350 Updates

What it was maybe like in Nebraska during the Keystone XL hearing (video)

Last Thursday, braving heavy snow and wind, hundreds of commited citizens lined up to testify at the lone public hearing on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. By most estimates, it was 9 to 1 against the pipeline, and administrators of the hearing had to stay late into the night to hear everyone’s testimony.

Nebraska has always been ground zero for opposition to the pipeline. Keystone, if built, would go through the Olagalla Aquifer and Nebraska’s sensitive Sand Hills, putting each at risk. Ranchers and farmers, some of whom have been on their land for generations, see the pipeline as an existential threat, and they’re not shy about telling anyone, at anytime, that they don’t want this pipeline.

President Obama heard their voices when he denied the permit for Keystone two years ago. It remains to be seen if he will listen this time, but there’s little doubt that the voices of Nebraskans ought to sound louder to the president than those of TransCanada, the company behind KXL. This was what he said in 2011:

“Folks in Nebraska like all across the country aren’t going to say to themselves, ‘We’ll take a few thousand jobs if it means our kids are potentially drinking water that would damage their health. We don’t want, for example, aquifers to be adversely affected. Folks in Nebraska obviously would be directly impacted.”

If you missed the hearing, here’s a beautiful video that captures some of what it must have been like to be there. Please pass it on.

 

 

San Francisco Board of Supervisors Unanimously Pass Resolution Urging Fossil Fuel Divestment!

Exciting news! The San Francisco Board of Supervisors just voted unanimously to support fossil fuel divestment. Here's a press release we just put out: 

 
San Francisco Board of Supervisors Unanimously Pass Resolution Urging Fossil Fuel Divestment 
Resolution urges the city’s retirement system to divest over $583 million from the fossil fuel industry
 
SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Board of Supervisors (SFERS) passed a unanimous resolution this afternoon calling on the San Francisco Employee Retirement System to divest over $583 million invested in the 200 corporations that hold the majority of the world’s fossil fuel reserves. 
 
The resolution makes San Francisco the third city in the nation after Ithaca and Seattle to push for fossil fuel divestment. If the SFERS Board agrees to the Supervisors’ request, it will become the largest pension fund in the country to divest from the fossil fuel industry. 
 
“Divestment is an important part of our city response to climate change,” said Supervisor John Avalos, who introduced the resolution.
 
The San Francisco Employee’s Retirement System (SFERS)  is a roughly $16 billion pension fund that serves more than 52,000 active and retired employees of the City and County of San Francisco and their survivors. According to SFERS Executive Director Jay Huish, the fund currently owns $583.7 million of public holdings in 91 of top 200 fossil fuel companies. Some of SFERS’ largest fossil fuel holdings include $112 million in ExxonMobil, $60 million in Chevron, $26 million in Shell Oil, $17 million in Occidental Petroleum, and $11 million in the China National Offshore Oil Corporation. (1)
 
 
The push for fossil fuel divestment is part of a new national campaign, Go Fossil Free, that is modeled on the 1980s movement to divest from apartheid South Africa. The movement has spread to over 100 cities and 300 colleges and universities across the country. Four colleges, Unity, Hampshire, Sterling, and College of the Atlantic, have committed to divestment. There are also active campaigns on every University of California campus. Earlier this spring, UC Berkeley’s student government voted to divest their $2 million budget from fossil fuels. (2) 
 
In San Francisco, the divestment campaign was led by 350 Bay Area and the national 350.org campaign and supported by groups including SEIU 1021, SF Bay Chapter of the Sierra Club, Rainforest Action Network, Center for Biological Diverstiy, and more.
 
“San Francisco’s commitment is a big victory for the burgeoning fossil fuel divestment movement,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, one of the organizations helping lead Go Fossil Free campaign. “The Bay Area will spend billions adapting to climate change--it makes no sense at all to simultaneously invest in the corporations making that work necessary.”
 

1 million comments to stop Keystone XL!

Success! In just 45 days, the movement to stop Keystone XL submitted over 1 million comments to oppose the pipeline to the State Department!

We set this goal knowing it was a stretch, and we reached it on the final day of what turned into a comment-sprint to the finish. This shows the breadth and depth of opposition to the pipeline, and provides a clear mandate for President Obama to reject the pipeline.

And the pressure appears to be working: the same day as we submitted our 1 millionth comment, the US Environmental Protection Agency rated the State Dept.'s pipeline review 'insufficient,' pointing out that Keystone XL would be more toxic and have a bigger climate impact than described by State.

Thank you to everyone who submitted, shared and organized to stop the pipeline -- let's keep rolling!

The full press release is below:

 

Level Up! for Earth Day!

 

“Are you in or are you out?” Aidalyn Celis Arabe, a 350 volunteer questioned the political candidates present during the media activity for Earth Day 2013 initiated by 350 Negros Oriental together with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Foundation University and Negros Oriental Bikers Association.

