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Portland, OR Climate Action Coalition Sends Medical “Bunk Bus” To Protect Standing Rock, ND “Water Protectors”

bunkbus

For more information, for interviews, or professional photographs, call:
Bonnie McKinlay: 503-705-1943; Rick Rappaport (photographer): 503-730-5554

(Portland, OR)  Following a recent trip to Standing Rock Indian Reservation to deliver wood stoves, clothing, food and other supplies in support of the “water protectors” from the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation, members of the Portland-area Climate Action Coalition (CAC)  decided they needed to do more. With a potentially brutal winter coming on, CAC members decided the Standing Rock Sioux and their supporters needed a sturdy form of shelter that could be made available for injured, sick, or hypothermic water protectors. So they raised sufficient funds–with small donations given by individuals– to buy and retrofit a school bus, turning it into what they call the “bunk bus,” which will be equipped for use by medics. The outside of the bus has been painted with murals with the assistance of well-known Native American artists–including a Standing Rock Sioux painter–and others from Portland’s Native American Youth and Family Center, while carpenters and other crafts-people have donated their labor.

The water protectors and their supporters have set up a nonviolent encampment in protest against plans by Energy Transfer Partners to build the Dakota Access Pipeline through territory they claim includes sacred burial grounds, while posing a grave risk to their water supply should it traverse the nearby Missouri River. Their nonviolent protests have been met with heavily armed police, private contractors and National Guard troops firing rubber bullets, spraying tear gas and using attack dogs on the protestors. The nearest hospital is many miles away.

Members of the Portland area CAC, who have done their own forms of nonviolent civil disobedience–including blockading Shell’s icebreaker, the Fennica, when it came to Portland in July 2015, and risking arrest blockading oil trains–wanted to show solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux. Members of CAC are available for interviews; professional quality photos are available in advance of the departure of the medical bus to North Dakota. The bus is expected to depart on November 11, 2016.

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    New Policy Innovation Would Force Fossil Fuel Companies to Pay for Their Risky Behavior

    For Immediate Release

    June 3, 2016

     

    Press calls: Dr. John Talberth, president and senior economist, CSE: 510-384-5724

    (Portland, OR) Hours after an oil train car derailment near the Columbia River in Mosier, OR, with at least one oil tank car on fire, it was too soon to tell how much this accident would cost: In first responders’ time and resources, in time missed from school for elementary students and their teachers in nearby Mosier Elementary School, in hours of delays as I-84 was shut down, in public health costs from the thick plume of smoke that could be seen from miles away, in evacuations for nearby residents.

    A recent study produced by the Washington Attorney General’s Office found that a worst case scenario oil train tanker spill on the Columbia River could cost more than $170 million in damages.  These costs too often have the taxpayer picking up the tab, not the polluter because insurance coverage is only available for minor accidents.  A recent study produced by the Center for Sustainable Economy (CSE), “Fossil Fuel Risk Bonds: Making Polluters Pay for the Climate Crisis,” has found that fossil fuel companies are passing on huge financial risks to taxpayers, and politicians are simply turning their backs on the problem instead of holding those companies accountable.

    At each stage of the fossil fuel product life cycle, taxpayers are increasingly burdened with a litany of costs associated with oil train derailments such as the one in Mosier, fracking-induced earthquake swarms, pipeline explosions, abandoned infrastructure, water pollution and, of course, the costs of climate change. Fossil fuel risk bond programs – a policy innovation proposed by CSE  – can help reverse this glaring inequity by shifting the economic risk back where it belongs: on the polluters.

    As set forth in CSE’s new report, fossil fuel risk bond programs are systematic efforts that state and local governments can take to evaluate and respond to the financial risks they face at each stage of the fossil fuel lifecycle in their jurisdictions. The benefits could be huge for states, counties, and cities struggling with rising fossil fuel disaster-related and climate-related costs with no clear way to pay for them.

