We’re proud to be supporters of Partners for Transit (P4T) — a coalition dedicated to the improvement of transit, in the belief that better transit means better communities. P4T works to expand and improve the transit system so that more people can use it and more often.
There’s some argument over who should pay for what when it comes to transit improvements and we think that’s because people don’t get how important transit is. We’re looking for folks to help us spread the word that transit…
…helps build vibrant, livable communities by connecting people to educational, cultural, and recreational destinations such as schools, museums, malls, and concert halls
…makes traveling more efficient for everyone, bus riders and drivers alike, by alleviating traffic congestion and reducing travel delays
…fuels local economic activity by creating new jobs, attracting commerce and investment, and enhancing business profits and productivity
…saves costs for households and businesses and expands the workforce and customer base available to local businesses, promoting regional prosperity
and so much more!
P4T is looking for folks to hang out on buses and bus stops to engage riders and table at local events so community members know how important transit is. We’re open to other skill sets and interests too!
You can attend a volunteer orientation on Thursday, August 15th or contact Martha, Ecology Center’s transit campaign organizer, to get plugged in.
WARM Training Center in Detroit has a program going on right now called MI Solar Works and it might just be the perfect way to get your house solar-powered.
You can learn more about the program and find info about how to apply here: http://www.warmtraining.org/solar/
But to give you the main points, WARM will help you find out if you’re eligible for a loan — with no up-front payments! — that allows you to install either a 3kw system at $10,500 OR a 5 kw system for $15,000.
WARM’s FAQ page is incredibly helpful and it’s where I learned that most residential systems are between 2-10kw and, though it depends on a home’s energy use, an average system is about 5kw and provides 50-75% of a household’s energy. For a 5 kW system (what they typically install), the system would produce over 6,366 kwH of solar energy per year, or an average of 17.44 kwH per day.
I checked my DTE Energy bill and found my home’s average kwH per day estimate right in the middle of the front page under “Monthly Usage” — where it listed this year and last year for comparison. This will give you an idea of how much a 5kw system might lower your DTE bill. The idea behind this program is to re-direct what you pay to DTE for mostly coal-fired power to pay for a solar array. One thing to consider with these estimated figures is that the price of coal is probably going to increase over time.
Here’s some back-of-the-napkin math: The interest rates on the loans WARM would set you up with are capped at 7% so, if you were eligible, you could take out a $16,000 loan to install a 5kw system on your home and pay about $186 per month for 10 years while you save somewhere around $83 per month for a longer amount of time, specifically the life of the panels (which is about 25 years).
This is part of a statewide initiative to make residential solar an affordable option in order to outfit 6,000 Michigan homes with solar panels. The program is funded through the Department of Energy’s “Race to the Rooftops” national challenge.
When President Obama introduced his plan to address climate change, he said, “The question now is whether we will have the courage to act before it’s too late. And how we answer will have a profound impact on the world that we leave behind not just to you, but to your children and to your grandchildren.”
The President has pledged to take action to combat climate change if Congress won’t act. And, in honor of this pledge, the “I Will #ActonClimate” campaign has launched a 21-state bus tour aimed at highlighting local support for the president’s proposals to reduce pollution in our air and water and promote more clean, renewable energy.
Nearly two-thirds of voters (65 percent) support “the President taking significant steps to address climate change now,” according to a February 2013 poll for the League of Conservation Voters.
The “I Will” Act on Climate bus tour (#ActOnClimate) is supported by a diverse set of local, state-based, and national public business, health, and environmental organizations. Organizations across the country are joining in this effort by bringing the ‘I Will’ bus to their local community, highlighting impacts of climate change and opportunities created by climate action, and calling for local action. Local spokespeople will be available for interviews.
Good news: The bus will arrive in Michigan on Monday, August 5! You can show your support for climate action by attending — and spreading the word about — events in Muskegon and Detroit.
The entire journey is being chronicled in podcasts and blogs throughout the trip and can be viewed at http://www.iwillact.us.
