Wednesday, January 8, 2014

HealthLink: Why we no longer support gas in Salem as we did in 1997

HealthLink: Why we no longer support gas in Salem as we did in 1997

Republished by permission

HealthLink has been asked why we no longer support gas in Salem as we did in 1997 when we first learned of the health damage from pollution.  Let’s put 1997 into perspective: 1997 was 4 years before 9/11, ten years before iPhones were sold, pre-Google and Hurricane Katrina an Superstorm Sandy were in our future.

Locally, all electricity from the 750 MW Salem and 1500 MW Brayton generating stations were needed. Today ISO has approved the closure of Salem and Brayton runs under 20% and has requested to close. Since 2007, total electricity consumption in the United States has fallen by over 100,000 MW and low gas prices due to controversial fracking methods put gas in competition with renewable energy.

Today, the additional concern is the rate climate change is happening. In 2007, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced that the planet would see a one degree Celsius temperature increase due to climate change by 2100. Just six years later, The International Energy Agency predicted a 3.5C increase by 2035. Weather extremes, severe property damage, skyrocketing insurance costs, tropical diseases moving north and polar vortexes moving south are a few of those consequences.

Gas is used for over 2/3rds of MA's energy today, plenty to support the needed transition to renewable energy and economics compel Footprint to run their plant full time, negating their much touted "quick start" benefits.

The fifteen-month 167 MW shortfall ISO has modeled does not need 40 plus years of a 692 MW fossil fuel plant. Enhanced transmission upgrades, needed and already planned for the region, would get us through.

There is total agreement that the site must be remediated, something DEP has the authority to require and Footprint has the funding to do, jobs must be created and the dwindling tax base not just replaced, but grown. So we continue to ask, is this really the best we can do for Salem, the region and the State for the next 40 years?

Jane Bright

Smart grid vs. false choices - by Rep. Lori Ehrlich

Smart grid vs. false choices

by State Representative Lori Ehrlich

Just last week, an exciting and achievable energy vision known as a “Smart Grid” plan was unfurled by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities’ (DPU). This plan will require electric companies to modernize their infrastructure and move toward increased electric reliability and efficiency. This, in turn will go on to improve economic and environmental health by changing the way we generate and distribute energy.

This, while others locally cling to an older, outdated vision of our energy future based on the fossil fuel-burning giants of days gone by. Proponents of the development of a new gas-fired power plant at Salem Harbor have sought to put the project on a fast track, arguing that the regular review and appeals process for this project should be expedited. Promoting another oversized power plant, one that we can reasonably assume will be with us for the next half century, shows neither leadership nor vision. The new power plant’s size, cost and permanence — and the fact that it will impact generations to come throughout the region — makes our full consideration of all legal, environmental and monetary issues our moral responsibility.

The tax dollars Salem may recover from this project will be dwarfed by the hundreds of millions of dollars that will be paid by those who turn on lights or heat with gas — including many Salem residents. We will pay for more than half of the power plant’s construction costs through ISO charges, and the entire cost of gas pipeline expansion needed to feed a plant of this size.

We all know what happens when there is demand for a finite item: the cost goes up. While natural gas prices are currently only creeping up, history confirms they are subject to sudden increases made more likely as coal use sunsets. In addition, greenhouse gas and carbon capture taxes and fees are expected and being planned for by virtually all major companies. Cost comparisons that work right now may not work into the indefinite future.

Finally, the fact is that the old coal plant will close and be cleaned up even if it is not repowered. Owners are legally bound to do so. We need not be drawn into the false choice of coal v. gas. Additionally, the New England Electric System has collected millions of dollars from customers over the last 40 years which are supposed to be used to decommission the site. We have already paid for it.

Energy needs are projected to be about one fifth of the size of the plant proposed. That can be met by installing efficient, smart grid technologies, and turning to short-run advances in clean, renewable power sources. This will reduce costs for businesses and homeowners, increase the security, safety and reliability of the region’s electricity system, and create a healthier environment.

