I was shocked to learn that last week the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) gave Sen. Bernie Sanders a score of 6 percent in their 2016 National Environmental Scorecard. LCV claims that Sen. Sanders received such a low score because he missed votes while he was running his historic presidential campaign. But there may be more to the story than we're being told.
Those of you who have seen Gasland I and II know that fracking is very personal for me. One of the reasons I was a proud surrogate of Bernie's is because he was the only candidate to call for a national ban on fracking. So when I see him being treated this way by an organization, whose board of directors is known to support and promote fracking, it's also personal.
The bottom line is LCV's scorecard system is flawed and fails to evaluate lawmakers on their full body of work. That's why, according to their scorecard, pro-fracking senators like Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Corey Gardner (R-CO) actually score higher than Bernie. That's just plain ridiculous.
LOVE THIS! @BernieSanders & @BillNye Defend #Climate Science, Explain How #Renewables Can Power America https://t.co/le5Ru8WJHC @mzjacobson— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1488380391.0
It's no secret that LCV, who endorsed Sec. Clinton during last year's primary, have contempt for Bernie. I experienced this firsthand while serving on the Democrat's platform committee fighting for a national ban on fracking to be included as part of the party platform. The pushback I received from LCV Chairwoman Carol Browner, and many others from the Clinton camp, was astonishing. Not to mention the fact that LCV even endorsed candidates known to support the fracking industry and take their money—and 2016 was not the first time. This is antithetical to the organization's mission statement, which includes a commitment to "electing pro-environmental candidates who will champion priority issues." There is nothing pro-environment about fracking, and to say otherwise is nothing short of pronouncing alternative facts.
Bernie had the most ambitious climate platform in presidential history and he has continued his leadership since the campaign—standing up for Native American rights and against the Dakota Access Pipeline, standing up for environmental justice and standing up against President Trump's agenda, which includes rolling back as many environmental regulations as possible and letting fracking run rampant throughout our communities.
Trump Gives Pen to Dow Chemical CEO After Signing Executive Order to Eliminate Regulations https://t.co/xtG9rYLokw @BusinessGreen @CSRwire— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1487978703.0
At a time when we all have to come together, we should be standing with proven climate and environmental champions, not throwing them under the bus to score cheap points with the political establishment.
Please join me in telling the LCV to start acting like true environmental leaders and adjust Bernie's score to account for his historic presidential campaign that consistently elevated climate change and environmental justice as national issues. LCV should also make a commitment to the people and its members that they will no longer support pro-fracking candidates and reflect accurate scores for lawmakers who promote or otherwise support this climate-altering practice.
Police violently cracked down on a peaceful protest led by the Standing Rock Sioux against the Dakota Access Pipeline Wednesday in Cannonball, North Dakota, firing mace, pepper spray and rubber bullets at point-blank range at "water protectors" standing and praying harmlessly in the water.
#DakotaAccessPipeline Protesters Pepper Sprayed in Latest Standoff https://t.co/mQEwSrytcv @UR_Ninja @IENearth @MarkRuffalo @LeoDiCaprio— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1478190091.0
There were many eyewitnesses to these events, including myself and Erin Schrode, a 25-year old journalist who recently became the youngest person to run for Congress in California. Erin was shot yesterday by police at point-blank range with rubber bullets.
Here's my video footage from yesterday:
We witnessed a very brutal police repression of a very peaceful protest. A line of about 300 peaceful water protectors standing in river water up to their waists, were confronted by about 100 police with shotguns, riot gear, mace and pepper spray. I have never seen anything like it. It was like witnessing Gandhi's Salt March, then suddenly I am watching people being maced, and I hear a pop and see that they shot Erin with a rubber bullet. How is it possible that from 10 feet away, they are shooting at peaceful protesters, journalists, bystanders, medics?
Erin posted a statement about her experience on Facebook:
We're told that people were dragged from their sweat lodges and prayer circles, their peace pipes broken, thrown into chain link fence enclosures like dog kennels, and numbers put on their arms. It's dehumanizing and unconstitutional. You cannot have a legitimate government that defends an oil company on treaty land against its own people and shoots at them with rubber bullets and maces them in the face, when the people are simply saying, we are here to pray, we are here to be in our own watershed.
This is an emergency situation. Not only do we need more people to come here, but we also need our government to step up. President Obama said, wait two to three more weeks and then they'll make a decision about moving the pipeline route. That's insane. People are being hurt today, civil liberties are getting trampled today, and the kids and elders who are getting arrested are being given harsh felony sentences, and could get locked up for a decade. The president needs to act now.
If you live in an apartment without its own roof or if you're a business owner renting a commercial space, a community solar project may help you save on electric bills. Community solar power is a great option for individuals and businesses who can't install their own solar panels.
