Everything You Wanted to Ask Your State Official About Carbon Goals, But Were Afraid to Ask

 Energy Exodus-Susan

Photo from 350MA Energy Exodus, Summer 2013

Given the lack of action at the Congressional level on setting limits to carbon extraction, the states must play a leading role in the urgent task of transitioning to a low-no-carbon future. This Guide can be helpful to you in many situations, for example, when meeting with your state legislators to express concern about their delay in enacting plans to meet the carbon-reduction deadlines of the Massachusetts Global Warming Solutions Act[1].

Also, the Guide is useful during this current election campaign for Governor, when you will be able to ask the candidates questions regarding the state’s energy policies—quickly you can separate the competent candidates from the climate-ignorant candidates. Accompanying each of the following questions is a link (in endnote) to a reference document, article, or video to further educate the officials that can only respond with “That’s a very good question.”

Questions re--The Context of the Problem

If a 2-degree C increase in global temperature is to be avoided, how much of the existing carbon reserves must stay in the ground?[2]

 Has the Massachusetts average temperature been rising since 1990? How much?[3]

 What are the projections for changes in regional temperature and rainfall due to climate change?[4]

 What are the projections for sea level rise and inundation?[5]

Where will the flood level be in Boston under different storms?[6]

 Questions re-Accountability for the Problem of Global Warming

What percentage of global green house gases are caused by sources in the United States?[7]

 How is the national government addressing the problem?[8]

 What are the main contributors in Massachusetts to carbon-loading of the atmosphere?[9]

Questions re-State Actions to Reduce Carbon Emissions

What is the law in Massachusetts regarding percentage reductions and deadlines for meeting its carbon reduction goals?[10]

 Given that the individual states have considerable authority to enact programs and policies to reduce carbon, what is Massachusetts doing?[11]

 How would additional fossil fuel infrastructure, e.g., gas plants, affect the state’s plan to reduce carbon emissions?[12]

 Questions re-State Transition to Renewable Energy

 How will state government ensure a transition to a fossil free energy economy?[13]

 Are you aware that the state government does not yet have a plan for meeting the reduction goals for 2050 (i.e., 80% of its 1990 carbon levels) as required by law?[14]

 Do you support passage of S.1225 to divest state pension funds from fossil fuels? (The Massachusetts state pension fund holds approximately $1.4 billion worth of assets in fossil fuel companies.  If the companies continue with business-as-usual to profit from wrecking the planet, shouldn’t Massachusetts divest itself from these funds, especially since our local economy is well-suited to designing and building renewable energy infrastructure?)[15]

 [1] Global Warming Solutions Act of 2008, http://www.mass.gov/eea/air-water-climate-change/climate-change/massachusetts-global-warming-solutions-act/;

 [3] http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk: and http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/hadobs/crutem4/ ;  (go to Google Earth crutema4 map with Boston Station_42.5N 67.5Wkmz);
END
Submission by Susan Redlich to “Turning Down the Heat” https://class.coursera.org/warmerworld-001

 

 
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No Tar Sands Oil Pipelines. Not in the Northeast. Not Anywhere.

Demonstrators braved freezing temperatures on January 23 to urge legislators in the New England states to “freeze” proposals for shipping tar sands bitumen oil from Alberta, through ExxonMobil pipelines leading to Portland, Maine. A protest demonstration in Portland, Maine, is scheduled for January 26.  This event is expected to be the largest cross-border pipeline action the northeast has ever seen. More on this event at http://www.tarsandsfreene.org/about  Map of pipeline route: http://tinyurl.com/bkcthzx.

Because the project would be a substantial modification of the current pipeline crossing, opponents are demanding that first, a presidential permit be required, per State Department Executive order 11423, as well as a complete environmental impact statement which includes an analysis of the tar sands climate impact. Scientists have found that extracting and burning tar sands will cause catastrophic global warming.

Then President Obama must keep Tar Sands out of New England by refusing to issue this pipeline a new Presidential Permit.

Also this month, groups of citizens mobilized by 350MA are visiting their local Congressional offices with an explicit “ask”:  that the elected official publicly take a stand against projects that would transport tar sands oil in the U.S., particularly the proposed Northeast Tar Sands Pipeline. On Jan.14, for example, ten people met with a staff person in Congressman Markey’s Medford, MA, office to ask that Congressman Markey take all necessary steps to block development of tar sands oil pipelines and make a public statement committing to:  “No tar sands oil pipelines.  Not in the Northeast. Not anywhere.”  The participants emphasized the urgency of taking a stand as ExxonMobil, the majority owner of the Portland-to-Montreal pipeline, is moving forward with plans to reverse flow to accommodate Canadian tar sands oil shipped from Alberta.  The pipeline currently ships conventional crude from Portland to Montreal. If allowed, the company would be able to export tar sands through the east coast.

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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

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

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

What’s Next? Advancing the Climate Movement in a Post Election, Post Sandy World Must Include Climate Justice

Listen in to any climate action group meeting around the country and you will probably hear some version of the same questions being discussed right now: How can we keep the urgency of climate change at the fore?  And what do we need to do to further build a grassroots movement for urgent and ambitious action on climate? And most important, where are there opportunities for common projects or connected work? 

