Saturday, March 31, 2018

Tell the Senate: Block and resist torturer Gina Haspel as CIA director

The petition to the Senate reads:
"Block and resist Trump's nomination of torturer Gina Haspel for CIA director."
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►

Tell the Senate: Block and resist torturer Gina Haspel as CIA director
Donald Trump is assembling a war cabinet.
John Bolton is such an extremist that a Republican-controlled Senate refused to confirm him as ambassador to the United Nations in 2005.1 Trump just made him national security adviser. CIA Director Mike Pompeo wants to destroy the Iran deal and supercharge domestic spying. Trump just nominated him to be secretary of state. Longtime CIA officer Gina Haspel ran a secret "black site" prison in Thailand and later destroyed the videotaped evidence of brutal waterboarding sessions.2 Trump has nominated her to take over as CIA chief.
Trump does not need Senate approval to appoint Bolton, but Haspel must be confirmed. We have a chance to block her nomination and stop Trump’s war machine, but we have to make sure every Senate Democrat holds the line and that Republicans of good conscience join them.
Gina Haspel ran a secret prison in Thailand where CIA personnel brutally interrogated detainees with waterboarding, sleep deprivation, confinement in boxes and other torture techniques.3 In 2005, she signed off on an order to destroy videotapes of the torture sessions.4
A 2009 Senate report found that the torture that Haspel and other CIA officials oversaw after Sept. 11 never led to "imminent threat" intelligence that the CIA used to justify the practice.5 Tortured detainees made up information and often gave more useful information without being tortured.6The report also criticized the CIA for "inadequate and deeply flawed" management of the interrogation program, including improper screening and poor training of interrogators.7
As of today, Haspel could not legally order CIA personnel to resume torturing suspects. A 2015 law reinforced that these interrogation techniques are illegal.8 But extraordinary rendition, in which prisoners are sent abroad to be held and possibly tortured by foreign governments, remains legal today.9 Just as disturbing, Trump has repeatedly said he wants to bring back waterboarding "and a hell of a lot worse."10We need government officials who will stand up to Trump's violent impulses and push for legal and effective intelligence gathering.
If the United States is going to live up to its ideals of respecting human rights at home and around the world, we must draw a line somewhere – we cannot reward torturers with top government jobs.
Yet Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said he has not advised Democrats to oppose Haspel.11 Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, who once opposed Haspel for a CIA appointment because of her past role in torture, has now said this of Haspel: "To the best of my knowledge she has been a good deputy director and I look forward to the opportunity to speak with her again."12
The comments from Sens. Schumer and Feinstein make it clear that without massive pressure, the Senate will confirm Haspel in a heartbeat. We need to stand up for human rights and block anyone who tortured detainees from being director of the CIA.
Tell the Senate: Block and resist Gina Haspel's confirmation as CIA director. Click the link below to sign the petition:
- Brandy Doyle, CREDO Action
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. The New York Times Editorial Board, "Yes, John Bolton really is that dangerous," March 23, 2018.
  2. Matthew Rosenberg, "New C.I.A. Deputy Director, Gina Haspel, had role in torture," The New York Times, Feb. 2, 2017.
  3. Adam Goldman, "Gina Haspel, Trump’s Choice for C.I.A., Played Role in Torture Program," The New York Times, March 13, 2018.
  4. Matthew Rosenberg, "New C.I.A. Deputy Director, Gina Haspel, had role in torture."
  5. NBC News, "Senate report finds CIA interrogation tactics were ineffective," Dec. 9, 2014.
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Rupert Stone, "Has Obama banned torture? Yes and no," Al Jazeera America, Dec. 1, 2015.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Sarah Margon, "Giving Up the High Ground," Foreign Affairs, Feb. 13, 2018.
  11. Deirdre Shesgreen and Erin Kelly, "Trump turmoil: Contentious Senate confirmation hearings await Pompeo and Haspel," USA Today, March 13, 2018.
  12. Patricia Zengerle, "Senate Intel Chairman Backs Haspel to Head CIA, Democrats Concerned," US News & World Report, March 13, 2018.


The Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has begun the process of repealing the Clean Power Plan, which places first-ever limits on the huge quantities of carbon pollution emitted by our country’s electric power plants. Reining in these emissions is crucial to making progress against the worsening climate crisis.

