Author Archives: karenkahn33

Honoring Jeff Barz Snell 11.12.18, 5:30-7:30

by Pat Gozemba

Our esteemed co-chair and Salem icon Jeff has left town, but he is not forgotten. Join SAFE in honoring him at the Hawthorne on Nov. 12 from 5:30-7:30. Tickets are available online Honoring Jeff Barz Snell or you can mail a check made out to SAFE to Treasurer David Rowand at 109 Columbus Ave. Salem, MA 01970. Costs on flyer. Please spread the word!

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Fight Climate Change with One Final Halloween Event: The Great Pumpkin Drop

Great Pumpkin Drop Event_Salem_November 4 - FINAL

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Gas Leaks/Human Health 10.9.18, 7pm

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Offshore Wind on the North Shore 10.1.18

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Board of Health Advocates Caution

Salem Board of Health Speaks Out on Health Effects of Proposed Gas Infrastructure

by Patricia A. Gozemba

Salem cares about the health and safety effects of gas leaks. The Salem Board of Health on July 10th joined 67 other municipalities in Massachusetts in voting to send a letter to Gov. Charlie Baker making these specific recommendations for state action:

  1. Do not authorize new natural gas infrastructure projects in Massachusetts until and unless adequate data have been gathered to allow making a valid health impact assessment specific to each project.
  2. When the above data have been gathered, require a comprehensive health impact assessment before permitting any gas infrastructure project, following the American Medical Association and Massachusetts Medical Society policies to that effect.
  3. Do not allow any new natural gas infrastructure in the state that primarily serves to export natural gas, if it subjects state residents even to small health effects.
  4. Review current regulations, both state and federal, for existing and new pipelines and other natural gas infrastructure. Put in place additional state regulations needed to improve safety of the infrastructure and containment of pipeline contents.
  5. Consider renewable alternatives to natural gas such as solar and wind reducing our reliance on fossil fuels which add to global warming.

The Sierra Club of Massachusetts is coordinating the campaign to emphasize health and safety as communities like Salem grapple with an inordinate number of gas leaks in our city streets. In 2016, National Grid reported to the MA Department of Public Utilities that Salem had 62 gas leaks but SAFE teamed up with Bob Ackley owner of Gas Safety Inc., who in August 2016 demonstrated that Salem had 232 gas leaks

Part of our concern with gas leaks focused on dead and dying trees and that still is an issue, however, we need to consider how human health is also affected by leaking gas. SAFE will now turn to examining how much of the fugitive gas ends up in our homes and how it affects common illnesses like asthma. Stay tuned.

As Trump Rolls Back Environmental Regs, Coal Operations Expand

coal mining imageThe following story, authored by SAFE board member Karen Kahn, is reposted from the Nonprofit Quarterly.

Rural Action, an Appalachian Ohio nonprofit, has spent two decades working to clean up a watershed in Southeastern Ohio polluted by old coal mines. Now, the organization and its supporters are fighting the permitting of a new surface mine proposed by Oxford Mining Co.

Rural Action, in partnership with the federal and state governments, universities, and other nonprofits, has invested $9 million to date to clean up the watershed. Of that, nearly $3 million has been spent on Sunday Creek, which is directly threatened by the new mine operation.

The group’s work has had a significant impact on water quality over the years. The west branch of Sunday River Creek had no fish when the work began, and now hosts 17 different species.

At a recent public hearing, Michelle Shively, Rural Action’s Watershed coordinator, said, “We hope that the Ohio EPA and Oxford Mining Co. will take into account the tremendous investment and resulting water quality improvements that have occurred in the Sunday Creek watershed and take the necessary precautions to not endanger the biological communities and quality habitat downstream.”

Andrea Reik, a local resident who spoke at the public hearing, asked a question that must have been on many minds. “Why would we go backward? It makes no sense. It’s crazy, and we need to continue saying no.”

In the face of global climate change, Reik is asking the right question. Why continue to destroy, as she said, “precious resources” with new mining operations that would bring 100 temporary jobs to the area but further risk global collapse? Why not look to new opportunities that will grow jobs for a green energy economy, that build on the work of Rural Action to bring back a diverse, healthy watershed? Jobs in coal mining should not be the only option for the people of the region.

But that’s not the logic of the Trump administration, which campaigned on a promise to bring back coal mining jobs. It’s now working hard to dismantle regulations that make mining less profitable—probably the only reason that Oxford Mining is proposing to reopen mine operations.

One of the administration’s top goals is to roll back the Clean Power Plan, the centerpiece of the Obama administration’s climate action plan. The administration announced its plan to repeal the regulations last October and is now in the process of holding public hearings. Three of the four hearings are in coal-friendly areas of the country, but on February 28th, a hearing was held in San Francisco. According to Mother Jones, “dozens of angry Californians filed into the San Francisco Public Library” to oppose the proposal.

“The rescission [of the Clean Power Plan] is a political act to fulfill Trump’s promises to polluting industries,” said Marc Sapir, a family physician and former public health officer at the hearing. “If this EPA cared one iota about the nation’s public health and well-being, it would engage the appeals court in defending the Clean Power Plan.”

Mother Jones reports that an EPA fact sheet removed from the EPA website (along with any references to climate change) reported that the Clean Power Plan would prevent up to 6,600 premature deaths and 150,000 asthma attacks in children in 2030. As the proposal for a new mine in the Sunday Creek watershed makes apparent, the plan also would have reduced mine pollution in our nation’s waterways.

The residents of southeastern Ohio unfortunately won’t be able to count on the federal government to protect their waterways. The administration has already rolled back the “stream protection rule,” which was intended to protect Appalachia’s streams and rivers from being filled with coal mining debris. The EPA has also put a moratorium on the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule, which expanded protections of 20 million acres of wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

These actions come on top of a mass exodus of scientists and other staff at the EPA, as the organization is revamped to prioritize profits over the rights of U.S Citizens to clean air, water, and land.

PA to MA: The Fracking Connection

by Patricia A. Gozemba

Tuesday, March 6 at 7 PM – 9 PM 45 Pauline St, Winthrop, MA

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Clean Water Action, Mothers Out Front, and Mass Power Forward are bringing people from the fracking fields of the Marcellus Shale in PA to MA to share their stories of the daily horrors that they live with from the unregulated fracking industry.

The fracking industry is thriving. The people and their communities are not. There continues to be a big push in MA by our utilities to build new pipelines, paid for by ratepayers like us, to get the PA gas to the coast for export. The utilities tell us that the pipelines will secure a supply of gas to heat our homes in the winter. Conservation Law Foundation and a slew of other independent analysts point out that this is hogwash and just an opportunity for utilities to make more money.

Hear the folks who live in the fracking fields tell their story.

You’re Invited to “We’re In This Together: Battling for Clean Energy and Fighting Fracking from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts.”

Join with concerned environmentalists on Tuesday March 6th from 7-9 pm at the Lyceum Room in the Edward B. Newton School for an evening with community leaders from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. They live at the other end of the fracked gas pipelines that connect to Massachusetts. Speakers sharing their powerful stories will include Lois Bjornson, Craig Leland Stevens, Brian Latkanich and Jane Worthington whose communities are surrounded by fracking wells and facilities. This event is free and open to the public. Sponsored by Clean Water Action, Friends of Belle Isle Marsh, Mothers Out Front and the Mass Power Forward coalition.