Ultimate Net Zero Energy House Tour May 21

by Judi Friedman, People’s Action for Clean Energy

The ultimate net zero energy house will be open to the public on Saturday, May 21. With a rating of -23, this South Glastonbury, Connecticut, home is the most energy-efficient house in North America. It was the 2014 CT Zero Energy Challenge winner; the RESNET 2015 Cross Border Challenge winner; and the 2015 Housing Innovations Award winner.

Tours and seminars will be held at noon and 2:30 p.m. The 2,755 square-foot house has a geothermal heating and cooling system; a rotating photovoltaic steel pole array that powers all appliances, LED lights and the hot water heater. The PV is connected to the grid but is able to get power when the grid goes down.

Other energy saving features in this home for four people include a centrally heated foundation; aluminum roofing shingles with a 70-year lifespan; an energy recovery ventilator; triple glazed windows and Energy Star appliances. The tour is sponsored by Peoples Action for Clean Energy (PACE), the only all-volunteer nonprofit public health organization in Connecticut devoted solely to clean energy education.

Reservations are accepted in order of receipt for the tour, which will be held rain or shine. The non-refundable tickets are $15.00 per person. To order tickets, go online to http://www.pace-cleanenergy.org and click on Events, indicating the choice of time for the tours and seminar. Tickets may also be ordered by sending $15.00 per person to PACE c/o Donna Grant, 128 Melrose Road, Broad Brook, CT 06016. Include the ticket holder’s name, phone number, address, email address and choice of time. For ticket information, call Judi Friedman, (860) 623-5487. For tour information, call (860) 693-4813.

Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) Stakeholder Events in New Haven May 5

During 2016, the Governor’s Council on Climate Change (GC3) will be gathering input from stakeholders across the state, as part of its charge to develop a strategy/plan to meet the state’s mandated goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions below 2001 levels by the year 2050.

The current plan involves three rounds of stakeholder events (May, July and October) to engage stakeholders at different points in the process. For the first round — scheduled for 5:30-7:30 the evening of May 5 — the primary/central location will be in Hartford, with six satellite locations around the state. Participants at the satellite locations will view the presentation(s) via video link and then engage in facilitated dialogue at the local level.

The May 5 gatherings will provide stakeholders the opportunity to learn about and provide feedback on the technologies and measures that will be modeled in the Long range Energy Alternatives Planning System (LEAP). This widely-used software tool for energy policy analysis and climate change mitigation assessment will help us understand the GHG reduction potential of various measures and technologies (and combinations thereof).

The CT Roundtable on Climate and Jobs is helping to coordinate logistics for these gatherings.

Register for May 5! Please register at http://bit.ly/GC3_May5 in order to receive updated info and background materials prior to the gatherings.

May 5 Site—Yale University, Sage Hall, 205 Prospect St., New Haven. Refreshments available at 5 p.m.; program begins at 5:30 p.m. (Other sites are available; see http://bit.ly/1UC3pUb) Registration is not necessary, but it allows us to send you preparatory materials and help us ensure adequate food and proper room set-up.

Info: John Humphries, john.humphries1664@gmail.com, 860-216-7972.

Get Ready for Rock to Rock!

by Chris Schweitzer, New Haven-León Sister City Project

Only in its eighth year, the Rock to Rock Earth Day Ride has quickly grown into one of the region’s largest environmental events and fundraisers. Starting at 9 a.m., the event itself — on Saturday, April 30 — is a day-long celebration of Earth Day and New Haven’s rich environmental and cultural resources.

1,500 cyclists will travel between West Rock and East Rock, with celebrations on both sides of the city. Along the way, they will eat tasty food, hear great music, take on environmental challenges and service projects, and explore the city’s parks. They will travel along the Farmington Canal Trail and official city bike lanes, pass through many of the city’s beautiful neighborhoods, and make stops in Edgewood and Beaver Pond Parks on their way between the Rocks. In 2016 there will be five rides: the 8-mile family-friendly ride; a 12 mile adult ride; the 20-mile ride; the 40-mile ride; and a metric century (60+ miles), all traveling through scenic and park filled routes in the New Haven region. Music at various stops and at the end at East Rock will be provided by CT Folk and with include performances by local musicians.

