About Masada

Masada Disenhouse co-founded SanDiego350 in 2011 and serves as a Steering Committee member. She is passionate about engaging volunteers and growing a powerful climate change movement.

Young San Diegans Speak Out About Climate Change

By Stephanie Corkran of SanDiego350, and these six young people of San Diego who were interviewed.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from the children” is a quote attributed to the iconic environmentalist David Brower. Isn’t it time that we listen to what the children have to say? After all, they will be the ones who will inherit an overheated planet with extreme weather events, including intense storms, floods, droughts, and sea level rise.

The big question is: Will the children will have their say in court? Juliana v. U.S. is a constitutional climate lawsuit filed by 21 youths, ages 11 to 22. Since climate change is the overarching issue of our times (and perhaps of all time for our species), Juliana v. U.S. may well become the “trial of the century”.

The Trump administration, along with the fossil fuel companies, have attempted various legal tactics to kill the lawsuit and repeatedly failed. On July 30, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled in favor of allowing the case to be heard. The trial was scheduled to start today, October 29th, however, ten days before the Supreme issued a temporary stay in response to a second petition by the government.

The children’s lawsuit asserts that the U.S. government, through its affirmative actions in creating a national energy system that causes climate change, is depriving the youngest generation of the constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property. In addition, the government has a duty to protect essential public trust resources for future generations.

If successful, the children’s lawsuit would compel our government to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The scale of societal change needed necessitates that our government provides the infrastructure and funding to facilitate a rapid transition to a fossil-free economy.

What Young San Diegans Have to Say About Climate Change

As a volunteer for SanDiego350, I interviewed six young people to discover their views about climate change and the court case. I spoke with Meg, a 23-year-old college student from Rancho Penasquitos and El, a 17-year-old high school student from El Cajon. I also spoke with four younger children: Alex and Max from Escondido (both 12 years), Avery (11 years) from El Cajon, and Danica (10 years) from PB.

For readability, I have grouped their responses under each question I asked of them. Some of their responses were very similar;  these ones I have paraphrased and identified as a  “Consensus” response.

 What do you think of when you hear the words “climate change”?

Consensus: The environment and the weather. How people are polluting by burning oil and the earth is getting hotter.

“That it is getting hotter and the animals are dying, like polar bears dying due to melting ice. I am very sad about the polar bears and the Amazon.” (Alex)

“I think of the plants and animals being harmed by climate change; humans are being selfish.” (El)

 Do you think we (the government /adults) are doing enough to fight climate change?

“No one is doing enough, not even those who believe in climate change.  Not everyone is an activist or needs to be, but everyone needs to do something. Earth Day is not enough.” (El)

“Even worse we are going backward- reforms put in place were wiped out so that more coal and oil could be used.” (Alex)

“I do think of all the people that are trying to help, like my mom who volunteers for SanDiego350. So the lower ranks of people yes, but those in power no.” (Max)

If not – why do you think this is? What are the obstacles?

Consensus: For the people in our government climate change is not the priority. Our government and the world are dominated by corporations. People worldwide are causing climate change but only a small group of people are trying to change it. They cannot do it alone.

 “People get a lot of money from oil; they are not caring about the world but instead how much money they get from selling stuff that pollutes. This worries me.” (Danica)

Human nature and the fact we are driven by greed is a problem.” (Max)

What are some of the things you think we should be doing to fight climate change?

Consensus: Bring back reforms that were reversed and rejoin the Paris Climate Accords.

We need to teach climate change in schools at a young age. Educate.

“Try different angles to get the message out like posting videos on youtube, because a lot of people watch youtube.” (Max)

“Reduce plastic use by using reusable water bottles and have more water refilling stations.  Research the brands you are buying to use your purchasing power to effect change.” (Meg)

“Stop selling oil! Create something that replaces oil that does not pollute (electric vehicles, plant-based biofuel, solar, wind).” (Danica)

Are there things that you are personally doing to address climate change? 

Consensus: My career will be focussed on fighting climate change. I speak the truth to other kids and try to get them involved. When I hear people are misinformed I educate them.

