EPA Takes Real Steps Toward Curbing Smog Pollution – Now We Need Your Voice

Jasmine Smog

EPA Takes Real Steps Toward Curbing Smog Pollution – Now We Need Your Voice

September 11, 2014

The Environmental Protection Agency recently found that we’ve been doing it wrong for years; our air is not as clean or as safe as we once supposed. The agency’s smog pollution policy assessment, released in late August, found that current “safe” levels of smog pollution are actually not strong enough to protect our communities, our kids, or the air we breathe.

Doris Toles could tell you that.The Baltimore resident struggles with serious respiratory issues which are only made worse by the poor air quality in the city.

“I had my first asthma attack when I was two. I’m now living with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD),” says Doris. “A person gets COPD like I have after years of asthma attacks permanently weaken the lungs, and there is no cure.”

Doctors told Doris that her asthma is triggered by pollution in the air where she lives. “I have to be very careful and keep my inhaler close at hand on days when smog levels are high.”

When smog is inhaled, the harm it does has been likened to getting a sunburn on your lungs. Thankfully, we’ve got a chance to put things right. This December, the EPA will propose new smog pollution protections that can get America’s air quality back on track.

 “Safe” smog pollution levels were first lowered in 2008 from 88 parts per billion (ppb) to 75 ppb, but it turns out those protections were not enough to ensure clean, safe air for children and vulnerable populations living near the sources of this pollution. New recommendations from scientists since the 2008 protections have found that we need to ratchet them down to 60 ppb, in order to guard against dangerous air. The recent smog pollution policy assessment echoed this sentiment, recommending that the levels be reduced to a range of 60 to 70 ppb.

While we applaud the EPA’s assessment for acknowledging the need to strengthen the current safeguards, it’s important to note that the devil is in the details, which is why we need your help. Thousands of lives hang in the balance between 60 ppb and 70 ppb, and are pushing hard for the EPA to propose 60 ppb protections in December.

At Sierra Club, we have strongly advocated for a 60 ppb standard for years because the science is clear that it will better protect families from smog pollution from power plants and tailpipe emissions. Smog pollution can trigger respiratory problems like asthma attacks and cardiovascular problems. Over time, continued exposure can even lead to premature death.

Doris has lost friends and family to severe asthma attacks. For her and many others, it’s a matter of life and death. “Cleaning up this pollution helps people like me stay alive,” she says.

A 60 ppb standard would safeguard families, especially young children and the elderly, from these health hazards and save roughly $100 billion in health care costs. The EPA also estimates that cutting back to safer levels of smog pollution (60 ppb) would prevent 12,000 premature deaths, 21,000 hospitalizations and the stop the loss of 2.5 million work and school days each year. In view of this, the smog pollution policy assessment is an important step toward holding polluters accountable and lifting this huge burden off our communities.

In the months ahead, we work to secure the strongest possible protections for those who need them most. Let EPA know you support strong standards here.

–Mary Anne Hitt, Beyond Coal Campaign Director

Duke Energy/Dominion Pipeline – N.C. Public Meetings, VA/WV Local Government and Community Reactions

In this update:

  • N.C. and all 8 Counties – Pipeline maps to download!
  • 5 Public Meetings on N.C. pipeline for landowners and concerned citizens – Sept 22, 23, 25
  • Copy of Nelson County Board of Supervisors resolution opposing pipeline
  • 3 Local VA governments move against pipeline (TV coverage)
  • Local groups forming to oppose pipeline
  • Duke Energy will be the largest customer on proposed pipeline

If you missed the other updates, check them out at Opposition Growing in Virgina Over Atlantic Coast Pipeline (Sept 12, 2014), Update on Duke Energy/Dominion Fracking Gas Pipeline (Sept 10, 2014) and  “Fracking boom prompts $5B Dominion gas pipeline” (Sept 7, 2014).

