Monthly Archives: November 2017

Dec. 2, Sandra Steingraber at Lenox, MA

Ecologist Dr. Sandra Steingraber comes to Berkshire County to speak on PCBs, fracked gas, pipelines and human health

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Ecologist, Activist, Author Dr. Sandra Steingraber

On December 2nd, Sandra Steingraber, renowned ecologist and author will speak about how PCBs, fracked gas, and pipelines are impacting ecological and human health at 5 PM at Lenox High School, 197 East Street, Lenox, MA. Steingraber brings a clear, passionate voice to the complex evidence of biology.

Dr. Steingraber’s 1997 book Living Downstream: An Ecologist’s Personal Investigation of Cancer and the Environment changed the way we think about toxic chemicals and their connections to cancer. Living Downstream was based on by Steingraber’s personal journey as a cancer survivor and her career as a scientist. In 2010 the book was released as a film.

Steingraber has written extensively about topics ranging from climate change and toxic chemical exposure to developmental and reproductive disorders.

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From the new documentary, “Unfractured”

Steingraber’s other works include Raising Elijah: Protecting Children in an Age of Environmental Crisis, Having Faith: An Ecologist’s Journey to Motherhood, and Post Diagnosis.

She also is featured in the recent documentary Unfractured as an activist speaking out about the environmental risks of fracking.

PCBs (Polychlorinated biphenyls) are the toxic chemical that pollutes the Housatonic River and has contaminated the food chain of the earth. Fracked gas and the pipelines carrying that gas have been on the frontline of environmental debates as severe dangers to the environment.

December 2, 2017
5:00 PM
Lenox High School
197 East Street
Lenox, MA

The presentation begins at 5 PM and will be followed by a question and answer period, as well as a book-signing.

For more info, please contact Elizabeth Orenstein, Berkshire Environmental Action Team (BEAT),, (413) 717-1255

Dec. 3, Protecting Indigenous Sacred Stone Landscapes

Doug Harris, Narragansett Indian Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer is joined by Attorney Anne Marie Garti in an illustrated talk on Indigenous Ceremonial Stone Landscapes with question and answer period.

turtle-effigy-newer-clearer.pngThe forests of New England are dotted with Ceremonial Stone Landscapes, living prayers of stone created by the Indigenous peoples of this region. The traditional belief is that these stone structures were placed to create and restore harmony between human beings and Mother Earth. The prayers they embody continue to live as long as the stone landscapes are kept intact.

Some of these Ceremonial Stone Landscapes are now being destroyed for gas pipeline projects, including one-third of the 73 stone features identified in Otis State Forest in Sandisfield, MA. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is supposed to ensure that these features are studied before it issues a license, but FERC regularly fails to do what it is supposed to do.

Doug Harris publicity photo

Doug Harris, Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for NITHPO, will provide an illustrated overview of Ceremonial Stone Landscapes and their importance.

FERC must be held accountable, but litigation is a long and costly endeavor. The Narragansett Indian Tribal Historic Preservation Office (NITHPO) is asking for public support to bring a case against FERC to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. While harm has already been done in Otis State Forest, desecration of other sites can be avoided by making FERC comply with the law.

“This is an opportunity to support the Indigenous peoples of our region so they can challenge FERC’s behavior in the courts.” said Susan Theberge of the community coalition supporting NITHPO’s efforts. “If successful, Ceremonial Stone Landscapes will be preserved, not destroyed, a result that would have national implications.”

December 3, 2017

Hitchcock Center for the Environment
845 West Street
Amherst, MA 01002

Sliding scale tickets: $5-$50 at the door
(sponsored by Climate Action Now)

A benefit presentation sponsored to raise funds for the protection of Indigenous sacred Ceremonial Stone Landscapes.

For more information or to make online contributions, go to If you prefer to send a check, please make it out to “Creative Thought and Action”, write CSL in the memo line, and mail it to Rene Theberge, 250 Shutesbury Rd., Amherst, MA 01002.

For more info or assistance with donation, contact Susan Theberge, 413-575-7345

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker Is a Climate Criminal—And I’m Willing to Go to Jail to Say So

by Wen Stephenson, The Nation
November 23, 2017

As the UN climate conference in Bonn, where the US government shilled for fossil-fuel corporations, was coming to a close last Thursday, several hundred Massachusetts citizens who care about climate and climate justice massed inside the State House at high noon, under the shining gold dome on Boston’s Beacon Hill. It was the peak of a months-long grassroots campaign asking the commonwealth’s Republican governor, Charlie Baker, to sign an executive order preventing any new fossil-fuel infrastructure in the state, including controversial fracked-gas pipelines that have been a flashpoint for years.

