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climate change

The village of Igiugig (population: less than 70).

I was lucky enough to travel to Alaska last summer for a meeting of all the terrific groups who work together protecting America’s Arctic waters from destruction related to offshore drilling. I was even luckier to meet the fine folks of Igiugig, a remote community of less than 70 people who are transitioning away from diesel fuel to renewable energy sources.

In a world where a forest the size of Germany is leveled and burned every year... where formerly fertile farmlands have been reduced to desert...where biblical-sized drought has caused communities to crumble and pushed nations into war... humankind must either join the fight to change the course of history or risk dooming the planet.

Residents rally outside Berkeley City Hall to show opposition to a proposed crude by rail project.

Is volatile crude oil coming by rail to a town near me? For weeks, I’ve been asking myself that question as I kept hearing about the skyrocketing number of trains that are transporting potentially explosive types of crude throughout the U.S. to East and West Coast export facilities.

And I’m not alone.

Fire from petroleum crude oil tank car explosion.

Maybe you've seen the riveting photographs of fireballs and burning houses and oiled and blackened streams and marshes. Train cars carrying crude oil have been derailing and exploding with frightening frequency lately, in Canada and North Dakota and Alabama and Philadelphia.

There are fears that Albany, capital of the great state of New York, may be next in line.

A fracking drill rig.

Colorado has emerged as a western ground zero in the fracking boom, with more than 50,000 active wells in the state and 3,000 wells permitted annually on average in recent years. The state is struggling to deal with this staggering growth as well as the changing nature of the industry as operations have moved into communities along the Front Range.

Solar panel installation.

(Clarification: This column references a letter by California Public Utilities Commissioner Mark Ferron, who said public utilities would likely “strangle” rooftop solar if they could. In a separate part of the letter, he blamed the fossil fuel industry for preventing a national policy on climate change and energy, which as the column points out, is evidenced by the industry’s national attack on distributed energy sources like rooftop solar.)

Today, the South Coast Air Quality Management District is having an important discussion about energy in the Los Angeles region at its Governing Board meeting. The vote centers around whether to initiate a process to expedite natural gas power infrastructure in one of the most polluted air basins in the nation.

This decision is exceptionally important because it will serve as a litmus test for whether this agency responsible for clean air is invested in advancing a clean power generation in the South Coast Air Basin.

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About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.