TELL THE SENATE AND PRESIDENT TO PROTECT THE OIL EXPORT BAN
America’s decades-old crude oil export ban is under urgent threat of repeal through backroom dealing and an imminent vote on a congressional spending bill. The ban is a critical safeguard against climate change and the damages and risks of fracking.
Lifting the ban would massively boost oil production at a time when the science demands that we must leave at least 80 percent of remaining fossil fuels in the ground. The combustion of the additional oil that would be produced is estimated to generate more than515 million metric tons of carbon pollution per year — the equivalent annual greenhouse gas emissions of 135 coal-fired power plants or more than 100 million passenger cars.
If this horrendous bill passes, communities across America will face more pollution, illness and disruption from drilling and fracking. We can’t afford to lift the crude oil export ban just to contribute to Big Oil’s windfall profits.
Phone calls to your senators and the White House are urgently needed. Here are some talking points. Type in your ZIP code below to get your senators’ numbers, then let us know you called.
Hi, my name is ______, and I live in ______. I’m calling to urge you to vote NO on the omnibus bill that repeals the crude oil export ban. Lifting the ban would increase oil production and damage from fracking and other dangerous drilling while undercutting progress fighting climate change. It will increase Big Oil’s profits at our expense. No deal could justify lifting the 40-year-old crude oil export ban.
Please — vote against any bill that lifts the crude oil export ban or has other sneak attacks on our environment and democracy.
Can you tell me how Senator X plans to vote? Thank you.
For the White House:
Hi, my name is ______, and I live in ______. I’m calling to urge you to veto the omnibus bill that repeals the crude oil export ban. Lifting the ban would increase oil production and damage from fracking and other dangerous drilling while undercutting progress fighting climate change. It will increase Big Oil’s profits at our expense. No deal could justify lifting the 40-year-old crude oil export ban.
Please veto any bill that lifts the crude oil export ban or has other sneak attacks on our environment and democracy.
Repost from The Guardian [Editor: An important discussion of “survival emissions” in developing nations vs. “lifestyle emissions” in industrial nations. – RS]
Paris climate talks: Developed countries must do more than reduce emissions
By Shyam Saran, 23 November 2015 05.35 EST – Saran is a former foreign secretary of India. He was India’s chief negotiator on climate change from 2007 to 2010
We are only days away from the climate change summit in Paris. Several world leaders are likely to be present to applaud a successful outcome, which is virtually guaranteed since the bar has been set so low in terms of effort expected from the major industrialized economies.
It is this pledge and review system which will become the template for future climate change action. Past experience shows that such weak international regimes, which posit only a best endeavour commitment, rarely deliver expected results.
The UN recently reported that aggregating all the INDCs so far, the world would be on an a trajectory of 2.7C, when a 2C rise is already the limit of safety defined by scientists.
What many people fail to realize is that global warming is the consequence of the stock of greenhouse gas emissions, chiefly CO2, which has accumulated in the Earth’s atmosphere as a result of fossil fuel based industrial activity in the industrialized countries of the world.
This is the reason why the UN recognizes the historical responsibility of the developed countries in causing global warming even though current industrial activity in major developing countries such as China and, to a much lesser extent, India is adding incrementally to that stock.
If developed countries do not make significant and absolute reductions in their emissions there will be a progressively smaller carbon space available to accommodate the development needs of developing countries. There is a difference between the emissions of developing countries which are “survival” emissions and those of developed countries which are in the nature of “lifestyle” emissions. They do not belong to the same category and cannot be treated on a par.
To blur this distinction is to accept the argument that because “we got here first, so we get to keep what we have, while those who come later must stay where they are for the sake of the saving the planet from the threat of climate change.” Far from accepting their historical responsibility developed countries are instead trying to shift the burden on to the shoulders of developing countries.
This they have been doing by keeping attention focused on current emissions while ignoring the source of the stock of emissions in the atmosphere. A sustainable and effective climate change regime cannot be built on the basis of such inequity.
One often hears the argument that it is all very well to preach equity but given the planetary emergency the world faces from the threat of climate change we must set aside the equity principle in the interests of humanity as a whole. This is a wholly specious and self serving argument. It reflects the sense of entitlement to an affluent lifestyle, based on energy intensive production and consumption, while denying the even modest aspirations of people in developing countries.
In a densely interconnected and globalised world, it will be impossible to maintain islands of prosperity in an ocean of poverty and deprivation. It is not that developing countries are claiming the right to spew as much carbon as possible into the atmosphere without regard to the health of the planet.
As the main victims of climate change– the impacts of which they are already suffering – they have a much bigger stake in dealing with this challenge. They are, in fact, doing much more than most developed countries, to adopt energy frugal methods of growth, conserving energy, promoting renewable power and limiting waste within the limits of their own resources.
They could do much more if they had access to finance, technology and capacity building from developed countries, a commitment which is incorporated in the UN. Success may elude Paris if developed countries continue to evade their responsibility to provide adequate financial resources and transfer appropriate technologies to developing countries to enable them to enhance their own domestic efforts.
Climate negotiations have become less about meeting an elemental challenge to human survival and more about safeguarding narrowly conceived economic self interests of nations. These are negotiations conducted in a competitive frame, where each party gives as little as possible and extracts as much as possible. The inevitable result is a least common denominator result and this is what is expected at Paris.
Imagine if each country came with the intention to contribute as much as it can and take away as little benefit to itself as possible, because we are all faced with an urgent and global challenge. We would then get a maximal outcome – which is what the world requires if it has to escape the catastrophic consequences of climate change. The negotiating dynamic may change dramatically.