I was among the 26 of us, including prominent clergy members, who proceeded up the grand staircase to Baker’s executive suite, a noisy throng of supporters at our backs, where we would sit-in all day and into the night, prepared to be arrested and go to jail. The week before, six people sat-in inside the office, but this time we were prevented by State Troopers from entering the suite, so we settled in on the hard floor of the ornate marble hallway outside its doors. We sang, we chanted, we spoke out; some of us prayed; some wept. You see, after two months during which ordinary citizens stood outside Baker’s office, week after week, we had not received even a minute of the governor’s time.

Back in January, as Donald Trump took office, I and others addressed a crowd on the State House steps, challenging Baker to reject Trump, Tillerson, and the rest of Trump’s science-denying cabinet, and to represent Massachusetts voters by showing some moral courage on climate change. That wasn’t going to happen.

Although Baker, a moderate GOP governor of an otherwise blue state, eventually reassured voters that he accepts climate science and even joined those supporting the US commitment under the Paris Agreement—a pledge so manifestly inadequate as to be almost meaningless—he nevertheless remains in the pocket of the fossil-fuel lobby and big utilities pushing for unnecessary new pipelines and gas-fired power plants.

Now, there’s a wonkish temptation to get deep into the policy weeds on gas and electricity—a temptation that should be resisted. Because on this one, the facts are straightforward. Anyone who claims to accept climate science and to take climate seriously simply cannot support building out new fossil-fuel infrastructure at this late date, locking in carbon and methane emissions for decades to come, far beyond the point at which the IPCC tells us, and the Paris Agreement affirms, we must decarbonize our energy systems. It’s an emergency situation, and at some point—as we should have long ago—we need to act like it.

» Read full article

‘This Is an Emergency’: 1 Million African Americans Live Near Oil, Gas Facilities

In some states, 1 in 5 African-American residents lives within a half-mile of an oil or gas production, processing or storage facility, a new study says.

By Phil McKenna & Marianne Lavelle, Inside Climate News
November 14, 2017

A new analysis concludes what many in African-American communities have long experienced: Low-income, black Americans are disproportionately exposed to toxic air pollution from the fossil fuel industry.

More than 1 million African Americans live within a half-mile of oil and natural gas wells, processing, transmission and storage facilities (not including oil refineries), and 6.7 million live in counties with refineries, potentially exposing them to an elevated risk of cancer due to toxic air emissions, according to the study.


When the authors looked at proximity to refineries, they found that about 40 percent of all people living in counties with refineries in Michigan, Louisiana and Pennsylvania are African American, and 54 percent in Tennessee are.

In three other states—Oklahoma, Ohio and West Virginia—they found that about one in five African-American residents statewide lives within a half-mile of an oil or gas facility.

“We have a real problem with air,” said Doris Browne, president of the National Medical Association, a national organization of black physicians and sponsor of the study. “We think it’s just a little smog and fog, but we need to worry about the pollutants in the air we’re breathing.”

The study, Fumes Across the Fence-Line: The Health Impacts of Air Pollution from Oil and Gas Facilities on African American Communities, was published Tuesday by the Clean Air Task Force and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Its findings are based on data from the U.S. EPA’s National Emissions Inventory and the National Air Toxics Assessment, which look at emissions and health risks on a county-by-county level. The authors applied additional analysis to focus solely on emissions and health impacts attributable to pollution from oil and gas facilities, and then used demographic data to estimate health impacts on African-American communities.

The exposure carries extra health risks, the study says. Among African-American children, the study connects emissions from oil and gas facilities to over 138,000 asthma attacks and over 100,000 missed school days each year. (Approximately 13.4 percent of African-American children nationwide have asthma, compared to 7.3 percent for white children.)

An Issue of Environmental Justice

The exposure to pollutants is tied to deeper systemic issues of oppression and poverty, said Marcus Franklin, program specialist on environmental and climate justice for the NAACP and co-author of the report.

Nationally, the study found, African Americans are 75 percent more likely than Caucasians to live in “fence-line” communities—those next to commercial facilities whose noise, odor, traffic or emissions directly affect the population.

Franklin said communities need more choice and control over their energy sources, and a shift away from fossil fuels.

“It is time to shape an energy future that is not exploitative and does not profit from acts of environmental racism,” he said.

» Read the full article


26 Charged with Trespassing, Unlawful Assembly at Governor’s Office to Protest New Pipelines, Power Plants

Blue Mass Group
November 16, 2017

BOSTON, MA— After two months of politely asking Governor Baker to lead on climate and ban new fossil fuel infrastructure, 26 Massachusetts residents joined by approximately 300 supporters launched a sit-in around noon today in the Governor’s office.