Pruitt’s action is unacceptable. We need this vital, commonsense safeguard that will greatly reduce the United States’ largest source of carbon emissions. Tell the EPA to enforce the Clean Power Plan and defend our communities’ right to clean energy and a healthy future.

Pruitt’s announcement cements his guiding environmental principle: Prop up the dying fossil fuel industry at any cost. This industry poisons the air and water of our most vulnerable communities while we watch the immediate impacts of climate change in real time. Our ocean is turning into a pressure cooker for hurricanes such as Harvey, Irma and Maria, which collectively have killed hundreds of people and displaced thousands.

We don’t have time to sit this fight out until the political winds shift in our favor. We need to tackle our climate crisis now.

Demand that the Clean Power Plan remain in place—and tell the EPA to double down on our commitment to a clean energy future.

- Earth Justice 

On a more personal note: This delay has hurt Tucson. Some members of our community (myself included) tried to oppose TEP's petition to install 10 RICE gas-fired engines using the Pima County code. But we ran into a wall because there was nothing in their code about carbon dioxide - due to Scott Pruitt's efforts in the EPA.  We need strong regulations that allow citizens to fight for clean air and the health of our communities.  It seems the only way to make the fossil fuel industry do what's right for our health and the planet is to regulate them. The only recourse we have is the Clean Power Plan. 


Last month we won a major victory for the climate, clean air and taxpayers. A federal court rejected the Trump Administration’s attempt to suspend a commonsense rule requiring oil and gas operators who drill on public lands to capture their methane waste and air toxics instead of pumping them into surrounding communities.

But on the same day the court issued the ruling, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke launched his third attack on this safeguard, this time proposing to scrap the rule’s protections for good.

Last month’s court decision was in part because the Bureau of Land Management did not provide for a meaningful opportunity for you—the public—to comment on suspending the rule. Tell Secretary Zinke that we need strong protections from methane waste right now.

This rollback takes direct aim at the health and safety of tens of thousands of Americans living near oil and gas operations. In their communities, natural gas is leaked and vented into the air, causing smog and asthma attacks and releasing toxic air pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene. Gas flares rumble like jet engines and make the nighttime look like bright summer days.

Repealing this commonsense protection is another shameless giveaway of taxpayer resources and an assault on the air and health of communities just to appease the Trump administration’s corporate fossil fuel donors.

The BLM’s current Methane Waste Prevention Rule puts millions of dollars into the public coffers. When oil and gas companies leak, vent or flare publicly-owned gas on public lands, the rule requires companies to pay back the public for their wasteful practices. Without the rule in place, BLM’s own analysis shows that oil and gas companies will waste 180,000 tons of methane each year—deliberately venting, leaking, or flaring $824 million worth of publicly-owned natural gas into the air over the next decade.

Methane waste is a simple problem to solve. The Waste Prevention Rule requires drillers to use proven, low-cost solutions to capture publicly-owned natural gas that otherwise would be flared, vented, or leaked into the air.

Americans have fought for years to protect these vital clean air protections and we won’t back down now.

- Earth Justice 

More information:

Friday, March 30, 2018

Submit a public comment to Protect Bears Ears From the Oil Industry

President Trump’s decision last December to dramatically shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante national monuments in Utah was illegal, and we’re suing to stop it.

Meanwhile, though, Trump’s Bureau of Land Management is pushing ahead with a plan to open up these amazing public lands to fossil fuel development.

Will you act today to protect them?  Submit a public comment to the BLM.

Tell the BLM that these spectacular landscapes shouldn’t be opened up for oil and gas development. Instead, these monuments should continue to protect wildlife and the tens of thousands of cultural and paleontological artifacts they contain.

By standing up to Trump’s BLM, you’re building the movement to protect our public lands.

