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EcoWobbles - EcoUnionist News #140

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, February 19, 2017

News of interest to green unionists:

Bipartisan Group of Governors to President Trump: Renewable Energy Is an ‘American Success Story’ - By Stephen Lacey, Greentech Media, February 14, 2017 - When it comes to creating jobs and innovating in the energy sector, President Trump doesn't have to try very hard to make America great again. Because renewable energy is already making it great, says a bipartisan group of governors. They can see it firsthand in their states.

BNEF: US economy 'decoupled' from energy demand as renewables rise, emissions fall - By Robert Walton, Utility Dive, February 9, 2017 - Major shifts in the United States energy sector, including a long-term push towards decarbonization, are helping to grow the country's economy while creating high-paying jobs, according to new analysis.

California’s Climate Policies Bring Good Jobs to the San Joaquin Valley - By Betony Jones, UC Labor Center, February 6, 2017 - Even after accounting for as many of the costs as was possible, the state’s climate policies and programs have had a positive impact on the region’s employment and economy.

California Farmers Backed Trump, but Now Fear Losing Field Workers - By Caitlin Dickerson and Jennifer Medina, New York Times, February 10, 2017 - As for his promises about cracking down on illegal immigrants, many assumed Mr. Trump’s pledges were mostly just talk. But two weeks into his administration, Mr. Trump has signed executive orders that have upended the country’s immigration laws. Now farmers here are deeply alarmed about what the new policies could mean for their workers, most of whom are unauthorized, and the businesses that depend on them.

Chemical Plant Boom Spurred by Fracking Will Bring Smog, Plastic Glut, and Risks to Workers' Health, New Report Warns - By Sharon Kelly, DeSmog Blog, February 14, 2017 - On the heels of the shale gas rush that's swept the U.S. for the past decade, another wave of fossil fuel-based projects is coming — a plastic and petrochemical manufacturing rush that environmentalists warn could make smog worse in communities already breathing air pollution from fracking, sicken workers, and expand the plastic trash gyres in the world's oceans.

Cherokee Nation Files, is Granted Emergency Restraining Order, Halting Disposal of Radioactive Waste near the Arkansas & Illinois Rivers - By staff, Native News Online, February 10, 2017 - Sequoyah Fuels Corporation was opened by Kerr-McGee in 1970 to convert yellowcake uranium into uranium hexafluoride, a compound that produces fuel for nuclear reactors. The company switched hands several times over the years before closing in 1993 after several releases of hazardous chemicals. In January 1986, one worker was killed and dozens more were injured after a cylinder of uranium hexafluoride ruptured. It has since been in the decommissioning process, under the authority of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

CTA Port-A-Potties Are So Dirty Some Bus Drivers Wear Diapers, Union Says - By Mina Bloom, DNA Info, February 7, 2017 - CTA bus workers are taking a stand against the portable bathrooms they're forced to use on the job, which they describe as "unsanitary, unsafe and degrading."

Chile Escondida BHP copper mine workers gird for long battle - By staff, Reuters, February 9, 2017 - Workers gearing up for what could be a prolonged strike at the world's leading copper mine, BHP Billiton's Escondida, are stockpiling rations and supplies to survive the searing sun and bone-chilling nights of Chile's northern high-desert.

Condemnation of the murder of Suleiman Hammad, Palestinian farmer - By staff, La Via Campesina, February 13, 2017 - La Vía Campesina strongly condemns the brutal and intentional murder of our comrade Suleiman Hammad, an 85-year-old Palestinian farmer who on February 8th, 2017 was run over by an Israeli settler, while walking to work on his land near Al-Khader Village, south of Bethlehem.

Consumer, Environmental and Workers Groups File Legal Challenge to Trump’s ‘One-In, Two-Out’ Executive Order on Regulations - By staff, Earth Justice, February 8, 2017 - Public Citizen, NRDC and Communications Workers of America represented by Earthjustice seek injunction barring agencies from following order.

Dakota Access Pipeline Opponents Call on CalPERS to Divest - By Darwin BondGraham, East Bay Express, February 13, 2017 - Today in Sacramento, more than one hundred people crowded into the board meeting of the nation's largest public pension fund calling for divestment from the companies building the DAPL.

