The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) recently released a report which outlines the risks facing Shell as it continues to develop its giant petrochemical complex just down the Ohio River from Pittsburgh. This massive plant is planned as the first of several in our region, with tremendous potential to pollute the air and water and exacerbate climate change. IEEFA's conclusions were not new news to local analyst John Detwiler, who has been studying the economics of fracking and plastics for some time. John will outline the sorry state of the fossil energy and petrochemical industries, characterized by debt, oversupply, and falling demand. The business case for fracking-based plastics is collapsing, and the build-out issue is no longer a choice between environment and economics.
Our region “won” Shell’s site-selection competition with billions in tax breaks and subsidies, and industry advocates are hoping for still more public subsidies for additional plants and infrastructure. We’ll talk about the arguments being made in favor of expanding this industry, and why those arguments aren’t holding up (if in fact they ever did).
On the renewables side, on this Summer Solstice, solar expert Ian Smith of Energy Independent Solutions (EIS) -- who coordinated our own solar installation in 2011, and spoke at the very first Sustainability Salon in February 2012 -- will answer your questions about the finances of going solar.
A couple of other events earlier in the day: We know that environmental health is tied closely to issues of poverty and discrimination, and BIPOC (black and indigenous people of color) are on the front line for industrial pollution and climate change. Hence, we are natural allies, and I wanted to make sure that folks are aware of the national Poor People's Campaign and its virtual March On Washington. (I note that that event will be rebroadcast at 6 p.m., and with only two speakers this month our salon talks and discussion may wind down in time to jump over if you miss the morning event). Also, one way that communities work to protect citizens from the often-devastating impacts of industry is through zoning; Food &Water Action is hosting a two-part webinar on this topic.
Coronavirus update: As you know, people in Pittsburgh and around the world are sequestered at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing is still the rule for most Americans. That's a bit of a misnomer, though -- we need physical distancing to flatten the curve, but technology now allows for rich interactions even so! I believe that community is one of our greatest strengths, so in March as events began to be cancelled, I hosted the first virtual Sustainability Salon via Zoom teleconference -- rather than gathering our usual 50-80 people in a contained space. It went quite well (even engaging participants from hundreds of miles away), and we're looking forward to June's salon! Please be sure to RSVP (via email with "salon" in the Subject: line, or via Eventbrite) so you'll receive the sign-on information.
Salons usually run 3-10 p.m. at Maren's house in Squirrel Hill -- but this time we're on Zoom. Plan to join the call after 3 p.m., and we aim to start the program not long after 4, after folks have had a chance to (virtually) meet, mingle, and tour around an interesting and productive urban permaculture site. Talks and discussion will probably wind down by around 7. If you're new to Zoom, you may find my Zoom Reference Guide helpful. Please email me (at maren dot cooke at gmail dot com) with salon in the Subject line to RSVP (yes or maybe), or click on the link in your Eventbrite notice (if you're not already on my list, just email me with salon in the subject line to be added!).
Please do RSVP each time -- it helps greatly in several ways Be sure to include salon in the Subject line if you email, as I receive a ridiculous amount of email every day. And if you're new, please let me know how you heard about the Salons!
Check back on MarensList (where you can find information on all sorts of environmental and social justice events, as well as better formatting for this event description) for updates. And if you aren't yet on my list, if you're interested in Sustainability Salons (and our occasional house concert, simply contact me and I'll put you on my email list.
Sustainability Salon is an educational forum; it's a mini-conference; it's a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues; fit's a house party with an environmental theme. We usually have featured speakers on various aspects of a particular topic, interspersed with stimulating conversation, lively debate, delectable potluck food and drink, and music-making through the evening.
Past topics have included mutual aid networks, ocean health, the rise of the radical right, the back end of consumption, approaches to activism on fracking & climate, air quality, technology, and citizen science, single-use plastics, election activism, election law, whether to preserve existing nuclear power plants, advanced nuclear technologies, passenger and freight trains, consumption, plastics, and pollution, air quality, solar power, youth activism, greening business, greenwashing, the petrochemical buildout in our region, climate/nature/people, fracking, health, & action, globalization, ecological ethics, community inclusion, air quality monitoring, informal gatherings that turn out to have lots of speakers, getting STEM into Congress, keeping Pittsburgh's water public, Shell's planned petrochemical plant, visualizing air quality, the City of Pittsburgh's sustainability initiatives, fossil energy infrastructure, getting money out of politics, community solar power and the Solarize Allegheny program, the Paris climate negotiations (before, during, and after), air quality (again, with news on the autism connection), reuse (of things and substances), neighborhood-scale food systems, other forms of green community revitalization, solar power, climate change, environmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projects, environmental journalism, grassroots action, Marcellus shale development and community rights, green building, air quality, health care, more solar power, trees and park stewardship, alternative energy and climate policy, regional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (often led by filmmakers) over the winter with films on Food Systems, Climate Adaptation and Mitigation, Plastic Paradise, Rachel Carson and the Power Of One Voice, Triple Divide on fracking, You've Been Trumped and A Dangerous Game, A Fierce Green Fire, Sustainability Pioneers, films on consumption, Living Downstream, Bidder 70, YERT, Gas Rush Stories, and food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, food, and more food (a recurrent theme; with California running out of water, we'd better gear up to produce a lot more of our own!).
If you haven't been here before, you may enjoy checking out our roof garden and solar installation (and now apiary!) as well as the many other green and interesting things around our place. If interested folks are online and everything is working smoothly by around 3:30, perhaps I can conduct a virtual tour.