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EcoWobbles - EcoUnionist News #145

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, March 24, 2017

News of interest to green unionists:

Additional Blow to Agriculture Through RCEP Unacceptable: NOUMINREN - By staff, La Via Campesina, March 21, 2017 - Farmers in Japan have a serious concern that the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will damage small family farming and undermine the foundation of steadily feeding rising population in Asia.

Anti-wind bill costs Ohio schools hundreds of thousands of dollars - By Emily Sanders, Think Progress, March 21, 2017 - The plants, which sit at the heart of a region Trump promised to revitalize, generate 3,000 megawatts of energy and employ nearly 500 workers. In a settlement reached earlier this year with groups including the Sierra Club, the company will invest in 300 megawatts of solar and wind projects by 2022 and provide a $2 million fund for the communities affected by the plants' closures.

Arkansas Is Trying Again to Prevent Whistleblowers From Exposing Cruelty to Animals - By By Alicia Graef, Care2, March 21, 2017 - Despite failing repeatedly in the past to pass legislation that would suppress whistleblowers exposing cruelty to animals, lawmakers in Arkansas are back with another bill that's already progressing through the legislature.

Auto workers union takes aim at Trump’s examination of fuel standards - By Mike Blanchfield, The Globe and Mail, March 16, 2017 - The head of Canada's largest private-sector union said Thursday he would fight any attempt to roll back environmentally friendly regulations in the auto industry following Trump's announcement.

Brain Drain: Engineers and Managers Flee Southern Company’s Troubled Kemper ‘Clean Coal’ Plant - By Dan Zegart, DeSmog Blog, March 17, 2017 - With builder Southern Company still promising that the Kemper power plant will go online soon, a group of key engineers and managers who work on the plant's so-far-inoperable gasifier has left the company.

Brazil: As ‘Coup’ Government Targets Retirement Benefits, General Strike Rocks Nation - By the Institute for Public Accuracy, Global Justice Ecology Project, March 17, 2017 - Mendonca said today: “Yesterday, a large demonstration in Sao Paulo took 300,000 people to the streets with the slogan ‘Fora Temer’ [‘Out, Temer’]. He is targeting people’s retirement benefits.”The general strike included bus and metro workers, bank workers, metallurgical and chemical workers, teachers and other public workers all over the country.

California is recruiting disgruntled EPA staffers - By Rebecca Leber, Grist, March 16, 2017 - Picker was far away from his home in Sacramento, where he is the president of California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), for meetings with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. He decided to try to recruit demoralized EPA staffers, who are facing deep program cuts and controversial new leadership. The EPA’s new administrator, Scott Pruitt, has a long record of opposing the agency’s work.

Caterpillar to shut down Iowa plant, costing 75 jobs - By Valentina Ruiz Leotaud, Mining.Com, March 19, 2017 - But the news goes in synch with a business plan unveiled by Caterpillar in 2015. Back then, the giant announced that, in order to save $2 billion per year, it would cut 10,000 positions and close up to 20 facilities in the U.S. by 2018.

Chile: It’s Been One Month Since the Miner’s Strike Began - By ALBA Movements, The Dawn News, March 13, 2017 - The 2,500 organized workers of the Chilean mine La Escondida, the biggest copper mine of the world, reached the first month of strike today, in the middle of the talks paralyzation and of the radicalization of the conflict.

Coal giant to receive award for bankruptcy deal that screwed over its workers - By Natasha Geiling, Think Progress, March 22, 2017 - It’s been a wild year for Arch Coal, the country’s second-largest producer of coal. In January, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; less than a year later, they won approval for a restructuring deal that allowed them to cut millions in debt from their books and emerge relatively unscathed. On Thursday night, as part of the 2017 Distressed Investing Event, Arch Coal will receive an award for that deal, despite the fact that the restructuring benefited company executives while leaving workers and the environment worse off.

Coal mining is in decline everywhere, and that's NOT Obama's fault - By Mark Sumner, Daily Kos, March 14, 2017 - The story of the miners in China, and their attitude toward the mines, is remarkably like those we hear in the United States, but what’s happening in China is not what’s happening here and now—it’s what happened here decades ago.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers news:

Enbridge to cut 1,000 jobs in Houston, Canada after Spectra merger - By Jordan Blum, FuelFix, March 22, 2017 - Canadian pipeline giant Enbridge is cutting 1,000 jobs, largely in Houston and Calgary, after completing its $28 billion acquisition of Houston’s Spectra Energy this year.