- Valerie Love, Ignite Change

Call Sens. McCain and Flake on the Senate's anti-mother rules

Senator Tammy Duckworth's vote in the Senate could be taken away simply because she will be giving birth soon.
Sen. Duckworth is due in less than one month--that's how long we have to convince the Senate to modernize its archaic rules meant for a time when only white men were allowed in office. 
Will you help push the Senate by calling your senators? Kindly ask them to support changing Senate rules for Sen. Duckworth and all working women in Congress.
You can choose from one of these numbers to call:
It's always best to speak in your own words, but here are some points to guide you.
  • Hi, my name is __, from ___. I'm calling to let the senator know that I support modernizing Senate rules so that new mothers like Sen. Tammy Duckworth aren't barred from the Senate floor simply for giving birth or nursing a newborn. Please pass this onto the senator, thank you!
  • The rules barring new mothers in the Senate from voting are a built-in disincentive to women who might run for office.
  • Penalizing pregnant employees is the definition of pregnancy discrimination. If she takes maternity leave, she'll lose her vote. If she doesn't, she'll likely miss key votes since her nursing infant will be banned from the Senate floor.
  • Employers often fail to accommodate women's pregnancies before and after giving birth.2 How do we expect to change this widespread problem when it goes unaddressed in the highest offices?
  • Will the senator please publicly support Sen. Duckworth and modernize Senate rules for working mothers? Thank you!
- the UltraViolet team

2. Why Are Workplaces Still Not Ready For Pregnant Workers? Think Progress, January 31, 2014

Don't Let AZ Legislature Block Clean Energy

Ask your state senator to Vote NO on HCR2017!

HCR2017 is a cynical attempt to confuse voters and stop clean energy from advancing and once again it is coming forward as a last-minute strike-everything amendment. It would refer to the ballot a measure with a name that is nearly identical to the citizen initiative. It is called the “Clean and Affordable Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment” versus the citizen initiative “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona Amendment.” It also includes some similar language, but unfortunately also includes language that would allow the Arizona Corporation Commission to do nothing relative to advancing clean energy.

This unconscionable measure is again being pushed by the largest monopoly utility in the state, Arizona Public Service (APS). It is an entity that can only be held accountable by the ACC, the courts, and the people, and now the legislature is proposing to undercut our ability to do that.

Clean energy is affordable, reliable, and resilient. Unfortunately, these utilities do not view it that way and they fail to consider the clean air, clean water, and climate benefits provided by solar and wind.

HCR2017's strike-everything amendment is a recipe to do nothing and that is the last thing that we need. Renewable energy is a key part of our states future. It can help to sustain our economy and protect our air and water, but the legislature and the utilities need to get out of the way for that to happen.

Please send a message to your senator and add why you want to see more clean energy in Arizona.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Speaking Up Against TEP's Proposed Gas-fired Generators

As I mentioned in a previous blog, TEP is proposing modernizing the Sundt Generating Station by replacing two 1950's era steam units with ten natural gas fired combustion engines. The RICE units are fossil-fuel based generating units that would create significant greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Pima Department of Environmental Quality, the project expects to cause an increase in emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter and volatile organic compounds.

Last night 30 people from the Irvington neighborhood and our Tucson community attended the march to protest the gas-fired engines being installed in their neck of the woods. 50 people showed up to show support at PDEQ's public hearing. 30 of those, myself included, spoke up.

Some people explained how carbon dioxide from the engines would accelerate climate change and how that would devastate our city. But I'm afraid those comments about green house emissions won't have any impact. We were limited to commenting on how TEP's permit meets the criteria for issuance prescribed in the Arizona Revised Statutes, Section § 49-481 of the Pima County Code.  All of those important comments about climate change were disregarded because CO2 isn't included in Pima's code. (I know! I couldn't believe it either!)

A few of us from Sustainable Tucson's advocacy group and the Sierra Club have been combing through Pima's code - trying to find some inconsistencies or ANYTHING we can use stop the PDEQ from issuing a permit for the RICE engines.  The deadline for comments to the PDEQ was Thursday, March 29th.  Here are some angles that our team member uncovered. 

But what I found to be really powerful was how the people from the neighborhood spoke their truth to power. They bravely told stories about how TEP's environmental racism had impacted the health of their loved ones. I think that might just be the angle we need for our comments to the PDEQ. On their letter announcing this hearing,  they wrote:

Pima County has completed an extensive review of the permit application, examined the air quality impact analysis of the project and considered environmental justice to protect the health and environment of minority, low-income, tribal and indigenous populations.

