SEA Session Notes – February 12, 2012

SEATTLE ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS (SEA) held its monthly meeting on February 12, 2012.  Fourteen people attended. Mary D facilitated, Mark was timekeeper, and Jack took notes.

PROCESS FOR MEETINGS (DECISION ITEM): The group agreed to have three roles at each meeting: facilitator, time-keeper and note-taker.  The notes will be posted to the blog and a notice and link sent out via the Google group e-mail to let people know when the notes are posted.  If those who attended the meeting wish to make changes to the notes, they can request that of the note-taker, or they can post a comment on the blog.  A link to the minutes will be sent out a second time when the reminder e-mail is sent for the next meeting.  This second e-mail will also request agenda items for the meeting.  Those submitting agenda items will be asked to identify them as information, question or action items.

WEB RESOURCES (INFORMATION ITEM).  The group has three web tools to use for communication:

  • SEA Change blog (https://seattleenvironmentalactivists.wordpress.com/).  It has these pages: home/about/references & resources/events & calendar/SEA action/SEA info/help.  The help page provides information not only about the blog, but also about the Google e-mail group and the Facebook page.
  • Google e-mail group: It is called SEA Alerts.  This is to be used sparingly, primarily to announce meetings or action events.  Subscription to the list serve is by invitation only.  One can either request an invitation or respond to one.
  • Facebook: A page has just recently been set up http://www.facebook.com/pages/SEA-Change/253820311358592 Kelley M has agreed to put content on it and in general explore how it might best serve the needs of SEA.  Members who have suggestions for content or ideas about the page should contact Kelley

A spin-off of this discussion was a decision to share personal e-mail addresses among the group.  Jack has that list and will send it out via the Google group e-mail account.

TAR SANDS (INFORMATION AND ACTION ITEM).  A subgroup (Mike, Ellen, Dan, Mary D, and Janet) are working on Tar Sands.  They met with Forest Ethics, the group who were successful in having Chiquita (and 24 other companies) agree not to purchase gasoline refined from Tar Sands oil.  Forest Ethics welcomes our help and suggested that our priority should be to get the Seattle City Council to pass a resolution in opposition to the pipeline.  Before approaching the council, the group would like to develop fact sheets describing the strategies of those supporting Tar Sands oil (e.g. the oil companies), the strategies of those opposing it, and a realistic assessment of eliminating the use of fossil fuel.  The group as a whole supported the direction that the subgroup is taking.

Specific actions that can be taken by SEA members:

  • Come to the City Council meeting when SEA makes this request
  • Participate in training that Forest Ethics will provide about how to approach the City Council.   The training is set for 6 pm, Sunday Feb 26 and will be recorded for those who can’t attend.
  • Respond to a recent call from 350.org to contact U.S. Senators immediately urging them to oppose legislation that will soon be proposed to resurrect the pipeline project.  See the posting on the SEA Info Posts entitled Time to call our senators (again!)

COAL TRAINS (INFORMATION).  Karen listed three environmental problems related to this issue: (1) the mining of coal in Wyoming, (2) the transport of coal from WY to WA, and (3) the development of a massive new port at Cherry Point near Bellingham.  In talking with people at the Natural Resources Defense Council, Karen learned that a vital piece of missing information is a scientific study of how much coal is lost in transit from WY to WA (the coal travels in open train cars).  Karen wants to find out more information about how we might be involved in such a study.  The group endorsed her doing so.

Mike and Mary M spoke with the Sierra Club on how we might assist that would be in alignment with planned initiatives on proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point. Further information was also obtained from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Environmental Assessment process leading up to the Environmental Impact Statement that will inform the decision making on the federal permit required for the building of the port.  The formal application is expected to be submitted in March by the BNSF Railroad, SSA Marine (port builder), and Peabody Coal.

The period for setting the scope of Environmental Assessment process and the Environmental Impact Statement will be start in May or later in the summer.  During this time there will be public hearings and opportunities to weigh in on what potential impacts should be considered, such as a Health Impact Assessment, and the geographic area of potential impacts (i.e.  just the immediate area around the port or a much wider area, such as the entire state of Washington) and what additional research or information should be obtained or considered.

The Sierra Club has suggested four ways that SEA members could get involved:

  1. help gather public comments and get the public to attend hearings to show and voice concern about coal trains, particularly coming through Seattle.
  2. work with Seattle medical doctors to get a statement from them that parallels one from Whatcom County doctors urging that “health impact” be a factor in the EIA,
  3. get a Seattle City Council resolution opposing the new port, and
  4. get letters from small business owners in opposition to the trains and the port.

Contacts:  Karen is the contact for the research portion of the Coal Trains action. Mark and Mary M are the contact people for the Environmental Assessment portion they’re inviting another one or two more people to join their workgroup. If you’re interested, contact them directly.

TAR SANDS (ACTION ITEM).  Janet suggested four ways for how the group can support companies who have pledged not to purchase gasoline refined from Tar Sands oil.  Those suggestions are on the SEA Action page of our blog in a piece titled Corporate heroes: Companies that renounce the Tar Sands.  David offered to make a graphic to help promote this call to action.

SOLAR PANEL (ACTION ITEM).  Janet reported that six people had indicated a willingness to contribute to a solar panel at Jefferson Park recreation center.  Janet had suggested this action at the January SEA meeting because it would reduce electricity from the grid, would result in a rebate that we could direct to a community-based group, and it would give SEA an opportunity for positive visibility.  Six people are too few to absorb the $600 cost of the panel.  Mike created a Doodle poll to see if enough people would like to participate or if we should drop the idea. Here’s the poll:

Shall SEA sponsor a solar panel at the Jefferson Community Center? If enough people contribute — at a level of up to $30 per person — then we’ll proceed! Click this link to the Doodle poll.

EARTH DAY ACTIVITY (INFORMATION).  Ellen suggested that the group consider doing an Earth Day project together followed by a potluck.  It would be a way for us to get to know one another better, have fun together, and contribute directly to the environment.  A number of groups organize projects for Earth Day, so it would be a matter of finding one in which our group could participate.  The group was open to the idea.  David offered to research a few possible projects and bring them to the March meeting for the group’s discussion and decision.

NEXT MEETING (INFORMATION)

  • Date: Sunday, March 11, 2011
  • Time: 6:00 socializing; 6:30-8:00 meeting
  • Place: TBD  Watch for SEA-Alerts email message to be sent prior to next meeting
  • Roles
    • Facilitator: Bruce
    • Timekeeper: David
    • Note-taker: Janet

OTHER BUSINESS

  • Karen wants to get people emotionally engaged with the Coal Trains issue and envisioned a poster with snowy owls being fouled with coal dust.  David Horsey and Gary Larson were suggested as resources who might be interested.  No decision was made.
  • Mary M. invited SEA members to the Seattle City Council meeting on March 5 at 2:00 or to the Energy and Environment Committee meeting on February 28, 2012.

ADJOURNMENT: Occurred at 7:55 p.m.

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