German Coal Mine to Be Reborn as Giant Pumped Storage Hydro Facility -  By Brian Parkin, Bloomberg, March 17, 2017 - Germany’s decision to turn a coal mine into a pumped storage hydro station may solve two of the most intractable challenges created by its shift to clean power. On a local level, it provides new economic activity in a region where generations of workers have relied on fossil fuel for their livelihoods. On a regional level, it catalyzes the expansion of renewable energy by helping to maintain electric capacity even when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine. 

Global Coal Plant Development Freefall Sparks Renewed Hope On Climate Goals - By Cindy Carr, Ted Nace, Lauri Myllyvirta, End Coal, March 21, 2017 - Big changes like this are wrenching. These closures will put a lot of people out of their jobs. The coal plants shutting down in Ohio are “by far our largest employer and it will absolutely be devastating to our community here in Ohio,” Michael Pell, a community leader, told Reuters. An enlightened government might respond by building new, cleaner power plants and retraining workers for green jobs. After all, clean power is now employing more people than coal.

Inhaling Toxic Smoke From Surgical Procedures Threatens Everyone in the Room - By Bonnie Castillo, National Nurses United, March 15, 2017 - Would you prefer to have surgery in an environment with sterile air — or in a room with air that may contain dangerous chemicals, cellular material, viruses, or bacteria? Most people would raise their hands for the former. Unfortunately, studies have shown that without proper ventilation, everyone in the vicinity during certain surgical procedures — from healthcare workers to the patients themselves — could be inhaling hazardous surgical smoke, or “plumes.”

The International Energy Agency’s New Climate Scenario: At Last, a Step Towards Paris - By Greg Muttitt, Oil Change International, March 20, 2017 - In its analysis, the IEA observes that the extent to which fossil fuel assets will be stranded crucially depends on whether the right decisions are made now. If governments and investors act now to keep the world within climate limits, the transition over the coming decades can be a smooth one. On the other hand, continued investment on a business-as-usual pathway would require more abrupt action at a later date, disrupting economies and costing jobs.

The ‘Job-Killing’ Fiction Behind Trump’s Retreat on Fuel Economy Standards - By John DeCicco, Yale Environment 360, March 20, 2017 - The Trump administration is expected to roll back the fuel economy standards that were a signature achievement of the Obama administration. The move won’t save auto industry jobs, but it will increase air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

La Via Campesina is shocked to learn about the assassination of MST militant, Waldomiro Costa Pereira - By staff, La Via Campesina, March 21, 2017 - Waldomiro Costa Pereira, a historic militant of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) of Brazil, was killed on Monday 20 March by five strangers who invaded the hospital in the city of Paraupebas. Costa Pereira who was in the hospital of the city of Paraupebas, was recovering from an attack of which he was victim.

Leaping Beyond the Prison Walls - By Rachel Boccio, Common Dreams, March 15, 2017 - In the first week of February, thirteen students—all incarcerated adolescents serving time in an adult correctional facility—gather to think through a provocative question posed to them by Naomi Klein, one of the authors of the Leap Manifesto: “Is there anything in this broad vision of a justice-based transition off of fossil fuels that you would see as a solution to keeping more people out of jail?”

Majority of US rooftops could support solar power - By Peter Maloney, Utility Dive, March 21, 2017 - While Arizona's decision is the most recent, Hawaii's solar industry reported job losses and sluggish growth over 2016. Nevada also gutted its net metering policy in late 2015, leading top rooftop solar installers like Sunrun and SolarCity to exit the state. Nevada regulators at the end of 2016 did backtrack a little bit, partially restoring full retail net metering to Sierra Pacific Power's service territory.

