People’s Climate March, September 21 in New York City

From CoolDavis

 An Invitation to Change Everything

“My poster focuses on a young girl holding a pinwheel, which alludes to wind turbines, while the sun behind her alludes to solar energy … She looks up from the precipice, wearing on her face the symbol of the march: a green heart," Jean said about his design.

“My poster focuses on a young girl holding a pinwheel, which alludes to wind turbines, while the sun behind her alludes to solar energy … She looks up from the precipice, wearing on her face the symbol of the march: a green heart,” Jean said about his design.

If possible, on September 21 travel to New York City and join tens of thousands in the People’s Climate March two days before the United Nations Climate Summit 2014….Or, join us here in Davis for exhibits, speakers, films, and actions. It’s a modest way to join with others across the nation to urge government leaders to support an ambitious global agreement to dramatically reduce global warming.

This is an invitation to change everything.

When Bill McKibben published “A Call to Arms: An Invitation to Demand Action on Climate Change” in the June 5th edition of Rolling Stone, he wrote this confident sentence under the title:

When world leaders gather in New York this fall to confront climate change, tens of thousands of people (and maybe you) will be there to demand they take action before it’s too late.

McKibben credits most of the world’s leaders with doing what most of us have done – the easy things – but they haven’t set the world on a new course. For example, President Barack Obama pushed through more demanding mileage standards for cars, but he’s also opened huge areas of our land to oil drilling and coal mining, making the U.S. the world’s biggest petro producer.

Here’s a portion of McKibben’s essay worth reading.

Like other world leaders, Pres. Obama tried, but not nearly hard enough. Consider what he told The New Yorker in an interview earlier this year: “At the end of the day, we’re part of a long-running story. We just try to get our paragraph right.” And “I think we are fortunate at the moment that we do not face a crisis of the scale and scope that Lincoln or FDR faced.”

We do, though; we face a crisis as great as any president has ever encountered. Here’s how his paragraph looks so far: Since he took office, summer sea ice in the Arctic has mostly disappeared, and at the South Pole, scientists in May made clear that the process of massive melt is now fully under way, with 10 feet of sea-level rise in the offing. Scientists have discovered the depth of changes in ocean chemistry: that seawater is 30 percent more acidic than just four decades ago, and it’s already causing trouble for creatures at the bottom of the marine food chain. America has weathered the hottest year in its history, 2012, which saw a drought so deep that the corn harvest largely failed. At the moment, one of the biggest states in Obama’s union, California, is caught in a drought deeper than any time since Europeans arrived. Hell, a few blocks south of the U.N. buildings, Hurricane Sandy turned the Lower East Side of New York into a branch of the East River.

And that’s just the United States. The world’s scientists earlier this spring issued a 32-volume report explaining exactly how much worse it’s going to get, which is, to summarize, a lot worse even than they’d thought before. It’s not that the scientists are alarmists – it’s that the science is alarming. Here’s how one Princeton scientist summarized the situation for reporters: “We’re all sitting ducks.”

The gap between “We’re all sitting ducks” and “We do not face a crisis” is the gap between halfhearted action and the all-out effort that might make a difference. It’s the gap between changing light bulbs and changing the system that’s powering our destruction.

For the rest of the article, go here.

statue of liberty in rising tideMcKibben claims people who work for environmental justice, labor unions, people in faith groups, students, and middle class white folks are all united in this cry to change everything. There are examples in history when large numbers of people took to the streets and they succeeded in changing the course of history.

Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club writes“This isn’t  just about getting a bunch of people to New York to march for an hour then go home. This is about making sure that the tipping point in the fight to halt climate disruption tips in the favor of the average citizen and clean energy prosperity, and that the world’s leaders see that the support to do so has reached a level that can no longer be ignored.”

So take heart.  If you can’t be in NYC, join the Davis climate movement on September 21. Go to for updates on how to be part of the local action.