You can join a community solar project by purchasing a share or by paying a subscription. Then, the electricity production that corresponds to your ownership percentage or subscription will be measured and subtracted from your power bills. This is possible even if the community solar panel installation isn't located in your neighborhood — by investing in the project, your share of the solar generation is simply subtracted from your bill.
In this article, we'll outline the pros and cons of community solar subscriptions and help you decide whether to invest in your local program.
What is Community Solar?
Community solar is a term used to describe photovoltaic systems that are shared by many consumers, including homeowners, renters, businesses, nonprofit organizations and more. Electricity savings and other benefits from the solar project are split among its shareholders and subscribers at a rate based on the level of investment.
When starting a community solar project, developers will establish the geographic area from which consumers are eligible to join. Some programs have installed multiple solar power systems in the same area, allowing a larger number of shareholders and solar subscribers.
Community solar power is possible thanks to virtual net metering. Through this process, a percentage of the electricity produced by the community solar panels is subtracted from the total amount of power you use in your home even though the panels aren't located on your property. Here are a few key things to note:
- The kilowatt-hours produced by a community solar project are measured for each billing period and are divided based on ownership shares.
- If a community solar array produces 10,000 kWh of electricity and you own 5% of the project, you get 500 kWh for that billing period.
- The value of those 500 kWh will be subtracted from your power bill, so if you use, for example, 750 kWh of electricity in your home, you'd only pay your utility company for 250 kWh.
Benefits of Community Solar
The main benefit of community solar is saving on power bills, especially in places with high electricity prices and abundant sunshine. However, the concept of sharing a solar array brings many other benefits, both technical and economic. These include:
- Community solar can be used by homeowners or renters who can't install rooftop or ground-mounted solar panels. Some roof structures are not suitable for solar panels, and others are too shaded from surrounding buildings or objects to be effective. Community solar may also be an option if you live in an apartment without its own roof or if you simply don't like the appearance of rooftop solar panels.
- You can easily take your solar savings to another home or apartment. If you install solar panels and decide to move in a few years, you must either sell them or take them with you. On the other hand, when joining a community solar project, you can simply assign the savings to your new address.
- You can sometimes sell or donate your community solar share (depending on program conditions). This is useful if you move to a location that is not covered by the community solar program or if you decide to install your own solar panels in the future.
- Community solar supports a more diverse customer base. To install your own solar panels, you must have the cash for an upfront payment or qualify for a loan. This financial barrier is eliminated with community solar — consumers can pay a monthly subscription or can purchase a small share according to their budget.
- With community solar, you can forget about maintenance and part replacements. Solar panels need regular cleaning to stay productive, and components like inverters and solar batteries must usually be replaced after about 10 years. However, you don't have to worry about maintenance with community solar, as there is a project developer in charge.
- Community solar shareholders are eligible for the federal solar tax credit. When purchasing a share of a community solar project, you can deduct 26% of your investment on your next tax declaration. Just keep in mind that this benefit is not available when joining as a subscriber, since technically you don't own a part of the community solar farm.
Community solar is an easier alternative to installing your own solar power system. The project developer is responsible for financing, installation, operation and maintenance, and you can reduce your electricity bills by simply buying a share of the project or subscribing.
However, installing your own solar power system also brings many benefits. You save the full economic value of the electricity generated, for example. Onsite solar power also increases the value of homes and commercial buildings, and many incentive programs are only available when you buy solar panels directly.
If you're weighing each option, it can be helpful to get a free quote for a home solar installation. Fill out the form below to get connected with a top solar company near you.
How Does Community Solar Work?
In a few words, community solar lets you save on power bills with a shared photovoltaic array, instead of having your own system. However, not all community solar projects are alike, and they can be classified into several types:
- On-site vs. off-site
- Ownership vs. subscription
Community solar should not be confused with group purchasing, which happens when many homeowners or businesses purchase individual solar systems at bulk prices. This does not count as community solar, since the project is split into many private installations.
On-Site Vs. Off-Site Community Solar
Many real estate developers use on-site community solar projects in their residential, commercial or mixed-use projects. The electricity generated by solar panels reaches consumers through a private power system, without depending on the local electric grid. On the other hand, off-site community solar is supplied via the grid.
Here are the main benefits and drawbacks of each type of community solar project:
|On-Site Community Solar||Off-Site Community Solar|
|Pros||On-site community solar systems often achieve higher savings — because they don't use the local electric grid, they don't pay transmission and distribution fees to a utility company.||Off-site community solar projects can serve a larger number of customers. You can also keep your ownership share or subscription when moving to another address, as long as you stay within the project's service area.|
|Cons||On-site community solar is only available for local property owners and tenants of communities that have installed these energy projects.||Depending on limitations with your local power grid, you may not yield as high of savings with off-site community solar.|
Ownership Vs. Subscription Model
Community solar projects offer ownership shares and subscriptions. Some projects only have one option available, while others let you choose. You can save on power bills with both options, but understanding the differences between them is important:
- When you purchase an ownership share in a community solar project, the corresponding percentage of power generation is yours for the entire service life of the project. Also, since you're a partial owner of the system, you can claim 26% of your investment as a federal tax deduction. However, owning part of a community solar project means you must have the capital to pay upfront.