The individuals, affiliated with 350 Mass Action and various faith groups, refused to leave until Baker signed an executive order that effectively stops the building of new fossil fuel infrastructure projects in Massachusetts. Gov. Baker did not respond to their requests, so 26 people were charged with trespassing and unlawful assembly by the State Police when the building closed at 6pm today.


“We could not have a more logical ask: we’re just saying as we make new investments in new energy projects, let’s only invest in the best, like solar and wind,” explained Craig Altemose, a spokesperson for 350 Mass Action. “It just does not make sense to continue allowing new gas pipelines and power plants to be built in 2017, when we know we want to be 100% powered by renewable energy within the next 20-30 years.”



Water Protector Micah Lott among speakers during #StandUpCharlie action at the StateHouse. Video by Carole Horowitz

Under President Trump, the United States is now the only nation in the world that does not pledge to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement, after Syria announced its intention to join last week. After a sit-in last week, Governor Baker told State House News that he doesn’t want to “take options off the table,” and proclaimed that “this administration has been a national leader in continuing to reduce our carbon footprint.”

“Massachusetts’ own climate laws require the state to get off of fossil fuels by no later than 2050,” said Claire Miller of the Toxics Action Center, “Governor Baker pledged to have Massachusetts not just meet, but exceed the goals of the Paris Agreement. How can he imagine that we can keep more gas as an option? We cannot afford to build more gas pipelines, power plants, and compressor stations.”

Among those sitting in are a retired medical doctor, a leukemia researcher, three ordained clergy, and parents, grandparents, and more. They are among over 350 concerned residents who have been personally visiting the Governor’s office over the past two months, in increasing numbers, asking him to commit to stopping new fossil fuel projects in their tracks.

“We’re asking the Governor to take this important step before the end of the international climate negotiations in Bonn, Germany, on November 17th,” said Altemose,

“We hope he will send a signal to the world that despite absent political leadership in the White House, other American political leaders are stepping forward.”

The Rev.Dr. Jim Antal, President and Conference Minister of the MA Conference of the United Church of Christ, explained: “For weeks we’ve been offering Gov. Baker the biggest opportunity of his political career. 100 years from now, every child in Mass. will know his name if he commits to stop all new fossil fuel infrastructure in the Commonwealth.  Keeping all options open is a death sentence for future generations.  God is calling our generation to take action NOW.”

“As a Christian, I believe that God entrusted the world to our care. Desecrating the earth by disrupting its climate and unraveling the web of life is an affront against our Creator. In order to avert climate catastrophe and to preserve a habitable planet, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground. We call upon the Governor to help us move as swiftly as possible to a clean energy future in which all communities can thrive.” The Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas, Missioner for Creation Care, Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts and Massachusetts Conference, United Church of Christ.

Rev. Dr. Wendy von Courter, Unitarian Universalist Church of Marblehead “As a human rights activist and a person of faith, I’m clear there is no issue more important that saving our planet.  I am here to appeal to Governor Baker’s heart. Just as my work on racial justice, homelessness and immigration reform becomes meaningless if I don’t work to save our climate, all Governor Baker does becomes moot as well.  He has pledged a commitment to climate justice and now’s the time to deliver on that promise.  I’m counting on him, as a person of faith, to do the right thing, to remain faithful to his promises, and to show us he’s the strong leader we need to move us to the clean energy future our children deserve.”

“As a doctor, I tend to go by “First, do no harm.”  I think that’s a good rule not just for doctors, but for anyone who has power.  And our scientists tell us that by investing any further in fossil fuels, Governor Baker is doing harm;  so I think he needs to stop, right now. We know that President Trump is doing tremendous damage to our country and our planet with his blind support of fossil fuels.  This is the Governor’s chance to break with the Trump madness, put his foot down, and mandate that Massachusetts  build only what’s best for our state and for the world.  I’m not ready to give up on Patient Earth and I’m hoping Governor Baker will join the treatment team.” Dr. Sue Donaldson, M.D., and member of 350 Massachusetts.

“As a scientist, I am driven by the data. 97% of climate scientists agree that human activity is the main contributor to climate change. It is incumbent on the politicians to listen to the experts and craft policy to avert the crisis we face. Instead, Governor Baker is taking a page from President Trump’s playbook and catering to the whims of the fossil fuel corporations while sticking taxpayers with the bill. We expect better in Massachusetts. Governor Baker, sign the executive order and galvanize the green energy revolution in Massachusetts.” – Dr. Jim Mulloy, PhD, and member of 350 Massachusetts.

» Read original article

» Environmental activists continue sit-in at Governor’s office: The coalition has been staging sit-ins for the past two months

By Elisha Machado, WWLP
November 16, 2017