Posts filed under ‘climate justice’
Now, more than ever, Floridians need to stand up and show we are ready to usher in a brighter energy future. An energy future that is just and safe for all and uses truly renewable sources. An energy future that neither relies on fossil fuels nor creates a legacy of radioactive waste for tens of thousands of years. Want solar in the Sunshine State? Florida needs a POWER SHIFT!
Right now, Washington is leading us in the wrong direction. Check out what Senators John Kerry and Lindsey Graham have to say in their NY Times Op Ed yesterday.
The emphasis Kerry and Graham place on expensive risky nuclear, the mythical ”clean coal,” and coastal drilling leaves Florida wondering when the sun will shine on our economy? The United States as a whole needs bold action to protect our climate and secure our energy. Drilling does neither–instead it maintains our dependence on dirty oil, and it does little to reduce our need for foreign oil. Nuclear is the ‘thirstiest‘ energy out there, requiring millions of gallons of water per day. These technologies do not bring the jobs we need, but renewables will!
Florida has a lot to lose in the face climate change, but so much to gain from real solutions. We need solutions that are safe, clean, renewable, and create jobs! Join hundreds of other engaged and passionate young people as we demand a Power Shift in Orlando, FL Oct 23-25 at University of Central Florida campus Arena.
Have 15 minutes? Here are 2 things you can do Right Now:
Attend Florida Power Shift! We were 6,000 strong in DC back in 2007. In March of this year, we doubled that number and really showed our legislators that young people in our country are serious about climate change and are here to support strong action toward real solutions. Now, we are bringing it home to Florida to demand safe and renewable energy. Don’t miss the early Registration Friday 10/16!
Contact the Florida Public Service Commission and tell them you won’t pay for their nuclear reactors! Email firstname.lastname@example.org and Reference Docket # 090009. Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light want to charge you now for reactors that may never be built. Please contact them today! Need talking points? Check this out.
Please contact me with any questions!
Hope to see you next weekend in Orlando!
Florida Organizer, Southern Energy Network
Yesterday at 12:18pm, UGA students gathered on campus for a fun, peaceful, “flash mob”. As synchronized phone alarms sounded, people held their phones in the air joining other groups around the globe in sending a flood of phone calls to world leaders urging climate action.
Why 12:18pm? The 18th day of the 12th month (December) is the final day of the UN climate meeting in Copenhagen where the world leaders must agree to an ambitious fair and binding treaty to avert a climate catastrophe.
Over 1000 similar events were held in more than 88 countries to deliver a resounding wake-up call to world leaders before they meet today in New York for critical climate talks.
Polls show 90% of people worldwide see climate change as a serious problem. Experts say a UN climate pact in Copenhagen in December risks failure unless world leaders revive bogged-down negotiations this week.
“The idea of a global climate wake-up call got going just a few weeks ago, and it’s snowballing into a massive mobilization of millions around the world who want leaders to do more to stop runaway climate change,” said Kelsea Norris, a member of the Southern Energy Network.
“UGA students are taking part to help show the huge level of public concern that climate talks move far and fast enough to deliver a deal that will avert climate catastrophe and unleash a new green economy.”
A broad coalition of major environmental and anti-poverty organisations as well as faith, civic and youth networks – called the TCKTCKTCK campaign for the ticking-clock urgency of climate change – is backing the campaign effort.
Film and photographs from the day’s event will be compiled and shown to world leaders and at theUS premiere of climate film Age of Stupid, to be shown in 400+ theatres simultaneously. Audiences will also take part in flooding their government with calls to get climate talks on track and deliver a “fair, ambitious, and binding” new climate treaty.
Students from the Southern Energy Network will continue to put on events like this to push for climate legislation federally and right here in Georgia. Their next meeting will be on Oct 10th. To find out more or get involved, contact SEN Georgia Organizer Rebecca Van Damm at Rebecca@climateaction.net .