- When you subscribe to a community solar project, there is no upfront investment. Instead, you pay a monthly fee. This means there is an ongoing cost, but the corresponding power bill savings are higher than the subscription fee. Keep in mind that subscription costs may increase over time, while an ownership share represents a single upfront payment.
Each option has pros and cons — you will generally save more when you become a shareholder in a community solar project, but a subscription comes with zero upfront cost. Also, consider that you must sell your share if you move to a location not covered by a community solar project, while a subscription can be easily canceled.
Is Community Solar Available Near You?
Community solar offers many benefits, but it is not available nationwide. To scale these types of projects, state governments must first enable this business model by law. Also, developers are more likely to invest in community solar projects if market conditions are favorable. Generally, the best states for solar power are those with incentive programs, abundant sunshine and/or high electricity prices.
There are currently 40 states with at least one community solar project in operation, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reported that 3.1 GW of community solar were online and operational by the end of Q1 2021. There is an optimistic outlook for community solar, and the SEIA has forecast a growth of 4 GW over the next five years. Each gigawatt of solar power can cover the electricity needs of around 186,000 American homes.
If you're interested in community solar power, you can check local government and utility websites — there could be several projects available near you.
FAQs: Community Solar
Is community solar legit?
Like all power generation projects, community solar systems are subject to laws and regulations. If you look for a developer that uses high-quality solar components and qualified installers, community solar is a reliable option to save on power bills for many years.
Is community solar a good deal?
To join a community solar project, you must become a shareholder with an upfront investment or pay an ongoing subscription. The power bill savings achieved will be higher than your monthly utility payments in both cases, but depending on the pricing model of your community's program, one option may present a better deal than the other.
What is community solar, and how does it work?
Community solar is an alternative to installing your own solar panels: You participate in a shared solar project as a shareholder or subscriber, and you get part of the electricity produced. This is a great option for individuals or companies who can't install their own solar panel systems due to lack of space or other limitations.
How does community solar make money?
Based on your ownership share or subscription type, you get part of the electricity produced by a community solar array. The kilowatt-hours generated are subtracted from your power bill — just like when you own solar panels directly.
Leonardo David is an electromechanical engineer, MBA, energy consultant and technical writer. His energy-efficiency and solar consulting experience covers sectors including banking, textile manufacturing, plastics processing, pharmaceutics, education, food processing, fast food, real estate and retail. He has also been writing articles about energy and engineering topics since 2015.
Many of you may have read my post on EcoWatch this morning, and already know that Deia Schlosberg, the producer of my new climate change documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change, was arrested Tuesday in Walhalla, North Dakota, for filming a protest against a pipeline bringing Canadian tar sands oil into the U.S.
5 #climate activists shut down 5 tar sands pipelines https://t.co/QpMYu1G91G via @EcoWatch #globalwarming #NoDAPL… https://t.co/xqLTcF1Dl5— climatehawk1 (@climatehawk1)1476298860.0
But, what you probably don't know is that she was escorted to the courthouse this afternoon and was charged with Class A and C felony charges that carry 45 years maximum sentences combined. The charges include, two Class A felony charges and one Class C felony charge, and conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service.
I am outraged and need your help. Please watch my Facebook video below, read the letter I'm asking you to sign and then click here to sign it. Thank you!
Here's my Facebook live video from just one hour ago:
Here's the letter I'm spreading around in hopes to get more people to sign on:
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I regret to inform you that documentary filmmaker Deia Schlosberg, producer of How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change was arrested while filming a protest action in North Dakota. She was held for 48 hours in Pembina County Jail without access to her attorney.
This should send a chill down the spine of every documentary filmmaker and journalist. In my view, the North Dakota police are in violation of the First Amendment, charging a documentary filmmaker with conspiracy rather than viewing her as a reporter/journalist exercising her First Amendment right is unfair, unjust and illegal. We need a show of support right now for Deia's immense courage and for the First Amendment.
Now here is the really bad news and this is why we need you to act right now. This afternoon she was escorted to the courthouse where she was charged with Class A and C felony charges that carry 45 years maximum sentences combined. She has been charged with: two Class A felony charges and one Class C felony charge, and conspiracy to theft of property, conspiracy to theft of services and conspiracy to tampering with or damaging a public service.
