Elected officials write for action The tree reforestation success of Brighton, New York February, 2, 2021 Oped by former Brighton, NY, Supervisor Sandra L. Frankel Trees have inspired writers across the ages. William Shakespeare in As You Like it, wrote, “And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stone, and good […]
Elected officials write for action
February, 2, 2021
Oped by former Brighton, NY, Supervisor Sandra L. Frankel
Trees have inspired writers across the ages. William Shakespeare in As You Like it, wrote, “And this our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stone, and good in everything. I would not change it.” Walt Whitman opined in The Wisdom of Trees and other writings about how trees help us to see reality vs. perception, and about the healing power of nature.
Trees benefit us in so many ways: Trees take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen, which is necessary for human and animal life. Tree canopies provide shade from the sun, lowering temperatures and providing shelter. More.
February 2, 2021
Oped by Firebaugh City former mayor & current council-member Felipe Perez
Uncertainty, it’s what humans inherently fear and despise, it’s what investors can’t abide. But uncertainty is Governor Newsom’s political chess game. After two years he’s left many uncertain if he’ll take real action to protect the health and well-being of millions of his people who live in environmental injustices areas. He’s also left oil company executives and lobbyists, the latter, as reported in the LA Times he wined and dined at the French Laundry restaurant, uncertain that he’s totally onboard with them. They question his electric vehicle policy. More
Oped by Mayor of Delano, CA, Bryan Osorio
Breathing clean air is our most basic human need. But the city of Delano has some of the worst air in California, according to a state health screening tool. Air pollution exposes everyone in Delano to health risks. I chose to serve my hometown, as a city councilperson and now as mayor, to fight for social justice for the people in my community. I feel a responsibility to speak up now to defend my community’s right to breathe clean air.
We are at a turning point, and it is time to take a stand. If our Kern County leaders approve a massive oil and gas drilling proposal, being reviewed Feb. 11 by the Planning Commission, their decision will lead to dangerous health implications for all Kern communities. More.
February 4, 2021
Oped by David F. Coursen, a former EPA attorney and a member of the Environmental Protection Network
To meet the promise of its day one executive order on Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities, the Biden administration needs to provide low-income communities, communities of color and Indigenous people the same access to clean and safe water that the rest of our nation takes for granted.
Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan makes a down payment on that promise by funding improved access to clean water for the overburdened communities of Indian Country. The new administration’s climate executive order acknowledged a history of underinvestment in water and wastewater infrastructure in disadvantaged communities. More.
Green New Year resolutions: Do nothing half-measures must end by elected officials and the environmental community
January 3, 2021
Oped by Former Maryland State Sen. Gerald Winegrad
2020 was a very bad year for our nation and its citizens. It was also a terrible year for our environment — for the land, water, and air all living things depend on. The Trump Administration’s destructive warfare against longstanding conservation laws, many enacted under Republican presidents, trickled down to state and local levels including collapsing formal Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.
My New Year’s list of items needing resolution includes none more critical than ending the partisan divide between Republicans and Democrats. They must join together again to work for the common good. More
Oped by Brianna Cunliffe – PEN Chief Investigative Reporter
January 13, 2021
The seven senators who voted to overturn a legitimate election and bolstered a violent attempted coup have received a total of $5.4 million from oil and gas corporations. This is no coincidence. The desperate and dangerous rhetoric of Donald Trump and his loyalists and the insidious influence of the fossil fuel industry have one thing in common: lies. More
Oped by Katelyn M. Kriesel, town councilor in the town of Manlius, New York
December 16, 2020
First appeared in Syracuse.com
Over the last several years, I have been a passionate advocate for fossil fuel divestment. First on college and university campuses around our region, and then with the Divest NY coalition, campaigning for the divestment of the New York State pension. This week, in an announcement heard around the world, New York state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli committed to divest the New York state pension fund from fossil fuel companies by 2025.
In an era of feeling as if one’s individual actions are not enough to effect change, and the feeling of helplessness at the relentless pace of climate change, this was a week to rejoice. In committing to divest from fossil fuel companies, DiNapoli is compelling them to change. Their business models are no longer viable, and their inability or unwillingness to adapt will render them obsolete. More
Oped by Carl Johnson, a small business owner and candidate for State Senate District N., Stephen Trimble is CEO of Arctic Solar Ventures Corporation, founder of the Alaska Solar Energy Industry Association, and a candidate for State House District 22, and Tom Begich a state senator
October 20, 2020
One of our most important challenges to our state is understanding our path to a sustainable future. Current debate often centers on what to do about the Permanent Fund, or where we are going to find needed revenue, or what further to cut from the state budget. But few offer concrete thoughts on what to do about the energy, and consequently, the economic future of Alaska.
It is important to remember our history, first. Even before we became an organized territory of the United States in 1912, mining was already a dominant part of post-Russian Alaska. Starting with the Klondike Gold rush and spreading through other parts of the state, mining created opportunity, wealth, and interest in what was previously called “Seward’s Folly.” With the discovery of the Prudhoe Bay oil field in 1967, we entered the new phase where oil played a dominant role in our economy and state revenue.
