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Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper, Shouts Down Pennsylvania Gov. Shapiro Over a Proposed ‘Hydrogen Hub’

By Kiley Bense - Inside Climate News, March 12, 2024

Activists want more public participation in a proposal to produce hydrogen in southeastern Pennsylvania. Touted by the Biden administration as “crucial” to the nation’s climate goals, advocates fear the federally-funded project will create more pollution and further burden environmental justice communities.

Protestors disrupted a public meeting on Monday about a federally-funded “hydrogen hub” to be located in southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware that would produce, transport and store the controversial fuel at sites across the region.

While the Biden administration considers these hubs a key part of its climate agenda that would decarbonize greenhouse-gas intensive sectors of the economy like heavy industry and trucking, climate activists consider hydrogen a false solution based on unproven technology that will only lead to more fossil fuel extraction and further pollute the environment.

Minutes after Governor Josh Shapiro took the stage at a union hall in northeast Philadelphia to speak in support of the project, which will be funded with $750 million from the Department of Energy as part of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Delaware Riverkeeper, Maya van Rossum, stood up from her seat and demanded his attention.

“The Department of Energy said that community engagement is supposed to be a highest priority. You have yet to have a meeting with the impacted community members to hear what they have to say,” she shouted, interrupting Shapiro as he was speaking about the buy-in for hydrogen hubs at all levels of government in Pennsylvania. “When are you going to have a meeting with those community members?” she asked.

A California Strategy for a Just Transition to Renewable Energy

By Veronica Wilson - Labor Network for Sustainability, March 1, 2024

Workers in California have allied with environmental, environmental justice, and community groups to move the state closer to a just transition to renewable energy. 

California has a strong movement for Community Choice Aggregation (CCA), which allows municipalities to bargain with electricity suppliers over both price and environmental responsibility. Nine Community Choice Aggregators are united in a joint power procurement agency called California Community Power. 

California’s Workforce and Environmental Justice Alliance has been pushing California Community Power to establish policies to protect workers in the transition to climate-safe energy. In a recent win, Ava Energy in the East Bay adopted these policies – the fourth member of California Community Power to do so. According to Andreas Cluver, Building Trades Council of Alameda County:

Any approach to climate action must also factor in the sustainability of our workforce. By passing this package of policies, Ava Community Energy uplifts local workers while fulfilling its obligation towards responsible environmental stewardship. We look forward to partnering with Ava on these important community projects. 

This marks a pivotal moment for workers and communities as the region looks to ramp up investments in green technology and decarbonization. Ava’s new policies underscore the positive impact CCAs can have on labor standards, environmental stewardship, and community well-being.

Learn more about the Alliance’s impactful work: https://action.greencal.org/action/wej 

Environmental Justice Community & Labor Victory at Ava Community Energy

Workforce and Env Justice: Local Advocacy Sets the Standards for Community Choice energy agencies

Harvesting Disparity: Climate Change, Food and Water Security, and Migrants of the UAE

By staff - Fair Square, December 9, 2023

The image of climate-friendly menus being pushed at this year’s global climate conference, COP28 in Dubai, UAE, clashes with the stark reality faced by vulnerable communities in the host country, and its impact on the environment, a new report released today unveils.

The official COP28 website proclaims that, “Our focus is to deliver sustainable, affordable, delicious, and nutritious food. COP28 UAE will deliver a catering menu which is largely plant based, emphasizing local and regional produce and promoting environmentally-friendly food consumption.” The site also describes how the COP28 Presidency is “striving to show the world how climate-friendly food can be tasty, healthy and affordable.”

However the team of investigators behind the report – who are based in the Gulf and remaining anonymous to protect their safety – found that outside the venue, the reality for many workers in the UAE was in stark contrast to “environmentally-friendly food consumption”.

The 40-page report, Harvesting Disparity: Climate Change, Food and Water Security, and Migrants of the UAE, explores pronounced disparities in access to quality, nutritious food for migrant workers who grapple with working hours and wage theft that hinder their ability to secure proper meals, while also examining the broader impacts of UAE food supply chain practices on climate and vulnerable communities abroad.