The bus at a stop in North Carolina
Will you sign a Pledge of Resistance?
Rainforest Action Network, CREDO and The Other 98% are asking folks to commit - should it be necessary to stop Keystone XL — to engage in serious, dignified, peaceful civil disobedience that could get you arrested. So far more than 68,000 people have pledged to engage in civil disobedience and risk arrest if President Obama’s administration issues a draft approval of Keystone XL. It is a huge and complex undertaking (mass civil disobedience) that many believe is a necessary next step in our movement.
Since the pledge launched, the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide broke 400 ppm and President Obama shared his plan to address climate change.
On August 11 & 12, activists around the country will come together to put pressure on President Obama’s Keystone XL decision. On Sunday afternoon, organizers will host a recommended non-violent direct action training from 2 pm to 5 pm on and a required action and legal briefing from 5pm to 6 pm. The sit-in at the State Department begins at 9am on Monday, August 12th.
You can sign up here. If you’re signed up and interested in carpooling click here.
More than 30 climate-change activists from Ann Arbor joined Bill McKibben and hundreds of others for a July 14 rally to bring attention to Enbridge Energy’s plans to expand the oil pipeline that runs under the Straits of Mackinac.
“Just like the Keystone XL Pipeline, this pipeline threatens efforts to build a renewable energy economy, especially if they use it to carry tar sands oil from Canada,” according to Monica Patel, policy specialist at the Ecology Center and director of the organization’s Ann Arbor 350 campaign.
“But what’s even more scary is the risk that this 60-year-old pipeline will burst, spilling crude or even tar sands oil into the Great Lakes,” Patel said.
In a recent report, the National Wildlife Federation pointed out that pipelines at the Straits carry 20 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas fluids each day from Wisconsin to Ontario.
The pipelines were in the straits in 1953—the year President Dwight Eisenhower took office and four years before the Mackinac Bridge was opened to traffic.
“If either of those pipelines leaked, the resulting oil slick would likely devastate some of the lakes’ most bountiful fisheries, wildlife refuges, and municipal drinking water supplies,” the NWF report said. “A significant rupture would cause an Exxon-Valdez scale oil spill
spreading through Lakes Huron and Michigan, the heart of the largest freshwater seas in the world.”
“Oil and Water Don’t Mix was brought together by Traverse City 350 and
many many allies throughout Michigan; a huge crowd showed up in this fairly remote spot, and stayed for hours,” Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, said in an e-mail after the rally.
“And I got to explain how these local battles fit into the global one: even if that oil doesn’t spill in the Great Lakes, it will eventually spill into the atmosphere in the form of carbon, changing the climate,” he wrote. “In fact, the water level on the Great Lakes is already falling fast because they don’t ice over for much of the winter any more, allowing increased evaporation.”
Slideshow from the event:
On July 14, climate activists from around Michigan will converge at the Straits of Mackinac to protest the pipeline that runs underneath the Mackinac Bridge. This 60-year old pipeline connects the aging pipeline infrastructure in Michigan with the tar sand fields in Western Canada. The Enbridge Pipeline system pumps crude oil under our lakes and through our communities, to be turned into Petcoke, which is haphazardly piled on the banks of the Detroit River.
Ann Arbor 350 is organizing a bus, to make sure that Southeast Climate activists have the opportunity to participate in this important event. The bus will leave Ann Arbor at 7AM, and will return that evening. Bus tickets are $15 and some limited scholarship opportunities are available, to reserve your seat(s) on the bus, click here or email us. Please invite your friends, and bring along your family.
This past weekend, the Ecology Center and Ann Arbor 350 hosted a leadership training with Justin Haaheim, a climate action training facilitator and coach. All weekend, 25 Southeast Michigan activists worked together to learn about leadership, story-telling, and building effective and inclusive organizations to advance the climate movement.
We thank Justin for sharing his experience, and his insight, and of course everybody who participated. We are beginning to grow deep roots and connections across Southeast Michigan, and now it’s time for this movement to blossom.