On November 15, the Climate Reality Check Coalition (description at the end of blog) held the latest in a series of national conference calls to help strengthen community organizing on climate.  These calls serve to make space for voices from the many and varied constituencies within the climate movement.  I like listening in to these conference calls because the participants usually are not folks from Washington, DC, think tanks, but activists from organizations close to their base.

On the most recent call were voices from NC Warn, the NAACP Climate Initiative, the Black Mesa Water Coalition, the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Food and Water Watch, and 350.org. These varied organizations strongly believe in building a movement locally.  Yet at the same time they see that their own grassroots organizing can be more powerful when informed and encouraged by actions being taken by other groups also working on climate justice in other parts of the country. Their respective websites give one a feel for what is important to their constituencies and the ways they talk about climate concerns in the context of social justice. You might want to check out the respective websites for ideas, inspiration, and photos of the people that participate in the calls. (Respective websites appear at end).

I highlighted points made during the call in bold green:

On the ground struggles are critical.  Jihon Gearon from the Black Mesa Water Coalition in Flagstaff, AZ, emphasized that every community battling fossil fuels is important because each one exemplifies what transitions can look like. The Navaho nation is party to many settlements regarding extraction of natural resources.  Between now and 2019 many of those settlements are expiring;  some groups want to keep the settlements for another 30 years, but others believe in making a transition to sustainable practices.

For example, the Black Mesa Water Coalition has the goal of holding the Peabody Coal Company accountable for the damage done to Black Mesa’s water, environment, and community health; to permanently close the coalmines on Black Mesa; and to replace the coal-fired generating stations fed by the Black Mesa mines with renewable energy.  The national environmental organizations are sometimes surprised by the changes achieved by the local and regional groups.  The progress underscores the need for building more organizing capacity at the local levels.  (Photo below of Black Mesa Water Coalition workers)

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 Speak to what people want, not what seems politically feasible.  Mark Slossberg from Food and Water Watch stressed the importance of organizing at the community level with a clear message about impacts, which creates a tie between the community’s issue and broader climate issues.  Unique issues concerning water, air, traffic, and health can be tied to climate issues.  For example, the anti-fracking movement focuses on the impact on community water supplies.  In NY, the coalition against fracking is comprised of hundreds of organizations that have succeeded in delaying fracking by electing and holding account local officials.  In Longmont, Colorado, a ballot initiative to ban hydraulic fracturing was won by people talking about what they care about; the citizen effort spent around $20,000, compared to a $507,000 industry-backed campaign to defeat the measure.

Focus on local struggles and place-based organizing.  Jacqui Patterson, the Director of the NAACP Climate Justice Initiative, reminded climate action organizers to avoid issue “silos”. For example, the end coal campaigns cannot be at the expense of different communities facing impacts from fracking.  She advocated for community-owned utilities, carbon neutral communities, and local self reliance and resilience.

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                            Jacqui Patterson, Director of NAACP Climate Justice Initiative

Climate justice has to be part of any solution to the climate crisis. Pete McDowell of NC Warn said core values give climate activists a positive identity of doing their duty and mission; activists should take pride in mission.  He urged that climate activists adapt their language to what gives meaning to people’s lives.  “We have to de-brand our approach; there’s too much organizational chauvinism.” He viewed climate activism as broader than traditional environmental groups and climate action campaigns need to allow collaborating groups to have their own identity.

Recast the climate question as a moral question.  This is another important way to challenge fossil fuel, according to Mae Boeve.  350.org is partnering with Energy Action, a coalition of 50 youth-led environmental and social justice groups working together to build the youth clean energy and climate movement. Thirty groups are working on divestment from fossil fuel corporations across the country.

 How to use the first 100 days of Obama’s next term.  Ted Glick, from the Chesapeake Climate Action Network felt the climate action agenda must essentially focus on Obama. The first 100 days can be an occasion to bring national attention to the urgency of ending consumption of all fossil fuels, not just coal.  Gas and all other fuels that release green house gases (GHG’s) block the transition to renewables. Ted advocated for actions around No to Keystone XL Pipeline, and urged organizations to call for a National Climate Summit.  He is in favor of a carbon tax.

We can continue to push for a lot more.  Mae Boeve of 350.org urged that groups push for answers from the President. The Keystone XL pipeline is an immediate target nationally. She posed a few questions for groups.  What can we learn from other groups?  What new tools can bring people into the movement?  How can we build scale?  What can we learn from the Obama campaign itself?

 Questions and comments from listeners: 

 Lies in advertisements by natural gas companies go virtually unanswered.  Can groups take them on?  Can we spend money to do counter ads?

 Action alerts are ineffective.  Better than e-mailing elected officials who don’t pay much attention, show up in great numbers in district offices to force them into action.  Apply heat.

 How to deal with weak Congress proposals on controlling climate change? One listener suggested that we build power by organizing around where Congress people get elected.  We have to work at all levels and tie politicians to those funding them. Another suggested putting together local climate action teams that highlight how to reduce the demand for energy.