    While helping to place the burden of payment where it belongs, on the risky industry, fossil fuel risk bond programs provide a way to ramp up the funding necessary to put scores of people to work – including displaced oil, gas, and coal workers – while ramping down fossil fuel consumption, decommissioning obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure, restoring mines, oil platform sites, and gas well pads back into a natural condition and implementing climate adaptation projects to help make communities safe in the face climate disasters.

    For more, please visit our website here: http://sustainable-economy.org/fossil-fuel-risk-bonds-making-polluters-pay-for-the-climate-crisis/

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      Fossil Fuel Risk Bonds: Making Polluters Pay for the Climate Crisis

      ffrb_blog
      One of the most aggravating aspects of the climate crisis is the fact that fossil fuel companies are passing on huge financial risks to taxpayers and politicians are simply turning their backs on the problem instead of holding those companies accountable. At each stage of the fossil fuel product life cycle, taxpayers are increasingly burdened with a litany of costs such as those associated with fracking-induced earthquake swarms, pipeline explosions, abandoned infrastructure, water pollution and, of course, the costs of climate change. Fossil fuel risk bond programs – a policy innovation proposed by Center for Sustainable Economy – can help reverse this glaring inequity by shifting the economic risk back where it belongs: on the polluters.As set forth in our new report, fossil fuel risk bond programs are systematic efforts by state and local governments to evaluate and respond to the financial risks they face at each stage of the fossil fuel lifecycle in their jurisdictions. Specific fossil fuel risk bond program instruments can be grouped into two broad categories:

      • The first category of risk bonding for fossil fuels would consist of conventional financial assurance instruments such as surety bonds and environmental liability insurance that would address discrete risks caused by particular entities in particular places – such as abandoned infrastructure, explosions, or localized pollution. Fossil fuel risk bond programs can expand the scale (i.e. required coverage amounts) and scope (i.e. types of hazards covered) of these conventional instruments.
      • The second category of risk bonding for fossil fuels would consist of surcharge-based climate or natural hazard risk trust funds. These trust funds can be used by governments to offset public costs of climate-related natural disasters, to pay for the costs of climate adaptation, or to pay for economic damages associated with fossil fuel production and trade that are difficult to attribute to a single entity. They would be capitalized by a surcharge on all fossil fuel transactions in the local economy. The surcharge rate could be based on a jurisdiction’s expected costs associated with climate change, climate adaptation, and other pervasive risks such as earthquake swarms and pollution, and be levied on each ton of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e) embodied in fossil fuels extracted, transported, stored, distributed, and combusted (at least by industry and power plants) by any source in a given jurisdiction.

      The benefits could be huge for states, counties, and cities struggling with rising climate-related costs with no clear way to pay for them. For example, consider a county in which oil, gas, and coal extraction takes place that is also suffering the effects of a strengthening climate change signal in the form of regular 100-year floods. Climate risk trust funds maintained by that county could be used to: (1) compensate homeowners for fracking-related earthquake damage; (2) pay for the costs of filtering water contaminated by tailing pond leaks; (3) pay for the increased public service cost burden associated with oil or gas boomtowns; and (4) relocate infrastructure from floodplains.

      CSE has begun work along the West Coast to promote this policy innovation as part of our work on a just transition toward a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy. In particular, fossil fuel risk bond programs provide a way to ramp up the funding necessary to put scores of people to work – including displaced oil, gas, and coal workers – while ramping down fossil fuel consumption, decommissioning obsolete fossil fuel infrastructure, restoring mines, oil platform sites, and gas well pads back into a natural condition and implementing climate adaptation projects to help make communities safe in the face climate disasters. In a 2012 analysis of oil platforms in Cook Inlet, Alaska, we estimated that decommissioning 16 active oil platforms and 160 miles of pipeline could inject over $1 billion into the local economy.

