CA gets a “D” on the 2022 Environmental Scorecard – offshore wind could change that


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March 17, 2022   

California only got a “D” grade on this year’s Environmental Scorecard, a report card put out each year since 1973 by the nonprofit California Environmental Voters.

The low score mostly comes from inaction on the many climate bills that stalled in the state Senate, even though Democrats have a supermajority. Mary Creasman, CEO of California Environmental Voters, said many Democratic lawmakers talk a good game but then vote to delay climate action.

“We actually have the solution and the technology,” said Creasman, “and all of those things are actually job creators too, and will advance our economy. What we don’t have is the political will to do it at the rate and scale that science tells us we have to.”

In CO, PERA urged to divest from Russian oil and gas Companies

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March 11, 2022   

After Vladimir Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine, the Colorado Public Employees’ Retirement Association (PERA) withdrew $7.2 million from a Russian bank, and now, climate activists are calling on PERA to divest all of its Russian oil and gas holdings.

Devon Reynolds, a PERA member and graduate student at the University of Colorado-Boulder, said the fund currently has more than $8 million dollars invested in at least five Russian oil and gas companies.

“Moving assets out of Russian companies is being done because it’s wrong to profit off of humanitarian horrors,” Reynolds asserted. “And in the same way, moving money out of oil and gas is right because billions of people will be affected by climate change.”

Without BBB coal miners uncertain on future of black lung benefits

The Build Back Better Act that stalled in the US Senate would have continued the benefits for the black lung trust fund.

 An increasing number of miners are dying from breathing in coal dust. The fees coal companies have paid into the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund nearly all expired at the end of 2021. The fund provided nearly $41 million to black lung sufferers in West Virginia in 2020. BBB would’ve extended them in 2025. Now there is a new plan.

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March 7, 2022   

Thousands of coal miners and their families are uncertain about the future of the federal Black Lung Disability Trust Fund.

At the end of last year, the fund’s revenue source, an excise tax on domestically produced and sold coal, was slashed by more than half, and experts say the fund is on track to run out of money. Democratic lawmakers have proposed legislation to extend the excise tax at its original rate through 2031.

Cornell report recommends slew of climate, labor policies for Maine

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March 2, 2022   

A new report outlines steps Maine could take to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and pollution, create new jobs and build more equitable and resilient communities. It comes on the heels of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change finding that the window to reverse the impacts of climate change is closing.

Kilton Webb, a fourth-year apprentice with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 567 who has worked on a solar field and other clean-energy projects, said it means a lot to be part of the transition to a clean economy.

“For me, building up labor standards goes hand in hand with building the renewable-energy infrastructure,” he said. “We need a well-trained and highly skilled workforce to complete all these coming clean-energy jobs.”

Build Back Better Act would put U.S. carbon emissions-reduction goals within reach

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March 1, 2022   

Ahead of tonight’s State of the Union address and on the heels of a new United Nations’ climate change report, a new analysis found clean-energy investments from the Build Back Better Act would put the country on track to meet carbon emissions-reduction goals.

Compiled by Princeton University’s ZERO Lab, the report revealed enacting the climate provisions of the trillion-dollar package would cut emissions by an accumulative 5.2 billion tons between now and 2030.

Jesse Jenkins, principal investigator of the Princeton ZERO Lab and the report’s co-author, said federal policy action is needed to meet climate targets. “In addition to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, the set of energy investment and jobs’ proposals in the Build Back Better Act also would lower U.S. annual energy expenditures,” Jenkins explained. “Helping to fight or counteract inflationary forces that are driving up costs for households and businesses across the United States.”

During Black History month, NC groups push for more say on climate policies

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February 24, 2022   

North Carolina environmental-justice groups are calling for increased representation in crafting state policies related to environmental issues.

During Black History Month, advocates have highlighted how communities of color are harmed by disproportionate exposure to air pollution and vulnerability to extreme weather events.

Riza Jenkins, chair of the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Committee for the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, said Black and brown communities want increased representation in crafting state policies related to environmental issues. “I think the critical thing is, one, an acknowledgment of how some of the policies have been written inequitably in the past,” Jenkins asserted. “And then also when we’re thinking about how policies have been written, how do we ensure diversity and participation.”

