Important Call-in Action to Support Solar Energy for MassachusettsWe need your help to save one of the Commonwealth’s most successful solar programs: net metering.Make two calls: Call your elected officials today. You’ll find phone numbers and an easy call script here.www.votesolar.org
PIPELINE: Urgent Action Needed!
Three gas companies (gas LDCs) serving customers in different parts of the Commonwealth have formally requested permission from the Massachusetts Dept. of Public Utilities (DPU) to buy gas from the proposed Kinder Morgan/TGP pipeline–the Northeast Energy Direct, or NED. Cases before the DPU are known as dockets.
If these contracts to purchase gas (known as Precedent Agreements) are not approved, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will be unlikely to approve the NED project.
Your help is needed NOW! Deadlines are as soon as May 5th.
* Comment as a member of the public on any or all of the DPU dockets. If you are a customer of any of the LDCs (Boston Gas, Columbia Gas, or Berkshire Gas), and/or you are an impacted resident on the pipeline, make sure to include that in your comments. Two of the comment deadlines are May 5!
* Join PLAN-NE (Pipeline Awareness Network for the Northeast), which will apply to be a legal intervenor in the dockets. Although donations to the Legal Fund are needed, becoming a member is free; your indentity will be kept private; and larger membership will help PLAN in its intervention.
* If your town or city is a customer of any of these gas companies, reach out to your town officials to join PLAN’s intervention or to explore that possibility by meeting with PLAN’s attorney.
* Donate to the PLAN-NE Legal Fund.
More details, talking points, links for comments, and step-by-step HERE:
Join PLAN-NE HERE: https://plan4ne.wordpress.com/join-us/
MORE NED BREAKING NEWS
Governor Baker has opened the “investigation” docket at the DPU that he has been talking about for months. The DPU will look into regulatory changes that would allow electric utilities to contract directly with gas pipeline companies, such as Kinder Morgan and Spectra, to buy gas to generate electricity.
The docket will also investigate the possibility of imposing a tariff on electricity users to pay for the construction of privately owned, for-profit, gas pipelines. This also has a deadline soon for comments. To learn more and to act go here.
Enter 15-37 as the docket #.
PLAN-NE is asking that we include in our comments a request to delay dockets 15-34, 15-39, and 15-48 (the dockets regarding proposed gas contracts by Berkshire Gas, Boston Gas, and Columbia Gas with Kinder Morgan) until AFTER Docket 15-37 is decided. This is because the participation of electric companies as gas purchasers will be pivotal in whether the pipeline can get enough subscribers to win FERC approval.
Marty Nathan, a member of Climate Action Now, is a regular contributor to the Gazette opinion pages. Here is her most recent column:
By MARTY NATHAN in the Hampshire Daily Gazette Thursday, April 23, 2015
NORTHAMPTON — Most of the climate news from the oceans and the Arctic and California has been grim, with changes occurring around the world even faster than climate scientists had predicted.
But this month, as my mixed-religious family prepared to celebrate Passover and Easter, the two holidays of hope, there was a glimmer of optimism that we might be able to transform our society into a sustainable one. The first was President Obama’s vow, made in the lead-up to the coming Paris conference on climate change, that the United States would cut carbon emissions by 28 percent over the next decade. This was not new news: It had first been uttered following negotiations with China last year. The fact that the Administration has stuck with it, though, shows a spine that has way-too-often been lacking in Washington. And 28 percent is not enough, but it is a portal to deeper cuts, to the 80 percent needed by 2050 to prevent the worst-case climate scenario — global warming beyond 2 degrees Celsius with its companion sea level rise, droughts (of which California’s is only a preview) and tipping points to exponentially increasing carbon release.
The second event to be celebrated was the completion of the Iran nuclear agreement, limiting the chance of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons and decreasing world tensions. What has that to do with the environment or climate change? A lot. Nuclear energy, weapons and waste are a huge threat regionally, but this agreement encourages a negotiated settlement in the Middle East and throughout the world. And absolutely nothing is more damaging to the environment (let alone humans) than war.
Hope means little in the long run if it does not inspire further commitment to the hard work awaiting us. We must build the institutional structures that will cut carbon emissions quickly. One of the most important climate tasks we in Massachusetts can tackle to propel us to and beyond that 28 percent emissions reduction will be to create a carbon fee and rebate system in the state. What is it and why do we need it?
A carbon fee and rebate system puts a price on oil, natural gas and coal coming into our state. That price is based on the pollution cost of burning it and is paid by the limited number of distributors that send the fuel to the places where it is resold or burned. That added fee is then passed on to consumers at the pump, the electric and gas meter, our oil company bill and products made using this energy.
Why do it? Because increased cost decreases use. To stop climate change (and health-destructive air pollution) we must burn less fossil fuel. People find alternatives — they turn the thermostat down in winter and up in summer. They walk or take the bus, invest in solar if they can, hang out the wash and insulate the house, even when there are not programs to support such energy-conserving choices, much more so when those choices are offered, promoted and subsidized.