Maps of proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline – NC and all 8 Counties

ACP NC and County MapsAPC-NC-Map-and-Counties

5 Public Meetings on N.C. pipeline for landowners and concerned citizens – Sept 22, 23, 25

Pipeline Public Meetings

“The Nelson County Board of Supervisors hereby firmly opposes the construction and operation of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.”

Nelson County Pipeline Resolution

More opposition forms in Va. over gas pipeline to N.C.

John Downey. Sept 12, 2014
Local newspapers and television stations in western Virginia report that over the past several days, three local government boards have passed resolutions concerning the 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which starts across the state line in Harris County, W.Va. Two opposed the project outright.
WHSV-TV in Harrisonburg reports the seven-member Staunton City Council on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution against the pipeline (see video below). And the News & Advance of Lynchburg reports that a day earlier, a narrowly divided Nelson County Board of Supervisors passed a similar resolution on a 3-2 vote.
Read the full article at http://www.bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/energy/2014/09/more-opposition-forms-in-va-over-gas-pipeline-to-n.html.

Staunton Vote Against Pipeline

Hundreds turn out to hear Nelson supes grill Dominion on pipeline

Nelson 100sThere was standing room only in the 650-seat auditorium at Nelson Middle School Tuesday night as residents gathered to hear county officials talk to Dominion reps about the company’s proposed natural gas pipeline. Photo: Graelyn Brashear

Local groups forming to oppose pipeline

Friends of Nelsonhttps://www.facebook.com/No.Nelson.Pipeline

WV Lovershttps://www.facebook.com/wvwildernesslovers.vs.proposed.pipeline

Protesters Rally Against Dominion Pipeline
Protesters Rally Against Dominion Pipeline
Photo by WINA

Duke Energy will be the largest customer on proposed pipeline
Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural Gas want state regulatory approval by Nov. 1 for them to make contracts with the new pipeline.
Sept 9, 2014
John Downey

Duke Energy’s two Carolina utilities will contract for nearly half of the natural gas to be transported daily on the proposed $5 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, according to new filings with regulators.

Duke will be the single largest customer on the pipeline, taking gas for use at three plants in eastern North Carolina.

The pipeline is a joint venture of the commercial operations of Duke, Piedmont Natural Gas and Dominion Resources of Virginia as well as AGL Resources of Atlanta. It will be built and operated by Dominion’s commercial subsidiary. Dominion will own 45 percent of the venture, Duke 40 percent, Piedmont 10 percent and AGL 5 percent.

Duke and Piedmont filed requests with the N.C. Utilities Commission and the S.C. Public Service Commission on Monday. They are requesting permission for their Carolinas’ utility operations to make contracts with ACP because the unregulated commercial subsidiaries of Duke and Piedmont will own stakes in the pipeline. Contracts between regulated and unregulated subsidiaries of the two energy companies must be approved by state regulators.

FERC filing

Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Progress and Piedmont’s utility all ask the commissions to act by Nov. 1. They say any delay could slow applications that must be made for other regulatory approvals. Quick action is necessary, they say, to keep construction on a pace for the pipeline to begin operating Nov. 1, 2018, as proposed.

Those other approvals include a key proceeding with the Federal Energy Regulator Commission, which the companies have said they hope to make a prefiling for later this fall.

It appears the companies want authority to make contracts with ACP before submitting that application, but a spokesman declined to comment further on the reasons action is needed by Nov. 1.

Duke will contract for a maximum of 725 million cubic feet of natural gas from the pipeline daily, more than 48 percent of the pipeline’s capacity. Piedmont will contract for up to 160 million cubic feet per day. PSNC Energy, based in Gastonia, will contract for up to 100 million cubic feet per day.

Dominion and AGL will contract for most of the remainder, though additional customers are being sought for a small amount of capacity that remains on the pipeline.


The People’s Climate March – The Tipping Point for Climate Change

PCM Solutions Not Superstorms

The People’s Climate March gears up to be the tipping point for climate change 

Ariana Nicholson is going. The Carolina Friends School senior says the People’s Climate March in New York City is a chance for young people to speak truth to world leaders—who’ll gather at the United Nations for a climate summit—before it’s too late.