    Examiner Op Ed: Our fight to stop the bomb trains traveling through our backyards

    Repost from The San Francisco Examiner

    Our fight to stop the bomb trains traveling through our backyards

    By Suma Peesapati, August 28, 2014
    Casselton, N.D.
    Bruce Crummy/2013 AP file photo | An oil train derailed on Dec. 30 in Casselton, N.D. It was one of a handful of recent incidents of rail cars carrying crude oil exploding and going up in flames.

    “This issue needs to be acted on very quickly. There is a very high risk here that hasn’t been addressed. We don’t need a higher body count before they move forward.”

    It was a mark-my-words moment from National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Deborah Hersman at her farewell appearance before stepping down from the position in April.

    She was speaking about the explosive growth of the use of unsafe tanker cars to haul crude oil extracted from the Bakken reserve in North Dakota and Montana to refineries across our nation. When involved in derailments, many of these cars carrying the highly volatile fossil fuel are vulnerable to puncture and explosion upon impact. They were the cars that were involved in explosions in Aliceville, Alaska, in November, Casselton, N.D., a month later and, of course, last summer’s horrific reckoning in Lac Megantic, Quebec.

    Not two weeks after Hersman made her remarks, a train carrying Bakken crude derailed in Lynchburg, Va., igniting a roaring blaze and prompting the evacuation of the entire downtown. The tankers involved, however, weren’t the cars that the former chairwoman was warning about. They were a tougher, supposedly safer car tank car that the rail and oil industry is slowly moving toward adopting. It begs the question, though, are these newer cars going to be safe enough?

    This question recently hit home when a local news station exposed a clandestine crude by rail-loading operation in Richmond, here in the Bay Area, that had been flying under the radar for months. After making a backroom deal with the local air district, Kinder Morgan secured approval to introduce this highly explosive fracked crude through urban Bay Area neighborhoods without any public notice or environmental review.

    Within two weeks after the story broke, Earthjustice sued the air district and Kinder Morgan, demanding a full public airing of the project’s risks to public health and safety. A hearing on the merits of this case is scheduled for Sept. 5 in San Francisco Superior Court. While we await our day in court, Kinder Morgan is unloading its crude just a half-mile from Washington Elementary School, in a low-income community of color that the air district recognizes as already overburdened by the very same carcinogenic toxic air contaminants released by handling Bakken crude.

    Piling on to this environmental injustice, this crude is being loaded onto tanker trucks that are not certified by California. Those trucks then travel on Bay Area roadways until this dangerous commodity reaches its ultimate destination — the Tesoro refinery in Martinez.

    Tesoro Martinez is also accepting Bakken crude from similar rail-to-truck crude transfer operations in Sacramento, thereby compounding the risk of accident. With some of the most treacherous mountain passes in the country, and a dilapidated railway system that was never designed or upgraded to transport such dangerous cargo, these trains are ticking time bombs.

    The anemic response from state and federal regulators has been disappointing. Fortunately, our state and federal environmental laws gives private citizens a voice demand more than “business as usual.”

    Suma Peesapati is an attorney for San Francisco-based Earthjustice.

      Concerns Raised About Oil Trains In The Adirondacks

      Repost from Vermont Public Radio

      Concerns Raised About Oil Trains In The Adirondacks

      By Mitch Wertlieb & Melody Bodette, August 28, 2014
      Government offices, track-side warehouses and Monitor Bay Park campground surround the tracks on the south end of Crown Point, New York. The Adirondack Council has raised concerns about oil trains in the Adirondacks. | Adirondack Council

      Ever since the train disaster last summer at Lac Megantic, Quebec, people in our region have been taking more notice of the oil trains traversing our rails.

      Concerns have been raised on the New York side of Lake Champlain, where the Canadian Pacific railroad tracks run close to the water.

      “In some places they are literally right next to the water,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist for the Center for Biological Diversity. “They run through towns like Plattsburgh, Essex, and Westport, and then eventually they end up down in Albany. From there they go on down south either to refineries or to other places by ship.”

