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Dear Secretary of State Kerry

Dear Secretary of State Kerry,

It is absolutely essential that you reject the recently submitted EIS for the Keystone XL Pipeline. The construction process itself poses threats to the environment, but even worse is the potential for leaks and spillage of the extremely toxic tar sands oil. Worst of all, however, is that the tar sands oil needs to stay in the ground. If it is extracted and burned, the carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere will significantly increase the amount of climate instability that the USA (along with the rest of the world) is experiencing. The extreme droughts (and resulting wildfires) in the West; the flooding along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, and the uncharacteristically severe winter storms that have hit the Midwest, South, and Northeast can all be traced to an unprecedented warming of the oceans over which our weather forms. The question that you have in your hands is not whether or not the Earth will survive–it will–but whether or not the Earth will continue to be as hospitable a place for humans as it has been for the past thousands of years. The climate over that time has experienced some natural variation, but current levels of greenhouse gases are pushing it well beyond its historical range of variability. In other words, conditions now are like they have never been before. It is reckless and irresponsible to approve construction of a project that facilitates the release of more and more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere when all the scientific evidence shows that it is imperiling the continued hospitality of the planet for human (and other) life as we know it. Throughout your adult life, you have often been in a position to save human lives–as a soldier in Vietnam, as a veteran opposing the war in Vietnam, as an elected official in Massachusetts and in the United States Senate, and now as US Secretary of State negotiating an end to conflicts in the Mideast and elsewhere. The decision over the XL Pipeline is another situation in which human lives have been placed in your hands; you are in a position to make a significant difference in the lives of billions of people now and in the future. Please act responsibly and reject the Keystone XL Pipeline. It might be the most important thing you have done in your long and distinguished career in public service.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Your Street Address
Your City, State Zip

Springfield Divestment Panel

On Saturday, January 25 a panel discussion on state divestment from fossil fuels took place in the Springfield Central Library Community Room to answer the question:

[quote]Why do community leaders, faith groups, investment professionals and students think that divestment from fossil fuels is a smart and ethical choice for Massachusetts?[/quote]

We focused on the state fossil fuel divestment legislation (S. 1225) as a strategy to diminish the power of the fossil fuel industry to block a clean energy transition.

Panelists were from the network of constituencies where campaigns to divest are full blown – in colleges and faith communities – and from the developing area of fossil free investing.

divestment-panel-springfield

Bill S. 1225 requires that Massachusetts divest the state employee pension plans from fossil fuels. Constituents used this forum as an opportunity to learn about the bill and ask our panelists questions about this critical issue.

Introduction by Malcolm Bliss

350MA Statewide Coordinator &  Moderator

Tim Rapczynski

Western New England University – Divest WNUE

Carlos Rodriquez

Community Organizer – Neighbor to Neighbor, Holyoke

Eric Packer

Investment Advisor – Progressive Asset Management Group

Chuck Collins

Director of Inequality and the Common Good – Institute for Policy Studies

Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas

Missioner for Creation Care – Episcopal Diocese of Western MA

Question and Answer

along with ending remarks

… processing …

Co-sponsors

  • 350MA
  • Climate Action Now MA
  • NAACP, Springfield Branch
  • Neighbor to Neighbor (N2N) Holyoke
  • Arise for Social Justice
  • Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield
  • Green Sanctuary Committee
  • Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst

Video courtesy: East Longmeadow Cable Access Television

Producer – Kelly Glover

Salem Feb 8 Huge Turnout

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Photos by Brit Albritton

One grandmother’s carbon-based life choice

Our first granddaughter, Misha Ford, was born Dec. 1. I can’t tell you the joy that filled my heart. Anyone who has become a grandparent can relate to the excitement and expectation that grabbed my husband and me.

But there was a problem. My daughter Leah is living in Cambodia with her husband, a Navy physician.

22226194_sWe did the expected. We bought round-trip tickets to visit them in March. The flight, though certainly not cheap, was affordable for a doctor and a professor. I dreamed of holding 3-month-old Misha in my arms, playing with her fingers and toes, feeling her breathe against my chest as she slept, taking the burden off Leah of walking her when she cried.

And in Cambodia, a place we’ve never visited, with beautiful beaches and rain forests and ancient ruins. Our family has flown many places, most recently to Ethiopia where my husband and I had Fulbright grants to teach. We went to China for a week to a conference and I flew to Bolivia and Gaza on fact-finding tours.

Yet now, in 2014, neither he nor I could ignore the conflicting unease associated with flying halfway around the world for two weeks. Over the last several years we have learned more and more about climate change and now we cannot claim ignorance at what we would be contributing to global warming just by that one trip.

Here is the math: Two to four times the 2.8 million grams of carbon that the two of us would be burning is equivalent to 8.4 metric tons of carbon.