These charges are a threat to our freedom of expression on the most basic level and especially to documentary filmmaking. If we cannot film events as they're happening, especially protest events or events that the establishment and the police might consider crime, we will never work or live in the same way again.
How many times have you been in a situation where people were being arrested and your camera was the only witness to the event that could truly portray what was happening?
Imagine now that simply by filming the actions of others you could face felony charges with maximum sentences of 45 years. That's why we have a First Amendment. The Constitution protects the freedom of the press and our right to document events.
We need an outcry from all documentary filmmakers, journalists and artists immediately.
I'm asking you to sign onto a very simple letter that states this:
Dear members of the media, governor of North Dakota Jack Dalrymple, U.S. Attorney General Chris Myers and President Obama:
Deia Schlosberg was exercising her First Amendment right as a journalist. The state of North Dakota's criminal complaint filed against her on Oct. 13 should be dropped immediately. Journalism, especially documentary filmmaking, is not a crime, it's a responsibility. The freedom of the press is a fundamental right in our free society. The charges filed against her are an injustice that must be dropped immediately.
Here's who has signed on to the letter so far:
- Josh Fox, Oscar Nominated director, documentarian and filmmaker
- Daryl Hannah, actress/activist
- Neil Young, musician
- Frances Fisher, Activist, Treasurer - EMA, Actress
- LEE CAMP, Host, Redacted Tonight
- Christopher Ryan, writer
- Bill McKibben, Writer, Co-Founder 350.org
- Mark Ruffalo, Actor, Director, Activist
- Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
- David Braun, Director, Writer, Producer
- Alex Ebert (AKA Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros) golden globe winner
- Steven Tabakin, Peabody Award-winning film producer
- Chloe Maxmin, Founder First Here, Then Everywhere
- Alexis Krauss, musician
- Jon Bowermaster, author, filmmaker, journalist
- Alexander Zaitchik, author/journalist
- Francesca Fiorentini, Journalist
- Paul Bassis, Producer
- Tim DeChristopher, Founder of Climate Disobedience The Action Center for Education & Community Development, Inc.
- Nathan Truesdell Documentary Filmmaker
- Bethany Yarrow, singer/activist
- Chris Paine, director "who killed the electric car"
- Vallejo Gantner, curator, arts executive
- Jane Kleeb, Our Revolution Board Member, Nebraska Democratic Party Chair-Elect
- Tanya Rivero Warren, journalist
- Maggie Surovell, Professor of voice and speech
- Seven McDonald Award Winning Columnist (LA Weekly, Harper's Bazaar, Nylon)
- Henry Lai, director of product design, Echo360
- Councilman Robert Eklund, Town of New Lisbon NY
- Julia Pacetti President of JMP Verdant Communications
- Deborah Parker, Tulalip Tribal Citizen, Board Member, Our Revolution
- Greg King, Editor, Filmmaker
- Alex Tyson, Filmmaker
- Alison Klayman, Sundance-winning, Emmy-nominated documentarian and filmmaker
- Stefanie Spear, Founder/CEO EcoWatch
Deia Schlosberg, the producer of my new climate change documentary, How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change, was arrested Tuesday in Walhalla, North Dakota, for filming a protest action against a pipeline bringing Canadian tar sands oil into the U.S.
5 #climate activists shut down 5 tar sands pipelines https://t.co/QpMYu1G91G via @EcoWatch #globalwarming #NoDAPL… https://t.co/xqLTcF1Dl5— climatehawk1 (@climatehawk1)1476298860.0
The action was conducted by Climate Direct Action, but Deia was not part of the group and did not participate in the action, only filmed it. Her film footage was confiscated and she is currently being held in jail.
According to Reuters:
A spokeswoman for the Pembina County Sheriff's Office confirmed that Schlosberg was being held at the jail but declined to release any further information, referring calls from a Reuters reporter to State's Attorney Ryan Bialas. Bialas could not immediately be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Deia Schlosberg accepting the award in the Documentary category for "Backyard" at the 35th College Television Awards in 2014.Emmys
Here's my Facebook live video from Tuesday after I learned about Deia's arrest:
Arrest of journalists, filmmakers and others witnessing and reporting on citizen protests against fossil fuel infrastructure amid climate change is part of a worrisome, growing pattern. Amy Goodman, host of Democracy Now, was arrested last month for covering Native American-led protests of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The actress Shailene Woodley was arrested and jailed this week while leaving a protest at a construction site for the Dakota Access Pipeline. She was singled out and was told by police that she was arrested because she was well known and has 40,000 people watching her Facebook page.
[email protected] + 26 Others Arrested While Peacefully Protesting #DakotaAccessPipeline https://t.co/wX0CGS02QX @MarkRuffalo @IENearth @350— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1476196054.0
Journalism is not a crime, it is a responsibility. The actions of the North Dakota police force are not just a violation of the climate, but a violation of the constitution.
