Break Free 2016 in Albany This Saturday, May 14th
There is still time to join with many others from Western Mass who are heading to the Break Free from Fossil Fuels Mass Action to Stop the Bomb Trains in Albany on Saturday, May 14th. If you need or can offer a ride please contact David Arbeitman from Climate Action Now ( up until noon on Friday, May 13th) and he will assist you. Break Free is a series of 23 mass actions demanding to Keep Fossil Fuels In The Ground in 12 countries on 6 continents. Actions have already started all across the globe. If you are still deciding whether or not to go please read these words from Jay O’Hara of the Climate Disobedience Center, one of the organizers of the Albany action.
Our motivation to take action for climate and environmental justice can spring from our anger, sadness, love and so many other emotions, even fear. But in our coming together, living into the crisis with our bodies in a way that confronts the urgency and magnitude of this situation, we find an opportunity for true hope. With so many lives at stake at Ezra Prentice homes and in the South End of Albany, all along the rail corridor blast zone, in the shale fields of North Dakota where this fracked oil is loaded into the trains, and across the globe as climate catastrophe unfolds – this is a serious endeavor. I’m convinced that this sort of action works because we lead by example. And when we lead boldly by example, people are moved to join us.
Go to albany2016.org for full details
A crew of Break Free organizers “met with” the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – the body that approves most of the pipelines in the country.
Check out and share the video on our Facebook Page!
The Mass House of Representatives will soon release the Omnibus Energy Bill. The fossil fuel industry is working overtime to ensure that this bill includes a PIPELINE TAX, effectively forcing the public to finance unnecessary and dangerous gas pipeline expansion projects. This tax has the potential to help bring the Kinder Morgan fracked gas pipeline back to life.
We stand firmly against any bill that taxes the people of Massachusetts to pay for fossil fuel pipeline subsidies; the climate crisis we face requires intensive efforts at increasing energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy. We are asking everyone to take the actions below and to spread the word.
Go here to send a letter to your state representative telling them that an energy bill containing a pipeline tax is completely unacceptable; if a pipeline tax is included we want a NO VOTE on the bill. We are hearing from people in the State House that legislators need this reminder now; events will move swiftly once the draft of the bill is released and it will be harder to make our voices heard.
A number of our reps have submitted a letter against the pipeline tax; when you call, you can thank your rep if they signed the letter, but let them know that no matter what, you want them to vote against a pipeline tax! Please ask your rep to sign (if they have not already) an excellent letter about energy priorities being circulated by Rep. Ehrlich’s office. Please go here to read the letter and to see if they have signed on. Please call (617.725.4005) and write to the Governor with the same message.
On May 3, several hundred climate activists from around the Commonwealth gathered at the Statehouse to show legislators strong support for policies that preserve a livable planet. The event opened with an inspiring rally, where activists heard of current struggles to stop pipeline projects still underway and what it will take to put the final nail in the NED coffin. Even though Northeast Energy Direct is suspended, three proposals in the eastern part of the state are moving ahead despite strong opposition: Spectra Algonquin Incremental Market; Spectra Atlantic Bridge; and Access Northeast, proposed by Spectra, National Grid, and Eversource. In Berkshire County, Kinder Morgan’s Connecticut Expansion would cut through an area including the Otis State Forest, despite violation of the MA constitution’s Article 97.
Speakers included community activists describing on-the-ground organizing efforts, as well as statewide leaders explaining strategies to build a unified movement. Although it was raining, spirits were with kept high with singing led by Rev. Fred Small and free pizza for all, along with the thought-provoking presentations.
After the rally, activists entered the Statehouse with two missions. First, to witness the Senate Global Warming and Climate Change Committee hearing called to address the impact of natural gas pipelines. The Commonwealth committed to reducing global warming emissions in the 2008 Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA), and this hearing focused on the question, “how will new pipelines and increased reliance on natural gas impact our ability to meet these mandates?” Second, to meet with Valley legislators and their staffs regarding climate change legislation. Mass Power Forward, a grassroots network of 150 organizations, led the lobbying by developing and distributing a position paper advocating six policies to guide Omnibus Energy Bill currently being considered by the House: Oppose New Gas Infrastructure; Support Offshore Wind; Support Solar; Double the Renewable Portfolio Standard Rate of Increase; Improve Siting Requirements for New Transmission Projects; and Support Communities with Retiring Power Plants. Activists also lobbied on behalf of Divestment, Fair Carbon Pricing, and Green Bank legislation.
