[1THING] Blog: Archive for the ‘Environmental Ticker’ Category

[ The Story of Standing Rock ]

The Story of Standing Rock


Joe Brusky / Flickr


The situation in North Dakota, where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and thousands of allies are camped out to protest the Dakota Access oil pipeline under construction, changes every day. Harrowing footage of police and security clashing with what the movement has dubbed “protectors” have filled social media feeds. What’s happening at Standing Rock and what does it mean?

EarthShare member Earthjustice has been representing the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their court case against the federal government since the summer and explains the legal battle:

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is deeply concerned about two broad issues:

First, the pipeline would pass under the Missouri River just a half a mile upstream of the tribe’s reservation boundary, where a spill would be culturally and economically catastrophic. Second, the pipeline would pass through areas of great cultural significance, such as sacred sites and burial grounds that federal law seeks to protect.

The Tribe sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers… [for violating] multiple federal statutes, including the Clean Water Act, National Historic Protection Act, and National Environmental Policy Act, when it issued the permits.

“Earthjustice is honored to represent the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in court as it seeks to protect its people’s sacred lands and water from the Dakota Access pipeline,” said Trip Van Noppen, president of Earthjustice.

As of November 8, the situation in Standing Rock is in flux. Energy Transfer Partners, the pipeline owners, have ignored the federal government’s request to “voluntarily pause” construction and have arrested nearly 150 people for trying to prevent construction. To keep up with the latest developments at Standing Rock, visit Earthjustice’s FAQs page.

The tribe’s concern about pipeline spills is legitimate. According to CCN, there were 132 “significant” spills in in the US in 2015, or roughly one every three days. A spill in the Missouri River would impact the drinking water of millions.

“Major oil spills in rivers including the Yellowstone and Kalamazoo in recent years raise serious questions about pipeline safety,” said Bob Irvin, President of American Rivers, another EarthShare member. “Water is life, for the Standing Rock Sioux and for every American. Clean water is essential to our health and well-being.”

Environmental organizations like American Rivers, Natural Resources Defense Council, and the National Wildlife Federation are calling on the Obama Administration to conduct a full Environmental Impact Statement and/or revoke the permit. They also note that the Sioux’s land rights, established by the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851, are being ignored.

“The Corps must fulfill its trust responsibility to Tribal Nations, respect their treaty rights, and properly consult them so that Native Peoples, and all Americans, can be fully informed about whether the Dakota Access Pipeline is worth the costs,” said Garrit Voggesser and Jim Murphy of the National Wildlife Federation.

In addition to speaking out on Dakota Access, how can we address our dependence on oil, the underlying cause of more pipelines and pipeline spills?

EarthShare member Environment America has just released a road map with 50 steps for building a carbon-free transportation system. From public transit and walkable communities, to electric vehicles and advances in information technology, we have the tools to break our addiction to oil and build a healthier, cleaner world.

“The tools to transition to carbon-free transportation are already here,” said Katie Hammer of Environment America. “In fact, we already see several cities and states leading the way with technology and innovation.” She goes on to note the advances cities like Portland, Nashville, and Los Angeles have made in offering residents more climate-friendly ways to commute. Adopted globally, such ideas make pipelines like the Dakota Access less appealing to build in the first place.

To learn more about the Dakota Access pipeline, resistance to fossil fuel expansion, and solutions to oil use, visit our members:

The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s Litigation on the Dakota Access Pipeline, Earthjustice
Ancient Voices, Today’s Struggles: Learning from Indigenous Resistance, Food & Water Watch
The Hidden Costs of Fossil Fuels, Union of Concerned Scientists
Imagine a future with zero-carbon transportation, Environment America


[ Good Jobs in the Climate-Friendly Economy ]

Good Jobs in the Climate-Friendly Economy


PEO ACWA / Flickr

 Adapted from the Labor Network for Sustainability Report “Just Transition” – Just What Is It?

