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EcoWobbles - EcoUnionist News #153

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, May 12, 2017

A smorgasbord of news of interest to green unionists:

After a series of court wins, the question remains: Can Trump bring back coal? - By Robert Walton, Utility Dive, May 8, 2017 - Plausible ranges for domestic coal mining employment range from 70,000 to 90,000 in 2020, and 64,000 to 94,000 in 2025 and 2030, "lower than anything the US experienced before 2015," researchers concluded. "President Trump’s efforts to roll back environmental regulations will not materially improve economic conditions in America’s coal communities."

Bucking Trump, US cities press ahead on clean energy, climate goals - By Jackie Snow , Utility Dive, May 4, 2017 - A study published by the Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) Climate Corps program found that the solar and wind industries are each creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than that of the rest of the U.S. economy.

Bus drivers union says Winnipeg Transit putting drivers at risk - By staff, CBC News, May 9, 2017 - The union for Winnipeg's transit operators is questioning whether the city is truly concerned about the safety of bus drivers.

California Rail Electrification Funding Trump’s Transportation Secretary Wanted To Kill Gets Funded In New Budget Deal - By Steve Hanley, Clean Technica, May 4, 2017 - Approval of the 2017 budget and execution of a Full Funding Grant Agreement by the Federal Transit Administration would allow construction to begin immediately. The project is expected to create more than 9,600 new construction jobs.

Coal Jobs Prove Lucrative, but Not for Those in the Mines - By Hiroko Tabuchi, New York Times, May 2, 2017 - Though employment in coal mining has been growing since the fall after a long period of decline, the numbers have been minuscule — a net increase of 100 jobs in the latest jobs report for March. Since September, overall employment has increased by 1,700 to just over 50,000 workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. And the work is a far cry from the stable, well-paying union jobs that were once the industry’s norm.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers news:

Dead and dying workers, death threats and disappearing water: Anglo American’s marathon AGM - By Richard, London Mining Network, May 3, 2017 - He said that the company needs to act with integrity and to respect the life and livelihoods of communities affected by its operations, its workers and the natural environment.

Dispelling the Spin: NYC Comptroller Reacts as #DivestNY Pressure Mounts - By staff, Fossil Free, May 8, 2017 - It is financially prudent to divest from oil, gas, and coal.  Increasingly fossil fuel investments are being seen as financially risky particularly as medium or long term holdings, which is the traditional time horizon for pension funds to invest their assets; [related]: New Yorkers take to state Capitol to lobby for Divestment Act - By staff, Fossil Free, May 9, 2017

Dozens trapped, two killed in Iranian coal mine explosion - By Cecilia Jamasmie, Mining.Com, May 3, 2017 - Two coal miners have died and more than 50 remain trapped after an explosion in a mine located in Iran's northern Golestan province.

Emergency Declared After Tunnel Collapse at Toxic Hanford Nuke Site - By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams, May 9, 2017 - A tunnel was damaged on Tuesday at a plutonium handling facility at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state, leading authorities to evacuate some workers at the site and instruct others to take cover, a spokesperson for the site said in a release; [related]: Emergency Declared at Nuclear Waste Site in Washington State  - By Stefanie Spear, EcoWatch, May 9, 2017 | Evacuation: Emergency Declared at Hanford After Tunnel Collapses onto Nuclear Waste - By staff, EnviroNews, May 9, 2017 | Hanford’s Nuclear Option - By Joshua Frank, CounterPunch, May 10, 2017 | Hanford tunnel collapses onto rail cars storing radioactive wastes - by staff, Beyond Nuclear, May 9, 2017 | Hanford Workers Being Told to Take Cover! - By Stacy Lee, KEYW 98.3 FM, May 9, 2017 | There’s an ongoing emergency at the largest nuclear waste storage site in the U.S - By staff, Grist, May 10, 2017 | Tunnel Collapses at Washington Nuclear Waste Plant; No Radiation Released - By Tom James and Scott DiSavino, Reuters, May 9, 2017 | Workers at Washington nuclear waste plant take cover after apparent tunnel damage - By Charles Digges, Bellona, May 9, 2017

EPA dismisses half of key board’s scientific advisers; Interior suspends more than 200 advisory panels - By Juliet Eilperin and Brady Dennis, Washington Post,  May 8, 2017 - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cleaned house on its scientific review board last week, dismissing at least five scientists on its 18-member Board of Scientific Counselors; [related]: E.P.A. Dismisses Members of Major Scientific Review Board - By Coral Davenport, New York Times, May 7, 2017 | EPA Fires Scientists - By Climate Nexus, EcoWatch, May 8, 2017 | "Today, I Was Trumped": Pruitt's EPA Axes Half of Key Scientific Review Panel - By Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams, May 8, 2017 | Scott Pruitt removes scientists from EPA advisory panels to make room for industry advocates - By Mark Hand, ThinkProgress, May 8, 2017

Exploitation and Abuse at the Chicken Plant - By Michael Grabell, New Yorker, May 8, 2017 - Case Farms plants are among the most dangerous workplaces in America. In 2015 alone, federal workplace-safety inspectors fined the company nearly two million dollars, and in the past seven years it has been cited for two hundred and forty violations.

