Trailblazing Effort Needed on San Diego Climate Action Plans

 

Op Ed: Trailblazing Effort Needed on San Diego Climate Action Plans

By Jeffrey Meyer

With the recent release of a new United Nations report on the global impact of climate change, we are given still another chilling warning that we are facing catastrophe unless we accelerate efforts to confront this crisis.

The release of this report comes on the heels of a court decision rejecting the San Diego County climate action plan and the ongoing development of this state-mandated plan by the City of San Diego. It raises the stakes for everyone and compels us to reach higher and dig deeper for community solutions to this crisis.

The warning from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is an urgent signal for our city and county officials to not only meet state laws on reducing greenhouse gas emissions but to explore higher standards. The law establishing minimum requirements for these plans fall under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), which was provided guidelines by our Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 (AB 32).

Critics still chafe at the impact of AB 32 and portray it as a symbol of legislators running amok over the poor and middle class. Their reasoning wrongfully centers on increases at the gas pump of at least 15 cents a gallon and how that will also impact fuel dependent businesses. Those living from paycheck to paycheck are doomed to suffer the most when climate change drives an economic collapse and profit-driven efforts to mislead them have succeeded in creating an immobilized electorate.

The new IPCC report says that climate change is set to inflict “severe, widespread, and irreversible impacts” on people and the planet unless carbon emissions are cut sharply and rapidly. This comes on the heels of a new government report released this year showing our nation will suffer $150 billion in economic damages every year that we fail to rein in rising temperatures. Still another recent report found that climate change will cost the nation up to $507 billion in property damages by 2100 if we fail to take action now.

The world and the U.S. political labyrinth suffer a debilitating inertia in dealing with climate change. Even with the new U.S.-China climate agreement the United Nations will likely be unable to agree to an effective climate change agreement in Paris next year. This is why our best efforts to deal with climate change may be through communities like San Diego. We have a capacity for imagining and producing extraordinary opportunities without the excessive bureaucracy embraced by nation states.

There have already been innovative community models developed by Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, London, Vancouver and Melbourne. It has carried to Shenzhen, which is leading the world on urban transportation and to Seoul, leading the world with green energy technology. This phenomena of change is creating new business opportunities and employment for these regions and it can for San Diego as well.

County officials need to return to ground zero and explore better ideas and options for its climate action plan. The appellate court ruling said their plan lacked detailed deadlines and measures to ensure emissions are reduced. If not for the lawsuit brought by the Sierra Club against the county, we would be without a credible county climate action plan. The City of San Diego is still in the adoption phase with its plan to meet mandatory targets and in light of the failed county plan they should reevaluate whether it will accomplish what is required or they could face a similar costly lawsuit.

Just meeting reduction targets set by CEQA and AB 32 is not enough. When they were set eight years ago, there was less known about timelines for adequate action to avoid the projected collapse of economic and ecological systems. This is a trailblazing opportunity for us and we should ask our elected representatives to model a new paradigm for communities to confront climate change and not just fulfill a state mandate.


(Image at top of page: Map taken from page 7 of
San Diego’s Changing Climate: A Regional Wake-Up Call )

 

National Security and Climate Change

“There is a relationship between carbon emissions and our national security.”  General Gordon R. Sullivan (ret,) chairman of the Military Advisory Board and former Army Chief of Staff

RAdm Len Hering Speaks in Coronado about the Effect of Climate Change on National Security 

Human-induced climate change: Is it acknowledged in places that count? There must be institutions in the United States that have to deal with the very real consequences of climate change, and the military is one of them.

Why the military must concern itself with climate change was the topic of  retired Rear Admiral Len Hering’s lecture on Wednesday evening, November 12, at the Coronado Community Center. Entitled National Security and Climate Change, the lecture was sponsored by Citizens Climate Lobby, and Rear Admiral Hering was introduced by Coronado Mayor Casey Tanaka (who, incidentally, rode his bike to the event.)  Hering addressed the problem of a growing human population and the many industrial-age human activities that are degrading the planet, causing climate change and its consequences.  What in particular concerns the military is the increase of national security risks around the globe.

Rear Admiral Hering’s background includes a degree in marine biology and experience dealing with problems related to issues of planet health encountered during his years as a captain in the US Navy, stationed here in San Diego. Following retirement from the Navy, Hering demonstrated leadership with the promotion and installation of sustainable technologies, most notably during his years at the University of San Diego. He is the current Executive Director of the California Center for Sustainable Energy.

