Millennials See Keystone as More Than a Pipeline

Photo Courtesy Diane Lesher, SD350 volunteer
 
By Jeffrey Meyer

The Keystone pipeline proposal has hit a Nebraska stop sign, but it has deeper problems than right-of-way issues across the United States.  After all, the controversial proposal for transporting Canada’s tar sands was never just about the pipeline.  Just ask the thousand students who rallied in front of the White House recently, who were willing to be arrested to make their point

Frustrated and angry over a lack of political action on climate change, our Millennial Generation is not tolerating an ineffectual Congress or President.  This 18-34 year old group in the U.S. are 74 million strong and when the worst happens will suffer the most from climate change.  With little representation in Congress, where the average age is 60, they are looking to civil disobedience as a strategy to create the political will to address this threat.  This will happen not only in our nation’s capitol but on the streets of major cities across the nation, including San Diego.

Keystone has evolved into a generational shift in our energy paradigm and a symbol of our struggle to survive climate change in the 21st century.  It concerns the wealth and jobs that the fossil fuels industry creates, how it has weaved itself into all of our lives and pulled us into a formidable dependency.  With a growing foreboding, however, we are sensing our carbon lifestyle may be lethal to future generations and if they are to survive it is incumbent on us to accelerate efforts to develop other energy sources.

From Washington, D.C. and Nebraska courts, this conflict now swings to Canada, where the Alberta government owns 81 percent of its oil sands and has a long list of investment partners. Besides multinational corporations, one of its biggest sources of investment capital for mining is China, our planet’s largest producer of greenhouse gases.  Alberta looks to collect $1.2 trillion in royalties from its oil sands over the next 35 years, but has increasingly drawn the world’s attention because of the massive girth of pollution from the mining and burning of bitumen tar.

Canada also faces a disenfranchised youth, who feel their voices and futures have been diminished by the enormous profits bitumen tar sands portend.  They are joined by First Nations aboriginal tribes who share the same political paucity and frustration.  Despite the economic benefits of bitumen tar mining on their lands, First Nations people are taking a grim view of irreversible health and cultural damage.  It is a seminal decision for First Nations to continue its relationship with Canadian oil interests and on a larger scale, analogous with our world’s factious accord on reducing the role of fossil fuels in our lives.

The world’s climate scientists essentially agree that if left unchecked, anthropogenic CO2 will worsen extreme weather, raise sea levels and create mass extinctions from a profuse array of environmental changes.   Many acknowledge that climate deniers are fed propagated ignorance by fossil fuel strategists as part of a misinformation campaign, creating a set of beliefs not easily changed.  It creates a polarized electorate, leaving the issue to develop worst case scenarios before action is taken.

In moderation, fossil fuel usage might not have posed a serious threat, but we have moved well past that threshold.  Our burning of fossil fuels produces around 33.4 billion metric tons of CO2 per year and world energy needs are expected to rise about 40 percent over the next 20 years.  CO2 has reached proportions in our atmosphere not seen for millions of years and many scientists warn it may already be too late to mitigate damages.

There is a way forward.  In time, renewables can generate jobs lost in the fossil fuels industry and will sustain our lifestyles. We can consider Generation IV nuclear energy, reportedly much safer than existing technology. Some strategists look to a carbon fee and dividend system that can increase the viability of new renewable energy sources, as well as a carbon import tax on products from countries like China.

As Keystone falters and tar sands mining provokes mounting protests, our nation is compelled to end political bickering and accede Millennials a more powerful voice on climate legislation. President Obama must grasp the significance of this moment, deny the pipeline permit and tell the world his decision has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with leadership.

Jeffrey Meyer is a writer and SanDiego350 volunteer

(Photo at top of page:  Courtesy of Diane Lesher, SanDiego350 volunteer)

Patagonia grant for SD350 anti-fracking campaign

by Peg Mitchell, March 30, 2014

Masada Disenhouse fields many phone calls from San Diegans wanting to know more about SanDiego350, but an especially welcome call came from Paul Amato of the Patagonia store in Cardiff back in January. Paul indicated that their foundation, which gives grants to local, grassroots, non-profit organizations doing environmental work, had some funds left at the end of the year and they might be interested in supporting us! Masada described many of the areas we work with, emphasizing our anti-fracking project which he had mentioned seeing on our website. Masada described our all-out fracking campaign that includes public education, empowering people to speak up to their elected officials, op-eds & letters to the editor, and educating decision makers and elected officials. She also spoke to the fact that we are an all volunteer group getting a lot done, with each campaign bringing in additional new people, developing grassroots leaders, and growing the organization.