After hearing the heartfelt comments from people in the neighborhood, something occurred to me.  I believe that PDEQ did not take into account the special circumstances of how the pollutants from the new gas-fired engines would impact the vulnerable population that is already suffering from cancer, lupus, asthma, heart valve defects, birth defects, arthritis, and central nervous system disorders from decades of dioxane in  their water and the pollution from Sundt's coal-fired plants. 

A 2010 study by the Clean Air Task Force showed the burning of coal at Sundt causes approximately 68 asthma attacks, 6 heart attacks and 4 deaths every year. Built in 1967, the Sundt plant ranked 13th worst in the NAACP’s environmental justice performance ranking.

If you're a member of one of the families who suffered from any of these diseases, you might want to use this angle and share your story for the record.  I encourage you to back it up with data (included on this blog and the links provided). (The deadline  has expired. It was Thursday, March 29th.)  Here are the directions. 

TEP’s environmental justice argument leaves things to argue with:

TEP’s Environmental Justice Analysis duly notes the goal of Executive Order 12898, that “each Federal agency shall make achieving environmental justice part of its mission by identifying and addressing, as appropriate, disproportionately high and adverse human health or environmental effects of its programs, policies, and activities on minority populations and low-income populations.”

TEP notes the stark socioeconomic divide between the population in its 38 square-mile Impact Area – a full 18% of our City’s population – and the 82% of Tucsonans who live outside the plant’s shadow. “Minority” (i.e. global majority) 85% (Tucson 56%); Low income 63% (Tucson 51%); Linguistically isolated: 15% (Tucson 6%); % w/o HS diploma 32% (Tucson 17%). Although asthma rates are not broken down to a small scale, TEP noted that between 2012 and 2014, CDC recorded a nationwide increase from 7.0% to 8.4% while Arizona’s statewide number climbed from 8.9% to 9.6%.

For inconsistencies in TEP's Environmental Justice Analysis, scroll down to:
TEP’s environmental justice argument leaves things to argue with with on this page:

I will leave you with Oscar Medina's speech for inspiration:

"My name is Oscar Medina. I am a father, an educator, member of Sierra Club, and a community organizer with Tierra y Libertad Organization. I am here today to express my concern and opposition to TEP’s proposal for 10 new Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engine (RICE) natural gas units at the Sundt Plant location.

I live less than 2 miles away from the TEP’s Sundt Plant location. I have three children: One who attends the Tucson Gymnastics center located near the intersection of Irvington and Alvernon Way. We drive by the plant at least three times a week and the facility does not appear to look the healthiest. My daughter’s school is located just one mile from the intersections of Drexel and Alvernon Way. This is only a few hundred feet from location of the proposed RICE units.

I attended the neighborhood meetings that were hosted by TEP and gave my testimony in opposition to their application at the Arizona Corporation Commission hearing. TEP is framing this project as a campus modernization project. This is deceiving to our community. This expansion project is not about people or the environment, this is about cutting cost and putting profit into the pockets of the TEP investors. At the open house meeting Feb. 15th, I learned from the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality that in the past, TEP has not always complied with the air quality regulations, and that air monitoring reports demonstrated excessive carbon monoxide emission. This demonstrates that TEP is not afraid the break the rules again and pollute our neighborhoods.

The open houses that were held before this hearing were not only missing people from the surrounding neighborhoods but they were missing the pictures of children suffering from respiratory illness in parts of south Tucson. The open house was missing pictures of the effects that emissions of carbon monoxide have on people's health. Let's put the bar graphs and data to the side and paint a clear picture. Our children can see right through TEP’s dirty data. This is another clear example of the ongoing environmental racism still occurring in 2018. This fight against pollution that goes years back to the San Juan and Navajo generating stations. Where are the reparations for harming our Dine* brothers and sisters? That is a dark history that TEP does not wish remember. TEP’s plans and their time frame to expand renewable energy resources to 30 percent by 2030 has expired for our neighborhoods. The stakes are too high. TEP’s polluting practices are not welcome in our backyards. Remember that we are the people that breath this dirty air. Let's keep it clean and simple, divest from coal and gas, keep it renewable and let the future be wind and solar energy."