LEVEL UP is 350 Negros Oriental’s interactive platform incorporating pressing environmental issues into the political agenda of candidates for community resiliency. Five identified environmental concerns were highlighted: Watersheds, Waste Management, Energy and Coal, Road Sharing, and Mining. Resource speakers are Engr Mark Espedilla, Aidalyn Arabe, Engr Trelly Marigza, Engr Fred Magalllano, and Pol Carino.

Negors Oriental Bikers Association followed an advocacy ride lead by climate activist/cyclist Dondie Seneris in the afternoon.

Photos from Judy Partlow and Dondie Seneris.

 

 

 

#EarthNight

Friends,

On Sunday, April 21st -- what we’re calling “Earth Night” -- 350.org will premiere a film about our work and our growing movement.

It features the big tour we did across the country last fall, and so the film is also called “Do the Math.” The trailer for the movie was just released a few minutes ago -- check it out:

Watch the Trailer and Join In

 

On the night of April 21st, people will gather in hundreds of living rooms and libraries across the country for the premiere of the movie. Meeting in person is the lifeblood of our movement, and we hope that gathering to watch this snazzy film can be an opportunity to connect with new people and grow the movement locally.

I’ve already had a chance to preview the movie; it is an inspiring, beautiful, and fast-paced story that shows the power of the growing climate movement. It clocks in at 42-minutes -- and it packs a lot in: from the cross-country tour we did last year, to the latest dispatches from leaders in the fight to stop Keystone XL, to the campaign to divest from fossil fuels.

You won’t want to miss it. Click here to watch the the trailer and join (or create!) an Earth Night gathering in your community.

We also have a page that answers a lot of questions you might have about the movie -- check it out here: www.350.org/math

Onwards,

Anna for the whole 350.org team

P.S. April 21st is one day before the end of the State Department's public comment period on the Keystone XL pipeline -- so we'll make sure folks can collect and submit comments at local events. 

 

Your Game of Thrones to Keystone XL converter

So you’re a progressive and you’ve been sitting on the sidelines of the Keystone XL fight. Sure, you’ve heard about the pipeline but you haven’t yet drawn your sword and taken up the struggle. As the story has gotten increasingly complex, maybe you’ve lost the plot a little. Well! Here’s your chance to get up to speed and in the game with the Keystone XL to Game of Thrones converter, a sure fire way to understand who the players are in this all important battle for Westeros, er, the climate.

House Lannister

Joffrey Baratheon

CEO Russ Girling sits on the iron throne at TransCanada, the Canadian company behind the $5.3 billion KXL project. Like King Joffrey, he likes to to be in charge but when the going gets tough he expects his minions to do the dirty work. (The King’s Guard in this case threatens landowners with eminent domain, lies about jobs, and disregards climate science.). You know how the actor who plays Joeffrey is so good that you’d kind of worry for his safety if he wandered into the wrong place, like a Boston bar after 10 on a night when the Sox lost? Someone might think he really is the fink known as Joeffrey and take a swing. Well, Girling must have similar fears, especially when people find out that he’s willing to put profit ahead of the health of the planet. If that’s not the type of dastardly deed that Joeffrey might try to pull off I don’t know what is.

Tywin Lannister

Jack Gerard of the American Petroleum Institute and Tywin could be brothers separated at birth. Like Tywin, Jack’s not afraid to beg, borrow or steal to get his way. In fact Gerard and his crew over at API, according to The Nation, spent a whopping $68 million on lobbying in 2011. Tywin has that sort of scratch now that he controls the seven kingdoms, and I’m sure he’d feel right at home on K St. with the thugs in their three piece Brooks Brothers suits. Man I sure hope Gerard is nicer to his son than Tywin is to my main man Lord Tyrian. 

Cersei Lannister

This one’s easy. Alberta Premier Alison Redford is the clear choice. Like Cersei, she’s got a brother in arms that she’s a little too close to--in her case Stephen Harper--and she’s not afraid to splash the cash around to get her way. Redford just made her fourth lobbying trip to Washington to advocate for KXL, one of the most destructive projects on earth, all while she sings the praises of Alberta’s clean energy record. It reminds me of how Cersei defends Joffrey at all times, despite the fact that the dude’s favorite hobby is ordering beheadings like he’s ordering a Blooming Onion at the King’s Landing Outback Steakhouse. Get a grip, Cersei. 

House Stark

Eddard Stark

If Eddard Stark had a PhD and worked at NASA, he’d be Dr. James Hansen. It was Hansen who first sounded the alarm on Keystone, laying out the case that it would be “game over for the climate” if the pipeline was approved. Like Stark, who became the King’s Hand with much trepidation and fear, Hansen didn’t want to take on this fight but he was drawn into it out of a sense of duty. As you know, things didn’t end well for old Eddard, but there’s time left to win on Keystone. Winter may be coming, but it’s not here yet.