MBTA mechanics and allies rally to protect taxpayers, workers, riders from further transit privatization - By International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers (IAM&AW) Local 264, The Somerville Times, March 15, 2017 - “Giving up control of public transit to for-profit corporations has been a very bad deal for Massachusetts taxpayers, workers, and riders,” said Michael Haywood a mechanic and IAM 264 shop steward at the Arlington Ave. garage. Mike has 11 years of experience repairing MBTA fleet vehicles. “Just look at the disaster with handing over the commuter rail to Keolis. We care about our riders and we don’t want to see the same expensive nightmare happen again by privatizing core bus services.”

Milestone 250th and 251st American Coal Plants Announce Retirement - By Adam Beitman and Ricky Junquera, Common Dreams, March 20, 2017 - “The rapid deployment of clean energy is unstoppable. What is missing in Ohio and too many communities is a plan to help the impacted workers and communities make the transition away from coal,” said Nilles. “As we mark this historic milestone, we must be honest that policy makers in places like Ohio are falling short of helping their states make this transition. With only 273 remaining coal plants it is critical that we beginning planning for an end to coal and real opportunities and choices for impacted workers and communities.”

No end in sight for strike at La Escondida - By Valentina Ruiz Leotaud, Mining.Com, March 19, 2017 - A 39-day-long stoppage at La Escondida, the world’s largest copper mine, may continue for up to three months if the company does not comply with worker’s demands, union leaders warned this weekend.

North Korea admits six died in iron ore mine accident - By Cecilia Jamasmie, Mining.Com, March 20, 2017 - North Korea has admitted that six people died in January when the roof of a mine collapsed, which is considered an unusual admission of a deadly accident in the secretive country.

Ohio HB 114 Renewable Energy Standards Bill Would Cripple Wind Industry, Says AWEA - By Joshua S Hill, Clean Technica, March 22, 2017 - The American Wind Energy Association has come out against an Ohio state bill which would reduce the state’s renewable energy standards into an unenforceable goal, saying that it would slam the brakes on wind power jobs and investment.

Paris Accord Could Make the World $19 Trillion Richer - By Jess Shankleman and Joe Ryan, Bloomberg, March 20, 2017 - Efforts to slow climate change won’t just keep the planet habitable. They will also boost the world economy by $19 trillion.

Pioneering solar firm Sungevity files for bankruptcy - By Christian Roselund, PV Magazine, March 16, 2017 - This comes only two years after Sungevity opened its office in Kansas City, Missouri. Former employees estimate that there are only 150 workers left in the company from a high of 1,200, and that staffing at the Kansas City office has been reduced from 130 to 30 employees.

Police, Ministry of Labour investigating salt mine death - By Valentina Ruiz Leotaud, Mining.Com, March 19, 2017 - U.S.-listed Compass Minerals (NYSE:CMP) is working closely with Ontario Provincial Police and the province’s labour minister after a contract worker died in the company’s Goderich salt mine, located on North Harbour Road, some 1,800 feet under Lake Huron.

Republicans Are Racing To Make Workplaces More Dangerous and Unhealthy - By Elizabeth Grossman, In These Times, March 15, 2017 - In fact, the executive order criteria say nothing about making life safer for U.S. workers and consumers. Rather they focus on rules that “eliminate jobs or inhibit job creation.”

Running the EPA...into the ground - By Michael Ware, Socialist Worker, March 16, 2017 - "Environmental Protection, what they do is a disgrace," said Trump after the election, claiming that the EPA has an "anti-energy agenda that has destroyed millions of jobs." The irony is that Pruitt's draft budget for the agency calls for 3,000 layoffs and a 25 percent funding cut in order to free up money for the military.

Small-Scale Farming Could Restore America’s Rural Towns - By Sarah van Gelder, Yes! Magazine, March 16, 2017 - The catch? It takes a lot of hands-on work with the cattle and the land. “But that’s a good thing,” Charter said. “This is the kind of job that people like doing once they know how to do it. As ranchers, we hope to bring people back to where human knowledge and hands will do this, and not petrochemicals and running tractors.” Instead of feeding the profits of agribusiness corporations, more money goes to pay ranch hands.

