EPA and Sierra Club Hearings on the CPP


EPA hearing to repeal the Clean Power Plan, Charleston, WV
November 28 and 29, 2017
– Cathy Strickler

Climate change activists are fighting battles on many fronts.  There are 10 new pipelines on the East Coast alone, either proposed or under construction.  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is in the hands of gas and oil supporters and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is run by a climate denier.  My husband Charlie and I went to Charleston, West Virginia, to attend the EPA’s public hearing on their proposal to repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP) knowing it was a sham but reluctantly thinking it was the right thing to do to support the counter event, Hearing for Healthy Communities sponsored by the Sierra Club.  We went to both and as always, it is enlightening to be in the middle of people who care and speak out against the huge odds of overpowering money, greed and influence.

We were shuttled by Sierra Club representatives from the University Of Charleston where their hearing would start in the afternoon, across the Kanawha River to the gold-domed state capital where the EPA held its hearing.  We immediately came upon a press conference of the United Mine Workers of America with 20 members standing behind their legal team.  They are against the CPP stating that good jobs and pensions will be lost and jobs in the renewable energy sector will not be as high paying.  They acknowledge climate change and want a different CPP that would ensure the future of coal.  It was impossible for me to get the details of their proposals but I felt sad that they were seeing renewable energy as the enemy instead of the lack of a just transition that would protect their incomes.


Inside, three concurrent hearings were in process and we listened to one for about an hour. The PA system was poor but people methodically read their 3 minute prepared speeches.  A representative from the Natural Resources Defense Council told Charlie the next day that the testimonies were running about 80% against repeal.  People came from all over, even to the remote center of coal country.

We shuttled back across the river for a nice buffet lunch provided by the Sierra Club and then heard an expert panel tell of the health impacts of coal.  Two representatives from latino organizations started off stressing environmental justice issues.  One, from Green Latinos, stressed the importance of informal testimony that we all do every day and that people believe what they are told more than what they read.  The League of Latinos stated the projected cost of Hurricane Maria to Puerto Rica is $200 billion and that it is possible to have both a healthy environment and economy.

The next four panelists were a Georgetown University professor of Public Health Nursing, a representative from Healthy Downstream Strategies based in Morgantown, WV, the N.Y. Attorney General’s general counsel, an activist from Upshur County, WV, and a representative from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).  The last, Jeremy Richardson, was a brother, son and grandson of WV coal miners.  Their points were that the CPP is doable as proven in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) states, and necessary to lessen climate change; that the EPA needs to go further and address fracked methane gas which isn’t addressed in the CPP; WV has no large scale solar and is near the bottom of state rankings for energy efficiency and life expectancy; the UCS stance on nuclear is nuanced, based on each situation; the Rockefeller Fund has done good work with job retraining in coal communities.

Testimony from the public followed with 30-40 people stating the reasons repeal is repugnant, including a 12 year-old boy.  I am happy he is being taught to do public speaking at an early age.  I used to be critical of children speaking in similar settings but now think it’s important for their experience and for the rest of us to have a face of the future right there.

The next morning, all of the transcribed testimonies from the Hearing for Healthy Communities were delivered to the EPA representatives, after a woman from Harlan County, KY, gave her testimony on how coal has devastated her family’s health.  Another man, representing Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) which is supported by NRDC, stated the CPP is needed to fund programs that would be a lifeline for poor families and a smart investment that creates local jobs, eliminates the need for expensive new power plants, reduces pollution and saves money for taxpayers nationwide.

As we were leaving I had a conversation with an EPA employee who was working at the registration table.  She works at the EPA office in the research triangle in North Carolina.  We talked about the need of faster change and of thinking about how inside EPA information could be important in this.  She was not condescending and emphasized that there are many in EPA who ‘get it’ and are trying to strategize their effectiveness.

There were 100+ at the Hearing for Healthy Communities.  I applaud the Sierra Club for organizing this event that brought the press to educate the public and that gave courage to those who attended.



Sun Power for Puerto Rico

Thanks to everyone who participated in this fundraiser! Together we are supporting Resilient Power Puerto Rico with close to $3500.00!


Help Puerto Rico Recover with Solar Power
Proceeds to support the work of Resilient Power Puerto Rico

Saturday, November 18
The Golden Pony
181 N. Main St., Harrisonburg

For years the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley has championed bringing solar power to the Valley for people who could afford it. Now we want to help bring it to hurricane ravaged communities in Puerto Rico that can’t afford it but are still left in the dark without power after Hurricanes Irma and Maria. This fundraiser will raise money to give to the marvelous group, Resilient Power Puerto Rico (you can read all about them below).

