Monday, November 30, 2015

Aberdeen joins the UN People's Climate March!

slideshow at link

This weekend's Global Climate March broke records as the largest climate mobilization in history! From São Paulo to Sydney, 785,000 of us shook the ground in over 2,300 events in 175 countries, united in one voice calling for a 100% clean energy future to save everything we love. It was front page media worldwide, and the impact is already being felt at the summit here in Paris.

It’s nearly impossible to describe the powerful and diverse beauty of humanity that rose up yesterday, but these photos help:

London, UK
This is the movement our world has been waiting for. Many countries, from Bangladesh to Ireland, saw the largest climate marches in their history. In Australia, 120,000 people marched, in India, over 100,000. And in towns across the planet small groups of us joined together in beautiful local events. Even in Sana'a, Yemen, organisers went ahead with their march despite bombs falling close to the route!

Clockwise from top left: Melbourne, Helsinki, Berlin, Amsterdam, Bogotá, Jakarta

P.S. Click here for an Op-Ed from Avaaz' CEO, Ricken Patel, on this moment as a test of humanity.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

No New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure! sign on letter: West Coast Cities People’s Declaration

Kayaktivist with paddles up in front of the Fennica at dry dock in Portland, Oregon
Dear friends and allies,

On Nov. 12, 2015, Portland, OR, became the first city in the country (and possibly, the world--we're not sure) to pass a resolution opposing all new fossil fuel infrastructure in the city and its adjacent waterways. We in Portland will be spending the remaining 14 months while our mayor is in office making this resolution binding law-- a process we hope will show other cities how to do the same.

On Dec. 11-12, 2015, the mayors of all of the major west coast cities are coming to Portland, OR, to discuss (among other things) climate action by these cities. We are calling on all of these mayors of the major west coast cities who will be coming to Portland (San Diego, LA, San Jose, Oakland, San Francisco, Eugene, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver, B.C. and Honolulu), along with the mayors of smaller cities, and leaders of the Native American and First Nations tribes to oppose all new fossil fuel infrastructure.

We could use your help in the following ways.
1) Review the statement below or here:  and sign on, as an individual or organization.  Bill McKibben, Winona LaDuke, and Tom Goldtooth have been among our first signatories.
2) Share the statement far and wide, especially with friends and allies in west coast cities with the following groups of people in particular:

-- Labor unions

-- Government officials at all levels in all west coast cities
-- Any affiliated groups up and down the west coast of the US and Canada
-- Rising Tide or other groups to help us prepare a brilliant strategic actions in all of the cities and/or in Portland when the mayors come to town on Dec. 11-12.
--Outreach to the climate scientific community to get them on board
--Letters to the editor in small papers up and down the west coats, supporting this call
--Outreach to college campuses in west coast cities to get them on board.

3) If you have any spare funds, we are doing all of this on a shoestring budget, and could use donations! Donations link here
Thank you!
--Daphne Wysham
Sustainable Energy & Economy Network
Center for Sustainable Economy
Climate Action Coalition

West Coast Cities People’ Declaration: NO New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure, Just Transition Now

December 2015

We the undersigned organizations and their members in the states on the West Coast of the United States and the province of British Columbia in Canada call on leaders of the First Nations peoples of Canada and Native Americans of the U.S., Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, President Barack Obama of the United States, the premier of British Columbia, governors of U.S. states, city mayors, and other elected officials, and regulatory agencies to stand up for climate solutions by putting an end to the construction of new fossil fuel infrastructure in our cities, our coastal ports, and communities and beginning the just transition to the new clean economy now. 