Dakota Access pipeline protesters urge CalPERS divestment - By Adam Ashton, Sacramento Bee, February 13, 2017 - Activists are packing today’s CalPERS Board of administration meeting, urging the retirement fund to divest from the controversial Dakota Access pipeline.

End coal by 2030 to meet Paris climate goal, EU told - By Megan Darby, Climate Change News, February 9, 2017 - Alison Tate, climate expert at the International Trade Union Confederation, told Climate Home governments needed to help communities through the transition. “Workers want to have a sense of hope and they want to have jobs on a living planet,” said Tate, who is speaking at the report launch on Thursday. “Unions are really serious about ensuring there are decent work opportunities in sectors that will help to reduce carbon emissions.”

Encouraging signs of change in EU occupational safety and health policy - By staff, European Trade Union Institute, February 10, 2017 - On 10 January this year, the European Commission adopted a communication on the future of EU legislation and policy on occupational safety and health (OSH). ETUI researchers have studied the text and have identified positive signs of a shift in policy in favour of workers, particularly with respect to exposure to chemical risks. The Commission’s proposals regarding a number of problems associated with the organisation of work, however, such as musculoskeletal disorders, remain distinctly unambitious.

Energy experts give Trump the hard truth: You can’t bring coal back - By Joe Romm, Think Progress, February 10, 2017 - Trump won’t be bringing back the domestic coal industry. And even if he could, he can’t bring back the jobs because it’s the coal industry itself that wiped out most of those jobs through productivity gains from “strip mines and machinery,” as Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman explained in 2014.

Environmental Justice Groups Show How to Organize in the Age of Trump - By Jeremy Deaton, Nexus Media, February 3, 2017 - Environmental justice groups operate at the intersection of progressive issues, where liberal constituencies find common cause. Organizers don’t talk about the environment or climate as discrete issues. Rather, they link climate to jobs, health and social justice. They advocate for a just economy, where everyone has the right to be safe and healthy, and everyone has the chance to get ahead. And they work at the grassroots level.

Federal Employee Free Speech Tied in Knots - By Kirsten Stade, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, February 13, 2017 - Federal employees concerned about Trump White House actions face legal constraints on their freedom to protest, according to ethics warnings posted today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Some restrictions are clear but others are subject to interpretation.

Food Sovereignty within a new Agricultural Policy - By staff, La Via Campesina, February 9, 2017 - Food Sovereignty remains a highly subversive concept. It’s essential in countering destructive trade and agricultural policies in a globalised economy. Food sovereignty must be at the core of a large overarching food policy, one which will promote, support and develop sustainable food and farming systems that respect human rights and the environment.

Former Transcanada Engineer Warning to Residents South of the Border — Don’t Trust Transcanada - By staff, Corporate Crime Reporter, February 9, 2017 - Evan Vokes worked as an engineer for TransCanada for five years — from 2007 to 2012. And right from the beginning, it was clear to Vokes that the company had a hole in its pipeline compliance program.

Guerrilla archivists developed an app to save science data from the Trump administration - By Zoë Schlanger, Quartz Media, February 9, 2017 - On the first Saturday morning in February, scientists, programmers, professors and digital librarians met at New York University in New York City to save federal data sets they thought could be altered or disappear all together under the administration of US president Donald Trump. Around 150 people turned out for the gathering, many after hearing about it through Facebook.

Harvard To Trump: Our Mega Rhubarb Energy Storage Device Beats Your Coal - By Tina Casey, Clean Technica, February 13, 2017 - A research team from Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences has come up with a new, low cost “mega” scale energy storage system that could function effectively for ten or more years with minimal need for maintenance and repair. In commercial operation, the new battery would open up the door for more wind and solar energy in the grid, and slam the door on coal.