“It’s time our generation had a say in our future,” Nicholson says.

Brian Vaughn is going. The first-year UNC-Chapel Hill student says that curbing climate change “isn’t just nice, it’s life and death” for precarious and marginalized nations on the planet.

Vaughn says he was inspired by Disruption, a new film about the march and why organizers believe it will be the tipping point to positive change, with a turnout of 200,000 people or more.

“I won’t lie to you, I had goose bumps watching it,” Vaughn said.

The tipping point is often a term used to describe the “truly alarming consequences,” as The New York Times editorial board put it, if the average global temperature rises more than the globally agreed-upon limit of 2 degrees Celsius—or 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

March organizers, however, want “tipping point” to mean the number of people needed in the movement to avert disaster. For the United States, that number is 1 percent, they say, and if 3 million Americans demand that our elected leaders take the required actions, we’ll turn things around. They base that figure on how many people were active a half-century ago in the civil rights movement.

I watched Disruption with a social justice group at Western Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Raleigh. (It’s available free at www.watchdisruption.com.) Karen Bearden came too. She’s a long-time activist and organizer for 350.org, the international climate-change group started five years ago by writer Bill McKibben. No question, she and Joe, her husband, will be in New York.

Bearden and I have disagreed about the movement and whether it was building fast enough to meet the threat. I was skeptical. She never doubted it. Now, I hope she’s right. “We’ve been growing, growing, growing since 2009,” she said excitedly. “We are a movement, and with each step, it gets bigger.”

Im optimistic about the climate-change movement even though it does not factor whatsoever in the 2014 elections. Here’s why:

The science is undeniable. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by the United Nations, comprises hundreds of the world’s leading climate scientists and economists. Its reports are virtually unanimous—and dire. The world must reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, the product of fossil fuels burned in power plants, industrial factories and motor vehicles, by 40–70 percent starting within 15 years to avoid pushing global temperatures higher than the 2 degrees Celsius target. Instead of reducing emissions, however, the world continues to generate more—the first decade of the 21st century was our worst ever.

Solutions exist. In the first quarter of 2014, Germany generated 27 percent of its electricity from renewable power sources, mainly solar. The Germans are moving swiftly toward a national goal of 50 percent renewables; on a Sunday in May, they hit a record level of 74 percent. In other words, it can be done.

The solutions will save money. The petroleum and coal industries claim fossil-fuel generation is cheaper than solar, wind and other alternatives. That’s not true if all the costs are calculated. Solar and wind are free once facilities are in place. Compare that with the environmental damage caused by mountaintop removal (coal), fracking (natural gas) and deep-water oil drilling (oil). And as fossil-fuel emissions result in more frequent catastrophic weather—Hurricane Sandy in the U.S., Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last year. The escalating costs are landing on the public, not the industry.

2016 is the year. The U.N. climate summit, which begins Sept. 23, will be followed by a global conference in Paris in 2015 where 190 nations will try to hammer out a climate-change treaty. The U.S., previously obstructionist, will be a constructive force this time for two reasons: 1) President Obama, having achieved health-care reform, will be looking forward to the next big issue; 2) Candidates for president in 2016 will be forced by the climate-change movement and the Paris conference to say what they’ll do to save the planet, if elected.

The good news is, saving the planet will create jobs in the United States and around the world as we shift from life-threatening fossil generation to clean renewable sources.

It will also change politics fundamentally as the petroleum, coal and electric-utility industries cede power to community groups and individuals generating power for themselves using rooftop solar panels, wind turbines, local grids and cars with electric batteries.

Imagine that, we get more jobs, a cleaner planet and cleaner elections. Even in American politics, that’s a hard combination to deny. In fact, it’s a winning platform, Hillary.

This article appeared in print with the headline “Time’s Up.”


Get to the People’s Climate March Anyway That You Can!

Get to the People’s Climate March anyway that you can. 10 buses will be leaving N.C. for NYC! 10 BUSES!