*The word Dine' is from their own language and means "the people." 

The time for action is NOW - while we still have this little window of opportunity. This is something concrete we can do to leave a better life for our children in Tucson. Let's make those brave speeches count!

State Senate Bill Will Hide Dark Money in Local Elections

One of the worst pieces of legislation ever produced by the Republicans in the state legislature is nearing a vote that would lock away the source of dark money in local Arizona politics.
HB2153, introduced by right-wing Rep. Vince Leach of Saddlebrooke, bans any city or county from requiring nonprofit political groups to identify campaign contributors.

Click here to discover who your state Senator is, and then click here to send an email or make a phone call to oppose HB2153.
Read more of this post on Blog for Arizona.
LD 9 State Senator Steve Farley opposes the dark money legislation.
Lets thank Sen. Steve Farley and hold Rep. Vince Leach and other supporters accountable! 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


It’s simple: If you clean up vehicle emissions, you cut down on carbon pollution. (In a big way!)

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the US. In fact, cars and trucks alone account for over one-quarter of all US emissions. It’s got to change.

Americans want it to change. Nearly 90 percent of Americans want automakers to continue to improve fuel economy – leading to less emissions – and support strict government standards, according to a recent Consumer Reports survey.

The Obama Administration listened and worked with automakers like Ford Motor Company to develop ambitious but achievable fuel efficiency standards for new cars and trucks that would prevent 6 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. Even better, these standards would save American families $1.7 trillion in fuel costs.

Ford was part of the solution. But now the company is pulling a U-turn and working with President Trump and his cabinet of Big Oil insiders to roll back these critical standards.

We say no way.

Add your name to ask Ford and other automakers to defend existing vehicle emissions standards and keep us moving forward in the fight against the climate crisis.

- Climate Reality Project 

Proposed Water Rate Increases: What the...?

Over the next four years, the City is proposing a 40% increase in basic charges (hookup fees) for residential water service. And a 25% increase in rates (Tier 2)

At the same time, the City Council just approved up to $2.5 million per year to subsidize the cost of public water infrastructure for new businesses that open on the SE side of Tucson, if they are more water efficient than current businesses.

There are perfectly good reasons to raise our water bill - like fixing our crumbling water infrastructure and supporting more water harvesting systems around Tucson.
For those of us concerned with water conservation (in this time of drought) there is another issue to be considered.

"What troubles me about Tucson Water's rate proposal is the way they want to collect the money They're proposing to take more with unavoidable service charges and less with sales charges. This goes against research, done in Tucson, which shows double the conservation with charges on sales. Tucson can't afford to reduce conservation incentives in a drought, with use increasing. Since 2011, service charges are already up 80 percent, and by 2022 they'll be up 157 percent. This is choking the conservation incentive for users in the lowest block — 60 percent of residential sales. Tell city council not to raise service charges, its hurting customers and conservation!" - Mark Day, MS Economics and Policy, MBA Market Research

Wanna find out what the city is planning to do with that money? Wanna show them that Tucson Water customers are paying attention? Attend one of these public meetings on the proposed rate increases:

* Thursday, March 29 at El Pueblo Activity Center, 101 W. Irvington Rd.
* Thursday, April 5, at Miller-Golf Links Library Meeting Room, 9640 E. Golf Links Rd.
* Tuesday, April 10, at Tucson Parks and Recreation Meeting Room, 900 S. Randolph Way
Doors open at 5:30 p.m. A short presentation begins at 5:45 p.m., followed by a question-and-answer session with City of Tucson staff. The same information will be presented at all three meetings. More information is available at <…> thru this link.

FYI: Some expenses related to CAP water: 

Tucson Water Reliability Investment
In 2017 money was set aside for recovery infrastructure, CAP recharge and recovery system.

QUICK RESPONSE ACTION: Register your opposition to the unconstitutional amendment to HCR 2017

This afternoon at 2 p.m., the Senate Appropriations Committee will be holding a hearing on HCR2017.  My state senator Steve Farley (from district 9) is on that committee, so I e-mailed him this morning. (See below.) There is still time for you to write your senator (if they are on the committee) and/or register your opposition on the Request to Speak system before the meeting.