It is no longer necessary to build fossil-fuel burning megaliths with half-century lifespans when remarkable renewable technologies and electric transmission and distribution systems are on the near-term horizon. The whole region has borne the worst of this old way of doing things for over 60 years so Salem needs to be part of this smarter solution. Our state leads the nation in energy efficiency, conservation and smarter grids. Massachusetts’ well-trained workforce is well positioned to be a leader in using clean, renewable energy.
There is a choice and it’s not between coal or gas. Emissions, expense, explosions and fracking are on one side of the equation. Please join me on the other side in pursuing the vision of a smarter, healthier, less costly energy future.

Republished by permission.

Lori A. Ehrlich, D-Marblehead, is state representative for Massachusetts 8th Essex District and vice chairperson of the House Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Sustainability for the Future Generations

My classmates and I are Millennials. Born at the turn of the century, we are the heirs to the Earth and will soon mature into our role as the Earth’s caretakers. However, in order to save the environment, both the older generations and the aspiring environmentalists of the younger generation must assume a greater role in stopping the rapid deterioration of the Earth’s ecosystems. The older generations must begin to realize that there is only one Earth, which must be shared with the future generations to come. And my generation must assume a greater role in saving the environment as we come of age. If my generation becomes more environmentally aware, then anything is possible. My generation could provide engineers and activists, who could change the world through eco-friendly initiatives and inventions.

The good news is that the younger generation is one of the most environmentally aware in history. My generation has been significantly exposed to the challenges the Earth faces today and we are mounting great efforts to change that. In my school alone, environmentalist students, such as myself, are trying to make Saint Sebastian’s School more sustainable. Not to mention the fact that aspiring environmentalists of Generation Y are already significantly impacting the environmentalist movement through eco-friendly inventions, as well as internet lobbying.

I want to proclaim to the world, that there is hope for the Earth in the up-and–coming generations, as long as the older generations don’t continue bring the Earth closer to a full-out eco-catastrophe? But then again, are we already at that point?

Samuel Cullen, Class of 2017
Saint Sebastian's School, Needham, MA

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Longtime Sierra Club Supporter Passes

Murphy, James J. “Joe” of Rockland, died June 2, 2013.
A graduate of Boston College, Joe received his bachelors degree in accounting and worked for John Hancock as an actuarial consultant. He enjoyed camping, crossword puzzles, playing card games, and supporting his Boston sports teams. He was a man of many trades who would spend his time outdoors, enjoying technology and reading about NASA. Joe’s main passion was his family. As a loving husband of Joan Murphy, a devoted father to Kerrin, Corrin and Brendan, and grandfather of four, he will be sadly missed.

Donations have been made to the Massachusetts Sierra Club in memory of Joe. Daughter Kerrin Murphy mourned her father's passing by saying, "my dad taught my sister, brother and I how important it is to take care of the land and our environment, and that is something we will never forget."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Your Comments are Welcome!

This is the Mass Sierra Club's members' blog. Use this post's comments section to share your thoughts, comments, and ideas about the state's environmental issues.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Op-Ed: Looking Beyond The Rhetoric

Looking Beyond The Rhetoric 

Oped Submission by Jim Amatucci, Sierra Club

Jim Amatucci is a member of the Massachusetts Sierra Club’s Political Committee. He lives in Beverly, MA

If it seems that campaigns are even nastier than usual this year, you’re right. The Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, opened the floodgates for unlimited corporate donations to political groups. It’s not hard to guess which side big corporations are supporting (Hint: it’s not on the side of clean air and clean water).

Nationwide, big corporations are spending millions on character assassination ads. Corporate-funded PACs’ primary strategy is to smear their ideological opponents while avoiding any mention of their own (pro-corporate welfare, anti-regulation, science denying) views. Using character assassination, with dark foreboding ads, scary music, and grainy black and white photos are Karl Rove’s trademarks. We’ve been seeing Rove’s handiwork throughout the Bay State this year, and it’s not pretty.

With just a few days before Election Day, we urge you to base your decision in the voting booth on the basis of a candidate’s voting record, lifetime accomplishments and their positions on actual issues. Don’t be fooled by the tangential accusations and the inflammatory rhetoric.

