tar Sands Blockade’s fight against the construction of the southern leg of Keystone XL Pipeline.
 
As of 11:50am on January 3rd, Murtaza was arrested in Texas while trying to provide direct support to his friends partaking in a particularly vulnerable tree sit for the Tar Sands Blockade. 
 
You can learn more and see the footage of the arrest here: http://tarsandsblockade.org/15th-action/
 
For those of who have not had a chance to meet Murtaza, he has been an amazingly strong and dedicated ally in this movement. Having accomplished Climate Summer this past year, where he biked from town-to-town across Massachusetts supporting climate action and discussion, Murtaza brought back his organizing and bike power here. Every week, Murtaza would bike from Worcester to Cambridge and back to participate in SJSF and 350MA meetings, helping organize and participate in actions targeting fossil fuels like tar sands and natural gas.
 
Now he needs our commitment and support in return. Please spread the word and consider donating to the legal fund that would enable his release: https://www.wepay.com/donations/tsbdonate.
 
In Peace and Solidarity,
Dorian

Murtaza Nek is one of several protesters who have recently been arrested in protests against Keystone XL’s southern leg. For more information on the tar sands, check out the following links:

Hansen’s TED talk

Photographer Garth Lenz on Alberta Tar Sands: The True Cost Of Oil

~ Nuevaspora