Find directions for Request to Speak here:

My previous blog includes the contact information for the senators on that committee and how to find out what district you are in:

Feel free to use my e-mail as a starting point. But, please, rewrite it a bit leaving out that you met with him at Environmental Day if you didn't. It would also be great if you can show solidarity by adding: "As a member (or supporter) of the Environmental Advocacy Group..." We want him to be aware that there is a growing group of us supporting his actions to protect the environment. 

Note: If you have a Republican senator, you might want to tell them that you value the initiative process guaranteed by the Arizona Constitution and urge them to oppose the amendment on the grounds that it is unconstitutional. 

Dear Senator Farley,

When we met with you in your office during Environmental Day, I promised to put together a group of sustainability advocates who would support your actions in protecting our enviroment. I have since put together that group and I'm proud to say that it is growing every day.  

Today I am writing to show our support of your opposition to HCR 2017. As you know, Senator John Kavanagh offered a strike-everything amendment to HCR 2017 that proposes a constitutional amendment nearly identical to the “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona” initiative, but with a loophole that would allow the Corporation Commission to not actually increase the renewable energy standards. Under HCR 2017, the Corporation Commission would NOT be bound to enforce higher renewable energy standards and we find that unacceptable. In addition, that amendment is obviously designed to confuse voters. Even its name is nearly identical to the original initiative's. This kind of underhanded trick shows total contempt for the initiative process detailed in our state constitution. 

I wanted to let you know that your constituents are paying attention and we find this kind of trickery unacceptable and the amendment unconstitutional. 

Thank you for your support of sound environmental policies and initiatives. 

Jana Segal
Sustainable Tucson Environmental Advocacy Group


Sen. Farley's e-mail:

Monday, March 26, 2018

ACTION ALERT: APS Wants You to Be Confused


Here we go again. APS and their supporters at the Capitol are back with another proposal to subvert the initiative process and confuse voters. Late last week, HCR2017 was subject to a strike-everything amendment, offered by Senator John Kavanagh.

HCR2017 would now propose a constitutional amendment virtually identical to the “Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona” initiative, but with a loophole that would allow the Corporation Commission to not actually increase the renewable energy standards. That's right, under HCR2017, the Corporation Commission would NOT be bound to enforce higher renewable energy standards.

The amendment is purely designed to confuse voters. Even its name is nearly identical to the initiative's. This kind of dirty trick is absolutely shameless, and again shows total contempt for the initiative process.

HCR2017 will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee tomorrow. If you live in any of the members' districts, please give them a call to voice your opinion. If you aren’t sure which district you live in, you can find out here.

John Kavanagh (Chair)
LD 23
(602) 926-5170
Warren Peterson (Vice Chair)
LD 17
(602) 926-4136
Karen Fann
LD 1
(602) 926-5874
Sonny Borrelli
LD 5
(602) 926-5051
Sylvia Allen
LD 6
(602) 926-5409
Steve Smith
LD 11
(602) 926-5685
Olivia Cajero Bedford
LD 3
(602) 926-5835
Steve Farley
LD 9
(602) 926-3022
Katie Hobbs
LD 24
(602) 926-5325
Martin Quezada
LD 29
(602) 926-5911
Use the legislature's Request to Speak system to log in and voice your opinion on these bills. If you don't have a Request to Speak account yet, sign up for one here.
Arizona Advocacy Network
More information:
New law aims to cripple initiative pushing for higher renewable energy standards

Stop the corporate takeover of the EPA. No Dow Chemical shills at the EPA!

Looks like a fox in the hen-house to me...

