Reactions to the 10th Vegetarian Festival by a CCAN Fellow

Last Saturday at the 10th Annual Vegetarian Festival in Bryan Park, Richmond, Virginia I experienced my first day petitioning with the Chesapeake Climate Action Network as we began our new campaign – Safe Coastlines. Throughout this campaign we will be collecting thousands of petitions and calling on Virginia policymakers and Dominion power to develop energy efficiency and clean energy, as well reducing the current climate impacts that were already noticing. I was excited to see that virtually everybody was as passionate about protecting Virginia’s coastline from climate change devastation as I am.  

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Tell the City Council: Close the black liquor loophole

D.C.’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law was intended to spur new clean energy development and help city residents reap the environmental and economic benefits that come with it. In reality, ratepayer dollars are largely being used to purchase energy from decades-old facilities that burn dirty black liquor, a paper industry byproduct, and wood waste. This must change.

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Hundreds of activists go for a cold Potomac swim to fight climate change

For Immediate Release
January 26, 2013

Contact:
Kelly Trout, 717-439-0346 (c), 240-396-2022, kelly@chesapeakeclimate.org
Mike Tidwell, 240-460-5838, mtidwell@chesapeakeclimate.org

Hundreds of activists go for a cold Potomac swim to fight climate change

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD—In the wake of the hottest year in U.S. history, marked by Hurricane Sandy and other devastating weather extremes, more than 150 people jumped into the Potomac River on Saturday morning to deliver an urgent call for stronger climate action. Activists joined in the “Keep Winter Cold” Polar Bear Plunge, now in its eighth year, to raise awareness and funds for local, state and federal solutions to global warming.

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Groups support MDE settlement to clean up Genon's toxic coal ash pollution in Charles, Montgomery and PG Counties

For Immediate Release
January 14, 2013

Contact:
Diana Dascalu-Joffe, (240) 396-1984, diana@chesapeakeclimate.org

MDE Lauded for Legal Action to Stop Ground and Surface Water Contamination and Prevent Additional Pollution at Coal Ash Sites; GenOn to pay a civil penalty of $1.9 million

BALTIMORE—In a victory for Maryland communities and waterways, the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE) filed a consent decree in federal court requiring utility company GenOn to clean up widespread ground and surface water pollution at three of its coal ash disposal sites. MDE and environmental groups have accused GenOn of illegally discharging toxic pollution into groundwater and local waterways at the Faulkner Landfill in Charles County, Brandywine Landfill in Prince Georges County, and the Westland Landfill in Montgomery County.

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Ten Years of Real Change

Chesapeake Climate Action Network has reached its tenth birthday and a lot of progress has been accomplished in this past decade. There have been moratoriums on offshore drilling and the birth of a booming offshore wind economy. Coal plants have been shut down and pipelines have been delayed. We look forward to leading the charge in these crucial next ten years of progress.

 

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Friends of CCAN

 

It’s CCAN’s 10th Birthday and all of our supporters are wishing a good tenth. We look forward to growing our network of supporters, friends and fans in the coming decade.

 

Stuart Clarke, Executive Director, Town Creek Foundation

Stuart Clarke and his friends at Town Creek Foundation went above and beyond in wishing CCAN a happy birthday! Watch the video to see their special gift.

Bill McKibben, Author, 350.org founder

Bill McKibben, prolific author and founder of international climate change advocacy group 350.org, has called CCAN “the world’s best regional climate change group.” See what he has to say on the occasion of CCAN’s 10th birthday.

Greenpeace Executive Director Phil Radford

Phil Radford sends CCAN his best wishes in our 10th year.

Congresswoman Donna Edwards

Congresswoman Donna Edwards from Maryland wishes CCAN happy 10 years. Hope to see you at next year’s Polar Bear Plunge, Congresswoman!

Reverend Lennox Yearwood of Hip Hop Caucus

The founder, President and CEO of the Hip Hop Caucus encourages CCAN to keep fighting the good fight!

Father Jacek Orzechowski, St. Camillus

Father Jacek wishes CCAN even more success in the next 10 years!

Maryland State Senator Paul Pinsky

Environmental champion Sen. Paul Pinsky congratulates CCAN on 10 years.

Lori Hill, Volunteer & owner of lori hill event productions

Superstar CCAN volunteer and event planner Lori Hill wishes CCAN happy 10 years.

MOM’s Organic Market owner, Scott Nash

Local green business owner and CCAN supporter, Scott Nash, wishes CCAN a happy birthday.

The Keystone XL pipeline Looks to the Past, While Activists look to the future

The push for the Keystone XL pipeline puzzles me. Society is foolishly increasing its dependence on oil by investing more and more in this diminishing dirty resource. Meanwhile, many of the clean and renewable alternatives that our future requires already exist and continue to improve in both efficiency and cost.

The fact of the matter is that we must begin to reorient our entire energy system away from fossil fuels. To that end, there is very exciting news about five new advances coming out of MIT that look to utilize solar energy just about everywhere. In other news there was a great breakthrough in transportation; for the first time a German engineered electric vehicle traveled 1000 miles on a single charge!

