Allen Davis, a Pioneer Valley resident, has been driving no faster than 55 mph for the past 7 years except in special circumstances or emergencies. Here’s Allen’s compelling explanation why this is an important and worthwhile step we should all consider:
1. For most of us, the car is our biggest fossil fuel footprint, followed by residence and plane travel, and approximately 30% of CO2 emissions come from vehicles.
2. The average American drives between 12,000-15,000 miles a year.
3. Each gallon of gas burned produces 20 pounds of CO2: Visualize a 20 pound rock.
4. Driving 55 results in cutting your CO2 emissions between 15%-32% (“Step On The Gas? Not So Fast,” Consumer Reports, August 2013).
5. Since the typical car gets 25 MPG and the average American drives between 12,000-15,000 miles annually, using the conservative number of 12,000 = 480 gallons of gas and 9,600 pounds of CO2!
6. Hence, Driving 55 will cut your yearly auto CO2 emissions by about 1440 pounds and over 10 years it’s 14,400 and if 1,000 people follow you it becomes 1,440,000 pounds!
So, it’s a great way to make a huge difference in creating a sustainable future for all sentient beings without buying anything new (e.g. No Tesla or Prius).
If you want to take this step and pledge to Drive 55, send Allen an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. And feel free to call Allen at 603.563.8428 if you have any questions or want to promote this grassroots campaign.
Massachusetts has two bills to put a fair price on carbon, one introduced by Sen. Marc Pacheco (D-Taunton), the other by Sen. Michael Barrett (D-Lexington). It’s remarkable that two experienced senators have introduced legislation that would collect new revenues, knowing they’ll be accused of “raising taxes.” Even more remarkable is the way the bills are being promoted on the public stage. We – the citizens of MA – are being asked to weigh in on what this legislation should look like. How will this process work and how can it renew our democracy?
It’s worth noting why Senators Pacheco and Barrett have introduced these bills. Simply put, they know this legislation is essential to meeting our Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) goals. First, the steps we’ve taken since 2008 haven’t been good enough. In a presentation at UMass Amherst last November, GWSA manager Aisling O’Shea predicted that at present growth rates, emissions in 2020 will be only 15.7% below 1990 levels, almost 10% shy of our 25% GWSA commitment. Some programs have either been underfunded, ineffective, or not implemented at all. Second, with the Baker administration taking office, there will be more interest in policies that blend market mechanisms with government programs.
Carbon pricing is a market mechanism that, depending on how it’s structured, can appeal to both Democrats and Republicans, progressives and conservatives. Enter Senators Pacheco, Barrett, and the Massachussets Carbon Pricing Coalition. The Coalition is chaired by Clean Water Action and Climate XChange, and includes environmental organizations like the Better Future Project, the Acadia Center, MA Climate Action Network, Sierra Club MA, and the Environmental League of MA, business organizations like the Climate Action Business Association and Environmental Entrepreneurs. It is also seeking to add Coalition members from labor and community organizations like Community Labor United.
The Coalition is working closely with both Senators Barrett and Pacheco. Rather than putting its weight behind either of the current bills, the Coalition strategy is to build broad grass-roots support for carbon pricing, and through dozens of community-level conversations around the state, to allow the best ideas to emerge and gain popular support. Many of these conversations will include legislators so they can hear what their constituents think. That’s what we mean by renewing democracy!
Right now, 350Mass is organizing house parties and forums across the state to educate people about carbon pricing. Our parties in the Pioneer Valley will start in April, and we’ll have more details in upcoming Newsletters. The idea will be to prepare people with the information they’ll need in order to have informed conversations with their legislators. We’ll start by educating climate activists and then extend the house parties to our friends, neighbors, and members of our civic and religious organizations.
Although the parties will be fun, the conversations won’t all be easy. There are difficult decisions to be made. Should all of the revenues or only some of them be returned to taxpayers? If some revenues will be spent on clean energy and transportation, what programs should get funded? And on what basis should that be decided? Should it be the programs that reduce emissions the most? The ones that have the most popular support, or are most cost-effective? How important is environmental justice, and making sure the needs of vulnerable populations are met? How can we be sure these populations won’t be harmed? These are tough decisions indeed. The good news is that it’s up to us to do our homework, show up, and be prepared to learn from each other and work together so our children can have a better world. In other words, “this is what democracy looks like!”
