Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Motion Filed to Halt Construction on Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission Line

In the federal lawsuit now pending before Chief Judge Richard W. Roberts of the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (National Parks Conservation Association et al. v. S.M.R. Jewell et al., No. 1:12-cv-01690-RWR), the ten plaintiff environmental organizations today filed a motion with the Court for a preliminary injunction to halt the initial construction, planned for September 3, 2013, of utilities PPL/PSEG's "Susquehanna-Roseland" 500kv electric transmission line (with two lines of 190 ft. towers) through the heart of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. 

Plaintiffs' motion argues that "the start of tree clearing and road building in the [DWGNRA] in two week's time will inflict irreparable harm on the parks" and  that "if that construction is allowed to begin and continue, [the] Court's review and Plaintiffs' efforts to protect the parks from the consequences of unlawful agency action would be fruitless." The irreparable harm that would be caused by the construction includes damage that the National Park Service has already admitted will occur: irreversible harm to multiple resources in the park -- clear-cutting of acres of trees, roads crossing fragile wetlands, damage to stormwater flows, and fragmenting of wildlife habitats -- degradation of the scenic landscape, and appreciable diminishment of key aspects of the park that visitors come to enjoy.

Defendants (U.S. Dept. of the Interior and National Parks Service and intervenors PPL and PSEG) have 7 days to file a response. 

A court hearing on the motion has been requested but not yet scheduled. 

The plaintiff environmental organizations seeking to halt the construction include: Appalachian Mountain Club, Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Association of New Jersey Environmental Commissions, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, National Parks Conservation Association, New Jersey Highlands Coalition, New York–New Jersey Trail Conference, Rock the Earth, Sierra Club, and Stop the Lines.

For more info. contact:

Hannah Chang, Esquire
co-counsel for plaintiffs
Earth Justice
156 William Street - Suite 800
New York, NY 10038

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

FirstEnergy Fails Again as Improper Planning Leads to Market Confusion

Contact: Kim Teplitzky, 412-802-6161kim.teplitzky@sierraclub.org

Today, the Mid-Atlantic electricity grid manager, PJM Interconnection, announced that it expects some electric reliability issues to result from FirstEnergy’s hasty announcement that it will retire the Mitchell and Hatfield’s Ferry coal-fired power plants in October. The analysis indicates that grid upgrades may be necessary in order to retire the plants on the rapid schedule proposed by FirstEnergy. 

Several cost-effective solutions could meet those needs and help lower electricity bills for customers in the region. Solutions include energy efficiency, demand response (an energy management program for large power users, like factories), transmission upgrades and building new renewable energy in the region.

In response, Tom Schuster, Pennsylvania Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club made the following statement:

“FirstEnergy’s profit-driven planning, which comes at the expense of Pennsylvania’s families, is the direct cause of these issues.  FirstEnergy failed to engage in meaningful planning with the workers and communities affected by their announcement and acted irresponsibly by failing to consider cost-effective solutions like wind, solar, efficiency, energy management and transmission upgrades. 

The analysis is ongoing, but we know that families and businesses should not be on the hook to bail out FirstEnergy while solutions are brought online. Our state’s leaders and grid regulators must hold FirstEnergy accountable for a responsible transition that includes support for the workers and communities affected and ensures safe, reliable and affordable power for our families.  

FirstEnergy failed our workers and our communities with their mismanagement of this announcement. Now, our state and regional leaders, along with FirstEnergy, must take responsibility to plan for a fair and just transition that ensures a guaranteed livelihood for workers, economic opportunities for communities and safe, affordable and reliable power for our families – without a corporate bailout.”


Sierra Magazine Reveals 2013 Rankings of America's Greenest Universities

Colleges recognized for sustainable operations and
shaping future environmental citizens, workers, and leaders

SAN FRANCISCO – Today Sierra magazine released its seventh annual ranking of the nation’s “Coolest Schools,” a salute to U.S. colleges that are helping to solve climate problems and making significant efforts to operate sustainably.

Sierra examined the academic institutions making a difference for the planet, seeking out campuses that are creating tangible change in all categories of greenness – from what’s served in dining halls to what’s taught in lecture halls to what’s powering the dorms. Whether it’s Cornell’s minor in climate change or American University’s new campus-wide composting program, schools across America are taking dramatic steps to help protect the planet and its resources.

“For the past seven years, Sierra magazine has ranked colleges and universities on their commitment to fighting climate disruption and making sure the future their students will inhabit has safe water, clean air and beautiful landscapes,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor-in-chief.  “By showing such strong leadership on so many fronts -- from energy use and transportation to the courses they offer -- the best of these schools are pointing the way for other institutions.”

