Monthly Archives: November 2017

Sandra Steingraber to speak 12/2 on PCBs, Fracked Gas, Human Health

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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.

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.

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

While Trump Administration Pushes Fossil Fuels in Bonn, Group Demands that Charlie Baker ‘Stand Up!’

Fifty Pioneer Valley organizations are supporting a standout and delivery of a letter to Governor Charlie Baker at his Springfield office on Thursday, November 16, at 12:15 pm. The “Stand Up, Charlie!” action demands that Baker not follow the lead of the Trump Administration and, instead, act now to cut greenhouse gas emissions responsible for catastrophic climate change.
All of the nations of the world but one are supporting the United Nations Climate Accord, as President Trump has threatened to pull out this summer. Contrary to the intent of the gathering, Trump has sent a delegation to the yearly Conference of Parties in Bonn, Germany, to promote coal, gas and nuclear energy. The burning of coal and gas produces carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change, which has already warmed the planet by 1 degree Centigrade and has been responsible for massive hurricanes in the Gulf that have devastated Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the coast of Texas. But there are many U.S. senators, mayors, and governors, who are staging an anti-Trump revolt in Bonn, calling their movement “We are still in!”, indicating their willingness to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
Baker has in the past said that Massachusetts would continue to affirm the Climate Accords, an act compelled by the need to comply with the state’s even-more-stringent Global Warming Solutions Act. Meanwhile, however, he has supported the construction of new gas pipelines and compressor stations and backs a “pipeline tax” that would force electric rate payers to foot the bill for new gas infrastructure.
“Stand Up, Charlie!” was initiated in Boston by the statewide environmental coalition Mass Power Forward focused on clean energy policy, following the example of a single woman who stood outside Baker’s office for 82 days demanding a meeting with him. She was requesting that construction of the Weymouth Compressor Station be stopped.

Others joined her and the protest mounted until last week demonstrators were arrested for sitting in.
Mass Power Forward delivered a letter to Baker in September requesting an state Executive Order that would:
• “Hold state permits (of fossil fuel infrastructure) to the highest standards, rather than ‘Trump standards’”, i.e. preventing those that pose a health risk to state residents;
• Oppose a pipeline tax;
• Promote environmental justice throughout the Administration.
In Springfield, protesters will accompany these demands with demands specific to western Massachusetts:
• Expansion of public transit, specifically the Pioneer Valley Transit Authority;
• Development of east-west high-speed rail transit;
• Blocking large biomass construction; and
• Supporting “climate change refugees” from recent hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the Gulf Coast.
Numerous studies have shown that many more jobs are created by renewable and efficient energy transformation than by continued use of gas, oil and coal. Further, Massachusetts, which has one of the highest asthma rates in the country, will benefit from the health effects of clean air.

There will be a “Stand Up, Charlie” rally at the state office building, 436 Dwight Street in Springfield on Thursday, November 16 from 12:15 to 12:45 pm. Demands for a clean energy future will be delivered to the governor.

SPONSORED BY: Climate Action NOW, Arise for Social Justice, and Springfield Climate Justice Coalition
CO-SPONSORS: 2degreesatgreenneighbors.earth, Abundance Farm, Badass Activists in the Pioneer Valley, Carbon Pollution Fee and Rebate Group, Direct Action Coordinating Committee at Amherst College, Earth Ministry Team of First Church Amherst (UCC), Easthampton Democratic City Committee, Edwards Church, First Churches Peace & Justice, Green Team of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Greater Springfield, Indivisible Noho, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA), Massachusetts Jobs With Justice, Mothers Out Front Amherst, Northampton Democratic City Committee, Northampton Friends Meeting, Out Now!, Partnership for Policy Integrity, Partners in Health, Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition, Pioneer Valley Physicians for Social Responsibility, Pioneer Valley Resist Coalition, Pioneer Valley Women’s March, Pioneer Valley Workers Center, Progressive Democrats of America, Riseup Western Massachusetts Indivisible, Smith Center for Religious & Spiritual Life, Smith Divest, Social Justice Commission of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish, Social Justice Commission of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Massachusetts, Sojourner Truth School for Social Change Leadership, Springfield Area Interfaith Climate Action Network (SAICAN), Springfield League of Women Voters, Springfield Noone Leaves, Sugar Shack Alliance, Sustain Us, The Enviro Show, The Northampton High Environmental Club, The Resistance Center for Peace and Justice, Tikkun Olam Committee of the Jewish Community of Amherst (JCA), Toxics Action Center, Traprock Center for Peace and Justice, Unitarian Society of Northampton and Florence Climate Action Group,  Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst Green Sanctuary Committee, Western Mass Code Pink, Western Mass Standing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), Young Democrats of Northampton & Youth Rise Together

