Welcome to the March Newsletter of the UCC Northeast Environmental Justice Center!
This monthly (ish) e-newsletter is dedicated to sharing information about global, national, regional and local news, action opportunities and events centered on the climate justice movement. The intention is to inform, educate and help folks connect with the movement and each other, so that we can amplify our collective voice on behalf of Creation here in southern New England (and beyond). If you find these e-newsletters helpful, please share widely, and encourage others to subscribe. If you have environmental events open to the public or legislative actions (especially if you're from MA or RI) that you would like to include in future e-newsletters, please be in touch. Thanks for reading!
Pam Arifian, Director
Climate Justice Movement
Youth Leading the Way
Greta Thunberg was 15 years old when she began a student climate strike in Sweden in August 2018. Her strike inspired an international youth climate movement and has led her to speak directly to world leaders to demand that they treat climate change like the emergency it is. As a result of her bold action, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, pledged that a quarter of the EU's budget would be spent on addressing climate change.
TAKE ACTION! Youth Climate Strike, March 15, 2019
The Youth Climate Strike will be held internationally on March 15th, with events planned in Hartford, Boston, Providence, and other major cities. Use this page to find an event near you and join the movement.
The Green New Deal
The Green New Deal is a nonbinding resolution that outlines goals and projects as part of a 10-year national mobilization to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create millions of good jobs by investing in 21st century infrastructure. It offers a framework for many pieces of potential legislation. The executive leaders of the United Church of Christ have released this response in support of robust Green New Deal legislation.
Since the release of the Green New Deal resolution, some environmental groups released official responses to the resolution with a number of criticisms, including failing to commit to keeping fossil fuels in the ground. Read the statements from Indigenous Environmental Network and Food and Water Watch for more details.
TAKE ACTION! Add your voice by signing the Greenfaith Letter of Support. You can also contact your legislators to let them know what you think should be included in GND legislation.
Juliana v. United States Update #YouthVGov
A legal brief asking an appeals court to bring Juliana v. US to trial after a long delay has been signed by 30,000 youth, as well as environmentalists, religious and women's groups, business leaders and eight members of Congress. The landmark federal climate lawsuit was originally filed in 2015 and has yet to receive a trial. The case was recently included as a segment on 60 Minutes - watch it here.
Fossil Fuel Resistance
Killingly Energy Center Update
As of February 4, NTE Energy has obtained a capacity supply obligation, allowing them to move forward with the application process for the Killingly Energy Center. The Connecticut Siting Council will be visiting Killingly on April 4 for a public field review at the site and an evidentiary hearing at Killingly Town Hall.
TAKE ACTION! Public Comments by May 4, 2019
The Siting Council will accept public comments until May 4, 2019. Voice your opposition to this power plant, and encourage the development of clean energy infrastructure in CT instead. Submit your comments via email.
Enbridge Line 3 Oil Pipeline Delayed
The Enbridge Energy Company's plan to replace its aging Line 3 pipeline was approved last year, but construction is now delayed by at least several months while the company obtains further permits for the project.
Bayou Bridge Construction Delayed
High water levels in the Atchafalaya Basin have delayed construction of the Bayou Bridge pipeline in Louisiana. This has caused a controversy because Energy Transfer Partners had promised shareholders that the project would be completed this month. Direct action by L'eau Est La Vie water protectors has significantly contributed to construction delays.
New Jersery Pinelands Pipeline May be Dead
The controversial Pinelands Pipeline project in South Jersey was intended to build a 22-mile long pipeline leading to the B.L. England electric generating plant which had been ordered by the state to convert from coal to natural gas. However, it was recently announced that the plant will not be re-powered, therefore rendering the project "dead", although the company may still attempt to build it, possibly in a new location.
Support the WATER Act
The WATER Act introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders and Representatives Brenda Lawrence (MI) and Ro Khanna (CA) aims to "help fix our aging water systems and ensure that every person has access to safe and clean water." Take a look at the Food and Water Watch Fact Sheet for more info.
TAKE ACTION! Contact Your Congress Members
You can raise your voice by urging your Congress members to cosponsor this Act.
The city of Holyoke, MA has agreed to a federal consent decree to stop releasing raw sewage into the Connecticut River and Long Island Sound. Environmentalists are seeking further action to clean up the sewage that has already polluted these bodies of water.
Legal Protection for Manoomin (Wild Rice) and Lake Erie
As part of the tribal regulatory authority, the White Earth band of Ojibwe granted legal rights to manoomin (wild rice). This provides a legal basis for protect the wild rice and fresh water resources.
In a similar move, Ohio passed legislation that recognizes Lake Erie as a legal person. This gives residents the right to sue on the lake's behalf if it is polluted. This follows a similar move to protect rivers and forests in New Zealand, Ecuador, Colombia and India.
Legislative Action Opportunities and Updates
The UCC Northeast Environmental Justice Center is tracking many bills in the Connecticut legislative session, and is working in partnership with the CTUCC Legislative Advocate, Michele Mudrick, and the CTUCC Advocate Corps to act on bills coming to the floor. If you would like to be involved and receive action alerts with the CT legislature, join the CTUCC Advocate Corps.
If you are from Massachusetts or Rhode Island and would like to share in the newsletter about environmental initiatives and/or legislative actions that you or your congregation are involved in, please send an email to Pam Arifian.