WI “State of the Tribes” address covers environmental, voting issues

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February 23, 2022   

From environmental issues to voting rights, Wisconsin’s 2022 State of the Tribes address tackled a number of issues the state faces this year.

The annual speech, presented Tuesday by Shannon Holsey, president of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, gives the state’s tribal leaders a chance to highlight both the concerns and achievements of Wisconsin’s tribal communities. Among other topics, Holsey spoke out against what she said were efforts to restrict Wisconsinites’ voting access.

“Eradicating barriers to political participation for Native Americans would improve socioeconomic status, self-determination, land rights, water rights and health care,” she said.

Poll: Utahns, Westerners voice grave concerns for water, climate change

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February 22, 2022   

Voters in Utah and across the West are increasingly anxious about the effects of climate change on the beauty and ecology of their Rocky Mountains.

The 12th annual Conservation in the West Poll by Colorado College found voters in the eight Western states along the Continental Divide are disturbed by the changes a warming climate is having on the health of the outdoors.

Lori Weigel, principal at New Bridge Strategy which conducted the poll, said the 3,400 people surveyed expressed their views on a variety of environmental issues.

“Water topped the list,” Weigel reported. “Drought and reduced snowpack elicited the strongest concern levels, with 86%. Throughout the Mountain West, more frequent and severe wildfires, air quality, extreme heat and even extreme weather events.”

Black History Month: Overcoming Environmental Racism in MN

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February 22, 2022   

As Black History Month continues, the effects of environmental injustice are being woven into conversations about the ways Black communities are left behind, including in Minnesota.

Even prior to the current racial reckoning, Minnesota drew attention for stark disparities in education and wages.

Minister JaNaé Bates, communications director for the group, ISAIAH, said climate issues are no different, noting Minnesota has abundant resources to make sure everyone can live in a safe and healthy community, but policy and planning decisions over time have left out some Black populations. “We deserve to have, you know, clean air, clean water, healthy land,” Bates outlined. “What we’ve found is that is often not the case.”

She pointed to St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood and North Minneapolis as areas suffering as a result of interstate construction and heavy industrial settings. The Biden administration has prioritized environmental justice in the new infrastructure law.

Wabanaki Nations, allies: restore sovereignty to Maine tribes

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February 16, 2022   

More than 100 Mainers attended a Tuesday hearing on a bill to restore tribal sovereignty to Maine’s four Wabanaki Nations.

Advocates of LD 1626 say it would remove restrictions in place since the Maine Indian Claims Settlement Act of 1980. The Settlement Act was intended to resolve disputes over land claims, but it left Wabanaki Nations with less legal and regulatory authority than that of other tribes across the nation.

Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation said that means they’re essentially treated as municipalities, rather than sovereign nations. He noted that roughly 150 federal laws have passed benefiting tribes since 1980, but Wabanaki Nations have been excluded. “The Wabanaki Nations have spent the last 40 years being treated like second-class sovereigns,” he said. “We have watched out-of-state corporations come in and thrive by doing the very things we should be able to do but for the Settlement Act.”

Tribes could get boost to protect wildlife migration routes

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February 16, 2022   

Migration routes for wildlife across the country are in peril, but tribes could get more support from Congress to protect these corridors.

The Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act would send $50 million per year in grants for Native American efforts to improve wildlife habitat.

Shailyn Miller, wildlife connectivity coordinator for the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society, said animals don’t recognize political boundaries. She added that this legislation would ensure they can travel safely across a checkerboard of lands, while reinforcing tribal sovereignty to manage corridors. “Tribes are severely underfunded and at a huge disadvantage due to extremely limited resources,” she said, “especially when compared to state or federal wildlife agencies.”

Regenerative farming can help PA reach major pollution-reduction goals

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February 16, 2022

Chesapeake Bay states have until 2025 to implement practices to reduce watershed pollution, and a new report shows “climate-smart” farming can help prevent farm runoff.