Join us at The Golden Pony to lift a glass, eat some food (the Pony will donate 20% of your food and drink tab), and write a check to make a real difference. You might even win a door prize from The Sierra Club Shenandoah Group and others (all donors will be entered for the chance to win). You will also hear first-hand from a neighbor what her family in Puerto Rico has been facing during this difficult time period. Whatever you do, you’ll leave knowing you’ve made a real difference in the lives of American citizens who are facing a long road back to recovery.

If you cannot attend, please donate at ResilientpowerPR.org. You can also visit their website to read more about this organization’s work to steadily bring community-owned solar power to Puerto Ricans over a 4-year strategic plan.

Here’s some more information about Resilient Power Puerto Rico from architecturalrecord.com:

Architects Bring Solar to Hurricane-Battered Puerto Rico
October 27, 2017
James S. Russell, FAIA


Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, as a Category 4 hurricane. Photo by Staff Sergeant Michelle Y. Alvarez-Rea, U.S. Air Force

On October 22, the Buena Vista community center in San Juan, Puerto Rico, switched off one of the many noisy generators that has become an inescapable part of life since Hurricane Maria devastated the country on September 20. For the first time in weeks, fans turned through the blessed silence. A refrigerator hummed and lights glowed.

This small miracle in an island staggering to recover was powered by a 5-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array. It was the first installation by an ambitious nonprofit called Resilient Power Puerto Rico that aims to rapidly restore electrical service by installing permanent solar arrays on the island, which lost almost its entire grid to the hurricane. Full restoration of the electrical system could take years.

Resilient Power Puerto Rico launched only a week after the hurricane, when the full extent of the tragedy became evident. …

The … (group is) targeting community facilities including health clinics, food kitchens, and nonprofit service providers, to increase each installation’s impact. The group raised $150,000 in days, permitting rapid deployment of solar panel and battery pack kits to the island.

At least five PV arrays are now in place, and the organization is ramping-up fundraising and training to bring 100 sites all over the island online in 100 days, …

Community centers in Puerto Rico, such as the long-established Buena Vista in the Caño Martín Peña area of San Juan, play a critical role in storm recovery. Each serves from 20,000 to 50,000 people. Volunteers share information, help storm victims apply for aid, and give out tarps, food, medicines, and other necessities.

The PV arrays charge phones and operate computers, water purifiers (since all the reservoirs are polluted), and refrigerators that store medicines and make ice. With battery packs supplied, … the centers can operate on three shifts if they want, … since volunteers are abundant.

The sun-drenched climate makes the island a perfect candidate for PV at large scale. People are being trained to mount the arrays atop the flat concrete roofs that top most nonresidential buildings. The arrays can resist 150 MPH winds, …

With donated labor and materials acquired at cost, the 5-kW solar arrays installed by Resilient Power Puerto Rico, cost around $25,000 each, less than half their retail value.*

(The partners behind Resilient Puerto Rico) expect the development of solar hubs to grow rapidly, linked together to form microgrids that could mix solar with other renewable sources. The road to energy independence could be a source of skilled jobs—sorely lacking before the storm—as well as a clean-energy alternative that can survive future hurricanes.

* Co-founder of Resilient Power Puerto Rico, Jennifer Bolstad offered this clarification on November 9: The initial sites cost around $6000 each, mostly due to transport costs, but the later work will be closer to the $25,000 mentioned since they’ll be hiring and training a labor force. She added that their crew of volunteers from here is already on the island, 79 additional sites have been scoped out and are ready to go, and two containers of supplies for the rest of the 1st phase has just landed. She was really excited and really appreciative of our efforts (and happy with the election returns).


CAAV Hosts CCL State Conference in Harrisonburg

ccllogosnipCitizens’ Climate Lobby Virginia State Conference
Saturday, November 18, 10AM-4PM
Fire and Rescue Training Room
Rockingham County Administration Building
20 E. Gay St., Harrisonburg

Please join the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) on Saturday, November 18th for the 2017 statewide Virginia Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL) meeting. We’ll be building on recent CCL successes and on the growing support in Virginia and nationally for sensible nonpartisan climate policy. Get to know other CCL members from Virginia, share ideas, strategize, and change the political will on climate change!

The meeting agenda can be found here. It is built around our recent successes — the addition of two Virginia GOP Members of Congress to the CCL Climate Solutions Caucus and also the addition of new CCL groups in Blacksburg, Prince William County, Roanoke, Hampton Roads, and (in progress) Charlottesville.