      The shipments are relatively new, having begun in the past two years.  Matteson said the trains were brought to the attention of more people by the disaster in Lac Megantic.  The unit trains, as they are sometimes called, are trains entirely of tank cars of crude oil.

      “What’s unique is this cargo and this new phenomenon of carrying crude oil by rail. And it’s something that’s been happening all around the country, but only just in the last couple years we’ve seen tremendous growth around the country,” Matteson said. “What’s happening here locally is that we have this new cargo, that has proven to be highly dangerous explosive and obviously if there’s a derailment and a spill it could severely damage our aquatic ecosystems and drinking water for thousands and thousands of people.”

      A demonstration was held in Plattsburgh in July and some protestors expressed concern about whether the local emergency services are prepared to deal with a potential derailment and disaster.

      Matteson said a starting point would be to make sure the transportation is safer. “These tank cars have been known for 20 years to be very puncture prone in any kind of derailment, even a low speed derailment. We need to get the oil off the rails. It’s simply not a sensible way to be transporting a hazardous material through thousands of small towns and cities around the country, exposing millions of people to this risk.”

      The bigger question, Matteson said is should we be extracting more fossil fuels from the ground?

      “Really what we need to be looking at is transitioning to a different energy regime.”

      There are proposed rules to require upgrades to safer tank cars, but they would be phased in over a number of years and Matteson said, the Center for Biological Diversity believes the trains need to be off the rails immediately until there are safer cars in place, and there needs to be adequate oil spill response plans.

      This oil is coming from the North Dakota Bakken oil fields to the terminal in Albany, a company called Global Partners. They are looking to expand their operations in the port. The Center for Biological Diversity has been involved in lawsuit against the company and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation over the proposed expansion plans.

      Global Partners did not respond to a request for comment.

      A community forum on the oil trains will be held on Thursday, August 28, from 7-9 p.m. at the Plattsburgh City Hall.


        USA Today: Rail deliveries of U.S. oil continue to surge

        Repost from USA Today
        [Editor: Nothing new here, but good that mainstream publications are taking notice.  – RS]

        Rail deliveries of U.S. oil continue to surge

        Wendy Koch, August 28, 2014
        oil trains
        (Photo: Connor Lake AP)

        Amid a boom in U.S. oil production, the amount of crude oil and refined petroleum products moved by rail continues to climb.

        There were 459,550 carloads of oil and petroleum products transported during the first seven months of this year, up 9% from the same period in 2013, according to the Association of American Railroads.

        More than half of these carloads carried oil, moving 759,000 barrels of crude per day and accounting for 8% of U.S. oil production.

        The surge in oil trains began in mid-2011. At that time, weekly carloads of oil and petroleum products averaged about 7,000. In July, they reached nearly 16,000, according to the AAR.

        “The increase in oil volumes transported by rail reflects rising U.S. crude oil production, which reached an estimated 8.5 million barrels per day in June for the first time since July 1986,” the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday.

        The use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing or fracking has made it possible to extract huge amounts of oil from underground shale deposits. The Bakken Shale, mostly in North Dakota, accounts for much of the growth in U.S. oil production. One of every eight U.S.-produced barrels comes from North Dakota, now the second-largest oil producing state.

        Between 60% and 70% of the state’s oil was moved by rail to refineries during the first half of 2014, according to the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.

        Spurred by this surge in oil-carrying trains and several recent tragic accidents, the Obama administration proposed stricter rules last month for tank cars that transport flammable fuels.

        The Department of Transportation proposal will require the phaseout, within two years, of tens of thousands of tank cars unless they are retrofitted to meet new safety standards. It will also require speed limits, better braking and testing of volatile liquids, including oil. It will require that cars constructed after October 2015 have thicker steel.

        The DOT proposed rule, which will take months to finalize after a 60-day comment period, applies to shipments with at least 20 rail cars carrying flammable fuels, including ethanol.

        In May, an oil-carrying freight train derailed in Lynchburg, Va., spilling 30,000 gallons of oil into the James River. Last year in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, an oil train exploded and killed 47 people.