Suppliers of Lowe’s in the US and Walmart in Brazil linked to slave labor in the Amazon - By André Campos, Mongabay, March 13, 2017 - Products derived from timber extracted by workers living in conditions analogous to slave labor in Brazil are connected to a complex business network linked to the U.S. market – possibly reaching the shelves of large retailers and being used in renovation of landmarks – according to a new investigation conducted by Brazilian news outlet Repórter Brasil. After purchasing from suppliers held liable for that crime by the Brazilian government, local traders exported timber to companies like USFloors, which supplies the retail chain Lowe’s, as well as Timber Holdings, which supplied timber for construction projects at Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge in New York.

Trump budget eviscerates climate and clean energy programs - By Bobby Magill, Climate Central, March 17, 2017 - The biggest single target is the EPA. The Trump administration is calling for a 31 percent cut in the EPA’s budget, or $2.6 billion from its current $8.2 billion budget, and would reduce its workforce by 3,200. These cuts would hamstring the EPA’s ability to enforce laws protecting air and water, giving states more authority to regulate. It was states’ inability to effectively control pollution that led to the creation of the EPA in the first place in 1970 so that one federal agency could more evenly oversee environmental laws across state lines.

Trump seeks to ax Appalachia economic programs, causing worry in coal country - By Valerie Volcovici, Reuters, March 17, 2017 - President Donald Trump has proposed eliminating funding for economic development programs supporting laid-off coal miners and others in Appalachia, stirring fears in a region that supported him of another letdown on the heels of the coal industry’s collapse.

Trump the Slasher Releases 2018 Budget: Climate Change, Job Assistance, the Arts Take Backseat to War and the Wall - By Sam Sacks, District Sentinal, March 16, 2017 - At the EPA, more than 50 programs and 3,500 jobs would be eliminated under President Trump's proposal. Meanwhile within the Labor Department, which is looking at a 21 percent spending cut, programs that help low-income seniors and disadvantaged youth find work would be slashed, in order to increase spending on initiatives to identify people receiving improper unemployment benefit payments.

Trump to “Sledgehammer” the EPA With Drastic Cuts - By Andy Rowell, Oil Change International, March 16, 2017 - "The Agency would lose over three thousand jobs in the process, some 20 per cent of its workforce. Its research arm, which develops the science that underpins much of its health and safety work, would be cut by nearly half. Its work on climate change would be terminated."

Trump’s budget sabotages America’s best chance to add millions of high-wage jobs - By Joe Romm, Think Progress, March 17, 2017 - Trump guts clean energy funding as Beijing plans to invest $360 billion by 2020, creating 13 million jobs.

Trump’s budget screws over his voters - By Joe Romm, Think Progress, March 16, 2017 - "Zeroing out these programs won’t just make the poor and elderly suffer more, forcing them to choose between heating their home or feeding their families. It will also kill jobs."

Two Ethanol Trains Derail — and One Explodes — as Industry Embraces Riskier Practices - By Justin Mikulka, DeSmog Blog, March 21, 2017 - Brad Stevens is currently National Rail Director for Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union. At the conference he told attendees, “Nothing has changed. The railway barons are still there. And stronger than ever.”

Union Chief Strikes Back at the ‘Insanity’ of Trump’s Budget Cuts at the EPA - By Diane Toomey, Yale Environment 360, March 21, 2017 -  In a Yale e360 interview, John O’Grady, head of the employees’ union at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, rips into the Trump administration for its budget-slashing proposal that he says is aimed at destroying the agency that safeguards the nation’s air and water. 

USW Local 1104’s first female president discusses state of steel in Lorain - By Keith Reynolds, The Morning Journal, March 20, 2017 - Rivera said if something isn’t done about trade policy in America, the steel industry in Lorain may not survive.

Virginia to Utilize Old Coal Mines for Hydropower - By Michael Vinci, Breaking Energy, March 22, 2017 - The benefits are attractive, hundreds of jobs would be created at the construction site of each new facility, new sources of tax revenue would be found for local economies, and the transition to renewable energy becomes much easier for the state legislative body.

Work and Climate Change Report - The green transition of work and workplaces; Research and News from a Canadian viewpoint:

Workers at Freeport’s Cerro Verde copper mine to go on indefinite strike - By Cecilia Jamasmie, Mining.Com, March 17, 2017 - Talks between Freeport-McMoRan (NYSE:FCX) and striking workers at its Cerro Verde copper mine in Peru broke down Thursday with miners announcing their plan to start an indefinite stoppage beginning March 24.

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