I’m pro-life: in favor of Medicare for all, a healthy environment, and gun control

I’m pro-life for adults and for later-term fetuses, but I’m pro-choice for early-term fetuses.  However, it seems that many conservative Americans are pro-life only for fetuses but not so much for children and adults.

Real pro-life includes everyone, not just fetuses. So, I’m in favor of government-guaranteed medical care for everyone.  And I’m in favor of stringent environmental regulations.

Here are some links about how harmful auto and truck traffic are to human health.

Many daycare centers and schools are dangerously close to busy roads.

Living near highways bad for lungs

Living close to a major roadway could increase dementia, study says

Roads are harmful to pregnant women

Road pollution associated with increased breast cancer

Road pollution bad for heart health

Then there are the indisputable negative effects of carbon pollution on the climate change.

Lead with Vision, Governor Inslee – Transform Rail from Problem to Solution

PETITION: Governor Inslee – Champion a Just Transition to Safer, Sustainable Railroads via Solutionary Rail

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, MosierBombTrainGIFMedSpeed.gif

The June 3, 2016 explosive oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon reminded us that the railroads that run through our communities are being utilized in ways that are endangering public health and safety, polluting our water and air, and ultimately harming our oceans and climate. Current railroad uses also negatively impact agriculture shipments, strand rural communities, delay passenger trains, and displace other higher-value potential for rail. As we have told you before, this does not have to be the case.  We need your leadership to change it.  And we need it now.

Bomb Trains have no place in the railroad industry’s business model nor in the future of safe and sustainable rail transport.  We therefore echo our allies in the call for a moratorium on the shipping of explosive Bakken oil through our communities.  But it is not enough to say “No.” That is why we have worked for three years to craft a vision to which all can proclaim a  resounding  “YES!” 

Solutionary Rail is a proposal that places railroads at the center of a sustainable transport infrastructure redefining the future of US rail.  It charts a path that overcomes the impediments to infrastructure improvement on our privately owned railroads through public-private partnership to finance, build and run a publicly owned electrification and transmission system.  It mandates that this system be fed by distributed renewable energy generation along the route and raises the bar on protecting railroad workers and communities along the tracks.

Solutionary Rail is a catalyst project that creates synergies for positive movement and a broader just transition away from fossil fuel use and transport.
Shipping freight by electrified rail is efficient, requiring approximately 10-25 percent of the energy required to ship by diesel truck.  Rail electrification results in dramatic capacity improvements and track speeds up to 80 and 120 MPH for high-value freight and passengers respectively.  Electrifying corridors unlocks the potential for distributed renewable energy generation and prosperity for rural communities, tribes, and power co-operatives along the route.

Running rail on renewable energy results in near-zero carbon emissions. This addresses trains’ contribution to rural and urban public health problems caused by burning diesel. Rail electrification will nearly eliminate the need for long-haul trucking and therefore reduce that source of emissions as well.  This will make freeways more safe, less burdened by the trucks that cause the most traffic fatalities and exact a disproportionate physical toll on the infrastructure itself.

Solutionary Rail is a key component of a just transition away from the fossil fuel economy. Improvements in speed, service and capacity will draw passengers and freight off deteriorating, overcrowded freeways and clogged airports and back onto the trains and tracks. This increase in capacity combined with establishing regular freight and passenger schedules will improve service and undue a systemic cause of worker fatigue.  No longer living without a schedule, on call 24/7/365 rail workers and communities they travel through will be safer and happier.

Farmers and businesses will be able to confidently rely on rail to ship their crops and products to market in a timely manner. This increase in higher value use will displace railroads’ current business model dependent upon the transport of dirty and dangerous fossil fuel commodities.  It will be replaced by a business model that serves rail companies, their workers, and the communities and regional economies they connect.

Solutionary Rail’s phase I is the route from Salish Sea to the Great Lakes, principally on BNSF’s Northern Transcon.  Successful rail electrification and modernization in the United States must start with a successful demonstration on a major rail line.  The Northern Transcon is a nationally important transport route, crossing diverse weather patterns and regional economies. It offers the perfect opportunity to successfully demonstrate rail electrification’s potential to deliver of renewed vitality for US railroads and economy.