Last reports indicate that seats are available for just 2 buses:

Charlotte Bus #3 with Action NChttp://www.actionnc.org/climate_march?utm_campaign=climate_march&utm_medium=email&utm_source=actionnc. Contact Luis Rodriguez, luis@actionnc.org, for more info.

Raleigh/Durham Bus #4 with Greenway Transithttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/1W6YZN7yoiiDvBmhiwjNNjHwn394ajgXhesjlWsBkRqI/viewform?usp=send_form. Contact Marc Dreyfors, marc@greenwayrides.com, or Nicole Russ, nruss625@aol.com for more info.

Why not take the train? Amtrak trains (Sept. 16–24) offer a 10 percent discount fare: Ask for People’s Climate March Convention Fare Code X22T-908.

For updates, check back here or https://www.facebook.com/NCPeoplesClimateMarch

See you in NYC!

Make Climate Change Louder Than a Thunder Clap

Be stronger than the polluters.

Join the Thunderclap!

Join the Thunderclap and take over social media!

America is about movements, not millionaires.The voice of the people has always been stronger than the powerful few — strong enough to spark revolution. That’s the message we’re going to send polluters in just 11 days when we make history in the streets of New York. You’ve stepped up when it matters and committed to march and now, with just a few days to go, it’s time to ensure the world is watching. So, on September 15th, we’re using Thunderclap to take over social media and build a digital movement as big as the march itself! Join the Thunderclap and ensure People’s Climate March takes over the Internet!Thunderclap makes it simple for climate activists all over the internet to send one coordinated, simultaneous message out on social media. All you have to do is sign up and Thunderclap will make sure your social networks know about People’s Climate March by posting this message: “It’s time to change the trajectory of this planet. Join me in NYC on 9/21. #PeoplesClimate March. http://thndr.it/1lLdq0W.”

Click to go to the Thunderclap page, then follow these three steps:

  1. Click support with Twitter, Facebook, or Tumblr to choose your social network.
  2. Click “Add my support.”
  3. Grant permission for Thunderclap to post about the climate march.

Then simply watch your message go live automatically on September 15th at 12:30pm ET.

Join the Thunderclap to reach every denier, naysayer, and pseudoscientist and tell them it’s time they listen up! Together we’re stronger than the polluters!

Thank you for all you do,

Katie Reilly
Sierra Club Online Organizer

P.S. If this march is going to be big enough to get the world’s attention, we need all hands on deck. After you RSVP, forward this message to five of your friends and family and share it on Facebook and Twitter to get the word out.

People’s Climate March Themes and FAQs – Sept 11

The People’s Climate March will offer folks the opportunity to march with others based on a theme. Be thinking about where you want to march. The key point is that no matter where you are in the march it’s going to be great! Click the image to enlarge the the theme line up.


Climate Ribbon

If you get a chance before you leave, remember to make your climate ribbon for the Climate Ribbon Project that takes place at the end of the march. They will also have tables set up before the march to make ribbons.

March Narrative and Line Up Frequently Asked Questions

When does the march start?

The front of the march will begin marching at 11:30AM. We don’t know how long it will take for everyone to start moving so there could be a wait. If you are planning on being in the themed sections of the march, please assemble by 10 am.

Where do I show up?

We will be lining up along Central Park West, from 61st Street up to 86th Street. It’s gonna be huge!) Everyone will enter Central Park West from a side street from Columbus Avenue, which is one block west of Central Park West. Which subway you should travel to, side street you should enter from and where you should meet depends on what themed section of the march you or your contingent are in. Each theme will have specific streets within which they are gathering as well as clearly identified side streets from which they can enter. Each contingent will be given a range of blocks within their theme to meet. It is up to the contingent organizers (and groups within contingents) to identify a specific location where they would like to gather, and bring visual flags, banners or art that will identify them to march attendees who are looking to join their contingent. Please do not make these signs using wood – it is not allowed at the march.

As we get closer to the march, we will share exact locations for each section—we’re still working it out!!

