Friday, June 23, 2017

Tell Banks: Stop Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline

Homes evacuated after ExxonMobil oil pipeline spill in Arkansas
22 banks have just agreed to finance Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion to the tune of $5.5 billion Canadian. The expansion will be a disaster for Indigenous rights and the environment. It would make the pipeline able to transport more oil than either the Dakota Access Pipeline or the Keystone Pipeline.
The Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, Musqueam, and Sto:lo First Nations, whose territories cover most of Metro Vancouver Area, are among the nine First Nations and Tribes currently in litigation against the project. The Coast Salish, Sto:lo, Nlaka'pamux, and Secwepemc Nations, whose territories cover more than half the length of the pipeline, have also filed legal challenges to the project. The Treaty Alliance Against Tar Sands Expansion, which comprises more than 120 First Nations and Tribes, stands in committed opposition to all tar sands pipelines crossing their traditional lands and waters, and has called for an international campaign to divest from any financial institution that funds them.
At the TD Bank shareholder meeting in March, Chief Serge Simon of the Mohawk Council of Kanesatake said "Coordinated Indigenous opposition from Quebec to British Columbia to North Dakota will stop the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline one way or another." But TD Bank didn’t listen to this warning — instead they poured more money into the project. They weren’t counting on resistance to tar sands pipelines across North America growing stronger every day.
This pipeline would cut through the Canadian Rocky Mountains, crossing and threatening countless watersheds that feed into the Fraser River. It would dump out on the Burrard Inlet near Vancouver, meaning a sevenfold increase in oil tanker traffic — from five to 34 ships every month — threatening marine life, including the endangered orcas of the Salish Sea.
The tar sands oil that this pipeline would carry is one of the most carbon intensive fuels on the planet. Studies show that the Trans Mountain expansion would add 8.8 metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere a year — making catastrophic climate change more of a reality every day.
And the existing Trans Mountain Pipeline already has a disgraceful track record — 82 leak incidents, including four major oil spills. 
- Ruth Breech, Rainforest Action Network

Trump cutting Energy Star program is a conflict of interest

The Energy Star program is a win-win for consumers and businesses -- so why does Donald Trump want to cut it?

It turns out 11 of Trump's 15 properties in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco have received scores below 50 (out of 100) in energy efficiency from the Energy Star program.1 Buildings with low energy efficiency -- like Trump's properties -- tend to have lower property values than their competitors.

Tell your members of Congress not to let Trump put his company's profits ahead of American consumers and our environment!

Energy Star is an incredibly popular program that helps shoppers identify products that use less electricity. When news broke that the Trump administration wants to defund the program, more than 1,000 companies called for it to be saved.2

This program is a prime example of the government and the private sector working together. It costs just $50 million a year, and the EPA estimates that it has saved Americans $430 billion on utility bills since 1992.3

Once again, instead of supporting common-sense policies that help American businesses, consumers, and the environment, Trump prioritizes putting more money in his pockets.

Don't stand for this self-serving and environmentally harmful budget cut!

- The SierraRise team

1. Frisbie C. and Kantor, A. (26 April 2017) "Trump's plan to kill Energy Star could benefit his properties." CNN.���
2. (24 April 2017). "Industry Support Letter for Energy Star." Alliance to Save Energy.���
3. Nadel, S. (22 March 2017). "Don't Tread on Energy Star." American Council for Energy Efficient Economy. ���

Call now to stop the heartless GOP health care repeal

Senate Republicans just released their health care repeal bill, and it’s just like the original: insurance companies and the ultra-rich get a huge tax break while working families get screwed over.

This is an all hands on deck moment. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying to pass this mean-spirited, heartless bill by July 4. In order to defeat it, every Republican lawmaker, starting in the Senate, will need to meet massive resistance every single day. Will you call your senators and let them know that this bill is unacceptable to their constituents, and that no minor tweaks will make it better?

Call your senators and demand that they reject the Republican health care repeal.

Sen. John McCain : (202) 224-2235

Sen. Jeff Flake : (202) 224-4521

“The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health care bill. It’s a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. Those with private insurance will experience higher premiums and higher deductibles, with lower tax credits to help working families cover the costs, even as their plans might no longer cover pregnancy, mental health care, or expensive prescriptions. Discrimination based on pre-existing conditions could become the norm again. Millions of families will lose coverage entirely.”(1)

He’s right -- the Senate health care bill is a travesty. It would make health care more expensive, reduce coverage, limit women's access to health services by defunding Planned Parenthood, and end Medicaid as we know it -- robbing countless poor and disabled Americans of access to quality care.

