The E&E Digest is a weekly column dedicated to environmental issues nationally and locally, compiled by an expert in wildlife conservation. Indivisible Somerville strongly believes that environmental issues are social justice issues, and that changes to our environment disproportionally affect the most vulnerable. We are working hard to keep you up to date on issues of climate change, environmental deregulation, and more.

Period: March 2nd to 10th (2017)

Environmental News Highlights

03/02/17. Rick Perry has been confirmed as the secretary of Energy. What you should know about this man is that Perry was an outspoken climate denier while he was governor of Texas and repeatedly sued the Environmental Protection Agency over regulations involving the fossil fuel industry. When he ran for president, Perry once said he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy but then forgot the name of the agency. Read more about the recent anti-environmental nominations of Perry and Zinke.

03/03/17. People might not realize that World Wildlife Day is the 3rd of March this year. And what is that day might you ask? On 20 December 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 3 March, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as UN World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants. This year World Wildlife Day is celebrated in 2017 under the theme “Listen to the Young Voices.” Given that almost one quarter of the world’s population is aged between 10 and 24, vigorous efforts need to be made to encourage young people, as the future leaders and decision makers of the world, to act at both local and global levels to protect endangered wildlife. Read more…

03/03/17. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke Brings Back Lead Ammo In Parks And Refuges, although lead poisoning from ammunition and tackle kills up to 20 million birds and animals a year. What does it mean for conservation then?

03/04/17. Bill McKibben Talks Climate Change (RollingStone). On a particularly bad day for Earth’s wellbeing – the EPA revealed massive budgetary cuts while the Trump administration waffled on the Paris Agreement on climate change – environmentalist and 350.org founder Bill McKibben appeared on Real Time With Bill Maher to discuss the dire situation and how the American people can fight back.

03/06/17. Maybe we should enroll Scott Pruitt in a crash course explaining why environmental protections are critical… More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments. Every year, environmental risks – such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene – take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years, say two new World Health Organization reports.

03/07/17. Dakota Access pipeline could open next week after activists face final court loss. Standing Rock and Cheyenne River Sioux lose argument to prevent pipe from being laid under a stretch of the Missouri river, the last piece of construction. A federal judge declined Tuesday to temporarily stop construction of the final section of the disputed Dakota Access pipeline, clearing the way for oil to flow as soon as next week…

03/08/17. It’s International Women’s Day, and a good day to remember that there is no distance between environmental and woman justice campaigning: the two are so closely intertwined. Case in point: check the Climate Justice & Women’s Rights Women guide and report from the Global Greengrants Fund.

03/09/17. The head of the EPA, Scott Pruitt, dismisses the basic science of climate change by denying that carbon emissions are a primary cause for global warming. If you want to reach him at the EPA and explain to him some basics science, here is his number: 202.564.4700. And here is a little text to help maybe: The drastic increase in the emission of CO2 (carbon dioxide) within the last 30 years caused by burning fossil fuels has been identified as the major reason for the change of temperature in the atmosphere.

03/10/17. On the ever painful EPA topic: EPA environmental justice leader resigns, amid White House plans to dismantle program. A key environmental justice leader at the Environmental Protection Agency has resigned, saying that a recent budget proposal to defund such work would harm the people who most rely on the EPA.

Want to know what’s happening on the Congress floor? Check the Congress Watch page that I maintain. This page highlights urgent issues (bills) with actionable items.

⋆ Original/Uncut Wkly summaries available here.

Meanwhile in Massachusetts

Summary

Baker Administration Takes Steps to Weaken Water Protections. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement today in response to a proposal from Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker to transfer control over the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting process from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Commonwealth. This proposal would allow a local process that has historically favored large polluters to control who is susceptible to Clean Water Act regulations. As a follow-up note, few of us called and were received with sighs when not simply dismissed… Dismissing is not ok: they work for us, and therefore we should be respected.

Report: Colleges and Universities Can Lead America’s Shift to 100 Percent Renewable Energy. America’s colleges and universities are positioned to lead the transition to 100 percent renewable energy, according to a report released today by Environment Massachusetts Research & Policy Center. The report stresses that a complete shift to clean, renewable energy is the best way for colleges and universities to achieve their carbon reduction goals and highlights schools across the country that are taking measures to make the transition to renewable energy.

MIT professors are lobbying Trump — against their former colleague.
MIT professor Richard Lindzen’s contrarian views about climate change, which have long provided the appearance of credibility to those who deny human activity is causing the planet to warm, have caused deep angst among his colleagues at the university …

IS-Specific

Meeting with D. Provost. Few of us (in intersection with other activist groups) plan to meet some time next week (TBD) to schedule a meeting with our state representative, and discuss supporting the State bill -Clean Energy Purchasing Requirement- HD.2103. This is a bill that would increase the rate of increase in the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), from the current 1% to at least 2% a year, and require municipal electric utilities – currently exempt – to begin complying with the RPS. Our state wants to reach a target of a decrease of green house emission by 80% by 2050 (w/ 25% by 2020). We are not on target, and increasing our RPS would contribute greatly to meet this goal.

Local Environmental Conferences-Trainings-Events

03/05/17 (Sunday)
The Sierra Club hosted an activist training this past Sunday March 5h in Boston, providing an overview of Clean Energy and the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) –a legal mandate setting the lower limit of renewable energy that electric utilities are required to purchase.

The second part of the training comprised of a few lectures informing on how to best reach your State legislators and prepare for meeting with them.

03/05/17 (Sunday)
The Local Environmental Action 2017 Conference happening this Sunday at Northeastern (03/05/17). And I was there (therefore IS also by extension): this was a great opportunity to understand our local environmental issues, to meet with local activists and to learn how to organize with experts activist in the field.

03/11/17 (Saturday)
How about joining this Saturday’s Charles River Conservancy Clean-up event. The plan? Pruning trees and shrubs, removing litter and leaves in Herter Park. A great way to be involved and meet alike people.

State Legislative Actions