We are well into the greatest economic transition ever experienced — one that will dwarf all that came before. Creating a carbon-neutral economy will require us to retool all sectors of our economy, from manufacturing, transportation, and health care to waste management, communications, energy, and more.

Frontline communities — including workers and all those threatened or already devastated by climate change and the fossil fuel economy — can be leaders here. A “just transition” is one that protects and prioritizes communities and workers’ livelihoods as we build this climate-friendly economy together.

We know that coal power is a significant driver of climate change, for instance. How can we ensure that the people who work for coal companies have good jobs in the clean economy of the future?

The Eastern Kentucky Clean Energy Collaborative has created an innovative and inspiring model.

A significant portion of electricity in eastern Kentucky is provided by the East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC), a rural electric co-op serving eighty-seven counties. In 2005, EKPC got the go-ahead to build a coal plant in Clark County.

In 2009, a public interest coalition, including the Sierra Club, contested the decision. They argued that changes in energy demand and the availability of renewables made the plant unnecessary.

The coalition also knew that the issue of jobs and economic impacts would be crucial in impoverished eastern Kentucky. So they commissioned a study showing that far more jobs would be created and electric rates would be lower if EKPC invested instead in energy efficiency, weatherization, hydropower, and wind power.

The report spawned lots of positive public discussion. Community leaders shared educational materials, held meetings and hearings, and met with EKPC board members to encourage them to support the alternative to the coal plant.

About a year later, in November 2010, EKPC agreed to immediately halt plans to build the coal plant.

Even more remarkably, EKPC committed $125,000 toward a collaboration between its member co-ops and public interest groups to evaluate and recommend new energy-efficiency programs and renewable energy options in Kentucky. The Clean Energy Collaborative meets quarterly and comprises a wide range of partners, including the EKPC and its member co-ops, the public interest coalition members, and housing and economic development groups.

In late 2016, Kentuckians reached another milestone with the launch of the Empower Kentucky Summit. The event brought together renewable energy and energy efficiency professionals, faith leaders, environmentalists, social justice advocates, electric cooperatives, and many more. Here was a roadmap for the future, from the very heart of coal country.

We can build an economy that saves the climate, creates good jobs, and contributes to community well-being. Labor and justice advocates, environmental organizations and others can come together for a common vision. A just transition is within reach if we work together.






[ 7 Tips to Fight Plastic Pollution ]

7 Tips to Fight Plastic Pollution




Enormous gyres made up of plastic “soup” have been found in all our oceans. The infamous North Pacific Gyre, also known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, covers an area twice the size of Texas! Meanwhile, endocrine-disrupting plastic chemicals like BPA (and its replacements) could be contributing to cancer, birth defects, and behavior problems.

All this plastic is wreaking havoc on our health and environment. Here are some tips from EarthShare members on fighting back against plastic pollution:

Support Plastic Fees and Bans (bags, microbeads, takeout containers, etc.). Policy is the most effective tool to fight plastic pollution. Tell your local, state, and federal politicians that you want to dis-incentivize wasteful plastic use. Check out the cities that have already done it.

Put pressure on Manufacturers. If you believe a company could be smarter about its packaging, make your voice heard. Write a letter, send a tweet, or give your money to a more sustainable competitor (NRDC).

Volunteer to Cleanup a Waterway. Sign up to participate in one of Ocean Conservancy’s International Coastal Cleanups or Surfrider Foundation’s Cleanups. It’s a fun (and eye-opening) way to care for your local environment.

Reduce *Before* Recycling. While it’s better than the landfill, recycling plastic isn’t a sustainable solution. Plastic degrades as it’s recycled and is sometimes exported to other countries. Reduce first, then reuse, then recycle (Save Our Shores).

Keep Plastic Out of the Kitchen. Avoid heating plastic containers and use kitchen dishes and implements made of glass, porcelain, wood, cast iron, and stainless steel instead (CEHN).