How Trump's Immigration Policies Could Nearly Double the Price of Milk -  By Reynard Loki, AlterNet, February 11, 2017 - Let's say Trump's wall does get built and it succeeds in preventing illegal immigration along the Mexican border. And say he also goes through with his plan to deport millions of undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. One of the biggest impacts will be seen on America's farms, and consequently, Americans' dinner tables. According to the U.S. Department of Labor’s National Agricultural Workers Survey, between 50 and 70 percent of farmworkers in the the nation are undocumented. Based on these estimates, between 1.2 million to 1.75 million farmworkers are undocumented. These workers pick the vast majority of produce grown in the United States.

A huge coal miners’ pension plan is on the brink of failure. One senator is blocking a fix - By Joby Warrick and Lydia DePillis, Washington Post, February 9, 2016 - A plan that would ensure the solvency of the funds nearly made it through Congress in December as part of the bipartisan budget deal that cleared both chambers. But the bailout attempt — backed by key lawmakers from both political parties — was excluded from the deal at McConnell’s request, according to four Senate officials directly familiar with the events.

In the Face of Worsening Pollution, Climate Change & Global Health Emergencies, Largest U.S. Healthcare Union, 1199SEIU, Joins Trade Unions for Energy Democracy - By staff, Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, February 13, 2017 - 1199SEIU says U.S. must create millions of good jobs, rebuild the middle-class and protect people’s health by rapidly transitioning to a 100% clean energy economy

Land grabbing, deforestation and your pension: How to take action on TIAA -CREF - By Nancy Holmstrom, System Change not Climate Change, February 14, 2017 - No one wants their retirement to be financed by companies involved in human rights violations and environmental destruction. But that is exactly what is happening to those of us with retirement funds invested in TIAA.

Manitoba Hydro announces workforce cuts, rate increases as debt rises - By Michael Harris, Renewable Energy World, February 6, 2017 - Manitoba Hydro has announced that it will eliminate more than 15% of its workforce while raising rates by at least 10% as the provincial utility's efforts to cut expenditures continue.

The marches for science, on one global interactive map - By Lindzi Wessel, Science, February 8, 2017 - It was a tweet that brought them together. “Hell hath no fury like a scientist silenced,” Caroline Weinberg, a public health educator and science writer in New York City, tweeted late last month. As a result of worries about the impact that President Donald Trump’s administration might have on scientists, Weinberg’s tweet also floated the idea of a “science march” to highlight the importance of research. Someone suggested she contact Jonathan Berman, a like-minded postdoctoral fellow studying hypertension at the University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, who had already set up a Twitter handle: @ScienceMarchDC.

The ‘New Normal’ in America: Renewables Boom, Emissions Plunge and Consumers Save More Than Ever - By Julia Pyper, Green Tech Media, February 8, 2017 - The Factbook isn’t the first report to show that U.S. economic development has decoupled from energy demand and carbon emissions, but it shows that the trend is growing. Still, there continues to be pushback against climate action in the U.S. over fears that it will hurt the economy.

New York City Could be Next to Disinvest from #DAPL - By Andy Rowell, Oil Change International, February 13, 2017 - Over 40,000 signatures have been collected calling on two of the largest US pensions funds, CalPERS and CalSTRS, which have $100 million invested in Energy Transfers to disinvest too.

Off Broadway… in Immokalee! - By staff, Coalition of Immokalee Workers, February 9, 2017 - Popular education theater brings home message of courage, resilience in Immokalee.

One worker still missing in Phillips 66 pipeline fire - By Jordan Blum, FuelFix, February 10, 2017 - An unidentified Phillips 66 employee was still missing Friday following a fire at a pipeline here operated by the Houston refiner, authorities said.

‘Our agricultural system would collapse’ if Trump starts mass deportations, says farm worker advocate - By Leanna Garfield, Business Insider, February 3, 2017 - "If we were to engage in massive deportations, our agricultural system would collapse," said Bruce Goldstein, the president of Farmworker Justice, a nonprofit that aims to improve farmers' living and working conditions.

Phillips 66 names Louisiana worker believed dead from pipeline explosion - By Jordan Blum, FuelFix, February 13, 2017 - Phillips 66 said employee Josh Helms is believed dead from a pipeline explosion last week in Louisiana.

