Tag Archives: Pope Francis

BENICIA HERALD LETTER: Too many ‘hitches’ to crude by rail

Repost from the Benicia Herald
[Editor:  No link is provided for this letter because the Benicia Herald does not publish Letters in its online edition. – RS]

Too many ‘hitches’ to crude by rail

By Jan Cox-Golovich, September 9, 2015, Benicia Herald

“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” – John Muir

And so it is with the Valero Crude-by-Rail Project.  When it was first presented to the community two years ago, we were told that is would be a simple railway expansion without any environmental impacts at all; that was simply untrue. We quickly discovered that this project would have profound effects locally, regionally, nationally and world-wide.

Our local economy has been “hitched” to the refinery for 50 years;  this 19th century industry is becoming obsolete in a state moving towards reducing greenhouse gases by 80% in 2050, while government and market forces transition to clean energy.  California is suffering from the most devastating drought in its history and the refinery uses almost half of our water.  The drought has been exacerbated by the hottest year on record, which in turn has been exacerbated by climate change, which in turn is caused by the burning of fossil fuels.   This “hitches” back to the refinery where 600 “other” businesses in the Industrial Park will, on a good day, experience transportation woes and worsening air quality because of the daily oil deliveries and — on a bad day — will be risking everything by virtue of being in the oil blast zone.

The Crude By Rail project is “hitched” to 1,700 miles of antiquated, dilapidated rail line, moving hazardous cargo from Canadian tar sands and North Dakota Bakken fracked oil fields to the Valero refinery, exposing millions to the dangers of explosions, fires, derailments, spills and permanent environmental damage to their land, water and air.  Many up-rail folks have made the trek down to City Hall to beg us not to do this to them.  This is an ethical “hitch” that we cannot deny or justify.

On a global scale, this project is “hitched” to the utter destruction of the boreal forest in Alberta and the fracking process ravaging North Dakota, where foul-smelling wastewater ponds are threatening agricultural land, animals, the water supply and human health, and where toxic methane gas flares light up the night sky as bright as any American city on the Google night map.  Scientists say the continued extraction of these extreme fuels is “game over” for the planet and human life upon it.   The Pope’s recent encyclical has “hitched” climate change to a moral imperative:  trade in our short-sighted greed for an alternative path to save our children and life on earth.

John Muir, naturalist, visionary and Martinez neighbor, spoke words that resonate with us today.  Benicia is “hitched” to the rest of the world.  We don’t live in a bubble where a town of 28,000 people can make decisions based on short-term financial gain at the expense of endangering human lives or contributing to the destruction of forests, waterways and the atmosphere, just because they are out of our sight.  Our provincial days are over; time for Benicia to reject crude by rail.

Jan Cox Golovich
Former City Councilmember

United Church of Canada Sells Fossil Fuel Holdings, Commits $6 Million to Alternative Energy to Save Creation

Repost from The Christian Post

United Church of Canada Sells Fossil Fuel Holdings, Commits $6 Million to Alternative Energy to Save Creation

By Vincent Funaro , August 16, 2015|8:05 am
United Church of Canada

The United Church of Canada plans to invest nearly $6 million into alternative energy sources that it acquired from selling all of its assets in fossil fuels. The denomination views the move as a bold step toward stewarding the gift of creation.

“Care for creation and concern for the way that climate is impacting the most marginalized populations made this move an act of justice, of faith, and of solidarity with First Nations and other impacted communities,” said Christine Boyle, General Council commissioner of the United Church and a veteran climate advocate, according to the National Advocate.

The church will sell off around $5.9 million in holdings from 200 of the world’s largest fossil fuel companies.

The United Church of Canada joins both Pope Francis and the Episcopal Church in their quest to help the environment.

Leaders of the Episcopal Church voted to sell off the denomination’s holdings in fossil fuel, which amount to $380 million, in a move to combat climate change last month.

“The vote says that this is a moral issue and that we really have to think about where we are putting our money,” said Betsy Blake Bennett, archdeacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska.

“At a point where we are losing species and where human life itself is threatened by climate change, the Church, by acting on it, is saying that this is a moral issue and something that everyone needs to look at seriously,” added Bennett.

The Episcopal Church’s position echoes that of Francis who released an encyclical dealing with climate change back June. It dealt with how climate change is affecting God’s creation and was supported by over 300 Evangelical leaders.

The 184-page “Laudato Si,” translated in English as “Praise Be to You,” included the pope’s response to these challenges from a spiritual perspective.

