Archive for the 'Victories' Category

VICTORY: Midwest Generation and GenOn Announce Coal Plant Closures

Well, folks, it seems the fight to phase out coal-fired electric generation is starting to work. Today, Midwest Generation announced that they will be closing their two dirty coal plants in Chicago, the Fisk coal plant in Pilsen will shut down in 2012 and the Crawford coal plant in Little Village will shut down by 2014. As if this wasn’t enough good news, GenOn has also announced that it will be retiring 8 of it’s plants, 7 coal and 1 oil.

These plants are some of the dirtiest in the nation, and are probably part of the reason I, and so many others, grew up with asthma. What’s more, their impact on the climate will shortly be eliminated and I hope that means the demand drives further renewable energy production.  Below are many links where you can learn more, but a huge debt of gratitude goes out to the organizations who have been fighting these, and for those who mobilized the American public to get stronger rules at EPA. In particular, the communities of Pilsen and Little Village have been dealing with the health effects of Fisk and Crawford and have been fighting for their closure for some time.

Here’s more: P.E.R.R.O, Washington Post, Greenpeace , Sierra ClubChicago CBS, Chicago Sun Times, Reuters, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

One Year to Earth Summit 2012: A New Generation Goes to Rio

This post was written by Michael Davidson.

12-year old Severn Suzuki Delivers Youth Plea at 1992 Rio Earth SummitOne year from this week, government leaders, civil society members and representatives of the business community will meet in Rio de Janeiro to discuss the future of the planet. The Earth Summit (also called Rio+20 after the first such global event in 1992) can help lead to a more prosperous world that utilizes natural resources more efficiently and responds to the needs of the most impacted communities of environmental degradation. But only if youth help write the story, and here’s why.

Rio 1992 was a watershed moment for the global environmental conscience. Treaties were signed, commissions created, and action plans drafted. Yet one of the most memorable speeches from the two-week conference was by a 12-year old girl (here’s what she’s doing now).

Now, a generation later, my generation is faced with two seemingly insurmountable challenges: the world is changing at a rate never before seen, and the current governance structures are insufficient to meet even the environmental problems of the 1970s.

Continue reading ‘One Year to Earth Summit 2012: A New Generation Goes to Rio’

Building a self-sufficient movement

Guest post by Tabitha Skervin, one of the 9 arrested at the Capitol April 15 at the “Citizens Filibuster

Late Wednesday night, after our last final, Jordan and I drove out to DC to make our court date Thursday morning. The commute is a hard one and my little PT Cruiser wasn’t much help, but we’ve sort have become pros at it- after all, we did the same exact thing a few weeks back when we decided to disrupt the House with a song. Thursday night, April 14th we headed out to DC to meet up with youth activists from all around the country who were ready to take a risk to inspire the 10,000 students attending Powershift that weekend. We sang an alternative version of the Star Spangled Banner, one that called for our congressmen to start standing up for our future- our right to clean air, water, and food- not big oil, gas, and coal. Disrupting congress is an arrestable action, something that we knew going in. But even though we were arrested and stayed in jail for over 6hrs, we had accomplished our goal. That Monday, hundreds of activists stormed the Department of the Interior and stayed despite the threat of arrest. 21 stayed for arrest even after being threatened with felony charges.

This past week, the nine of us who were arrested that friday all had to come back to DC for our arraignment. For some of us, that meant flying in from Utah, long train or bus rides from Massachusetts, Maine, etc. For Jordan and I it meant pulling another all-nighter to drive in from Michigan. At 8am, Thursday morning, we met with our lawyers and we ended the day with a drug test at around 3pm. This is the not-so-sexy side of civil disobedience, the part where sacrifice starts to kick in and we are forced to face financial, personal, and professional consequences for our action. But at the same time, these past couple of days have been the most encouraging for me.

I see the beginning of a culture within our movement that is willing to support those who decide to take action even at the expense of their own future. I am beginning to see a movement with people that can find it in their hearts to give the little that they have to support those who they can call allies. I’m beginning to see a movement that is becoming financially independent, and with financial independence comes true mobility. Is the movement strong enough to support one another? Is it capable of making things like money less of a concern when taking action? I think it is.

Going to court on Thursday wasn’t a walk in the park. I saw too many of my less fortunate black brothers and sisters in that room and too many people there for minor drug charges. The failure of our court system was hard to ignore- the true victims of our unjust society were criminalized while the true criminals were no where to be found. Yet there was still hope because in the middle of this scene was a row of individuals who were crazy enough to think that they could take on this institution…and there are hundreds who were starting to stand behind them and their action.

