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Action Alert: Protest Vigil Sunday July 12, 11:15 am Northampton



Mourn the Victims, Stop the Bomb Trains
Sunday, July 12, 11:30 am,

The steps of Memorial Hall, 240 Main Street, Northampton


NORTHAMPTON, MA.  On Sunday, July 12 at 11:30 am there will be a protest vigil commemorating the two-year anniversary of the deaths of 47 people and the destruction of the town of Lac Mégantic, Quebec when a train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed and exploded there. Climate Action NOW/  and the Unitarian Society of Northampton’s Climate Action Group are spearheading the protest, which will be held in front of Memorial Hall, 240 Main Street in Northampton.

There has been an enormous increase in the number of “bomb trains” carrying their dangerous cargo throughout the United States.  The New York Times reported in January 2014 that about 400,000 carloads of crude oil had traveled by rail the previous year to the nation’s refineries, up from 9,500 in 2008 – an increase of 4,111%.  Regulations governing the fragile tank cars and the nation’s deteriorating railway infrastructure are widely seen as inadequate.  One hundred thirty-five trains a day run within a mile of the homes of over 25 million people.  In Massachusetts, these trains may travel a route paralleling Route 2 (data not confirmed).

The number of accidents has also climbed steeply.  From 1975 to 2012, federal records show, railroads spilled 800,000 gallons of crude oil.  Last year alone, they spilled more than 1.15 million gallons, according to an analysis of data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.  The “bomb trains” may be as long as 100 cars, magnifying the risk.  Their cargo of Bakken crude and tar sands oil is more volatile than other grades of oil.
Organizers of the protest call for an end to rail shipment of oil.  However, they emphasize that shipment by pipeline, such as Keystone XL, is not the answer.  “Tar sands oil and Bakken crude are much dirtier than traditional crude, and burning them will only intensify our global climate emergency,” says Daniel Ritchie, one of the organizers.  “This oil isn’t destined for domestic consumption; it’s all for overseas sales.  We shoulder all the risk while the oil companies take all the profits.  We believe strongly that we have to move to a renewable energy economy.  And at this point renewables are economically competitive with fossil fuels.”

ForestEthics, a nonprofit environmental coalition, has designated July 6-12 as a week of awareness and action against the oil trains in memory of the victims of Lac Mégantic. Over one hundred events have been organized across North America, of which this protest is one.

Marty Nathan: Why “Capitalism can stop climate change” plan is bogus and immoral

Recently I awoke to scientist Sue Natali of the Woods Hole Research Center discussing the rapid melting of the Northern Hemisphere permafrost on NEPR’s Living on Earth.

I was alarmed. Hence, I am compelled to be alarmist.
The earth is a very complicated place. When changes are made in one area, like warming the atmosphere and oceans through pumping massive amounts of greenhouse gases into the air, that small rise in temperature can trigger other changes that release much more carbon independent of the original trigger. These carbon feedback loops have long been predicted by climate scientists, and now it seems they are happening.

The air temperatures in the Arctic are warming twice as fast as in the rest of the world, as Alaskans can tell you. The permafrost – by definition all of the ground frozen through two straight years (and much of it for tens of thousands of years) – is beginning to melt. The melting allows for bacterial degradation of the organic – previously living – matter. That breakdown process emits carbon dioxide and methane, a greenhouse gas much more potent than carbon dioxide. The thawing also causes drying of the ground which encourages fires, which then generate more rapid emissions release and faster thawing.

Permafrost covers 25% of the Northern Hemisphere land area. There are 1.5 trillion tons of carbon stored there, about as much as remains in our fossil fuel reserves and three times as much as is stored in the world’s forests and ocean plants.

If the world’s carbon emissions continue at the present rate, we can expect the permafrost melt to release 130 to 150 billion tons by the end of the century. That is equivalent to what our own country will spew during the same period, so the permafrost will double our country’s climate impact.
And, let me repeat: once it starts, we cannot stop it, because it proceeds on the basis of the effects of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere.

If we cut emissions drastically now, we can rein in its contribution to only 60 billion tons of carbon by the end of the century. But that means acting now.

Pope Francis obviously gets it. His recent encyclical reaches out to all of us, not just Catholics, to immediately change our lifestyles and policies away from the profit-and-consumption frenzy that has put us in the position of threatening our very life support systems.

It seems that segments of corporate America now get it, too, in a perverse way, and are shifting their tactics from outright denial of climate change to promoting ways to profit from our desperate straits. Bill Eacho’s column “Capitalism can stop climate change” bluntly lays out a plan to further enrich those that for the last century or so have used our atmosphere as a free garbage dump for their pollution, and now want to subvert the movement for change.

