Methane is leaking all over the place

PORTER RANCH, CA - JANUARY 16: A woman holds a sign while attending a public hearing before the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) regarding a proposed stipulated abatement order to stop a nearby massive natural gas leak, on January 16, 2016 in Granada Hills, near Porter Ranch, California. More than 80,000 metric tons of methane gas have spewed from the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility since October 23, causing thousands of Porter Ranch residents to leave their homes, and the closures of two schools where students are being bussed to campuses farther away from the gas. State officials are now concerned that a seventh attempt to plug the well may have increased the chance of a blowout, which would greatly increase the release of gas as well as the risk of a massive well fire if ignited by a spark. The Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) hopes to repair the leak by sometime in March. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

This excellent article starts with the massive Aliso Canyon methane leak in southern California and goes on to note that:

-About 10 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions came from methane in 2012, and 30 percent of those emissions came not from fuel use, but from the extraction and distribution of oil and natural gas.

-Methane can leak almost anywhere in the natural gas supply chain. Studies show that it is leaking at almost every point in the supply chain — at drilling sites, along pipelines, at compression stations, at storage facilities like Aliso Canyon and along the networks of piping that deliver natural gas to homes. About the only thing unusual about the Aliso Canyon leak is its size.

AlisoCanyonGoogleEarthDatViz

The article quotes BU researcher Nathan Phillips extensively, and this article has much more detail about the Aliso Canyon methane storage field leak and its health effects. Check them both out!

Fore River Residents Against the Pipeline sponsor talk about the health risks of proposed Algonquin pipeline compressor station in Weymouth

Folks in Flint, MI are lucky to have a local pediatrician, Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, fighting to clean up their lead-contaminated water. Without her tireless efforts, the State of Michigan would still be claiming that the water is just fine in Flint.

The residents of Weymouth and those of us nearby are also privileged to have a local pediatrician fighting for us. Dr. Curtis Nordgaard, of Boston Children’s Hospital is on a tear. On his own time, Dr. Nordgaard has done superb amounts of research about the hazards to our health that come with the installation of gas compressor stations, metering and regulating stations and gas pipelines, in general. Compressor stations are the most dangerous according to Dr. Nordgaard. He is currently traveling throughout the region providing citizens with the information they need to fight Spectra Energy and its push into New England with more pipelines.

Last Tuesday, two BCANers trucked down to the Quincy Public Library where the Fore River Residents Against the Pipeline in Weymouth hosted Dr. Nordgaard and his incredibly detailed and clear power point presentation. He outlines the amount of toxic materials released during the compression process. The list includes: acetaldehyde, acrolein, BTEX (benzene, toluene, ethylbenzonexylene….whew!), formaldahyde and naphthalene (one of many VOCs or volatile organic compounds) among others such as particulate matter and nitrogen oxide. In addition, there are unknown, most likely toxic, materials that are emitted but are “protected information” for the corporation.

The Doctor took all of his information from the paperwork that Spectra was required to submit in their own application. From those data he did his own calculations having to do with limits set by the CDC and EPA for health consequences. He also has set meters in people’s backyards and on buildings nearby to read the air quality now in the area of the proposed compressor station to use as a baseline.

Here is one example Dr.Nordgaard calculated: Formaldehyde is considered carcinogenic at .06ppb and toxic at 8-40ppb. The cancer it causes is of the nose/throat and leukemia. The amount the Weymouth compressor station would emit if approved, would be 762x the carcinogenic threshold and 1.25-6x the toxicity threshold. Dr. Nordgaard had such numbers for most of the other toxic releases.

By going to this site you will find more information regarding the damage that is caused and all of his references.

Dr. Nordgaard was quite moving and really urged folks to get involved either at the State level by lobbying Senators and at the local level by getting involved in direct action. He showed one picture of a demonstration at the West Roxbury Lateral Pipeline this last fall. We were able to encourage the audience to participate by mentioning that we were part of the movement to stop these pipelines and had in fact been at the protest.

Now we have another group to support to end these unnecessary and dangerous pipelines. On to clean, renewable energy!

Why we don’t need new gas supply pipelines

The Jan. 23 Globe ran a summary of Governor Baker’s energy plans that omitted some essential facts about new gas pipelines.

NO-PIPELINE-Greenfyre-FarmBaker wants us to pay billions of dollars for massive new gas pipelines across Massachusetts. These will supply more gas on the coldest and hottest days when demand is highest, supplies run short, and the price of gas spikes.