It’s heartbreaking but true: Van Jones, our beloved beacon of green-collar hope and environmental justice for all, has left the building. After enduring attacks from Fox News personality, Glenn Beck, who spinned a couple tame activities into ghosts of Jones’ activist past—I’m sorry, but who DIDN’T sign a 9/11 conspiracy petition, and really, who cares?—he has stepped down from his post as Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation.
Some say it’s our fault. According to Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope, the environmental movement didn’t take the threat of these allegations seriously enough, mobilize fast enough and back Van Jones up enough to prevent the end of his White House career.
Others say it’s a blessing in disguise. Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post half facetiously thanked Glenn Beck in a recent article for his smear campaign against Jones, asserting that his resignation will put his skills and talents to better use: out of the government and back in the movement.
What does Van Jones have to say about all this? He asks us not to stand with him, but to stand with the environmental movement as a whole. “I have been inundated with calls — from across the political spectrum — urging me to ‘stay and fight.’ But I came here to fight for others, not for myself. I cannot in good conscience ask my colleagues to expend precious time and energy defending or explaining my past. We need all hands on deck, fighting for the future.” You can read the full article here.
I personally have mixed emotions about Jones’ resignation. Yes, we need to focus on the big picture but could he have done so more effectively by staying put? And did he really quit or was he asked to leave by the administration? Can he realistically return as the face of Green Jobs or is his name tainted? What are we gonna do now?
Ultimately, however, what Jones’ or any figurehead of our movement did or did not do is in the past and out of our control. Whatever attacks the anti-progressive peanut gallery pull out of their hats is also out of our control and not bound to stop anytime soon. We can rest assured that Glenn Beck and his posse of ignorance and greed have a whole artillery of tricks up their sleeves and are waiting just around the corner to hit us with a another curve ball at any moment. They’ve commandeered healthcare and now they’re coming for the green-collar movement.
We can’t ignore rightwing media, but we also can’t let some fringe element hijack our movement. And we won’t—not in our name and not in the name of our leaders.
It’s not our job to let thoughts of worry and anger flood our pretty little heads. It’s our job to organize. If nothing else, this is a reminder that we need to stand together in solidarity.
We can start by following Van Jones’ example. Almost every person in the environmental justice movement has a story about how his words and actions have inspired them whether it was in an audience of twelve thousand peers listening to one of his many moving speeches or even a one-on-one interaction. Our executive director, Stephanie Powell, for example, had the privilege of chatting with him back in 2007 at the Southeast Student Renewable Energy Conference. Van overheard that she was working in the Gulf Coast post hurricane Katrina and sought her out to ask her more about her work and thank her for what she was doing.
The Van we know is a very busy man who always takes the time to care and be supportive of another organizer. It’s critical that we remember to do the same no matter how our schedules fill up. He’s not just a figurehead, he’s a person. We need to show the same compassion and not just support him but support others in the movement.
The best way to show this support is to call for real action on global warming. It’s time for a wake-up call. On September 21, people all over the country are getting together in public places everywhere for “wake-up call” flash-mob events, pressing our Senators to take action on clean energy jobs & climate! Click here to get involved!
UCF Students think families and local businesses shouldn’t have to pay for nuclear reactors, especially when there are safer renewables available that do not produce radioactive waste. So, at 4:30 a.m. this past Tuesday, they left Orlando to go to the Public Service Commission Early Cost Recovery hearing. The PSC heard expert testimonies all week to determine the prudence of Progress Energy and Florida Power and Light charging consumers to recoup capital costs for their proposed nuclear reactors.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), the Office of Public Council, and PCS Phosphate are all intervening in the case. Their witnesses testify that early cost recovery is not sensible and that the reactors aren’t even necessary. Peter Bradford, former Chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, one of SACE’s expert witnesses, testified that our slumping economy is reducing the demand for electricity for the first time in decades. Citing rising costs for materials and an increasing shortage of laborers with the skills to complete these projects, he concludes that the risk the utilities are asking their consumers to bear is just too great. The PSC is scheduled to make its ruling October 26, 2009.
