Posts filed under ‘renewable energy’
I haven’t had much of an appetite lately… With the oil spill in the Gulf Coast, confirmed reports of bio-diversities continued global decline, and another delay in adoption of a National Climate Policy, my stomaches been in knots. Fortunately, I’ve been able to keep myself from sulking, and have found some inspiration through a critical political moment.
The North Carolina Primary Election kicks off tomorrow (Tuesday May 4th). Turnout for mid-term primaries is historically low, with young people being in the lowest turnout percentage. Regardless, with everything going on in the world, I feel compelled to do my part to flip that trend in 2010! I realized more than ever that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for and we will be the ones to define this decade.. Therefore it is up to us what the future looks like.
Polls are open from 7:30a.m – 6:30p.m. To find your polling place CLICK HERE
Here are 4 reasons you need to cast your vote this mid-term election
- Almost every ecosystem and resource on the planet is in a state of decline
- We’ve got to change the political tides and we need the strongest leadership to do that
- Your voice counts and now is not the time to be silent.
- Turnout in Mid-term elections is low, that means, as young people, we can have a HUGE impact!!
- Because they are just as important, if not more so, as Presidential Elections.
Please share this Facebook link with your networks to get others to vote this Mid-term Election.
Vote and Voter Early!
The fight to prevent new nuclear reactors from being built in the Southeast was in Georgia this week with lots of excitement around President Obama’s tour of Savannah Technical College where he discussed jobs, economic recovery, and the $8.3 billion in conditional loan guarantees he has allocated to Southern Company for the expansion at Plant Vogtle. I joined Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND), Friends of the Earth (FoE), Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) colleagues and local activists to advocate for a carbon free and nuclear free future and against a taxpayer-financed future riddled with more radioactive nuclear waste.
I was energized for the rally, having just spent time with members of the Shell Bluff Community in Waynesboro (where Plant Vogtle is located) to hear their concerns, answer their questions, and discuss real solutions for their impoverished rural community. Their main concerns centered around jobs, health, and their lack of faith in the industry to provide the former or protect the latter. It was so inspirational to meet a few of the folks who remain strong in their faith and sense of community, despite hard economic times and experiencing a high incidence of recent cancer deaths in their families.
I joined members of groups like Savannah River Keepers, WAND, FoE, SACE and others who are involved in the legal interventions to the proposals for two new reactors at the existing Plant Vogtle site. President Obama justifies the $8.3 billion in loan guarantees for this plant with promises of jobs, but the community has heard this before. They cite stories of a boon and bust that surrounded the construction of the first two reactors in 1980′s, pointing to closed businesses and rotting trailer homes scattered about the county. These folks need real, lasting, sustainable solutions and their skepticism of the nuclear industry’s role is well founded by their experience.
At the end of January, Southern Energy Network staff traveled to San Antonio, Texas, for a week-long training with the Energy Action Coalition. Many of us had never been to Texas, and the opportunity to visit a new place and escape colder climates was welcome!
Our allies and partner group the Southwest Workers’ Union – http://www.swunion.com – were our gracious hosts, connecting us with local organizations and activists, including Fuerza Unida, http://www.lafuerzaunida.org/, a union which formed after Levi’s shut down its local factories. The women of Fuerza Unida prepared delicious Mexican-inspired meals for us throughout the week, but the highlight of the trip was the Toxic Tour and rally, organized with SWU.
Southwest Workers’ Union has been fighting toxic chemical contamination in the groundwater near Kelly Air Force Base, now closed and occupied by private corporations. The Base is practically surrounded by residential neighborhoods. Referred to as the “Toxic Triangle,” the majority of these neighborhoods are occupied by lower-income Latino families, many of which speak Spanish as their primary or only language. Two residents from the area joined us for the tour, sharing their story of what is has been like to raise a family near the base.
Residents suffer abnormally high rates of certain diseases, especially cancer. After realizing there was likely a pattern of disease, SWU organizers went door to door, asking people if a family member, or members, had suffered from a serious illness. The results were heartbreaking. People of all ages had been diagnosed with serious health problems, including many neighborhood children who suffered from leukemia or other cancers.
SWU organizers asked impacted families to place a purple cross on their homes or in their yards – creating a powerful visual of how deeply effected so many in the neighborhood are by the contamination from the base.
Government officials and health authorities have been reticent to take action, insinuating that the illnesses were caused by poor diets and other health habits.