The scientific community, President Obama and other political and religious leaders have told us very clearly that we have arrived at a critical moment in human history when we either act now or we doom present and future generations to an escalating planetary crisis of catastrophic climate change. They tell us we must leave 80 percent of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground, and leave all unproven reserves untouched.[1] Despite the growing scientific alarm, too many of our elected officials are continuing with business as usual, condoning the expansion of this deadly fossil fuel industry and exacerbating a crisis that the Pentagon has called a “threat multiplier” that could exacerbate terrorism.[2]

Our communities are assaulted every day with ever-increasing volumes of explosive oil and gas cargo close to our homes, our schools and our places of worship; with coal dust clouding our air as mile-long trains cut through our towns; with unaccountable corporations pushing oil and gas pipelines across our land; and with toxic emissions increasing rates of asthma among our children and threatening our elderly when this fossil fuel is burned. The fossil fuel export terminals and pipelines often traverse geologically active areas and earthquake subduction zones, exposing nearby communities to the risk of calamitous explosions and toxic spills should a major quake take place. At the point of extraction, and at every step of the way to our port cities, too often Native American and First Nations treaty rights are being violated in order to facilitate the extraction, transport, storage and export of this dangerous cargo. Too often, it is the poorest that bear the brunt of this pollution. Our water is threatened by regular spills of oil and tar sands, and by toxic mercury emitted when these fossil fuels are burned. Our fish are dying in rivers overheated by rising temperatures caused by the burning of fossil fuels. And our forests, once a place of refuge for wildlife in the heat, are increasingly going up in flames or succumbing to pests due to increasing temperatures. The oceans are becoming too acidic to support critical links in the food chain. 

This destruction is as unnecessary as it is unconscionable. Solutions are available now. There are no insurmountable economic or technological obstacles to a clean energy transition. Our cities are demonstrating the promise of this transition every day, building healthier communities, better buildings, and more efficient and affordable transportation systems while lowering emissions. We are taking our money and power back and investing them in our communities. We can do this. But there’s a reason that we are not doing it fast enough now, a reason that we continue to make the problem worse even as we prove the promise of solutions: the entrenched power of the fossil fuel industry, and their unconscionable campaign of deception that protects that power.

We now know that the fossil fuel industry has been covering up the devastating truth about climate change for almost four decades. Recent reports[3] reveal that Exxon knew as early as the 1970s that climate change would threaten all of us, yet chose to confuse and mislead the public, putting its profits ahead of the planet. The delays caused by these actions by the fossil fuel industry leave us with no time to lose. We must act immediately and decisively. Implementing solutions will take time, but we must stop investing in the problem right away.

New fossil fuel infrastructure locks us into a deadly climate future, making the problem not just worse but insoluble. The transition from present emission levels to safe levels will take decades, but it begins with a simple and firm commitment today: we must stop making it worse with large new capital investments that increase emissions. We don’t have time or money to waste going backwards.[4]

In order to begin to act on climate change, we support and align your jurisdiction’s policy to these two vital commitments: 

1) We must stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure in order to leave at least 80% of proven fossil fuel reserves in the ground;

2) We must invest in a “just transition”[5] to a clean economy – a transition that delivers shared prosperity, good, family-supporting jobs, and support for people and communities who bear the brunt of climate impacts and economic dislocation.

It is imperative that the West Coast of the United States does our share to meet these two commitments.

your name!      Sign on here

Sunday, November 22, 2015

NATURAL GAS: Enormous Northwest refineries would feed China exclusively

Port of Tacomoa

NATURAL GAS:  Enormous Northwest refineries would feed China exclusively

SEATTLE -- China is seeking to tap the flood of cheap natural gas coming from the interior of North America by converting it to methanol at three huge refineries in Washington and Oregon.

The processing plants, collectively called Northwest Innovation Works, have received little attention despite their head-snapping impact:
  • The refineries could increase demand for natural gas in the Pacific Northwest by 40 percent.
  • They would more than triple the size of the fast-growing U.S. methanol industry.
  • With an estimated $7 billion price tag, the refineries would be one of the largest investments ever by China in new U.S. manufacturing.
  • The largest plant, planned for Tacoma, could use more water than all the residential customers of the city's public utility district combined.
"This is really a cross-Pacific collaboration," said Simon Zhang, the project's CEO and a former official with BP who is based in Shanghai. "It's very unique in that it brings a benefit to both sides of the Pacific very clearly."

However, the plan is being viewed warily by Pacific Northwest environmental groups, which have proved effective at slowing a long list of proposals to deliver coal, oil and natural gas from the continent's midsection to hungry markets in Asia.