These 4-tiered featured actions are brought to you by the Climate Action Group of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence.
Personal: Reduce the amount of meat and dairy, especially factory-farmed products, in your diet. Consider these facts presented in the documentary “Cowspiracy”:
- “Livestock and their byproducts account for at least 32,000 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per year, or 51% of all worldwide greenhouse gas emissions.”
- “Methane (emitted in abundance by cattle) has a global warming power 86 times that of CO2.”
- “One hamburger requires 660 gallons of water to produce – the equivalent of 2 months’ worth of showers.”
And this fact from the May 2014 issue of National Geographic:
- “For every 100 calories of grain we feed animals, we get only about 40 new calories of milk, 22 calories of eggs, 12 of chicken, 10 of pork or 3 of beef”.
Community: Get together with some friends to watch and discuss “Cowspiracy”, available for a fee online, or by buying a DVD from www.cowspiracy.com. This feature-length film shows how “animal agriculture is the leading cause of deforestation, water consumption and pollution, is responsible for more greenhouse gases than the transportation industry, and is a primary driver of rainforest destruction, species extinction, habitat loss, topsoil erosion, ocean “dead zones,” and virtually every other environmental ill.”
State, National or Global: Find out whether your state legislator has pledged to support the two “carbon fee and rebate” bills now before the MA congress. (See below.) If they have expressed support, contact them to thank them, and if they haven’t yet made a decision, urge them to support the bills. Most of the legislators from the Valley have already declared their support but the following have not yet: Reps Ashe, Kulik, Petrolati, and Wagner, and Sens Downing and Lesser.
Inform Yourself: Learn about the 2 “carbon fee and rebate” bills proposed in MA. From the Climate Action Now blog: “You don’t have to be an expert, but you should understand why putting a fair price on carbon is so important, and how the MA bills would do this. You can read talking points for the two bills and principles to consider in pricing carbon here 1 and here. 2 And, think about the “revenue neutral” vs. “revenue -positive” issue. In brief, a revenue-neutral bill sidesteps being attacked as “just another tax,” while a revenue-positive bill may be more likely to result in significant emissions reduction.” A good source of information about Sen. Barrett’s version of the bill is here: http://www.climate-xchange.org/
FROM: Climate Action NOW!/350MA (Pioneer Valley)
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Marty Nathan 413/531-9915 or email@example.com
Rally and March in Springfield to Protest Keystone XL Pipeline
Day to be determined.
CLIMATE ACTION NOW!/350MA(Pioneer Valley) IS PLANNING LOCAL RALLY TO OPPOSE THE KEYSTONE XL PIPELINE.
In light of recent developments related to the Keystone XL Pipeline, Climate Action Now!, a western Massachusetts group, in coalition with other local organizations, is planning a rally at Springfield’s Court Square, concluding with a march to TD Bank in downtown Springfield. This rally would be triggered by one of the following potential events:
- A failure by President Obama to veto Congress’s bill permitting construction;
- An override of a veto by Congress; or
- A finding by the State Department in favor of construction.
Because of the grave threat of climate disruption that is posed by the pipeline, if one of these trigger events occurs, some protesters intend to carry out acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. This action is part of a nationwide response coordinated by the environmental groups 350.org, Credo, and Rainforest Action Network. More than 97,000 people across the country have taken a “Pledge of Resistance” to carry out, if necessary, acts of dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could result in their arrest in order to send a message to President Obama and his administration that they must reject the Keystone XL pipeline.
According to Dave Roitman, one of the organizers, “at this point we don’t know when or even if we’ll need this rally on Keystone. But, along with 97,000 other Americans, we’re ready to show how much this issue means to us.”
“Climate change is an urgent spiritual and moral issue,” said the Rev. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, an event organizer who works for the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts as Missioner for Creation Care. “The people participating in this action come from different faith traditions – and none – but we share a moral commitment to giving our children and grandchildren a livable world. Stopping the Keystone XL pipeline is an important piece of accomplishing that.”
