Help protect the environment for present and future generations

Please join us and help protect the environment for present and future generations.

Where: U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse’s yearly fundraiser, Kempenaar’s Clambake Club – 323 Valley Road Middletown, RI 02842

When: Sunday, August 20, 2017 2 pm; please be there at 1 pm for maximum impact

Why: Time has run out; we have no choice but to act in accordance with U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken’s opinion [1] issued as part of the Our Children’s Trust’s landmark lawsuit filed on behalf of youth plaintiffs against the federal government:

Exercising my `reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.

Time has run out; there can no longer be any support for fracked gas as “bridge fuel.” We must live up to our duty to protect the environment for present and future generations. We must end support for projects that perpetuate environmental racism. We must honor our treaties with Indigenous Peoples which committed us to living in harmony with Mother Earth. In other words, we have no choice but to keep all fossil fuels in the ground and invest exclusively in a renewable energy infrastructure.  

In spite of creating the impression that they understand the seriousness of these threats, the federal legislature has failed to act responsibly. This was clear at the confirmation last week by the U.S. Senate of Trump appointees to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).  This restored the quorum of the commission, which can now resume and expedite its approval of just about every project of the fossil fuel corporations.

Rather than addressing the advance of climate change at a rate that surpasses virtually all scientific predictions, Congress proposes to go in the opposite direction.  (For a list of alarming recent predictions see Appendix I.)  A case in point is the pending Energy and Natural Resources Act of 2017. [2]  Indeed, Food and Water Watch sent a letter to Senate Minority Leader Schumer. [3]  The letter was signed by 350 organizations among which notable ones such as the League of Women Voters, Our Revolution, CREDO, Working Families Party, Friends of the Earth, and Center for Biological Diversity.  The letter stated:

Among the many pro-fossil fuel provisions in the bill are: streamlining the approval process for liquid natural gas export terminals; expediting the review of new oil and gas drilling and fracking permits; granting new authority and deference to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a rubber-stamp approver of natural gas infrastructure projects; and expanding research and development for extracting methane hydrates.

Senator Whitehouse is on record asserting about fracked gas: “I actually think it is a bridge fuel.” [4] He has made it clear, that he considers energy an area with room for bipartisan work. [5] Clearly, his intention is to vote for this bill, as he did on a similar occasion in 2016. [6] The U.S. Senate is about to approve a bill that fails to mention solar or wind energy, and instead is a license to continue extreme energy extraction. 

Instead, Senator Whitehouse should work on a bill that is consistent with his duty under the Public Trust Doctrine to protect the environment.  Such a bill should reflect the issues we urged Governor Gina Raimondo to promote.  (See Appendix II for details.)

We want a climate bill that will end practices such as fracking, mountaintop removal, tar sands extraction, and uranium mining. Such a bill should end building out all infrastructure such as power plants, pipelines, compressor stations, LNG facilities, off-shore and arctic drilling platforms, along with any other facilities that put us out of balance with nature.  There are viable plans [7] and we have the money; all that is lacking is the political will.

Join us to drive home this message at the senator’s upcoming fundraiser.

Appendix I

Recently, numerous publications in prestigious scientific journals have added new evidence to a growing list of extremely disconcerting observations and predictions.  The following is short subset.

  1. Less than 2 °C warming by 2100 unlikely [8]
  2. Two degrees of warming already baked in [9]
  3. Deadly heat waves projected in the densely populated agricultural regions of South Asia (affecting 20% of the world population) [10]
  4. Global risk of deadly heat (currently affecting 30% of of the world population) [11]
  5. Outpacing projections (this refers to how models that forecast the decline Arctic sea ice systematically underestimate the rate of decline) [12]

Appendix II

The following is from a recent letter [13] to Governor Gina Raimondo.

  1. Power all sectors of our economy, including transportation, with 100% renewable energy by 2035;
  2. Reject all proposals for additional fossil fuel infrastructure, including pipelines;
  3. Eliminate fracking and other forms of extreme energy extraction such as mountaintop removal mining, deep-sea drilling, and tar sands;
  4. For Rhode Island:  appoint a chief Climate Mitigation Officer to facilitate this transition;
  5. Divest from fossil fuels;
  6. Push for Congress to
  1. fully fund research on climate change and climate solutions;  and
  2. fulfill our pledge to the United Nations’ Green Climate Fund to support adaptation and mitigation efforts in developing countries.

It  may very well be too late for targets, such as item # 1 cited above.  This target might have been appropriate in 2013, but this is no longer the case. As James Hansen et al. in  Young people’s burden: requirement of negative CO2 emissions[14] write: “Now climate restoration this century would also require substantial technological extraction of CO2 from the air.”  Clearly, this is an issue that can be only be resolved at the federal and global level.



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