The hearing was quite a remarkable event. Activists filled the room to overflowing, with many sitting on the floor and lining the walls. The flow of presentations was designed to provide a rigorous review and critique of the “business as usual” strategy proposed by Gov. Baker. This became apparent with the first two questions directed to the opening speaker, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. First, Sen. Pacheco asked why Massachusetts was not taking the progressive regulatory path taken by its sister state New York, where the Public Utilities Commission takes policies protecting the states environment (analogous to the Commonwealth’s Article 97) fully into account in their pipeline decisions. Sen. Pacheco also questioned why the MA Department of Public Utilities doesn’t consider the Commonwealth’s GWSA goals in its decision-making. Second, Sen. Eldridge asked politely but insistently about the full-cycle impacts of natural gas on global warming emissions. The review and critique continued to unfold over the next three hours with detailed testimony by Attorney General Maura Healy’s staff; a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy who now advises Northeast Energy Solutions; the Conservation Law Foundation; and the Union of Concerned Scientists. Backed by solid research and impeccable logic, the presenters hammered home the conclusion that the Commonwealth and its citizens will be far better off making a rapid transition to renewables without significant dependence on natural gas. For example, Rebecca Tepper, energy division chief with the office of Attorney General, provided details regarding the feasibility of increasing efficiency through conservation programs and dealing with winter peaks through investment in modern clean power generation.
And the Senate panel signaled its skepticism about efforts to increase electric utility rates to charge for pipeline construction when Sen. Pacheco described the meeting as “an oversight hearing so the ratepayers aren’t taken to the cleaners.” Throughout the hearing, all the panelists – Senators Pacheco, Eldridge, Barrett, and Downing – skillfully questioned presenters to bring out the most critical points favoring renewables while pointing to the problems inherent in a strategy that relies on fossil fuel dependence.
More details on the hearing can be found in this article published on Mass Live:
Action alert! Sign up for a bus – Rally & hearing at the statehouse for the Senate Climate Committee Hearing
This is important and serious, but it’s also going to be fun! We need a count on whether to reserve a bus to get to Boston May 3rd! If you want to go on the bus, click on this link
Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change Hearing: Commonwealth’s Clean Energy Future
Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016
We have won a great victory- and it’s time to celebrate. It’s also a time to build on our strength to win more! We need to stop all pipeline expansions. We must stop the pipeline tax. And we must get our legislators to support smart, renewable energy and climate legislation to reduce emissions and support clean, renewable energy!
12:00 Training/Opportunities to Visit Legislative Offices and Push Hard on the Pipeline Tax
1:00 Global Warming Committee Hearing
One or more buses to Boston are available on a sliding scale from $5 to $30.
By Susan Theberge, Editor of CAN newsletter
Neighbors, students, farmers, conservationists, children, elders, affected land owners, small business owners, politicians, artists, faith leaders, musicians, lawyers, climate activists, builders, poets, climate justice organizers and hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals came together united around one common goal: The Kinder Morgan NED fracked gas pipeline will never be built! From day one our community in Western Mass knew something that Kinder Morgan could not see: our long and storied history of successful resistance to injustice and exploitation by corporate outsiders.
United by a love of the land and a passion for a livable future and in powerful collaboration with others across the state and region, people organized on every front: legal, political, educational, and regulatory; at the local, state and federal level; through direct actions including walking the proposed pathway, organizing rallies, overflowing the halls of numerous hearings, building a Thoreau Cabin in the pathway of the pipeline, ongoing vigils and active preparation for massive non-violent civil disobedience with the support of a brilliant legal team.
While remaining mindful of new twists and turns, we know that for now one toxic and completely unnecessary fossil fuel infrastructure project has been blocked. While celebrating our success, we need to continue to focus our energies on the bigger picture: the need to stop the many other proposed fossil fuel projects that remain. This includes our fight to protect public lands threatened by the CT Expansion pipeline in Sandisfield, to block the Spectra pipeline in the eastern part of Massachusetts, and to stand together with those in New York who are resisting the Constitution Pipeline.