But last year, during an exceptionally severe winter, the price of gas didn’t spike. Why? Because we stockpiled liquified natural gas, using offshore terminals built a decade ago and scarcely used since. It makes more sense to use existing, under-utilitized infrastructure than build costly, redundant new pipelines.

Our utility companies, which plan to profit from the proposed pipelines, could also hold down demand by agreeing with their customers to cut energy use during peak periods. Massachusetts is far behind other states in managing peak demand. As a consequence, 40 percent of our generating capacity lies idle 90 percent of the time. It’s just there for those very cold or hot days. We customers are paying for those idle plants, and it’s another reason our electric rates are as high as they are.

The utilities could take other steps to cut demand. The gas utilities could repair their leaky distribution pipes instead of wasting enough gas to heat 200,000 homes in greater Boston alone. They could put more money into weatherization programs instead of trying to cut them back. And most important, they could support more solar and wind power instead of trying to limit new solar projects. Our electrical generation is more dependent on gas than almost any other state’s. The price spikes are telling us that we are too dependent, and if we want cheap reliable energy, we should diversify our energy sources and cut our usage. After all, the cheapest electricity is the electricity you don’t use.

“No Pipeline” Folks Organize Intense Week of Activity

(Thanks to Beyond Extreme Energy for this post, and for organizing much of this!)

The fight against fracked gas pipelines intensified in the past week all over the Northeast, from rural northwest Massachusetts to FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) headquarters in Washington, D.C. and points between. People are standing up to reclaim their rights to clean air, clean water, a stable climate and peace of mind on their own land.

MLK pipeline march

First, over the three-day Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, hundreds of people participated in a walk to Stop the Pipeline – in this case, Tennessee Gas Company’s Northeast Energy Direct project, pushed by parent company Kinder Morgan. Walk organizer Hattie Nestel noted that opposition comes from the grassroots all the way up to some of the state’s top elected leadership. “People are really upset about this, so there’s a lot of activism in Massachusetts to stop this pipeline, and we might do it, we just might do it.”

While six members of Beyond Extreme Energy joined others to walk the entire 34-mile route — ending on a day with a minus 3 degrees windchill – other participants including three from BostonCAN walked for a day or two, some with young children in tow; they will suffer the most from worsening climate change caused by burning fossil fuels, including methane, which is what constitutes “natural” fracked gas. This is what is spewing without let-up from the Aliso Canyon storage facility in Los Angeles County.

More at https://www.popularresistance.org/peaceful-protesters-walk-against-pipeline/

Two days later, on January 20, a group of Pennsylvania residents harmed by fracked gas infrastructure took over the final meeting of Governor Tom Wolf’s Infrastructure Task Force, calling it a “task farce” because it consistently excluded the voices of frontline community members.  Instead of pipelines, protestors demanded that the Governor convene a task force to focus on renewable energy.

“My friends and neighbors in Butler County have already been harmed by the reckless practices of the gas industry and the enablers in Pennsylvania’s government. This rubber stamping farce has done nothing but increase the likelihood that the destruction will continue and even escalate,” said Michael Bagdes-Canning.

More than 20 people participated in the disruption while more protested outside. As they took the center of the meeting space and chanted that they were “the peoples’ task force,” capital police arrested seven for disorderly conduct.

More at https://www.popularresistance.org/pipeline-task-force-meeting-shut-down/

The next day – in the 15th consecutive monthly protest at FERC organized by BXE – five activists who have not already been banned from attending the monthly FERC Commissioners’ meeting disrupted it, speaking out against FERC’s rubber stamping of gas projects generally and against the Atlantic Sunrise project in eastern Pennsylvania specifically. Also attending was a woman from western Pennsylvania, in the heart of the fracking fields, and a woman from Kansas who said about once a week she feels the earthquakes happening in neighboring Oklahoma due to the injection of fracking fluids into the ground. After those individuals were escorted out, a larger group that had been banished to the overflow room began a song to the tune of Frere Jacques, accusing FERC of sleeping through climate change. They sounded the alarm for action with noisemakers, whistles and their voices. No arrests were made.

Finally, in a double-header on January 21, about 30 people carried out a protest at a major Bank of America branch across from the White House. They tried, without success, to engage the bank manager in conversation about the bank’s funding of projects that greatly harm communities, including Dominion Resources’ construction of a $3.8 billion LNG (liquefied natural gas) export terminal in Cove Point, Maryland, on the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. He threatened to have them arrested; after 15 minutes they went outside and held an hour-long rally on the sidewalk.