In the Chesapeake Bay Clean Water Blueprint, roughly 80% of the remaining pollution reduction must come from agriculture – and Pennsylvania is farthest behind among the Bay states. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation report said implementing regenerative farming practices, from rotational grazing to planting forest buffers along streams, can reduce animal waste and soil erosion.

Bill Chain, the foundation’s senior agriculture program manager, said Pennsylvania has a lot of farm conservation work to do. “Farmers are ready to adopt conservation practices, but need funding,” he said. “Both the state and federal conservation funding fall woefully short of what’s necessary to make that investment with family farms in improving water quality.”

MO desperately needs part of the $15 billion in Infrastructure Federal funds for needed lead pipe replacement

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February 15, 2022

Missouri has roughly 330,000 lead service lines, the pipes connecting water mains to buildings including people’s homes, and federal funding could help speed up the process of removing and replacing them.

The bipartisan infrastructure bill passed by Congress last year includes $15 billion for lead-pipe replacement, building on funds from the American Rescue Plan.

Erik D. Olson, senior strategic director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, noted Missouri has the sixth-highest number of lead service lines in the nation, and the fourth-highest per capita. “It’s very important, really crucial, to pull those lead pipes out of the ground, so people aren’t basically drinking through a lead straw,” Olson contended.

Olson added more than 80% of Missouri children have detectable lead levels in their blood, the second-highest percentage in the country. He noted lead can have serious health effects on kids, from learning disabilities and hearing loss to damaging blood cells. And in adults, lead exposure can lead to heart disease, reproductive health problems and more.

A Valentine Wish: Can Feds Pledge their Love…to the Earth?

The last seven years have been the hottest on record, according to Europe’s Copernicus Climate Change Service, leading to extended drought in the western states.

February 14, 2022   

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This Valentine’s Day, climate advocates want policymakers to show the planet some love.

More than 450 local lawmakers from the nonprofit group Elected Officials to Protect America have signed an open letter calling on President Joe Biden and congressional leaders to declare a climate emergency and pass the climate sections of the Build Back Better Act.

Clair Brown, economics professor emerita at the University of California-Berkeley, said time is running out. “The UN climate scientists made it very clear that, for us to have a chance to keep the planet from overheating and making life uninhabitable for people, we have to reduce our carbon pollution 50% by 2030,” Brown pointed out. “We only have eight years.”

Infrastructure dollars plug abandoned oil wells in MT, other States

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February 10, 2022   

States are getting money from the infrastructure law to plug up the methane-leaking issue of orphan oil wells.

The Biden administration has announced more than $1.1 billion for 26 states, including $26 million for Montana, to address abandoned wells.

Curtis Shuck, chairman of the Well Done Foundation, a nonprofit based in Shelby plugging wells across the country, approached the Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation and capped its first well on Earth Day 2020. “They realized early on that there was an issue that certainly at that time was sort of beyond their ability to really address, just from a funding perspective,” Shuck recounted.

WI public weighs in on reroute of controversial Line 5 oil pipeline project

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February 4, 2022   

On Wednesday night, Wisconsinites had a chance to weigh in on Enbridge’s controversial Line 5 project, which skirts around tribal territories in the Northwoods.

The public hearing on the pipeline’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) lasted more than 10 hours, stretching from Wednesday afternoon into the wee hours of Thursday morning.

Mike Wiggins, tribal chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said the proposed rerouting would endanger tribal waters. “The only thing we have ever asked of the oil company is to get out of our water,” Wiggins stated. “And that has been rejected, that has been disrespected and essentially ignored.”

Study: Gas stoves leak methane, even when off

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February 1, 2022   

Gas stoves in home kitchens are leaking a lot more methane gas than previously known, which has implications for the fight against climate change, according to a new study from Stanford University.

Researchers found in the United States each year, gas stoves emit 2.6 million tons of methane in carbon dioxide equivalents, which is the same amount of greenhouse gas as 500,000 cars.

Eric Lebel, senior scientist at PSE Energy in Oakland and co-author of the study, said the 53 gas ranges they measured leaked about three-quarters of their emissions while turned off. “Over about 20 years, the total climate impact of the same weight of methane gas is 86 times more than the same weight of carbon dioxide,” Lebel reported. “Methane leaks are very important, even small leaks.”

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