"They fit into the pattern of more fossil-fuel infrastructure built on the Columbia that we have concerns about," said Brett VandenHeuvel, the executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper. Two of the three refineries would sit on the banks of the Columbia River.

The Chinese proposal, first made public last year, is different from other projects that would export raw fossil fuels. First, the end goal is methanol, a crucial building block of plastic and many other materials of modern life. Second, China would be the sole recipient.

Third is that it aims to lower greenhouse gas emissions in China, while raising them to a lesser degree on American shores. China is the world's largest producer and consumer of methanol, and it manufactures almost all of it from coal, which creates a great deal of carbon emissions.

Reducing carbon emissions across industries is an increasingly urgent goal for China, which will be a key player at the Paris climate talks at the end of this month. In September, China announced it would establish a carbon-trading market by 2017.

The Pacific Northwest venture claims that using natural gas instead would reduce emissions by 70 percent, and that it will employ a new technique that reduces the carbon footprint even further.
Northwest Innovation Works says the three refineries would create 3,000 construction jobs and 460 permanent jobs. It could spawn new customers for natural gas in the Pacific Northwest, where industrial jobs have been on the wane. The proposal has received an enthusiastic endorsement from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D).

The factories would also use enormous quantities of water, an obvious selling point for China and a potential flashpoint in the Pacific Northwest. China has chronic water shortages, while Washington and Oregon have lots of it -- though that supply is in question as climate change reduces the region's snowpack.

Two of the refineries would sit on opposite banks of the Columbia River, one in Clatskanie, Ore., about an hour's drive northwest of Portland, and the other at the Port of Kalama in Washington state. Both would produce about 5,000 metric tons of methanol a day, which would put them on par with the world's largest methanol plants.

But both would be dwarfed by a third proposed refinery at Tacoma, a busy industrial port a half-hour south of Seattle. Double the size of the other two, it would be the largest methanol refinery ever built.


Cheap gas fires up U.S. methanol

The new refineries would bring an even steeper growth curve to an already fast-growing methanol industry in the United States.

Methanol, also known as methyl alcohol or wood alcohol, is a precursor to hundreds of products, from plastics to fabrics to paints to windshield wiper fluid. The Washington and Oregon projects, like other plants, would combine natural gas with steam and heat to make a synthesis gas of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and hydrogen. That gas is heated and compressed and run over a catalyst to make a crude methanol, and then it is distilled with water.

The resulting methanol -- colorless, flammable, and a liquid at atmospheric temperature -- would be shipped to China, where it would be converted into olefins, such as ethylene and propylene, and used to make a range of products.....   read more here

Friday, November 20, 2015

‘Keep It in the Ground’ Win: Utah Oil and Gas Auction Halted

‘Keep It in the Ground’ Win: Utah Oil and Gas Auction Halted


BLM postpones Utah auction to ‘accommodate’ climate activists

By Phil Taylor, E and E News, November 17, 2015
The Bureau of Land Management late last night announced it is postponing today’s scheduled oil and gas lease sale in Salt Lake City to appease activists who are fighting to keep those minerals in the ground.

BLM had planned to lease up to 37,580 acres scattered around the center of the Beehive State for future oil and gas development, but the agency said it needed more time to “better accommodate the high level of public interest in attending the sale.”

It marks the first time that the “Keep it in the Ground” climate movement — which seeks to end the sale of federally owned oil, gas and coal — has disrupted a BLM lease auction.

BLM said it intends to reschedule the sale in the “near future.”

“As a public agency, we understand the importance of transparency,” said BLM spokeswoman Megan Crandall. “Given the large interest, we chose to postpone the sale and will be working to find the best way to accommodate the public and those who wish to attend and participate in the auction when it is held.”

It was the third consecutive BLM lease sale to be confronted by climate protesters who believe the burning of federally owned fossil fuels will undermine the nation’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Roughly 50 people gathered last week outside BLM’s Colorado headquarters in Lakewood to protest the agency’s sale of 90,000 acres in the Pawnee National Grassland, according to the Western Energy Alliance.

BLM moved forward with that auction, selling 106 parcels covering 83,534 acres for $5 million.
Protesters also demonstrated outside a Nov. 3 lease sale in Wyoming.