“I told my mom we should not buy plastic, instead we should buy glass containers or use refillable containers for shampoo, etc.” (Danica)

I attend climate marches and rallies. I volunteer with SanDiego350 (Avery has volunteered since she was 7 years old).

What do you want to tell the judge hearing the children’s court case?

“Changing policies are the only way to save the planet and other nations are way ahead of us.” (Meg)

“Try to make people take better care of the earth.” (Avery)

“If the government tells you they are doing enough for climate change tell them to prove it, make them give evidence.” (Danica)

“Please – just look at the facts.” (Max)

Do you feel your rights are being violated by climate change inaction?

“Yes my rights are being violated, as we are in the midst of the 6th great extinction on this planet.  My generation will be the most affected by climate change and we don’t want continued fossil fuel extraction.” (Meg) 

“You are violating my rights because the planet will be worse for me after you die. We need to do this before civilization collapses. I and my family will have to live with this.” (Alex)

“The purpose of government is to protect and serve the people. They are not doing this when they ignore climate change.” (El)

What do you want to tell the kids/plaintiffs who filed this case?

Consensus: You’re my heroes. Thank you for standing up for my rights. In a time when many are apathetic, what you are doing is very powerful.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

“People should get educated. I try whenever possible to spread the message at school” (Meg)

“Government should find climate scientists to guide policy and make sure the public is informed. This needs to be a front and center issue.” (El)

“We need to pass laws to plant trees whenever one is cut down, because they give us air.”  (Alex)

Listen to the Children

The young people who participated in these interviews are well versed in the climate change catastrophe and how it is impacting our planet. They expressed feelings of worry and sadness about their future. As Meg stated, “To be blunt – climate change is the destruction of the earth. This is happening now and nothing is being done about it.”

As an individual, every decision you make going forward needs to further the chance of a livable planet for our grandchildren. On November 6th, we will have the opportunity to vote for leaders who respect the overwhelming evidence of climate science, are willing to use their political capital to transition the country to clean energy and a sustainable future, and to do so at warp speed. Let us heed Avery’s warning: “Humans are causing their own extinction. Do something about it before it is too late!” 

Originally published in the San Diego Free Press on October 29, 2018.

About the Author:

Stephanie Corkran, MA, is an anthropologist who works in research at UCSD and a volunteer of SanDiego350. As a Coast Guard veteran, she previously enforced environmental law and responded to oil and hazardous material spills, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She supports a vision of social justice that considers the needs of all life, human and non-human.

 About the Interview Process:

The interviews (by phone or in person) were not transcribed verbatim but main themes were captured. For the younger interviewees there was some communication to ensure I understood what they meant to convey. Sometimes I suggested language substitutions that they agreed to, but the concepts are theirs alone.  I attempted to group related responses together to improve readability.

Note from Meg:

Meg recommends the following books to read: Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by Edward Wilson, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate by Naomi Klein.

‘Brown’s Last Chance’ Could Be Our Last Chance To Avert Climate Change Apocalypse

By Stephanie Corkran, SanDiego350

Credit: Mark Dixon / Wikimedia Commons

Brown’s Last Chance is a campaign demanding Governor Jerry Brown halt the development of unsustainable, polluting, fossil fuel infrastructure and begin an immediate phase-out of fossil fuels in California. If he’s unwilling to do so, a multitude of organizations (environmental, health, justice, community, consumer) are prepared to protest the upcoming Global Climate Action Summit.

This climate summit, held in San Francisco next month from September 12 to 14, was the brainchild of Gov. Brown. It was conceived of in response to President Trump withdrawing the United States from the international Paris Climate Accord. World leaders will be in attendance to continue the work of past international climate conferences to mitigate climate change. There will be numerous affiliate marches and rallies around the world (including San Diego’s Rise For Climate March) to demand a transformation to clean energy and real action on climate change.

Gov. Brown and California get a lot of credit for climate change action and certainly market that reputation. The problem is this state and its government during Governor Brown’s reign neglected fossil fuel production as a target for climate change mitigation. Oil and gas production is declining in California, but not fast enough in light of the severity of the climate change threat.

This is the last year the governor can serve. The idea of the campaign is to hit now, while media is focused on the conference and environmental issues, and when he is not running for reelection. Perhaps he will be less beholden now to special interests that favor fossil fuel production and buy influence with their campaign contributions.