Download a copy of this publication here (PDF).

Climate Community Pledge in Support of a Ceasefire

By staff - Climate Justice Alliance, November 27, 2023

As climate and environmental justice organizers, social justice advocates, scientists, conservationists, environmentalists, policy experts, and concerned individuals, we are clear about the harms of war, not only on people, but also on the environment. For generations, Palestinians have been living under a system of apartheid, breathing in toxic air and consuming food grown on soil contaminated by bombs and other tools of destruction.

With this newest round of genocidal attacks by Israel on the civilian Palestinian population, which has forced thousands to flee and live without water, food and electricity and resulted in a rising death toll by the thousands, the Israeli government has defied international law. President Biden must oppose this.

We know that war breeds death, not democracy, and will only further harm people, replicate new cycles of violence, and impact the planet for generations to come. U.S. taxpayer dollars must not be used to support a policy of genocide.

We pledge to stand in solidarity with all those fighting for justice and peace, especially those families who have lost loved ones in both Israel and Palestine, and all those who continue to be under fire today.

As signers of this pledge, we call on our members of Congress to immediately:

  • Support a ceasefire now and 
  • Stop sending aid to Israel, which is often used for the very bombs and weapons being unleashed, as a form of collective punishment, on the Palestinian population.

Click HERE to Sign On.

Socialize the Railways!

By Tom Wetzel - East Bay Syndicalists, November 13, 2023

The downward slide of the major (Class 1) American freight railroads in recent years shows how capitalist ownership of the railway system is dangerous and inefficient — and fails to make use of the potential of the railways as a solution to the global warming crisis.

Downward slide has been accelerated over the past decade due to the adoption of “Precision Scheduled Railroading” (PSR). This has no precise definition but the aim is to reduce costs. As in “lean production” management theory, any expense not directly needed for profit is regarded as “waste.” PSR is a cost-cutting strategy that puts short-term profits for stockholders as the controlling priority. To maximize the rate of return, the railroads cut corners on maintenance, constantly work to reduce the number of railroad employees, and actively discourage shipments that are less profitable for them to haul. To keep Wall Street investors happy, they work to maximize short term profit. To enrich stockholders, the rail companies have poured billions of dollars into stock buybacks rather than invest in system improvements.

Frontlines to Big Greens: Stand with us in calling for #Ceasefire now and Justice for Palestine

By Hendrik Voss - It Takes Roots, October 31, 2023

Over 2 million Palestinian people have suffered under a 16 year blockade on Gaza and now endure a complete siege, as Israel bombs, starves, and displaces them. Israel has cut off food, water, and electricity to Gaza and has engaged in bombing of residential buildings, markets, schools, health facilities, and mosques – all with the support of the United States and other governments. Palestinians are forced between two decisions, stay and try to survive, or try to flee into exile, but will never see their home again. Our solidarity as environmental justice and human rights defenders globally is vital, as we are witnessing genocide before our eyes. Israel is the largest recipient of U.S. foreign assistance at $3.8 billion a year, totaling more than $260 billion to date. Five of the top six global defense corporations based in the United States are profiting from and enabling the ongoing bombardment against Palestinians in Gaza.

As environmental justice frontline communities that have experienced violence and displacement at the hands of settler-colonialism, we stand in unwavering solidarity with the Palestinian freedom struggle for self-determination and to live freely with their human rights fully intact on their lands.

Our It Takes Roots alliances comprise over 200 groups in more than 50 states, provinces and Indigenous territories across North America, Puerto Rico and Guåhan. Since the beginning of the most recent escalation in the 75-year history of settler-colonialism and violence across historic Palestine, many of our members have drawn upon their extensive grassroots organizing experience and we have taken our grief and outrage to the streets, into the halls of Congress, engaged in direct action, and educated our communities. Together, we continue our practice of international solidarity, and call for an end to the siege of Gaza, and an end to the occupation.