The Air Force has refused to take responsibility as well; though they admitted to using toxic chemicals, they claimed there was no proof that the chemicals had left Air Force property to contaminate the water. SWU and the local residents knew better. They launched a multi-year campaign to force Kelly Air Force Base to stop the use of toxic chemicals and clean up the contamination in the groundwater.
The campaign continues today, even though Kelly Air Force Base has closed and is now used by private corporations, including Boeing. Still, problems persist.
Though the communities are still threatened by contamination and industrial processes, Southwest Workers’ Union’s campaigns have been impactful, and in many ways, successful. Many residents responded to the purple cross campaign, and after seeing how many of their neighbors are suffering, people across San Antonio recognized that Kelly Air Force base was causing harm providing a critical shift in public opinion.
After finishing the Toxic Tour, we learned more about the Southwest Workers’ Union campaigns against new nuclear reactors in the area, and their work to bring more clean energy to San Antonio. SWU has been successful in preventing the construction of a new reactor, organizing communities across the region and exposing the deceitful behavior of the nuclear utility. The company had lied about how much the new reactor would cost consumers, and people were angered to learn that over the long term, nuclear would be much more expensive than anyone had bargained.
Now, SWU is focusing on bringing green-collar jobs to the San Antonio metro area. To show our solidarity with SWU’s campaigns, Energy Action Coalition staff and members joined SWU supporters in a rally outside City Hall, calling on Mayor Julian Castro to move forward with their plan for clean energy, energy efficiency, and reducing our Global Warming pollution. Representatives from SWU, including several high school students and other SWU members, met with the Mayor’s office during the rally.
Toxics and clean energy are linked, though perhaps not directly in the Toxic Triangle. Dirty energy has a cost, and often these costs are disproportionately shouldered by communities who lack the ability to prevent, or escape from, serious environmental health hazards. The Southern Energy Network fully supports the Southwest Workers’ Union campaigns to address toxic contamination and bring clean energy jobs to
With new nuclear reactors proposed in South Carolina, Georgia, and other Southeastern states, we’re working to make sure our neighbors aren’t paying too much for dirty energy that will put our communities at risk. For more information or to learn about how you can stop dirty energy in your area, visit http://www.climateaction.net.
by Maura Friedman, UGA Student Organizer
Though Power4Georgians, a coalition of Georgia electric membership corporations, is quick to tout dirty coal, on October 20th, the real source of power was the people.
At Tuesday’s Environmental Protection Division hearing, Georgia citizens had the opportunity to publicly voice comments on the proposed coal-fired power plant to be built in Sandersville, GA. People hailing from all backgrounds and corners of the state came out in full force to represent what they wanted the future of Georgia to look like. Nearly 8 out of every 10 who spoke agreed that the future should include clean air, fresh water, healthy kids, and, subsequently, no coal.
Members of communities across the state came together to remind the EPD that coal’s pollutants and health effects don’t just stay within city limits, they’re felt upwind and downstream as well, while Sandersville residents made it clear their livelihood wasn’t up for discussion either.
Most striking about the content of the hearing was the human component. Many who spoke included stories of their personal connection to the land. Sometimes we forget that polluting streams means a granddaughter can’t play in the water or a family can’t eat the fish their son catches. Polluting the air means residents can’t enjoy their own property or a young person leaves to raise a family somewhere safer. Using 16 million gallons of water a day to run a coal fired power plant means wells go dry, but more than that, it means a specific family loses their water access.
Although the promise of jobs to accompany the construction of the coal plant glimmered like fool’s gold, many had their eye on an even more economical prize. The resounding preference at the hearing was for renewable energy and green jobs, the creation of which provides an average of 6 jobs to every 4 jobs fossil fuel-dependent industry contributes. Moreover, sustainable energy does not ask communities to make the tremendous choice between jobs and health.
On Tuesday, the people spoke and their message, one against the damage coal brings to communities, resonated clearly. Now their fate, as well as that of their land and future generations is in the hands of the EPD as Georgia waits with bated breath.
Power Shift Carolinas is here! Weeks of planning have culminated in hundreds of students gathering at the campus of UNC Chapel Hill this weekend. This morning we heard inspiring speakers that reminded us that we must take this movement beyond conferences and meetings. They reminded us that the climate movement is not so unique from any other social movement. We are all seeking a new paradigm that addresses issues of domination and oppression of people’s livelihoods. Students braved crisp October weather as we sat in an outdoor theater and were reminded that being green is not always easy, despite what retailers often make us think.
