Climate Change

Washington County Residents Take Action

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The People’s Climate March held by CCJ and Washington United on September 8th, 2018 in Washington, PA was a success!  Despite the morning forecast for potential floods and an all-day rain, over sixty (60) people attended. The people that attended marched around downtown Washington to express their concerns with the Climate, Jobs, and Justice.  Attendee’s stopped at both the Republican and Democratic Headquarters in hopes to provoke action from local legislators and let all candidates running that whoever wins must work for the people and not corporations.

Professor of Psychology at the California University, Ruben Brock and community members Laurie Maglietta, Briann Moye, Karen LeBlanc, Chris Ward and local children who face impacts all got a chance to voice their issues and motivate others during the March.  


CCJ and Washington United helped guide local community members to plan the March in hopes to build skills and develop leadership with our members.  These community members were included in all processes and planning meetings leading up to the March. We highly appreciate all of their work and effort!  



Going Solar!

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CCJ is now a partner at Solar United Neighbors of Pennsylvania, a group that helps develop and manage co-ops within communities so that people have access to solar energy at a more affordable cost. By joining together, community members are able to create a demand for a large amount products, which contractors can then order in bulk to save on cost. Because we are organizing within a geographic location, contractors also save time and money on travel, which results in an additional cost-saving for co-op members.

To get involved, join CCJ and Solar United Neighbors at an informational meeting on Wednesday, March 28 from 6:00-7:30 at W&J’s Swanson Science Center (Room 005).

For more information on Solar United Neighbors, visit their website or call our office at 724-229-3550.

Environmentalists want more action from Tom Wolf. More talk would be nice, too.

 Photo credit: AP, Matt Rourke

Photo credit: AP, Matt Rourke

Marie Cusick | StateImpact 

Environmental groups are pushing Governor Tom Wolf to advocate more for green causes as the Democrat gears up for the final year of his first term and runs for reelection.

Wolf will deliver his fourth budget address Tuesday—the annual speech to the legislature that lays out his priorities.

Many environmentalists say his record, so far, has been disappointing.

Read more, and see comments from CCJ's Executive Director, here. 

Why CCJ Participated in Action at Southpointe to Hold Fossil Fuel Companies Accountable

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This past weekend, some CCJ staff, board members, and regular volunteers participated in the People Vs. Oil and Gas Summit as well as at an action in Southpointe. We want to take the time to share a little of what we learned and to explain our participation in the action.  

The Summit itself was an inclusive space where people from various backgrounds from across the country - and even Canada and the United Kingdom - joined in on an educational and collaborative weekend discussing our experiences with the fossil fuel industry and planning next steps to better work together to combat threats to our communities.  One way that CCJ hopes to become more involved in some of the bigger threats to our region is to begin working with groups in the area to stop the Royal Dutch Shell Ethane Cracker Plant in Beaver Co. While this may not directly affect us in Greene and Washington Counties, the increase in fracking in our communities will affect all of us. We also plan to share a wider variety of stories with you, our members and supporters, to help you be more aware of the scope of the environmental justice struggle in our country. We are working on building on the connections we’ve made to bring more solutions to the problems we face in Greene and Washington Counties.

The most newsworthy part of this past weekend was the action at Southpointe. The action, which was separate from the Summit, had two parts: a pre-approved march throughout Southpointe, which organizer Sarah participated in, and a blockade of a major road within Southpointe. In our communities fossil fuel extraction disrupts our lives every day. The noise produced from fracking can be stressful to the point of being unbearable, and no one likes being hounded by persistent and aggressive landmen to sign leases. When we’ve stood up for our rights in the past, we’ve done so where we live, and in many of those cases we were ignored because the people in the industry who make the calls that affect us so drastically do not live in our communities. The goal of this action was to show those in the fossil fuel industry what it’s like to spend your daily life in a place with constant disturbance. The march lasted for about two hours, and the road blockade was held for four hours before two activists were arrested - which was intended. On this one Monday morning the people working for these energy companies felt the same traffic impacts those of us on the frontlines of fracking and mining feel everyday.  

The rhetoric from the industry, of our being radicals and not basing our claims on facts or science, surrounding the action at Southpointe is not unexpected. But clearly it is not a “radical” concept that property owners should be able to make choices about their own land. It is not “inflammatory” to point out that our water has been taken away and polluted because of fossil fuel extraction. There are no “facts” or “science” to support the need to further develop fossil fuels; in fact, facts, science, and math would indicate that a transition to a renewable energy economy would be the best possible option for our country. As for Pennsylvania values, we suggest that the industry take a look at Article 1, Section 27 of our PA constitution.

We thank you for the support you’ve all given us in the past which allowed us to take on such visible roles in the Summit and the action. We hope you know that CCJ will always take on the fights that matter so much to our communities.

-Veronica and Sarah

P.S. Support our two friends who got arrested defending our rights by donating to their legal fund.

Emerging leaders in the fight against the climate crisis

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Fourteen hundred concerned community members came to Pittsburgh from October 17-19 for the Climate Reality Project Leadership Corps training at the David L Lawrence Convention Center. Throughout the three days, participants heard from scientists and other experts about the current science on climate change and the crisis that will happen if we don’t act now. CCJ staff members Veronica Coptis and Sarah Martik and board member Lois Bower-Bjornson joined hundreds of others specifically from the Pittsburgh region to learn more about the reality of our environment and ways to create progress.