The petition to the Senate reads:
"Reject the nomination of Dow Chemical lawyer Peter Wright as assistant administrator for the EPA’s Office of Land and Emergency Management."
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►

No Dow Chemical shills at the EPA
Once again, Donald Trump's contempt for the environment is on full display with his recent nomination at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Peter Wright, a lawyer for Dow Chemical and a former Monsanto employee, is Trump's pick to head up the EPA office that oversees chemical spills at Superfund sites.
This nomination is another in a long line of attempts by Trump to put the fox in charge of the hen-house: Dow Chemical is linked to at least 100 of the more than 1,300 toxic Superfund spills across the country.1
It's beyond dangerous to put a Dow shill in charge of cleaning up his company's toxic spills. We must pressure the Senate to reject Wright's nomination before it ever comes up for a vote.
According to a biography by the American Bar Association, Wright "manages the legal issues and outside counsel with respect to Dow’s largest and most significant environmental matter, the mid-Michigan dioxin matter," a toxic Superfund site that Dow has been litigating for more than 40 years and has yet to clean up.2 The dioxin contamination, which is highly toxic and linked to a whole host of health problems including cancer, extends 50 miles down the Tittabawassee and Saginaw rivers and into the Saginaw Bay, and continuously threatens communities along its banks.3 Earlier this year, Dow won a major lawsuit that prevented local residents from suing the company for the dioxin contamination.4
Wright's nomination is yet another example of the Trump administration's cozy relationship with Dow Chemical. Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris headed up Trump's now-disbanded American Manufacturing Council, and last year, the company donated $1 million to Trump's inaugural committee.5 So it wasn't a surprise that after a brief meeting with Liveris last March, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt overturned an Obama-era rule banning chlorpyrifos, the popular brain-harming pesticide manufactured by Dow.6
Activism to stop Trump's nominees works. In just the last few months, hundreds of thousands of CREDO members took action to stop the nominations of a different chemical industry shill, Michael Dourson, at the EPA, climate change denier Kathleen Hartnett White at the Council on Environmental Quality and racist climate denier Sam Clovis at the Department of Agriculture.
The Senate will be taking up Wright's nomination soon, so we must act now to stop another dangerous Trump nominee from devastating our environment.
Tell the Senate: No Dow Chemical shills at the EPA. Click the link below to sign the petition:
- Josh Nelson, CREDO Action
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. Mark Hand, "Trump nominates Dow Chemical official to lead emergency response to toxic spills," Think Progress, March 5, 2018.
  2. American Bar Association, "Making Rain: How to Bring Your Next Environmental Case Into the Door and Keep Them Coming," accessed March 16, 2018.
  3. World Health Association, "Dioxins and their effects on human health," October 2016.
  4. Associated Press, "Dow Chemical wins key ruling in dioxin pollution dispute," Jan. 26, 2018.
  5. Bess Levin, "Dow Chemical Donates $1 Million to Trump, Asks Administration to Ignore Pesticide Study," Vanity Fair, April 20, 2017.
  6. Associated Press, "EPA chief met with Dow Chemical CEO before deciding not to ban toxic pesticide," June 30, 2017.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Power Generation for Generations to come - YES to Solar + Storage! NO to fossil fuels

TEP is proposing modernizing the Sundt Generating Station by replacing two 1950's era steam units with ten natural gas fired combustion engines. The purpose of the new engines is to ramp up more quickly and to balance the variability associated with solar and wind energy generation. But all that ramping spouts more pollution into the air than the current steam units.

TEP claims that these units are part of a larger goal for 30% renewable energy by 2030, but gas fired engines should not be equated with clean, renewable power from wind and solar. The RICE units are fossil-fuel based generating units that would create significant greenhouse gas emissions. According to the Pima County Department of Environmental Quality, the project expects to cause an increase in emissions of carbon monoxide, particulate matter (fine particles PM2.5 and coarse particles PM10) and volatile organic compounds.

Over a third of carbon dioxide emissions in the US are from power plants.

TEP needs to stop promoting the idea of "clean gas." Just stop. It reeks of Big Oil rhetoric!  Burning fossil fuel still emits about 60 percent as much heat-trapping carbon dioxide as coal. Fracking for gas releases vast amounts of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps 80 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide pollution. Gas extraction harms wildlife, disrupts ecosystems, and has been proven to contaminate water and even cause earthquakes throughout the U.S.

Neighborhoods in southeast Tucson have suffered from decades of coal and gas pollution from the Sundt plant. Pollution from the Irvington Campus has had negative health effects for generations. Now TEP is proposing a plant that will emit hazardous air pollutants that are harmful to our health, including benzene, fluorene, naphthalene, and toluene. This proposal will cause a net increase in pollution from particulate matter, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and sulfur hexafluoride.

