Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Press Release for Our Action At the EPA Hearing on Clean Cars

Activists Demonstrate Clean Energy Tug-of-War Calling on Obama for Climate Action
Street Theater Event Part of National Series of Actions

More than 50 activists and supporters of clean energy gathered at Philadelphia’s Independence Mall on April 8th to urge President Obama to take action on climate change.

During his inaugural address and again during the State of the Union, President Obama committed to taking action on climate change.  In March and April events are taking place across the country to pressure the president to move forward as a climate and clean energy leader.

The demonstration was co-sponsored by the Sierra Club, Public Citizen, Philadelphia Neighborhood Network, the Clean Air Council, The Blue Green Alliance, and Protecting Our Waters -- an example of how climate change is creating partnerships among organizations with wide-ranging missions.

Billed as “guerilla theater” a literal tug-of-war was staged to depict the competing interests of clean energy and fossil fuels.  Fossil fuels were represented by a few tuxedoed cigar-smoking “fat cats”.   Opposing them were people costumed to represent clean energy supporters such as asthma sufferers, hikers, bikers, farmers, scientists, health care workers and people in green jobs.

Billions of tons of heat-trapping gases are pumped into the earth’s atmosphere every year and much of it will not break down for hundreds of years.  “Most of the CO2 produced during my lifetime will be in the atmosphere throughout the lives of my children and grandchildren.  So it is urgent to stop burning fossil fuels and to stop building infrastructure for even dirtier sources” says Iris Bloom, from Protecting Our Waters, referring to the Keystone XL Pipeline that is proposed to transport tar sands oil across the U.S. from Canada.

The comment period for the pipeline expires in April.  Opponents have been conducting actions against the pipeline for months, including a rally in Washington D.C. on February 17th that drew an estimated 35,000 protesters, and a demonstration that greeted President Obama at a recent fund raising trip to San Francisco.

“The March 29th tar sands spill in Mayflower, Arkansas shows us what can be expected if Keystone XL is built” says Sierra Club organizer Sue Edwards “except a Keystone XL spill would be many times worse due to the higher volumes it would transport.”

The Ogalalla Aquifer, which the pipeline would cross, supplies about 30 percent of all ground water used for irrigation in the U.S. and supplies drinking water to 82 percent of the people who live in the High Plains.”

Organizations fighting for more action on climate change give Obama credit for steps taken to increase fuel-efficiency standards for cars, and to better regulate mercury emissions and sulphur in gasoline.  But they are disappointed by the delay in issuing standards on coal-fired power plant emissions and indecision about the Keystone XL pipeline.

They were further disappointed when Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey voted to support the pipeline in a recent non-binding budget proposal passed on March 23rd.

It is not just scientists and environmental groups trying to prod the President to more action.  On February 14th, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued its biannual high risk analysis report.  According to the report “Climate change poses significant financial risks to the federal government, which owns extensive infrastructure, such as defense installations; insures property through the National Flood Insurance Program; and provides emergency aid in response to natural disasters.”

The report went on to say “GAO added this area because the federal government is not well positioned to address the fiscal exposure presented by climate change and needs a government-wide strategic approach with strong leadership to manage related risks.”

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency report on Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2012, renewable energy accounts for almost half of new electricity capacity installed and costs are continuing to fall.

But a number of oil and gas-specific tax credits remain in place today, some put in place nearly a century ago when oil extraction was a fledgling industry, at many times the levels of those available to help emerging clean energy technologies.

Protesters also called on Congress to eliminate oil and gas subsidies, and to put a price on pollution through a carbon tax.

Fossil fuels enabled the industrial revolution, and for much of the 20th century the effects on climate were unknown.  “But it is now time for the clean energy revolution”  according to Matt Walker from the Clean Air Council, “and the good news is that renewable energy is catching up to fossil fuels on price and is already providing more jobs than fossil fuels per dollar of government investment.”