Further, we call on the larger environmental and climate movement to stand with frontline and Indigenous Movements around the world by calling for a ceasefire, an end to all violence and warfare, insisting that Israel allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, and calling on our governments to refuse to send any additional weapons or funding to the Israeli military. Now is the time to build on our cross-sector relationships, and to appeal to all our partners and allies who might still be on the sidelines, to join the international struggle for a free Palestine. We must build momentum to prevent further loss of life.

Life is sacred. We mourn the devastating loss of all Palestinian and Israeli lives, and all casualties of colonialism and rising militarism around the world. It Takes Roots is determined to continue our work for justice and peace at home and globally. Liberation of one is only possible with the liberation of all.

Ignoring Climate Scientists and Environmental Justice Advocates, DOE Awards Billions to Fossil Fuel Hydrogen

By Abbe Ramanan - Linked In, October 30, 2023

On October 13th, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the recipients of the Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (“H2Hubs”) funding. H2Hubs will award up to $7 billion to seven regional hydrogen hubs around the country. Disappointingly, more than half of the money from this massive federal investment will go towards Hubs producing hydrogen from fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (CCS), also known as blue hydrogen. This massive investment ignores major concerns cited by climate scientists, environmental justice advocates, and clean energy experts.

One major concern identified by climate scientists is especially worrying: hydrogen gas leaked into the atmosphere is an indirect greenhouse gas that extends the lifetime of methane in the atmosphere, which means hydrogen has 35 times the climate warming impacts of CO2. A massive buildout of hydrogen infrastructure at this scale, without further research into how to safely and securely transport and store hydrogen, will almost certainly lead to significant short-term warming.

Although DOE has stated that each Hub’s projected benefits played a large role in determining awards, the H2Hubs process has suffered from a lack of transparency. Prospective awardees were not required to publish their proposals publicly, so while many of the Hubs promise community benefits, how these community benefits will be generated – and how those benefits will outweigh the potential harms of each Hub – remain opaque. DOE is hosting a series of local engagement opportunities for each Hub, which will hopefully provide opportunities to cut through the hype and learn more about what these projects will mean for the communities impacted.

While we don’t know much about these Hubs, what we do know suggests that most of these projects will do more harm than good:

Texas Unions, Community, and Climate Groups Release Statement on HyVelocity Hydrogen Hub

By staff - Texas Climate Jobs Project, October 25, 2023

HyVelocity is poised to receive $1.2 billion to build Texas Gulf hydrogen hub

Houston, Texas – Today the Texas Climate Jobs Project, Commission Shift, Air Alliance Houston, West Street Recovery, the Coalition for Environment, Equity, and Resilience, Sierra Club Lone Star Chapter, Sunrise Movement ATX, Texas AFL-CIO, and the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation released the following statement in response to the Department of Energy’s decision to move forward and negotiate with HyVelocity to award $1.2 billion to build a hydrogen hub in the Texas Gulf:

“We are deeply distressed by the Department of Energy’s decision to advance the HyVelocity hydrogen application in Texas. Through the Department of Energy Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub program, the Biden administration is poised to transfer $1.2 billion in taxpayer dollars to HyVelocity, whose application sponsors include ExxonMobil and Chevron, and whose supporting partners include Amazon, Governor Greg Abbott, and the Texas Railroad Commission.” 

“Our organizations are on the front lines of environmental justice, labor organizing, and community work to reduce carbon emissions and improve living conditions across the Texas Gulf, and HyVelocity’s lack of transparency and refusal to make adequate concrete commitments leave us concerned. We urge the Department of Energy to compel HyVelocity to resolve its differences with our organizations before choosing to move the applicant further in the process.” 

“This includes, at a minimum: prioritizing projects that use renewable energy like wind and solar to help reduce overall carbon emissions; binding community workforce agreements for construction workers with strong Justice40 commitments; and binding labor peace agreements to ensure a just transition for fossil fuel workers.”

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