The proposed Keystone XL pipeline, if constructed, would carry 800,000 barrels per day of tar sands oil from Alberta to the Gulf of Mexico for refinement and export. This pipeline would release for burning enormous amounts of one of the most polluting energy sources on Earth, and create the potential for irreversible spill damage to large areas of America’s breadbasket.
The mining of the tar sands has already despoiled vast area of wild Alberta equal to the size of South Carolina. Carrying the diluted bitumen (“dilbit”) through the pipeline would endanger groundwater, farmlands, aquifers and endangered species along its route through the heartland of the U.S., causing spills that could be impossible to clean up.
Tar sands oil requires four times more energy than oil to produce, and is much dirtier to burn. If it were to replace “normal” West Texas crude in the market, the additional carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions would be 27.4 million metric tons per year, equal to the tailpipe emissions of 5.7 million extra cars on the road.
But its increased pollution per barrel is not the only or even the main threat. It is the vast quantities that would be released to the market by the KXL and similar pipelines that have made the Keystone construction what NASA scientist James Hansen called “game over for the climate.” Cheap pipeline transport is the key to large-scale release of the more than 400 gigatons of carbon in the tar sands. Yet a major study published in the journal Nature on January 8, 2015 finds that 80 percent of coal reserves, a third of oil reserves – including MOST of the Canadian tar sands — should stay in the ground in order to limit average global temperature increases to only 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Governments worldwide agree that capping average global temperatures at a rise of 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels would give the world a 50-50 chance of avoiding catastrophic climate change.”
Rising seas and floods, drought and fires in the Midwest and Western United States, massive hurricanes and freak tornadoes are all consequences of climate change. The social cost of the Keystone XL’s additional emissions is projected to be $128 billion in climate-related costs.
“Climate change hurts low-income people first and hardest,” said Michaelann Bewsee, co-founder of Arise, a Springfield-based organization dedicated to social and environmental justice. “Right here in Springfield people are already suffering from some of the extreme weather events, heat, and health effects associated with air pollution and climate change.”
TD Bank is a part of Toronto-Dominion Bank and is a major funder of the Keystone XL pipeline. TD Bank has been a target of past protests around the country.
“We need to make a swift transition to clean, renewable sources of energy,” commented David Roitman of Northampton, another organizer of the event. “Building new infrastructure for fossil fuels, especially on such a massive scale, is a recipe for disaster. And though touted as a job-creator, the Keystone XL would mean only 50 new permanent jobs, whereas building a non-carbon based energy economy would very likely mean hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs. The Keystone XL is a bad deal for workers as well as the environment.”
Climate Action NOW!/350MA (Pioneer Valley) and co-sponsors demand that President Obama veto legislation authorizing its develpment for the sake of our country, the nations of the world, and our future.
The rally will begin at 9:00 a.m. at Court Square in downtown Springfield, where speakers and music from the coalition sponsors will be presented. Day will be determined pending outcome of present Keystone XL pipeline decisions.
Most economists agree that putting a price on carbon is a more efficient way to reduce emissions compared to other policies. (Here’s a good source for that). This would be done with a fee or a tax that makes dirty energy more expensive plus a rebate or dividend to get the money back. For example, gasoline and fuel oil prices would go up, and we’ll drive less or drive more efficient cars, and weatherize our homes. And the people paying the fee or tax (us!) would get the money back, so it’s a fair policy and doesn’t hurt citizens, businesses, or other institutions like hospitals or churches. Putting a price on carbon is being tried in 19 countries around the world and in 5 other states. One place where there’s evidence how well it works is British Columbia where it was introduced in 2008. The economy is doing great, and carbon emissions are dropping.