Crandall said there was not enough room in BLM’s downtown Salt Lake City auction room to accommodate members of the public who wanted to attend. The room is about 28 feet wide by 60 feet long and also has to accommodate up to 30 bidders and reporters, she said.

BLM planned to live-stream the auction, but many activists insisted on attending in person, she said.
The “Keep it in the Ground” campaign is backed by some major environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and is buoyed in Congress by legislation from Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) that would end new leasing and renewals of nonproducing federal leases for oil, coal and gas.      -continued below-

Monday, November 16, 2015

Portland Passes Groundbreaking Fossil Fuel Ban!

Passed: The City Council voted 5-0 on the Fossil Fuel Policy!

Portland City Council voted 4-0 passing the Oil Train Resolution last week and Thursday evening the Fossil Fuel Policy was passed by a 5-0 vote!! Thank you to everyone who came to the hearing, sent emails and made phone calls!     Video above

This Northwest City Just Passed The Strongest Resolution Against Fossil Fuels In The Country

CREDIT: Rick Rappaport

In a landmark victory for climate activists, the Portland, Oregon city council voted yesterday to pass a resolution that opposes any new infrastructure that would transport or store fossil fuels within the city or its adjacent waterways. 

The vote, which was unanimous, comes a week after the city council voted to adopt a similar policy opposing any proposed rail projects that would carry crude oil through the city of Portland or Vancouver. Together, the resolutions constitute what environmentalists are calling the strongest city-supported opposition to fossil fuels in the country.

“We seem to be reaching some sort of tipping point where people are waking up and realizing the enormity of the issue,” Adriana Voss-Andreae, director of 350PDX, told ThinkProgress. “That we got a unanimous vote was jaw-dropping. It was an inspiring moment for all of us.”

While Portland cannot, due to interstate commerce laws, unilaterally ban fossil fuels from being shipped via rail, road, or water, it can enact local laws that limit the transportation and storage of fossil fuels within the city itself, especially if those laws are based in environmental or safety concerns. That’s largely the goal of this resolution — to codify into law things like zoning restrictions or restrictions on materials that would make shipping and transporting fossil fuels through Portland either prohibitively expensive, or too time consuming, for fossil fuel companies.

“Our work is not done yet, but we feel that with this unanimous vote, there is good chance that the codifying language is going to be strong and signal to the fossil fuel industry that Portland is not open for their business,” Voss-Andreae said.

Protesters before the hearing on oil trains last week.
Protesters before the hearing on oil trains last week.
CREDIT: Rick Rappaport

Located at the mouth of the Columbia River Gorge, Portland is an important port city for the transport of fossil fuels overseas and has been the site of standoffs between environmentalists and fossil fuel companies for years. In 2014, the Canadian energy company Pembina proposed constructing a propane export terminal in the Port of Portland, which would have received, stored, and shipped some 1.6 million gallons of propane a day. The terminal, which would have cost an estimated $500 million, would have been the single largest private investment project in Portland’s history. At first, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales appeared to support the project, but faced with a groundswell of local opposition, Hales came out in opposition of the project in May of this year.

To the activists that rallied against the project, the stakes were higher than a single export terminal — it was a stand against a future where increasing fossil fuel infrastructure was the political and economic status quo.

“Here you have this pipeline project that, six months ago, was seen as just a simple economic development project, shipping one more thing through the Port of Portland,” Carl Abbott, an urban studies and planning professor at Portland State University, told the Globe and Mail in May of this year. “Now it has gotten caught up in the fear of energy transportation and the cause of global warming and taking a stand against more fossil fuels.”

Earlier this summer, Portland again found itself at the center of the debate about fossil fuels, as a Royal Dutch Shell ship attempted to make its way through Portland and up to the Arctic to aid in Shell’s exploratory drilling efforts. The ship was initially stopped by 13 climbers who hung from Portland’s St. John’s Bridge for 38 hours, impeding the ship’s ability to pass. Eventually, the ship was able to pass through the climbers and leave Portland, but news of the protest spread through social media and national outlets, increasing the visibility of the movement, according to the protesters.