Exxon Mobil's outdated equipment and procedures led to Torrance explosion, agency says - By Ivan PennIvan Penn, Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2017 - “At the Torrance refinery, workers did not have proper protocols to ensure safety when deviating from normal operating procedures,” she said. “Not only do procedures need to be on the books, but workers must be trained in them and management must put into practice what is on paper.”

Federal Report Slams ExxonMobil for Safety Gaps in LA Refinery Explosion, While Activists Say Risks Remain - By Larry Buhl, DeSmog Blog, May 5, 2017 - The explosion on the morning of February 18, 2015 released thousands of pounds of acid and caused chemical ash to rain on a heavily populated community for hours. Eight workers had to be decontaminated, and four were sent to hospitals with minor injuries.

5 Life-Saving Environmental Rules Industry Just Asked Trump to Attack - By Keith Gaby, EcoWatch, May 8, 2017 - The Trump administration seems to view all health and environmental safeguards as potentially suspicious. That's in spite of strong data showing that environmental rules actually help the economy—by preventing illness, missed school days, worker absence, productivity problems and early death.

5 of the Fastest Growing Jobs in Clean Energy -  By Daron Christopher, Renewable Energy World, May 10, 2017 - A recent U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) report on jobs and the economy found that 6.4 million Americans work in the energy sector, with 300,000 jobs added last year. A huge percentage of these new jobs are in renewable energy and efficiency.

Four reasons why NUMSA rejects Cyril Ramaphosa’s un-apology for Marikana - By Irvin Jim, NUMSA, May 9, 2017 - The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa, (NUMSA) rejects the un-apology made by the Deputy President of the country and the ANC, Cyril Ramaphosa, regarding his role in the Marikana Massacre. Ramaphosa was the chairperson of Lonmin mines, at the time of the massacre and Deputy president of the country.

From Hero to Villain: Lessons About Energy From ‘The Dark Knight’ - By Matthew Klippenstein, GreenTech Media, May 9, 2017 - In the last few weeks alone, Tesla employees filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board, relating to their efforts to form a union. German workers also demanded higher wages.

Global Warming Must be Addressed - By Dean Baker, CounterPunch, May 9, 2017 - We need to both manufacture the solar panels and have people install them on the roofs of houses and businesses. This industry can be the source of hundreds of thousands more jobs as the industry grows and the technology improves.

How Regulation is Creating Jobs in Coal Country - By Glynis Board, Allegheny Front, May 5, 2017 - But in parts of coal country environmental regulations aren’t killing jobs, they’re creating them. Stream restoration made possible under the Clean Water Act is a multi-billion dollar industry and some former coal miners are finding work thanks to this revenue stream.

Indiana will phase out retail rate net metering - By Robert Walton, Utility Dive, May 4, 2017 - The bill will curtail net metering, cut jobs and allegedly hand over more power to state investor-owned utilities; [related] Indiana governor passes anti-solar bill: death blow to the industry? - By Danielle Ola, PV Tech, May 3, 2017 | Indiana Governor Signs Bill to Cripple Residential Solar Development - By Chad Tudenggongbu, Center for Biological Diversity, May 3, 2017.

Keystone XL: the final leg and the myth of Trump's job promise - By Oliver Laughland and Laurence Mathieu-Léger, The Guardian, May 4, 2017 - The president has sold the project as a major job creator for the US – even though the facts don’t support all of his claims.

La Via Campesina: VIIth International Conference: Press Kit - By staff, La Via Campesina, May 10, 2017 - In the current context of economic, environmental, and food crises, peasant movements from around the world will discuss the alternatives that food sovereignty and peasant farming offer in the face of agribusiness and the neoliberal model policies. The international peasant movement will look for strategies against green capitalism, land grabbing and the grabbing of other common goods which put the balance between the earth and humanity in danger. 