We now have two bills in MA to put a price on carbon: SD 1815 introduced by Sen. Pacheco, and SD 285 introduced by Sen. Barrett. (Sen. Pacheco is the Chair of the Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change). There are differences between the bills. Barrett’s bill is revenue neutral. It uses a rebate to give back all revenues raised by the policy to households and organizations. Pacheco’s bill is revenue positive – it sets aside 20% of revenues to spend on clean energy and public transportation. It gives the other 80% back to residents. Barrett’s bill also has more details. His strategy is to keep the bill from being labeled “a tax” while having enough details so it appeals to specific interests like labor, businesses, and advocates for the disadvantaged. Sen. Pacheco’s strategy is different. He wants to have a lively debate among legislators and the public about the best policy choices before nailing down the details. To support this debate, he’s planning a series of statewide public forums.
350Mass and Climate XChange recently formed the Massachusetts Carbon Pricing Coalition to get a bill passed. While Climate XChange has publicly supported Sen. Barrett’s bill, the coalition now is promoting a dialogue so the best legislation will emerge. Two points here: First, the coalition is organizing house parties around the state to get these dialogues going. Second, the coalition has a set of principles to guide the legislation so when all is said and done, the law actually reduces GHG emissions; is fair to households, businesses, and institutions; and strengthens the Massachusetts economy. These principles are: (1) Have a big enough fee/tax rate to achieve the GWSA targets (25% reduction by 2020); (2) Phase-in gradually to allow people time to adjust; (3) Deal with all major sources of emissions: (4) Make sure low and moderate-income households receive at least as much money back in rebates or tax cuts as they pay in carbon fees/taxes; (5) Protect business competitiveness; (6) Provide additional help to vulnerable households (like people who have to drive a lot more than average because of where they live or work); (7) Further protect all sectors (residents, businesses, and institutions like hospitals, churches, etc.); and (8) Use some of the revenues for government programs that meet essential public needs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and create jobs.
That’s the three paragraph summary. Maybe it answers some of your questions. Maybe it raises some more! Look for information in later newsletter articles about house parties and meet-ups where you can talk about pricing carbon – and make it happen!
This month’s suggested climate actions are perfect for the cold winter days and evenings this month. These 4-tiered featured actions are brought to you by the Climate Action Group of the Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence.
Personal: Get out in nature! Yes, even in the cold and snow! Especially in the snow! Breathe in the cold air and feel how exhilarating it is. Notice how the snow sparkles with colored glints of light. Look for animal tracks that clue you in to another way of existing on this planet. Experience the peaceful silence of a gray day.
Community: Join the Valley Time Trade. VTT is an organized exchange system through which members earn hours (time credits) for time spent helping other members. One hour of service earns one hour of someone else’s time, no matter what the service. It’s a wonderful way build community with people in the valley, and be able to exchange useful services with each other. To join, go to https://valleytimetrade.wordpress.com/
State/National/Global: Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper expressing your opinion about a climate-related issue. If you want to get the attention of your senator or representative, mention them by name in your letter, and that letter will be very likely to make it to their desk, as well as informing the public about your views.
Inform yourself: Watch the 9-part documentary series on climate change Years of Living Dangerously, aired on Showtime TV in 2014, and now available on DVD. As described in Wikipedia: “The weekly episodes feature celebrity investigators, who each have a history of environmental activism, and well-known journalists, each of whom have a background in environmental reportage. These ‘correspondents’ travel to areas around the world and throughout the U.S. affected by global warming to interview experts and ordinary people affected by, and seeking solutions to, the impacts of climate change.” It has received excellent reviews on Amazon and is available to purchase there for $38. After you’ve viewed the series, donate it to your local library. CW-MARS has only 1 copy in its system!
To advance the cause of pricing carbon in MA, the most important thing you can do to help is to contact your legislators. When we meet with legislators, we hear a consistent message. First, they tell us how much they value our views. Meeting with legislators is a powerful act in MA. Second, they appreciate it when we show up with an organized agenda and we are clear about what we’re asking them to do.
We encourage everybody reading this newsletter to take the following steps. First, learn about the bills. You don’t have to be an expert, but you should understand why putting a fair price on carbon is so important, and how the MA bills would do this. You can read talking points for the two bills and principles to consider in pricing carbon here and here. And, think about the “revenue neutral” vs. “revenue -positive” issue. In brief, a revenue-neutral bill sidesteps being attacked as “just another tax,” while a revenue-positive bill may be more likely to result in significant emissions reduction. (This is a just a quick summary. At our next Climate Action Now general meeting, we’ll have a thorough discussion and answer your questions.)