Producer of @LETGOANDLOVEdoc Deia Schlosberg @deiafilm still in jail after unjust arrest at #ShutItDown protests. Free her and her footage!— Josh Fox (@Josh Fox)1476277661.0
Tonight my new film How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change debuts on HBO at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
How to Let Go of the World is unlike any other documentary you've ever seen on climate change. Traveling to 12 countries on six continents, the film acknowledges that it may be too late to stop some of the worst consequences and asks, what is it that climate change can't destroy? What is so deep within us that no calamity can take it away?
So what should you do? Watch the film tonight with your friends. If you're like me and don't have a TV, you can get a free trial of HBO NOW and stream the film online. I'll be hosting a live video chat after the film to talk about what we need to do next but here's a few idea to get you started.
1. Leave your house. You know you're on the right track when you've left your house. Climate change is too far along for you to simply click on anything or sign a petition. I need you to go out and find your local climate action group, join it and get involved. Join a protest, join a sit in, take action, plan a march, work to develop renewable energy in your community but above all leave your house. Turn off the computer right now and match outside. What I mean is join the movement.
July 24 get out of your house and join the March For a Clean Energy Revolution in Philadelphia outside of the DNC.
2. Work with other people. Climate action is a team sport. Take the focus off of yourself and on to your community. Don't try to save the world alone. You will make the best friends you have ever had while doing this work, this is the time to meet the people you will fight along side of for the rest of your life.
Host a Let Go and Love watch party. The film is available all summer on HBO NOW.
3. See the intersectionality and fight for justice. Our whole system needs to change, our values need to change. Climate change is not just about climate change. Climate change is a result of inequality, it is a result of economic injustice, it is a result of energy and factory farming and institutionalized racism. So see that all of these fights are bound up in the fight against climate change. And start showing up for those movements too. Our current system is based on greed, competition, violence, institutionalized racism, materialism and fossil fuels. Those are probably our worst human qualities. Time to start to focus on a different set of values, courage, creativity, resilience, civil disobedience, revolution, human rights, democracy, community and love. We can only build a better more sustainable world when we see the connections between things.
4. Do what you love. I'm not an organizer. I am a filmmaker. I can't organize a sock drawer. If I went into this as an organizer because I felt I had to, I would have quit in three weeks. As a filmmaker however, I am still here eight years later, three films and countless short films later and I am doing what I love. The movement needs you to do what you love and it needs you. You may find also, that you fall in love with it. We have to love what we do, we have to love the Earth. When we love something we must protect it. The more you exercise love, the more loving you will be and the more you will love your life, the life we are trying to make better.
5. Surrender. Realize that we don't save the world, we only save today. So don't shame yourself. We're all in the same boat, we say “I don't know how to save the world, yet I must save the world. I don't know how to save myself, yet I must save myself. I don't know where my soul resides, yet I must discover my soul because I live within it." The world is saved and lost every day, not all at once.
6. Support renewable energy through political action and group action as well as individual action. We need an overhaul in our whole system, we need massive political change if we are going to overhaul our entire energy system. So don't just buy an electric car and get solar panels and change your light bulbs, go vegetarian and pat yourself on the back and call it good. Yes that is good, but it won't get us anywhere if we focus on the individual.
So yes, fix the power in your own home, change your diet and change your lightbulb, but do it in a way that creates a community, not just the self-satisfaction part of this all. The aim is to transform society and that means working with everyone, changing laws and changing systems.
7. Put your whole body into it. Dance. March. Sing. Run. Get inspired, inspire your friends. Dance break: share this video and watch my new film.
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Despite California's claims to be an environmental leader, its government has been co-opted by the oil and gas industry and its citizens and climate are suffering. Gov. Brown has turned a blind eye to poor and Latino communities living next to polluting fracking wells and fracking wastewater being used to irrigate crops.
Under a Hillary Clinton presidency, California and the rest of the country would get even more fracking and fracked gas infrastructure. Her campaign took nearly $7 million from oil and gas lobbyists. Her State Department created the Global Shale Gas Initiative to promote fracking in 30 countries. Newly unearthed State Department emails show how aggressive that initiative was, working closely with oil and gas companies and enlisting help from 13 federal agencies to expand fracking into Europe, even where governments opposed it.
As president Bernie Sanders would support state fracking bans, ban fossil fuel extraction on federal lands, end government subsidies for oil and gas companies and bar their lobbyists from the White House. He'd change the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, so it would require reducing methane as well as CO2 emissions and favor building renewables instead of more gas plants.