We’ll share information and develop strategies together. How can we gain new members in Virginia? How can we increase support for carbon fee and dividend? How can we reclaim democracy by modeling respectful civic conversation? We are kindred spirits. If you attend this meeting, you’ll be among people you appreciate and enjoy.


Rockingham County Administration Building

There is no registration charge. A boxed lunch (including vegetarian options) will be available, at an estimated cost of $10-15 (you can pay at the door on Nov 18). The meeting will wrap up by 4:00 pm, so most of you will be able to make the drive home before dark.

Also consider joining CAAV members at the Golden Pony two blocks away immediately after the conference. The Golden Pony, CAAV and the Shenandoah Group of the Virginia Sierra Club are collaborating on a fundraiser to help Puerto Ricans rebuild some of their hurricane-ravaged power grid with solar energy through the work of Resilient Power Puerto Rico. More HERE.

Please let us know you are coming by RSVPing to Cindy Burbank cindy.burbank [at] comcast.net by Monday, November 6.



Population Matters! Presentation

This presentation was covered by Daily-News Record reporter Ellie Potter. Her article was published on September 20, 2017: 7.5 Billion’s A Crowd. Thanks for this great article Ellie!

“The reality is this, that the earth has become so overpopulated that its survival is at risk,” (Dr. Michael Glagano) … said, “and its survival is tied to things like its ability to produce food, clean air, clean water.”

Education is one way to help with population control, by teaching families how to plan their families. Educated women tend to be more career-driven, marrying and starting families later in life, he said.

But combating the problem across the globe is challenging when each country addresses its population growth differently.


Solving the climate change crisis is all about getting off fossil fuels, right? Install solar, switch to LED lighting, eat less meat, recycle, carpool and use alternative transportation. You’ve heard this over and over.

Yet, there’s an “elephant in the room” not getting the attention it deserves. Humans have achieved unprecedented population levels. From about 1.5 billion in 1900 to currently 7.5 billion and projected to reach 10 billion by 2050. Fossil fuels have propelled unparalelled growth and success of the human species. It is the Anthropocene after all. Sustainability will take more than changing our energy source.

History Professor Michael Galgano teaches global population issues at James Madison University. We’ve invited him to address how our sheer human numbers factor into the race to preserve enough natural resources for our continuing success.

Please join the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley at the Harrisonburg Downtown Massanutten Regional Library on Tuesday, September 19 at 6:30 PM for this critical discussion.

SVEC Members: Demand More Solar Options!


Do you get your electricity from the Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative (SVEC)? If so, you can speak out so all SVEC members can benefit from solar. SVEC’s mission statement is “We Exist to Serve Our Member-Owners,” yet its management has ignored repeated requests for more solar options from its member-owners. Further, SVEC refuses to firmly support policies ensuring the right of solar producers to get the full value of the energy they produce with solar. SVEC management has a duty to respond to member-owners interested in expanded solar options so that we can all benefit from the energy choice, job creation and grid resilience that solar provides.

Here’s what you can do:

Contact SVEC Leadership, including members of the Board of Directors, now to let them know you support solar!
Let them know, as a co-op member, you demand solar options. Call CEO Michael Hastings, 540-434-2200 or mhastings@svec.coop. Contact Barbara Frye, Manager of Consumer Services, 540-574-7241 or bfrye@svec.coop. At the end of this message, there is suggested language which you may find useful.

Attend June 8th SVEC Annual Meeting and Speak out for Solar!
Make your voice heard for solar on Thursday, June 8 at the SVEC annual meeting in Harrisonburg. The meeting will be from 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. at the JMU Convocation Center, 895 University Blvd, Harrisonburg, VA 22807.
Members get a free dinner and could win a variety of prizes, including gift certificates for electricity bills. Tickets will be mailed to members in mid-May.
As part of the agenda, there will be a question and answer session for members. This will be your opportunity to make it clear that SVEC member-owners demand their solar rights. See below for suggested language and questions.

Suggested Language for Use in Contacting SVEC and When Attending June 8 Member/Owner Meeting:

“I’m an SVEC member who values solar energy because of its benefits in energy choice, job creation and grid resilience. SVEC should ensure that every co-op member/owner can benefit from solar in a variety of ways. “

“As a member-owner, I want SVEC to guarantee that homes, farms and businesses in SVEC territory will retain their right to the full value of the energy they produce through ‘net metering’.”

“As a member-owner, I want real options for shared ‘community solar’, allowing SVEC member/owners with sites not suitable for solar to benefit from a central solar installation.”