The goals for 2016 are $200,000 raised and 1,500 riders. In 2015, the Ride attracted 1,307 registered riders – the largest number ever; 2,958 donations made to local environmental work; $186,802 raised – up from our previous $152,158 record; 40 sponsors, contributing $60,912 and critical in-kind support; 100+ volunteers; 20-plus high-impact environmental organizations whose work is fueled by this event. Creating a city full of healthy food, street trees, community gardens, green jobs, outdoor adventures, clean and accessible parks, bike trails, educational opportunities and much more. Register at http://www.rocktorock.org or for more info call (203) 285-6147.

‘Fracked Gas is Environmental Racism’: Balloon Banner Released at Bridgeport City Hall

by Dan Fischer, Capitalism vs. the Climate

On February 1, Bridgeport residents flooded a public hearing with opposition to PSEG’s proposed fracked gas power plant, which would replace its coal plant in 2021. As 10 year-old Jaysa Mellers urged, “No coal, no gas, go green!”, a Bridgeport-based member of Capitalism vs. the Climate released a banner tied to a bundle of balloons. The banner floated to the high ceiling, and city councillors and residents read its message: “Fracked gas is environmental racism! No coal, no gas!”

gracked-gas-enviro-racism-300x283“Environmental racism is when an unfair share of pollution is placed on communities of color and low-income neighborhoods. That’s what is happening in Bridgeport. PSEG is making it worse by trying to open a new gas plant, which would continue to release pollution in the air for decades,” said Gabriela Rodriguez, a nineteen year-old Bridgeport resident and a member of Capitalism vs. the Climate.

PSEG reports that its new gas plant would release into the air nitrogen oxides, particulate matter, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, volatile organic compounds, lead, and other pollutants, causing emphysema, bronchitis, learning deficits, heart disease, cancer, and asthma triggers. Moreover, fracked gas is highly flammable and known to frequently leak. The result can be deadly. From 1995 to 2014, there were 371 deaths and 1,395 injuries due to reported pipeline incidents.

PSEG wants to put the gas plant where the coal plant currently stands, locking in decades of fossil fuel infra-structure in an area where 30 percent of residents are black and 30 percent are Latino. To add insult to injury, PSEG’s proposed gas plant, like its existing coal plant, would stand adjacent to the Mary and Eliza Freeman houses, the oldest houses in Connecticut built and owned by African Americans. From 1821 until the Civil War, the neighbor-hood had been a prosperous community of free people of color including African Americans and indigenous Paugussets. Historians say it may have been a stop on the Underground Railroad.

“By putting a gas plant here, PSEG is basically saying that black lives do not matter to them,” declared Tiffany Mellers, a Bridgeport resident, mother of Jaysa. Visit http://capitalismvsclimate.org for more information.

20th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice Jan. 16 & 170

by Josue Irizarry, Events Coordinator

The Yale Peabody Museum will open its doors for a FREE, two-day festival in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his efforts to ensure environmental and social justice among all people. The Yale Peabody Museum, 170 Whitney Ave., will host its 20th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Legacy of Environmental and Social Justice on Sunday, Jan. 17, noon to 4 p.m., and Monday, Jan. 18, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In his tireless efforts to work toward equality for, and harmony between, all people, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. strove to raise awareness about public health concerns and urban environmental issues that disproportionately affect communities. In recognition of the progress that has been achieved in these areas, and with optimism for the future, we will celebrate with music, dance, children’s storytelling, teen summit, a community open mic and our annual poetry slams.

On Sunday, Jan. 17, from noon to 2:30 p.m., join us for our 7th annual Teen Summit event celebrating the legacy of Dr. King. In this interactive workshop, teens from all over Connecticut will come together to participate with the dynamic motivational speaker, Hashim Garrett of Breaking the Cycle of Violence Through Forgiveness in an effort to promote social and environmental justice.

On Sunday, Jan. 17, from 3 to 4 p.m., Mayor Toni Harp will address some of the challenges to our community on issues of education, racism, violence, gun control, and will share with us her vision for New Haven.

An important component of this celebration is our Zannette Lewis Environmental and Social Justice Community Open Mic and Poetry Slam, on Monday, Jan. 18, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Community Open Mic is an exciting aspect of our festival that gives people a unique opportunity to honor the spoken word legacy of Dr. King by sharing original poetry. The Poetry Slam includes well-known poets from around the United States.