Mitch McConnell says that his bill won’t allow people with pre-existing conditions to be denied coverage. But under the GOP proposal, states can eliminate the requirement that health insurance plans include certain key benefits. That means health insurance companies couldn’t deny coverage to cancer patients, but it could sell them a plan that doesn’t cover their treatment. That’s just immoral.(2)

The Senate Republican bill is full of cynical trickery like this. Another example: the bill subsidizes health insurance payments for poorer Americans for seven years -- just long enough to make sure that no Republican who votes for this will have to face a tough reelection campaign until years after the subsidies disappear. After that, poorer people will be left to fend for themselves.(3)

Of course, the most reactionary Republicans are opposed to any extension of subsidies. So McConnell tried to woo them by cutting Medicaid even more deeply than the House bill does. The elderly, the poor, the disabled, and children will all see cuts to essential benefits that give them a shot at a decent life on a level playing field.(4)

Tell your senators to reject Mitch McConnell’s cynical vision of America by voting against the Senate health care repeal. SCRIPT HERE.

The health care repeal will move quickly -- and that’s why we need you to speak up now. McConnell wants this to be voted on by July 4, but if more than two Republican senators oppose the bill it won't be viable. Republican senators like Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Susan Collins of Maine have all expressed misgivings about the bill, and are important targets.(5) At the same time, reactionary Republican senators like Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, and Ron Johnson are opposing the bill because they don’t think it goes far enough to guarantee misery for millions of people. There’s a real path to stopping this cruel bill from becoming law.(6)

If the repeal bill does pass the Senate, House Republicans will move quickly to try to pass the Senate bill -- giving us another opportunity to stop the health care repeal from becoming law.

In order to stop this bill, we’ll need to demonstrate massive public opposition every step along the way, every single day. Will you call your senators today and ask your friends and family to do the same?

- the Courage team

Your senators need to hear from you today, no matter how you do it. If you can’t make a phone call, try using a text message to send them a fax using Resistbot.

3. See reference 2.


The number of monarch butterflies has declined by more than 80% in the last 20 years. What's to blame? Big Ag's use of potent glyphosate-based herbicides like Monsanto's Roundup is killing off native milkweed plants that monarchs need to survive. Milkweed is the only food source for monarch caterpillars. So no milkweed means no monarchs.

Demand that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt adopt tough restrictions on the toxic herbicides imperiling monarchs.

MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD! Your personal comment will be added to this.

Your message will be sent to:
Administrator E. Scott 'Scott' Pruitt

Subject line:

Adopt new herbicide restrictions to save monarchs

Dear Administrator Pruitt,

(Consider adding your own thoughts -- personalized messages are especially effective.)

I am calling on you to undertake swift action to limit the use of glyphosate and other weed killers in light of the critical threat they pose to monarch butterflies. Since the EPA last approved glyphosate in 1993, use of this potent herbicide has skyrocketed across the United States, destroying native milkweed monarch caterpillars need to survive. In fact, the number of monarch butterflies has declined by more than 80% in the last 20 years.

Please help increase the monarch's chance of survival by reducing the overuse of glyphosate and other herbicides. Without strong EPA action, glyphosate will continue to wreak more destruction on monarchs -- and we could lose their awe-inspiring migration forever. Please act now to save these majestic butterflies.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Joyful moment dampened by news of the Republican healthcare plan

This should be a lovely day for me. Looking forward to our first mesquite flour milling this afternoon. And 345 people just saw our blog about harvesting that mesquite. After carefully tending our struggling little moringa tree - that I planted for future generations - it is finally spouting some leaves. But I won't be blogging about the joy of making things grow or drought tolerant, edible trees. Instead I'm blogging about the devastating healthcare bill that the Republican senate just proposed.

Trump said the healthcare bill that the Republican house passed was "mean," and I hear this one is worse. They are paying for tax cuts to the rich with human lives! Senator Elizabeth Warren called it "blood money."  They are proposing devastating cuts to medicaid. Medicaid pays for nursing homes for the elderly and home healthcare for the handicapped and elderly. What do they want us to do with our parents and grandparents?! How can Republicans claim that they are for "pro-life" when they want to cut coverage for maternity care and even caring for premature babies! This bill will negatively affect the quality of life for average Americans. 

Please, take a moment contact your senators now and tell them to reject this ruthless bill. I just did.

Sen. John McCain : (202) 224-2235
Local Offices
Phoenix, AZ: tel: 602-952-2410 fax: 855-952-8702
Prescott, AZ: tel: 928-445-0833 fax: 928-445-8594
Tucson, AZ: tel: 520-670-6334 fax: 520-670-6637

Sen. Jeff Flake : (202) 224-4521
Local Offices
Phoenix, AZ: tel: 602-840-1891 fax: 602-840-4092
Tucson, AZ: tel: 520-575-8633 fax: 520-797-3232

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

With the Republican assault on the enviroment, we will all be needing good healthcare.