The choice between these two futures is an existential one. Here's why:
Fracked oil and gas operations leak natural gas, which is mostly methane, a warming agent 86 times more potent than CO2 over 20 years. Industry statistics indicate onshore operations annually emit over four times more natural gas than the massive blowout at the Aliso Canyon storage facility. Just weeks after it was capped, Gov. Brown signed a bill allowing SoCalGas to resume operating there, provided the wells pass safety tests. But they aren't “safe;" they leak. SoCal's Aliso Canyon facility was only the best known leak; CPUC found hundreds of others last year, including a different Aliso Canyon operator caught deliberately venting natural gas in January, in the middle of the blowout.
Meanwhile the industry is pushing more fracked gas pipelines, gas plants and injection wells, which means more leaks. California is green-lighting and enabling the expansion. Over the past year the state even approved fracking wastewater injection wells near fault lines, raising earthquake risks.
If it stays on this path, it will lock in fracked oil and gas for the next 40 years. Then we can forget about California's environmental leader image or meeting Paris climate agreement goals of keeping warming under 2 degrees centigrade (we've already locked in 1.5 degrees, at 2 degrees sea levels rise 5 to 9 meters).
Even as it struggles with Biblical droughts and wildfires, California continues to frack oil wells and expand fracked gas infrastructure, further damaging the climate. This sets a hypocritical example for the rest of the world. As the world's eighth largest economy, California's choices influence others'. As the world's third largest consumer of gasoline and diesel, with the fourth highest per capita GHG emissions, it should make better ones.
California could set a very different example by choosing the only candidate who opposes fracking. Clinton and Brown both worked against concerned citizens trying to ban fracking; Sanders invited us into his office to talk policy. He and we understand we need nothing less than a political revolution to say "no" to big oil and gas and start scaling up renewables now.
So there's more at stake in Tuesday's primary than California's 475 delegates. Whether or not the outcome clinches the nomination, it will send an influential global signal about what Californians are prepared to do about climate change. And as California goes, so goes the planet.
Josh Fox's final film in his GASLAND trilogy How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change opens in the Los Angeles area on June 3 and airs on HBO June 27.
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The climate science is uncompromising. We've already warmed the earth 1 degree Celsius. And we have enough carbon and methane and other greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and enough heat in the oceans to warm the earth another half a degree Celsius already. So if we stop all greenhouse gas emissions right now, we've already reached the 1.5 degree threshold. The current 1 degree rise has already increased extreme weather, caused mammoth floods and unprecedented drought, it has gotten the ice caps to start a menacing thaw. The consequences of 1 degree have been far more severe than we ever imagined and we are on our way to 1.5 no matter what we do.
Now here's the really tough part: At 2 degrees of warming, this gets much much worse. We are at an apocalyptic vision of the planet that few people want to imagine. We see worsening ocean acidification and other habitat loss that will kill off 30-50 percent of the species on the planet, we will see tropical diseases explode out of control and perhaps most damaging the slow thaw of the ice caps enters a critical and irreversible phase leading to between 5-9 meters of sea level rise.
At 7 meters of sea level rise, the greenhouse that just held the democratic debate in Brooklyn, where we saw the most robust discussion on climate change and fracking ever in presidential politics, will be under water. This kind of sea level rise will render New York City mostly uninhabitable. Sure, the Brooklyn Bridge won't be underwater, but the on-ramp will be. Subways will be submerged, the Lower East Side, the Financial District, Red Hook, The Rockaways, the coast of Williamsburg, disappear under the east river and life in the Big Apple is nothing like what it was before.
And this is not just trouble for New York city—most of our major coastal cities would suffer the same watery fate, including Philadelphia, Boston, Washington DC, Charleston, Miami, New Orleans, San Francisco and Oakland. All will face a crisis of sea level rise, not to mention the millions of toxic sites that are on the coast lines that will need to be moved or remediated if we are not to contaminate the oceans in a nightmare of drowning refineries, nuclear plants, chemical factors, gas stations and the like.
It is clear that we have not done enough thinking on this subject and the political system has not done anywhere near enough to address the issue or inform the public.
It's time for New York City and the rest of the coastlines to wake up to climate change.
Join me for an emergency climate discussion each night after the screening of my new film How to Let Go of the World and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change, April 20-28 at the IFC Center in New York City.
The truth is, we have a very narrow window of time to drastically reduce our emissions if we have any hope of slowing climate change.
But New York state is under attack from a web of fracked gas pipelines, power plants and storage facilities that will lock us into decades of more fossil fuel use.
Each night, I'll be joined by amazing folks like James Cromwell, Susan Sarandon, Benjamin Barber, Anne Bogart and many more to talk about climate change and all the things climate can't change—love, community, democracy.
Don't miss these historic screenings and discussions in the state that banned fracking and is one of the cities most threatened by climate change.
There's a reason that fracking was mentioned in the debate and has become a central issue in the New Yorker primary. It's because New York has worked hard to share the science on fracking. People refused to let the most powerful industry in the world bury the truth.