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Marty Nathan martygjf@comcast.net 413-531-9915 or Jesse Lederman jesselederman2016@gmail.com  413-734-4948

Columbia Gas wants Longmeadow connection to interstate pipeline

By Jim Kinney, Springfield Republican
November 3, 2017

LONGMEADOW — Columbia Gas of Massachusetts wants a new connection built on the Tennessee Gas Pipeline in Longmeadow that would bring more gas to customers in Longmeadow, Springfield and Chicopee and make Springfield less reliant on a single supply line over the Connecticut River.

The project, which could be built in a single construction season once all the approvals are in place, is one of a package of gas-delivery network projects Stephen H. Bryant, president of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, discussed Friday with reporters and editors at The Republican.

The proposal was also part of a set of documents Columbia Gas filed Thursday for approval at the state Department of Public Utilities.

Other projects include replacing 8,500 feet of aging pipe buried under Springfield streets with modern gas lines, a new compressor station and 2-mile pipeline loop from Agawam to Springfield, and a 6-mile, 12-inch pipeline costing $24 million through West Springfield and Holyoke that could end a moratorium on new gas hookups in Easthampton and Northampton.

That moratorium could be lifted sometime in 2020 if plans move forward, Bryant said.

A new, utility-owned pipeline, a capacity-swap deal with Holyoke, and a beefed-up Agawam compressor station could provide an alternative to the maxed-out Northampton Lateral.

No site in Longmeadow has been selected yet, Bryant said. But the utility has already had preliminary meetings with the town, where development and building projects are notoriously difficult to get approved.

“We would stay away from a residential area,” Bryant said.

The pipeline passes through the southern part of town. The connection itself, a sort of off-ramp from the east-west Tennessee Gas Pipeline, would be on about an acre of land and would be a collection of pipes in a small building. It would not be staffed.

This off-ramp would be connected to Columbia’s existing network by pipes buried in the public right-of-way that is under town streets, Bryant said.

It would be built and paid for by Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which would then charge Columbia a tariff on the gas it buys to recoup the cost. He didn’t have a dollar estimate but said the cost passed on to ratepayers might be offset by lower costs for the gas itself as Columbia adds more sources of gas to its portfolio.

Longmeadow Town Manager Stephen Crane didn’t respond to emailed questions Friday afternoon.

» Read original article

RELATED:

» Columbia Gas: Northampton, Easthampton service moratoriums could be lifted by 2020

By Mary C. Serreze, Springfield Republican
November 3, 2017

 

Editorial: Nice to see concerns on pipeline projects heard, considered

Greenfield Recorder Editorial
November 10, 2017

It’s hard to see why the Legislature shouldn’t embrace two recently introduced bills that would protect us from a future Kinder Morgan gas pipeline.

Not quite two years ago, Franklin County dodged a bullet when local opposition, a state Supreme Judicial Court decision and changing financial currents sank the Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct pipeline that would have cut a swath through Franklin County on its way from Pennsylvania to the seacoast. Foes of the multi-billion dollar project argued it would have cut through environmentally sensitive lands the state had paid tax dollars to protect from development. The pipeline posed environmental and health hazards to residents along its route — to provide fuel that wasn’t really needed in Massachusetts or could be provided in less disruptive ways.