Using the following series of maps, Hering made the point that the regions of the earth that will be most affected by extremes of precipitation are the world’s breadbaskets. One salient example he gave was the conflict in Syria, a country now in its 15th year of drought. Because its agricultural output has been seriously degraded by years of drought, Syria is a nation easily destabilized, which is exactly what events in the news tell us has been happening. The crowded Middle East, with dwindling resources to feed an increasing number of inhabitants is the current global poster child for the conflicts that will arise, as people identify with their own ethnic, national or religious group against others in the fight for the most basic of resources, water. In this way, issues of a political and religious nature camouflage the true one: survival of one’s own.

 

This series of maps shows the potential fir future drought as the 21st century progresses.  The maps use the Palmer Drought Severity Index, where a reading of -4 or below is considered extreme.  Regions colored blue or green are considered less likely to experience drought, whereas those in purple and red could face unusually extreme drought.

This series of maps shows the potential fir future drought as the 21st century progresses. The maps use the Palmer Drought Severity Index, where a reading of -4 or below is considered extreme. Regions colored blue or green are considered less likely to experience drought, whereas those in purple and red could face unusually extreme drought.

(Courtesy Wiley Interdisciplinary Review)

Another kind of human suffering described by Hering is the displacement of entire communities due to flooding and sea-level rise.  The example he gave was the loss of small farms in coastal Bangladesh to sea-level rise and flooding from storm surges that render the soil too salty for farming.  Climate-change refugees have spilled over into northeastern India especially.  The obvious result has been deadly conflict between the refugees and the long-time inhabitants of the region where the refugees have been resettling.

Hering’s talk juxtaposed such examples of human dislocation with the wastefulness of human activity in more prosperous industrialized nations.  The clear picture is that the poor will suffer the most, and long before we in the U.S. will feel the most devastating effects of climate change.

The loss of coastal lands will affect many in varying degrees worldwide. Miami and Coronado will see the loss of valuable property, including a prominent military base. The Philippines, with an average altitude of only eight feet faces enormous human losses, not just to sea-level rise but also to intense storms due to its location along the Western Pacific’s Typhoon Alley.  As many as 12 million climate-change refugees will likely be created. Other, smaller Pacific Island nations, balmy paradises like Kiribati, will cease to exist, their inhabitants all becoming refugees.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, causing enormous loss of property and dislocation of mostly poor people.  The inhabited areas of the Philippines, Hering pointed out, is mostly low-lying, averaging only 8 feet in elevation, and therefore vulnerable to sea level rise as well as typhoons.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan devastated the Philippines, causing enormous loss of property and dislocation of mostly poor people. The inhabited areas of the Philippines, Hering pointed out, is mostly low-lying, averaging only 8 feet in elevation, and therefore vulnerable to sea level rise as well as typhoons.

Bringing the consequences closer to our own shores, Hering quoted Admiral Sam Locklear, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, as warning that climate change is the greatest long-term security threat in the Pacific region.

RAdm. Hering explained other climate-change-induced security threats: the opening up Arctic waters, which will give hostile nations greater freedom of movement; ocean warming and the disruption of air and water currents, causing extreme weather events that result in loss of lives, livelihoods and property; the degraded health of the oceans affecting the food chain and ultimately the main source of protein for 70% of the world’s human population; diminished world water supplies causing the devastation of farms and farm-animal husbandry, leading to terrible food insecurities; the thawing of the permafrost which will accelerate the release of methane into the atmosphere and, in turn, further accelerate atmospheric warming.  Some of these are political threats, but others are existential, promoting fear, turmoil, irrational political movements and violence, all serious threats to peace and stability — and, in this globally-connected world, to our own security.

Throughout his lecture, Hering’s passion for confronting climate change and promoting sustainability was dramatized by the tone of his voice and the energy in his gestures. His strong belief in the responsibility of the U.S. and other prosperous and privileged nations came through in every aspect of his talk, which included food waste, general pollution, and industrial degradation as well as climate change.  A photograph of his grandchildren personalized a theme he returned to time and again: This is not about us; it’s about our children and grandchildren, the future of humanity.

SD350’s Activist Training Workshop

It’s a Saturday.  Twenty-five young San Diegans have arisen early to attend SD350.org’s Activist Training Workshop.  Some animated, some earnest, all very engaged – they’re clumped in small groups talking about what they came for: to learn about climate change activism.

WHY AN ACTIVIST TRAINING WORKSHOP

Juan Ahumada, a twenty-something graduate student and teaching assistant in Communications at SDSU, is a little ahead of the game.  He’s already attended an SD350 meeting, and he had this to say about it: “I expected to see more people my age.”  He’d asked the local Green Party where he could volunteer.  They’d directed him to SD350 as being a climate-change group on the move.  Yes, he found, there’s a lot going on here, but where was his generation?  Juan really nailed it again when he expressed disappointment that he was the only hispanic and the only one from South Bay.

