1 Millionth comment to STOP the XL Pipeline received by State Dept. on Earth Day 2013

Great news: sometime mid-morning yesterday we reached our goal, when the millionth public comment was submitted to the State Department opposing the Keystone XL pipeline. That's a lot.
In fact, at about the same hour the President put out an Earth Day proclamation saying "nothing is more powerful than millions of voices calling for change." Now we have a chance to see if he means it!
The 350 team put together this graphic to celebrate the occasion and send a message to the President -- can you share it around with your social networks?
If you're not on Facebook, consider forwarding this email to friends and family to share the good news.
Not long after we crossed the 1 million threshold, the EPA put out a statement that called the State Department's first analysis of the pipline 'insufficient,' pointing out that they got the numbers wrong on the risk of oil spills and the climate impact of the pipeline. That's a sure sign that the relentless pressure we're putting on is having an impact.
All these things came the day after many of us gathered in over 1000(!) living rooms, theaters and auditoriums across the globe to watch the Do the Math Movie, which covered the growth of our movement over the past year or two.
As impressive as all that is, I'm more excited for what comes next. The fossil fuel resistance is growing, and when the heat rises this summer, we're going to show how powerful we've become.
Many thanks for all you've done, and much more soon,

Photo by Josh Lopez

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Sandra Steingraber from Jail on Earth Day 2013

From Jail on Earth Day

The following was letter was written from the Chemung County Jail in Elmira, New York where Steingraber is serving a fifteen day sentence for blockading a gas compression rig last month owned by the Inergy gas company near her home in the Finger Lakes region of the state:
This morning – I have no idea what time this morning, as there are no clocks in jail, and the florescent lights are on all night long – I heard the familiar chirping of English sparrows and the liquid notes of a cardinal. And there seemed to be another bird too – one who sang a burbling tune. Not a robin–wren? The buzzing, banging, clanking of jail and the growled announcements of guards on their two-way radios – which also go on all night – drowned it out. But the world, I knew, was out there somewhere.
The best way to deal with jail is to exude patience, and wrap it around a core of resolve and surrender. According to New York state law, all inmates upon arrival are isolated from the general population until they are tested for tuberculosis and that test comes back negative. Typically, that takes three days. Isolation means you are locked inside your cell with no access to the phone (the phone for cell block D happens to be located, tantalizingly, four feet from my bars - just out of reach); no access to books (the two books I have in my cell, lent to me by an empathetic inmate, are the Bible and Nora Roberts’ Carolina Moon, which is a 470-page paperback whose opening sentence is, “She woke in the body of a dead friend.”); and, of course, no access to wi fi, cell phones, e-mail or the internet.Sandra Steingraber.
I am writing with a borrowed pencil on the back of the “Chemung County Inmate Request Form,” which is a half sheet of paper. I am writing small and revising in my head. (Forgive the paragraphing – I’m trying to save space.)
Yesterday, I was told that no medical personnel were available to administer my TB test. When I was called down to the nurse this morning, she asked why I didn’t have my TB test yesterday. Of course, she was available yesterday. The resulting delay means that I will join the prison population and be released from 24 hour lock-down on Monday, rather than Sunday.
Frustration will be counter-productive and place me closer to despair. Let–it–go surrender, ironically, keeps me in touch with my resolve.
So, Monday, which is Earth Day, I will emerge from my cell and join the ecosystem of the Chemung County Jail, where the women’s voices are loud and defiant. Stingray (not her actual nickname), broke a tooth yesterday. When she showed it to officer Murphy’s Law (that’s his actual nickname) and said, “the other half is in my cell,” Murphy’s Law replied, “So, you think the tooth fairy’s going to come?” And then he left.
But she stood at the iron door and called for pain meds, over and over in a voice that I use for rally speeches. Full oration. Projecting to the rafters. Stingray is six months pregnant.
She got her pain meds.
Stingray is my inspiration. How can I use my time here – separated from the whole human race by the layers of steel and concrete – to speak loudly and defiantly about the business plans of a company called Inergy that seeks to turn my Finger Lakes home into a transportation and storage hub for fossil fuel gases? It is wrong to compress and bury explosive gases in salt caverns beside and beneath a lake – Seneca – that serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. It is wrong to construct a flare stack on the banks of this lake, which will contribute hazardous air pollutants, including death-dealing ozone, into the air. It is wrong for DEC and EPA and FERC to turn a blind eye to a company that has, for the last 12 quarters, exceeded its permitted discharge of chemicals into this lake. It is wrong for a company to claim that basic geological knowledge about the bedrock itself, is a proprietary trade secret and hide it from the public and from the scientific community. It is wrong to deepen our dependency on fossil fuels in a time of climate emergency.
I could express these ideas more eloquently if there were coffee in jail. There is not.
I was led to cell #1 in block D of the Chemung County jail by three things. One is the decision of Inergy to industrialize the Finger Lakes region where I live and, in so doing, aid and abet the fracking industry by erecting a massive storage depot near the birthplace of my son. I consider this an act of desecration. That’s what biologists call the proximate cause of my decision to commit an act of trespass by blockading the Inergy’s compressor station driveway.
The ultimate cause is a commentary published last fall in the journal that all biologists read – Nature – by Jeremy Grantham, who is not a scientist, but an economist. He noted that all the projections for climate change – even the worst case scenarios – were being overtaken by real-life data. In other words, our climate situation is worse than we thought – even when we assumed the worst. Mr. Grantham then exhorted scientists who have this knowledge to be bold – noting that no one is paying attention to this data: “Be persuasive, be bold, be arrested (if necessary).”
So, here I am, ringing the alarm bell from my isolation cell on Earth Day. May my voice be as un-ignorable as Stingray’s.
The third reason is this one: seven years ago, when my son was four years old, he asked to be a polar bear for Halloween, and so I went to work sewing him a costume from a chenille bedspread. It was with the knowledge that the costume would almost certainly outlast the species. Out on the street that night – holding a plastic pumpkin will with KitKat bars – I saw many species heading towards extinction; children dressed as frogs, bees, monarch butterflies, and the icon of Halloween itself – the little brown bat.
The kinship that children feel for animals and their ongoing disappearance from us literally brought me to my knees that night, on a sidewalk in my own village. It was love that got me back up. It was love that brought me to this jail cell.
My children need a world with pollinators and plankton stocks and a stable climate. They need lake shores that do not have explosive hydrocarbon gases buried underneath.
The fossil fuel party must come to an end. I am shouting at an iron door. Can you hear me now?