Second, read below to find Pioneer Valley and nearby legislators who have not yet showed their support to carbon pricing legislation. See if one of your Representatives or Senators is on this list, or if you know someone in one of their districts. We will need these legislators’ support to get carbon-price legislation passed. You can provide strong support to this campaign by calling the legislator’s office, sending them an email or letter, and – the most powerful tactic – organizing a meeting at their office. (If you would like help with any of these, please contact Dave Roitman at firstname.lastname@example.org or Solomon Goldstein-Rose at solomon_goldstein-rose@brown.
Pioneer Valley and nearby legislators who have not yet showed their support to carbon pricing legislation:
Brian M. Ashe (D-Longmeadow) represents East Longmeadow, Hampden, Longmeadow and Monson in Hampden County.
Stephen Kulik (D-Worthington) represents Chester in Hampden County; Ashfield, Buckland, Conway, Deerfield, Leverett, Montague, Shelburne, Shutesbury, Sunderland and Whately, in Franklin County; and Chesterfield, Cummington, Goshen, Huntington, Middlefield, Plainfield, Williamsburg and Worthington, in Hampshire County.
Thomas M. Petrolati (D-Ludlow) represents Chicopee, Ludlow, and precincts E, F and G of ward 8, in Springfield, and Precincts B and C, of Belchertown.
William Pignatelli (D-Lenox) represents Alford, Becket, Egremont, Great Barrington, Lee, Lenox, Monterey, Mount Washington, New Marlborough, Otis, Richmond, Sandisfield, Sheffield, Stockbridge, Tyringham, Washington and West Stockbridge, all in Berkshire County; and the towns of Blandford, Russell and Tolland, all in Hampden County.
Joseph F. Wagner (D-Chicopee) represents Chicopee in Hampden County.
Jonathan Zlotnick (D-Gardner) represents Ashburnham, Gardner, Winchendon, and precinct 1 of Westminster in Worcester County.
Ben Downing (D-Pittsfield) represents towns in the districts of Berkshire, Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden. (Sen. Downing sponsors Fossil Fuel Divestment legislation and can become a strong ally for pricing carbon.)
Senator Anne M. Gobi (D-Spenser) represents the towns of Ashburnham, Ashby, Athol, Barre, Brimfield, Brookfield, Charlton, East Brookfield, Hardwick, Holland, Hubbardston, Monson, New Braintree, North Brookfield, Oakham, Palmer, Paxston, Petersham, Phillipston, Rutland, Spencer, Sturbridge, Templeton, Wales, Ware, Warren, West Brookfield and Winchendon.
Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow) represents towns in Hampshire and Hampden counties.
(The following national newsletter was emailed by Scott Parkin, Senior Campaigner, Climate Program, Rainforest Action Network (RAN). This organization, along with Credo and now, 350.org, are leading a national coalition to plan Keystone XL Pipeline actions.)
Hey friends – Here’s the latest updates on Keystone XL.
A lot is moving within the State Dept., the other agencies and Congress on this right now. We’ve been keeping up with it and responding the media and social media spheres, as well as to all of you. The current thinking amongst our allies in the environmental NGO world is that we’re very close to winning (i.e. Obama rejects the pipeline and vetoes the current legislation being passed by the GOP-led Congress).
Until there is an out and out rejection of the pipeline, we’re still preparing for a possible approval of the pipeline and deployment of the Pledge. The difficult thing is that the process in Washington D.C. lacks transparency. The Pledge was conceived and has existed as deterrent to a bad decision by the Obama Administration. If no information before a decision comes out and they surprise us with a pipeline approval, we plan to still deploy the Pledge as a reactive action.
The Pledge, at that point, will be a reaction to a bad decision. It will be a reaction to a president who has insisted on a “climate test” on a pipeline that we all know it fails such a test. It will be a reaction to a president who has spoken out about the “the tyranny of oil.” The anti-KXL and climate movements have built a great deal of power in this campaign. This will be our moment to make our voices heard and exert that power we’ve built.
