Monthly Archives: March 2016

Pipeline Feedback Website from Congressman Seth Moulton

Those of us on the North Shore have to pay close attention to this issue, because we need to find out if it’s true that herbicides will indeed be sprayed on a regular basis on either side of the pipeline (to keep trees from growing and sending their roots into the pipeline). Much of the proposed course of the pipeline is very close to one of the sources of our drinking water supply, the Ipswich River.

The following very important resource was brought to our attention by SAFE member, David Radue:

Yesterday, Congressman Seth Moulton’s office launched a web portal (available here) to solicit feedback about the Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline proposal. CCL North Shore met with his staff yesterday to discuss a couple of other topics, but we set aside some time to talk about the pipeline, as well. Moulton’s staffers, Morgan Bell and Dennis Magnasco, told us that their office has not yet taken a position on the pipeline. They have heard concerns from many constituents in town hall meetings, and they made this website to cast a broader net in gathering feedback. The portal will be open until May. I encourage members of the SAFE network to familiarize themselves with the details of the proposal and associated environmental risks and to then to provide feedback to Moulton’s office.

Sincerely,
David Radue

U.S. Congressman Seth Moulton (from his website)
congressman seth moulton
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NYT: Scientists Warn of Perilous Climate Shift Within Decades, Not Centuries

Storms more powerful than have ever been recorded in history, melting of most of the ice on the poles, inundation of coastal cities due to sea level rise, and many other catastrophes that will be out of our control are predicted before the end of this century.

From New York Times contributor Justin Gillis, on March 22, 2016:

In 2009, nations agreed to try to limit the planetary warming to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, or 2 degrees Celsius, above the preindustrial level. The Earth has already warmed by about half that amount. The climate appears to be destabilizing, virtually all land ice on the planet has started to melt, and the oceans are rising at an accelerating pace.

The paper, written by Dr. Hansen and 18 other authors, dwells on the last time Earth warmed naturally, about 120,000 years ago, when the temperature reached a level estimated to have been only slightly higher than today. Large chunks of the polar ice disintegrated then, and scientists have established that the sea level rose 20 to 30 feet.

Climate scientists agree that humanity is about to cause an equal or greater rise in sea level, but they have tended to assume that such a large increase would take centuries, at least. The new paper argues that it could happen far more rapidly, with the worst case being several feet of sea level rise over the next 50 years, followed by increases so precipitous that they would force humanity to beat a hasty retreat from the coasts.

“That would mean loss of all coastal cities, most of the world’s large cities and all their history,” Dr. Hansen said in a video statement that accompanied the new paper.

Read more.

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image credit rock

February Had the Most Above-Average Temperatures on Record

The atmospheric temperature of the earth broke a 150-year-old record this February…and 150 years ago is when recording the weather began.

From TIME magazine contributor Justin Worland (@justinworland) —

Here’s why that matters

Global temperatures in February were the most above average since weather record keeping began nearly 150 years ago, bringing the world the closest it has ever been to what scientists consider dangerous levels of warming, a federal government agency confirmed Thursday.

The average temperature across the globe in February reached 13.3°C (56°F), according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That’s 1.2°C (2.2°F) higher than the average global temperature in February during the 20th century. NOAA’s findings confirm those released earlier this month by NASA and the Japan Meteorological Agency that both show February as the most unusually hot month on record.

Read more.

PHILIPPINES - CLIMATE CHANGE - DISPLACEMENT

Relief packs are distributed in a flooded district of Taguig, Phillipines on Oct. 12, 2009. Typhoon Ketsana, known in the Philippines as Tropical Storm Ondoy, devastated the region in 2009.

PHILIPPINES: GROUND ZERO FOR CLIMATE DISASTER/image: Veejay Villafranca
Relief packs are distributed in a flooded district of Taguig, Phillipines on Oct. 12, 2009. Typhoon Ketsana, known in the Philippines as Tropical Storm Ondoy, devastated the region in 2009 (1 of 29 images).

New guide aims to help steer solar energy into low-income communities

[note: please don’t forget to sign Salem SAFE’s petition to stop gas leaks in Massachusetts! We only need 16 more signatures!]

Conference committee members are “trading proposals back and forth.”

New standards now being promoted would make Massachusetts lead the country in affordable solar energy, particularly for low-income cities and towns. However, the new standards are in jeopardy because of the current state of the discussions about the two competing bills, which are both presently in conference committee.

On the WWLP-22News website, by State House News Service contributor Katie Lannan:

BOSTON, Mass. (STATE HOUSE) – A policy guide launched Monday holds up Massachusetts as a leader in making solar energy accessible to low-income communities, but solar supporters said Monday that status could be at risk under legislation lawmakers are negotiating.

Competing House and Senate solar bills (H 3854 and S 2058) were referred on Nov. 18 to a conference committee. Lawmakers were charged with working out differences including the amount of power solar producers can sell back to the energy grid at retail rates through what is known as net metering.

“If the bill that comes out of committee is anywhere in between the what Senate version was and what the House version was, you are all but assured that low-income solar is in deep trouble in Massachusetts,” Emily Rochon, director of energy and environmental policy at Boston Community Capital, said during a conference call with reporters and solar advocates Monday.

Read more.

solar-panels
Photo courtesy: MGNonline

SAFE’s new YouTube channel!

natural gas panel

From left to right: Kathy Karch, Vice-President of SAFE; Massachusetts State Senator Joan Lovely; and Massachusetts State Representative Paul Tucker.

 

​Many thanks are in order, but first of all please sign our online petition to stop gas leaks in Massachusetts! (or click on the image just underneath our logo at the top of this page).