“Most of the fossil fuels still in the ground will have to stay in the ground.” he said.
Another co-sponsor of the demonstration, the United Steelworkers Union, is part of a coalition of labor and environmental organizations called the Blue Green Alliance.  The goals of the alliance are to create jobs and transform the economy through renewable energy, energy efficiency, mass transit and rail, a new smart grid and other solutions to global warming.
Health impacts are also closely linked to burning fossil fuels.  Researchers have ranked air pollution seventh on the list of risk factors for deaths worldwide, contributing to as many as 3.2 million deaths in 2010, based on data collected by the 2010 Global Burden of Disease Study and reported in the British medical journal The Lancet.

Stanley Shapiro from Philadelphia Neighborhood Network points out that “approximately 22 percent of Philadelphia children under 18 have been diagnosed with asthma—nearly double the national rate.” And according to the American Lung Association about 23 million Americans suffered from asthma in 2010. Exposure to increased pollution heightens sensitivity to allergens, impairs lungs, and triggers asthma attacks.

2012 was the hottest year on record in the lower 48 states according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  A paper recently published in Nature Geoscience reported that global warming predictions by climate scientists have proven to be highly accurate, based on data going back several decades.

“Reliance on dirty energy has resulted in climate disruption on a global scale. To further delay the shift to a clean energy economy means greater threats to our public health and ability to ensure a livable planet for future generations. We cannot allow fossil fuel interest to keep standing in the way of public interest. The stakes are far too high.” Said Allison Fisher, Outreach Director for Public Citizen’s Energy Program.


The Sierra Club is America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide. The Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying and litigation.

Philadelphia Neighborhood Network is a culturally and racially diverse organization of Philadelphians dedicated to advancing social equality, economic justice and resource stewardship by influencing political decision-making from a grassroots level.

Public Citizen, founded in 1971, seeks to ensure that all citizens are represented in the halls of power.  Public Citizen's energy and climate program advocates for affordable, clean and sustainable energy, promotes the strong regulation of energy markets, educates the public on the dangers of continued reliance on dirty energy sources.

The Clean Air Council, founded in 1967, is a member-supported, nonprofit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone's right to breathe clean air. The Council works through public education, community advocacy, and government oversight to ensure enforcement of environmental laws.

Protecting Our Waters is a Philadelphia-based grassroots nonprofit organization committed to protecting the Delaware, Susquehanna and Ohio River Basin and the southeast region from unconventional gas drilling and other threats to drinking water, the environment, and public health.

The Blue Green Alliance a national, strategic partnership between labor unions and environmental organizations dedicated to expanding the number and quality of jobs in the green economy.  Launched in 2006 by the United Steelworkers and the Sierra Club, this unique labor-environmental collaboration has grown to include the Communications Workers of America (CWA), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Laborers' International Union of North America (LIUNA), Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA), American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) and the Sheet Metal Workers' International Association. The Blue Green Alliance unites more than eight and a half million people in pursuit of good jobs, a clean environment and a green economy.


Contact: Sue Edwards or William Kramer
Phone: 610-717-7202 Phone: 732-589-8024
Email: sueedwards79(at) Email: william.kramer(at)

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

EPA Hearing for Tier 3 Cleaner Tailpipe Standards In Philly

The public hearings for the Tier 3 proposed rulemaking will be held on: April 24, 2013 at the Sonesta Hotel Philadelphia, 1800 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Public comments must be submitted on or before June 13, 2013.

The hearing runs from 10 am through whenever the last person speaks. This publication from the EPA explains the process in a bit more detail:
Control of Air Pollution From Motor Vehicles: Tier 3 Motor Vehicle mission and Fuel Standards; Public Hearing and Comment Period (PDF) (2 pp, 212K, published April 8, 2013).

Here is the relevant parts of the media kit from the Sierra Club:

Finalizing new cleaner tailpipe standards is one of the strongest steps President Obama can take in his second term to protect public health and secure his clean energy legacy. Today, one in three Americans lives where the air is sometimes dangerous, even deadly, to breathe.