Landworkers' Alliance: Recommendations for Post-Brexit Agricultural Policy in UK - By Staff, La Via Campesina, May 8, 2017 - Post-Brexit increases in the price of imports, shortages of farm labour and market volatility are likely to further undermine the national food security. Yet, successive governments have pursued policies that have led to farm consolidation, a reduction in agricultural jobs, and increased rural-urban migration.

Nova Scotia marks 25 years since one of Canada's deadliest mine disasters - By Cecilia Jamasmie, Mining.Com, May 9, 2017 - Twenty-five years later, those miners — most of whom died in the final hours of a four-day shift — are still remembered, as they went down in history as the victims of one Canada's deadliest mining disasters.

Oil Money Out, People Power In - By Dan Bacher, CounterPunch, May 5, 2017 - From January 1, 2009 to November 8, 2016 alone, the oil industry spent $112,371,214 on lobbying expenses in California, according to a report, “The Chevron Way: Polluting California and Degrading Democracy.” The International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) Sydney Office produced the report, in collaboration with a coalition of conservation, consumer and environmental justice groups.

The one thing Elon Musk can’t bend to his will: German trade unions - By Jill Petzinger, Quartz, May 5, 2017 - This is the second time in as many months that Musk has had to face threats of union action. Talks of unionization at Tesla’s Fremont, California, factory emerged in February—and the electric-car pioneer was not impressed. In a email to employees, he defended Tesla’s employer record, and called the United Auto Workers’ efforts to unionize the factory “disingenuous.”

Patagonia to Zinke: 'Conserve Our Shared Public Lands for Future Generations' - By Yvon Chouinard and Rose Marcario, EcoWatch, May 5, 2017 - A recent study showed that areas in the West with protected lands consistently enjoy better rates of employment and income growth compared to those with no protected lands.

The Plant Next Door - By Sharon Lerner, The Intercept, March 24 2017 - In one study of Russian shoe factory workers exposed between 1960 and 1976, chloroprene increased rates of leukemia and kidney cancer as well as liver cancer. The study also showed chloroprene elevated the risk of colon cancer and deaths from a combination of all cancers.

Politicians take note (if you want our vote)... Renewables are now more popular than ever - By Joe Ware, The Ecologist, May 5, 2017 - There are already more jobs in US solar than in generating electricity through coal, oil and gas combined and renewables are generating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.

Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility - Protecting Employees Who Protect Our Environment

Relevance of the Concept of Food Sovereignty in Denmark - By Frie Bonder, La Via Campesina, May 10, 2017 - Food sovereignty means control of the food system by farmers, distributors and consumers rather than by corporate interests. The idea was developed two decades ago by La Via Campesina for countries of the Global South, but it is relevant also in affluent countries such as Denmark.

Reviving Manufacturing Would Help All of Us—Not Just White Men - By Liza Featherstone, In These Times, May 8, 2017 - Surprisingly, he doesn’t say much about the opportunity we have now (after electing a different federal government, clearly) to reinvigorate the sector along cleaner, greener lines, making things like solar panels, lithium batteries, electric cars and wind turbines.

Safety failures at Amtrak work site where two died the norm, worker says - By Jason Laughlin, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 2, 2017 - These violations were the norm at Amtrak’s work sites, though, he said. There was a level of disorganization that Amtrak workers had become used to, he said, and Robinson says he is a scapegoat for systemic issues.

Scores of Iranian workers killed in coal mine - By staff, Australia Asia Worker Links, May 8, 2017 - At least 35 coal miners were killed this week when an explosion ripped through their mine. More miners are still believed to be trapped deeper inside the mine; [related]: Iran coal mine blast kills 35 - By staff, Al Jazeera, May 3, 2017.

Sixth Circuit Affirms Miner’s Black Lung Award: ALJ’s Finding of “Substantial” Smoking History Sufficient Explanation (Grayson Coal & Stone Co. v. Teague) - By Evan B. Smith, Devil in the Dust, May 5, 2017 - This week the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit affirmed a coal miner’s award of benefits in an unpublished decision, Grayson Coal & Stone Co. v. Teague, No. 16-4152, 2017 WL 1732239 (6th Cir. May 3, 2017)

Solar Jobs: State of the States - By Charlie Gay, US Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, April 26, 2017 - With a variety of different careers to choose from in the solar industry, it should come as no surprise that there are now more than 260,000 people working in it. That number also represents nearly 1,000 new jobs added every week of 2016, marking a 25 percent increase in a single year.