One of the few effective methods of enacting large-scale emissions cuts quickly has been a carbon fee and rebate or carbon tax. . It has been effectively imposed in several countries and in Canada’s British Columbia province. Environmentalists have long demanded it in the US, but up till now it has been fought tooth and nail by corporate financial influence in Congress and the White House.

Eacho seems to be the mouthpiece for the wealthy who now see the writing on the wall in favor of putting a fair price on carbon. His article supports the popular measure with this crucial change: instead of the rebate going equally to all (with some invested in infrastructure), half of it would go cut corporate taxes. He says the change is necessary in order to protect the “job-creators” from the “decreased competitiveness” supposedly inherent in the measure.

This excuse is at once bogus, immoral and counters the aim of the carbon fee.

Bogus, because where carbon fee-and–rebate has been implemented, as in BC, the economy has grown.

Immoral, because he is talking about paying back the culprits who have been obscenely enriched by the profligate fossil fuel consumption era.

Contrary to the goal of reducing emissions, as amply demonstrated this week with the passage of the deeply unpopular Trans-Pacific Partnership that was bought-and-paid-for by major corporate lobbyists. The TPP has the potential to undermine every environmental law in twelve countries around the Pacific rim, including the US, if that legislation “threatens future profit”. Putting more money in corporate hands, history assures us, will only increase their power to destroy the sustainable economy we are trying to build.

We are facing disaster as never seen before by humanity. We must be alarmed. We must right now begin to change our lifestyles and our economy, and a carbon tax or fee and rebate is one tool to do both. But using it as a ploy to strengthen Exxon-Mobil and its ilk is not a path we can afford to take.

Save Our Solar – NOW! Massachusetts Call-in campaign


Hundreds of solar projects remain stalled across the Commonwealth, because the legislature has not acted to save net metering. We need everyone to call your state senator and representative, and reach out to your friends, colleagues, and relatives across the state to call as well.

The message:

“Raise the solar net metering caps!  We need this NOW, so that dozens of public solar projects that have already received permits can be built and supply solar electricity to their town buildings and communities.”

“Please support House Bill 2852, Senate Bill 1770, as Reps. Calter and Mark and Senator Eldridge have written them. Vigorously oppose and disallow any amendment that would set caps lower, expire them sooner, or limit virtual net metering or community-shared solar in any way.”

* Sign the petition: Tell Governor Baker & Legislatures: Lift Solar Caps Now!

Read this recent report from Environment Massachusetts for more information:

As net metering debate continues, report shows benefits of solar energy far outweigh costs

By Ben Hellerstein, Environment Massachusetts

Boston – Solar panels deliver benefits to the electric grid and to society at large that are greater than the compensation their owners receive through net metering, according to a report released today by the Environment Massachusetts Research and Policy Center.

“Opponents of solar energy are trying to keep us in the dark, but today’s report will shed light on the truth about solar,” said Ben Hellerstein, State Director for Environment Massachusetts. “Solar is a good deal for our environment, our economy, and electric ratepayers across Massachusetts.”

The report, Shining Rewards: The Value of Rooftop Solar Power for Consumers and Society, analyzes 11 studies on the benefits and costs of solar and concludes that net metering is a fair way to compensate solar owners for the value they provide. It comes as the standoff over the state’s net metering program approaches its fourth month. READ MORE.

Update on The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC)

Update from Audrey Ortega of Arise for Social Justice on The Springfield Climate Justice Coalition (SCJC)

Springfield’s air quality was given an “F” rating by the EPA and its effects are seen in the high rates of asthma and other respiratory illnesses that our residents suffer.  This is one of many compelling reasons why Arise is reaching out to the community to continue to gather support for the implementation of our Climate Action Plan for Springfield; a plan that was unanimously approved by our City Council in October of 2014 after a spirited march, rally and speakout at City Hall.

Building on over a year of grassroots organizing, Arise has sent out letters to over 150 organizations in Springfield, urging them to pursue the implementation of the Climate Action Plan by writing to Mayor Sarno asking that the city hire a full time Environmental Coordinator (EC). The EC’s job will be to ensure that the changes called for by the Climate Action Plan reflect the will of the community and happen in a timely manner. Serving as an agent for climate change mitigation, the EC’s job will include listening to and representing the community’s interests by advocating for changes in infrastructure and policies that will improve public health, encourage sustainable development, increase energy efficient and accessible public transportation and housing, access to healthy foods and ecological systems for waste management and empower the community through public education as part of the effort to combat climate change here in our city.

We have made many new connections with community organizations and are growing our Climate Justice Coalition. SCJC and the Campaign for Non-Violence are organizing an Earth Week march and rally on April 19th to publicly show our Springfield elected representatives that our community is invested in implementing the climate plan. We have reached out to residents and begun a postcard campaign along with the letters to local organizations. Arise representatives engage local residents and personally explain the climate action plan, then ask if they would sign postcards to the Mayor and City Councilors to encourage the plan’s implementation. We have gathered hundreds of postcards in the weeks since the postcard campaign began!