Electrified, higher-speed rail provides the foundation for sustainable jobs and prosperity through improved transportation access and stable long-term costs. By spurring the creation of a Steel Interstate Development Authority to finance electrification with low interest public bonds and building a rail electrification partnership with BNSF and others across the Northern Transcon, you Governor Inslee will be making Washington State a launch pad for the clean energy revolution you have long sought. We implore you Governor Inslee to lead with vision and champion the Solutionary Rail proposal.

SR-Map-Cab-BuildoutGIF.gifHere are the action steps we need you to take Governor Inslee: 

  • Personally Champion the Solutionary Rail vision for a future railroad industry and infrastructure that is no longer dependent upon shipping dirty and dangerous fossil fuel commodities.
  • Create an executive level task force of cabinet and agency leads to work with the Solutionary Rail technical team to study and enhance the proposal and guarantee that its key public benefit components cannot be negotiated away.
  • Convene a leadership summit, drawing in relevant governors, agency and elected officials to adopt an implementations plan for this inter-jurisdictional proposal and a pathway for creating a multi-state Steel Interstate Development Authority able to implement Solutionary Rail’s phase I pilot from the Salish Sea to the Great Lakes.
  • Negotiate a win/win partnership with Northern Transcon railroad owners including BNSF and its owner, Berkshire Hathaway led by Warren Buffett to access all necessary right of ways to build out and maintain the electrification and transmission infrastructure across the Solutionary Rail phase I corridor.
  • Begin the electrification build-out and development of stranded renewable energy assets across Solutionary Rail route, and transition to a duel powered and pure electric locomotive fleet for higher-speed freight and passenger rail to creates new customers and draw old ones off of the roads and back onto the tracks.

So once again Governor Inslee:

We the undersigned call upon you to be the champion we and future generations need you to be. Re-spark your passion for clean renewable solutions articulated in your book Apollo’s Fire.  Protect our land and people from bomb trains and the fossil fuel driven economy. Lead boldly and use your power to get railroads on a track to a future we can all be proud of. 

Champion Backbone Campaign’s Solutionary Rail proposal.

With Respect and Urgency,

Solutionary Rail Team
The Backbone Campaign
& Undersigning Allies

Supporting the Solar Incentive Bill HB2346 in Senate

The Solar Extension bill HB 2346 is alive and is now in the Senate.  It supports the Solar industry in Washington state by helping to make an installation more affordable up front.

The Bill will have a committee (Senate Energy, Environment and solar-panels-on-roof-3Telecommunications Committee)  hearing on Wednesday, February 24.  To get out of this committee and on to Ways and Means then Senate floor, we need to stress the jobs and good for the economy message.  Please contact your state senator and let them know you support the Solar Extension bill as it encourages this industry and will help create new jobs in Washington state.  You can call your senator/reps at  1-800-562-6000 and ask them to support HB2346.  You can also email by looking them up here:  http://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/.

This weekend many reps and Senators are having Town Hall Discussions.  This is another great place to ask for support for great legislation such as HB2346.  The jobs and economy message will resonate with Senators more than an environmental message.  The bill passed the house with bipartisan support, so with the right encouragement there is a good chance it will also pass the senate.

Thank you for considering this action.  Please spread the word, constituent voices are very influential!

Successful Climate Justice Activism

Look what we have accomplished together! (see the media roundup below)
Paddle In Seattle
Together we were:

Paddle in Seattle Stranger CoverLed by the beauty and spirit of the moment,

Emboldened by the drums and wise words of the Duwamish and Native Canoe families and the voices of those on the front-lines of the climate crisis,

riven by a moral obligation to take principled and bold action in service of a habitable planet and younger generations.

300+ people (and countless others on land) took to the water, paddling straight to Shell’s Arctic destroyer to demand climate justice.

It is in these moments that we solidify the courage to act upon our convictions. The Paddle In Seattle has seized headlines across the world and has inspired others to join the movements for climate justice.

Thank you for sharing in our vision and for striving to manifest it. Collectively we have done something truly beautiful and powerful.

Kayaktivists confront artic destructionNow, we must use this momentum and spotlight to push onward.

