Monthly Archives: June 2014

Tribes Fight to Protect Fish from Coal Train Terminals

The Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation were joined by Lummi, Quinault, and other tribes in their protest against a proposed coal terminal at Port of Morrow, Oregon. The coal terminal would result in the annual transport of nine million tons of coal aboard trains a mile and half long—much more than local ecological systems can bear and too close to the Yakama Nation’s historic treaty fishing sites on the Columbia River.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber firmly opposed the coal export terminal in a speech to the League of Conservation Voters in April.


Public Hearing in Spokane on Oil Transport Last Week

This article in Spokane’s Spokesman-Review describes a public hearing held by members of the state Senate Committee on Energy, Environment and Telecommunications on a bill that would regulate trains carrying crude oil across Washington. The “Spill Prevention and Response Act” would require companies to disclose the amount and type of crude oil they’re shipping. It would also levy a 5-cent-per-barrel “oil spill response tax” to fund training for first responders. The safety of transporting oil from North Dakota’s Bakken fields to refineries in western Washington and Oregon is of great concern to many, particulalry in light of several major derailment accidents, including in Quebec and Virginia.

New Hope for the Climate from Al Gore

Former Vice President Al Gore presents concrete reasons to be hopeful in this piece in Rolling Stone.

“In the struggle to solve the climate crisis, a powerful, largely unnoticed shift is taking place. The forward journey for human civilization will be difficult and dangerous, but it is now clear that we will ultimately prevail. The only question is how quickly we can accelerate and complete the transition to a low-carbon civilization. There will be many times in the decades ahead when we will have to take care to guard against despair, lest it become another form of denial, paralyzing action. It is true that we have waited too long to avoid some serious damage to the planetary ecosystem – some of it, unfortunately, irreversible. Yet the truly catastrophic damages that have the potential for ending civilization as we know it can still – almost certainly – be avoided. Moreover, the pace of the changes already set in motion can still be moderated significantly.”

Sea Star Wasting Disease Report

From KCTS9, the Seattle PBS affiliate, comes this report about sea star wasting disease. Sea stars are dying by the millions up and down the West Coast, leading scientists to warn of the possibility of localized extinction of some species. As the disease spreads, researchers may be zeroing in on a link between warming waters and the rising sea star body count.


The Economic Costs of Climate Change

A new study suggests that the standard model used to measure the economic risk of climate change is underestimating the true costs. The dynamic integrated climate-economy (DICE) model was developed in the 1990s and has been used widely to estimate impacts to the global economy.

In a press release from the London School of Economics, the lead author, Dr Simon Dietz said: “While this standard economic model has been useful for economists who estimate the potential impacts of climate change, our paper shows that some major improvements are needed before it can reflect the extent of the risks indicated by the science. Our aim was to show how a new version of the model could produce a range of results that are much more representative of the science and economics of climate change, taking into account the uncertainties. The new version of this standard economic model, for instance, suggests that the risks from climate change are bigger than portrayed by previous economic models and therefore strengthens the case for strong cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases.”

The Missing Native Vote

Plaintiffs from three Montana reservations (Fort Belknap, Northern Cheyenne and Crow) led by Mark Wandering Medicine, a Northern Cheyenne spiritual leader and Vietnam veteran, have filed a federal lawsuit for equal access to voting. In Wandering Medicine v. McCulloch, the plaintiffs filed against county elections officials, the secretary of state, and top elections officer, Linda McCulloch to demand equal access on their reservations to the absentee voting and late registration currently offered only in county courthouses. Wandering Medicine, who experience mirrors many Native Americans in Montana, would have to travel 180 miles round trip to get to the nearest county courthouse.

Read the article at the Bill Moyers and Company website. This excerpt describes the nature of the problem:

“To determine how distance and poverty affect Native voting access, the DOJ asked University of Wyoming geography professor Gerald R. Webster to examine the three Montana reservations involved in Wandering Medicine. Webster found that Indians on those reservations traveled two to three times farther than whites to get to a county courthouse. Meanwhile, depending on the reservation, Indians were two to three times more likely not to have a vehicle for the trip. They were also less likely to have money to fill the gas tank: In Blaine County, which overlaps Fort Belknap, Webster found that the Native poverty rate was 2.5 times that of whites; in Rosebud County, which overlaps the Northern Cheyenne reservation, Natives were four times more likely than whites to live below the poverty line.

Fear also keeps Natives away from white towns and their courthouses, establishing an apartheid condition in American Indian communities. “They are today the poorest, most isolated and in some quarters, the most racially castigated population in the country,” writes sociologist Garth Massey, a University of Wyoming emeritus professor who submitted an expert report to the court on behalf of the plaintiffs.”

Climate Change is Not Gender-Neutral

Across the globe, women are disproportionately affected by climate change. Women are not well represented in decision-making processes, have restricted economic opportunities, have more limited access to resources, and make up the majority of deaths from water-related disasters (along with children).

Women are taking action and finding solutions to address climate change and build resilient communities around the world. Watch the United Nations Climate Change Secretariat video: Momentum for Change: Women for Results for some inspiration.

More information on gender and climate change can be found here.


Where is Washington State on Electric Cars?

Eight states have collaborated on an Action Plan to develop infrastructure, coordinated policies, codes, standards, and a viable consumer market in order to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the road by 2025. The Action Plan is the first milestone for the bi-coastal collaboration to pave the way for the cleanest cars in the nation.

The partner states are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont. Together they comprise about a quarter of the nation’s new car sales. See the full press release here.