In the race between Congressman John Tierney and Former State Senator Richard Tisei, I urge voters to look at each candidate’s record.  For over a decade, John Tierney has been an unwavering advocate on behalf of many environmental bills. He voted against the Bush administration’s bills that favored big oil companies and threatened pristine wilderness areas with potential environmental disasters. John Tierney supported funding for rail transit, knowing that better transportation choices will reduce America’s reliance on fossil fuels.

John Tierney has repeatedly stood up to Big Oil, voting to end billions of dollars in corporate handouts. While his opponent may honestly believe that sending taxpayer dollars to the world’s wealthiest corporations is somehow in our best interests, we know that “trickle down” economics was a disaster in the late 1920s, again in the 1980s, and once more during the second Bush administration.

Congressman Tierney has been a leader in Washington, co-authoringthe federal Green Jobs Act, which helps support and train American workers to install solar panels, manufacture wind turbines, and weatherize homes. This program helped thousands of Americans, including many in Massachusetts, to get good jobs working toward energy independence.

John Tierney has championed the protection of our public lands and national monuments. Instead of opening our parks to drilling and mining for short-term corporate profits, he protects these precious resources for future generations.

John Tierney championed historic fuel efficiency standards, which will help create more than half a million new American jobs in the auto industry while saving families thousands every year at the pump. With important legislation like this, we can rebuild America’s manufacturing sector, burn less fossil fuels, and slow the rate of climate change.

Congressman Tierney stood up to protect the Clean Water Act, opposing corporate efforts to weaken the act and put our drinking water, streams, rivers, wetlands at risk from toxic pollutants.  Here in the Bay State, we remember all too well what happens to water when chemical companies run the show. But Congressman Tierney didn’t stop there, supporting protections from toxic mercury pollution that will prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths and 130,000 asthma attacks every year.

John Tierney voted against the effort to strip the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from regulating greenhouse gases. Hurricane Sandy is yet another wake up call to anyone who thinks that climate change isn’t important - Scientists predict that future storms could be much worse.

In sharp contrast, Richard Tisei’s website lists absolutely no environmental positions - nothing. While Tisei was in the State Senate, he opposed many important environmental bills, refusing to sign on or support even the most basic environmental protections for the people of Massachusetts.

If you’re concerned about clean water and clean air, about climate change and pollution, if you want to end corporate control over your health and safety, I urge you to look at John Tierney’s consistent record and decide: who do you want to represent you in the US Congress?

# # #

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pat Franklin, founder of Container Recycling Institute, killed in tragic accident

Pat Franklin, the founder and former executive director of the Container Recycling Institute, was killed in a tragic accident a few days ago. Pat was one of the people who inspired me to get involved in updating the Mass Bottle Bill. Her passion, leadership, knowledge, and patience were legendary. Below is a letter written by Jenny Gitlitz, and former colleague and staffer at Container Recycling Institute. -- Phil Sego, MA Sierra Club


Dear Friends and Colleagues,

It is with terrible sadness that I announce the passing of Pat Franklin, founder and former Executive Director of the Container Recycling Institute (CRI).

On Saturday October 13th, after shopping at the farmer's market in Oakland, MD and preparing to--yes, it's true--make a drop-off at the recycling center, Pat was hit by a pickup truck while crossing the street. She sustained head injuries from which she could not recover, and she died on Sunday with many family members present. In a fitting final act of recycling, her organs were donated to give others life. She did not suffer.

As many of you know, Pat was a shining light in the recycling movement. From humble beginnings in her basement in 1992, Pat founded and grew CRI from a shoestring operation to an internationally-recognized source of original information and analysis on beverage container recycling and wasting in the United States and Canada. For 15 years, Pat networked with hundreds of activists and legislators in dozens of states across the country—generously sharing information that was critical to campaigns to promote container deposit legislation. She recruited executives from secondary materials industries to serve on CRI's board, and was tenacious in spreading the message of producer responsibility--long before that term gained widespread use.