Why the imperative to protest – why a call to action?

HYPOCRISY OF CONTINUED EXTRACTION

Nationwide, oil and gas extraction is increasing. California, with its accolades for leading the climate change fight in the U.S. is, in fact, a major contributor to that extraction.

Production of fossil fuels is inconsistent with the state’s mandates to address climate change. On the one hand, state lawmakers are currently considering SB 100 which would move up the schedule of clean energy goals — since interim targets of SB 350 have been met ahead of schedule. On the other hand, California is a major producer of fossil fuels. The state needs to stop fossil fuel extraction to avoid the worst risks of climate change worldwide. The consensus of scientists is that fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground.

Yet, California is ranked sixth in the nation for oil production. And because California has a lot of low-quality oil resources, it takes more extreme, energy-intensive methods to extract it. Indeed, the oil that California extracts is some of the dirtiest on the planet.

Inglewood Field, CA, 2014
Photo courtesy of FracTracker Alliance

The state was also recently ranked 13th in gas production. While California gas production has declined, it is still significant and uses the highly problematic hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) method of extraction.

According to the California Department of Conservation, there were 652 oil and gas wells stimulated using hydraulic fracturing in 2014. In 2015, California had 56,653 active oil and natural gas wells.

In addition, there was a 17 percent expansion of offshore oil wells in California state waters under existing leases from 2012 to 2016.

All this while the state suffers some of the worst health impacts of fossil fuel extraction and use. California is home to eight of 10 of the cities with the worst air quality in the nation. The poisoning of extreme amounts of water (a resource in short supply in this drought-ridden state) via the list of fracking chemicals used is also a hazard to health.

Rig in South LA, California
Photo by Brook Lenker, FracTracker Alliance, October 2017

EXISTENTIAL THREAT

Current extinction rates on earth are hundreds of times higher than normal evolutionary background rates. These extinction rates are directly related to our fossil fuel addiction and its impact on the climate. Entire ecosystems are collapsing and if too many links in the chain of biodiversity disappear, the systems that support human life go. We will follow the dinosaurs into oblivion – the difference being that dinosaurs did not do it to themselves.

There is a 5 percent chance of cataclysmic climate change by 2050, and a chance of our own extinction. While many will bet on the intellect and industriousness of our species to avoid or survive this threat (humans have gone down to as few as 1000 breeding individuals in our evolutionary past and come back with a vengeance), it will not be possible if we decimate the environment, if we destroy our home. We depend as a species on a functioning biosphere.

THREAT TO CIVILIZATION

The World Health Organization (WHO) and U.S. Centers for Disease Control have been preparing for the health risks of climate change that are already occurring and will escalate.

WHO website

The thin veneer of civilization will likely break down as food becomes scarce, infectious disease runs rampant and mass migrations of people — whose homelands will no longer support human life — spawn warfare and further destruction of the environment.

Social and political structures in place are insufficient to deal with current levels of disruption. We already see waves of refugees in Europe and the U.S. reacting to degraded environments from prolonged drought and competition for resources. And we can expect more. Both the U.S. and Europe are struggling to process the numbers of asylum seekers. Xenophobia and backlash against migrants are escalating worldwide.

What will happen when disruption is on the scale of a climatic apocalypse? We are an overpopulated speciesthat has outgrown the carrying capacity of the earth. Without our technology, mass communication and a worldwide distribution system of resources, we may revert to the savage.

EVIDENCE OF POLITICAL CORRUPTION/PARTY DYSFUNCTION

Campaign contributions from big oil impact whether our elected representatives will end fracking in this state. Gov. Brown has strong ties to fossil fuel companies and utilities that may have hampered his ability to take a stand on fossil fuel extraction in the state. Recently the Democratic National Committee passed a resolution stating they will no longer accept donations from fossil fuel companies.

“Fossil fuel corporations are drowning our democracy in a tidal wave of dark oily money; they have deceived the public about the impacts of climate change, fought the growth of clean renewable energy, and corrupted our political system,” the resolution reads. Individual Democratic Party candidates are not required to follow suit, but the example is set.