If you think the utilities should keep their hands out of your pockets with their risky investments, make your voice heard! Tell the PSC you do not what to fund Progress and Florida Power and Light’s risky business. Urge them to read the expert testimonies offered by Peter Bradford and Arnie Gundersen that cite hard evidence that the utilities cannot justify the request to raise rates for these projects nor can they ensure that ratepayers will get anything in return for their investment.
Here’s how: Use the info below to contact PSC and reference Docket #090009,:
• PSC Contact page: http://www.psc.state.fl.us/about/contact/
• Local Consumer Assistance Line: 1-850-413-6100
• Toll Free Consumer Assistance Line: 1-800-342-3552
• Toll Free Fax: 1-800-511-0809
Gone are the days when environmentalists had only to worry about the dirty energy lobby taking our politicians on luxury cruises or using “greenwashing” to trick consumers into believing that products are environmentally friendly. No, the bad guys can’t just stop at buying out our politicians and our message, they have to hijack our tactics too. Exit grassroots. Enter “Astroturf,” a PR ploy disguised as a spontaneous grassroots effort. It may not be a new tool, but it seems to be all the rage right now. Suffice to say, things are getting dirty, as if Big Coal and Big Oil weren’t dirty enough already.
To kick off their efforts to perpetuate the petroleum industry in response to new climate legislation coming from Congress, a group called Energy Citizen held a rally in Houston to fight back. Or did they? Says Climate Progress: “Despite signs and T-shirts, the Houston rally of more than 3,000 people – which was sponsored by a group calling itself Energy Citizens — actually had a boatload of funding and logistical support from the oil and gas industry, according to an American Petroleum Institute (API) memo leaked late last week by the environmental group Greenpeace.” Click here for the full article.
The coal industry has chimed in with their own citizen front group as well: the Federation for American Coal, Energy and Security or FACES. My question: who exactly are these people anyway? Grist tried to find out, but upon emailing the only contact on FACES’ website, which listed no funders or members of the group, their inquiry bounced back. You can check out the full article here.
As a grassroots organizer, I have always taken comfort in the idea that there are two major forms of power: money and people. The bad guys might have the former, but when we come together, we’ve got the latter. My question: how do we keep it this way? Watch what real activists did in North Carolina.
– Rebecca Van Damm
Southern Energy Network represented at the Institute for Environmental Energy Research Carbon Free Nuclear Free workshop last week in Washington, DC. Jessica Burris, one of our interning volunteers, and I spent 5 days learning all sorts of technical information about nuclear energy. We covered a broad range of topics, everything from reprocessing and uranium enrichment to nuclear disarmament. We held strategy sessions to further the Carbon Free Nuclear Free campaign, and then we all had the opportunity to make a presentation to the panel of scientists that work at the Institute. We also heard from experts (from France even!) about why nuclear in France isn’t the love affair we understand it to be.
Jessica and I worked together on a presentation that begins the initial research phases of a larger project that will become her Master’s thesis. She is looking at the Environmental Justice implications of nuclear energy in Florida. Our initial findings were that the existing nuclear reactors in Florida, as well as the new reactor proposals, are all located in communities that have a combination of the following characteristics: well below the average median income for the state, majority minority, well over median age, and very high unemployment. Other characteristics of the areas in which these reactors exist or are proposed: high rates of asthma, high infant mortality, high cancer rates, high percentages of Spanish language homes, and low rates of high school or equivalency attainment. Although we had to revisit some of the science that supported our initial conclusions, our overarching and supported conclusion was that the communities that have nuclear reactors in their backyard are full of people that already have a lot of socio-economic factors to contend with in their daily survival, and that the additional burden on their health and environment is a serious environmental racism and justice issue.
If you are still undecided about nuclear energy, here are some things to consider:
**Nuclear reactors produce tons of spent fuel, which is high-level radioactive waste that is harmful to all life for over 10,000 years.