More at https://www.popularresistance.org/action-to-tell-bank-of-america-dump-dominion/

Steve Norris, who participated in all four actions, said, “BXE was glad to be a part of all these protests, in spite of the cold. We also had a very successful leafleting of employees at FERC today. Several employees thanked us for the work we are doing, one of them saying as he took a leaflet, ‘I’m totally with you guys.’”

Building a Clean Energy Narrative through Theatre

By Sara Driscoll

For BostonCAN, fixing gas leaks is about much more than the leaks alone—it’s about moving away from fossil fuel infrastructure toward a clean energy future. It is deeply connected to movement to stop pipelines and invest in renewables and good jobs. As much as these issues affect all of us, when we talk about them it can be difficult not to get into a rabbit hole of technical terms and policy “wonkishness.”

As part of our efforts to communicate the relevance of these issues to communities across the city, BostonCAN members spent the summer and performing a Cantastoria, a medieval street theater piece telling the story of the health, safety and environmental dangers of gas leaks, their costs to consumers, in the midst of a larger struggle against pipelines and for clean, reliable energy and good jobs, all in 5 minutes!

Check out our cantastoria video.

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BCAN Players performing at the state house before a legislative hearing on gas leaks.

We performed at community events including Elma Lewis Playhouse in Franklin Park; the East Boston farmer’s market; a community street party organized by NOAH (Neighborhood of Affrodable Housing), also in East Boston; the Mass College of Art Green Festival; and at the 30th birthday celebration for Boston’s oldest gas leak on Park Drive. And, this past November we had the honor of performing it at the rally before the legislative hearing for two gas leak bills we have been working with our allies, Clean water Action, HEET, Mothers Out front, and Sierra Club to pass.

We are always looking for new people to get involved in our performances!  If you are interested, let us know at bostonclimateaction@gmail.com.

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BCAN Players performing at the 30th birthday party for Boston’s oldest gas leak on Park Drive.

Polar bears in Bermuda shorts?

Freak storm pushes temperatures at North Pole 50 degrees above normal to melting point

Washington Post, December 30, 2015

This storm in the far North Atlantic is the same storm that caused two tornado outbreaks and widespread flooding in the United States. Now, it’s pushing temperatures at the North Pole well above average. (earth.nullschool.net)

A powerful winter cyclone — the same storm that led to two tornado outbreaks in the United States and disastrous river flooding — has driven the North Pole to the freezing point this week, 50 degrees above average for this time of year….

As this storm churns north, it’s forcing warm air into the Arctic Circle. Over the North Sea, sustained winds from the south are blasting at 70 mph, and gusting to well above 100 mph, drawing heat from south to north….

On Wednesday morning, temperatures over a vast area around North Pole were somewhere between 30 and 35 degrees Fahrenheit, and for at least a brief moment, surpassed the 32-degree threshold at exactly 90 degrees North, according to data from the GFS forecast model.

Thoughts for 2016

“After Paris: Unify Fights Against Austerity and Climate Change” by Asbjørn Wahl, The Bullet, January 1, 2016

The Climate Summit in Paris has once again reminded us of how vulnerable we are on planet earth. However, humanity is faced with a number of deep and challenging crises: economic, social, political, over food – and, of course, over climate change, which is threatening the very existence of millions of people. These crises have many of the same root causes, going to the core of our economic system.

Strong vested interests are involved….Seven of the ten biggest and most powerful companies in the world are oil companies. These firms are using all their power to avoid policies that hurt their economic interests. They execute enormous economic and political power. Where politicians are for sale, they buy them. Where governments or regimes challenge their power, they contribute to getting rid of them.

Workers all over the world fight against these interlocked crises – they fight for jobs, decent jobs, for living wages, for social protection, they fight against social degradation, they fight to improve their communities, for their livelihoods. Many of the policies used elsewhere to combat these crises are so-called austerity policies. But these are not, as some will have it, “necessary cuts in over-expanded public services” or “necessary downward adjustment to make workers’ wages competitive.” Austerity is a class-based policy – with the ultimate aim of increasing the return on investment. This represents the main frontline in the class war now coursing over the world….

To bring strategic sectors of our economy into public ownership under democratic control will have to be a decisive part of the struggle ahead. In the fight against climate change, the energy sector stands at the forefront: CO2 emissions are all about energy, and without bringing that sector under democratic control, we will not achieve the deep transformations we need rapidly enough.