It works. It has been adopted in scores of countries around the world and, in one of the best-studied examples, Canada’s British Columbia province, its adoption was associated with a 16 percent drop in emissions over seven years when Canada’s overall emissions rose by 3 percent.
But isn’t it an economy-destroying tax? Well, you can call it a tax if you want but it is more like a user’s fee. At present, big polluters are using our atmosphere as a free dump for a toxic product, in a manner that is destroying our future. Perhaps they should pay for that, which is jeopardizing our health and ecosystem. It is our collective responsibility to stop the abuse of something that belongs to all of us.
Doesn’t it hit those most financially at risk: poor homeowners, renters and low-wage workers having to pay more to travel to their jobs, those for whom transportation, heat and electricity costs are a greater proportion of their budgets?
No. In fact, low- and middle-income people come out ahead in the plan adopted in British Columbia and proposed for Massachusetts. That is because there is an upfront rebate, an equal amount to each adult that, unless you make more than $70,000 a year, more than compensates for the loss in fees. Those who burn the least fuel make out best.
What about the “economy-destroying” business? In the years since the institution of the fee and rebate, British Columbia’s economy has grown faster than that of the rest of Canada. In part that is because a fraction of the fee has been used to offer those sustainable choices — building mass transit, expanding solar, hydro and wind energy and conservation.
Two bills are before the Massachusetts Legislature to establish a carbon fee and rebate system, filed by Sens. Marc R. Pacheco and Michael J. Barrett. Forty-three lawmakers have signed on, including state Reps. Peter Kocot and Ellen Story. That gives us more hope. Let’s build on it.
Marty Nathan, M.D., is a physician at Baystate Brightwood Health Center and a member of Climate Action NOW. She lives in Northampton.
Keystone Pipeline Actions Heating Up!
The CAN Steering Committee is very concerned about the shift in Senate power and the possibility that a Keystone XL construction bill could pass the Senate in January. As James Hansen has put it, a functioning KXL would be “game over for the climate”. At our Nov 24 monthly meeting, we’ll have a breakout session to discuss and plan our response. Here’s background and details on potential actions:
With Republican leaders putting it at the top of their 2015 agenda, the Keystone XL pipeline is back in the spotlight. There are a few reasons to be hopeful. Pres. Obama recently made strong statements contradicting the claimed pipeline economic benefits, and Naomi Klein has called “now absurd” the argument that “Keystone’s impact will be negligible so why not build it.” Without Keystone, a big chunk of Alberta’s tar sands could stay in the ground since resistance is strong to the other routes and the tanking oil price has investors already cancelling tar sands projects. But we also know how much money’s at stake. For example it’s been reported that the Koch Bros. stand to gain about $100 billion from these reserves, which are estimated to be as large as Saudi Arabia’s. The fight is just heating up.
The recent congressional votes were purely symbolic. There are two legal and procedural steps that must be completed before a legitimate Keystone decision will occur. First, the Nebraska Supreme Court rules whether or not the Nebraska Public Service Commission has jurisdiction over the current route. And the State Department has yet to complete its National Interest Assessment. But, with all the financial and political interests lining up, the pressures will be intense to approve the pipeline; and it will be up to us to stop it. Regardless of Pres. Obama’s recent statements, Keystone will become an appealing “bargaining chip” in 2015 as the Republican Congress works to eviscerate Obamacare and executive actions on immigration and coal plant regulation. He’ll need the strongest show of public support to cover his back, and we need to be prepared to repeatedly push him to veto Republican-passed Keystone XL approvals. As time passes this will become increasingly difficult as pro-Keystone amendments will be attached to must-pass bills like the budget.
Roughly speaking, there are two types of actions we need to consider: (1) civil disobedience aligned with the Credo Action Pledge of Resistance; and (2) actions that CAN generates, either by ourselves or in alliance with other organizations, that we can launch over the next few weeks while we prepare for civil disobedience.
Credo Action Pledge of Resistance: Credo Action and Rainforest Action Network are coordinating nation-wide civil disobedience related to Keystone. As of today, almost 97,000 people across the country have signed the Credo “Keystone pledge of resistance” http://act.credoaction.com/sign/kxl_pledge. Nonviolent resistance is much more powerful and effective when people are trained and formed into affinity groups; and locally, through Molly Hale’s and John Berkowitz’s leadership, we have several dozen Pioneer Valley residents who’ve been trained. Through participative process, it was decided that the action should be blocking the entrance to the main branch of TD North in Springfield. TD North is the main funder for Keystone, and this location would get us the most media coverage. Over the next few weeks, CAN members will help to pull this network together and see how many more we can recruit and train.
Other Actions: The lines in the sand are being drawn quickly, and effective, savvy actions should be mobilized as soon as possible. There are many possibilities. Should we focus on educating the public? More dramatic actions like vigils or marches? And what should our targets be: Financial institutions supporting the pipeline? The State Department? President Obama? And should we coordinate closely with Boston-area groups through busing and carpools or focus more on local actions? If so, where? Springfield? Amherst? Northampton? The colleges? All of the above?
As you can see, we have a lot to discuss and decide! So, please join us at the November 24th Climate Action NOW/350MASS meeting to find out more!