Now it is up to the people (us) to raise our voices to demand this same standard be upheld by candidates running for elected office and those already in elected office.

Where do you stand?

There is no neutral position. To do nothing is aiding the perpetrators of climate destruction. Inaction means you are siding with the polluters who are sentencing all life on this planet to extreme suffering.

Do something — and do it now! Join others who are willing to fight for climate justice and be part of the solution. The sacrifices we all must make will seem trivial if we are successful in saving our beautiful home and her inhabitants.

If you intend to fight for life, attend the September 8th Rise for Climate March, San Diego, contact Gov. Brown, and sign Brown’s Last Chance Petition.

Originally published by the San Diego Free Press on August 17th, 2018.

About the Author

Stephanie Corkran, MA, is an anthropologist who works in medical research at UCSD and a volunteer of SanDiego350. She is a Coast Guard veteran who enforced environmental law and responded to oil and hazardous material spills, including the Exxon Valdez oil spill. She supports a vision of social justice that considers the needs of all life, human and non-human.

SD350 Took Climate Action to Sacramento in 2016

We know climate change is a serious threat, as do 81% of Californians, according to a poll by the Public Policy Institute of California. Thanks to the dedication and commitment of SD350 volunteers, we took climate action to Sacramento this summer.

As members of the SanDiego350 Public Policy Team, we work to educate our members and the public, lobby officials and create a healthier climate future. In addition to advocating for improved climate laws at the local level, we also review state legislative bills related to climate change and advocate for their passage or defeat. This year we focused on eight priority bills. We educated ourselves and members of SanDiego350, posting our positions on social media, making making calls to legislators, and lobbying key San Diego Assemblymembers to urge them to vote for our priority bills. We are happy to report that 50% of the priority bills we supported were passed by the legislature and have been signed into law by the governor, including SB 32, a two-year bill we also supported in 2015, which cements California’s place at the forefront of climate action by codifying the state’s ambitious emission reduction targets into law.

The SanDiego350 Public Policy Team decided early in the year to focus on identifying and prioritizing state bills that would reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and to train SanDiego350 members on advocating for legislation with elected officials. Members of our team identified relevant bills, prioritized the eight we felt were most important, and tracked the progress of these bills over the course of the legislative session.

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Legislative training

We sent letters on behalf of SanDiego350 in support of legislation to shut down Aliso Canyon, to include an Environmental Justice element in General Plans, and to prevent coal from being shipped overland to the Oakland Terminal. We worked in concert with our allies in the Bay Area and in San Diego to increase visibility of these bills and encourage their passage in the legislature (for example, we authorized 350 Bay Area to speak for us at committee hearings in the legislature in Sacramento). [Read more…]

SanDiego350 Applauds President Obama for Keystone XL Veto (Press Release)

Calls on the President to reject the project outright

SAN DIEGO, CA – In San Diego and across the nation today, citizens concerned about climate change applauded as President Barack Obama vetoed legislation that would have forced him to approve the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL). SanDiego350 (SD350), an all-volunteer climate action group, called the presidential veto a battle won in the fight against KXL, but noted that it does not stop the pipeline’s construction. The pipeline would cross an international border, so its ultimate approval rests with the President. SD350 is urging the President to take this last crucial step.

Masada Disenhouse, a co-founder of SD350, said, “Yes, of course I’m happy that the President vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline.  But I’m more anxious for him to finally reject it once and for all.  If he fails to take this action – that is totally within his power to do – then he fails to be the climate leader that the world so desperately needs right now.”

President Obama has promised to disapprove construction of the KXL if it would make climate change significantly worse. Federal agencies and top scientists agree that it would.  The 800,000 barrels of crude oil to be transported daily through KXL will be extracted from the tar-sands of Alberta, Canada. Oil extracted from tar sands crude causes 17% to 22% more carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than does oil produced from conventional crude oil. The destination of this particularly dirty crude is the refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast, from where most of it would subsequently be exported.

Another SanDiego350 co-founder Janina Moretti said, “KXL would create only about 35 permanent jobs and it’s only in the short-term interests of TransCanada and not at all in the interests of the average American who is already starting to experience disruptive weather events related to climate change.  Looking at it as a Southern Californian, why risk worsening our already critical drought and wild-fire situation to help out a corporation?”