For more information visit http://www.peabody.yale.edu/events.

We’ll Always Have Paris: Reflections from COP21

By Sarah Ganong, a New Haven-based climate activist

sarah-ganongBy the time you’re reading this, I’ll have been home from the COP21 climate talks in Paris for about six weeks. I attended the conference as an NGO observer, spending long days in the former-airport-turned-conference space running between meetings, negotiation sessions, press conferences, and approved “actions.” The 40,000+ attendees from nation-states, non-profits, universities, and, yes, the fossil fuel industry, came together for two intense weeks with the same goal—to leave with a global agreement to fight climate change, helped along by the four tons of free trade chocolate one environmental group distributed throughout the venue.

But Paris produced what 20 previous conferences did not—a global agreement which seems set up for success. The major takeaway from COP21 is the coalescing around 1.5 degrees C of warming, rather than 2 degrees, providing climate finance to vulnerable countries, and a process to evaluate and ratchet up emissions reduction pledges.

The theme of ending the reign of fossil fuels was central, from divestment actions to the planning for a global shutdown of fossil fuel infrastructure in May 2016. Keeping 80% of current fossil fuel reserves in the ground is essential if we’re going to come anywhere near meeting COP21 targets. In Connecticut, the battle is over the build-out of natural gas infrastructure, which will lock us into a fossil-dependent future for years to come. And on the national scale, ending fossil fuel subsidies must be a major priority—coal, in particular, wouldn’t be a viable choice without taxpayer dollars propping it up.

So we leave Paris with a lot of work left to do, but with knowledge of what lies before us. For me, the biggest victory from COP21 are the relationships I formed with activists from Brazil to Switzerland. President Obama called the Paris Agreement the “best chance we have” to save the planet. I disagree. The international process has been happening nearly as long as I’ve been alive, and in that time we’ve seen global emissions rise by 60%. We can’t wait on our governments anymore. The true hope lies with the people. We’re ready.

New Haven Energy Task Force News

by Paula Panzarella, ETF

The push for affordable solar energy in the New Haven area has gotten the attention from various companies and organizations. PosiGen, Grid Alternatives and SolarizeCT all offer programs that will help people get solar panels and greatly lower their electric bills.

PosiGen, a solar installation company that specifically includes low- to medium-income homeowners in their target group, will be running a campaign in New Haven starting mid-January. PosiGen’s service includes a free energy audit. PosiGen recently started a campaign in Bridgeport, and has signed up close to 170 homes there, 50 percent of them low- to medium-income. The press conference announcing the beginning of its campaign in New Haven is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 12 at Neighborhood Housing Services in Building #3 of 333 Sherman Ave., New Haven. Please call Kathy Fay for details at (475) 227-0540.

Grid Alternatives has met with the New Haven Energy Task Force and plans to come here in the spring. The City of New Haven is currently reviewing the Solarize New Haven proposal and, once approved, its campaign will also take off in our city.

The New Haven Energy Task Force supports these campaigns and will help with their outreach efforts. These are exciting opportunities to bring solar power to New Haven residents, particularly those who may think that solar is out of their reach due to financial constraints.

We do not specifically endorse any one company’s services compared to the services of any other installer. Interested residents should get quotes from alternative installers to compare service and prices. Before you sign any contract make sure the company answers your questions and explains the process so you know what to expect. Members of the Energy Task Force are available to answer questions about solar that residents may have. Please call me at (203) 562-2798 if you are interested in the process we went through when our solar panels were installed.

Other news: The City of New Haven has officially re-instituted the Environmental Advisory Council. Its first meeting will be in January, the date has yet to be announced. Stay tuned on our Facebook page for more information or sign up for free email updates on this page.

Fast Against Fracking

by Melinda Tuhus, environmental activist and journalist

The bad news is that fracked gas pipelines exist and more are proposed all over the country. The good news is the same, meaning the front lines of the battle are everywhere, involving thousands of people – property owners, students, climate activists. Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE) was born in July 2014 when a group sat in and was arrested in D.C. at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), a quasi-governmental agency (funded by the industries that it regulates) that approves gas infrastructure, including interstate pipelines, storage facilities, compressor stations and super-high polluting liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals. We have done three multi-day actions at FERC in the past year. From September 8-25, a dozen members of BXE conducted an 18-day, water-only fast in front of FERC headquarters, demanding No New Permits.