I have now stepped away from the workshop halls where my peers are learning skills that they will take home with them to teach to others. Away from the Power Shift hub-bub I find myself on a plush sofa in the UNC Chapel Hill student union with a TV blaring beside me and students munching on disposable platters that will soon disappear into a waste stream that terminates in an unknown place. I remember that I’m responsible too, we all are. Seeking climate justice is going to be a long winding path that won’t end with a federal climate bill and won’t end in Copenhagen.
Here at Power Shift I join some of the most amazing people I know. These are friends who constantly motivate and inspire me with their passion and energy and make me believe that it is possible. As Marcie Smith, said this morning, “it is the incremental steps and actions that are building to a tipping point in this movement and that will lead us to the future we seek.” Power Shift Carolinas is proving that people throughout the U.S. Southeast are ready – are you?
by Brittany Forrestal – Southern Energy Network Activist and Intern
When it comes to climate issues in the state of Georgia, there’s a lot of work to be done. I know this, you know this, and, as it turns out, we’re definitely not alone.
Last weekend, Georgia Youth for Energy Solutions (YES!), the new youth-organized Georgia branch of the Southern Energy Network, joined more than sixteen student organizers from across the state in Milledgeville, Ga, to launch a student organization dedicated to creating a coal-free Georgia. Students from Georgia Perimeter College, Oglethorpe University, Emory University, Mercer University, and the University of Georgia all showed up to represent their campuses and collaborate with other students to create a coal-free Georgia.
After hours of recruitment calls, a night of lunch-packing, and an early-morning drive to Georgia College and State University, we found ourselves exhilarated by everyone’s shared enthusiasm. Every single person present showed genuine interest and genuine excitement about the opportunity we have. We can stop coal in Georgia. We have great resources, we’re intelligent, and we’re passionate about our fight.
We spent the morning talking about the dangers of coal, discussing Georgia’s current coal situation, and brainstorming strategies and tactics to end coal in Georgia. The real highlight of the day, however, came after lunch, when we all loaded up and drove to Sandersville, Ga, which is the proposed home of coal-fired Plant Washington. We went to the local Kaolin festival in downtown Sandersville, where we handed out flyers and talked to locals about the dangers of coal. It was a soaring success; we were able to meet dozens of residents and find out where they stand and give them really important information about the plant, while enjoying the atmosphere of the festival and the beautiful weather.
After our Sandersville adventure, we wound up at a beautiful cabin in the woods, only a few miles from where Plant Washington is proposed to be constructed. There, we discussed final plans, formulated an action timeline for the next few weeks, and we agreed to continue working on this campaign both collaboratively and on our home campuses. It was an amazing day filled with amazing brainstorming by amazing students. Needless to say, I had a great time.
There is one thing in particular, however, that I’d like to mention. I think it’s safe to say that after visiting Sandersville and talking to its residents, we all felt a renewed obligation to fight this coal plant. I’ve known about this plant for a long time now and I’ve known about how dangerous and detrimental it will be if it is built, but it all seemed so abstract to me. I realized that this plant would affect me and millions of other Georgians, but I suppose I never felt personally connected to it. This weekend, that all changed. I saw the city, I saw the beautiful countryside where the plant is supposed to be built, and I felt a new urge to end coal in Georgia.
So now, I’m asking that you all help in the fight. On October 20, the Environmental Protection Division will have a hearing to give citizens an opportunity to voice their views on the coal plant. It’s open to the public and we need to get as many people as possible to show up and express opposition to the plant. The hearing is in Sandersville and it starts at 6pm, with a 5pm information session from residents and field experts. Please register here to attend the meeting. Bring friends! Bring family! Bring posters and t-shirts and an opinion. We’ll be there in all our anti-coal glory. Will you?
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
This past weekend at University of Florida, over 70 young people from 9 universities across the state joined forces with Southern Energy Network at the Florida Youth Energy Sustainability (YES) Summit. It was an action packed day and a half of workshops and strategizing sessions interspersed with great energy and fun!
The goals of the summit centered around building relationships, increasing communication, and strategizing upcoming campaigns. The Green Fee campaign got a make over. Students from several schools are creating a committee to escalate the campaign and develop a plan to take on the Florida legislature, this time for a win! The anti-nuclear campaign gained more steam and will be one of the networks primary campaigns this year with plans under way to increase pressure at the state and national levels.
Last, but certainly not least, we talked about the Power Shift campaign and how Florida is going to raise their voices to join the chorus of young people demanding bold climate legislation before United Nations Climate Negotiations in December. Florida is ready to have an awesome event in Orlando on October 24th, just in time for the 350.org International Day of Action. Our state has a lot to lose in the face of climate change and we are stepping up to the challenge!
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 .
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