Moreover, Masada effectively made the case that fracking is really key right now. SB4 passed, studying and regulating, but not stopping the practice. A new bill (SB 1132) seeks to expand the impact studies SB4 calls for, along with imposition of a moratorium until those studies are completed and adequate safeguards are in place. Work is needed to lobby the legislature for its passage. She explained that we see fracking as a key issue because extracting that oil and gas will exacerbate climate change, in addition to jeopardizing our drinking water supply through huge consumption of water along with possible ground water contamination. Masada highlighted how we were the only group working on this in San Diego County, emphasizing that we were connected with groups around the state on legislative strategy, public outreach and education, and pressuring the governor.

The result? Paul invited us to apply for a grant! But we had to do it very quickly…

The team immediately got in gear. Peg Mitchell, the fracking campaign lead, after first speaking further with Paul, completed the four page form on their website that summarized the organization and the planned activities in the fracking campaign that the grant would fund. Based on that, Masada fleshed out the budgetary aspects while Peg authored the full grant application. Nicole Peill-Moelter, Emily Weir and Masada provided editing and additional input and within less than two weeks the full application was submitted.

SD350′s Peg Mitchell receives a check for $5,000 from Cardiff Patagonia’s Paul Amato

The result? A short time later Paul notified us that we would be awarded a $5,000 grant for our fracking campaign! By the time Peg picked up the check, plans were already well underway for how to use it, starting with offsetting some (not all) of the expenses related to chartering the bus and acquiring T-shirts for the March 15 “Don’t Frack California” rally in Sacramento.

One issue that the team discussed before deciding to proceed was whether to accept funding from a corporation. But this isn’t your typical “corporation” – in fact, it’s the kind of company that we are proud to be associated with as they not only share the same ideals we do, but they “walk the talk”. For example, during the “Black Friday” Thanksgiving day weekend when many other stores were making employees work the holiday itself or obscene middle of the night hours, they actually closed the store on Black Friday to give their staff the day off. They periodically have “field days” where the store is closed so employees can take time to try out the products they sell while at the beach surfing! But more importantly, they are an ecologically conscious ethical corporation who is a great role model for how business can be conducted without sacrificing the environment or ignoring the needs and rights of employees. You can read more about their vision of Corporate Responsibility.

So here’s your chance to get involved! With funding in hand we will now proceed full steam ahead to engage the public. We will create more public education materials, banners and signs for use at tabling and fairs, starting with the April 27th Earth Day Fair in Balboa Park. Additionally we will continue to engage with the legislature as SB 1132 moves it way through the Senate and hopefully the Assembly. Finally we will be front and center at a public hearing with Dave Roberts on April 21st on fracking (Info/RSVP), with the goal of educating the Board of Supervisors and the public on the water related issues.

SanDiego350 wishes to thank Patagonia for their consideration and appreciation of our activities. We are proud to partner with a company that embraces and shares our ideals for a clean, livable planet for our kids and future generations.

To join our fracking team contact Peg Mitchell.

Creative Commons License This text by Peg Mitchell is used here by permission of the author, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Letter on Keystone XL – an Engineer’s Perspective

March 6, 2014

Dear President Obama and the State Department,
President Obama Speaks At Southern Site Of The Keystone Oil Pipeline

As a Registered Civil Engineer, I oppose the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline because I know it will leak and there will be oil spills. Nothing is ever engineered to 100% because it’s just not affordable. Additionally, factors such as human error (in design, construction or operation), material flaws/failure, and unpredictable accidents make the probability of pipeline spills high.

Case in point: Enbridge, a Canadian company, had a pipeline rupture in 2010 which poured a million gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. It was eighteen hours before it was even discovered! It was the largest and one of the costliest on-land oil spills in U.S. history. The six-foot gash in the pipe was caused by corrosion fatigue.

Case in point: In April 2013, a twenty-two foot crack in an Exxon pipeline caused a devastating tar sands oil spill that began in a residential neighborhood of Mayflower, Arkansas and then flowed into Lake Conway, a drinking water source and popular fishing spot. The EPA classifying it as a major spill, with over 5,000 barrels of crude spilled.