Now New York City needs to do the same on climate change. If this city doesn't get involved and realize fracked gas pipelines and power plants upstate pose as big of a threat as fracking did (and some not so far upstate like the AIM Pipeline), we're going under water.
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The Town of Wawayanda is in the fertile, black dirt region of New York State, not far from Pennsylvania. Like many communities in neighboring Pennsylvania, the rural way of life in this area of Orange County is now under threat from America's shale gas boom.
New York has banned fracking, but not the mass build out of fracked gas infrastructure and that's put many New York communities on the fossil fuel chopping block.
Competitive Power Ventures (CPV) has proposed to build a 650-megawatt fracked gas power plant in Wawayanda. The residents of Orange County already know firsthand that living near fracked gas infrastructure poses many of the same health risks as living next to fracking wells.
In 2013, a fracked gas compressor station was built in nearby Minisink, New York to move gas along the Millennium Pipeline. Because of emissions from the compressor station children living nearby began suffering from nosebleeds, rashes, headaches and dizziness.
A study done by the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project in November 2015 found that the air pollution around Minisink was worse than that of a big city. Families with homes close to the compress station have walked away from them.
CPV's fracked gas power plant would release 43 times the emissions as the compressor station. And it's just one of some 300 fracked gas power plants that are being proposed all over the country. If these plants are built you can say goodbye to New York City.
Researchers are finding that the web of fracked gas infrastructure that crosses all over the country has a big emissions problem. And those emission aren't just bad for local air, they're catastrophic for the climate.
Methane, the main component of natural gas, is 86 -105 times more potent of a greenhouse gas than C02 in the first 20 years it's in the atmosphere. Cornell Earth systems scientist Robert Howarth said since the planet responds so quickly to methane, if we want to slow global warming, we must immediately and drastically reduce methane emissions.
But what Howarth and other researchers studying emissions are finding are scary rates of leakage from extraction to delivery. There's continual leakage at the wellhead, there's leakage from the storage and processing facilities, purposeful venting and also accidental leaks. There's leakage in the pipeline systems, distribution systems and storage systems.
If just 3 percent of the fracked gas being mined and supplied to the power plant leaks throughout its life cycle, natural gas is worse than coal for global warming. In the Uinta Basin, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration found 6 to 12 percent leakage rates for natural gas production. And before the Aliso Canyon disaster, they found leakage in the Los Angeles Basin was 17 percent. Harvard found that the U.S. shale boom over all has increased global methane emissions by more than 30 percent.
The U.S. has a serious methane problem that will go from bad to dire pretty fast if we build 300 fracked gas power plants.
Our climate will get fracked unless we do.
New from @joshfoxfilm ‘How To Let Go of the World’ to Premiere at @sundancefest via @EcoWatch https://t.co/y4NWpV3Doy #ActOnClimate— LET GO AND LOVE DOC (@LET GO AND LOVE DOC)1452517566.0
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The day the oil and gas industry came to my house was the loneliest day of my life. I have never been so afraid. But that fear, the fear of losing my home, has taken me so far beyond that place to discover the deepest love and community I've ever know.
I never thought my fight to protect my home near the Delaware River would take me to the banks of the Amazon. Or across the world to the island nations of Vanuatu and Samoa.
But it has.
My new film How to Let Go of the World (and Love All the Things Climate Can't Change) is an odyssey that goes to 12 countries on six continents to investigate climate change—the greatest threat our world has ever know.
I'm thrilled to announce it will premiere at Sundance Film Festival in January 2016. This film has many important stories of courage and community in the face of climate catastrophe and Sundance will be a huge opportunity for us to share them with the world.
And Sundance is just the beginning.
In March we will hit the road with our grassroots tour, bringing the film directly to 100+ frontlines communities around the world. We want to go back to many of the towns in the Gaslands of America where we toured years ago. We want to go to new communities that have been put on the fossil fuel chopping blocking with expansion of fracked-gas infrastructure. We want to go to costal communities, to the ones that will be going under water first. We want to go to communities that have been fighting environmental injustice for decades. We want to go anywhere that there is a community coming together to face the challenges that lie ahead.
You can find out more about how to the bring the tour to your town on our website.
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This week in Heimdal, North Dakota another "bomb train" derailed and exploded. These dangerous trains carrying crude-oil fracked in the Bakken Shale are rolling through the backyards of America, across rivers and streams and into major cities like Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Albany, New York.
Our Video of the Week from documentary filmmaker Jon Bowermaster exposes the daily threat that many Americans are now living with as the oil and gas industry continues its desperate and dangerous expansion of extreme fossil fuel development in America.
You can see if dangerous bomb trains are rolling through your town here.
Lee's from Pittsburgh, so we looked them up first. Pittsburgh was the first city in the world to ban fracking and many of the most passionate fractivists on Earth come from Western Pennsylvania.
