Category: Policy

That’s Not a Green Job!

photo: arranged by Julie

Brad Heavner at Environment Maryland just sent us this email:

This is not the type of "green job" I want to create through President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan. The big coal companies want to build factories — factories that can cook coal at nearly 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, producing black, gunky coal tars that they can process into liquid fuels for war planes.

During the process, they’d release far more climate-changing greenhouse emissions than an oil company would to drill, refine and transport an equivalent amount of petroleum.

And they want you and me to pay for it.

That’s right, industry lobbyists have conspired with a few key members of the U.S. Senate to tack on $50 billion in loan guarantees to the president’s recovery plan — $50 billion that, instead of creating green jobs building wind turbines, or installing solar roofs , or weatherizing homes and other buildings, would subsidize things like coal liquefaction and nuclear power plant construction.

What am I missing? Didn’t we just work like crazy to elect a pro-environment majority to set a course for the cleaner, greener energy economy of the future? Why on earth would we want to subsidize not-so-clean coal , especially if doing so accelerates global warming?

That’s not the green recovery we’ve been fighting for. And that’s why I’m hoping you’ll join me and thousands of our friends and supporters in calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to keep President Obama’s recovery bill clean and green.

As you might have already guessed, this $50 billion giveaway is buried in the fine print of the Senate’s version of the recovery plan, the better to avoid public scrutiny.

Fortunately, our friends on Capitol Hill tipped us off, and now you can help us scrub the recovery bill clean of this dirty provision.

Click here to tell Sen. Reid to take action today.

The Clean Coal “?”: March On March 2nd

photos courtesy of: GreenPeace

Dear Friends,

There are moments in a nation’s—and a planet’s—history when it may be necessary for some to break the law in order to bear witness to an evil, bring it to wider attention, and push for its correction. We think such a time has arrived, and we are writing to say that we hope some of you will join us in Washington D.C. on Monday March 2 in order to take part in a civil act of civil disobedience outside a coal-fired power plant near Capitol Hill.

We will be there to make several points:
#Coal-fired power is driving climate change. Our foremost climatologist, NASA’s James Hansen, has demonstrated that our only hope of getting our atmosphere back to a safe level—below 350 parts per million co2—lies in stopping the use of coal to generate electricity.
# Even if climate change were not the urgent crisis that it is, we would still be burning our fossil fuels too fast, wasting too much energy and releasing too much poison into the air and water. We would still need to slow down, and to restore thrift to its old place as an economic virtue.
#Coal is filthy at its source. Much of the coal used in this country comes from West Virginia and Kentucky, where companies engage in "mountaintop removal" to get at the stuff; they leave behind a leveled wasteland, and impoverished human communities. No technology better exemplifies the out-of-control relationship between humans and the rest of creation.
#Coal smoke makes children sick. Asthma rates in urban areas near coal-fired power plants are high. Air pollution from burning coal is harmful to the health of grown-ups too, and to the health of everything that breathes, including forests.

Continued

President Obama: Change to Spare

photo by: LaKaye Mbah

We at GOforChange are thrilled about the new leadership that will be coming into Washington in 2009. We are overwhelmed with gratitude to the millions of people who helped Obama’s campaign, voted for him, and otherwise brought about this historic result. Words fail us and we are just basking in the feelings of relief, hope, pride, and optimism for the future.

Obama is so inspiring because he embodies this thought by Thich Nhat Hanh : "Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what is the use of seeing?" Obama answered the call and now makes the tremendous sacrifice of leading our country forward. He is also realistic — he can’t do this by himself. He needs all of us to work with him and with each other — even when we disagree.

President-Elect Obama is someone who knows the value of forging community out of conflict.  For more thoughts on his vision, see our previous post from his visit to Maryland back in February.

Beyond Pesticides

photo arranged by: alyssa

Beyond Pesticides was formed in 1981 (formerly the National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides) as a nonprofit membership organization to help keep local, state, and national pesticide policy responsive to public health and environmental concerns. With the overarching goal of leading the transition to a world free of toxic pesticides, the organization seeks to effect change through local action, assisting individuals and community-based organizations to stimulate discussion on the hazards of toxic pesticides, while providing information on safer alternatives. Their website features daily news, various fact sheets, and information on a number of issues, as well as membership.

Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland to Receive the T.J. Medal

Dr. Brundtland and the Thomas Jefferson Medal

When I first got interested in sustainability, one of the simplest and most empowering definitions I ran across was from the Brundtland Commission Report, “Our Common Future,” published in 1987. The full report is available on-line. The definition reads:”Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” (Found in Chapter 2 of the report.)

I am thrilled to see that my alma mater, University of Virginia School of Architecture, is bestowing the University’s highest honor on the commission’s chairwoman, Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland. As part of the award ceremonies for the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture, she will speak on the campus on Friday, April 11, at 3:00p.m.

Her bio is impressive. She has long been a world leader in sustainable development and health, and was the youngest and first woman prime minister of Norway. The University of Virginia’s press release has a good overview.

It is striking that the ideas and recommendations contained in “Our Common Future” are just as relevant today as they were – twenty! – years ago. They were truly ahead of their time, although leading scientists and experts knew then what the rest of us are only now waking up to. Rather than fret about “it’s too late,” we should all re-read this powerful document and renew our commitment to doing what we can.

It’s full of thoughts like these (remember – written twenty years ago!): Continued

Barack Obama: When Vision Meets Action

photo by: LaKaye Mbah

It was a thrill to vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday during the (I prefer to call it) Chesapeake Primary.

I came to my decision about Obama suddenly and with absolute clarity about a month ago, after reading Doris Kearns Goodwin’s wonderful book about Lincoln and his cabinet, "Team of Rivals." I was so inspired by Lincoln’s example of brilliant, strategic, and compassionate leadership. The man reached out to his rivals, knowing that they were critical to the work that lay ahead. He readily gave others credit and always took responsibility for anything that went wrong. Because he cared so profoundly about this country, he was unremitting in his drive to prove that self-governance is not an absurdity. He had an easy way with people, was a great storyteller, and could relate in a genuine way to any person.

I know it sounds crazy, but – Lincoln was from Illinois (didn’t quite make Senator), was considered an underdog, and initially underestimated by many. Sound familiar? Just to test my theory, I also read "Dreams From My Father ," Barack Obama’s fascinating memoir of his childhood and early adulthood. He tells of his search for identity and meaning with great candor – Continued

Chesapeake Climate Action Network

photo by: alyssa“The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots, non-profit organization dedicated exclusively to fighting global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.” They seek to educate and mobilize local citizens in a way that encourages a swift societal switch to clean energy and energy-efficient products.