It gnawed at us. Was this two-week trip to see my 3-month-old granddaughter really a gift for her? Or was it one more small bit sealing her doom? I woke up one morning realizing that I had to face the real impact of our plans.

I hesitantly told my husband my thinking and, amazingly, he agreed. Then I told Leah. Actually, and less amazingly because she ponders the climate dilemma all the time, she agreed. We are not going. We are cashing in our tickets.

Since then many friends have asked us when we are going and we have explained our decision: that we will wait until Misha is 9 months old and take trains to visit her in Washington when her parents return. More than once those progressive friends have answered, “You’re kidding, aren’t you?”

It seems that jet flight for vacations is one of the sacred cows that many of us have a hard time examining. We see it as a right, compensation for working hard, to leave our homes and problems far behind to visit the exotic and the wild. What irony that that flight itself is a major threat to many of those same exotic and wild beaches, tropical forests and mountaintops degraded and destroyed by global warming.

I do not believe that voluntary lifestyle changes by the privileged alone will stop climate change and prevent the horrors that will be visited on Misha but even more heavily on the poor of our world.

There must be a massive political struggle, worldwide but starting in the industrialized countries, to eliminate the burning of carbon — stop building fossil fuel-burning plants; invest in lower-energy public transportation, conservation, efficiency and renewables; and levy a carbon tax that begins to reflect the real cost of our use of the energy resources that have been sitting in our earth for hundreds of millions of years.

If we had to pay the real price of jet travel, few of us would or could climb aboard. Our major task must be to engage in that struggle.

However, those who advocate for this now must “walk the walk.” We must try to live the life we are working for, make decisions that reflect our ethics, no matter how difficult those decisions are. Otherwise, our movement lacks moral force and will be seen by many as hypocritical.

I hesitated for weeks to write this piece, feeling that many could read it as moralizing. But my heart tells me it is past time that each of us look at our children and grandchildren and ask ourselves if there are not things that we can and must do out of love for them to end our poisoning of the atmosphere. It is in their name that we must learn and act according to that knowledge.

Marty Nathan, M.D., lives in Northampton.

A Reach Out from Harvard!

No KXL Vigil Cambridge, MA Feb 3

We are the many, “they” (fossil fuels) are the few!

Over 100 People At Amherst No Keystone XL Vigil

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Photos by Rene Theberge, copyright 2014.

Western Mass Protestors Demand Stop to Keystone XL Pipeline

(Amherst, MA) On Monday, February 3, 2014, people around the country joined protests in 230 cities demanding that Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama block permission for the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry polluting tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada, across the United States to the Gulf of Mexico. Because of the heavy energy cost of tar sands oil production, the supra-polluting nature of the oil itself and its vast quantities, the Keystone XL as a conduit for its distribution has been identified as a major means of increasing greenhouse gas emissions and, as climatologist James Hanson has said, would represent “Game Over for the Climate.”
On the Town Commons in Amherst, MA, over one hundred people gathered in an emergency protest of the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement, which, organizers declared, falsely claimed that the pipeline would have no significant environmental impact. The study neither recommended nor rejected the pipeline.
Secretary of State John Kerry will now study the statement and make his recommendations to President Obama, who ultimately will decide permitting the pipeline. Demonstrators demanded that both Kerry, former Senator from Massachusetts, and President Obama, recognize the true damage that the pipeline would inflict on the climate through its delivery of dirty oil to world markets. They cited super-storms, rising seas, drought, flood and starvation as the ultimate result of the project.
The protest was organized by Greening Grace of Grace Church, Amherst, and Western Massachusetts Climate Action NOW/350MA.  This was one of eight actions sponsored or co sponsored by 350MA around the state–in Boston, Cambridge, Salem, Hingham, Concord, Worcester and Pittsfield.