Bethlehem to Celebrate Earth Day with New Festival
Saturday April 20th and Sunday April 21st 

Featuring speakers, performers, and hands on workshops to share information and call for action!

Earth Days on the Greenway is presented by the Sierra Club of the Lehigh Valley in cooperation with the City of Bethlehem and dozens of community organizations, schools, local farms, and sustainable businesses!

Don’t miss this family friendly festival taking place Saturday April 20th and Sunday April 21st on Bethlehem’s Southside Greenway between 3rd and 4th Streets.  This free event is open to the public and will be from 11am to 5pm on Saturday and 12pm to 5pm on Sunday.
The goal of the event is to educate and inspire people to join together in taking positive, hands-on actions to address the challenges of climate change and to celebrate the many earth-friendly initiatives and organizations within our community. 
Bethlehem’s Mayor John Callahan will join us at 12:30 Saturday afternoon for a dedication of the new GREENWAY project.  A tree will be planted in honor of all the people who worked on the project and made it a reality.
The GREENWAY is creating a new sense of community as it threads through the various neighborhoods, connecting with its schools, churches & businesses on Bethlehem’s Southside. We hope that EARTH DAYS 2013 will give birth to new partnerships between the participating individuals and groups and generate the ideas and leadership required to reverse our human contributions to Climate Change, which have been largely created by our modern society’s consumer habits & lifestyles.

Like our Facebook Page for updates!
Plan to join us for the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day this weekend and include some extra time to enjoy Southside’s “Spring on Fourth Chili Fest Cook-off” on Saturday and Touchstone Theater’s outdoor Greenway performances of “Ulysses Dreams” on both days.

Can you share your time and talents? Do you have an environmentally friendly project or talk that you want to present? What are your ideas? Add them to ours!
Please Contact our Director:
Sheila Gallagher
Lehigh Valley Sierra Club

Please consider contributing to this event.  Sponsors will the opportunity to have ad space in our events program!

Take Part in Earth Days on the Greenway 2013!