Right now, we are resuming kayaktivist trainings and organizing a rapid response network for when Shell dares to leave for the Arctic. We’re also connecting the solar powered People’s Platform with upcoming night-time paddle actions.



Media Round-Up:

Chief Seattle is Watching banner at Jack Block with Native      Canoes by Alex GarlandThe news from the weekend made national and global headlines in addition to completely saturating Seattle media (best- KOMO 4 TV, KIRO 7 TV, Q13 Fox TV, Stranger, Seattle PI, West Seattle Herald) This has completely changed the conversation around Arctic drilling and rocketed it to being a top national and even international issue. Even Obama found himself extolling the virtues of protecting the Arctic at a USCG Academy commencement address.

Here are a few highlights: on Saturday, the protest was #3 on BBC World News (right beneath the ISIS raid and Morsi’s death sentence, to give you perspective). The Guardian went wild with coverage as well (here, here, here, and here) and it even reached Australia!

The Associated Press story was picked up in nearly every major paper across the country from Atlanta to Minneapolis to Dallas and on ABC and Yahoo news.

The coverage from the NBC affiliate, King 5 TV, was picked up nationally.

The photos were particularly well-traveled with even Leonardo Dicaprio posting the aerial kayak photos on his Instagram.
Paddle In Seattle
Here is a roundup of the photos from Grist.

The speeches all came from native and impacted people telling us powerful truths. In fact, after traveling to Seattle from the North Slope, Mae Hank and Faith Gemmill-Fredson – founder and executive director of the grassroots indigenous network REDOIL- confronted Shell at the AGM meeting in London. Faith spoke directly to Shell shareholders saying “The moral and financial burden of the irresponsible decision to drill in the Arctic is too risky to consider.”

Paddle In SeattleArctic drilling dominated the coverage of the meeting, casting serious investor doubt on the project.

Earlier in the week, Kayaktivists were live on MSNBC’s Chris Hayes, followed by an amazing segment on Rachel Maddow during which she spent several minutes reading out-loud the riveting and terrifying piece “The Wreck of the Kulluk.”

The Monday following the actions, there was even more national coverage. Here are just a few of the highlights: USA Today, NPR, Slate.

Lastly, #ShellNo and “Arctic drilling” were trending on Twitter and Facebook, respectively!

Floating Banner Defend The Arctic Climate Justice Now

New Kayaktivism Training Dates:




Donate online HERE or send checks to PO BOX 278, Vashon, WA 98070

Activists Confront Keystone XL Threat

May17AuburnWA03I recently joined hundreds of other activists on a video chat hosted by 350.org to discuss recent developments in the saga of the hotly debated and much delayed construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. As you probably know by now, TransCanada wants to build the KXL pipeline to transport diluted bitumen (dilbit) from the tar sands of northern Alberta across the US Midwest heartland to the Gulf Coast for sale on the global oil market. TransCanada needs approval from the US State Department and President Obama to construct a pipeline across the US/Canada border. The approval process has been stalled for years due to persistent grassroots opposition and in recent months held up due to a lawsuit brought by landowners in Nebraska who successfully argued in lower courts that the planned route of the pipeline was illegally drawn and granted the builders improper use of eminent domain. While waiting for the Nebraska Supreme Court to decide whether to uphold the lower court’s decision, the permit for the pipeline’s path through South Dakota expired leaving the oil giant facing the dilemma of having no legal route for the pipeline while oil prices on the global market are plummeting cutting into their profit margin for a product that is the most expensive (and filthiest) fossil fuel to extract, transport and refine.

The most recent bit of political drama in this ongoing saga was played out in the lame duck Congress when Mary Landrieu, the embattled Democratic Senator from Louisiana, bet the catfish farm on a Hail Mary attempt to pass a bill that would have approved construction of the Keystone pipeline. The bill was defeated by a razor-thin margin of one vote, and Landrieu lost her seat in a December run-off to Republican challenger Bill Cassidy. 350.org credits this victory to citizen activists who made phone calls to fence-sitting senators as well as Occupy-style sit-ins at the offices of Senators Tom Carper of Delaware and Michael Bennet of Colorado at which 350 DC activists were arrested.