And none of this is necessary! Utility-scale battery storage can provide the fast acting support that TEP needs to incorporate intermittent renewables like wind and solar even faster than gas units.

TEP claims that the RICE units are the most cost-effective option to incorporate intermittent renewables, but did they even consider clean alternatives to the RICE units? By pairing batteries with solar resources, utilities can use tax credits to reduce their costs. The prices for solar-plus-storage and windplus-storage systems have been plummeting, leading to record-breaking low prices in energy projects in other states. Colorado recently beat a record that Arizona held for the lowest-cost solar-plus-storage project. The median project in Colorado’s energy solicitation was 20% lower than TEP’s NextEra solarplus-storage project.

Sundt Generating Station represents a prime opportunity to choose renewable resources instead of building brand new fossil-fuel reliant projects. We have a great opportunity here! TEP’s service territory sits in one of the richest renewable resource zones in the country. Renewable energy creates far more jobs than fossil fuels. According to the Department of Energy, Arizona’s clean energy and energy efficiency industries already employ nearly 5 times as many people as the fossil fuel industry, and there is much room to grow. So why isn't TEP doing what's best for Tucson's economy and health?

TEP’s target to serve only 30% of its load with renewable energy by 2030 isn't nearly ambitious enough to protect Arizona’s air and water and to limit the impacts of climate change. It's time for our governing officials to demonstrate some strong leadership and do what's right for the people of Tucson and the future of our city.

The time for action is NOW - while we still have this window of opportunity. We can make a difference. Our city council can make a difference with some bold leadership! This is something concrete we can all do to leave a better life for our children in Tucson. 

Actions to take in March 2018
1.   Contact your Pima County Supervisor.  Ask them to deny TEP’s request for increased air pollution limits for the proposed installation of ten gas-fired Reciprocating Internal Combustion Engines (RICE) at the SundtGenerating Plant in Tucson. Most County officials claim that the County’s hands are tied, and that the decision is up to the EPA. But the County’s Department of Environmental Quality is holding public hearings, and even added one on March 28.  
2.   Contact your City of Tucson Council member and Mayor Rothschild (see Ward maps) and ask them to deny TEP’s request for a special zoning designation (Planned Area Development – “PAD”) because TEP’s request for rezoning contradicts the Tucson General Plan’s call for:
(a)  Increased renewable energy sources;
(b)  Recruiting, retaining and expanding Tucson’s key economic sectors in renewable energy;
(c)  Increasing or promoting environmentally sensitive industry; and
(d)  “. . .[N]o compromise on principles of equity, fairness, justice, prosperity, livability, and environmental integrity.”
TEP should not be rewarded for having previously failed to comply with development standards.

3.   Join local neighbors, sustainable organizations, and the Sierra Club for a Rally and March on Wednesday, March 28.
4:15 p.m. Rally at TEP headquarters, 88 E Broadway.
March to the Pima County Public Works office, 201 N. Stone Ave, for…

4.   Pima County Department of Environmental Quality community meeting March 28, 2018, 5:30-6:30 p.m., at the Pima County Public Works Building, 201 N Stone basement Conference Room C, on TEP’s permit application.

Those unable to attend may submit written comments. Those who leave comments are qualified to appeal, but the comments must pertain to on how the permit meets the criteria for issuance prescribed in the Arizona Revised Statutes, Section § 49-481 of the Pima County Code.    

More information here:

The deadline to make public comments is THURSDAY. A well thought out public comment could stop the 10 gas-fired engines from being installed. But to be counted the comments MUST focus on how the permit doesn't meet the criteria for issuance prescribed in the Arizona Revised Statutes Section § 49-481 and Title 17 of the Pima County Code.
We need someone with the time and ability to comb through those government regulations to find inconsistencies in the revised statues or someone who has some knowledge in atmospheric science who can discuss how TEP's permit doesn't meet the Pima County Code air quality standards (like Ozone emissions). This will require an analytical mind and some time to do some research. Please, pass this onto any scientists or legal experts you know. This is our chance to save generations of Tucsonans from more toxic pollution.

Note: the codes do not include anything about greenhouse emissions, so the impact of climate change is not that is not a helpful argument for the public comments - but air quality is.

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