The red is 0.5 Mile U.S. Department of Transportation Evacuation Zone for Oil Train Derailments and the yellow is 1.0 Mile U.S. Department of Transportation Potential Impact Zone in Case of Oil Train Fire.
It's a terrifying map to look at.
We've been looking at a lot of maps recently. Maps of bomb train routes. Maps of proposed pipelines and other infrastructure projects like LNG ports and gas-fired power plants. Maps of fracking wells and areas where fracking earthquakes are popping up like crazy.
Looking at all these maps, We see each community that has been put on the fossil fuel chopping block and think about the people we know who are now forced to live their lives in these danger zones. Looking at map after map, we can also see the bigger picture of fossil fuel domination as it expands across our country, a dangerous web of pipelines and train tracks that connect fracking well pads to the rest of the world, threatening us all.
Seeing the bigger picture is a powerful thing. That's why were starting a new series on our blog: Map of the Week. Our first post has a bunch of startling maps that show how these bomb trains may be running right through your town.
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I have to write you a very deeply personal letter right now and I hope it is met with an open mind.
I have a secret to confess.
Well, it's actually not a secret at all, it's a very easy thing to find out if you just Google me, but I am not sure that many of you who are fans of my two documentaries GASLAND and GASLAND Part II know it.
It is this: I was not always a documentary filmmaker and I was not always an environmentalist. In fact, before the gas industry made a maelstrom out of all of our lives, I had a job that I deeply deeply loved: I was a theatre director and playwright.
I made more than 25 new works for the stage with my theatre troupe the International WOW Company. These plays would premiere in amazing places all over the world, hence our name. We performed in Thailand and Japan and the Philippines, we performed in Germany and France, we performed in New York City and in upstate New York. We made huge, fantastical, epic plays with large casts, striking imagery and powerful politics.
The theater is a kind of collective action. The theater is a motivator. A great theater production is something that you never forget about all your days.
So here is the news: I am making a new play, for the first time in five years, and I want you to come see it. I want you to be a part of this very special new kind of action. I am calling it The Solutions Grassroots Tour and it is a very different and unique kind of play that prompts a very different and unique kind of action.
But before I go into that I want to tell you one more secret.
Actually, it's not a secret either, if you Google this fact you will get it almost immediately.
It feels like a secret because it seems like nobody knows it.
It is this: we can run the planet on 100 percent renewable energy.
What we don't have right now is enough people and politicians acting to create our new world.
So what The Solutions Grassroots tour does is combine culture and grassroots organizing, creating a powerful tool to change our nation's beliefs when it comes to renewable energy.
The Solutions Grassroots Tour is a theater, film and concert event that gives communities the tools and recourses to build their own renewable energy.
We have created these events to show you exactly how easy it is to immediately switch your power provider.
We have created these shows to show you exactly how difficult it will be to continue living in a hotter, more fracked up world.
Our renewable energy partners will be on hand to show you how easy it is to begin your transition out of the fossil fuel cycle by switching to a renewable energy provider or installing rooftop solar.
We'll also connect you with your neighbors who want to work on this with you.
But don't let me give you the impression this event is all work, organizing and building renewable energy. It's so much more.
The Solutions Grassroots Tour will be the stage debut of rancher and spokesman John Fenton, subject of GASLAND I & II and his son Johnny Fenton, of Pavillion, Wyoming. It will also feature music by Vanessa Bley and Stuart Matthewman and the band Twin Danger and with a cast of more than 20 actors, live video installation and a world-class seven-piece band. It's like no other event on the planet.
It is some of the most important work I've ever done and I want nothing more than for you to come share this incredible experience of retuning to the theater with me.
We've even made a trailer from our first two performances in Oneonta and Callicoon this summer:
THE SOLUTIONS GRASSROOTS TOUR
Tickets here http://bit.ly/1qh6pn8
Sept. 21 - 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Irondale Theater
Directed by Josh Fox
Co-sponsored by Citizens Campaign for the Environment, Food & Water Watch, Frack Action, The Mother's Project, New Yorkers Against Fracking, Sane Energy Project and United For Actions.
Created by and featuring the International WOW Company: Carrie Getman, Herbe Go, Doug Chapman, Beth Griffith, Brandon Smith, Broderick Clavery, Sheree Campbell, John Fenton, Johnny Fenton, Jessica Hadju-Nemeth, Olivia Ross, Sarah Keyes, Cody Jordan, Noelia Antweiler, Malin Barr, Margot Bennet, Rebecca Goldstein, Ali Andre Ali, Jade Ziane, Zach Signore, Guy Eckstine, Nick Anderson, Robert Granata, Julian Smith, Omar A Little, Vanessa Bley, Stuart Matthewman and Josh Fox.
Thanks and see you at the show!
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