In the grand debate on climate change, it can be easy to think of the problem as a massive global one, and not to see how it will affect our communities in a very real way. In terms of weather and the environment, Greene and Washington Counties are at a higher risk for flooding and stronger heat waves. In terms of public health, rising temperatures mean that ticks are becoming a greater issue, and the risk of contracting Lyme disease is greater.  The worsening flooding would put more stress on our sewage and water systems.  Our communities’ local economies are also directly impacted by the global shift to address the climate crisis and shift to cleaner energy sources. We collectively need to decide to enact policies that would prevent these kinds of problems from worsening and to diversify our economy. We also need to plan to deal with the consequences of inaction; however, during our current political times we cannot rely on our government.

One of the most important takeaways from the conference is that, while it is a global issue, climate change can be tackled at the local level, and doing so will not only prevent some of those drastic consequences but also help improve communities. It’s easy to think that jobs in manufacturing and maintaining solar panels or wind turbines would be the only source of new jobs in a renewable energy economy, but one of the strongest sectors for job growth will be in retrofitting existing buildings to meet higher standards for energy use and efficiency. These are jobs that will pay for themselves because of the savings on energy expenses over time, but they also are impossible to outsource. In the fossil fuel extraction legacy areas throughout our entire region, there is also the opportunity to create jobs by reclaiming sites that continue to harm our health and environment.

We face real problems, as was thoroughly discussed at the Climate Reality Project training, but we also have real solutions that would both protect the environment and boost the economy. It is up to us to shift the political will in the United States because a world where people have jobs and clean air/water is the best-case scenario for our community, country, and world.

The New Yorker: The Future of Coal Country

 Bailey Mine Prep Plant (Photo Credit: CCJ)

Bailey Mine Prep Plant (Photo Credit: CCJ)

By Eliza Griswold, The New Yorker

One Sunday morning, just after deer-hunting season ended, Veronica Coptis, a community organizer in rural Greene County, Pennsylvania, climbed onto her father’s four-wheeler. She set off for a ridge a quarter of a mile from her parents’ small farmhouse, where she was brought up with her brother and two sisters. “Those are coyote tracks,” she called over the engine noise, pointing down at a set of fresh paw prints.

At the crest of the ridge, she stopped along a dirt track and scanned in both directions for security guards. Around her stretched a three-mile wasteland of valleys. Once an untouched landscape of white oak and shagbark hickory, it now belonged to Consol Energy and served as the refuse area for the Bailey Mine Complex, the largest underground coal mine in the United States.

Read full story at the New Yorker

Pennsylvanians Respond to EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt's Visit to Greene County Mine

Following U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt’s visit to a local coal mine, the Center for Coalfield Justice and Sierra Club Beyond Coal hosted a press conference where Pennsylvanians gathered to criticize Pruitt's efforts to put polluter profits ahead of communities health and environment.

Speakers criticized Administrator Pruitt and his “back-to-basics” plan for EPA, which he introduced at a visit to Consol Energy’s Harvey Mine. Speakers said it amounted to little more than a plan to take away lifesaving environmental and public health protections and permit unlimited pollution from fossil fuel companies. Randy Francisco, Organizer with Sierra Club Beyond Coal stated, "When Administrator Pruitt says he wants to get the EPA “back-to-basics” we all know he wants to send the agency back to the days before the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, laws which have protected Pennsylvania families from harmful pollution for decades. And to launch his polluter-friendly agenda, Pruitt choose a mine that was fined $3 million for Clean Water Act violations just last year.” 

Pruitt’s visit comes on the heels of the President’s ‘dirty energy’ executive order, which aimed to roll back pollution limits like the Clean Power Plan (CPP), and as the President calls for a 30 percent cut to the EPA’s budget, including enforcement activities and mine cleanup. Veronica Coptis, Executive Director, Center for Coalfield Justice said, “If Administrator Pruitt cares about the coalfields, he would help rebuild our local economy for the long term, as programs in the CPP would have done. Interfering with pending rules and removing existing standards will not save the coal industry and will only limit resources for worker retraining and economic diversity, all while killing our streams and degrading the places our families enjoy.” 

Speakers concluded by committing to hold the Trump Administration and Administrator Pruitt accountable for protecting public health and promoting, not restraining, the growth of Pennsylvania’s strong, clean energy economy. Sarah Grugas, a student organizer with the Fossil Free Pitt Coalition said, “EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is risking my future for polluter profits. Rolling back regulations will only accelerate climate destructions and threaten my ability to live the American dream. My generation won’t stand for it; we are committed to protecting our future.” 

Watch the live stream here:

Join the Clean Energy March Revolution July 24th

CCJ member, Keith Fullerton is attending the Clean Energy March on July 24th in Philadelphia and explains what it means to participate in these large national gatherings below:

I’ve always felt separated. In my “hometown” of Aleppo Township, Greene County, there aren’t many opportunities for a young environmentalist, such as myself, to express themselves and get support from other like-minded folks.

CCJ Hosts Extreme Energy Extraction Collaborative

A few weekends ago, the Center for Coalfield Justice hosted the Extreme Energy Extraction Collaborative Summit in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Frontline community members, indigenous folks, grassroots groups and big green groups fighting extreme energy extraction from around the US and Canada came together to share skills and strategize about working together across many extraction and social justice issues.

Climate Expert Offers Solutions

Just a few days before climatologist, Dr. Michael E. Mann, came to speak at Washington and Jefferson College, forest fires in Westmoreland County flooded news reports throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania. With a dry early spring and very little green vegetation, forest floors in Southwestern Pennsylvania were tinder boxes ready to ignite at any moment. In preparation for the statewide trout season opener, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources issued a warning for anglers to take precautions to prevent forest fires in the area. The next day, firefighters successfully extinguished two forest fires that spread across 30 acres in Westmoreland County.