Case in point: TransCanada’s first pipeline had more than a dozen spills in less than a year of operation. The more acidic and corrosive tar sands oil and the risk of external corrosion from higher pipeline temperatures make spills more likely.

Tar sands crude is one of the world’s dirtiest fuels. A pipeline accident could devastate ecosystems, pollute water sources and jeopardize public health. The Keystone XL pipeline would span more than 1,700 miles through farmland and fragile ecosystems, from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas, where it will be refined and exported. The Keystone XL pipeline would cross six states, major rivers, and key sources of drinking and agricultural water, such as the Ogallala Aquifer which supplies water to more than one fourth of America’s irrigated land and provides drinking water for two million Americans.

During tar sands oil production, the carbon dioxide emission levels are three to four times higher than that of conventional oil. The pipeline would be responsible for 30 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. The energy-intensive extraction and refining processes also result in higher emissions of toxic sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide which cause smog and acid rain.

In considering the Keystone XL pipeline proposal in 2013, the EPA recommended to the State Department that pipelines that carry bituminous sands oil should no longer be treated just like pipelines that carry any other oil.

Additionally, the pipeline will create higher carbon emissions, contribute dramatically to climate change, and threaten our country’s drinking water. This pipeline is not in our national interest.

As a Registered Civil Engineer, I am aware of previous pipeline ruptures and spills. I’m concerned about the integrity of the pipeline from corrosion, faulty welds, material defects, construction equipment and sabotage. I believe the Keystone XL pipeline should NOT be approved. Thank you.

Sincerely,

 Jösan Feathers, P.E.

__________________________________________________________

About the Author:  Jösan Feathers worked as a Civil Engineer for Caltrans and State Parks for 30 years before retiring almost 5 years ago. She and her husband enjoy attending SDSU Aztecs basketball games, traveling and dog-sharing their neighbor’s dog, Rupert, in La Mesa. She volunteers with SanDiego350.org.

Creative Commons License This text by Jösan Feathers is used here by permission of the author, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Climate Chat Notes: Speaking for the Oceans

On Thursday, March 6, at San Diego’s World Resources Simulation Center, Ocean Scientists for Informed Policy (OSIP) shared their impressions of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) Conference of the Parties (COP) in Warsaw, Poland

In San Diego, if you want to get involved in a spirited and informed discussion about addressing climate change, a Climate Chat sponsored by SD350.org is the place you will find it.  On the first Thursday evening of March, four members of OSIP returned from their recent experience at the Warsaw COP with concerns that give us at SD350.org even more reason to commit to our own mission, combating climate change.

March 6th Climate Chat with panel of OSIP representatives - at the WRSC Photo courtesy of Steven Shultz

March 6th Climate Chat with panel of OSIP representatives – at the WRSC
Photo courtesy of Steven Shultz

Walking into the large open room of downtown’s World Resources Simulation Center, one sees a series of video screens encircling the room.  On the screens are photos of three young Scripps ocean scientists, Yassir Eddebbar, Natalya Gallo and Lauren Linsmayer, taken with Christina Higuera, chairperson of the UNFCC COP in Warsaw.  Later these screens will feature a lively video of two other OSIP delegates, the media team of Nick Obradovich and Kate Furby, making themselves comfortable on beanbags while they strategize their next move: how to poll the delegates to find out what they actually know about ocean science.  It turns out most know very little.  More on that later.

Scripps Ocean Scientists Show Their Dedication

It would be hard to find a brighter and more energized group of young people anywhere than these members of OSIP.  How they found time, amidst work on their PhDs, to organize themselves as a delegation to COP and then as a panel to field questions at an open forum about the effect of climate change on the oceans is a testament to their commitment to inform the public about current ocean science.

This evening, four of them are here: three Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) scientists, Natalya, Yassir, and pilot-whale researcher Amy van Cise, along with Nick, who is a UCSD political science graduate student.  Before the evening is over, they have convinced this audience that they know their science and, furthermore, they understand the diplomatic and political obstacles facing those who would save the oceans.  When the forum closes, the four stay to answer the questions that keep coming.

Obstacles to Combating Climate Change Provoke Lively Discussion

This is the third Climate Chat sponsored by SD350.org and it has attracted a good audience.  Those of us who arrived early have seats on comfortable stools at high tables with computers in this high energy, high tech venue.  Those who arrive later find places around the room in office space and on assorted chairs and couches.  It’s a full house.  After brief introductions, a call for questions from the floor draws out some daunting obstacles facing any effort to protect the oceans.  An energized discussion of them ensues.