Why does the march have themes?

In marches as big as this one will be, the many messages we need to communicate to the world often get lost. This time, we want to make sure the People’s Climate March clearly expresses the story of today’s climate movement – so we’re trying something new, and arranging the contingents of the march in a way that helps us thread our many messages together. Together, let’s tell the world a clear, powerful story!

How do I know which themed section to march in?

All themes have a set of contingents listed within them that are organized by identity, location or issue. Individual groups and organizations will not be assigned a meet up location. Instead, they will find the contingent that their group should fall under and march there. For instance, instead of listing specific universities, campus groups will gather under the “Colleges and Universities” contingent. If you aren’t marching with a specific organization or hub, you can pick!

Please note, all of the themed sections will be lining up at 10:00 am. After then, city blocks will start to fill up, and you will be asked to join the march further north, possibly at 86th street. We ask people to be flexible and patient. The march is going to be great wherever you are!

What if I fit in to more than one theme of the march?

You aren’t the only one. All of us have solutions, we all know who is responsible, and it’s on all of us to build the future. But we can only be at one place at a time so pick the one that resonates most with you (one that you are uniquely suited to tell) and know that many people will march in other sections to communicate other parts of the message.

What if I don’t know where my group should fall?

If you aren’t clear about which contingent or theme your group should march with, please email organize@peoplesclimate.org

More Questions:

How long is the march?

The march is approximately 2 miles long. Here is the march route.

Where does the march end?

We will all end up together on 11th avenue between 34th and 38th avenue, in front of the Javits Center.

What happens at the end of march?

We will be connecting, organizing, and celebrating this historic moment. Make sure you leave with more connections, information and perspectives than you came with. Are you a beekeeper? Are you from Philly? Are you working to end fossil fuels? Whatever your community, issue, location or skill you will be able to get plugged-in so you can continue working together after Sept 21 to keep building this movement.

There will also be a host of cultural activities. Marching bands! Musicians! A giant tree sculpture for the Climate Ribbon ritual!

If I am a musician, how can I participate?

If you are in a marching band or you play guitar, go here and join the listerv where you will recieve up to date information, or you can contact climatejusticemusic@gmail.com.

How can I participate in the Climate Ribbon ritual at the end?

Bring a ribbon you’ve written on or write one at the beginning of the march (we will have tables for you to create them). We will all come together at the end to assemble them on the tree, and exchange them with others. For more details, go here.

Are there any fun surprises during the march?

There will be. Keep your eyes peeled. ;-)

Where can I watch the march?

The march will be livestreamed. We will have many people covering different sections in the march, which you will be able to watch it at peoplesclimatemarch.org.

What are people doing in other cities besides NYC?

There are marches and actions taking place across the country – and the entire world. Go here for a list of other events taking place.

What if I plan on bringing a float?

Unless you have already been in touch with march organizers and have the okay for a float, it is not possible to bring a vehicle-powered float!

Can I ride a bicycle in the march?

Of course! Bicycles are people-powered form of alternative transportation! You can also join the Bike Bloc.

Will all the vehicles in the march be carbon-free?

Yes. Tri-state biodiesel has generously donated a number of vehicles for us to use.

Are there any limitations on what I can bring?

You cannot bring any wooden sticks, steel poles, oil-based vehicles. We also ask that you not bring alcohol, drugs, firearms or other weapons.

What can I make signs out of?

Your signs or posters can be made from cardboard, heavy weight paper, cloth or other lightweight materials. You can use cardboard tubes to prop up your signs or banners.

The NYPD does not allow signs on wooden sticks. If you’d like to help make art for the march, check out peoplesclimateart.org

Is there an amazing place that I can help make signs, banners and prepare for the march?

Funny you should ask, there is! Come work out of the incredible MayDay Arts Space in Bushwick. We are building puppets, giant banners, floats and a host of other mindblowing arts projects for the march and beyond. They need carpenters, welders, stencilers, papier mache-ists, and everyone else! No skills necessary. For more information, go here.