Yesterday, a friend-of-a-friend commented that he didn't have healthcare and didn't need it - so why should he pay for healthcare for everyone else? Providing affordable healthcare for the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions (like being a human being!) is not only compassionate, but it is self-serving. Eventually we will all need that care.

Congress recently passed a law allowing corporations to dump toxic waste in our waterways. Trump's rallying call is Frack! Frack! Frack! Drill, baby, drill. All that toxic waste and smoke will go into our water and air. I believe there will be an unprecedented increase in people with cancer. It could be any of us! With the Republican healthcare bill, millions will suffer and die unnecessarily.

Please, call your members of Congress today and tell them to vote NO on any bill that takes healthcare away from those with pre-existing conditions, children, or the elderly. If you have a personal story about cancer, share it.

Sen. John McCain : (202) 224-2235
Local Offices
Phoenix, AZ: tel: 602-952-2410 fax: 855-952-8702
Prescott, AZ: tel: 928-445-0833 fax: 928-445-8594
Tucson, AZ: tel: 520-670-6334 fax: 520-670-6637

Sen. Jeff Flake : (202) 224-4521
Local Offices
Phoenix, AZ: tel: 602-840-1891 fax: 602-840-4092
Tucson, AZ: tel: 520-575-8633 fax: 520-797-3232

Teens' petition to limit Nestle’s Michigan Water Withdrawals

Our names are Yousef Emara and Nathan Koh. We are eighth graders in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Our class completes a Sustainability Action Project (SAP) by choosing a cause in which we can make a positive impact.  We have chosen to raise awareness of Nestle’s water pumping practices in Michigan and petition the state legislature and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to reject an increase in Nestle’s pumping rates in White Pine Springs, Osceola County, Michigan.
Why This Issue Matters 
In many countries, including the United States, there is little limitation on the rate at which water can be pumped out of aquifers (underground water reserves).  Water bottling companies have been pumping billions of gallons of water out of aquifers and impacting the watershed and surrounding environment and selling water bottles for 3000 to 5000 times more than they pay for it.  One such pumping site is Nestle’s well field in White Pine Springs, Osceola County, Michigan, which is part of the Muskegon River watershed.  
What This Means for Michigan 
Nestle runs a plant for its two water bottle brands, Ice Mountain and Pure Life, in Stanwood, Michigan.  The company operates three well fields with a total of seven wells, all within the Muskegon River watershed.  According to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), Nestle pumped more than 3.4 billion gallons of water from its three Michigan well fields between 2005 and 2015.  In 2015, Nestle was given approval by the MDEQ to pump 250 gallons per minute at White Pine Springs Well in Osceola County.  The company now wants to increase the amount of water it pumps from this well to 400 gallons per minute. Nestle would pay the state of Michigan $200 per year for this increase.
According to a test conducted in August 2000 by Malcolm Pirnie Inc., Nestle’s White Pine Springs Well pumps water from an underground aquifer that is connected to the aboveground water system through a permeable layer of Earth, called a leaky aquitard.  Pumping water from the aquifer can drain significant amounts of water from above. This indicates that the wetlands and wildlife above the ground are at high risk of being harmed by Nestle’s pumping.  Residents, like Rhonda Huff, as reported by the MLive newspaper on April 9, 2017, noticed that water levels in Osceola County’s Chippewa Creek, which flows into the Muskegon River watershed, have significantly dropped in recent years, affecting trout populations.  
Nestle needs a permit from the MDEQ in order to increase the rate at which it pumps water.  The MDEQ requires the use of a Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool to determine the impact of proposed water withdrawals on fish and wildlife in the area.  Nestle’s proposed water withdrawal increase to 400 gallons per minute failed to pass MDEQ’s Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool. However, the MDEQ can and did overrule the failing grade determined by the Water Withdrawal Assessment Tool.
Nestle’s plan to increase the amount of water withdrawn to 400 gallons per minute would undo an agreement with environmentalists reached more than seven years ago for a well field in Sanctuary Springs, which is also part of the Muskegon River watershed.  In 2001, Michigan Citizens for Water Conservation sued Nestle over potential damage to the system of lakes, rivers, and streams that its water withdrawal would cause.  An agreement was reached in 2009, limiting the amount of water the company could pump.
What You Can Do To Help
Please sign our petition!  Help us in reaching our goal of 10,000 signatures to present to the state legislature and the MDEQ. Thank you for taking the time to protect our most precious resource – water.
- Yousef Emara and Nathan Koh.