**There is currently no long-term storage for all of this waste.
**Nuclear reactors also produce tons of low-level waste that creates another “safe storage” problem.
**Nuclear reactors are VERY THRISTY. In a world with increasing water shortages, we need less water intensive alternatives.
**Nuclear energy is risky business. Wall Street won’t invest in it, why should you? Many states, including Florida, are passing the capital costs onto you with “Early Cost Recovery” and “Construction Work in Progress” rate-increases on your energy bill. See Regress Energy for more information on how this is playing out in Florida.
**Thermal discharge from reactors endangers surrounding marine eco-systems.
For more on the science behind this madness, check out www.ieer.org
The Southeast currently has 13 new nuclear reactor proposals. There are a number of local, state, regional, and national groups getting organized to keep these expensive, risky, water intensive, dangerous energy sources out of our communities. Here are some organizations that you can plug into to take action:
Southern Energy Network–We are looking to build a team of passionate youth to organize our region out of risky nuclear and into renewables! Contact email@example.com for more information.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Institute for Environmental and Energy Research
~Youth for Power Shift~
Submitted by Noel LaPlume
Student at Miami Dade Community College in Florida
From the moment our group of 11 people from Miami, FL set foot on the pleasantly cold city of Washington, D.C. we were afflicted by the excitement that penetrated the air. Apparently it was a widespread epidemic, with over 12,000 young people from all over the states convened together for a long weekend with one sole purpose in mind- to rock the House for Power Shift ’09. On Friday night we kicked-off the convention with a series of motivational speakers which were nothing short of excellent, followed by a series of workshops and two great concerts that left us in a sensationally groovy mood.
By the time Monday rolled around, the adrenaline was kicking in to our system as we entered the Congressional House to meet with our Representatives. This turned out being fun rather than stressful since they tended to be inclined to listen to our inspirational voices demanding change- one that would turn our fossilized fossil fuel system to an updated one fueled by alternative energy. They understood. Each and every voice expressed the desperate need to fix the pool of mistakes we have been swimming in for such a long time. Representative Kendrick Meek understood the urgency of the message we were trying to convey to him – it is no longer acceptable to keep swimming idly because precious time is being wasted while millions of ecosystems are suffering from it. Rep. Meek started telling us of strategies we could use to further work in our local town. On the other hand, not every representative in the House and Senate has the ability to see the benefits of investing in this, most are brutally short-sighted and can’t see beyond the end of their own agenda. For this reason, we rallied in front of Capitol Hill amongst thousand of our fellow comrades, where we chanted for a better, cleaner and safer future. Then, many of us continued on to march toward a coal power plant located just a few blocks away from the Capitol. Believe it or not; there we assembled strong and united and carried on our support for a sustainable earth by blocking the entrances to the dirty plant. We endured cold temperatures with inadequate protective clothes for snow, and became very ill because of it, but I know that there are many more hardships to come and I welcome them with glee, for protecting The Earth is the greatest challenge and greatest satisfaction any one person can every experience and so we must keep going strong until we prove them wrong.
Now back home, preparations have begun to spread the good news and experience gained at the capital. The goal is that all 12,000 of us, together but separate, work locally to produce a massive Power Shift in both infrastructure and general philosophy. I’m so excited. Are you? Don’t fret, we’re in this together. Get ready, set, GO !
This week, the South Carolina Public Service Commission ignored all reason and public sentiment in granting South Carolina Electric & Gas a blank check to start charging rate payers for the construction of two new nuclear reactors that are not near fully permitted. Two reactors that may never be fully built, that may never come online, and still we will pay the 37% rate increase (which could inflate to as high as a 75% as costs inevitably increase) with no hope of redress. It’s a pathetically premature move on behalf of the PSC and one that reveals their unwavering loyalty to the utilities and big industry. After an extensive, and at times painfully lengthy hearing process, in which citizen after citizen testified, demanding that SCE&G be required to actually address the potential of energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy in their application before the PSC, that the PSC in no way allow the utility the right to charge its ratepayers for such a boondoggle of a project, the commissioners put on their most patronizing smiles to thank the public for its participation and input. They then, promptly and unanimously voted against the public and in favor of SCE&G.
