PORTSMOUTH, NH –An attempt to inform federal officials or their representatives of a pending Keystone XL pipeline protest was rebuffed Tuesday morning at the National Visa Center and Consular Affairs at Pease Tradeport.
“It was a courtesy call,” said Hilary Clark, one of three people in the Keystone XL Pledge of Resistance delegation. “We just wanted to inform officials that there would be a protest rally at their buildings if the State Department recommends allowing the Keystone XL pipeline to go through.”
More than 75,000 people nationally have pledged to participate in non-violent civil disobedience if the State Department recommends that President Obama approve the pipeline. The pipe would carry 800,000 barrels a day of toxic tar sand oil from Canada through the U.S. to be refined and exported overseas.
The undelivered letter, similar to ones hand-delivered at up to 100 sites around the nation this week, gave notice of peaceful civil disobedience protests planned if the State Department gives a nod to the pipeline.
Security officers informed Clark of York, Maine, and Cathy Wolff and Betty Olivolo, both of Kittery, that the National Visa Center was private property and they were trespassing.
The delegation acknowledged the Visa center is managed by a private British firm (Serco), that contracts with the State Department.
“However, it’s still the only representation of the U.S. State Department in Northern New England,” said Clark. “And this is the location we intend to return to if this disastrous pipeline is approved.”
The protests are being coordinated by CREDO.org. For more information go to credoaction.com
Our group first discussed a campaign to place a Tar Sands Free Resolution on the agendas for the Annual Town Meetings that occur in many NH towns. Carol Foss presented a draft resolution which could be tailored to suit individual towns. Details regarding the process for getting a warrant article on the Town Meeting agenda were reviewed. During the actual Town Meetings in March, individuals would need to make a brief presentation about the warrant article. This would be followed by general discussion and comments, and then voted on by the registered voters who were attending the Town meeting.
We then moved on to discuss plans for a series of “teach-ins” to be held on college campuses, that would bring together interested college students and members of the surrounding communities. Katie T. from UNH provided the student’s perspective, which helped decide on a tentative start date (the beginning of second semester in late January). She suggested a format of a week-night, 2.5 hour event, with 3-4 speakers on different aspects of the Tar Sands situation in NH. We agreed on a primary goal of having diversity of speakers (e.g. a student, an older voice, an Indigenous person affected by Tar Sands).
Katie informed us about the PowerShift meeting occuring in Pittsburgh PA the weekend of Oct. 19-20. Several UNH students plan to attend to learn, brainstorm, and organize with students from many states. David Stember expressed the possibility that UNH students might do much of the organizing for the campus-based teach-ins.
Before the meeting ended, we briefly discussed other ways to inform NH residents about the proposed Tar Sands pipeline that would run through Northern NH. Ideas included posters, stickers, lawn signs, a big press event, letters to the editor (especially around 4 bills being proposed at the State House). The meeting concluded with a sense of urgency and determination. There is a lot of work to do to bring the plans to fruition. Working together as a coalition of organizations concerned about New Hampshire’s environment, we can get so much accomplished!
New Hampshire held a “Climate Rally for a Coal-free New Hampshire” in Market Square, Portsmouth, NH on Saturday, August 10, 2013. The three-hour rally aimed to inform residents and passers-by of the harmful impacts of fossil fuels, particularly coal, on our state, our nation, and the planet.
A petition was circulated, asking Gov. Hassan and the NH legislators to direct the Public Utilities Commission to do everything possible to encourage closing the coal-fired Bow and Schiller power plants.
The fabulous Leftist Marching Band started the rally off with lively music that drew people toward toward the rally as they walked by. They played a variety of tunes, including, “Which side are you on?”
Four speakers addressed the gathering of about 50 people. Doug Whitbeck of 350 New Hampshire provided detailed background information about the costliness of coal-fired plants and the need to shut down the coal plants and develop other sources of energy in the state.
Kim Richards crossed the river from Eliot, Maine, to speak about her work. Through persistence and determination, Kim and other citizens formed “Citizens for Clean Air”, a grassroots group that led a successful petition drive, asking the EPA to investigate the air pollution caused by the Schiller coal-plant. Although the Schiller plant is located in Portsmouth, NH, the prevailing winds often carry the coal dust, smoke and other pollutants across the river to Eliot, ME.
Many in the crowd found inspiration from Jay O’Hara as he spoke about his decision to commit an act of civil disobedience out of his concerns about global warming. In May 2013, Jay and Ken Ward anchored their 32-foot lobster boat in the path of a massive tanker that was scheduled to deliver coal at Brayton Point coal plant in Somerset, Massachusetts. Jay will be appearing in court later in August on charges stemming from his actions. (For more information about Jay, see his website, coal is stupid dot org.
Doug Bogen spoke passionately about the urgent need to wean ourselves from fossil fuels and transition to sustainable, clean energy. He highlighted the potential for building wind turbines in New Hampshire, and gleaning energy from the off-shore winds along the coast. Doug has been an environmental organizer and advocate for more than three decades. He is currently director of Seacoast Anti-Pollution League, promoting renewable power alternatives and watch-dogging the clean up of superfund toxic waste sites at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.