 What about U.S. international negotiations?  From a policy aspect, who is appointed to the U.N. is important, but until we take dramatic action as a nation to cut emissions, we won’t be effective on the international scene.  Other grassroots efforts in other countries can give examples for people, since mainstream media doesn’t give attention.

How to prevent moving from coal to downside of investing in massive gas infrastructure? Public education is needed.

Alert people to the methane releases in the Arctic.  Is it on the radar?

To hear the entire conference call, go to the recording at http://bit.ly/Udjyic.

Further Information on Conference Call Participating Organizations at:

 Climate Reality Check Coalition http://climaterealitycheck.org/   The coalition is a diverse alliance of organizations united by a deep appreciation for all interdependent life on the Earth, including the entire human family. “Together, the public, private, and nonprofit sectors can and must develop practical and transformative solutions — solutions that heal old wounds, and that move our nation and world closer to achieving social, economic and environmental justice.”

NC Warn (Waste Awareness Reduction Network) http://www.ncwarn.org/   The organization is part of the Black, Brown, and Green Alliance of Durham, NC. In partnership with allies, including Greenpeace, AARP-NC, the NC Housing Coalition and the NC Justice Center, NC WARN is working to change Duke Energy Progress’ business model of building unneeded, expensive power plants and repeatedly raising electricity rates.  Duke Energy Progress is now the largest electricity corporation in the United States. Shifting them away from fossil fuels could be the global game-changer humanity needs to avert runaway climate catastrophe.

NAACP Climate Justice Initiative http://www.naacp.org/programs/entry/climate-justice  The NAACP Climate Justice Initiative advances an advocacy agenda which promotes policies on issues such as clean energy, transportation equity, food justice, equity in urban/rural development, economic empowerment/green economy, health justice, education justice, disaster planning, housing justice, etc with desired outcomes and processes framed by four Rs: 1) Real Reductions in the emissions that are driving climate change and harming our communities; 2) Reparations through resource provision for mitigation and adaptation that is controlled by our communities; 3) Representation at state, local, national, and global levels in decision making around policies, programs and practices; 4) Rights Based Responses that ensure that human and civil rights are upheld through the transition.

Black Mesa Water Coalition http://www.blackmesawatercoalition.org/  Black Mesa Water Coalition is dedicated to preserving and protecting Mother Earth and the integrity of Indigenous Peoples’ cultures, with the vision of building sustainable and healthy communities. BMWC strives to empower young people while building sustainable communities.

 350.org http://www.350.org/ 350.org is building a global grassroots movement to solve the climate crisis. Its online campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass public actions are led from the bottom up by thousands of volunteer organizers in over 188 countries.

 Food and Water Watch http://www.foodandwaterwatch.org  Food and Water Watch helps people take charge of where their food comes from, keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to our homes, protect the environmental quality of oceans, force government to do its job protecting citizens, and educate about the importance of keeping the global commons — our shared resources — under public control.

 Chesapeake Climate Action Network http://www.chesapeakeclimate.org/  CCAN’s mission is to build and mobilize a powerful grassroots movement in the unique region that surrounds our nation’s capital to call for state, national and international policies that will put us on a path to climate stability.

Also mentioned during the call:

Energy Action Coalition http://www.energyactioncoalition.org/  Energy Action Coalition is a coalition of 50 youth-led environmental and social justice groups. Working with hundreds of campus and youth groups, dozens of youth networks, and hundreds of thousands of young people, Energy Action Coalition and its partners have united a burgeoning movement behind winning local victories and coordinating on state, regional, and national levels in the United States and Canada.

END

 

High School Students Explain Significance of Climate Change

On Saturday Oct. 27th, this young woman spoke to the threat and magnitude of climate change before a crowd at the week long Vigil to End Climate Silence in Boston’s Government Center. It would be three days before several elected officials would choose to follow suit, responding the the shocking destruction of Hurricane Sandy. On this election day, voters are still wondering where many candidates stand on this issue.

Recording by Susan R.

Update: Don’t miss this amazing essay, posted today on Climate Progress, from 16 year old climate activist and now Sandy survivor, Maya Faison.

“I am 16 years old and I am currently in my home in Laurelton, Queens.  It is day six with no heat, no power and no gas in my mom’s car to escape.
Trees are down all over my neighborhood and at night it is pitch dark, with only the moon as light. I feel paralyzed with cold.

…Our nation is in danger and my future is in danger.
This is the future I want: a country that is better prepared for climate and environmental disasters, and is working proactively to mitigate global warming. Just like we have fire drills in school, we need to have evacuation plans and disaster preparedness kits.  We must rely less on oil and more on alternative energy, and reduce carbon emissions by any means necessary. We need more preservation of natural resources and less consumption. We cannot continue to provide subsidies to oil and gas companies that are wreaking havoc on our earth.  Science matters, and we must educate the next generation on the realities of climate change so we are all working to promote a better, more sustainable future.”

~ Nuevaspora