BYO (Bring Your Own) Everything. From utensils and mugs to bags and diapers, we can kick the single-use habit by purchasing longer-lasting products meant to be reused (Surfrider Foundation/Earth Island Journal).

Change the Culture. At a coffee shop? Ask the barista for a ceramic cup. Decline excess packaging at stores, and share news about successful campaigns to fight plastic with your friends. Together, we can change the culture around waste.


[ Global Movement Fights Plastic Pollution ]

Global Movement Fights Plastic Pollution


woodleywonderworks / Flickr

By Break Free from Plastic

Scientists predict that without urgent action there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050. Yet, despite the danger that plastic pollution poses to our planet and to human health, industry and governments have so far failed to face up to the systemic change required to solve the issue.

That’s why a network of 100 NGOs, including EarthShare members Surfrider Foundation, Clean Water Fund, Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, and Oceana, just released a groundbreaking new global vision for a future free from plastic pollution.

The vision’s includes 10 principles that represent the first step in a global movement to change society’s perception and use of plastics.

Some of these principles include prioritizing waste reduction; building a materials lifecycle that sustains the health of the people and the planet; and working with producers and workers to change the system.

“This is the first time that groups from all around the world have come together to find a common solution to plastic pollution,” said Monica Wilson from GAIA. “It shows the evolution of a movement that is pushing governments, cities and major companies to solve this ever-growing problem. This isn’t just about managing the problem. It’s about preventing it in the first place.”

The environmental impacts of plastic pollution are well understood. A significant amount of plastic production is for single-use disposable applications. Nearly a third of plastic packaging escapes collection systems and winds up in the oceans. Once there, sunlight and ocean currents shred plastic debris into smaller particles called microplastics, which attract and concentrate toxic chemicals up the marine food chain and into our bodies.

Plastic is also a human rights issue. Increasingly, consumer goods companies sell goods wrapped in plastic into markets without waste management systems that can adequately handle the materials. In the US, most plastic ends up in incinerators and landfills, endangering nearby communities, which are frequently low-income communities and communities of color.

It is clear that without strong and coordinated effort by policy makers, businesses will continue to use plastic indiscriminately and the pollution will intensify.

“For years, the plastics industry has been telling us that all plastics are recyclable, but what we find in the field demonstrates that we can not recycle our way out of the plastic pollution problem,” said Martin Bourque, Executive Director of the Ecology Center who runs the United States’ longest-operating curbside recycling program.

We call on U.S. corporations and governments to lead the way to a future free from plastic pollution. We also stand in solidarity with people around the world who are implementing real community-based solutions.”

To learn more, visit http://breakfreefromplastic.org/.



[ Building Stronger Communities Can Start with your Bank Account ]

Better Bank Accounts, Stronger Communities


Calvert Foundation partner Mobisol replaces a kerosene lamp with an affordable solar home system in Tanzania


By EarthShare member charity Green America

The United States can feel like a country divided, especially in this election year when the rhetoric is bombastic and there doesn’t seem to be much common ground. At the same time, we turn on the news and often see another community impacted by tragedy – natural or manmade.

Many Americans are looking for ways to create and heal communities. If you want to help people in need, and you have a savings or checking account, you can place your money where your heart is and take action with community investing. 

Community investing is a way for all Americans to use their savings to support communities near them, across the United States, or even around the world. You can help a farmer plant their next crop, provide housing for low-income people, make sure kids are receiving high quality daycare – all with your savings or checking account. Even if you are just looking for a new credit card, you can find one issued by a community bank that often supports a deserving non-profit as well.

You can become a community investor simply by banking with a community development bank or credit union.

Community development banks and credit unions operate very much like their traditional counterparts, and your accounts are insured, but these institutions focus on funding economic development in low- and moderate-income areas. These are the communities that are often underserved by major banks, and at the same time targeted by predatory lenders – payday lenders, used car lenders, rent to own businesses — that take the wealth out of these communities.