Why a fast? Despite opponents attending meetings, speaking at public hearings, filing comments on dockets of proposed pipelines, carrying out civil disobedience in which hundreds of people have been arrested both at FERC and at various sites – all without having much of an impact – members of BXE determined that a fast would be a different kind of action and could reach the hearts of people in a way these other actions hadn’t. We distributed thousands of handouts and talked to hundreds of people, including FERC employees and even the chairman of the Commission.

I provided logistical support for the fast, including driving the van, writing flyers and contacting the media. We all stayed together at night at a D.C. church. And we didn’t just sit around at FERC – we were very active in supporting other issues and events, like the culmination of the NAACP’s Journey for Justice from Selma to D.C.; a major press conference to support Bernie Sanders’s Keep It in the Ground bill in the Senate to end permitting for fossil fuel extraction on public lands; a climate-conscious Yom Kippur service at the Lincoln Memorial and events related to Pope Francis’s visit to D.C.

No, FERC didn’t stop issuing permits – yet. But we feel we changed the tone of the conversation, solidified our commitment to stopping fracked gas and its infrastructure, and mutually expanded our connections with many other groups like Black Lives Matter, faith-based communities, and climate justice workers around the country.

For more information about BXE or groups in CT working on this issue, email me at Melinda.tuhus2@gmail.com.

Capitalism vs. the Climate vs. Spectra Energy

by Dan Fischer, Capitalism vs. the Climate

Early in the morning of Nov. 16, Bernardo McLaughlin of Capitalism vs. the Climate (CvC) obstructed the start of the work for Spectra Energy, locking himself to equipment at a compressor station in Chaplin, CT that Spectra is expanding as part of a massive expansion of fracked gas pipeline infrastructure. Police removed and arrested McLaughlin after he had disrupted construction for nearly three hours.

“I placed my body here because we’re out of options. The political class has decided they can survive climate catastrophe and written the rest of us off as acceptable losses. Nobody is coming to save us. Our only hope is organized grassroots power and direct action,” said McLaughlin.

Spectra’s billion-dollar “AIM Project” creates an incentive for increased fracking, a dangerous method of extracting methane gas from shale fields. Spectra plans to build part of the pipeline, which carries highly-flammable gas, just one hundred feet from New York state’s Indian Point nuclear power plant, running the risk of catastrophic injury to tens of thousands of people. The engineer Paul Blanch has said that a disaster at this part of the pipeline could cause the release of more radioactive materials than were released in Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The Federal Regulatory Commission has said that the Chaplin area construction would directly impact Mansfield Hollow State Park, twelve streams, two wetlands and habitat for state-protected species.

So far, activists have been arrested 66 times in the campaign against Spectra’s pipeline expansion. The actions have had an impact. Last week, dozens willing to risk arrest in West Roxbury, MA, arrived at a vacant construction site. Spectra had abruptly decided to pause construction in West Roxbury until the spring. Meanwhile, Spectra has been seeking $30,000 in damages from three protesters who nonviolently blocked construction in Burrillville, RI, in September. Activists see Spectra’s extreme responses as a scare tactic to deter future demonstrations and as an acknowledgment that the ongoing blockades and lock-downs are effectively disrupting the company’s construction plans.

You can help out with Bernardo’s legal costs at http://bit.ly/CVC-Action.

The Climate Stewardship Summit Nov. 5

The Climate Stewardship Summit sponsored by the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network will take place frmo 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 5, at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford. Building on the moral vision articulated in the Pope’s encyclical, we will examine how we can build an integrated approach to seeking solutions.

Through an action oriented agenda, the Climate Stewardship Summit will promote the concept that we are “Standing on Holy Ground.” Speakers include celebrated climate activist Tim DeChristopher, Jacqui Patterson, Director of the NAACP’s Enviromental & Climate Justice Program and Allan Johnson, Founder of Christians for the Mountains. Deacon Art Miller, featured in the Hartford Courant’s Hometown Heroes series for his work in the Black Lives Matter and Moral Monday CT movements, will be our  morning keynote speaker!

The Interreligious Eco-Justice Network is a faith-based environmental organization that works to inspire and empower religious communities in Connecticut to be  faithful stewards of the planet.

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