Jun 19: Sustainability Salon on Pipelines (Part II)

The fracking and petrochemical buildout in our region brings many hazards (detailed in this sign-on letter that I invite you to join in on -- you can sign as an individual or on behalf of an organization).  One major component of the whole affair is an increasingly-complex system of pipelines.  This May and June, we are taking a close look at some of the dangers, and learning how people are dealing with them.  Last month we looked at problems with pipelines -- scars on the land, leaks and spills, landslides leading to explosions, and questionable construction methods.  Now, for the 113th Sustainability Salon, we'll view pipelines from another angle.   (photo above:  A Pennsylvania pipeline site -- courtesy of FracTracker Alliance)

Last month, we learned about the hazards of the Falcon Pipeline (a nearly-completed 98-mile pipeline system being built to feed ethane from fracked gas to the Shell petrochemical facility near Monaca), and the Revolution (newly returned to operation after an explosion that rocked a neighborhood in Center Township).  This time, we'll consider different approaches to level the playing field and empower citizens.  Speakers will include:

Ginny Marcille-Kerslake is the Eastern Pennsylvania Organizer for Food and Water Watch, and a longtime pipeline activist.  She will talk about her grassroots story, victories against the Mariner East II pipeline, and some of FWW's pipeline strategies.

Attorney Jen Clark of Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services will survey legal issues surrounding the Falcon and other pipelines, and legal approaches for protecting public health.  

Lois Bower-Bjornson is a dancer, a mom, and a field organizer for Clean Air Council, and also serves on the board of Center for Coalfield Justice.  She has been fighting the health impacts of fracking and related infrastructure for years.  Lois has spoken out on her family's experience in contexts from the Young Voices for the Planet educator workshops to her own Frackland Tours -- and has helped to pass legislation to control gas development in local towns.

Terrie Baumgardner is cofounder of Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community and an Outreach Coordinator for Clean Air Council.  She'll introduce forthcoming legislation on setbacks (including all fracking infrastructure, not just wells) that is based on that organization's Protective Buffers Campaign, and aligns with the Attorney General’s Grand Jury report recommendations.  These bills will need our amplification and support, and she'll tell us how!  (even more information here)

Karen Feridun, a founder of Berks Gas Truth and Better Path Coalition, will talk about the reforms we need at the national level, in the way that FERC (the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) works (or doesn't).

And when it doesn't, communities need to speak up.  The Line 3 Pipeline is slated to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to the shores of Lake Superior, through the headwaters of the Mississippi River and the treaty territory of Anishinaabe peoples.  Four Pittsburghers recently traveled to Minnesota to take part in the Treaty People Gathering, with direct-action trainings and blockades.  Renzy, Javin, and two Shannons will share their reflections in a panel discussion.  

In the meantime, a few other items of note:  
•  This week, Pittsburgh is joining in the national Juneteenth festival celebration of the end of slavery (and raising awareness that some enslaved people didn't hear about it for two years)!
•  The Pennsylvania education standards are at risk:  the state Board of Education has voted to omit Environment, Ecology, and Agriculture from the requirements!  Raise your voice before July 6th.  More information is here.
•  Want to learn more about air quality inside your home, and how you can improve it?  ROCIS is about to launch their 48th cohort of citizen scientists, doing air monitoring indoors and out.  Learn more here.
•  Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has been a perennial cheerleader for the fracking and petrochemical industries -- and thus for the dangerous pipelines they require.  Please consider signing onto this letter asking him to change his tune (we've already presented the letter at his office, but I'm continuing to collect signatures for the online version).  
•  The Driving PA Forward campaign, which we learned about in March, has a petition and info to call your legislators here.  
• Mask update: I have distributed all of the Breathe99 masks (featured at November's salon on Pandemics and Air (video), and one of TIME's 100 Best Inventions of 2020) from my bulk orders, but still have some of the new foam liners that address the condensation issue associated with a well-sealed mask, and a few boxes of filters.  Please email me with mask in the Subject line if you're interested.  If you order your own mask, remember that there's a $10 discount for salongoers (code SUSTAINABILITYSALON)!  Also -- with the ongoing crisis in India, Breathe99 is seeking crowdfunding to help send masks to particularly vulnerable people there.  Can you help?
•  Harvie Farms:  Simon Huntley, featured in last month's Food salon, has also offered a special discount to the Sustainability Salon community.  Choose your favorite items, help our small farms beat Big Ag, and build a more resilient food system -- members receive weekly or biweekly boxes of local groceries from Pennsylvania farms and artisans.  Coupon code MAREN25 will give you 25% off your first box!  Sign up here.  

Talks and discussion will run from 4 p.m. to 7:30 or so on Zoom (sadly, no potluck supper these days).  You're welcome to join the call for informal conversation after 3 p.m., and we aim to start the main program right around 4.  If you're new to Zoom, you may find my Zoom Reference Guide helpful.  If you RSVP via Eventbrite, you'll receive the Zoom registration link right away.  If you're not already on my Eventbrite list, please email me (maren dot cooke at gmail dot com) with salon in the Subject line to be added -- and let me know how you heard about salons!
For the uninitiated, a Sustainability Salon is an educational forum;  it's a mini-conference;  it's a venue for discussion and debate about important environmental issues;  it's a house party (if there weren't a pandemic) with an environmental theme.  Each month we 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 (though the potluck and the music are on hiatus during the pandemic;  you're on your own for the delectables).
Past topics have included pipeline hazardsthe legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disasterthe judiciary and fair electionsconsumptionpandemics and air,  election law and activismair quality and environmental justicesocial investment,  local economies, the economics of energymutual aid networksocean healththe rise of the radical rightthe back end of consumptionapproaches to activism on fracking & climateair quality, technology, and citizen sciencesingle-use plasticselection activismelection law, whether to preserve existing nuclear power plantsadvanced nuclear technologiespassenger and freight trainsconsumption, plastics, and pollutionair qualitysolar poweryouth activismgreening businessgreenwashing, the petrochemical buildout in our region, climate/nature/peoplefracking, health, & actionglobalizationecological ethicscommunity inclusionair quality monitoringinformal gatherings that turn out to have lots of speakersgetting STEM into Congresskeeping Pittsburgh's water publicShell's planned petrochemical plantvisualizing air quality, the City of Pittsburgh's sustainability initiativesfossil energy infrastructure, getting money out of politicscommunity solar power and the Solarize Allegheny program, the Paris climate negotiations (beforeduring, 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 revitalizationsolar powerclimate changeenvironmental art, environmental education (Part I & Part II), community mapping projectsenvironmental journalismgrassroots actionMarcellus shale development and community rightsgreen buildingair qualityhealth care, more solar powertrees and park stewardshipalternative energy and climate policyregional watershed issues, fantastic film screenings and discussions (often led by filmmakers) over the winter with films on Food SystemsClimate Adaptation and MitigationPlastic Paradise, Rachel Carson and the Power Of One VoiceTriple Divide on fracking, You've Been Trumped and A Dangerous GameA Fierce Green FireSustainability Pioneersfilms on consumptionLiving DownstreamBidder 70YERTGas Rush Stories, and foodfood, food, foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodand more food (a recurrent theme;  with California running out of water, we'd better gear up to produce a lot more of our own!).

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.  

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.

And if you like to make music or listen to homemade music, think back to our evening sings -- we typically ran the gamut from Irish fiddle tunes to protest songs to the Beatles, and a fun time was had by all.  Folks would bring instruments, and/or pick up one of ours.  Conversations would continue through the evening, as well.  With a virtual event this is less likely to happen, but we can share music by turns, reminisce, chat online, and look forward to the post-COVID era!


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