According to climate scientists, we must keep global warming at or below 2° Celsius (or 3.6° Fahrenheit) to avoid the worst impacts. They estimate that, to stay within that limit, humanity must burn no more than 565 gigatons of carbon by 2050. Globally, it is estimated that five times that amount exists in oil, coal and gas reserves, meaning that 80% of these reserves would thus need to be left in the ground to keep global warming within the range recommended by climate scientists. SD350 argues that the extra emissions associated with tar sands crude oil production make the case for leaving it in the ground even stronger.

Noting this link between KXL and climate change, Peg Mitchell, a grandmother and volunteer with SanDiego350, stated, “If I didn’t act to stop this horrifying threat to my grandkids’ future, I couldn’t live with myself. This country should be focused on a moonshot-type effort to get off all fossil fuels now.”

Opponents of KXL include groups concerned with public health. RN Janice Webb, regional director of the California Nurses Association-National Nurses United, weighed in: “Nurses denounce the Keystone pipeline as a danger to public health.  Keystone’s tar sands oil poses a far greater hazard than conventional oil, and has already caused a spike in cancer deaths, renal failure, lupus and hyperthyroidism in Alberta, Canada.  Accidents in oil transport have become all too common and cause disastrous contamination of air and water supplies.  We call on President Obama to stand up for the health of children, the elderly, and all people, and oppose the Keystone Pipeline.”

SanDiego350 and its partners have actively opposed the Keystone pipeline since early 2013, with rallies and “pipeline walks”  in Mission Bay, Mission Beach, Balboa Park, La Jolla, downtown San Diego and even at Comic-Con.  They stand against the endless mining of fossil fuels and for an expedited transition to clean energy. The time is now, they believe, for the President finally to reject KXL outright.

From Comic-Con 2013    
2013 Comic-Con

From Feb 2013 Rally at Mission Bay Photo by Alex Turner
February 2013, Rally at Mission Bay – Photo by Alex Turner

California Nurses Association at downtown KXL vigil, February 2014 by Diane Lesher
February 2014, California Nurses Association at KXL downtown vigil –  Photo by Diane Lesher

Mission Beach. February 2014 - photo by Doug Fowley
February 2014, Mission Beach  – photo by Doug Fowley

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SanDiego350, an all-volunteer, non-profit organization, is concerned about climate change and its very real effects on our livelihoods, well-being, and the future for our children. We work to increase awareness of climate change and advocate for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We are loosely affiliated with 350.org, the international climate organization, whose work inspires us.

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.

 

 

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.

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.

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.


San Diegans Join Nationwide Protest Against Keystone XL

By Jeffrey Meyer

Mayor Bob Filner and over 500 San Diego protestors in Mission Bay Park joined similar rallies in cities across America Sunday in protest of the Keystone XL Pipeline project, beginning a massive effort to demand President Obama block it and call for leaders at all levels to take action to fight global warming. (Watch coverage on 6 TV stations)

Speaking at the San Diego rally, Mayor Bob Filner expressed his concerns about Keystone, climate change and what he wants to do in San Diego.

Mayor Bob Filner (photo by Diane Lesher)

“If we’re going to save our beaches in San Diego, we need to take our heads out of the sand, especially the tar sands,” he said, imploring the Mission Bay crowd to push President Obama to deny permits for the Canadian pipeline that is part of a massive proposed tar sand mining and pipeline project intended to deliver bitumen slurry to Texas coastal refineries.

Mayor Filner explained that every level of government has to take some responsibility for dealing with global warming and that San Diego can be a national leader in the use of alternative energy sources.

Link to more photos and video

“I want to have solar power in all San Diego public buildings within the next five years,” he said.  “San Diego can lead the nation in the use of alternative energy and moving away from fossil fuels.”

Part of a nationwide protest, with the major rally drawing an estimated 35,000 people today in Washington D.C.,  numerous San Diego groups participated in the rally, cheering numerous speakers,  waving banners and hoisting protest signs.  Major organizers locally were  sandiego350.org, Citizens Climate Lobby, the Sierra Club, the Environmental Health Coalition and Greenpeace.