We at SD350.org share his disappointment.  I’m retired and I’ve been attending SD350 meetings for almost two years.  I’m continually bewildered that attendance at our meetings reflects my demographic group more than Juan’s.  After all, the younger you are, the more likely it is that you’ll experience the effects of climate change.  Not only that, California is soon to be a minority-majority state.

It looks as if these imbalances at SD350 could be about to change.  Addressing the shortage of young people and minorities involved in the climate-change movement, SD350 sponsored its first Activist Training Workshop.  The workshop is intended to be an outreach to the diverse generation now coming of age in our high schools, colleges, and the workforce.

On Saturday, August 16th, at the Malin Burnham Center for Civic Engagement at Liberty Station, 25 young adults took advantage of SD350’s Activist Training Workshop.  (Honestly, I’d expected to see maybe a handful, a dozen at best.  What a welcome surprise to see such a response!)  Representing the concerns of their generation were a variety of ethnicities not found in my generation at SD350 meetings and events.  It makes me hopeful to see such a diverse group looking to become active as leaders in our community’s climate-change movement.

WHAT PARTICIPANTS FOUND AT THE WORKSHOP

The youngest workshop participant I interviewed was a high school junior, Amanda Matheson, who belongs to the Environmental Club at Canyon Crest Academy in Carmel Valley.  Amanda came to our activist workshop expecting to learn how to approach people about becoming active in caring for the environment and how to present a positive message that individuals can do something.  She also found value in learning how to introduce herself as an activist by creating a personal story.  She’ll be well on her way to making a difference with those skills. Wouldn’t it be great if she could also pass on what she learned to her school’s Environmental Club?

Tyler Patel graduated in Environmental Engineering from UC Merced, where he learned a lot at his lab-assistant job.  He’s now looking for jobs in water resources, water treatment or water distribution.  In addition, he wants to do work as a volunteer in the environmental movement. Tyler finds it inspiring to attend workshops where he can interact with others who are motivated to become activists.  Tyler likes that he’s finding such opportunities in San Diego because this is where he grew up.

Leaving soon for her freshman year at UC Santa Barbara, Sarah Lengua plans to major in Earth Science.  Sarah is learning from this workshop what it takes to be a true activist.  She looks forward to finding opportunities to become active in the climate-change movement on her university campus.  She may discover a 350.org affiliate already exists there, or possibly be instrumental in creating one.

Juan, who noted he’d been a trouble-maker and a ditcher in high school, now directs his energies towards positive action.  He seeks out opportunities to use his education — especially speech and debate — for society’s benefit.  He sees climate-change action as his opportunity to do this.

I hope Juan, as well as Amanda, Tyler, Sarah and twenty-one others found what they were looking for at SD350’s Activist Training Workshop.  I hope they also found out something else: that we were looking for them, too.

Watch for SD350’s New PSA

Have you spotted our PSA on TV, radio, or online?  Tell us!

SanDiego350 is currently contacting over 50 media outlets to air our new climate change Public Service Announcement.  The PSA invites the audience, who may already be concerned about climate change, to become active in the climate movement with SanDiego350. The first TV stations to confirm they would air the PSA, starting July 17, were the Spanish-language Entravision/Univision affiliates KBNT, KDTF, LATV, XHAS and DDTV. Six other stations including Channel 10 KGTV ABC, Channel 8 KFMB CBS, and Channel 9 KUSI have indicated they will try to air it.

The stations aren’t able to tell us when the PSA will air. IF YOU SEE OR HEAR OUR PSA, PLEASE EMAIL Louise Russell at louiserussell9@icloud.com, indicating the station and the approximate time it aired.  That will help us track how the air time is adding up. If you haven’t seen the PSA, here’s what to watch for:

Image for PSA Blog Post-Crop Top

SD350’s PSA invites viewers to join the climate movement.

The 30-second PSA was put together by a team of SanDiego350 volunteers with technical assistance from Gregg Brandalise of Blindfold Studios, Poway (pro bono) and also from Patrick Espinosa of Cypress Productions, San Diego.  It can be viewed at sandiego350.org.

Posted by Bonnie for Louise.

Clean Energy Forum Mobilizes San Diegans

On Saturday, June 21st over 100 San Diego County residents participated in the “Community Choice Energy Forum” put on by Friends of San Diego Clean Energy, a coalition that includes SanDiego350, Sierra Club San Diego, and the San Diego chapter of CalSEIA (the California Solar Energy Industries Association).

The forum was kicked off by clean energy champion and San Diego City Council President Todd Gloria, who spoke enthusiastically about ramping up renewable energy and moving forward with a strong climate action plan. Supportive Comments were also made by Solana Beach Councilman Peter Zahn, Del Mar Councilman Don Mosier, and Chris Ward, District Director for State Senator Marty Block. SanDiego350’s Bob Braaton gave a heart-felt reflection about why we were there and our task at hand.