Around the same time as the Shell protest, Hales traveled to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis. Then, in September, Portland voted to divest from fossil fuels.

“That whole movement, from Pembina to Shell to divestment, really set the stage for this,” Voss-Andreae said. “This is a very exciting moment for our movement.”

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Oil Industry Turns to Pacific NW Oil Train Terminals in Wake of KXL Rejection

Oil Industry Turns to Pacific Northwest Oil Train Terminals in Wake of Keystone Rejection

New report shows controversial facilities would boost oil extraction and climate-warming pollution.

Last week, President Obama rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, a strong stand for climate protection. Yet a new report shows that the oil industry will now turn to massive oil-by-rail terminals proposed in the Pacific Northwest as a second-best alternative to Keystone. In fact, in the absence of new pipelines serving the Canadian oil sands fields, the fiercely debated Northwest rail terminals would be the sole driver of new extraction there.

That’s according to a new Sightline-commissioned analysis by independent research group Oil Change International (OCI). Taken together, the proposed Northwest oil-by-rail terminals would be the climate pollution equivalent of adding more than 28 million cars to the road.

Tracking Emissions

The climate impact of the proposed crude-by-rail terminals in the Pacific Northwest.

The Pacific Northwest states of Oregon and Washington are facing a quadrupling of their crude-by-rail terminal capacity to over a million barrels a day. Sightline Institute commissioned this report from Oil Change International (OCI) to examine the impact that expansion would have on climate change.

In Tracking Emissions: The Climate Impacts of the Proposed Crude-by-Rail Terminals in the Pacific Northwest, OCI deploys the oil industry’s own forecasting and modeling tools together with a detailed examination of the Northwest facilities’ configurations. Key findings in the report concern:
  • Propping up Canadian tar sands: In the absence of new pipelines, Northwest rail terminals would be the sole driver of new growth in Canadian tar sands oil.
  • Multiplying oil extraction and climate pollution: Oil train facilities in the Northwest could unlock as much as 382,000 barrels per day of new tar sands production that would otherwise not be extracted. The resulting greenhouse gas pollution from extra tar sands production could be as much as 106 million metric tons per year of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of doubling the total greenhouse gas pollution of Washington state.
  • Feeding the Bakken beast: Northwest oil train terminals could also lead to more oil drilling in the Bakken formation, as much as 114,000 barrels per day beyond what would be produced without the terminals. The resulting greenhouse gas pollution from this extra production could be as much as 30 million tons per year of carbon dioxide—the equivalent of doubling the number of cars on the road in Oregon and Washington.

 Contact:          Eric de Place,, 206-447-1880 x105


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Sightline Institute research update and video of Grays Harbor DEIS protest

New research from Sightline Institute 

Hi there Northwest fossil fuel fighters, 

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on Sightline’s research, and we’ve published a few gems recently that I suspect many of you will enjoy.

First, a pair of post-election analyses, one on the influence of coal money in Whatcom County and the other on the growing importance of elected port officials: 

Next, a pair of examinations of the deteriorating conditions for would-be coal exporters:
  • Cloud Peak’s Coal Exports: The Red Ink Keeps Flowing: Blocking coal ports prevented a financial disaster for Big Coal. (By Clark Williams-Derry)

    Then, a second set of infographics that distill key findings from research reports on the risk of oil in Grays Harbor:

    ·         The High Costs of a Grays Harbor Oil Spill, Part 2: Oil shipments jeopardize millions of dollars in tourism and fishing revenues for the bay. (By Tarika Powell)

    Finally, for those tired of reading, a 45-minute radio segment on the latest developments in the Northwest: 

    ·         Sightline on Exxon, Climate Denialism, and Portland’s Role in the Thin Green Line: Listen to an in-depth conversation on the Northwest's fight against fossil fuels. (By Eric de Place and Nick Abraham)

    Happy Tuesday!

    Eric de Place | Policy Director
    Sightline Institute | 1402 Third Avenue, Suite 500 | Seattle, WA 98101 | T 206.447.1880 x105 | @Eric_deP 

    Take advantage of our news service, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.

    Sightline Institute is a think tank providing leading original analysis of energy, economic, and environmental policy in the Pacific Northwest.