Also, speaking at the rally, Dr. Jeffrey Severinghaus, director for the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Climate-Ocean-Atmosphere Program, said there is an abundance of misinformation about climate on the public airwaves making real climate science more needed than ever.  About 98 percent of climate scientists and researchers around the world agree with Severinghaus that humans, and not nature, are the source for the additional CO2 that is causing global warming.

“There is no such thing as Republican physics or Democratic physics.  Physics is physics.  Accurate science is desperately needed, now more than ever, and that is why I’m speaking up   We need to draw a line in the sand on the use of tar sands,” he said.  “Those who will suffer the most are not yet born.  We need to act now and speak for them.”

Banner on the I-5 overpass (photo by Alex Turner)

He noted San Diegans should show support for a new bill bill to curb carbon pollution introduced this week by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).  “You need to let Boxer know you have her back,” he said about the new bill which has an estimated tax potential of more than a trillion dollars and would be invested in sustainable energy programs, with a large portion returned to taxpayers.

Former State Assemblywoman and present Chair of the Executive Committee of Sierra Club, San Diego chapter, Lori Saldana, also spoke at the rally, offering her perspectives on Keystone and climate change. “We’re here today as part of a nationwide call for President Obama to step up to the plate and stop the Keystone Pipeline once and for all – and to begin implementing policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, something that California pioneered,”  she said.

Another speaker, Rev. Dr. Beth Johnson, minister of Palomar Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Vista, who has been involved in the environmental movement  for over 20 years,  said “Everything is connected and everything is at stake.”

Elizabeth Perez-Halperin, a Native American, military veteran and green business owner, said “My Native American roots and military experience have influenced me to become an environmentalist and conservationist. The threat of not protecting our environment is a national security issue.”

High-schooler, Tierra Gonzalez-Hammonds (daughter of Lorena Gonzalez, labor leader and candidate for the 80th Assembly District), also spoke, addressing her concerns about her generation’s future in a heated world.

Franco Garcia, of the Environmental Health Coalition, talked about the impacts of climate change on some of the people hardest hit locally. Simon Mayeski, a member of SanDiego350.org, said “It is of utmost importance that President Obama ‘see the light’, show us the leadership we need and reject the XL Pipeline. We need long-term clean energy relief, not a short-term CO2-laden fix.”

Scientists expect the sea level to rise at least three feet by 2100 due to global warming caused by CO2 generated by our use of fossil fuels.  This means that much of Mission Bay and the San Diego area will be covered in several inches of sea water at high tide, and we will have enormous areas subject to flooding during storms.  Sandy beaches up and down the coast could be washed away, destroying property values, wildlife habitat and tourism.  Key climatologists believe the exploitation of tar sands and our relentless release of CO2 will tip our planet’s temperature into a catastrophic nightmare, and unless action is taken now, they say the damage will be irreversible.

Rally banners (photo by Dennis Griffin)

World Bank call to “Turn Down the Heat”

The World Bank has released a new report called Turn Down the Heat: Why a 4°C Warmer World Must Be Avoided. It is the first major report to acknowledge we are not likely to succeed in keeping temperatures below 2°C warmer. The report discusses how the poorest countries will suffer most from the devastating impacts of climate change and aims to instill a sense of urgency in world leaders.

From the foreword by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim:

“It is my hope that this report shocks us into action. Even for those of us already committed to fighting climate change, I hope it causes us to work with much more urgency.

This report spells out what the world would be like if it warmed by 4 degrees Celsius, which is what scientists are nearly unanimously predicting by the end of the century, without serious policy changes.

The 4°C scenarios are devastating: the inundation of coastal cities; increasing risks for food production potentially leading to higher malnutrition rates; many dry regions becoming dryer, wet regions wetter; unprecedented heat waves in many regions, especially in the tropics; substantially exacerbated water scarcity in many regions; increased frequency of high-intensity tropical cyclones; and irreversible loss of biodiversity, including coral reef systems.

And most importantly, a 4°C world is so different from the current one that it comes with high uncertainty and new risks that threaten our ability to anticipate and plan for future adaptation needs. The lack of action on climate change not only risks putting prosperity out of reach of millions of people in the developing world, it threatens to roll back decades of sustainable development.”

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