The real kick in the gut was that local electric generators who wanted the extra gas supplies planned to pass on the cost in advance to their customers. If the project had failed, those customers would still have taken the financial hit.

Thankfully, the high court refused to allow electricity companies to force on to their customers investments in pipelines that those customers opposed.

Now, more than 120 state legislators have called for passage of bills to protect consumers from unwanted pipeline expansion by codifying that court ruling in law and by forcing the state’s utility regulatory agency to listen to affected towns and their legislators.

A bill filed by state Rep. Stephen Kulik guarantees municipalities, legislators representing electricity ratepayer communities, and groups of 10 or more ratepayers the right to intervene in Department of Public Utilities hearings on rate hikes, and strengthens the department’s review where new interstate gas infrastructure financing is involved, requiring that environmental and community impacts be considered. It also requires the DPU to consider lower impact alternatives to a pipeline proposal.

All of this sounds like common sense, but was in dispute during the NED pipeline fight when the DPU rejected a request by Kulik, along with Senate President Stan Rosenberg, D-Amherst, then-Sen. Benjamin Downing, D-Pittsfield, and Rep. Paul Mark, D-Peru, to intervene in its review of the pipeline on behalf of the towns the pipeline would have crossed. Also supporting the new bills are other county legislators: Sen. Adam Hinds, D-Pittsfield, as well as Reps. Paul Mark, D-Peru, and Susannah Whipps, I-Athol.

Kulik said the DPU’s position that the legislators were not “substantially and specifically affected” by their decisions was “absurd,” “ridiculous” and “insulting.”

“Our experience in working to defeat that misguided project made it clear that the permitting and financing procedures for natural gas infrastructure do not align with our clean energy future in Massachusetts, and place unjustifiable environmental and financial risks on citizens and ratepayers,” Kulik said in submitting the new bill.

He added in his letter, “We must reform procedures at the Department Public Utilities so that the voices of ratepayers, communities and legislators are fully heard and considered by utility regulators.”
His position was reinforced by the regional grassroots anti-pipeline awareness coalition president Kathryn Eiseman, who said, “This legislation … would allow the public to have a meaningful role in agency decisions that will impact us for decades to come … The DPU currently believes it can bar municipalities and ratepayers from banding together to participate in DPU proceedings in an orderly fashion with legal counsel and technical experts of their choice.”

We can’t agree enough — and we were happy to see our legislative delegation stand so strongly for the interests of Franklin County.

After all, these proposed laws, while not in themselves blocking potentially worthwhile energy projects in the future, would protect our neighbors, the environment and the economy from the self-interest of pipeline companies and electricity generators by giving us an equal voice before the DPU and by requiring a gas pipeline company’s investors — not local electricity users — pay up front for questionable pipeline projects.

» Read original publication

Let the Landscape Speak : Presentation on Ceremonial Stone Landscapes

A presentation on Ceremonial Stone Landscapes by Narragnasett Indian Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Doug Harris and Attorney Anne Marie Garti to be held on Sunday, December 3rd, 3 pm at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment in Amherst, MA.

Learn directly from the leaders of the fight to protect Native American Ceremonial Stone Landscapes from pipeline construction. Narragansett Indian Deputy Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Doug Harris will be joined by Attorney Anne Marie Garti to talk about the history and significance of Ceremonial Stone Landscapes and their fight to take FERC to task for ignoring the Historic Preservation Act in permitting the CT Expansion pipeline in Massachusetts, setting precedent for future pipeline fights.
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Sliding scale admission: Suggested donation $5-$50 (no one turned away). Proceeds raise funds for the legal fight to preserve these ancient sites. If you can’t attend, but would like to donate, please visit here for more information.

3:00 PM
Hitchcock Center for the Environment
845 West Street
Amherst, MA

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