“As a member-owner, I ask SVEC management to install solar on the new SVEC headquarters building. I recommend that SVEC join the Mountain and Valley Solar Co-op by July 15, 2017, to receive the pricing benefits from bulk purchase that this co-op can provide.”

“As a member-owner, I strongly believe that any SVEC support for policies that would short‑change solar ‘net metering’ customers, or oppose community solar is unacceptable.”

“What is SVEC doing to guarantee that homes, farms, and businesses in SVEC territory will retain their right to the full value of the energy they produce through ‘net metering’?”

“What is SVEC doing to provide real options for shared ‘community solar’ allowing SVEC members with sites not suitable for solar to benefit from a central solar installation?”

“What is SVEC doing to install solar on its new headquarters building?”

“Why shouldn’t SVEC join the Mountain and Valley Solar Co-op by July 15 to obtain the discounted pricing for solar panels that this co-op can provide?”

More about this effort from VA SUN here: Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative Member Energizes Push for Solar

Top photo by Cathy Strickler of members of the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley showing support for solar initiatives outside SVEC’s 2017 Annual Membership Meeting at JMU’s Convocation Center in Harrisonburg on Thursday, June 8.

Paris: We’re Still In!


Thanks to everyone who participated in this rally and to Christopher Clymer Kurtz and WMRA for covering it: Harrisonburg Citizens Affirm Paris Climate Accord!

Scroll down for more photos.


Join CAAV and Renew Rocktown at Pale Fire Brewery, THIS Saturday, June 10, 1-2 pm

PARIS, WE’RE STILL IN!–Make the Planet Great Again—Show the Valley we care!

Even though the President withdrew the U.S. from the U.N.’s 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, Americans are standing up to SHOUT that we still want to see our country take major steps to mitigate today’s greatest global threat: Climate Change.

Residents of Harrisonburg City & the Shenandoah Valley will be doing just that when they rally in Downtown Harrisonburg on Saturday to demonstrate our commitment to serious climate action. Hosted by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley and Renew Rocktown, the event will include speakers from local government and action groups highlighting examples of what we have been doing and can continue to do to make Harrisonburg a regional leader in climate action.

Together, we can make our community, state, and country climate resilient. Join us on Saturday to celebrate our successes, learn what else we can do, and enjoy the music of local bands. And if you missed the first Postcard to Paris celebration, you can sign that postcard Saturday!

PARIS, We’re Still In!
When: Saturday, June 10th, 1 – 2pm
Where: Pale Fire Brew Pub
Who and what: timeline and line up
1 pm Music—Doug Hendren, Dave Pruett, Carol Snell-Feikema, Nancy Beall
1:10 Pete Bsumek with opening remarks, history of Postcard, request to sign Postscript and letter
1:15 Speaker—activities of local groups—Charlotte Shristi
1:20 Speaker: City Councilman Richard Baugh
1:25 Music
1:30 Speaker–Kai Degner for Brent Finnegan (Wilt was invited)
1:35 Gov. McAuliffe’s and mayors’ statements (Joni Grady)
1:40 Speaker–Les Grady
1:45 Jeff Heie with closing words, call to actions—signing Postscript and letter to City Council, etc
1:50 – 2:00 Music for celebrating taking action!

Photo at top and photos below by Carl Droms:


Fighting Climate Change in the Courts


US Marshalls like Wyatt Earp helped clean up the lawless old West—can Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) lawyers help clean up the chaos of climate change? Can a small group of kids (Our Children’s Trust) and their lawyers demand their, and our, right to a livable planet?

We can meet, we can march, we can lobby, write letters, sign petitions, and put up solar panels. But when it comes right down to it, we live in a nation governed by the rule of law, “of the people, for the people, by the people,” and when laws are unjust, or when just laws are attacked by special interests, we also have recourse through the courts.
The “SELC believes that everyone in this region deserves to breathe clean air, drink clean water, and live in a healthy environment. This nonprofit organization gets consistently impressive results because we know how to work effectively in all three branches of government—and at the national, regional, state, and local levels—to create, strengthen, and enforce the laws and policies that determine the beauty and health of our environment.“

Speaker Will Cleveland has worked on Virginia’s Clean Power Plan, uranium mining, solar power, retiring outdated coal burning plants, biomass energy, and the power of energy efficiency among other issues, in his years at SELC so he can address almost any problem you’d like to bring up.

Our Children’s Trust elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future generations …”
Recently U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken declared “Exercising my ‘reasoned judgment,’ I have no doubt that the right to a climate system capable of sustaining human life is fundamental to a free and ordered society.”

