Category Archives: fossil fuels

Dolores Jordan, First Lady of Derby Street

SALEM — She’s the “First Lady of Derby Street,” and Derby Street is coming together to celebrate her legacy of protecting and cementing the community’s history in the Witch City.

The Salem Alliance for the Environment (SAFE) will celebrate the legacy of Dolores Jordan on Tuesday, Nov. 10 at the Hawthorne Hotel ballroom.

Jordan, 86, is a lifelong Salem resident, born and raised in the home she lives in at the corner of Derby and White streets.

When she was born, Derby was home to the city’s Polish community, Jordan said. Today, it’s a busy throughway connecting downtown Salem to Route 1A with vibrant wharves, impressive views of the ocean and a rich awareness of its maritime history.

The First Lady of Derby Street played a heavy hand in that, even if the Derby Street she knew as a child no longer exists.

Born and raised in Polish Salem

“My parents bought this house in 1912,” Jordan said, sitting out on a back porch overlooking her garden. “I was born a few years after that, and our family has lived here up to now.”

Jordan was born to Polish parents; in fact, her father owned a store that much of the city’s Polish community centered around.

It was a hard-working community, one that didn’t have access to things such as transportation to get to work, according to Jordan. Read more.

Obama Announces Carbon Regs to Address Climate Change

Skystacky Today, President Obama released his Clean Power Plan, a first-of-its-kind plan to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants. The effort to limit carbon from power plants was lead by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, who lead a similar effort in Massachusetts that forced the clean up of Massachusetts coal plants.

According to the Center for American Progress:

The Clean Power Plan is the most ambitious action yet taken in the United States to slow global warming, and is a key part of the president’s strategy in the global fight against climate change. A draft version of the plan was released last summer and the final version responds to more than 4.3 million comments from states, utilities, communities, and more. Here are a few key things to know about the finalized rule:

  • 40 percent: Carbon-dioxide pollution is the leading contributor to climate change and power plants produce the largest amount of carbon-dioxide emissions in the United States, making up about 40 percent of all carbon pollution in the country.
  • 32 percent: Under the finalized version of the Clean Power Plan, states will be required to reduce carbon pollution by 32 percent from 2005 levels—a nine percent increase from the previous target.
  • $93 billion: The projected benefits far outweigh the costs of implementing the plan. The Clean Power Plan will lead to climate and health benefits of up to $93 billion by 2030.
  • $85: The average American family will see annual savings of $85 on their energy bill in 2030, and between 2020 and 2030 consumers will save a total of $155 billion.
  • 3,600: By 2030, the reduction in power plant pollution will prevent up to 3,600 premature deaths a year.
  • 870 million: When the Clean Power Plan is fully in place in 2030, there will be 870 million tons less carbon pollution—that is the equivalent of the annual emissions of more than 166 million cars, or 70 percent of cars in the country.

Read the full Center for American Progress analysis here.

MA House Passes Gas Leaks Bill

In a unanimous vote, the House passed a bill to require utility companies to stop leaks from their gas lines. As reported in the Boston Globe (2/13/2014),

Boston’s gas pipelines are riddled with thousands of small leaks — often the cause of the occasional rotten-egg-like whiff of mercaptan-laced gas that passerbys smell. Federal and state legislators have called for fixes, citing both safety concerns and the amount of money lost from leaking gas that never gets to consumers.

State Representative Lori Ehrlich, the Marblehead Democrat who filed the bill, said she was delighted at this step toward addressing the problem.

“The law has permitted gas companies to merely monitor more than 20,000 gas leaks throughout the Commonwealth,” Ehrlich said in a statement. “These unrepaired methane leaks waste almost $40 million of a natural resource annually, and often lead to deadly explosions.’’

SAFE has been a strong proponent of fixing the gas links, particularly in light of the proposal to build a new gas-generation power plant in Salem.

CLF and Footprint Close to Agreement

The Salem News (2/12/14) reports that Conservation Law Foundation and Footprint Power are close to announcing a settlement in CLF’s lawsuit challenging Footprint’s effort to site a new gas plant in Salem.

In a joint motion filed yesterday with a state board, the New Jersey power plant developer and the Massachusetts environmental organization said they “believe that they may be able to reach a settlement” in the contentious case that has been fought at public hearings, before state boards, in court filings and at private meetings.

If a settlement is not reached, arguments in the case will begin March 4 before the Massachusetts Supreme Judical Court. Read more.


Salem Alliance for the Environment (SAFE) released the following statement in response to the February 8 demonstration in Salem by 350-MA.

SAFE fully agrees with 350MA that the United States must take immediate steps to address global climate change. However, SAFE believes that the proposed quick-start, high efficiency natural-gas power plant for our city is consistent with the state’s Global Warming Solutions Act and can play a positive role in decarbonizing the electric grid in the three decades ahead.

As a seaside community, Salem should be on the forefront of addressing the climate crisis. If we are to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, including sea level rise that could risk putting a part of our own community under water, the world must reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent or more by 2050. Like the sponsors of the protest against the proposed gas plant in Salem, we are in search of a viable path forward.

Our vision for Salem includes a large-scale maritime wind farm off of Cape Ann—a project that would become more viable if the proposed Salem gas plant goes forward.  And as advocates for solar energy, we are pleased that Salem is one of 15 communities that have been selected for the second round of Solarize Mass.