Fossil Free Divest – Pioneer Valley

Fossil Free Divestment Working Group
Next meeting: Mon., Feb. 10, 7 pm, at 26 Greenleaves Dr., Amherst
Notes from FFD-PV meeting, January 6, 2014
Present: Alan Eccleston, Linda Harris, Alice Swift, Darcy DuMont, Bev Weeks, George Aguiar
Faith communities
Linda reported on Friends Fiduciary’s October action to exclude coal mining, production, and utilities relying on coal, from their portfolios. They also further refined the screen for companies engaged in oil or gas exploration, production, refining, and transportation. Friends Fiduciary is an investment vehicle for Quaker organizations.
Municipal divestment
Concord, Wayland, and Sudbury are starting to work on this. they are advised to really do their homework and be prepared to answer questions. Also they may want to condense the wording of their resolutions to make them clearer.
State divestment
Rep. Michlewitz received over 200 letters from all the nodes during the “Dec. blizzard” of letters. Now we need to keep the pressure on.
350MA will sponsor an information session for legislators. Other plans include an indoor event (possibly a lobby day) and some sort of dramatic outdoor event such as lights projecting a message in a highly visible way or marking flood high water lines with in coastal districts.
Springfield Forum January 25, 10 am to noon, Springfield Central Public Library
Volunteers are needed, from 8 am, to help set up for this event. Panelists include someone from WNEC and from Progressive Asset Management, Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Carlos Rodriguez, communityr organizer, and Chuck Collins.
Outreach is going well, but additional publicity would be good. Letters to the editor would be helpful.
Suggestions: video tape the Forum and send link to legislators; have attendees fill out postcards and leave them to be mailed.
350MA Pioneer Valley node
Nodes in eastern MA are meeting regularly and taking action on the Divestment and the Climate Legacy campaigns. FFD-PV can reclaim our original heritage by re-establishing our relationship with Climate Action Now. The purpose would be to work on the goals outlined in Darcy’s Jan. 5 e-mail (please read). Basically we need to keep up pressure on Michlewitz, Rosenberg, and DeLeo, increase engagement with legislators, continue outreach and media actions. Darcy is hopeful that Ellen Story can help us find out what is holding up the bill in committee.
Next meeting: Mon., Feb. 10, 7 pm, at 26 Greenleaves Dr., Amherst
Submitted by Bev Weeks

Springfield… GREEN?

Turns out Springfield is one of the greenest places to live in Massachusetts according to a new study from the University of California, Berkeley which found that population dense cites contribute less greenhouse gas emissions per person than all other areas in the US.

Households in urban areas have carbon footprints which are 50% below average because of such factors as multi-unit dwellings and public transportation.

Annual Household Carbon Footprint (2013)

Interactive Map: Hold mouse over cities/towns to see data, click and drag to pan, etc.

Of course, this begs the question:

[quote]Then why do people that live in Springfield pay the most in terms of quality of life?[/quote]

Arise Donation Letter

Arising For Social Justice

From Arise… Dec 10, 2013

Dear Friends of Arise,

Sometimes it’s not easy for me to explain to people why they should support Arise financially.

I know what we do, I know our successes, but I’m also aware of all the ways in which we haven’t succeeded—where the work is ongoing. We haven’t ended homelessness in Springfield yet, we still don’t have a climate change plan, and kids, especially kids of color, are still targeted by law enforcement.

Yet I know that if not for Arise, we would NOT have a city council and school committee that is now a majority people of color. If not for Arise, we’d have a polluting biomass plant under construction or already operating. If not for Arise, Charles Wilhite would still be in prison for life. And if not for Arise, thousands of families and individuals would be homeless, hungry and on the streets.

At this moment, members and volunteers are stuffing envelopes for our donor mailing and waiting for me to finish this letter. So I just turned to them and said, “If you had a friend with money, what would you say to them about why they should support Arise?”

  • Terrette: We’re free to the people, but it costs us money to keep going. I want my friend to help us keep doing the job we’re doing.
  • Solobia:We’re the only community organization that takes on ALL the human rights issues—homelessness, police brutality—and we meet people where they’re at.
  • Jackie:We save people! We help people help themselves, and we never turn anybody away.
  • Tina:Because you might need our help someday!
  • George:We work locally—if you send a check to some suit at the Sierra Club, you don’t see the benefit. This money stays in our neighborhood.
  • Ward:You guys operate as the unsung heroes of Springfield.
  • Liz:As a measure of commitment to the people who work and volunteer here. By donating to Arise, you can really feel a part of something.

So here you have it. Last week, when our office was full of homeless people, and somehow we found food for everyone and still got some political organizing done, I said to folks that I truly believed there is not another place in Massachusetts where you can walk in the door and see what you see—people who believe in each other, who believe in the power of the people to make change, and who always go the extra mile to make a difference.
Please give as generously as you can, and Happy Holidays!

The staff and members of Arise

Divestment Panel, Springfield January 25

[quote]Why do community leaders, faith groups, investment professionals and students think that divestment from fossil fuels is a smart and ethical choice for Massachusetts?[/quote]

A public discussion forum with diverse perspectives on divestment from fossil fuels.  Our panel will be composed of experts on student divestment, faith based divestment and the financial sector.

We will be inviting State Representatives and Senators from Western Massachusetts to this important discussion.

State Divestment Forums Series Sponsored by 350ma.org, BetterFutureProject.Org and ClimateActionNowMa.Org.

  • Boston (11/16/2013)
  • Worcester (11/23/2013)
  • Springfield (1/25/2014)

When: Saturday – Jan 25, 2014 10:00am to noon

Where: Springfield Central Library Community Room (map)

Agenda

  • Meet & Greet
  • Emcee to narrate presentation: introduction and facts
  • panel discussion (3-5 panelists)
  • question and answers (15 minutes)

Downloadable Poster (PDF)

 

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