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EcoWobbles - EcoUnionist News #134

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, January 9, 2017

News of interest to green unionists:

After Helping Elect Donald Trump, Pennsylvania’s Coal Country Looks Ahead - By Reid Frazier, Allegheny Front, January 4, 2017 - All over the country, coal miners will be watching President-elect Donald Trump to see if he keeps his promises. In West Virginia last year, he told a crowd, “We’re going to put the miners back to work—we’re going to put the miners back to work.”

At least 12 dead after coal mine collapse in India, Myanmar jade mine landslide - By Andrew Topf, Mining.Com, December 30, 2016 - Two separate mining accidents in India and Myanmar have together claimed the lives of a dozen miners, though the death toll may soon rise as the search for bodies continues.

Black Lung Disease is Making a Comeback Among Appalachian Miners - By Benny Becker, Allegheny Front, January 6, 2017 - At the age of 38, a coal miner named Mackie Branham Jr. was diagnosed with progressive massive fibrosis, a debilitating and terminal form of an illness that was supposed to be a disease of the past — black lung. But Branham is among many miners afflicted by a resurgence in the disease, and officials are just beginning to realize the scope of the problem. A review of health clinic records shows roughly a thousand such cases, many times more than federal officials had thought existed.

Centre orders safety audits in coal mines - By staff, The Hindu Business Line, January 4, 2017 - A small mine patch, Lalmatia was operated by a contractor Mahalaxmi Industries. On December 29, a part of the mine where operations were on collapsed, thus burying contractual workers.

China plans to create 13 million clean energy jobs by 2020 - By Katie Herzog, Grist, January 5, 2017 - The country has announced that it will invest $361 billion in renewable energy through the end of the decade — another signal that the world’s most populous nation is serious about combating climate change. The investment, Reuters reports, will continue China’s shift away from coal and other dirty fuels.

Citizens Acting for Rail Safety-La Crosse: Transporting oil comes with inherent risks - By Irv Balto, LaCrosse Tribune, December 29, 2016 - Presently, there are not enough independent inspectors to ensure the safety of existing rails, tankers and pipelines.

Clean energy will be a $50-trillion industry, but Trump policies mean the U.S. won’t benefit - By Joe Romm, Think Progress, January 4, 2017 - The best charts of 2016 reveal the clean energy revolution is unstoppable. At least, it is unstoppable globally. But if the United States makes a historic blunder and shifts its focus back toward dirty energy just when the rest of the world has made a $50 trillion (or higher) commitment to a carbon-free future, then it won’t reap the vast job-creating benefits of the remarkable ongoing cost reductions shown in chart above.

Coal Country Looks Forward To 2017 - By Leigh Paterson, Inside Energy, December 29, 2016 - 2016 was the year the collapse of the coal industry finally hit the epicenter of US production: Wyoming’s mineral-rich Powder River Basin. Two out of the four largest coal companies in the U.S. declared bankruptcy. They shed hundreds of their Wyoming miners at all once.

The Coal Industry in Our Public Schools - By Nick Mullins, The Thoughtful Coal Miner, December 31, 2016 - There are many problems plaguing Appalachia today: underfunded school systems, poverty, drug abuse, negative stereotyping of Appalachia in the media, and today a severe downturn in coal demand within a mono-economy built upon coal extraction. While many are looking to find alternative means to alleviate these problems by strengthening and diversifying the Appalachian economy, the coal industry is busy at work preparing the next generation of Appalachian coal miners dedicated to fighting the “War on Coal”.

Collaboration is just a strategy: Overcoming the limits of the Commons - By Christian Felber, Green European Journal, January 4, 2017 - Although the commons are no silver bullet solution to society’s ills, combined with the common good and other alternative models they can form the basis of a fairer and more sustainable economic order.

Combating Wage Theft under Donald Trump - By  Daniel J. Galvin, The American Prospect, December 22, 2016 - In what has become something of an annual ritual, the Department of Labor recently announced that an investigation of the garment industry in Southern California uncovered rampant wage theft.