The leaders can capture the imagination of people around the world if they explicitly acknowledge the seriousness of the threat we all confront and commit themselves to a global collaborative effort to deal with it based on the principle of equitable burden sharing.
Why not create a global technology platform which brings together the best minds from developed and developing countries alike to create new climate-friendly technologies which can then be disseminated as global public goods? Given the promise of solar power, why not announce a global solar mission designed to make it a mainstream energy source in a decade? Since coal will continue to be a major source of power generation in many countries of the world, could we collaborate together on a clean coal mission which reduces harmful emissions and increases the efficiency of coal combustion?
Countries can then contribute according to their capacities and resource availability and I have no doubt that emerging countries such as India, China or Brazil will be enthusiastic participants in such initiatives. Even if we are unable at this stage to go beyond the INDCs which have already been submitted the adoption of these initiatives may reassure the world that a new and more promising process has been set in motion to deliver a more sustainable future for our common home.
BLM postpones Utah auction to ‘accommodate’ climate activists
By Phil Taylor, E and E News, November 17, 2015
The Bureau of Land Management late last night announced it is postponing today’s scheduled oil and gas lease sale in Salt Lake City to appease activists who are fighting to keep those minerals in the ground.
BLM had planned to lease up to 37,580 acres scattered around the center of the Beehive State for future oil and gas development, but the agency said it needed more time to “better accommodate the high level of public interest in attending the sale.”
It marks the first time that the “Keep it in the Ground” climate movement — which seeks to end the sale of federally owned oil, gas and coal — has disrupted a BLM lease auction.
BLM said it intends to reschedule the sale in the “near future.”
“As a public agency, we understand the importance of transparency,” said BLM spokeswoman Megan Crandall. “Given the large interest, we chose to postpone the sale and will be working to find the best way to accommodate the public and those who wish to attend and participate in the auction when it is held.”
It was the third consecutive BLM lease sale to be confronted by climate protesters who believe the burning of federally owned fossil fuels will undermine the nation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Roughly 50 people gathered last week outside BLM’s Colorado headquarters in Lakewood to protest the agency’s sale of 90,000 acres in the Pawnee National Grassland, according to the Western Energy Alliance.
BLM moved forward with that auction, selling 106 parcels covering 83,534 acres for $5 million.
Protesters also demonstrated outside a Nov. 3 lease sale in Wyoming.
Crandall said there was not enough room in BLM’s downtown Salt Lake City auction room to accommodate members of the public who wanted to attend. The room is about 28 feet wide by 60 feet long and also has to accommodate up to 30 bidders and reporters, she said.
BLM planned to live-stream the auction, but many activists insisted on attending in person, she said.
The “Keep it in the Ground” campaign is backed by some major environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and is buoyed in Congress by legislation from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that would end new leasing and renewals of nonproducing federal leases for oil, coal and gas.
The movement is riding the momentum of President Obama’s recent rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline and Royal Dutch Shell PLC’s decision to abandon oil exploration in the Arctic Ocean. It now seeks to stop BLM from leasing fossil fuels in the West and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management from opening the Atlantic Ocean to offshore drilling.
In Salt Lake City this morning, roughly 40 activists displayed theatrical bidding paddles, held up photos of their grandkids and sang folk songs including John Prine’s “Paradise,” according to Tim Ream, an organizer from WildEarth Guardians who is based in San Francisco and attended this morning’s protest. Organizing groups included WildEarth, the Center for Biological Diversity, Women’s Congress for Future Generations, 350.org, the Rainforest Action Network and Elders Rising for Intergenerational Justice.
Ream said BLM informed him last week that some members of the public would be turned back from the auction room regardless of whether there was space. This morning’s protest was led primarily by older activists who had no intention of disrupting the sale, he said.
“They wanted to touch the hearts of those who are selling and buying our public lands,” he said. “They realized two years in prison is too high a price.”
Ream was referring to the two-year prison sentence handed down in 2011 to activist Tim DeChristopher for his decision to pose as a bidder at a BLM lease sale in Utah in late 2008 and snatch up $1.8 million in leases with no intention of paying for them.
Vaughn Lovejoy of the group Elders Rising was among those who attended this morning’s rally.
“We’d like to see if there’s a way to inspire my generation … to spend this piece of our life doing something for the future rather than hanging out on cruise ships or golf courses,” he said.
Ream said activists will also stage protests at BLM’s upcoming oil and gas lease sales in Reno, Nev., on Dec. 8 and in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 10. “We’re going to keep on hitting every one of these lease sales,” he said.
The American Petroleum Institute has criticized the movement and Merkley’s legislation as a “political stunt,” warning that halting federal sales of fossil fuels would hike energy costs and hurt the federal government’s coffers.
The Mineral Leasing Act requires BLM to hold regular oil and gas auctions.
Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs at the Western Energy Alliance, whose members depend heavily on public lands leasing, said this morning that the Salt Lake City protesters are ignoring how increased production of natural gas has helped the nation transition away from coal that is more harmful to the climate when burned.
“Apparently, BLM is seeking a larger venue to accommodate the expected crowd of protesters whose goal is to disrupt the sale,” she said. “These same professional protesters bragged that they were traveling to other lease sales to try to disrupt them, but they’re on a fool’s errand.”
Sgamma noted that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has rebuffed the “Keep it in the Ground” movement as unrealistic.
“There are millions of jobs around the country that are dependent on these industries, and you can’t just cut it off overnight,” Jewell said in September during a breakfast organized by The Christian Science Monitor (Greenwire, Sept. 15).