Even though Thursday I was surrounded by those who force their laws on us, It also wasn’t scary, nerve racking, or daunting- it was liberating. I am not alone. I have countless of people- some I don’t even know personally- who are there to back me up. I want to see more of those seats filled with activists standing up for what is right. I want them to feel the same sense of relief that, despite the outcome, there is a whole movement of like minded individuals ready to bring about support in any way that they can- whether it be with time, money, or just encouragement. I believe the nine of us and the 21 who got arrested in the department of Interior are continuing to play a part in inspiring others to join us in tactful civil disobedience. A movement that has learned how to sacrifice individually and for one another is powerful. It’s a force to be reckoned with!

Grassroots Power Defeats Dirty Gas Pipeline in Oregon

Amidst discouraging news that the Obama administration is expanding coal mining and investing in dangerous nuclear policies, I’m glad to report on an important victory against dirty energy in the Pacific Northwest.  Yesterday NW Natural Gas and other companies withdrew their permit application for the Palomar liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline project.  One of three proposed LNG pipelines in Oregon, Palomar would have transformed the Northwest into a gateway for a high-carbon fossil fuel not currently imported anywhere on the US west coast.  The defeat of Palomar marks the end of a years-long grassroots battle.

LNG is a fossil fuel with a carbon footprint much greater than ordinary natural gas, imported from regions of the world like the Middle East, Russia, and Peru.  LNG companies are trying to make inroads in Oregon, but grassroots activists have held them back so far.  Almost a year ago the Palomar pipeline application was indefinitely suspended – this happened shortly after the Bradwood LNG import terminal (which Palomar was supposed to connect to) was cancelled.  Now energy companies have officially given up on Palomar.  Should they try to resurrect the pipeline later, they would have to start from scratch and it would be treated as a completely new project.

There are still two proposals to build LNG infrastructure in Oregon: the Oregon LNG pipeline and terminal on the Columbia River, and the Jordan Cove project in southern Oregon.  But I believe the elimination of Palomar and the Bradwood terminal marks the beginning of the end for LNG.  Activists who have been fighting the Palomar pipeline for years can now channel their energy into defeating the remaining two LNG proposals and other fossil fuel projects.  Already both Oregon LNG and Jordan Cove LNG are years behind schedule and struggling to obtain permits they need to begin construction. Continue reading ‘Grassroots Power Defeats Dirty Gas Pipeline in Oregon’

Clemson University to Move Off Coal on Campus!

Clemson marks the 12th campus to make such an announcement since the Sierra Student Coalition launched our Campuses Beyond Coal campaign.  Here’s more info cross-posted from the Sierra Student Coalition blog.

Picture 061 After a year-long effort by students Clemson President Jim Barker announced the university will be investing in several university upgrades including ending the use of coal on campus!  The campaign, spearheaded by Students for Environmental Action at Clemson, has been working with the administration to stop burning dangerous coal in the campus steam plant situated near the aptly named “Death Valley” – the university’s football field.  Ending their use of coal is just phase I of several planned utility upgrades over the next five years and a significant step towards meeting the university’s commitment to reduce their overall carbon emissions to zero by 2030.

Students are excited and looking forward to another address by the President planned for next week at their “Solutions for the Next Decade” teach-in where they hope to hear more details for the transition.

“Clemson is making strides in becoming more aware of sustainability and taking concrete steps to reduce its carbon emissions.  No where is this more evident than in President Barkers’ announcement to begin Phase 1 of taking the campus coal plant offline.  This will catapult Clemson toward our goal of becoming a carbon neutral campus by the year 2030 and we are very excited to hear yesterday’s announcement,” said Graduate student and SEA leader Holly Garrett. Photo

“This decision to move our university beyond coal shows that the university is really listening to the concerns of students and faculty who want a cleaner, healthier campus and demonstrates our dedication to environmental, economic and social leadership.  I’m very proud to go a university that is committing to building a clean energy future,” said CU Beyond Coal leader Rose Kinane.

“Now, we hope to see the university to continue invest in solutions like efficiency for our buildings and renewable energy projects that will make our school a 100% clean energy institution.”

Playing to Win

Recently I was talking with a friend who does really inspiring social change work with athlete volunteers.  He remarked that one of the great things about working with athletes is their innate competitiveness:  athletes plan and play to win– whether it’s on the playing field or towards their goals for social change. Which got me thinking about the climate community… Are we playing to win? Do we expect to win? What, and when? And are we planning backwards from those goals?  And who are “we,” anyway?  Comments, please!