Prepared citizens dressed in costume as “nuclear bailout victims” and “fleeced ratepayers” in hopes that they’d look foolish when the PSC made the right decision. Unfortunately, our theater wasn’t the only one at play in the PSC meeting room and, ultimately, we weren’t the ones looking foolish. Puppets of industry, seven supposed public servants sold SCE&G ratepayers down the river. To check out footage of the hearing/protest, visit: WISTV Columbia and to read more about the decision, visit: The State. And to fight back, visit the SCE&G Ratepayers Strike group.
From Nuclear Information and Resource Service:
(**side note from Mandy: Florida had the highest number of letters and emails of any other state….THANK YOU!!)
Late last night, we got word that the $50 Billion in taxpayer loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors and “clean coal” plants has been stripped from the final economic stimulus bill!
Your actions made a huge difference.
To recap, you:
*sent more than 7,600 letters to your Senators in one week
*sent more than 3,000 letters to your Representatives in the House in three days
*sent more than 1100 letters to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just yesterday afternoon (unfortunately, most letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were blocked; we’ll work on that problem with our Congressional database service).
*made thousands of phone calls to your Senators and Representatives
*brought needed attention to the issue through your blogs, letters to the editor, your Facebook and Myspace pages, and much more.
The final bill should be voted on in the House later today, and in the Senate probably tomorrow. The final bill almost certainly will pass, and there will be no amendments on this final bill, so the taxpayer money for the dirty and dangerous nuclear/coal industry will stay out of the bill.
Take a moment to celebrate today!
But make no mistake: the nuclear industry and its Congressional backers will try again, and sooner rather than later. Two days ago, for example, they began a new push to have nuclear power declared a “renewable” energy source in Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman’s (D-NM) upcoming Renewable Portfolio Standard bill, which is intended to increase renewable energy production in the U.S. (although first indications are that the bill is much weaker than it should be). This is likely to become a major issue in March.
And there will be new efforts to set up a federal “clean energy bank” to finance nuclear reactors with taxpayer dollars in the coming weeks and months.
In other words, we’ll have to stay vigilant and active, and continue growing this movement if we are to attain the safe, clean, nuclear-free, carbon-free energy future our nation and planet needs.
You have now proven your effectiveness, but we can and must do even more. President Obama’s campaign was successful in large part because of the support of a constantly growing number of ordinary people, taking action and making small donations, that built into an enormous political force. We are taking the same approach: in the past three months, NIRS contact lists have grown by more than one-third–a key element of today’s success. Let’s continue building this movement!
Please make a small donation on our secure servers so we can continue our outreach and build on this success. Your support is gratefully appreciated and every penny is used as wisely as possible.
And from all of us at NIRS: THANK YOU FOR ALL YOU DO!!!!
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
Southern Energy Network is happy to announce the release of the Green Fee Toolkit! It has been a long time coming, but, finally, SEN staff have put the final edits in and Alex Abell has put on the final design touches.
This Green Fee Toolkit will be a valuable resource to those interested in learning more about the Green Fee Campaign, how to run effective Green Fee campaigns, and the successes and challenges of other youth who have run the campaign on their campus.
Aside from providing insight into the Green Fee campaign, this toolkit can provide structure to other campaigns as well. Although framed within the context of a specific campaign, it provides basic insight into campaign planning and can be applied to all sorts of campaigns on campus and within the community!
As one of the editors of the toolkit, I am excited and proud to present the SEN Green Fee Toolkit! Check it and get with your state organizer for more information!
North Carolina: Russ@climateaction.net
Georgia/South Carolina: Imran@climateaction.net