Sierra magazine’s top 10 schools of 2013 are:

1. University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
2. Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
3. University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)
4. University of California, Davis (Davis, CA)
5. Cornell University (Ithaca, NY)
6. Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)
7. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
8. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)
9. American University (Washington, DC)
10. University of California, Santa Barbara (Santa Barbara, CA)

The University of Connecticut, Sierra’s number-one school, stands out for offering more than 600 sustainability-related classes; for having reduced its water use by 15% since 2005; and for, over the past two years, having retrofitted 13 buildings to prevent emitting 2,640 annual tons of carbon dioxide. In addition, more than a quarter of the food served in dining halls is processed within 100 miles, with many ingredients harvested right on campus. UConn’s first appearance on Sierra magazine’s “Coolest Schools” list was in 2010, at number 49.

In addition to featuring Sierra’s data-based rankings, the magazine’s September/October issue includes an array of stories that examine whether colleges’ sustainability efforts really make a difference when students graduate. Such pieces include “Aha Moments,” which profiles three people whose lives were forever changed for the greener because of a moment (or a person) in college and “The Measure of an Education,” by Pulitzer winner Edward Humes, in which readers learn how schools are starting to gauge whether steeping students in environmentalism truly does create a more sustainable world.

Exclusively online is a video made by the Sierra Club’s “Best Interns,” sent on assignment to document the behind-the-scenes goings on of the Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon, a biannual contest during which students build futuristic solar-powered houses. Also available online is a list of the most coveted eco-scholarships, plus Sierra’s annual “20 Days of Giveaways” sweepstakes.

The complete rankings, along with this year’s coverage of higher education’s environmental efforts, are online atwww.sierraclub.org/coolschools.

About Sierra magazine:
Sierra is the official publication of the Sierra Club, America's largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 2.1 million members and supporters nationwide. The Sierra Club works to safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and litigation. For more information, please visit www.sierramagazine.com.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Washington, D.C. -- The Energy Department announced today that it has conditionally authorized the natural gas terminal in Lake Charles, LA to export domestically produced liquefied natural gas (LNG). 

In response, Deb Nardone, director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Natural Gas campaign, issued the following statement: 

"With the Department of Energy (DOE) today conditionally authorizing Lake Charles Exports to export gas from a liquefied natural gas terminal in Louisiana, it is deeply disappointing to see that Secretary Moniz persists in leading the nation and the world to into a dirty energy future. It's a bad deal all around: for public health, the environment, and America's working people.  The economic study the DOE itself commissioned clearly states that LNG export will transfer wealth from wage earners to fossil fuel executives.  LNG export is nothing but a giveaway to the dirty fuel industry, at the expense of every day Americans.

"Exporting LNG to foreign buyers will lock us into decades-long contracts, which in turn will lead to more drilling -- and that means more fracking, more air and water pollution, and more climate fueled weather disasters like record fires, droughts, and superstorms like last year's Sandy.  And all this when we know that the dangers of natural gas will only become more clear as we learn more about its effects on health and the climate. 

"As we have shown, once environmental impacts are evaluated, it becomes clear that the additional fracking and gas production exports would induce is unacceptable. DOE did not consider these impacts or any other impacts in today's conditional authorization. Instead, DOE is basing its decision on environmental reviews that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has yet to conduct. When these environmental impacts are considered, it is clear that natural gas needs to stay in the ground, and the administration needs to double down on clean energy like wind and solar that would protect us from the worst effects of climate change while putting Americans to work."

"The Sierra Club is closely monitoring the FERC proceeding and all permits and approvals that the Lake Charles facility will require, and will take action as necessary." 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pennsylvania Chapter Seeks New Director

Would you like to play a lead role driving environmental change in Pennsylvania? Sierra Club’s PA Chapter is searching for a Chapter Director, based in Harrisburg to develop and implement its core conservation work. Working with our dedicated volunteer leaders, you will manage staff, implement the conservation and legislative programs, fund-raise, speak to media on behalf of the PA Chapter, and recruit volunteer leaders.

A strong background in advocacy, organization management, and an understanding of environmental issues (such as resource extraction, air/water quality, energy policy and public lands management) will help you hit the ground running. Comfort with fundraising, media relations, working with volunteers and budgeting are also important to us.  Strong communications skills a must.
If this sounds like the right career move, please visit: https://ch.tbe.taleo.net/CH15/ats/careers/requisition.jsp?org=SIERRACLUB&cws=1&rid=323