“The urgent challenge to protect our common home includes a concern to bring the whole human family together to seek a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change. The Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes His loving plan or repents of having created us,” Francis wrote.

“Particular appreciation is owed to those who tirelessly seek to resolve the tragic effects of environmental degradation on the lives of the world’s poorest. Young people demand change. They wonder how anyone can claim to be building a better future without thinking of the environmental crisis and the sufferings of the excluded.”

SF Chronicle editorial: A climate pilgrimage

Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle
[Editor:  The San Francisco Chronicle ran three (!) stories on the Vatican Conference on climate change, including two rather stiff challenges to California Governor Jerry Brown.  See below for one.  See also: As California pumps out oil, Gov. Brown says world must cut back … and SF Mayor touts green vehicles at Vatican conference.  – RS]

Climate change road trip for Jerry Brown and Ed Lee

Editorial, The San Francisco Chronicle, July 21, 2015 5:16pm

California is taking its climate change ambitions on a pilgrimage to Rome. The mission amplifies the major steps that have put this state out front in reshaping energy use and also taps into a sweeping papal message on reining in environmental damage.

Leading the tour is Gov. Jerry Brown, joined by San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee among some 60 global mayors. The Vatican gathering, which will also touch on human trafficking, intends to build on Pope Francis’ encyclical denouncing the toll from climate change and puts pressure on world leaders to take action at a U.N. summit in Paris in December.

Former Jesuit seminarian Brown put himself in tune with Francis by talking up the “moral dimension” of human-caused problems such as erratic weather, rising seas and dirty air. But he also struck a more earthly note, lashing out at “troglodyte” skeptics who deny the science behind rising temperatures and shifting climates.

California is already a leader in reducing tailpipe emissions, cutting fossil fuel use and increasing energy efficiency, going well beyond national standards. In the next 15 years, Brown wants to kick up the pace: Half of California’s electricity will come from renewables such as solar, wind or biofuels, and gas pump use will drop by half as well.

He told his audience of clerics and politicians that such goals sound “unimaginable” but are needed. Brown lashed out at “fierce opposition and blind inertia” from doubtful lawmakers and dug-in business interests. Brown himself is no stranger to these pressures, giving his blessing to fracking for oil and gas, widely opposed by environmentalists. In his encyclical, Francis also criticized cap-and-trade regulations as too lax, though the carbon-tax mechanism is a bedrock feature of the governor’s energy plans.

The gathering is also chance for other leaders to showcase policies. Lee unwrapped a plan to phase out petroleum in favor of renewable diesel fuels for the municipal fleet by the end of the year. It’s a another step in clearing the air of damaging greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

SF Mayor touts green vehicles at Vatican conference

Repost from The San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate)
[Editor:  The San Francisco Chronicle ran three (!) stories on the Vatican Conference on climate change, including two rather stiff challenges to California Governor Jerry Brown.  See below for one.  See also: As California pumps out oil, Gov. Brown says world must cut back … and Editorial: A climate pilgrimage.  – RS]

Mayor touts S.F.’s green vehicle plans at Vatican conference

By Emily Green, July 21, 2015 4:25 pm,

San Francisco will switch its municipal fleet — some 6,000 vehicles ranging from fire trucks to police cars — from petroleum to renewable diesel by the end of the year, Mayor Ed Lee said Tuesday during his trip to the Vatican.

“We’re taking action that is good for the global climate, and at the same time promotes environmental justice in our community by leading to cleaner, healthier air for some of our most vulnerable neighborhoods,” Lee said. “The city of St. Francis is answering the pope’s call for local action on global climate change.”

His comments came at a major conference hosted by Pope Francis focusing on climate change and human trafficking.

Renewable diesel — which can be derived from soybean, palm, canola or rapeseed oil, plus animal tallow and grease — is more environmentally friendly than petroleum, but also more expensive to produce. The city will finance the transition by relying on a mix of federal and state rebates, which administration officials said makes biodiesel available at or below the cost of regular gas.

San Francisco has some of the most progressive environmental policies in the country. From 1990 to 2012, it reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 23 percent, said Roger Kim, a senior adviser to Lee on the environment. And it has a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2025.

It began moving away from petroleum diesel six years ago by transitioning to a blend of fuel that is 20 percent biodiesel and 80 percent petroleum diesel. Last year, the San Francisco Fire Department piloted the use of 100 percent renewable diesel for its fleet.

Renewable diesel is not the same as biodiesel. While both derive in large part from plant and animal oils, they are produced through different chemical processes.