Shift work and heavy lifting may reduce women’s fertility - By staff, European Trade Union Institute, February 9, 2017 - A physically demanding job or work schedules outside normal office hours may lower a woman's ability to conceive, suggests research published online on 7 February in Occupational & Environmental Medicine. Researchers say women who work nights and irregular shifts have fewer eggs capable of developing into healthy embryos than those who keep regular daytime hours.

Solar Job Growth Hits Record High, Shows Economic Power of Clean Energy, Group Says - By Zahra Hirji, Inside Climate News, February 7, 2017 - The American solar industry employed a record-high 260,077 workers in late 2016, according to a new report by The Solar Foundation.

Striking workers at BHP’s Escondida mine accept Gov’t mediation - By Cecilia Jamasmie, Mining.Com, February 14, 2017 - About 2,500 striking workers at BHP Billiton's Escondida mine in Chile, the world's biggest copper operation, have agreed to let the government mediate in the conflict between them and the company.

10 rooftop solar debates to watch in 2017 and beyond - By Krysti Shallenberger, Utility Dive, February 9, 2017 - Policy debates over rooftop solar compensation continue to evolve into more sophisticated conversations about electricity rate design.

10,000 Immigrants Go On Strike in Milwaukee - By Wladek Flakin, Left Voice, February 14, 2017 - What would happen if the Trump administration really were to deport millions of undocumented workers from the US? Milwaukee, Wisconsin got a brief taste of that on Monday, the #DayWithoutLatinos. More than ten thousand people went on strike.

Tesla employee writes of low wages, poor morale; company denies claims - By Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, February 9, 2017 - In a Medium post published today, Tesla employee Jose Moran detailed working conditions at the company’s Fremont factory and called for the factory workers to unionize with United Auto Workers (UAW).

Tesla workers are talking about unionizing - By Adrianne Jeffries, The Outline, February 9, 2017 - Tesla employees are talking to the United Auto Workers about unionizing to advocate for higher pay and shorter hours, citing the high cost of living in the San Francisco Bay Area and work-related injuries.

There are now twice as many solar jobs as coal jobs in the US - By Brad Plumer, Vox, February 7, 2017 - Putting solar panels on rooftops and arrays is a labor-intensive process. You need people to design and manufacture the panels. Then people to market the panels to homes, businesses, and utilities. Then people to come and install them. It all adds up to a lot of jobs. Even though solar power still provides just a fraction of America’s electricity — about 1.3 percent — the industry now employs more than 260,000 people, according to a new survey from the nonprofit Solar Foundation. And it’s growing fast: Last year, the solar industry accounted for one of every 50 new jobs nationwide.

UAW says it will greet Tesla workers with 'open arms' - By Alexandria Sage and Joseph White, Reuters, February 10, 2017 - The United Automobile Workers union on Friday said it had been approached by workers at Tesla Inc's (TSLA.O) Fremont, California, assembly plant, rejecting a charge by the chief executive of the luxury electric car maker that a worker who publicly criticized the company was on the UAW payroll.

U.S. solar installations jumped 95 percent last year - By Samantha Page, Think Progress, February 15, 2017 - The solar installation news comes on the heels of a report from another industry non-profit, the Solar Foundation, which announced last week that jobs in the solar industry are also at record highs, with more than 260,000 people working in solar. Some 50,000 people were hired by solar companies last year, mostly in installation jobs.

The West’s coal giant is going down - By Jonathan Thompson, High Country News, February 14, 2017 - 7 things you need to know about Navajo Generating Station’s 2019 closure.

Wind Power Becomes America's Largest Renewable Resource - By Climate Nexus, EcoWatch, February 10, 2017 - New wind installations in 2016 pushed the sector to more than 82 GW total capacity nationwide, enough to power 24 million homes. Nearly 6,500 MW of capacity were installed between October and December alone. According to the Department of Energy, the wind industry employed more than 100,000 workers in 2016, a 32 percent bump from 2015.

Wind power is beating the pants off of other renewables - By Amy McDermott, Grist, February 9, 2017 - In the next three years, wind could account for 10 percent of American electricity, Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, said in a press release. The industry already employs over 100,000 Americans.

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