As part of our educational campaign for Health Awareness Month (April) we have organized several upcoming workshops and education programs to be locally broadcast (see calendar). These contain information on what economic activities are exacerbating our current climate issues and how we can come together to create a local movement and mitigate the negative impacts of climate change and air pollution.To find out more about the growing climate justice movement in Springfield, visit

Springfield Arise for Social Justice

Click on this calendar to see a larger version.


ACTION ALERT for MONDAY 6/22 – need a massive amount of calls to congress

ACTION ALERT for MONDAY 6/22: Please set a reminder to yourself to take this important 2-minute action tomorrow, which involves a phone call to congress (all you need is written below:  phone numbers, what to say, and background.)

Please help create a Tsunami of Political Will for Climate Solutions and Help CCL Volunteers Lobbying in Washington.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, June 22 and 23 over 800 volunteers from Citizens’ Climate Lobby ( will be in Washington, DC, lobbying our mem

See More

Citizens’ Climate Lobby creates the political will for a stable climate. We empower individuals to experience breakthroughs exercising their personal and political power.

Let’s Remember Lac-Mégantic Quebec – No More Bomb Trains!

At our June 22 Climate Action NOW gathering group, we’ll have a breakout to plan an action for the week of July 6-12 that will focus attention on the danger of oil (bomb) trains. Here’s why.

We know there is no safe way to transport tar sands and crude.  Pipelines spill. Oil trains explode and create sacrifice zones in communities across the country. As we are successful stopping and slowing down pipelines, oil trains are only going to increase unless we help do something about it. National “Stop the Keystone” organizers are calling for over 100 events across the nation during the 2nd anniversary of the Lac-Mégantic Quebec disaster that left 47 people dead. More than 30 buildings in the town’s center were destroyed and all but three of the thirty-nine remaining downtown buildings are to be demolished due to petroleum contamination. So, the actions in July will be called “Bomb Train” events.

Using this link it looks like oil has been transported on the line running through Westfield and Springfield, then on to the coast parallel to and just south of the turnpike (running through Wilbraham and Munson.)
We are researching this now. It’s not clear that this is current, accurate information. Oil trains may travel further from Northampton than this. But – how much does that matter? Even if we find they’re not in our backyard, does that make it OK?

If you are concerned about this issue, please join us on June 22. In the meantime the website for the national event campaign is here.

Building Momentum for a Climate Action Plan for Springfield

” Last night I sat with a group of Springfield, Mass. residents who are acutely aware of the health impacts of climate change on their struggling city, and the particular burden that is carried by the poor. Across boundaries of race, class, and religious and ethnic background, this growing band of men and women is organizing to resist environmental injustice and to promote sustainability, resiliency and equality for all Springfield residents.” These words from the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas,  are taken from her latest post here.

The rapidly growing Springfield Climate Justice Coalition came together on 6/17, welcoming representatives from 17 organizations fully committed to working together to move Springfield forward as a resilient, sustainable,  and equitable city!  And more groups are joining every week, adding to our diverse and enthusiastic coalition of grassroots, institutional and faith-based membership.
read more here Sarita Hudson of the Springfield-based Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition gave a presentation on the health impacts of climate change, with a specific focus on the impacts being felt already by Springfield residents.

We continue to organize around our call for the Mayor to fully fund a position for a lead person to create and implementing a Climate Action and Resiliency Plan for Springfield. A key part of this job will be to work closely with the community to ensure that those most vulnerable to and affected by climate change are directly involved.

We agreed to redouble our efforts to move the City of Springfield, and especially the Mayor, forward, by continuing to engage ever greater numbers of the Springfield community in this  grassroots fight for climate justice.

Climate Action NOW: Gathering This Monday night June 22 in Northampton

Watch all the brilliant arguments against the Berkshire Gas pipeline gas request

Click here to watch GCTV’s video of the hearing

What a night!  Thank you everyone who was able to make it out to the Department of Public Utilities hearing this past Thursday.   In a nutshell, Berkshire Gas needs approval for a contract to buy gas which would be shipped through the pipeline Kinder-Morgan is  trying to build through Western MA.    The DPU is supposed to determine whether  this contract is for the public good.

Here is a link to the video of the hearing.  Watch it to see all kinds of  varied, thoughtful, passionate,  compelling, brilliant arguments by We the People.   There are SO MANY reasons  NOT to build this pipeline.  How on earth can the DPU approve after a hearing like this?



ACTION ALERT: JOIN US Thursday Night June 11 to show your opposition to the pipeline!




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