By contrast, community development banks and credit unions are dedicated to helping these communities help themselves with small business loans, mortgages, and deposit accounts that help people build equity.

For example, Beneficial State Bank has supported a diverse range of businesses and nonprofits on the West Coast from Mercy Housing, which provides educational programs and affordable housing; to Full Circle Farms, which provides local produce to homes and businesses; to Civicorps, which provides young adults who have previously dropped out of high school with a hands-on, enriching, and career-focused environment.

To find a community development bank or credit union near you, check out Green America’s searchable database. To find a great credit card that supports communities and nonprofits, check out Green America’s resource, Take Charge of Your Card.

Once you’ve started banking with a community development bank or credit union in your area, you can take the next step and support people across the United States or around the world through community development loan funds or investment notes.

Calvert Foundation offers a unique online platform, Vested.org, where for an investment as low as $20 anyone can support the likes of fair trade coffee farmers, clean cookstoves in Kenya, and increased access to healthy foods in Philadelphia. For the price of dinner at a restaurant, you can make an investment that helps change the world. The interest rates range from 1-4%, and while your investment is not FDIC insured, Calvert Foundation has had a 100% repayment rate to investors since it began in 1995.

As we all look for ways to create a better future, remember how you save and invest your money has as much an effect on the world as how you spend your money. Whether you need a bank for depositing a weekly paycheck, a credit card, or are looking to make an impact on communities worldwide, there’s a community investing option for you.


[ Portland Kids Win Safe Routes to School ]

Portland Kids Win Safe Routes to School



By EarthShare Oregon Member Charity Bicycle Transportation Alliance

Our kids are getting less exercise than any previous generation. One in three kids in the US is overweight or obese, conditions that lead to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension—and eventually early death.

Something as simple as walking to school every day isn’t an option for many families in the US. Too many communities lack safe sidewalks, bikeways, and crosswalks. Kids who most need opportunities for physical activity often don’t have safe routes for walking or biking to school, which could give them 66% percent of their recommended daily exercise.

That’s why, in 2014, the Bicycle Transportation Alliance partnered with 89 other organizations to secure funding to ensure every kid in Portland, Oregon has a safe and healthy way to get to school. Schools with well-supported programs have seen walking and biking to school quadruple in one year.

Our “For Every Kid Coalition” called for these simple, but impactful changes:

1) Make streets and crossings within the mile-radius of schools safer.
2) Empower communities to take charge of their own health and safety with bike and pedestrian safety education.
3) Create communities of families walking and biking together through fun, school-based events.

To achieve these goals, we worked with city, county, and Metro staff, local elected officials, businesses, and residents to show how Safe Routes to School can increase walking and biking to school by 40% and be a regional solution to health issues, street safety, and inequality.

We engaged and activated thousands of people in writing postcards, sending emails, making phone calls, attending rallies, testifying at public meetings, and much more.

Austin Hecker, a 10-year-old from John Wetten Elementary in Gladstone, spoke about his route to school prior to a pivotal funding vote.

“People who are driving are in a rush to get to work and us kids are small and hard to see. I want to be safe and I want my friends to be safe too. Please dedicate funding for safe streets for kids."

Ultimately, with the impassioned voices of people like Austin, we were able to win $3.5M for Safe Routes to School and over $25M for active transportation projects. Because of this win, hundreds of kids, families, and elders in the Portland-area will now be able to safely walk, bike, and access transit in their neighborhoods!

When it’s convenient and fun to walk to neighborhood schools, our children are healthier, our streets are safer for everyone, and our communities thrive. Although For Every Kid ran a successful Portland Metro campaign, there are still thousands of kids throughout the state (and the country) without a safe route to school. That’s why For Every Kid is back with a statewide vision.

Every kid deserves a safe route to school and a healthy future. To learn more about the For Every Kid campaign, and how to support active transportation in your own community, visit http://ourhealthystreets.org/foreverykid.