For these graduate students, primary among those obstacles is that scientists who do research and understand what’s happening cannot themselves advocate for ocean-friendly policies.  If they do, they stand to lose credibility, for both themselves and their disciplines. For most scientists, especially young ones who are establishing their reputations, that’s not a risk worth taking.  They need others – like us at SD350.org – to advocate for the oceans as a significant aspect of our combating-climate-change mission.

In response to a question about the efficacy of COP itself, Yassir brings up a knotty diplomatic problem:  No nation owns the oceans, so who bears the responsibility for caring for them?  It will take international cooperation, which in turn will require political will from the politicians of COP member nations.  With many nations looking to the US, the world’s largest economy, for world leadership, progress in forging international commitment to reducing CO2 is currently doubtful.  The money that turns the wheels of our political system, so much of it coming from the fossil fuel industry, makes it difficult even for those politicians who see the need to act now.

That brings attention to another, related obstacle: the lack of urgency among the general public, who haven’t personally felt the consequences of climate change.  This complacency prevents politicians from having the confidence to take action, even if they understand that climate change is real and that human beings are causing most of it.  Without this populist counterbalance to the money poured into their campaigns from the oil industry, politicians are unlikely to stand up for pro-planet policies that defy their major political contributors.  Again, that’s where we at SD350.org come into the picture.  We must work to engender the political urgency needed for positive action.

Interest in Ocean Science Strong Among COP Delegates

Ocean Scientist Natalya Gallo at COP19, Warsaw

Ocean Scientist Natalya Gallo at COP19, Warsaw

Despite the gloomy political picture, the ocean-science panelists found something positive while in Warsaw:  They perceived among the delegates to the conference a hunger for information about the oceans.  Two Scripps scientists – one of them, Natalya Gallo of this evening’s panel – earned venues to present their science at the Warsaw conference.  Their presentations had standing-room-only audiences – a heartening sight to the scientists.

The evidence of such interest in ocean science, plus the energy and commitment of these ocean scientists, makes it obvious that they should continue their efforts.  They should go to the Lima COP later this year with their skills at communicating the data of ocean science; then continue on to Paris in 2015, where a new treaty will be drafted, this time with more specific language relating to the oceans — likely thanks in large measure to their efforts.

 

SD350.org’s Challenge

Meanwhile, it is our job at SD350.org, informed by the latest ocean science, to carry the message of the oceans into the political arena, where we will work on the seemingly intractable problem of generating the political will to combat climate change.  This Climate Chat was, in a way, a passing of the torch from OSIP to us.

Those of us who enjoyed and learned from the Climate Chat owe much thanks to SD350.org’s Dr. Janina Moretti for her hard work in bringing this successful event to fruition and to SIO for putting SD350.org in touch with OSIP.

_____________________________________________________________

Check out Ocean Scientists for Informed Policy

Creative Commons License This text by Bonnie Mosse Funk is used here by permission of the author, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Great comment to the State Department on Keystone XL

Vigil-goer calls on President to reject Keystone XL

Vigil-goer calls on President to reject Keystone XL

The damage caused to our atmosphere and our oceans by carbon dioxide that has been released by burning fossil fuels is abundantly clear. The consequences are increasing year by year – acidified oceans harming coral reefs and diatoms (the basis of the oceanic food chain); huge changes in atmospheric patterns that are producing storms and different rainfall and temperature regimes than have been in place for at least 500 years, altering agriculture, silviculture, and the survival of entire ecosystems that are responsible for our hydrological systems. Without reductions in our CO2 output, science has predicted to a high probability that the extreme changes may come to reflect conditions not witnessed in 100,000 years or longer, if we don’t alter our production of CO2.

Leaving fossil fuels in the ground is the best way to stop their use. They are also extraordinary resources, and burning them to power cars, trains, and trucks is absurd in an era when other ways to power these ground transportation devices are available. We will really regret the lack of fossil fuels for those situations for which they are uniquely appropriate if we burn them all up just to roll people from place to place.