Oil and mining will always be a part of our economy. They helped to build this state. But as we look forward, what can step up to supplement and play a role as we continue to grow as a state while mineral and oil resources become more scarce? The clear answer lies in alternative energy sources. More
Oped by activist/writer SarahIn Heins
I ask myself this question daily. It’s not a new question for me, it’s been a fear of mine since I learned about sea level rise. But in recent years the question has changed. In the past I would ask myself, “What do I do if my home is gone?” Now the if has become a when.
I am a Long Island resident born and raised. My daily experience involves seeing as many bays, oceans, and canals as sidewalks and streets. Now I am faced with the crushing reality that by the turn of the century, the bodies of water where I’ve found so much peace and solace will overtake the only home I’ve ever known. More
Oped by activist/writer Brianna Cunliffe
The climate crisis is personal for me. It has been ever since the September storm that woke me — the one that came when I was a thousand miles away.
In my first few days of college, Hurricane Florence bore down on my hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina. My parents, like most, ignored the evacuation order. Stubborn, loyal, brave — whatever their decision was, it was final: they didn’t leave, even as weather reports grew increasingly frantic. Words like ‘historic’ and comparisons to Katrina were bantered around. Wilmington made the national news for being directly in the storm’s path. A famous anchor in his yellow rain slicker stood on the downtown street where my friends and I took prom pictures. He said it would soon be underwater. Every time I introduced myself to another room of strangers and said where I was from, I fought past the lump in my throat, getting the name Wilmington out. More
Governor, every child deserves to grow up and breath fresh air, declare a state of emergency for the climate crisis
Oped by CA Mayor Heidi Harmon
I’ve been a climate activist for almost 20 years, and I’m proud to say that San Luis Obispo is a national leader in our efforts to curb the climate crisis. We have the most ambitious carbon neutrality goal in the United States and working together with the community, the city council has made tremendous steps to prioritize people, planet, and prosperity. We’ve taken criticism and weathered attacks because we know earth’s climate is changing and we feel a deep responsibility to our community, to our families, and to our future to do everything we can within our power to help and we’re not alone in our leadership.
Across the state, more than 110 local governments have passed 160 local policies to protect their communities from fossil fuels. We’ve declared a state of emergency here in San Luis Obispo for the climate crisis. We took action. It’s time for Governor Newsom to declare that emergency for the state of California. More.
Like every other state in the nation, New Mexico relies on the U.S. census to determine our political representation in national and state offices and to receive federal funding to support social, educational, health and economic programs. In other words, the federal government uses these population numbers to determine how much money and political representation each state needs and deserves.
While counting every resident may seem like a simple feat, our state was dealt a tough hand to achieve a complete count in 2020. New Mexico has historically been the hardest state to count in the nation. With a high number of individuals in rural and tribal communities, who receive their mail at P.O. boxes or who have limited internet access, reaching and counting New Mexicans has been a difficult task from the onset.
That count was made all the more difficult when President Trump and the U.S. Census Bureau announced they were shortening the window of opportunity to respond by an entire month. We now only have until Sept. 30 to stand up and be counted. More
Oped by Firebaugh City former Mayor & current council-member Felipe Perez
Dear Governor Newsom, During mid-August, dozens of fires raged out of control forcing thousands of residents to flee their homes as a prolonged heat bubble pushed temperatures into triple digits and threatened to overload the state’s power grid. Death Valley recorded the hottest recorded temperature on the planet at 130 degrees. These crises erupted during your heroic fight against the pandemic, which has seen too many become jobless and communities of color disproportionately affected. As an elected official I understand you’re doing your utmost during this historic time and I thank you.
However, while you wasted no time declaring a state of emergency for coronavirus, and another for the catastrophic fires, you’ve neglected the climate emergency that is the root cause of the infernos. Yet, in a press briefing of August 21, you said human use of fossil fuels causes greenhouse gasses which in turn has fueled, “the ferocity of the fires.” Then you confirmed your commitment to moving the state off of fossil fuels. More
Oped by Dan Misch, U.S. Navy Veteran
Reliable access to affordable energy has been a primary driver in the past century of economic growth that made the United States a global powerhouse. The energy grid is complex and critical infrastructure that is central to our way of life. For that reason, improving and protecting the grid is paramount to national security.
Many military veterans — who have spent their careers protecting our national interests — are now finding a new mission in the energy industry. These veterans continue to defend the country by applying both the technical and leadership skills that they gained in the military to the deployment and operation of smart grid technology at home. More
Oped by Riddhi S. Patel and Cesar Aguirre
California’s youth climate activists have been working after school, between jobs, before and during the pandemic to organize support for Assembly Bill 345, a bill that would have established a minimum buffer zone between oil drilling and neighborhoods.
In solidarity with frontline communities, we sent letters, called our state senators and built power among youth activists determined to move California beyond fossil fuels. More
Oped by Mitch Colvin, Mayor of Fayetteville
Jul 25, 2020 published in The Fayetteville Observer
North Carolina, we have to pay attention.