Cleaner tailpipe standards will require that refineries produce cleaner-burning gasoline and automakers use advanced technology to reduce tailpipe pollution. Using cleaner-burning gasoline in advanced vehicle technologies will mean less smog-forming pollution from car tailpipes – Americans get cleaner air to breathe.

The new standards will not only reduce air pollution, they will create jobs as auto parts suppliers manufacture the technologies that reduce vehicle emissions, automakers apply advanced vehicle technologies, and refineries upgrade their equipment.

  • Proposing strong cleaner tailpipe standards is one of the first steps President Obama can take to secure his clean energy legacy and protect our public health.
  • More than 1 in 3 American children live where the air is sometimes dangerous to breathe, causing premature death, heart disease and asthma attacks.
  • Cleaner burning gasoline will mean less smog-forming pollution from car tailpipes – giving Americans cleaner air to breath, saving lives and reducing asthma attacks.
  • Cleaner tailpipe standards will prevent 400 premature deaths and 52,000 lost workdays due to illness each year.
  • Cleaner tailpipe standards will create jobs as automakers apply advanced vehicle technologies and refineries upgrade refinery equipment.
  • Big Oil opposes cleaner tailpipe standards; however, these health-protecting standards cost less than one penny per gallon.
  • Automakers and the United Auto Workers strongly support these standards, along with local and state public health agencies, public health organizations, and environmental groups.
  • The public supports cleaner tailpipe standards. According to a survey conducted by the American Lung Association, a 2-to-1 majority (62 to 32 percent) support the Environmental Protection Agency setting stricter standards on gasoline and tightening limits on tailpipe emissions from new cars.
Air Quality
  • Passenger cars and trucks remain the second largest source of smog-forming pollution in the United States.
  • These vehicles emit more than half of all carbon monoxide pollution and contribute significantly to deadly particulate matter emissions.
  • Tier 3 cleaner tailpipe standards are expected to reduce the gasoline sulfur concentration from 30 parts per million (ppm) to 10ppm – a level already achieved by California, Europe and Japan.
  • Tier 3 cleaner tailpipe standards have the potential to cut passenger car and truck emissions of nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds by 29, 38 and 26 percent respectively by 2030.
  • By reducing the sulfur content of gasoline, these cleaner tailpipe standards will reduce nitrogen oxides from existing cars by more than 260,000 tons – equivalent to taking 33 million cars off the road.
Health Benefits
  • One in three children, more than 127 million Americans, live in areas where air pollution levels are sometimes dangerous. Our cars and trucks are a major source of this health-threatening pollution.
  • Standards for reducing smog-forming pollution from passenger vehicles are critical to reducing the health impacts of poor air quality, including asthma attacks, respiratory problems, and premature death.
Economic Benefits
  • A study by Navigant Economics stated that the health benefits have an estimated value of $5 to $6 billion annually by 2020, and $10 to $11 billion annually by 2030.
  • The new standards will not only bring cleaner air, but more American jobs as emissions control equipment manufacturers develop and manufacture technology to reduce vehicle emissions.
  • According to a study by Navigant Economics, implementation of the cleaner fuel standard will create almost 5,300 permanent jobs in the operation and maintenance of new refining equipment, as well as more than 24,000 new jobs over a three year period for equipment installation at the nation’s refineries.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Great Environmental Film Showing at Friends Center on Wed. April 3rd

Join us as we continue our focus on Ecological Justice with a documentary that will ignite your passion about this planet and our common future.

"A Fierce Green Fire: The Battle for a Living Planet" chronicles the largest movement of the 20th Century and one of the keys to survival in the 21st. Connecting the major parts of environmental movement, the film humanizes the many different people working to protect their children, their communities and the future – and succeeding against all odds.

It will be held Wednesday April 3, 6:30-9:00 at the Friends Center at 1501 Cherry St.

Following the film, a reflection session will be facilitated by the Executive Director of Envision Peace Museum, Michael Gagné- who comes with 20 years of passion and engagement in the environmental movement.