Connecticut Opportunities and Action
Climate Action Lobby Day
Pam Arifian, Director of the Northeast Regional Environmental Justice Center, and UCONN Urban Semester Intern Grace O'Connor participated in 2019 Climate Action Lobby Day on February 21. The event was organized by a coalition of CT environmental groups, including Sierra Club CT, 350CT.org, CT League of Conservation Voters, CT Fund for the Environment, Food and Water Watch New England, Chispa Connecticut and Citizens Campaign for the Environment. The coalition offered information about current climate efforts such as ending fossil fuel dependence and a fee on plastic bags, and guidance on lobbying with legislators.
Bills to Watch in CT:
- SB 753: An Act Concerning the State-Wide Ban on Fracking Waste has been voted out of Committee by 28-1 and now goes to the Senate. After six years of grassroots coalition work to protect CT from this dangerous waste, and after 57 CT towns passed ordinances banning fracking waste, there are industry lobbyists hard at work to cancel or pre-empt those town bans.
- Take Action! - Tell your senators and representatives to pass the ban. If they have already co-sponsored the bill, call them and thank them for doing so. Please make a call to Senator Looney (D) 1-800-842-1420 and Senator Fasano (R) 1-800-842-1421
- HB 5030: An Act Restoring Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy Funds and related bills were not raised, which means that they are all dead. However, there is still a chance that we can save the funding - the governor can issue an executive order or an amendment can be added to any bill
Plastic Pollution Bills
The following bills will be heard by the Environment Committee today, Monday, March 11 at 10:30 am:
- HB 1003: An Act Concerning Single-Use Plastic and Paper Bags
- HB 5384: An Act Concerning Polystyrene Food Service Containers
- HB 5385: An Act Eliminating Single-Use Plastic Straws
- HB 7294: An Act Concerning Bottle Redemption
Take Action! - Submit testimony in support of all these bills, but with a request to amend HB 1003 to encourage reusable bag use through a charge on paper bags. Also note that HB 5385 would not ban restaurants from having straws, just from handing them out as a matter of course. In addition, straws would always be available for anyone with disabilities. You can still send in testimony after the hearing.
Meet Your CTUCC Legislators
The Connecticut Conference is hosting a Meet the CTUCC Legislators day. UCC members Senator Tony Hwang, Senator Christine Cohen and Representative Anne Hughes will be leading the conversation. Learn more about how you can get involved.
What: Meet Your CTUCC Legislators
When: Friday, April 5, 2019, 10:00-11:00am
Where: Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT
Cost: FREE; RSVP required
World Water Day
Friday, March 22 is World Water Day! An event at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford will honor this day with a program offering updates from several climate action groups about what has been done and can still be done to protect Connecticut's water resources. Sign up here to join.
What: World Water Day, Hartford
When: Friday, March 22, 2019, 9:00-10:15am
Where: Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave, Hartford, CT
Cost: FREE; RSVP required
Green Forum on Plastic Pollution
Join the Interreligious Eco-Justice Network on April 4 to view the award-winning documentary "A Plastic Ocean" and hear from Louis Burch, CT Program Director for the Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Alicea Charamut, CT River Steward, for the CT River Conservancy, and Rev. Virginia Army, Rector for St. John's Episcopal Church in Vernon. Sign up here to join.
What: Green Forum on Plastic Pollution
When: Thursday, April 4, 2019, 6:30-8:00pm
Where: St. John's Episcopal Church, 523 Hartford Turnpike, Vernon
Cost: FREE; RSVP required
Massachusetts Opportunities and Updates
Massachusetts Climate Action Network
The Massachusetts Climate Action Network (MCAN) is a nonprofit group that works with local chapters and at the state and regional level to promote policies and programs to implement climate-related changes.
This legislative session, a few bills they are focused on include:
- HD 3092 / SD 1625: An Act re-powering Massachusetts with 100 percent renewable energy
- HD 3931 / SD 2122: An act to establish a net zero stretch energy code
- HD 2370: An Act to promote green infrastructure and reduce carbon emissions
More Upcoming Events and Opportunities
Super Saturday is March 16, 2019
The Tri-Conference Super Saturday is a a day of worship, workshops and networking. We hope to see you at Super Saturday on March 16, 2019 in Wilbraham, MA. Would you like to see more environment-themed workshops at the next Super Saturday? The committee is accepting workshop proposals for the next Super Saturday, which will be held on October 5, 2019 in Framingham, MA. Submit your workshop proposal here.
Earth Day Sunday
Earth Day is April 22! Join thousands of other congregations on Earth Day Sunday to pray, learn, and act in honor of Earth Day. Creation Justice Ministries offers their annual earth day theme and resources to help churches honor the day. The theme this year is youth and children as leaders in creation justice. Join in the event here.
Registration is OPEN for the 2019 Environmental Justice for All! Retreat
Are there high school youth in your life who might be interested in a weekend of community and fun, and of learning about environmental issues and how to harness their talents to create a more just and sustainable future?
The annual Environmental Justice for All! Retreat will offer all of this and more!
Please Join Us!
May 17-19, 2019 at Silver Lake Conference Center in Sharon, CT
Cost: $145 per person; scholarships available
Registration is OPEN for Silver Lake Summer Camp 2019
The Silver Lake Conference Center in Sharon, CT offers summer camp programs with countless events and activities for youth in grades 4-12 designed to facilitate leadership, community, deeper faith, and life-long friendships.
Find more information and register here!