Crony Capitalism Made Rick Perry Our Energy Secretary - By Jim Hightower, Alternet, December 29, 2016 - Rick Perry has taken quite a tumble since being governor of Texas. He was a twice-failed GOP presidential wannabe and then ended up being a rejected contestant on Dancing with the Stars, the television show for has-been celebrities. But now, having kissed the ring of Donald Trump, Perry is being lifted from the lowly role of twinkle-toed TV hoofer to — get this — taking charge of our government’s nuclear arsenal.

Into the abyss: oil states face turmoil as climate policies bite - By Karl Mathiesen, Climate Change News, January 4, 2017 - A transition to green energy sources threatens the stability of oil-rich states like Venezuela, Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Jharkhand coal mine collapse: Eleven workers killed, over 50 trapped - By Bedanti Saran and Pankaj Kumar, Hindustan Times, December 30, 2016 - Eleven workers died and over 50 others were feared trapped when an open-cast coal mine at Paharia Bhodaye in Jharkhand’s Godda district collapsed on Thursday night.

As pot legalization nears, cannabis industry can't forget workers' rights - By Paul Meinema, Rabble.Ca, January 4, 2017 - When it comes to workplace safety and rights for cannabis workers in Canada, the recent report by the Task Force on Cannabis Legalization and Regulation leaves some labour advocates a bit dazed and confused.

Railway terror alert reignites train drivers' union row over safety staff - By Mark Ellis, Daily Mirror, January 6, 2017 - A busy rail route running through London has been put on terrorist alert after staff failed to find a fake bomb in a security test. And it is doubly embarrassing for Govia Thameslink (GTR), which owns Southern Rail, and is locked in a bitter row with rail unions over the “safety critical” role of guards on trains. The train drivers’ union Aslef say what drivers can see from their train cabs is a world away from the claims made by Southern Rail.

Rising Inequality Is Far From Inevitable - By Robert Kuttner, The American Prospect, January 2, 2017 - We could have much higher minimum wages. We could stop the union-bashing. We could restore a brand of globalization that promotes rather than undermines national social standards. We could invest massively in a green transition, modeled on the World War II mobilization that reduced unemployment from 14 percent to 2 percent in two years and produced tens of millions of good jobs.

Southern Rail strike: It's all about safety - By staff, Reel News, December 21, 2016 - As railworkers in the RMT and ASLEF try and curb Southern's disastrous running of the franchise which is seriously jeopardising the safety of passengers, proof that it's the Government - NOT the unions - who are turning this into a political dispute.

These Workers are Celebrating 20 Years of Shared Bread and Shared Ownership - By Misty Dawn Spicer-Sitzes, Shareable, December 19, 2016 - Workers in California are taking economic change into their own hands. The Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives is one of the shining examples of how shared ownership empowers workers and builds community. For the past 20 years, the association, comprised of six bakeries, has been innovating the way business is done. What’s its recipe for success? It turns out that it is more than just tasty treats: Each bakery is democratically-owned and governed by its workers.

Time to hold lead companies responsible - By Monica M. Tetzlaff, South Bend Tribune, December 31, 2016 - Elevated blood lead levels have been reported from Flint to East Chicago, and most recently in Census Tract 6 in South Bend. Who is responsible? Let me give you a historian’s perspective.

Unions and Climate Change - By staff, Socialist Project, December 2016 - How do we build a trade union movement that promotes solutions to the climate crisis and responds to the attacks on workers' rights and protections? The ecological and social implications of climate change have – or should – become a central parameter for all discussions of work and capitalism. It is generally agreed that reliance on the burning of fossil fuels as the pre-eminent energy source for production and consumption over the history of capitalism is the critical factor in the ruinous greenhouse gas emissions triggering global warming, which would become irreversible if the earth's atmosphere were brought to a 'tipping-point', typically set at 2ºC. The leading scientific estimates project that a rise in average global temperatures of 2ºC is the threshold for irreversible climate change; that this can be expected from an accumulation of 1 trillion metric tonnes of carbon in the atmosphere; that we are approaching 600 million tonnes; and that the carbon 'tipping-point' may well be reached in 30 years unless carbon emissions can be reduced by 2-5% per year. The unrelenting build-up of greenhouse gases has led to the jarring conclusion, drawn by climatologists, ecological militants and union activists, that an exit from reliance on fossil fuels for energy needs to occur with some urgency.

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.