While there may be some doubt about current energy conversion rates with solar energy, wind is quite the proven technology for replacing fossil fuels in a very big way. For example, Denmark currently gets about 20% of its total electrical need from wind alone, generating jobs and reducing green house gas emissions all along the way. In the bigger picture, Europe is producing 5.5% of its electricity from wind as of 2010, but has plans for massive investment. According to the European Wind Energy Association, strong EU regulatory framework is guiding 194 billion Euros of investment with the goal of tripling wind energy production to over 15% by 2020.

And here we sit investing in expanding an oil pipeline that already exists. To put it in a wider perspective, the general estimate for the Keystone XL pipeline rings in at around 7 billion. Instead, we should invest that money installing clean, renewable sources of power right near major coastal populations where it is needed most. Or, we can continue to delay the inevitable and invest in a dwindling dirty fuel while ignoring its litany of

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The options of a renewable energy future

 

Yes, there are those who still curiously regard fossil fuels as the only realistic energy sources for our world. It is a dead-end if there ever was one; an idea largely propagated by the fossil fuel biz and their political front men and women. Thankfully, for those who understand the inescapable necessity of renewable clean energy, the options just keep growing.

Meet the solar tower, a solar-based energy source that is an intriguing mix of solar and wind energy. A company named “Enviromission” has its sights on Arizona to build this massive tower. It’s essentially an enormous greenhouse that traps air heated by the sun’s rays. Hot air naturally rises, and as the air does so it is funneled through a central point (the tower), the base of which sports an array of fans that are turned by the current just like a windmill.

A detailed description of the tower can be found here including its numerous advantages. For starters, it is low maintenance, continues to work at night, has zero GHG emissions, makes use of essentially useless desert, and the list still goes on. This earlier, smaller version in Spain recently achieved the huge milestone of generating twenty-four hours of uninterrupted supply, proving solar energy can provide power well into the night!

This is just one of many options that are currently available and make the reality of renewable energy all the more imminent. Add some wind energy, solar thermal and solar PV, some geothermal for good measure, and we’re well on our way to a cleaner, sustainable future.

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Oh, Canada: The Tar Sands is a disaster

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many people have heard that the Tar Sands Project in Alberta, Canada is one of the most environmentally destructive oil projects ever, but it’s hard to appreciate until you hear the details. I can’t imagine what it’s like to see in person. Just how far will we go for crude? Consider this excerpt from a telling article published in National Geographic:

“To extract each barrel of oil from a surface mine, the industry must first cut down the forest, then remove an average of two tons of peat and dirt that lie above the oil sands layer, then two tons of the sand itself. It must heat several barrels of water to strip the bitumen from the sand and upgrade it, and afterward it discharges contaminated water into tailings ponds like the one near Mildred Lake.”

Cutting down forest, moving 4 tons of earth, using lots of water which is heated by natural gas, and then finding somewhere to store all the waste water, and we still haven’t transported it (all this effort for one barrel mind you) to market!

The next phase involves the construction of the appropriately controversial “Keystone XL Pipeline,” which thankfully is drawing disapproval in the wake of the recent pipeline spill in Montana. The project is a proposed extension of existing pipelines that will carry the Tar Sands crude all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.The two pipelines are “very similar,” notes Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) International Program Director Susan Casey-Lefkowitz. The EPA also released a negative critique of the State Department’s analysis of the Pipeline, citing numerous concerns including likelihood of spills (especially as they relate to groundwater), increased refinery pollution, global warming pollution, wetlands destruction, risks associated with migratory birds

Light Bulbs: The latest threat to American Freedom?

In case you had not heard, Republicans recently attempted to push through legislation to repeal a law regarding light-bulb efficiency from 2007. Thankfully, they failed (H.R. 2417). The bill, authored by Texas Republican Joe Barton, was aimed at a modest bit of law mandating a 30% increase in efficiency of incandescent bulbs by 2012. Who could argue with that? After all, many of the more expensive CFL and LEDs are cheaper in the long run anyway. They consume less energy and last much longer. That’s a win-win, right?

Not surprisingly, Republicans cried foul under their time-honored tradition of predictable rhetoric, insisting it’s really about consumer choice and opposing Big Government. Big Government is going to choose your light bulbs for you! No freedom! No freedom to do what? Choose inferior, more wasteful products that are more expensive in the long run?

That such a preference is assumed of us isn’t just insulting to our intelligence, but to our character as well. It expects and encourages consumers to not have any broader sense of responsibility or concern for our resources and environment. We can’t even be bothered to use efficient light bulbs. It’s basically the opposite of a “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country,” type mentality. Not only are energy-efficient light bulbs better for the environment, but they’re better for the wallet as well. CFLs pay for themselves in about 9 months time, after which they begin saving you money on your energy bills as they use about one-fourth of the energy of a regular incandescent. They typically last about 10 times longer. LEDs use about a quarter of the energy of incandescent bulbs, and can last as much as 25 times longer! How was this even an issue?

Attempts at legislation like this are hardly indicative of leadership in the face of widespread environmental degradation and the mounting challenges of climate change. Much more extensive initiatives are needed to really put a dent in man-made climate change and to improve our long-term energy security. Meanwhile, we have a number of representatives opposed to something as simple as higher standards in light bulbs! As if this uphill battle wasn’t steep enough.