As Mayor of Fayetteville, I have had the honor of leading through some tough challenges. In 2016 and 2018, respectively, Hurricanes Matthew and Florence hit North Carolina hard, particularly the citizens of Fayetteville. We saw lives ravaged by these natural disasters. They made us more keen, more aware of the dangers impacting our environment and the urgency we must have in addressing them.
U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis is leading an effort that is putting lives in jeopardy. More.
Oped by Mayor Heidi Harmon of San Luis Obispo – April 23, 2020 – Published in The New Times
The oil and gas industry fear the continued drop in the prices of their products worsened by the pandemic. They want to ensure our dependency on fossil fuels by taking advantage of this life-threatening virus. While Gov. Gavin Newsom is heroically combating COVID-19, the federal government has been rolling back environmental protections and lifting restrictions to allow for more drilling. They are gambling with our lives, for their profits.
In California, 24 permits for new fracking wells in Kern County were approved on April 3, 2020. Our Department of Conservation may approve 282 more fracking permits any day. More
July 25, 2020 – Oped by Sanya Bery
In May, the Navajo Nation reached the grim milestone of having the highest per-capita COVID-19 infection rate in America. Then, with 4,002 confirmed cases, the Nation averaged around 2,304 cases per 100,000 people. To put that in perspective, New York state had a rate of 1,806 cases per 100,000 and New Jersey was at 1,668.
4,002 cases is an easy statistic to read about. It blends into the data we consume hourly. 4,002 cases is easy to say out loud, too. 4,002. But 4,002 cases is not easy to think about. It’s not easy to think about because as soon as we begin to really think about it, we must also wonder how the Navajo Nation has the highest per-capita infection rate in America, when it has one of the strictest stay-at-home orders in the world. We must question why, at a time when handwashing is a matter of life and death, one in three Navajo citizens do not have access to indoor plumbing? More.
Oped by William Reinhardt, an NY Albany County Legislator – July 20, 2020
New York State pensions are intended to provide secure futures. The state should never gamble with them. But that’s exactly what’s happening in a high stakes game by continuing to invest state worker’s retirement funds in the fossil fuel industry. In the summer of 2017, over 238 Elected Officials to Protect New York signed a bipartisan letter to Comptroller DiNapoli, urging divestment from the Common Retirement Fund’s top 200 companies with the largest carbon-content fossil fuel reserves by 2020. Nothing happened.
Because it has taken too long for DiNapoli to act the legislature stepped in. But DiNapoli wrote in a Times Union op-ed of July 12 against our lawmaker’s legislation saying it, “would threaten the independence of the comptroller’s office to make investment decisions solely in the interest of retirees, current and future.”More
Oped by Sen. Mimi Stewart, and Rep. Debbie Sarinana/July 17, 2020 – Published in the ALBUQUERQUE DEMOCRAT
The people of Nevada maintain a special relationship with our environment that transcends ideology, party, and socio-economic station. Recreating in our public lands can bring us closer to our families and friends.
Surrounded by a breathtaking landscape recharges our batteries, renewing our souls. More
Oped by Former Culver City Mayor, current council-member Meghan Sahli-Wells, July 18, 2020
Dear Governor Gavin Newsom, On Earth Day I awoke to a tremor. On April Fools 2019, no fooling, an oil spill started above Culver City Park, at the northwest side of Inglewood Oil Field, shutting down part of the highway. Hundreds of children play in our park—right next to Inglewood where over 5,000 barrels of oil are extracted daily.
During Thanksgiving in 2018 there was another incident. In 2010 our Dog Park was shut down due to methane seepage. Two major toxic releases occurred in 2005 and 2006. The deadly Baldwin Hills dam failure of 1963 was due to drilling. Small incidents are ongoing. The big ones reach the news. To these oil giants this is business as usual in Inglewood—the largest urban oil field in America. More
Oped By Oregon State Representative Paul Evans – May 22, 2020
Published in the Statesman Journal: “God made time, but man made haste.” Irish Proverb Oregon is a critical junction in the COVID-19 response efforts. We’ve contained the virus through statewide social distancing mandates. However, the impacts of our actions are and likely shall remain dreadful. As the threat of contagion lingers, the question becomes how we balance those realities.
For those I represent, it’s not an academic question. They include hundreds of small business owners losing money on a daily basis because they cannot operate at full capacity. I represent working families depending upon unemployment; laid-off workers uncertain if the job they left will return. And I represent people gravely. More.
Oped by Katelyn Kriesel, a Town Councilor in the Town of Manlius | Special to Syracuse.com, April 23, 2020
Over 14,000 people have died from COVID-19 in New York State. That is a staggering number, and beyond heartbreaking. It is nearly incomprehensible how so many lives have been lost in such a short time, and to an enemy we cannot see. As we try to come to terms with this catastrophic event, we are only beginning to understand the serious threat that pandemics represent to mankind.My professional career has focused on the risk that climate change poses to our society, but only now am I as focused on how it will affect pandemics like the coronavirus. The CDC has warned that as climate change worsens, so will rates of infectious disease. Pandemics like this one would occur more frequently and more severely. But there is a solution to this threat. More.