Moving forward, we agreed to work together to get people to the closest 350.org Summer Heat event – the July 14 Rally for the Great Lakes to protest the use of the dirtiest tar-sand oil, and the pipelines that pump it past our communities and threaten our rivers and lakes.
If you want to participate, please sign up at this link. We are looking for those who can give rides to others, as well as those who need transportation.
People Against Petcoke Protest – Monday, June 24, 2013
When the news of the petroleum coke piles dumped along the Detroit River broke last month, I’m sad to say that my immediate reaction was not surprise. The petcoke piles are just another notch on the continuum of pollution and environmental injustice in Southwest Detroit. Ever since my mom chose to move back to the city of Detroit two years ago, I’ve become used to the mysterious soot that seems to coat every outdoor surface and to the pungent smells that radiate down the block of my family’s home in Southwest Detroit.
As a brief reminder, the piles of petroleum coke (“petcoke”) have been deposited along the Detroit River, just east of the Ambassador Bridge to Canada, since the fall of 2012. Petcoke is a byproduct of burning crude tar sands, and it is estimated that every barrel of crude imported from Alberta results in an output of 60-130 pounds of petcoke. The petcoke being deposited along the Detroit River is only the beginning. The Marathon Oil Refinery in the 48217 zip code that produces this substance recently went through a $2 billion expansion in order to be able to process more of the tar sands, and thereby produce more of the petcoke.
It pains me to know that my family is suffering the side-effects of such environmental injustice while I live, work, and go to school in Ann Arbor, enjoying the privilege of clean air that is so often taken for granted. So when I learned that the Detroit Coalition Against Tar Sands (DCATS)-a division of the Michigan Coalition Against Tar Sands (MI CATS)– had been formed and was working on action around the petcoke piles, I was thrilled that people were taking action to combat the injustices my home community have been facing. On Sunday, June 23, DCATS organized a march, rally, and action called “People Against Petcoke.” At 3pm, we all met in Clark Park–a hub for community events in Southwest Detroit–where we heard several amazing speakers, from DCATS organizer Jarret Schlaff to the inspiring Charity Hicks. From Clark Park, we marched the 1.8 miles to the site of the largest of the petcoke piles at the intersection of Rosa Parks and Jefferson Avenue. Once there, we heard from more speakers, were fed exorbitant amounts of pie and pizza, and got direct action training, in which we practiced making consensus decisions and dealing with police, workers, and our fellow activists. After the training, we walked down to the riverfront to join in a candlelit vigil at dusk with fellow activists across the river in Windsor, Canada. It was windy and the candles flickered in and out, but the sense of solidarity emanated from one side of the river to the other nonetheless.
A group of people kept a presence at the site of the action overnight, and at around 8:30 the next morning (July 24), they began a blockade to stop a truck carrying petcoke into the site. I arrived around 9:15 and linked arms with the brave people who had stood in front of the truck to stop it. There was a large cardboard padlock tied with string across the drive into the dumping site, behind which stood several police officers and border patrol, the numbers of which increased throughout the day. In front of the padlock stood about 25-30 activists, about 7 of whom had arms linked directly in front of the truck, and the rest of whom stood in successive rows behind those who were willing to risk arrest for the action. We held a press conference in which we read a “People’s Eviction Notice,” which ordered Marathon, the Koch Brothers, and Matty Maroun (the property owner) to shut down the docks and the discontinue the illegal dumping of petcoke. We had incredible press coverage, and our police liaison did a spectacular job of communicating to the police that this blockade wasn’t about just “making a point.” It was about turning the trucks around and not letting anyone dump petcoke in this space anymore. Therefore, when the police asked us several times to pack up and go, our response was that we wouldn’t leave until the petcoke was moved.