Some say that Keystone XL helps the US achieve energy self-sufficiency. Energy self-sufficiency in the US isn’t gained by the US refineries buying Canadian crude from tar sands. This simply guarantees the Canadian companies will make a lot of money. It is good that the US is seeking to be self-sufficient in our energy requirements. However, our national priorities for energy self-sufficiency have been co-opted by the current energy corporate hegemony, to encourage the continued reliance on fossil fuels.

If we prohibit the use of Keystone XL pipelines for transporting tar sand oil, this will slow down its production. British Columbians are barring pipelines to the Pacific Ocean. People in the NE US are coming together to prohibit transport across their states to the Atlantic Ocean. The rest of us need to prohibit transport across the middle of the US to the Gulf of Mexico via Keystone XL.

If we also follow up with mandatory reductions on shipping by rail or truck this would further constrain the Canadian excavation and shipment of tar sands oil.

If, as claimed by a number of critics of Keystone XL pipeline, the refined products are going to be sold to overseas markets, this makes a travesty of the idea that Keystone XL is helping the US be energy self-sufficient. It simply means that the refineries will make money regardless of the long-term needs for fossil fuels in the US for appropriate purposes.

If fossil fuels could be used without releasing CO2 that would be great. Where is the research for that? In the meantime, the only way to reduce CO2 releases is by conservation and by replacing fossil fuels used for generating electricity with solar, wind, tide, heat-pumps, and other already proven technologies that are improving efficiency every year. These, and other as-yet-unknown technologies that might become useful if they are proven to be benign in their impact to the environment (unlike nuclear power which is a very dangerous form of energy production) are the means to energy self-sufficiency and global climate protection. Ground transportation can also be converted to greatly more efficient use of fossil fuels – hybrid vehicles work great!

Our priorities must be switched to solar and wind generated electricity, conservation measures for fuel for heating and transportation, and anything else that we can do to reduce use of fossil fuels. The stakes are immense.

Thanks for considering my point of view and facts in your decisionmaking.

I beg of you, DO NOT AUTHORIZE THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE

Kay Stewart

__________________________________________________________

About the commenter: Kay Stewart is a volunteer with SD350.org and landscape architect with a special feel for melding plants and construction to create serene or playful outdoor places for her clients. She lives with her husband and her tabby cat.

Submit your own comment at the State Dept Website: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=DOS-2014-0003-0001 by March 7, 2014. You can also submit comments via 350.org.
Creative Commons License This text by Kay Stewart is used here by permission of the author, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Keystone Pipeline Comments due March 7

The State Department’s 30 day comment period for the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the Keystone XL pipeline is underway and will end on March 7, 2014. That will bring us another step closer to the President making a final decision.

Amazingly, the FEIS stated that there will be no significant environmental impact if the pipeline is built, which is simply put – unacceptable. The report essentially sidesteps the question of climate impacts by stating that the tar sands would be developed one way or another. Read more about the flawed FEIS at DesmogBlog.

350.org response: During the State of the Union, President Obama said he wanted to be able to look into the eyes of his children’s children and say he did everything he could to confront the climate crisis. How exactly does he plan on explaining to his grandchildren how building a 800,000 barrel a day tar sands pipeline like Keystone XL helped solve climate change? The twisted logic in the State Department’s environmental assessment might provide some political cover in DC, but it will be small comfort for future generations who have the bear the impacts of the climate crisis.

We need to FLOOD the State Department with our comments, and make sure that Secretary Kerry & President Obama hear us!

TAKE ACTION: Submit your comments at the State Dept Website: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=DOS-2014-0003-0001 by March 7, 2014. You can also submit comments via 350.org.

Please feel free to use the talking points below, or to write your own. Either way, make sure you GET ON RECORD as another person opposing the Keystone Pipeline.

KEY POINT: The Keystone Pipeline is not in our National Interest.

The Keystone XL Pipeline is dangerous, dirty, and destructive. America’s best climate scientists have said that the pipeline will lead to a substantial increase in carbon emissions, as well as threaten America’s credibility as a climate leader. 