      As our report goes to press, Fort McMurray, Alberta has experienced one of the scariest signals of climate change – an unprecedented wildfire of epic proportions that burned large portions of the city to the ground. Over 1,600 structures were lost. The economic toll is $1 billion and counting. The irony, of course, is that the city lies at the epicenter of the tar sands industry, producing oil that packs an enormous climate change punch. If fossil fuel risk bond programs were in place, the city, province, and federal governments would have adequate funding to respond to this disaster, help residents rebuild, and invest in a future beyond fossil fuels. Instead, they are left with a blackened landscape and a mountain of debt that has yet to be tallied.

      For a copy of Fossil Fuel Risk Bonds: Safeguarding public finance from product life cycle risks of oil, gas, and coal, click here.

       

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        Economists: New BLM Logging Plan Would Generate More Economic Harm than Good

        deforestCenter for Sustainable Economy has teamed up with Ernie Niemi of Natural Resources Inc. in Eugene to lodge a formal protest of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) new long-term logging plan for western Oregon on the grounds that the plan would create more economic harm than good and sabotage sustainable development opportunities in forest-dependent communities.

        According to Dr. Talberth, President and Senior Economist for CSE, “The Obama Administration has chosen to sacrifice natural resources essential to future economic health in order to prop up a destructive industry from the past that has gotten rich off deforestation while leaving workers and communities in the lurch. This does not bode well for the President’s environmental legacy.”

        According to the economists’ protest, the new logging plan would:

        • Kill more jobs than it would create;
        • Force taxpayers to absorb $60 in costs for every $1 in timber sold;
        • Add to the deforestation crisis plaguing western Oregon, and;
        • Generate carbon dioxide emissions that cost society at least $40,000 for every acre clearcut.

        The plan boosts logging levels by 37% over previous levels. Under the new plan, the BLM will offer 256 million board feet of timber for sale each year, the equivalent of over 50,000 log truck loads. To accommodate higher logging levels, the plan would rollback protections for water quality, fish, recreation, spotted owls and old growth forests established over 20 years ago by the Northwest Forest Plan brokered by President Clinton. For example, the number of acres managed for primitive or backcountry recreation experiences would fall by 112,000 acres. The plan would reduce the amount of land in protective streamside zones for water quality and fish by 292,000 acres. The protest argues that the BLM failed to take the negative economic consequences of these changes into account.

        According to NRE’s Ernie Niemi, “The BLM ignored the many studies that document what most of us recognize as common sense: unlogged lands generate jobs by improving the quality of life in nearby communities, attracting new residents, and stimulating business growth. The BLM’s proposal to clearcut unlogged federal lands would kill more long-term jobs than it would create in the timber industry.”

        The core issue raised by the protest – a formal step required by the BLM before a new management plan can be challenged in court – involves often overlooked provisions of the Oregon and California (O&C) Lands Act of 1937 that place constraints on the amount of logging BLM is expected to conduct every year. Those constraints require that the BLM only sell as much timber as it can in “normal” markets and at “reasonable prices.” The two economists argue that timber markets in western Oregon are severely distorted by hidden subsidies that allow buyers and sellers of timber to ignore costs that clearcut logging imposes on others by degrading water in streams, spoiling outdoor recreation opportunities and exacerbating climate change. These costs far exceed the unreasonably low prices the BLM will charge timber companies to clearcut federal lands throughout western Oregon.

        The economists’ protest cites previous studies by CSE that identify the timber industry as Oregon’s second largest greenhouse gas polluter and document how voracious clearcutting has resulted in a loss of forest cover on over 522,000 acres since 2000. “To be consistent with the goal of sustained yield, the BLM should be pulling back on its timber sale program altogether,” Talberth added.

        Read:

        CSE Protest
        Exhibit A: Negative Impacts of Logging (NRE)
        Exhibit B: Benefits and Costs of Logging (NRE)
        Exhibit C: CSE’s comments on the draft RMP and DEIS

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