KleebOrganizer for 350.org Duncan Meisel introduced Jane Kleeb, Executive Director of Bold Nebraska. Kleeb informed listeners that the Nebraska Supreme Court decision could come soon, and expressed the belief that whatever the Court decides, the outcome will be bad for TransCanada. If the lower court decision is upheld, there is no legal route for the pipeline through Nebraska, but even if they strike down the lower court, the lawsuit has shone a light on risks to the environment that reveal shortcomings and omissions in the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement which could solidify grassroots opposition and give Obama some political cover for a decision to reject the pipeline. One other possibility is that the Supreme Court could decide that the landowners do not have standing as plaintiffs and that could cause more delays and uncertainly in a legal process that has already held up the pipeline for several months. Kleeb is encouraged that President Obama has recently stated that building the pipeline poses catastrophic environmental risks while offering few jobs or other economic benefit and takes these statements as an indication that the President is poised to reject the pipeline outright if it lands on his desk, as seems likely to happen in the near future.

GoodtoothNext to speak was Dallas Goldtooth, Keystone XL Campaigner at the Indigenous Environmental Network. He described the situation in South Dakota where indigenous Lakota, Dakota and Sioux have strong legal and moral standing in opposing the re-permitting of the pipeline route through their lands. A hearing on January 6, 2015 could see TransCanada’s appeal to extend the permit dismissed on the grounds that the tribes were not properly consulted in the permitting process, a right that is established in federal law and the importance of which was recently cited in a speech by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. If the permit is not extended, a lengthy new feasibility study would be required, giving both native and non-native landowners the opportunity to make their voices and opposition to the tar sands projects heard. Goldtooth and Meisel stressed that tar sands extraction is a vicious process that lays waste to pristine boreal wilderness, endangers wildlife, and is also destructive to human health and society as well. The increase in violence against women near the “man camps” similar projects have already created is a serious problem that bears consideration in the approval process.

Sara Shor, 350.org Keystone XL Campaign Manager, pointed out that Mitch McConnell, who will be Senate Majority Leader in 2015, has pledged to bring up another vote to approve the Keystone XL. We can expect such a bill to be tied to must-pass legislation in the manner seen with partisan give-away riders that were attached to the so-called CRomnibus bill in early December. Any such action, in addition to events unfolding in Nebraska and South Dakota, could trigger calls for activists to participate in anti-KXL actions all across the country and at very short notice. The NoKXL Pledge of Resistance, for instance, is prepared to engage in broadly distributed acts of civil disobedience as soon as the decision lands on the President’s desk. Asked what would happen if, despite all the efforts to oppose the Keystone XL, President Obama does approve the pipeline, Shor replied, “All hell will break loose. This pipeline is not getting built.”

Emboldened by the success of efforts to defeat Mary Landrieu’s last minute legislative maneuvers, opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline such as 350.org and their allies are confident that they have the know-how to handle whatever is thrown at them in the next 2 to 3 months, and they are calling on like-minded folks to join them and build their capacity for effective grassroots action. Visit any of the following websites for more information and to offer your support.

350.org – Stop Keystone XL Team: http://350.org/kxlteam


Bold Nebraska: http://boldnebraska.org


Indigenous Environmental Network: http://nokxldakota.org


NoKXL Pledge of Resistance: http://nokxl.org

Al Gore Praises Inslee's Climate Plan

At the Seattle Westin today, Al Gore spoke to a full banquet room at a fundraiser for Jay Inslee. Gore offered praise for the Washington Governor’s much vaunted plan to combat global warming. Inslee has proposed putting a price on carbon, improving public transportation, encouraging energy efficiency, and increasing use of solar power and electric cars. It remains to be seen how much of this agenda can come to fruition with Republicans still in control of the State Senate.

Nonetheless, it is worth noting that taking a strong stand on addressing the climate crisis has now become an effective campaign fundraising technique. Not so long ago, such a topic would have earned barely a mention from an elected official with such a high profile as Inslee. Gore, author of An Inconvenient Truth, Earth in the Balance, and other books calling for action to address climate change as well as founder of The Climate Reality Project, called Washington’s Governor the best of all U.S. governors on this critically important issue.