Additional points you can choose to make:
  • Keystone XL will contribute dramatically to climate change. The State Department confirmed that tar sands fuel is up to 19% more greenhouse gas intensive than conventional fuel, and the tar sands industry admits that Keystone XL will lead to more tar sands production.
  • The total carbon pollution impacts of Keystone XL are the equivalent of putting 51 million cars on the road when considering the total emissions of tar sands and refining processes.
  • Contrary to claims made by supporters of the pipeline, the pipeline could end as many jobs as it creates with toxic spills in farmland or water resources.
  • Only 10% of the created jobs would be filled by local people living in communities along the route.
  • Building a new pipeline now will lock us in to higher carbon emissions when we should be rapidly investing in renewable energy that cannot be exported and will provide a secure energy future.
  • Processing heavier, dirtier tar sands oil will increase the amount of toxic pollutants in communities near refineries that are already suffering from high rates of asthma and cancer.
  • New data suggests that the current analyses of the impacts of tar sands under-estimate the climate impacts of tar sands pollution by at least 13% because they don’t account for a high-carbon byproduct of the refining process used as a cheap alternative to coal: petroleum coke.
  • The pipeline’s risk to water has not changed at all with the new route. It still crosses the Sandhills and the Ogallala aquifer, and this was the reason that Gov. Heineman, Sen. Johanns and President Obama rejected the route the first time around.
  • The pipeline will cross more than 1,000 water bodies across 3 states and 875 miles threatening drinking water for people, farms, and ranches with a devastating tar sands spill.
  • This pipeline poses an unacceptable risk to water. TransCanada’s first Keystone pipeline spilled 14 times in the U.S. in its first year of operation, and Enbridge, another pipeline operator, suffered a spill of more than one million gallons in the Kalamazoo River in 2010.
 Questions? Email us.

The Climate Change Elevator Pitch

Elevator-Street

We’ve all heard of the Elevator Pitch concept, right?  Well, we at SD350 have adapted the idea to serve our passion for taking action against climate change. Given the opportunity to tell a friend or a stranger why we care about climate change, we must be prepared to provide a brief, powerful and motivating testimonial.

Read the words of some of our members, and prepare to be inspired: to act against climate change and perhaps to craft your own Climate Elevator Pitch.

By Peg Mitchell

“Her name is Jillian. In 2070 she will be 60 years old, my age now. She is my youngest of 6 grandchildren. She is smart, outgoing and absolutely sure to be a future climate warrior. But I don’t want her to have to be a warrior – I want her to be happily looking forward to her retirement and time to play with her grandchildren. But on today’s status quo trajectory of human caused – us caused – climate change – she may be faced with fighting for her own survival if she even makes it that far. We can’t let that happen to the children of today’s world. We made this mess, we refused to accept the responsibility and now we are facing the truly overarching issue of our time. Will we step up, own our folly and change before it’s too late?”

By Jeanne Peterson

“I care about climate change because of my children. I simply cannot leave them such a mess, and make them live in a world that is uninhabitable and where our weather is so unreliable that we can’t even grow our own food. For me it is a question of justice and morality.

I don’t trust the politicians – any of them – to protect our interests because they get so much money from gas and oil companies.  I look at this battle like a David and Goliath situation.  Even so, I think we have a chance to turn this around, because there are so many great social movements that started out just as small as we are, and they still make their voices heard.”

By Dwain Deets

“The industrial revolution brought a new kind of climate change — but it wasn’t recognized for generations. The change was detected starting 55 years ago, when Charles David Keeling first measured carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Recently, severe weather events have increased notably in frequency and magnitude. Climate scientists now, with a 97% consensus, say this change is caused by human activities.

With powerful supercomputers, climate models project average weather over coming decades. If our use of fossil fuels follows a “business as usual” pattern, this will be catastrophic. This is NOT something humans can adapt to.

But the market system offers a solution. If an appropriate fee is collected on fossil fuels when taken from the ground, with receipts returned to the public, then use patterns will change automatically away from “business as usual,” the economy will grow, and catastrophic results will be avoided. “

Vigil and Protest Against Keystone XL Pipeline

Join Thousands across Country in Calling on President Obama to Deny Permit to Canadian Pipeline

San Diegans will gather Monday for a candlelight vigil to send President Obama a message that he must not allow Canadian oil interests to build the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL) across America. Reacting to the final environmental impact statement (EIS) released today by the State Department that gives Obama political cover to approve the pipeline permit, organizers are appealing to the public to join the growing movement to convince the President that the KXL is not in our national interest.  Hundreds of other vigils will also occur Monday across the country.