We also recognize the growing evidence that hydrofracking is severely damaging the environment and peoples’ lives. We strongly oppose this practice and believe it should be stopped until proven safe. To that end, SAFE supports federal and state regulation of fracking and legislation that forces utilities to prevent chemical contamination of drinking water supplies and to fully address methane leaks in the gas distribution infrastructure.

The “easy” work in reducing emissions has been done here in Massachusetts, with all coal-fired power plants scheduled to close by 2017. Going forward the choices become more difficult. Among the steps we can take to further reduce emissions in the short run is to replace older gas generation with high-efficiency quick-start plants similar to the one proposed for Salem.

The challenge of renewable energy is that it is intermittent: the sun doesn’t shine at night, and the wind can die down at any time. The older plants that currently power the grid are not good at filling in these interruptions in power production because they take 12-36 hours to ramp up to full power. The proposed gas plant for Salem is a much better choice to be paired with large renewable projects because it offers super-efficient generation with the flexibility of being able to increase or decrease power generation in an hour’s time, without having to run any more than needed.

During this recent cold spell, our reliance on the dirtiest fossil fuels – coal and oil – for our region’s electricity has escalated dramatically. This situation underscores the need for gas as a transitional fuel until renewables can take up the slack. Otherwise, we are exposing ourselves not only to the unnecessary risks of rolling brownouts that ISO New England (the region’s non-profit electric grid manager) has so forcefully warned us about in their recent statements but also a reliance on dirtier fuels that increase our greenhouse gas emissions.

Natural gas power generation is not a panacea but rather a transitional step. It is a much cleaner-burning fuel and creates fewer carbon emissions than either coal or oil. For gas generation to be part of the solution, however, public policies must ensure that gas extraction and transmission meet the highest standards.

In the next 30 years, we must make major changes in how we generate, transmit and use electricity. Our policymakers here in Massachusetts and in Washington, DC, need to make a far greater commitment to investing in renewable energy generation and in the national network of transmission infrastructure needed to deliver that power to every community in America. Once that infrastructure is in place, then natural gas generation can—and should—be phased out.

This is a need and vision that will take decades to make real. During this transition we have a choice of relying on older gas generation or upgrading to the latest and most efficient gas turbines that will allow us to introduce more renewables, not fewer, into the regional power grid.

Our goal should be to build a national transmission network powered by thousands of renewable energy projects distributed all over the system. That will allow us to decarbonize our electricity in this country safely and dependably.  If we choose not to build high-efficiency gas plants at strategic locations on the existing power grid, we miss the opportunity to create the infrastructure of the future–today.

We must recognize that in order to transition from our current electric system to one in the future powered mostly by renewable energy, we need several interim steps. We believe this proposed plant is one of the steps on this pathway to a low carbon future that our region and country must pursue and develop.

We should not let unrealistic short-term idealism, regardless of how well-intentioned, limit long term progress.

Read  SAFE’s earlier statement on Footprint Power’s proposed gas generating plant for Salem Harbor.

Proposed Gas Plant Could Help Reduce Emissions Regionally

SAFE co-chairs Patricia Gozemba and Jeff Barz-Snell respond to a recent article in the Boston Globe:

RE “NEW Salem plant a test case for state climate law: Utilities call power vital; environmentalists alarmed” (Page A1, Jan. 19): The implication in Erin Ailworth’s article is that all environmentalists oppose the Footprint Power project in Salem. Salem Alliance for the Environment, a leader in the fight to end coal-burning at the power plant, is supportive of Footprint’s efficient, quick-start natural gas plant. At the same time, we continue to speak out against special favors for Footprint, such as a recent amendment in the Legislature, since pulled back, that would have ended all review at the state level for the proposed plant.

As a group of progressive environmentalists — whose membership includes engineers, scientists, and environmental policy experts — SAFE believes we need to be practical in building a bridge to a renewable future. We are active in promoting a wind farm off Salem Sound, one or more wind turbines in our city, increased renewable capacity through the Solarize Salem initiative, and city-wide energy efficiency.

The proposed plant would reduce regional carbon dioxide emissions while providing the high certainty of available energy when the wind does not blow and the sun does not shine. SAFE believes that it is too simplistic to draw a line in the sand with a cry of “no more fossil fuels.” Highly efficient gas plants, such as the one proposed for Salem, would help reduce emissions now as we scale up much-needed renewable energy projects going forward.

Colorado Governor proposes stricter fracking regs

According to the New York Times, Governor Hickenlooper is proposing to crack down on methane leaking from gas wells. The pollution has become so pervasive that Rocky Mountain National Park is experiencing elevated ozone readings.

Gov. John W. Hickenlooper of Colorado proposed on Monday tough new limits on leaks of methane and other gases from well sites and storage tanks. Supporters called the limits, which would exceed existing federal rules, the most sweeping in the nation.

Although the rules would also cover traditional petroleum and gas exploration and production, pollution from fracking — hydraulic fracturing, used to extract gas and oil from rock formations — is the driving force behind the proposal.

The proposal, which would directly regulate emissions of methane, an especially potent greenhouse gas, for the first time, came just after Colorado voters indicated their unease with the state’s booming oil and gas industry in elections this month.

Mr. Hickenlooper developed the proposal in negotiations with three of the state’s largest oil and gas developers — Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, Encana Corporation and Noble Energy — and the Environmental Defense Fund, a national advocacy group.

Among other measures, it would require companies to regularly search for and repair gas leaks in their drilling and production equipment and to keep records of their findings. Read more.