There were several great presentations :

  • The World As It Should Be: 100% Clean Energy – Nicole Capretz, policy director for San Diego Council Member Ed Harris
  • The World As It Is: Dirty Power In Our Homes and In Our Politics – Bill Powers and Pete Hasapopoulos, Sierra Club San Diego
  • Breakout Sessions
    • Climate Action Plans – Kayla Race, Environmental Health Coalition
    • Rooftop Revolution – Dave Gersz, CalSEIA / Stellar Solar
    • Power is a Product of Relationship – Pete Hasapopoulos, Sierra Club San Diego
  •  The Marin Clean Energy Story – Shawn Marshall, co-founder, Marin Clean Energy
  • Power is Taken Not Given – Emily Wier, SanDiego350

Photos from the event courtesy of Diane Lesher

Read more about Community Choice Energy and email us to find out how you can help bring it to San Diego.

 

 

Lose That Second Car!

Do you lose anything besides your carbon footprint on public transit?

by Roger Coppock (submitted by Bonnie)

Our family used to be a two-car family, one newer car and an older car.  We’d buy a new car and trade in the old one every 7 or 8 years.  With our automobiles easily available, we used them a lot.  We thought nothing of a 3-mile round trip just to purchase a single trivial item, and probably did something like that every other day.

Somebody else maintains this vehicle! Public transportation can save you money and hassle.

Somebody else maintains this vehicle! Public transportation can save you money and hassle.

Automobiles cost a lot more than their purchase price.  A large fraction of our income went for fuel and auto maintenance.  At least one day a month was spent taking one or the other of our mechanical family members to the car doctor, and that “health-car(e)” program wasn’t cheap.  Often, car maintenance was the major monthly bill.

The Buddha teaches that nothing is permanent: Our two-car family had to change.  One day I discovered that as far as the local San Diego Metropolitan Transit System was concerned, I’m over 60 years old and an Official Old Person now! For $18 dollars a month, just 60 cents a day, I can activate my magic Compass Card and ride any trolley or bus in the San Diego area.

Now, we don’t need that second car.  So, we save the cost of a second car, the cost of maintaining a second car, and the fuel for a second car.  Not bad for 60 cents a day!

President’s La Jolla visit – SD350 rallies against the Keystone pipeline

SanDiego350 in La Jolla, ready for the Presidential Motorcade

SanDiego350 in La Jolla, ready for the Presidential Motorcade

Rally along Torrey Pines Road with 50’ Keystone Pipeline Banner, signs, chants 

By Jeff Meyer

Thursday, May 8, 2014 – Over 100 San Diegans gathered along Torrey Pines Road in La Jolla to call on President Obama, who was in the neighborhood for a fundraiser, to reject a permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline. The “KXL”, which would carry dirty tar sands oil from Canada to Texas for refining and export, has been called “game over” for the climate by the nation’s foremost climatologist, Dr. James Hansen.

Participants held large signs, including a 50-foot cardboard depiction of the Keystone Pipeline with the words “Stop the Keystone Pipeline. Fight climate change” in huge letters on it, and a large banner with a quote from the President that participants want to see him keep: “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations”.

SanDiego350’s Emily Wier said that the KXL will greatly increase greenhouse gas emissions and worsen the impacts of climate change – including significant sea level rise, more extreme and frequent storms and wildfires, water shortages, and increases in heat and infectious disease-related health problems – while creating only a few dozen on-going jobs. “Fully exploiting the tar sands will make the most serious effects of global warming inevitable. We need the President to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline, say he’ll veto a pro-pipeline bill in the Senate, and start demonstrating national and global leadership on climate change.”

Phil Petrie, a local artist in North Park, said that the country’s lack of response to devastating climate change is a moral issue. “We have a responsibility to the planet and to future generations to hold our government accountable to take immediate action on climate change. We are here now to make it known to President Obama that we, the people, say: The time is now! Reject this pipeline!”

Eleven-year old Siena also spoke movingly, saying, “Let me tell you what we kids really need.  We don’t need oil. We need clean air to breathe, fresh water to drink, and clean oceans to swim in.”

SanDiego350’s Michael Brackney led the demonstrators in rousing chants, including, “Climate change is here to stay, fossil fuels are not the way,” and “Tell Obama now’s the time, to stop the Keystone Pipeline!”

Bob Braaton said “When this fight started all bets were on the fossil fuel industry – everyone thought the pipeline would go through – but now it’s looking more likely that the pipeline could be rejected. That’s because of us in San Diego, and people just like us all around the country, who have stood up to say ‘enough!’”

Peg Mitchell of San Marcos said “I’m here today for my six grandchildren. If I didn’t act to stop this horrifying threat to their future, I couldn’t live with myself.”

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.