WHEN:      Monday, February 3, 2014 at 6 PM

WHERE:     In front of the Federal Building, 880 Front Street, San Diego

WHAT:      Candlelight vigil with songs, chanting, and speakers to call on President Obama to reject the Keystone Pipeline proposal

VISUALS:   Signs, candles, and many local opponents of the keystone pipeline

Organizers say the public is the last line of defense in confronting the Keystone XL Pipeline project.  The EIS triggers a 90-day “national interest determination” by the State Department, with input from relevant federal agencies, before it provides a recommendation to President Obama for final approval. In recent months the Keystone Pipeline has become a battleground between the fossil fuel industry and environmentalists, ranchers, faith communities and neighborhood groups concerned about the loss of life and economic and environmental devastation created by climate change.

While Obama has admitted that he has doubts about the KXL (he called the oil industry’s job-creating claims an exaggeration and said he would not let the project proceed if there was a significant impact on greenhouse gas emissions), organizers of the vigil fear the new State Department report reflects the influence of the wealthy oil industry on the review process.  Climate scientists have stated that two thirds of all known fossil fuel reserves must stay in the ground if we wish to avert the worst impacts of climate change, especially carbon-dense fossil fuels like the Canadian tar sands. NASA scientist James Hansen famously called the KXL “Game over for the climate”. Along with other environmental groups across the nation, San Diego activists have decided to draw a line with Keystone, making a stand to stop the endless mining of fossil fuels and expedite the transition to clean energy sources.

The vigil is organized by SanDiego350.org with support from Citizens Climate LobbySierra Club San DiegoWomen Occupy San Diego and other local organizations. Local Keystone opponents held a rally opposing the pipeline at MissionBay in February 2013 with over 500 participants, and another in September 2013 at the Federal Building with over 200 participants.

To participate in #NoKXL action against the Keystone Pipeline, join us on Monday:

https://actionnetwork.org/events/keystone-pipeline-vigil-san-diego.

The event is organized by SanDiego350.org with support from Citizens Climate LobbySierra Club San DiegoWomen Occupy San Diego and other local organizations.

The above was written by Jeffrey Meyer and Masada Disenhouse, volunteers for San Diego 350.org

SD350 Very Disappointed in Obama’s State of the Union

Activists Say He Has Failed Our Country at its Most Critical Hour

SAN DIEGO – A local environmental group was “very disappointed” in President Obama’s State of the Union speech, saying he has failed the country at its most critical hour in the battle over climate change.  They say his vacillating policy on energy may even lead to local civil disobedience actions in the next few months, due to the uncertainty of his leadership on climate change issues.

“How can he tell the nation we have a climate change threat and in his next breath, extol his efforts to achieve a historic boom in oil and natural gas drilling,” asked one of the founders of SanDiego350.org, Masada Disenhouse.  “If this president really is worried about our children’s children as he says, then he has to stop waffling on what to do about climate change.”

At a national level, 18 environmental groups sent Obama a letter just days before his speech, pointing out the contradiction in his energy policy of increasing oil and gas production while attempting to reduce pollution from fossil fuels.  After his speech, most were furious about his failure to explain his confusing national energy policy. SanDiego350.org expressed serious doubts about that energy policy, especially concerning fracking, which threatens central and southern California.

“In southern California we face an enormous conflict with fossil fuel corporations over their intent to frack oil and gas, creating a multitude of threats to our communities and our dwindling water supply.  There was not one word from Obama on fracking, beyond his boasting of a surge of oil and gas production during his administration,” said Peg Mitchell, who has led the local community in its resistance to fracking.  “We are pleased with some of progress he has made, but this opportunity to address climate change on a national stage was a complete failure.”

Obama’s speech has made the San Diego environmental community especially concerned about his upcoming decision on  granting a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would be a gateway from Canada to the Texas coastal refineries for tar sands oil slurry.    The Keystone proposal is to mine 140,200 square kilometers of boreal forest in Alberta, Canada and build pipelines to deliver the bitumen slurry to the Texas coast to create refined petroleum products, like gasoline, primarily for export.  These products simply can’t be used, according to numerous international climate organizations, because research shows two thirds of existing fossil fuel reserves have to stay in the ground if we are to keep global warming below 2°C.

Along with other environmental groups across the nation, San Diego activists have decided to draw a line with Keystone, making a stand to stop the endless mining of fossil fuels and force the development of alternative energy sources.  SanDiego350.org released a statement in response to Obama’s speech that they have developed civil disobedience plans to protest the approval of this pipeline, should it appear that Obama will approve the Keystone permit.