Solar on Former Strip Mines? It’s Not as Simple as It Sounds - By Lyndsey Gilpin, Renewable Energy World, May 8, 2017 - “There’s still a bit of social perception about replacing coal with something else, but I think that is finally hitting a tipping point where people are more receptive to it,” he said. “Any of these initiatives will create jobs, and we’re still doing something in the energy sector. We’re just trying to put something useful in an area that is many times not utilized to its potential.”

Teachers and pupils need greater protection from asbestos - By staff, NASUWT, May 9, 2017 - The NASUWT, the teachers’ union, is marking Workers’ Memorial Day by remembering the hundreds of teachers and other staff that have lost their lives due to asbestos exposure in schools.

TVA Watts Bar-2 nuke to shut until summer amid safety culture concerns - By Peter Maloney, Utility Dive, May 8, 2017 - In a March 2016 letter to TVA, the NRC warned of a "chilled work environment" after reports that employees were afraid of raising safety concerns.

Today's Top Wind Energy Challenges and What We Can Do About Them - By Susy Bento, Renewable Energy World, May 9, 2017 - In conditions where wind energy jobs are rising consistently on an annual basis worldwide, this can create a renewable energy "brain drain" where the most qualified workers move out of the state to work in more favorable conditions.

Trump should stay in the Paris Agreement; but not at any cost - Joe Ware, The Ecologist, May 10, 2017 - If Trump is serious about delivering his promise of creating 25 million new American jobs then he can't ignore the clean energy sector - and the Paris Agreement will be crucial in driving that job-creating engine; [related]: Trump vs. Paris - By Duncan Meisel, 350.org, May 5, 2017 - Last weekend over 200,000 people in Washington, D.C. and many around the world marched for jobs, justice and climate action — the exact opposite of Trump’s plan to back out of Paris. This week, a Global Divestment Mobilisation is challenging prominent institutions on every continent to pull their support from the fossil fuel industry; and US to UN: jobs come before carbon cuts - By Karl Mathiesen, Climate Change News, May 5, 2017 - On Thursday, UN environment chief Erik Solheim told Reuters the US would lose jobs if it withdrew from the Paris accord or pulled back from clean energy technologies: “There is no doubt where the future is and that is what all the private sector companies have understood… The future is green.

2-Workers seal contract deal at Collahuasi copper mine in Chile - By Fabian Cambero, Gram Slattery, Chris Reese, and G Crosse, Reuters, May 5, 2017 - Under a labour agreement reached Friday, workers in the 1,485-member union will receive no pay increase but each worker will get a one-time bonus of 11 million pesos (US$16,400), along with an interest free loan, Reuters reported.

Understanding the principles of the Circular Economy with Alexandre Lemille - By Anne-Sophie Garrigou, The Beam, April 25, 2017 - Lastly, job creation. A Circular Economy could create many jobs if we design it properly.

Union conference on workplace carcinogens - By staff, European Trade Union Institute, May 5, 2017 - The topic, the date and the venue were not selected by chance, with 28 April being the World Day on Safety and Health at Work and with occupational cancers the No. 1 cause of work-related deaths in Europe.

Unions back fight to purge asbestos from our schools - By Peter Lazenby, People's Daily Morning Star, May 8, 2017 - Delegates at the Northern TUC conference in Newcastle were told at the weekend that between 200 and 300 people die every year from the effects of asbestos exposure, often decades after coming into contact with the deadly mineral as schoolchildren.

U.S. Wind Energy Installations Surge: A New Turbine Rises Every 2.4 Hours - By Phil McKenna, InsideClimate News, May 3, 2017 - The new installation figures also translate to continued job growth in America's wind power supply chain, which includes 500 factories and over 100,000 jobs, according to AWEA.

VICTORY! Northeastern is the third university to cut Nike! - By staff, United Students Against Sweatshops, May 3, 2017 - After over a year of student organizing, Northeastern University is one step closer to being sweat-free! Northeastern’s administration has agreed to refuse to resign their licensing contract with Nike until Nike agrees to let the Workers Rights Consortium into their factories and complies with the WRC’s standards.

Who's Watching the Oil and Gas Industry in California? -  By Bill Allayaud, Environmental Working Group, May 8, 2017 - These chemicals have the potential to endanger the health of oilfield workers and people who live or work nearby, and could contaminate drinking water in the underlying aquifers.

Why Solar Eclipsed Coal in Jobs - By Reid Frazier, Allegheny Front, May 5, 2017 - Solar power now accounts for just under 1 and a half percent of electricity in the U.S. But according to the Department of Energy, solar jobs now outnumber those in coal by more than 2 to 1.  Jobs involving solar totaled 373,000 in 2016, according to the report, while employment in coal, including coal-fired power plant workers, totaled just 160,000.

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.