Below is the latest newsletter.
Thanks for all you do. Stop The Pipeline.
•EPA Release Keystone XL Comments: On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency released its comments on the State Department’s Keystone XL Environmental Impact Statement. The statement was very good for the anti-KXL movement. The comments reflected the views of the anti-KXL movement in that the pipeline would be a disaster the climate. To learn more, click on: http://bit.ly/1C3GC7x
•House Accepts Senate Bill, White House Re-affirms VETO. Read more here: http://bit.ly/1C3GHIw
KXL Pledge of Resistance:
•Despite all the good news around Keystone XL, we still want to be prepared in case the decision turns out to be an approval. Therefore, we’ll be prepping some key pieces for possible Pledge mobilization and deployment.
• Sam Briggs is working with us on activating the Pledge of Resistance (in the case of a KXL approval). Sam will be working with me, Todd and the rest of the team in preparing for that scenario. You can contact him at email@example.com
•Sam will also be contacting you via phone and email this week.
• Inside Climate News had a really good Q&A on the Keystone XL approval process. You can read it here: http://bit.ly/1zlkZQu
•We had a call on Monday with over 50 of you. Here’s the recording: http://bit.ly/1EJyHje
**Next Call: Thursday, February 12th at 8pm EST/5pm PST (unless something happens before then). Register here- http://bit.ly/16wdfzU
•YOU: Continue to convene and re-convene your groups and refresh yourselves on roles, trainings and action planning.
•US: We’ll be checking via phone, email and survey to assess and trouble-shoot the Pledge network’s needs.
•Next Call: Thursday, February 12th at 8pm EST/5pm PST (unless something happens before then). Register here- http://bit.ly/16wdfzU
As you must know, the threat of passage of permission to construct of the Keystone XL Pipeline is staring at us. The State Department will very likely soon make its final determination and recommendation to the Obama Administration on passage. The Congress has passed a bill that is in conference now, allowing for the KXL construction. It will go to Obama’s desk and he promises to veto it, but it is possible that Congress may be able to override his veto.
Tens of thousands of people across the country have signed pledges to do civil disobedience should the government commit to building the pipeline which would deliver over 800,000 barrels per day of the world’s most polluting oil from the Alberta Tar Sands to the Gulf Coast, mainly for export. The carbon that would be released by this pipeline would provide what NASA scientist James Hansen has termed “Game over for the Climate.”
The stakes are very high. Will we commit to massively decreasing humans’ carbon footprint to provide a sustainable future for our planet, or will we resort to burning massive amounts of more fossil fuels?
Climate Action NOW/350MASS (Pioneer Valley node) and Arise for Social Justice are planning a Nonviolent Direct Action response, coordinated nationally with 350.Org, Credo, and Rainforest Action Network. Many in the Valley are committed to this action, coupled with a public rally and march in Springfield.
The triggering events would be:
- A failure by President Obama to veto Congress’s bill permitting construction;
- An override of a veto by Congress; or
- A finding by the State Department in favor of construction.
We are asking you to pledge to build for an emergency rally and march in Springfield should any of these things happen. We are asking you to sponsor NOW, IN ADVANCE, such an action, communicate that sponsorship to your membership, and make a plan to mobilize them when the time comes. The rally and march will, most certainly, be on a weekday morning and congregate at Court Square in the center of Springfield. The time will be communicated to you when any of the above triggers occur.
We are not asking you to do Nonviolent Direct Action, though, should any of your members be interested, they should contact Dave Roitman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Marty Nathan and Dave Roitman, Climate Action NOW!/350MA
Our group agrees to sponsor the KXL EMERGENCY RESPONSE RALLY to be held in Springfield in response to threatened construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline at a date, time and place to be communicated to us. Sponsorship means informing our membership of our support, allowing our name to be used in publicity and committing to mobilize our membership to come out that day. We know that there will be nonviolent direct action associated with the response but sponsorship does not commit our organization to participation in that aspect of the response.
ORGANIZATION NAME ________________________________
CONTACT PERSON ___________________________
PHONE NUMBER ________________________________
Return to Marty Nathan at email@example.com.