Moulton to host Q&A at ‘Merchants of Doubt’ film

Film focuses on efforts to discredit climate change, other issues

Almost every seat was filled at the National Park Service Visitors Center last night, for a screening of the film, Merchants of Doubt (the story referred to above ran in the Salem News on May 5th). The film showed how the struggle to expose the tobacco industry’s practice of hiring “experts” to discredit the dangers of smoking is happening all over again with climate change. However, that battle took 50 years, and we don’t have the luxury of that many decades this time around, according to James Hansen and other scientists focused on the hard science of what is happening to our atmosphere.

Here is a YouTube clip of the question-and-answer session with Congressman Moulton, filmed by SAFE Advisory Board Member, Stan Franzeen. The Salem News article that ran on the 5th before the screening can be read here.

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Congressman Seth Moulton

Free film screening in Salem: “Merchants of Doubt”

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From SAFE Advisory Board Member, Stan Franzeen:

On Friday May 6, Congressman Seth Moulton will be hosting an audience Q&A after a free screening of the film MERCHANTS OF DOUBT at the NPS Visitor Center, 2 New Liberty Street, Salem. Doors open at 6:00 pm, screening at 6:30 pm. Released in 2015, this satirically comic documentary exposes the deceptive tactics (borrowed from the tobacco industry’s playbook) that well-paid lobbyists have been using to create doubt and obscure the facts about climate science.

Salem Sound Coastwatch and SAFE (Salem Alliance for the Environment) are sponsoring in partnership with the National Park Service.

We are very excited about this unique opportunity to reach new audiences and help dispel some of the myths perpetrated by the anti-science crowd.

Pipeline opponents plan to pack upcoming hearings

In Georgia, the citizens just defeated a Kinder Morgan pipeline from being installed; in Connecticut and Western Massachusetts, they’re currently fighting one; and WE ON THE NORTH SHORE need to fight the extension of it that they want to build right alongside the Ipswich River. It’s partly due to the fact that they’ll be tearing down fragile ecosystems in the Ipswich Watershed (part of our drinking water supply on the North Shore), but perhaps more urgently due to the fact that they’ll routinely and indefinitely have to spray very strong herbicides for 12 feet on either side of the pipeline to prevent tree roots from growing into it and damaging it. We can’t let them do that so close to our drinking water, nor in a protected ecosystem!

Furthermore, the Kinder Morgan pipeline will be carrying fracked gas. The process of fracking releases so much methane (a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2) into the atmosphere that it makes it a moot point that burning fracked gas releases less carbon dioxide than burning coal.

From Christian M. Wade, Statehouse Reporter, in the Eagle-Tribune on April 5, 2016:

State officials are planning six hearings over the next two weeks, including one Wednesday at Lynnfield Middle School and another at Andover High School on Thursday, April 14. Both begin at 7 p.m.

“We don’t want this company to run a destructive and potentially dangerous high-pressure, fracked gas pipeline across our community,” said Bob Croce, who heads an opposition group in Peabody. “And we certainly don’t want the state to give them permission to trample over property rights and conservation land for a pipeline project that wouldn’t benefit us at all.”

Kinder Morgan and its subsidiary want to pump gas from the Marcellus shale region across Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire.

Its pipeline would connect with other proposed and existing lines through Haverhill, Methuen and Andover. Smaller, lateral pipelines are proposed through Peabody, Danvers and Lynnfield…

Wayne Castonguay, executive director of the Ipswich River Watershed Association, said environmentalists are particularly concerned about a section of pipeline that would run along the Ipswich River — a drinking water source.

Besides the impact on wetlands and wildlife, he worries about the use of herbicides to clear the pipeline of brush.

“More than 300,000 people drink water from the Ipswich River every day,” Castonguay said. “There’s no way to mechanically clear the vegetation, so they have no choice but to use herbicides, which raises serious public health concerns….”

Project opponents — including Attorney General Maura Healey — contend that the demand for natural gas is exaggerated.

Read the whole article.

KMIs-Unparalleled-Asset-FootprintImage from marketrealist.com

Pipeline becomes issue in state rep race/Speliotis, Croce spar over money from lobbyist

The controversy over the proposed Kinder Morgan gas pipeline has entered into the Massachusetts State Representative race in the 13th Essex District. Bob Croce is running against incumbent State Representative Ted Speliotis (Danvers). Croce is pointing out that Speliotis accepted campaign donations from Kinder Morgan, and that it’s NOT coincidental that Speliotis doesn’t oppose the pipeline. Note in particular the last line of this clip from the article, especially in light of the fact that “fracked” gas will be running through the pipeline.

From Ethan Forman, Salem News Staff Writer, on Apr 5, 2016:

Bob Croce, a West Peabody resident…is also chairman of a citizens’ group opposing the pipeline plan in Peabody. Even before announcing his candidacy, Croce was attacking Speliotis for accepting campaign contributions from lobbyists representing Kinder Morgan…

“I would have not, absolutely, taken money from a lobbyist who was working for Kinder Morgan,” said Croce, chairman of Peabody Citizens United, a group opposed to the pipeline. “It’s up to others to judge if it’s right or wrong…”

The larger issue, he said, is what he calls Speliotis’ “lukewarm” opposition to the pipeline.

“He really seemed on the fence here,” Croce said.

A Democrat who is challenging Speliotis in the primary, Croce said he decided to run, “because, in general, the representative has never supported our opposition to the pipeline. In fact, he’s discouraged our efforts, saying several times that we can’t stop the project, so we might as well mitigate.”

A subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, Tennessee Gas Company, wants to install a natural gas pipeline through West Peabody, but the project has proven controversial because the route would tear up a section of the Peabody Independence Greenway, and skirt the Ipswich River, triggering concerns that herbicides meant to keep the route clear could contaminate the river, which is a source of drinking water.

Croce said other political leaders have lined up in opposition to the pipeline, but not Speliotis.

Speliotis said he has a different view of the pipeline. He would prefer to see it routed along existing rights of way for pipelines, and away from the Ipswich River, he said, though that is not what the company is proposing.

He sees the pipeline as a possible secondary gas supplier to Salem’s new natural gas power plant, which is now under construction. With a competitive source of gas for the power plant, this could help lower the region’s electric rates, he said.

Read more.

croce and speliotis

image credit croce speliotis

Letter to the editor (not published yet) re: Kinder-Morgan pipeline

From Rabbi Judy Weiss in Brookline, a well-known LTE writer and champion of climate causes:

From: Judy Weiss
Subject: Letter to editor
To: northshore@wickedlocal.com

Dear Editor,
Charlotte Kahn’s climate change column is excellent, as always. But she made one questionable comment: regarding public protests against proposals for new Kinder Morgan pipelines to carry gas for sale abroad, she wrote “victory seems improbable.” Actually, property owners in conservative Georgia created such an uproar opposing a new Kinder Morgan pipeline to carry gas across Georgia to Florida, that Republican legislators in Georgia sponsored legislation “to enact a temporary moratorium on the use of eminent domain for construction of petroleum pipelines and the permitting for construction of such pipelines so that a commission of elected officials and field experts can conduct a detailed study.”

Kinder Morgan decided to suspend further work following the Georgia legislature’s action.

If Bay Staters make as much noise as Georgians, our legislature, Governor, Rep. Seth Moulton and even Kinder Morgan will hear, and victory will be ours!

Judy Weiss
Brookline, MA 02446
Volunteer member of Citizens’ Climate Lobby

 

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Rabbi Judy Weiss lives in Brookline, MA. She teaches Hebrew Bible locally, and volunteers on climate change advocacy both locally and nationally.

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)
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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:

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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.

WHAT WENT WRONG AT PORTER RANCH? [and please sign SAFE’s gas leaks petition]

[NOTE: SAFE needs signatures to prevent the cost of gas leaks onto us ratepayers, but more importantly, to STOP the gas leaks altogether. Sign our online petition today!]

An aging gas well, lack of any inspections since 1976, and a sloppy “quick fix” in 1979 led to the worst natural gas disaster in Porter Ranch, California. [Update: the leak was temporarily stopped this past Thursday.]

From LA Weekly contributor, Gene Maddaus:

SS-25 was cemented only from the bottom up to a depth of 6,600 feet. The rest — more than a mile of steel pipe — was left exposed to the rock formation. At the top, the 7-inch casing is surrounded by an 11¾-inch surface casing, which is cemented to the rock. But a new well also would have a layer of cement between those casings to provide greater strength and protection from corrosion.

Gas is now leaking through a hole in the 7-inch casing at 470 feet down to the bottom of the outer casing at 990 feet, and out through the rock to the surface.

Read the whole article and see all the illustrations.

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SS-25 is made of three cylinders one inside the other. Gas is escaping from a vast underground “reservoir” via a hole in the inner, 7-inch casing at 470 feet deep. The gas is traveling down to the end of the outer casing at 990 feet, then out through the rock. Modern wells are cemented from the surface to the reservoir to stop corrosion, but the 7-inch casing of this well, circa 1953-1954, was only cemented from a depth of 6,600 feet down to 8,500 feet. The hole from which gas is spewing occurred far above this safety cementing.
Illustration by Darrick Rainey

Carbon Fee and Dividend In-Depth

From the Citizens Climate Lobby website:

The Basics of Carbon Fee and Dividend:
1. Place a steadily rising fee on fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas).
2. Give all of the revenue from the carbon fee back to households.
3. Use a border adjustment to discourage business relocation.
4. It’s good for the economy AND even better for the climate.

“…phased-in carbon fees on greenhouse gas emissions (1) are the most efficient, transparent, and enforceable mechanism to drive an effective and fair transition to a domestic-energy economy, (2) will stimulate investment in alternative-energy technologies, and (3) give all businesses powerful incentives to increase their energy-efficiency and reduce their carbon footprints in order to remain competitive…”

Read more.

Download Carbon Fee and Dividend, a full-text version of CCL’s Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal.

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1952: Smoke pouring from the New Farm Power House in Brisbane, Australia caused numerous complaints from residents. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Everybody aboard the energy omnibus: House preparing comprehensive electricity bill

House officials are creating an “omnibus” energy bill, which may lead to one of the more interesting debates on Beacon Hill in years. House Speaker Robert DeLeo (pictured below) has been discussing this for some time, his approach being that when there are many debated yet related issues, the best thing is consolidate them into one bill and begin negotiating. The advantage is that it may be better to address the state’s energy issues in a way that’s not fragmented up into multiple bills.

From CommonWealth Magazine contributor, Bruce Mohl (January 14, 2016) —

A conference committee consisting of members from the House and Senate was appointed to resolve the different net metering approaches of the two branches, but there has been little progress. Many think net metering and the whole issue of solar incentives may be tossed into the omnibus pot.

One source said it will be interesting to see if the House pushes for special incentives for offshore wind at a time when it is trying to cut incentives for solar. Both renewable energy technologies hold the promise of developing new industries of the future, but both require, at least for now, heavy ratepayer incentives to work financially.

Read more.

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Speaker of the Massachusetts House, Robert A. DeLeo (D Winthrop)
(from his official webpage)