Jon Snow

President Obama and John Snow have almost too much in common. Both are conflicted men with smoldering eyes, and their destiny is theirs to make. John Snow has found himself up North fighting off the White Walkers, a clear metaphor for Exxon if there ever was one. (The want to destroy Westeros. Duh.) John Snow wants to do what’s right and has a true sense of duty, but he’s got some bad temptations (Egret) that could drag him down into the muck. Obama is much the same. He wants to do what’s right on climate, but his Egrets are filling his head with bad thoughts. What if the Republicans come after me for not being pro oil? What if gas prices spike and I get blamed? Get real, sir, the White Walkers are coming for you no matter what. Might as well man up, grab your sword and fight the good fight. Mr. President, the climate is your Wall. Defend it.  

 

 

 

(Not) One of the Greatest Moments in American History

Rep. Joe Barton is a long-time Texas Congressman with a love for fossil fuels and a penchant for the dramatic. So it shouldn't be a great surpise that yesterday, during a House hearing on the Keystone XL pipeline, Rep. Barton went biblical when talking about his support for the project.

Said. Rep Barton: “I would point out that if you’re a believer in in the Bible, one would have to say the Great Flood is an example of climate change and that certainly wasn’t because mankind had overdeveloped hydrocarbon energy.”

That's an interesting point of view. It's not one, however that's held by the scientific community, who actually studies this stuff. As you know somewhere around 97% of atmospheric scientists believe in anthropegenic climate change. They may believe in the Great Flood too, but I doubt they would cite that as evidence that man is not affecting the climate. Leave that to Rep. Barton.

 

Activists rally outside G8 and send Kerry a message: Say No to Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

Photo credit: David Hoffman

For immediate release

April 11, 2013

LONDON -- Approximately 60 activists, including some from Texas and the Gulf Coast, gathered outside the G8 foreign ministers’ meeting at Lancaster House in London today to tell US Secretary of State John Kerry to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, address the global climate crisis, and keep tar sands out of Europe.

Over the past month, activists have confronted Kerry and President Obama at nearly all of their public appearances, including an event last week that drew over 1,000 people in San Francisco to a rally outside of an Obama fundraiser. This is the first time a US politician has been met with an anti-Keystone protest on foreign soil. The activists were joined by representatives of Texas and Gulf Coast communities opposed to the pipeline.

Bryan Parras, a resident of Houston, Texas and environmental justice advocate with TEJAS (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services), who joined the UK campaigners at the protest said:

"The KXL Pipeline is set to deliver a toxic slurry of dirty oil to communities across the US. If exported to the UK, it could soon start poisoning these shores too. As we have seen from all the pipeline spills in the last two weeks, the delivery of tar sands is too risky and too costly for the communities in harm's way. Keep the oil in the soil, and just say no to the KXL tar sands pipeline."

President Obama is expected to make his decision on the pipeline in the autumn. Keystone XL has become a flashpoint in the climate fight. Thousands have been arrested over the pipeline, and on Feb 13 over 40,000 people came to the White House to tell Obama to reject the pipeline.

The pipeline is intended for export, and UK campaigners are concerned that, if it's approved, imports of tar sands oil into Europe will increase. There is currently a battle raging in Europe over the issue of future tar sands imports.  The European Union is trying to pass a piece of legislation to reduce emissions from transport fuels. Known as the Fuel Quality Directive, it would strongly discourage tar sands imports, but lobbying by the Canadian government and the oil industry has seriously delayed it. A vote is now expected in October 2013, and if passed, the case for the Keystone XL pipeline would be seriously weakened.

Ruthi Brandt from the UK Tar Sands Network said: “People in London are here today to stand with those resisting tar sands expansion in Alberta and pipelines in the US. The Keystone XL will affect us too, because the pipeline is intended for export. The reality of tar sands oil coming to the UK is not far off, with a refinery in Pembrokeshire lined up by Valero to bring imports of tar sands from the Gulf of Mexico. So we're here to let John Kerry know that we don't want this dirty oil. In the EU we are pushing for legislation to make sure that tar sands imports are strongly discouraged due to their high emissions. We hope other countries will follow suit. We need to leave the tar sands in the ground, and make the transition to sustainable transport fuels that don't devastate local communities and cost the Earth.”

The protest was organised and supported by:

350.org, Campaign Against Climate Change, Climate Rush, The Climate and Health Council, Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Healthy Planet UK, Occupy London: Energy, Equity and Environment group, Push Europe, Pembrokeshire Friends of the Earth, People & Planet, TEJAS (Texas Environmental Justice Advocacy Services), UK Tar Sands Network, UKYCC, World Development Movement.

For more information, quotes and photographs, contact:

In the UK, Nicolò Wojewoda, nicolo@350.org, +44 (0) 758 264 2004

In the US, Daniel Kessler, dk@350.org, +1 510-501-1779

Photo credit: David Hoffman