“The decision means that the youth, age 9-20 and from all over the U.S., now have standing because their rights are at stake, and now their case (Juliana vs U.S.) is headed to trial.”

See short films about the case and some of the youth involved and learn the background and current status of this groundbreaking lawsuit.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017
6:30 – 8:00PM
Massanutten Regional Library
174 S. Main St., Harrisonburg

Hosted by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley

What a Wonderful World Earth Day Celebration


Despite the gloomy forecasts for life on Earth, we have much to celebrate! Join the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley for a program of live music, dance, readings, poetry, song, images of beautiful places, and a walk in Court Square for Tree identification.

All to honor our planet home and the lovely habitat it provides for all living things.
Free and for all ages.

Saturday, April 22, 2017
1:00-2:30pm at Massanutten Regional Library, 174 S. Main Street, Downtown Harrisonburg

Hosted by the Climate Action Alliance of the Valley with support from the Shenandoah Group of the Virginia Sierra Club

Adventures in Advocacy

door-1574304_960_720Do you know that Representative Bob Goodlatte’s local staff has regular “open door meetings” for area constituents in several communities?  Here’s a link to the schedule:  http://goodlatte.house.gov/constituent-services/open-door-meetings.htm.  Here’s what happened when I went to one of these meetings recently.

I dropped by the Grottoes Town Hall and spent an hour speaking to Debbie Garrett, District Director for the Congressman, who works in the Staunton office.  I gave her a one-pager of talking points and then covered the gist of them through a very cordial conversation.  Because there was no one else there, she and I had plenty of time to “just chat”.

I began with a “Thank you” for the Congressman’s recent support of federal legislation to provide funding for the mental ill (one of my personal interests).  After that, I mentioned that I had looked at the web site, seeking to understand Mr. Goodlatte’s position on environmental matters.  I pointed out that, despite specific items touting his support of and actions about fossil fuel energy matters, I found nothing about renewable energy (RE) or energy efficiency (EE), even though the web site says he belongs to the RE and EE Caucus.  And I commented specifically on the absence of his positions on the importance of conserving natural resources or of addressing the realities of climate change.  I added that, while I don’t know whether he believes that climate disruption is at least partly the result of human activities, I do believe that, as a representative in a state whose coastline and other areas are experiencing negative effects from the changing climate, he should at the very least understand and promote ways to mitigate their risks to VA, which I see as matters of fact and not conjecture.

Because our discussion was not very time-constrained, I was also able to tell Debbie about the Congressman’s constituents’ interest in solar energy, as evidenced by the many solar co-ops that have happened in the 6th District since spring 2014.  I also noted the economic benefits to VA that can result from greater use of solar power.  I made the point that the interest in and desire for RE options is NOT partisan.  Neither is the desire for clean air, access to clean, safe drinking water, and protection of land and its resources, property rights, and the freedom to choose one’s energy sources.

Finally, I shared with Debbie the gist of what I wanted and expected the Congressman to do (my “asks”).  I list them below.

  • Demonstrate Commitment to and Leadership for increased RE and EE to promote jobs that are stable, non‑outsourceable, and well-paying.
  • Join the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus.
  • Work with groups such as RepublicEn, headed by former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis.
  • Hold Town Hall Meetings allowing real dialogue between the Congressman and his constituents (Last minute telephone conference calls do not accomplish this.).
  • Support Fee and Dividend legislation that provides a market-driven way to reduce US dependence on fossil fuels and is revenue-neutral.

joyincircle-250My visit with Debbie was a good experience and I found her to be a good listener.  I plan to go again.

– Joy Loving, February 2017

Joy is member of the CAAV steering committee and leader of Solarize efforts in the valley.

Please note that Congressman Goodlatte’s Harrisonburg office is open most weekdays if you don’t want to wait for an “open door” meeting:
Harrisonburg Office
70 North Mason Street
Harrisonburg, VA 22802
Phone: (540) 432-2391

Retreat 2017


The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley’s Steering Committee and other committee members held their annual retreat on Saturday, February 4, to review the past year’s work and to strategize and re-energize for the coming year.

Diana Tovar Rojas, Peacebuilding Network Coordinator for Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice & Peacebuilding, facilitated the afternoon discussions on goals and strategies.

Thanks to CAAV Steering Committee Chair Joni Grady for her great work in organizing the productive day, Steering Committee member Lynn Smith for the use of her home despite her inability to attend and CAAV Recording Secretary Rickie Wertz for the photos.