The morning continued on, and the amount of trucks waiting to enter the facility/dumping ground increased. Several of them turned around, but when the action came to a head, there were 5 trucks piled up waiting to get in. One of them–the one we stood directly in front of–held petcoke. We held signs with the Marathon logo that read “Murder” and signs that informed that Koch brothers that Detroit is NOT their dump. Once in awhile the wind would pick up and we would all be coated in a layer of petcoke. When I returned home I discovered the cap of my water bottle was filled with the substance and the sign I was carrying had a thin layer the black, oily grime on it. The police were incredibly cooperative, and kept underlining that they didn’t wish to make any arrests that day. However, as the hours came and went, they began to give us warnings that if we didn’t move, they would be bringing a paddy wagon to arrest us all.
The 7 people standing directly in front of the truck were prepared to be arrested; they had come to a consensus that they were willing to do so, and we had written the phone number of the legal aid on all of their arms and were beginning to prepare for the process of getting them out of jail. Just before the paddy wagon had appeared, however, a worker from the facility we were blockading the entrance to appeared to negotiate with us. He explained that it was really important to get the trucks that weren’t carrying petcoke into the facility, and that if we backed up the blockade, he would make the truck carrying petcoke turn around and wouldn’t let any other petcoke trucks return for the day. When we asked how we could trust him on this promise, he pulled out his wallet and handed it to one of the protesters. We confirmed that his I.D. and other important information were in the wallet. The decision was made to back up the blockade to allow the petcoke truck to turn around and let the other trucks through. As we backed up, the police line backed up, and several people were in tears as the petcoke truck turned around. It was truly one of the most beautiful and cooperative outcomes I’ve seen at a direct action. DCATS–the organization responsible for coordinating the action–has vowed to continue its resistance until the petcoke piles are gone.
The illegal dumping of petcoke in the city of Detroit is just a small piece of the destruction created in every step in the process of fossil fuel production and consumption. I stand with DCATS, MI CATS, the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, and everyone else across the country and the world standing up against the fossil fuel industry. All power to the people!
Tim DeChristopher felt so strongly about a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction on 116 acres of land that he bid $1.8 million that he didn’t have and went to jail for nearly 2 years. You can watch Moyers & Company interview DeChristopher to understand a bit more about his commitment to environmental justice and his organization, Peaceful Uprising. You might have heard of DeChristopher last year, when a documentary film about the protest and his legal battle, called Bidder 70, was released.
DeChristopher believes civil disobedience is critical to environmental justice. And he might be right. The federal government indicted him despite the auction being voided, as Secretary of State Salazar put it, “because of their proximity to landscapes of national significance.”
When this all began, DeChristopher was focused on this one tract of land. Now as he reflects on the hold of big money interests over the climate movement, he says “it’s time to rush the field. It’s time to stop the game.”
This summer, 350.org is launching a project called “Summer Heat” — the idea is a summer of mass actions across the United States, allowing people to stand — “peacefully but firmly” — for what they believe.
Take a moment to read this appeal from Bill McKibben, Winona LaDuke and others. Then, let us know what you think: What’s your idea for a Summer Heat action?
Maybe some of you also envision frustrating conversations like how I do. (And yes, they’re usually about sustainable agriculture or energy…). Here’s how this hypothetical conversation in my head normally goes….
[Jill (me)]: Hey America! How about more renewable electricity generation? Also, I think we should have some good ol’ carbon policy so that renewables can compete more fairly in the energy market.
[America]: Eh… I don’t know about that. Renewables are expensive!
[Jill]: Renewables used to be quite expensive, but these days, they can be quite competitive depending on the locale and the source! In Michigan, the levelized cost of wind is cheaper than coal!
[America]: Ehh…. well wind turbine energy is only available sometimes. I want electricity all the time.
[Jill]: Wind power could still be backed up by natural gas electricity generation. Incorporation into the grid is doable. The DOE even did a study on this.
[America]: But wind turbines kill birds! Lots of them! We love birds…
[Jill]: *sounds of frustration* Continue reading Birds on the Brain: Tackling the question…are wind turbines avian-friendly?