While giving a nod to the importance of fully funding education as mandated by the McCleary decision, Inslee spoke at length about his plans to find “market-driven” solutions to the problem of reducing carbon emissions, telling the crowd of likely Democratic donors the importance of seeing the current crisis as not just a danger to be averted but as an opportunity for Washington State to lead the nation and the world in 21st Century green energy technologies, drawing on our State’s history as a leader in the aerospace and software industries. Gore recited a familiar litany of dire predictions of climate chaos, but he also pivoted to a more hopeful message: the cost of clean energy technologies is dropping at rates much faster than predicted just five years ago. When the former Vice President spoke of the lower cost and higher efficiency of solar panels, a couple at my table who had recently installed solar panels on their home gave each other a quiet high-five. (They also told me that homeowners buying solar panels from a Washington State based company can look to having the cost recouped in the form of lower power bills in no more than five years.)

p4pBut while Gore and Inslee were inspirational, the star of the day was 9 year-old Abby Snodgrass, a member of Plant for the Planet, who has taken it upon herself to help in the effort to plant “a thousand billion trees”. She believes children planting one million trees in every country on earth could offset CO2 emissions all on their own, while adults are still talking about doing it. Each tree binds a CO2 intake of 10 kg per year. Abby called on all the adults to follow her example and choose not to be a bystander just because the climate problem seems too big to solve. Abby is right. The message of the day is that we will never solve the problem of global warming by doing nothing. The scope of the problem requires all of us to work together. The plan put forward by Governor Inslee won’t solve the problem by itself, but like Abby planting dozens of trees, it’s a meaningful step in the right direction.

Climate hearing in Seattle this Wednesday with Gov. Inslee

Wednesday evening in Seattle there will be a public hearing on strategies to address climate change, under the auspices of the state Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup.  Governor Inslee is supposed to be there.

October 23, 6:00 – 9:20 p.m. | Agenda and Information (PDF) | Bell Harbor International Conference Center – 2211 Alaskan Way Seattle. Directions

The pdf of the draft agenda says that from 5:00 til 6:00 pm people who want to comment can sign up. But it also says, “The facilitator will randomly select individuals who filled out a comment registration card to speak.” So if that’s true, there will be no need to arrive early so progressive voices can be heard. I’ve gone to meetings where right wingers signed up first and monopolized the proceedings.

One of the Republican legislators who will probably appear at the hearings is Senator Doug Ericksen, who is notorious climate change denier and recipient of oil money. See

See also the Washington Environmental Council’s page about the hearings.

You can submit comments online by emailing climateworkgroup@ecy.wa.gov .

People are too nice

The LA Times is reporting today: Air pollution causes lung cancer, World Health Organization says.

Not much of a surprise there. It’s been known for years that people who live near major freeways have reduced lung capacity and suffer various ailments.

I commute every day by bike and bus. While waiting for the bus and cycling, I have to breathe the filth of thousands of cars. Some of those people probably have no easy alternative to driving, but many of them could be taking a bus or carpooling. In any case, fossil-fuel powered cars cause numerous problems to our environment, our health, our economy, our foreign policy, and the quality of our lives. We need a carbon tax so that auto usage reflects its real costs to society. (There will be a revenue-neutral initiative on the ballot next year to institute a carbon tax, in exchange for a reduction in the sales tax and B&O tax in Washington state. See http://carbonwa.org/.)

People don’t want to hear this and many will resist it, just as they would resist calls to reduce meat consumption, which also damages health and the environment.  It takes many years for humanity to progress.   In the past slavery and bear-baiting were acceptable.

The headline got me thinking: people are much too nice and tolerant. We’re repeatedly told that there’s too much partisanship and rancor in politics in America. I strongly disagree. Like when one of your family members has an alcohol problem, drastic steps are required to right some wrongs. Air pollution is just one of those wrongs. Militarism, domestic surveillance, campaign finance corruption, regressive taxation, medical costs, prosecution of whistle blowers, extremism in the courts, voter suppression, gun craziness, the senseless war on drugs, anti-scientific denials of global warming, Socialism for the rich, …., there are many issues that we should be outraged about.

Citizens should be protesting in the streets!

More partisanship and rancor, please.
More partisanship, please, sir!