Preventing climate catastrophe binds us together as never before in human history. It is only by working together on a global scale that we will prevent the extinction of life on earth. This, the call of our times, contains a paradoxical gift: to prevent climate catastrophe we must find new ways of occupying planet earth that are grounded in equity, justice, respect and love.
photo credit: Rene Theberge
By Steve Herman
House Bill 646 has been christened the Universal Recycling Bill, a title suggesting a lofty and sweeping vision of an omnibus recycling program for the Bay State. It should have your bull detectors tingling. In just three years this legislation, if adopted, will begin the unraveling of recycling in Massachusetts. Here are some highlights:
- H646 repeals the current 5 cent refundable container deposit;
- Instead it imposes a 1 cent tax on all drinks, carbonated and non-carbonated, to be paid by the beverage producers and distributors;
- With the revenue generated from the 1 cent tax, H646 creates the “Municipal Recycling Enhancement Fund” during a period of transition to a more comprehensive recycling program for the state;
- Then on June 30, 2019, H646 sunsets the one cent tax on recyclables altogether.
For many people who may not be very committed to recycling, H646 could look like a gift horse although maybe one of Trojan pedigree. (1) above makes shopping more convenient; (2) – (3) raise an estimated $135 million dollar fund for modernizing town and municipality recycling, all on the beverage producers and distributors’ dime; and (4) ensures that the free ride lasts for three years of the common good.
Let’s consider the question of motivation. Is the problem with the current bottle bill (H2943/S1588) that it has failed in its mission and needs to be repealed? On the contrary, for over three decades the bottle bill has been Massachusetts’ most successful recycling program. Six leading organizations — Mass. Audubon, the Charles River Conservancy, Clear Water Action, the Container Recycling Institute, the Environment League of Massachusetts, Environment Massachusetts, the League of Women Voters/MA, MASSPIRG, and the Sierra Club — have collectively authored a letter praising the bottle bill for its achievements:
Is H646 a better alternative? The Container Recycling Institute (CRI) conducted an in-depth study before submitting an eight page letter to the chairs of the Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy Committee. CRI urged that H646 be killed in Committee. It wasn’t. Here’s a summary of CRI’s assessment of the outcomes of H646 if the bill is enacted:
*The beverage producers and distributors will receive $174 million in net revenue over the first ten years of the program. Over the same period of time, towns and municipalities are estimated to lose $85 million.
*Recycling rates of carbonated beverages can be expected to decline sharply based on 2010 data which showed that 80% of carbonated beverages sold in Massachusetts had been recycled, 71% having deposit labels. Remove the labels and the refunds, and the incentive to recycle could be undermined dramatically.
*The loss of an estimated 65,000 tons of otherwise recyclable trash will translate into sizable greenhouse gas emissions because beverage producers and distributors will have to replace the unrecovered bottles with newly manufactured ones.
*Massachusetts will once again become a dumping ground for unsightly recyclable waste, and communities will incur new costs of cleanup.
*As the world moves toward recycling, Massachusetts will be going backwards, damaging its national and international reputation.
H646 has so much to be said against it that one wonders why the bill made it so far. Perhaps the right question needs to be asked. Since the state will gain in the short run but lose so much in the long run, who would be the big winners if H646 were enacted? Here’s a credible hypothesis. Beverage manufacturers and distributors would have a lot to gain if the bottle bill were repealed. They would recover a sizable amount of the money or reparations they had been forced to pay over a long period of time under the bottle bill. In addition, after three years under H646, they would be free and clear of all responsibility for the clutter and damage their products inflict on the environment and be able to look ahead to a sizeable and ongoing windfall. Once relieved of governmental regulations, they can be expected to aggressively resist ever again being forced to wear their harness of good citizenship.
If passed, H646 will become a burden on Massachusetts and its citizens, who ultimately will have to bear the cost of recycling. The most significant legacy of enacting H646 will be its transfer of the responsibility and cost for recycling bottles from the beverage manufacturers and distributors to the taxpayers of the state. H646 needs to be defeated. Climate Action Now urges you to stand up for recycling in the Bay State and for keeping the burden of associated bottle costs squarely on the shoulders of the responsible parties. Please contact your legislators now. Tell them you oppose H646. In addition, if you are a constituent of a representative serving on the House Ways and Means Committee where H646 is currently under review, especially contact him or her.
The Break Free Northeast Action Tour with
Jay O’Hara of the Climate Disobedience Center
and The Rubber Stamp Rebellion
Monday, April 18, 2016, 7-9 PM
Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst
121 North Pleasant Street, Amherst, Mass
Handicap accessible and on a bus line
May 14th in Albany, NY
Rubber Stamp Rebellion
Organized by Beyond Extreme Energy #BXE
Targeting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
Actions from May 15-22
Whether you are new to the movement or an experienced organizer, you are welcome! This is an exciting chance to act in the global movement for climatejustice.
Organizers and Hosts: Climate Action Now and Sugar Shack Alliance