To participate in action against the Keystone Pipeline, join us on Monday:

https://actionnetwork.org/events/keystone-pipeline-vigil-san-diego.

The above was written by Jeffrey Meyer, volunteer for San Diego 350.org

Gov. Brown: Honor service of CPUC Commissioner Ferron

Probably the friendliest commissioner on California’s Public Utilities Commission which makes decisions on energy requirements and what kinds of energy we use in California, FerronMarkJannounced this week he is leaving the PUC because of his battle with cancer. He issued a parting statement that is powerful in calling on the rest of the CPUC to buck the utilities and push for renewable, distributed energy. It’s short, worth reading.

Here’s a 5 minute action you can take: send two emails (press & excerpts from the commissioner’s statement are below the 2 requests):

1) To Commissioner Ferron, thanking him for his service and for his statement. Sample:

Dear Mark Ferron,

I am sorry you must leave the CPUC for health reasons and wish you a full recovery. I wanted to thank you for your forward-looking record as a commissioner and for your public parting statement calling on the CPUC to be vigilant in not letting the utilities obstruct California’s goals for clean energy, a green economy, and addressing climate change. As an activist in San Diego County I will try to use your statement effectively. I hope the Governor appoints a worthy successor. Good luck and thank you again.

2) To the governor, calling on him to walk the walk on climate and appoint a worthy successor to Ferron. Sample:

Dear Governor Brown,

I was saddened to see Commissioner Mark Ferron resign from the CPUC this week due to his health. He was a great appointment by you, and his parting statement was spot on in highlighting the CPUC’s responsibility to navigate California to meet its clean energy and climate change goals even as the utilities battle to maintain their fossil fuel monopolies and “strangle” rooftop solar. As the CPUC considers replacement energy for the shutdown San Onofre plant, the timing could not be more crucial to have a strong voice for a clean energy future on that commission. I urge you to honor Commissioner Ferron’s service and commitment – and your own stated commitment to addressing climate change – by appointing a worthy successor to his position. Nothing would honor him more than appointing a commissioner to carry on his vision for advancing clean energy and climate solutions who would replace Mr. Peevey as the President of the CPUC. Thank you for your consideration.

Local press:

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/jan/18/utilities-poisoned-chalice/
http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2014/jan/17/ticker-california-public-utilities-commissioner/
http://www.eastcountymagazine.org/node/14759

http://www.kcet.org/news/rewire/government/departing-public-utilities-commissioner-has-strong-words-for-utilities-legislators.html

Excerpt from Ferron’s six parting observations:

1. First, there is no better place to be than California when it comes to energy and climate policy. We all know that there is no real Federal energy or climate policy, thanks in large part to the obstructionists in the Republican Tea Party and their allies in the fossil fuel industry. But in California, we have a clear commitment to green-house gas reductions and are taking bold and exciting steps in advancing renewables, energy storage and Electric Vehicles. (Parenthetically, I do believe that California has lost pace with the best in terms of Energy Efficiency and Demand Response.) We are at an inflection point where the convergence of new technologies, changing economics and, I hope, an added urgency to address our deteriorating climate, will combine to create exciting new business and policy opportunities.

2. We are fortunate to have utilities in California that are orders of magnitude more enlightened than their brethren in the coal-loving states, although I suspect that they would still dearly like to strangle rooftop solar if they could. Modern utilities are subject to a rapidly evolving business environment, and I wonder whether some top managers at our utilities have the ability or the will to understand and control the far-flung and complex organizations they oversee. And I am very worried about our utilities’ commitment to their side of the regulatory compact. We at the Commission need to watch our utilities’ management and their legal and compliance advisors very, very carefully: it is clear to me that the legalistic, confrontational approach to regulation is alive and well. Their strategy is often: “we will give the Commission only what they explicitly order us to give them”. This is cat and mouse, not partnership, so we have to be one smart and aggressive cat.

4. Fortunately, or maybe unfortunately, with the passage of AB327, the thorny issue of Net Energy Metering and rate design has been given over to the CPUC. But recognize that this is a poisoned chalice: the Commission will come under intense pressure to use this authority to protect the interest of the utilities over those of consumers and potential self-generators, all in the name of addressing exaggerated concerns about grid stability, cost and fairness. You – my fellow Commissioners – all must be bold and forthright in defending and strengthening our state’s commitment to clean and distributed energy generation.