Pipeline for High-Carbon LNG Put on Hold in Northwest

After years of building the movement against liquefied natural gas (LNG) infrastructure, challenging LNG projects in the courtroom, rallying, lobbying, and direct action, climate activists working on LNG in Oregon are at last seeing some big and tangible indications that the end is near for high-carbon LNG in the Northwest.  In May we finally defeated the Bradwood LNG terminal on the Columbia River – at least for the time being.  And just yesterday news came out that the Palomar LNG pipeline, originally supposed to deliver imported LNG from the Bradwood terminal to another pipeline bound southward for California, has been put on-hold for an indefinite period.

This is a testament to the hard work of activists who have been building up the pressure on policymakers and on companies involved in the Palomar pipeline, letting them know Oregonians have no interest in seeing another high carbon fuel (with a life cycle footprint nearly equal to that of coal) threaten our region’s clean energy economy.  As readers of this blog may remember, near the end of May close to 300 people rallied outside the shareholder’s meeting of NW Natural Gas, challenging the company to withdraw its support for Palomar.  Barely over a month later, the permitting process for Palomar has been put into a state of ”indefinite delay.”  Coincidence?  I think not.

Palomar is not dead yet, and it won’t be until the project is officially cancelled.  But until then Oregon activists will continue to keep up the pressure – and the delay of the permitting process is an encouraging sign that Palomar’s days are numbered. 

For more information about what yesterday’s announcement means for the fight against LNG in Oregon, please see my post that ran on this morning.  Now is a moment to celebrate this important milestone toward victory for one of the hardest-fought climate campaigns in the Northwest.

Victory for the Mountains!

Remember those other fossil fuels, besides oil?

Yeah, we’re still fighting them too.  If you’re like me and want a little bit of good news amongst all the bad news from the Gulf, today is your lucky day. Today, the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they are going to stop rubber-stamping valley fill permits in Appalachia.

As of today, the Corps will stop issuing Nationwide Permit (NWP) 21, which is has been used to “authorize discharges of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States for surface coal mining activities.”  Valley fills are a crucial aspect to mountaintop removal mining, because once the mountaintops are blasted off, all that material needs to go somewhere.  In Appalachia, that somewhere has been streams and headwaters.  Without the ability to shove all that rubble, i.e. former mountain, into valleys, mountaintop removal mining becomes far less…well, feasible.

Continue reading ‘Victory for the Mountains!’

Victory: High-Carbon LNG Project Suspended, Company files Bankruptcy

2007 Convergence for Climate Action at proposed Bradwood LNG site. The weeklong event, organized by Rising Tide with local communities was a critical moment for movement building.

By Nick Engelfried & Monica Vaughan.

After a five yearlong organizing effort by a diverse and passionate coalition of Oregonians and Southern Washingtonians, the grassroots No LNG coalition triumphed over Bradwood LNG.

Monday afternoon, the fight for the Pacific Northwest’s clean energy future achieved a long-awaited major milestone: the backer of the proposed Bradwood Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Terminal announced suspension of their application for the project.  This renders Bradwood LNG essentially dead.  In a part of the country where there are new coal plants proposed (and where such projects are unlikely to be proposed anytime soon) LNG represents the cutting edge of the fossil fuel industry’s expansion.  Bradwood LNG’s defeat is a victory that should send a warning to fossil fuel projects across the region.

At word of the news, community members wept with joy and phones rang continuously to share the news. At a press conference, coalition members reflected on the complex and significant meaning of such a victory over the fossil fuel industry. As community leader and dedicated volunteer Cheryl Johnson put it, “They have money, but we have heart. In the end, heart always wins”.

Continue reading ‘Victory: High-Carbon LNG Project Suspended, Company files Bankruptcy’

Texas Green Funds Passing Despite Economy

In the spring of 2009, students members of ReEnergize Texas wanted to convince the Texas Legislature to pass a bill letting them create campus green funds amidst talk of “the worst recession since WWII.” It was no small feat, but through smart lobbying, a statewide summit and lobby day, and a strategic Earth Day phone bank among other tactics, together they prevailed.

So what did this victory earn them? The opportunity to convince students at public universities across Texas to increase their own fees despite tough economic times and rapidly rising tuition. Out of the frying pan and into the fire, some might say. But that’s not how these tenacious organizers saw things. from Public Citizen on Vimeo.

Then in early March, student bodies at the state’s two most prominent public universities voted in favor of creating green funds – UT Austin with 71% support, and Texas A&M with 57% support. Just a week earlier the state’s most prominent private school, Rice University, had created its own green fund in a campaign not related to ReEnergize Texas.
Continue reading ‘Texas Green Funds Passing Despite Economy’