​Our old videos from the 2010 channel are on the new channel (note: a 2010 rally is HERE), as well as the one we just produced in SATV‘s brand new studio: “Who Pays for Gas Leaks?”

​We thank everyone who participated in the production of this show; Kathy Karch, Vice-President of SAFE, who moderated; Massachusetts State Senator Joan B. Lovely (Salem); Massachusetts State Representative Paul Tucker (Salem); Professor Nathan Phillips of Boston University who gave us permission to use his video that so clearly explains the problem of gas leaks in our aging infrastructure; SAFE Co-Chair Pat Gozemba (production and coordination), SAFE Board Member and Webmaster Karen Kahn (production and coordination); the wonderfully helpful crew at Salem Access Television; and I suppose I’ll have to thank myself (Alan Hanscom) for being the technical director/editor (behind the curtain in the control room!).

 

NYT Opinion: Planet on the Ballot

Comment from SAFE Co-Chair, Jeffrey Barz-Snell: “It appears that the goal of drastically reducing emissions is within reach, but the wrong leader could still get in the way of saving the planet.”

From NYT Op-Ed Columnist, Paul Krugman on Feb. 29, 2016:

krugman-circular-thumblarge-v4

We now have a pretty good idea who will be on the ballot in November: Hillary Clinton, almost surely (after the South Carolina blowout, prediction markets give her a 96 percent probability of securing her party’s nomination), and Donald Trump, with high likelihood (currently 80 percent probability on the markets). But even if there’s a stunning upset in what’s left of the primaries, we already know very well what will be at stake — namely, the fate of the planet.

Why do I say this?

Obviously, the partisan divide on environmental policy has been growing ever wider. Just eight years ago the G.O.P. nominated John McCain, whose platform included a call for a “cap and trade” system — that is, a system that restricts emissions, but allows pollution permits to be bought and sold — to limit greenhouse gases. Since then, however, denial of climate science and opposition to anything that might avert catastrophe have become essential pillars of Republican identity. So the choice in 2016 is starker than ever before.

Yet that partisan divide would not, in itself, be enough to make this a truly crucial year. After all, electing a pro-environment president wouldn’t make much difference if he or (much more likely) she weren’t in a position to steer us away from the precipice. And the truth is that given Republican retrogression and the G.O.P.’s near-lock on the House of Representatives, even a blowout Democratic victory this year probably wouldn’t create a political environment in which anything like Mr. McCain’s 2008 proposal could pass Congress.

But here’s the thing: the next president won’t need to pass comprehensive legislation, or indeed any legislation, to take a big step toward saving the planet. Dramatic progress in energy technology has put us in a position where executive action — action that relies on existing law — can achieve great things. All we need is an executive willing to take that action, and a Supreme Court that won’t stand in its way.

And this year’s election will determine whether those conditions hold.

Many people, including some who should know better, still seem oddly oblivious to the ongoing revolution in renewable energy. Recently Bill Gates declared, as he has a number of times over the past few years, that we need an “energy miracle” — some kind of amazing technological breakthrough — to contain climate change. But we’ve already had that miracle: the cost of electricity generated by wind and sun has dropped dramatically, while costs of storage, crucial to making renewables fully competitive with conventional energy, are plunging as we speak.

The result is that we’re only a few years from a world in which carbon-neutral sources of energy could replace much of our consumption of fossil fuels at quite modest cost. True, Republicans still robotically repeat that any attempt to limit emissions would “destroy the economy.” But at this point such assertions are absurd. As both a technical matter and an economic one, drastic reductions in emissions would, in fact, be quite easy to achieve. All it would take to push us across the line would be moderately pro-environment policies.

As a card-carrying economist, I am obliged to say that it would be best if these policies took the form of a comprehensive system like cap and trade or carbon taxes, which would provide incentives to reduce emissions all across the economy. But something like the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, which would use flexible regulations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency on major emitters, should be enough to get us a long way toward the goal.

And as I said, no new legislation would be needed, just a president willing to act and a Supreme Court that won’t stand in that president’s way, sacrificing the planet in the name of conservative ideology. What’s more, the Paris agreement from last year means that if the U.S. moves forward on climate action, much of the world will follow our lead.

I don’t know about you, but this situation makes me very nervous. As long as the prospect of effective action on climate seemed remote, sheer despair kept me, and I’m sure many others, comfortably numb — you knew nothing was going to happen, so you just soldiered on. Now, however, salvation is clearly within our grasp, but it remains all too possible that we’ll manage to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. And this is by far the most important issue there is; it, er, trumps even such things as health care, financial reform, and inequality.

So I’m going to be hanging on by my fingernails all through this election. No doubt there will be plenty of entertainment along the way, given the freak show taking place on one side of the aisle. But I won’t forget that the stakes this time around are deadly serious. And neither should you.

Tonight on SATV: “Who Pays for Gas Leaks?” (a SAFE production)

The first airing of “Who Pays for Gas Leaks?” is tonight. The half-hour panel discussion is about the two bills in the Massachusetts House of Representatives, H.2870 and H.2871, which address the problems of our aging infrastructure for the transport of natural gas, and also how the cost of the lost gas is being passed onto ratepayers.

The first three airings will be:
Tuesday, March 1, 2016 6:30 PM      SAFE Presents: Who Pays for Gas Leaks?
Friday, March 4, 2016 10:30 AM       SAFE Presents: Who Pays for Gas Leaks?
Sunday, March 6, 2016 10:15 AM      SAFE Presents: Who Pays for Gas Leaks?

It will then follow that schedule for about a month. Follow SATV’s schedule for future dates.

And if you haven’t done so already, please sign our petition to stop gas leaks!

 

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