See the full article at http://www.socialistproject.ca/bullet/1204.php#continue

After the Paris Talks: The Way Forward

Thanks to our western Mass. friends in Climate Action Now for this roundup on the Paris climate talks and this inspiring recommitment for 2016!

Something important happened in Paris. The leaders of countries across the world publicly admitted that we are facing unprecedented, human- caused climate catastrophe. Our world leaders had no choice given both the irrefutable evidence that climate change is upon us and the unstoppable power of the growing global movement for climate justice.

Much of the media coverage has been enthusiastic and celebratory. For alternative perspectives please check out the resources below which include critical analysis of the Paris Agreement. These resources address both the limitations of the agreement and the significance of the growing climate justice movement.

Our global system is stressed by climate change, economic inequality, racial oppression, mighty corporations and a war machine that devours fossil fuels. Can the ecological emergency be the catalyst that unites us in a common quest to create a more just and livable world? Can we heed the urgency of the call to keep 80% of our fossil fuels in the ground, to rapidly scale up renewables, and to escalate our fight for climate justice?

Climate Action Now will continue to grapple with these questions even as we remain focused on our local campaigns in collaboration with our partner organizations. We welcome everyone to join us as we organize for climate justice in Springfield, mobilize to defeat the Kinder Morgan Pipeline, work for divestment from fossil fuels, a fair price on carbon and public policies that support rapid expansion of renewable energy and the jobs these investments create.

We recommit in this new year to the nurturing of our relationships with each other and with the land that we love; the creative expression of our climate hopes, fears and dreams; the deepening of our intergenerational bonds; and the expansion of our acts of solidarity and resistance.

Go here to see The hard truth about Paris from 350.org

Go to Democracy Now and click on Paris Climate Summit 2015

Peoples Test on Climate

Naomi Klein, Bill McKibben Knock Paris Climate Deal
Too little, too late. Redouble the fight, say two leading activists.

Seven Wrinkles in the Paris Climate Deal

Claim no easy victories. Paris was a failure, but a climate justice movement is rising

Speaking of Paris…

Here are three takes on the global climate change summit.

From the New York Times

Paris Climate Talks Avoid Scientists’ Idea of ‘Carbon Budget’

….The carbon budget will probably not get much attention in Paris for simple reasons.

Wrestling with a budget would, for instance, throw into stark relief the global inequities at the heart of the climate crisis. And it would underscore just how big the problem really is, how costly the delay in tackling it has been and how inadequate the plans being discussed in Paris are for limiting the risks…..

Moreover, any serious discussion of the carbon budget would amplify a point of serious contention, known as “climate injustice,” in the talks.

To The Bullet Socialist Project….

COP21 Fossil Fuel Addiction: A guide for intervention from the climate justice movement

Fossil Fuel Addiction is killing the planet. The Climate Justice Movement must ready for an intervention before this addiction kills us all. The following is a practical guide to recognize addictive behaviour as well as how to effectively intervene to assist in the Addict’s recovery….

Linear thinking is the enemy. Addicts tend toward linear and concrete dissociative thinking. Remind them we are now living amidst abrupt climate change. When severe distortions are introduced and become systemically disruptive, eco-systems become defined more by chaos theory and complex dynamics….

Don’t be afraid to say how you really feel. A non-violent, direct-action, civil disobedience intervention will not be effective if you worry more about the Addicts’ feelings than you do about the future of the planet, or those immediately immediately impacted….

Get professional help. If you are still not able to convince the polluter to seek treatment, ask a seasoned professional agitator to assist you….

And the best of all, from The Bullet:

Our Fight for Survival

Although it is not nearly as large or powerful as it needs to be, the climate movement today is a force to be reckoned with, a sprawling tent of groups capable of scoring such victories as pushing Shell out of the Arctic and killing the Keystone XL pipeline. It is that force that has now been taken off the streets of Paris.

Why?…what is it the French state and its allies in this warming world want to achieve in Paris?…to produce the semblance of a solution, to instill the feeling that our leaders have finally promised to care for our common future and have stood up to the challenge of our time, and bla bla bla.

But the whole construction will, in the ever-dispassionate words of Ciplet et al., have “furthered the interests of a powerful investor class while largely failing to address our most pressing issues of environmental and social inequality” – put a veneer of good intentions on the brutal realities of business as usual. Fossil capital keeps profiting – others suffer the murderous consequences.

Read on!