350 New Hampshire was grateful for the assistance given by the NH/VT and Maine Climate Summer teams. The two Climate Summer teams each consist of 6 young adults who spent more than a month traveling entirely by bicycle around Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire, spreading the message that we need to get off fossil fuels now! Prior to the rally, the Climate Summer teams made posters and other visual aides. They led chants and brought passionate energy to the rally.
A short skit brought a touch of street theater to the rally. “Mr. Coal” (Doug Whitbeck) initially dominated “Mother Earth” (Judy Elliot) and her children (Climate Summer), as their source of energy. However, the “Spirit of the Wind” (Michelle Combe) offered a healthy, sustainable alternative. The coal workers (Climate Summer) expressed concerns about their coal-related jobs. The Spirit of the Wind emphasized the need for a “just transition” from fossil fuel energy sources to sustainable energy sources – a transition that includes worker training for the new jobs.
The PUC staff issued a report in June that suggested PSNH get rid of the coal-fired plants in Bow and Portsmouth because they are creating a cost structure that the regulated utility cannot sustain in the wake of low natural gas prices.
The regulated utility argues that revenue from the coal-fired plants helped keep energy supply prices below market in New Hampshire in the past, and will do so again if natural gas prices go back up. The coal-fired plants have been called on to feed energy into the New England grid during recent days of high demand, due to the extreme heat.
On Sunday, July 28, 2013, five members of 350NH traveled to Somerset, Massachusetts to participate in the action to Shut Down Brayton Point coal plant. About 400 people attended the action from all over New England including Maine, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.
The day started out cool and cloudy which obscured the tops of anything taller than a tree but as the day progressed, the morning fog burned off and the stark reality of what we’re against came into full view.
The crowd was greeted by the band Melodeego, followed by then inspirational speakers such as Paula of Mountain Keepers, the daughter of coalminers, who told the heartbreaking story of how “‘coal killed my grandfather, my father, and my brothers. Now they’re asking for my sons.'”-Paula (tweeted by Pragmactivis99). Other speakers explained how this is the time for the US to shift from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources.
After rallying the crowd, the march to Brayton Point began. With cooperation from the police, and from the clouds which parted but allowed the ambient temperature and humidity to rise significantly, we walked on the sidewalk for about a 1/2 mile to the coal fired plant.
Once at the plant, the crowd gathered, sang songs, and watched as 44 red-shirted activists were voluntarily arrested, including members of the group Mothers Out Front.
Due to the excellent preparations and organization by Better Future Project and 350MA the day went without a hitch. The police cooperated with protesters. One officer was seen laughing with the two women his grandmother’s age whom he arrested. The day was peaceful and nonviolent, the way we like our protests!
This video features Michelle of 350NH talking about the little league field which abuts the power plant and what that means to the kids playing ball there.
350NH is hosting its own anti-coal event called Climate Rally for a Coal Free New Hampshire on Saturday, August 10, 2013 from 10a-1p in Market Square, Portsmouth. Join us as we educate the public about the high cost of coal, sign a petition against coal power, listen to music, and catch some street theater!
Northern Pass illustrates PSNH’s pattern of trying to have it both ways. PSNH likes to pretend Northern Pass is a separate entity, but they are more like conjoined twins. It’s impossible to tell where PSNH ends and Northern Pass begins.
FRANKLIN — When the school board and the city council met with a mediator Wednesday night to attempt to hammer out their differences in the interests of better city government, the city’s mayor made a suggestion that intimated that all of their problems could be solved if one thing happens: Northern Pass.
Matt Bonner, a Concord High School graduate who plays for the San Antonio Spurs, is hosting a screening and discussion of Northern Trespass, a documentary about the potential impact of the proposed power transmission lines from Quebec to Deerfield.
Bonner has rented the main theater in Red River Theatres, where the film will be shown at 7 p.m. Wednesday. Bonner will stay after the film to moderate a question-and-answer session with filmmakers Jan Marvel and Michelle Vaughn. Tickets for the event are $5.
On Monday, September 23rd, a panel of community leaders, planners, and business owners assembled by the Clean Air Coalition, met at Nashua City Hall to describe some measures taken locally to mollify the effects of our changing climate.
At the table were Nashua mayor Donnalee Lozeau; the Nashua Emergency Management Director, Justin Kates; the owner of Sun Ray Solar in Concord, NH, (and 350NH alumni) Jonathan Gregory; and Venu Rao, of the Hollis Energy Committee (no link available).
Mr. Rao told how Hollis had saved $64,000 in electricity costs with comprehensive energy audits and electrical upgrades to town buildings. As by-product of the upgrades, 540,000 pounds of carbon was kept out of the environment.
Mr. Kates described some of emergency planning measures enacted to deal with stronger storms and increased flooding. He noted that effective planning required more than government involvement, and related steps taken in conjunction with business and industry to help the city recover more quickly from any disaster.
Mayor Lozeau pointed to the overhead skylight as one of the simpler projects to increase the energy efficiency of city buildings. She stated that older government buildings typically found in NH are very energy inefficient, and she proudly told of the city’s growing fleet of trucks that run on compressed natural gas.
Panel members generally agreed that focusing on economic savings avoids the climate change debate, which can easily lose sight of local issues, and gets something done. As Mr. Rao pointed out, “The actual rubber meets the road in our towns, in our cities.”