Pat spearheaded a series of Bottle Bill Summits, spoke at scores of recycling conferences, and was interviewed hundreds of times by members of the mainstream media as well as the trade press in both the solid waste and recycling industries. Pat was instrumental in getting then-Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont to sponsor a National Bottle Bill initiative, and she testified before the Committee on the Environment and Public Works on Capitol Hill. She wrote the first edition of the groundbreaking report, “The 10-cent Incentive to Recycle,” founded two heavily trafficked recycling <> , and <> , and contributed articles and legislative testimony countless times.

Pat was a jack-of-all-trades at CRI. Yes, she could speak to reporters and members of Congress, debate beverage industry lobbyists, and secure prestigious grants, but she also stuffed envelopes late into the night, shlepped boxes to and from Kinko's, prepared food for board meetings, hosted out-of-town colleagues in her own home, found ingenious ways to keep old computer equipment going, and kept her cats--and sometimes her husband--fed. When money was tight, she refused to take a paycheck so that her staff could be paid.

Although she retired as Executive Director of CRI in 2007, Pat's work lives on in the passage of a bottle bill in Hawaii; in bottle bill expansions in Connecticut, New York, and Oregon; and in the many interns and colleagues she inspired over the years, including many of you on this listserve. Her dream was that the nation would someday achieve zero beverage container waste.

In her retirement, Pat used her skills and passion to help support her son and daughter-in-law’s Flying Deer Nature Center--a year-round camp and educational center that teaches children of all ages to understand and love the outdoors. Pat contributed scholarship funds, and devoted much time to recruitment and to organizing fundraisers and events.

Pat was a DC-area native, but had retired with husband Jay to homes in Fernandina Beach, FL and Deep Creek Lake, MD. She was an active tennis player who could hold her own with opponents in their 20’s. A month before her death, Pat, 71, was the oldest participant the 2012 SavageMan Triathlon at Deep Creek Lake State Park. Riding the 40k bicycle segment, she finished eleven minutes faster than she did in 2011. Her team raised almost $700 for the triathlon’s “Win-The-Fight" event that benefits the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation.

On a personal note--Pat was a mentor and close friend to me for twenty years. We met by mail and phone (pre-internet) in 1992 when I was in grad school at UC Berkeley. CRI had just been founded, and I somehow found a copy of Pat's first or second newsletter. Excited, I called her and shared my draft thesis with her about the environmental and social impacts of the aluminum and hydroelectric industries, and about what we called the "upstream" effects of not recycling. We shared information for years, and in 2000 she hired me as CRI's research director. For seven intense years, we collaborated on work that we both shared a passion for--often to the puzzlement of our own families and friends. We stayed close even after we both left CRI. She treated my two daughters as if they were her own grandchildren--never forgetting to send them presents at Hanuka, staying up on their activities, and even subsidizing their first year at camp at the Flying Deer Nature Center. Our two families have become closer and closer with each passing year. No one can fill the hole that Pat's passing leaves in our hearts.

Pat is survived by her husband of 48 years, Jay D. Franklin, her children, Kimberly and Steve Trundle of Falls Church, and Devin Franklin and Michele Apland of New Lebanon, NY. Her first child, Dennis Franklin, passed away in 2009. She had four grandchildren: Claire, Scott, and Wyatt Trundle; and Cedar Franklin, born this past summer.

Pat loved her family, was a friend to all, and a champion of the underdog. We remember her excellent sense of humor, her incredible generosity, and her boundless energy.

With a heavy heart and love to all,


* * *
A funeral service will take place Friday, Oct. 19 at 11:00 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church, 225 East Broad Street, Falls Church. Private interment will occur on a later date at Oakwood Cemetery in Falls Church. 

Contributions in Pat Franklin’s memory may be made to the Joanna M. Nicolay Melanoma Foundation, Oakland, MD; to the Container Recycling Institute <> , Culver City, CA; and to the Flying Deer Nature Center <> , New Lebanon, NY.

You are invited to share your memories and stories about Pat on a tribute page on CRI's website; please send the messages/memories/photos to Susan Collins, at

We can post them on the CRI web site and can also send them to Pat's family, so that they will know how she was remembered by so many in the recycling community.