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A letter to Obama

With the anniversary of President Obama’s election tomorrow, some of his staunchest supporters are waiting for action on key issues.  Foreclosures continue, unemployment remains high, and immigration and labor law reform is on hold.

“In many ways the undocumented ended up being made the bogeyman [of the health care debate] by Republicans, and got thrown under the bus by many Democrats,” writes Josh Hoyt of ICIRR at Progress Illinois.

“Meanwhile deportations have increased under the Obama administration, and it is unclear whether the political will to move forward on immigration reform will exist after the exhausting health care battle subsides.”

On Tuesday, November 3, labor, immigrant, civil rights and community groups are rallying across from Grant Park at the Spertus Institute, 610 S. Michigan, at 11:30 a.m. to  renew the push for change.  The theme is “inclusive health care reform and a progressive America,” and issues include health care reform, immigration reform, workers’ rights, LGBT rights, living wage jobs, financial regulation, action on climate change and creating a more peaceful world.

Local activists are signing a letter to President Obama “urging courage in moving forward on a broad range of challenging policy initiatives our nation urgently needs,” Hoyt writes.

“Too often, we work in silos, not seeing the humanity of others or the justice of their causes. But building an America that is fair and inclusive demands that we band together.”

From Pilsen to Copenhagen

Long scored for serious health impacts on residents of Pilsen and Little Village, Chicago’s two coal-fired power plants have also emerged as the city’s most prominent sources of carbon emissions and climate change.

On Saturday, Octobert 24 at 1 p.m., as part of a worldwide day of action on climate change, local groups will march on the Fisk power plant, 1111 W. Cermak, one of two plants operated by Midwest Generation in Chicago.

As President Obama prepares for a major international climate conference in Copenhagen next month, “We want him to see that people are marching in the streets of his home town asking for him to be a leader in the fight against climate change,” said Nicole Granacki of Greenpeace.

More at Newstips.

Poor folks and climate change

“The effects of climate change will hit low-income communities first and hardest,” writes Dan Lesser at the Shriver Brief.  And while climate change policy could stimulate the economy and create green jobs, its costs could also fall on low-income folks, he says.

The Shriver National Center on Poverty Law is planning a symposium on climate change policy and low-income communities in Chicago on September 30.

Green Christmas

Dreaming of a Green Christmas? The new Green Community Center in Oak Park is holding a Green Holiday Bazaar featuring local eco-friendly vendors this Saturday, December 6, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at New Spirit Community Church, 542 S. Scoville, Oak Park.

The Green Community Center was created to help people respond to concern over climate change and habitat destruction by learning about how they can make a difference in their daily life choices, said founder Karen Heart. A winter lecture series begins in January, along with weekly groups that will meet, using The Low-Carbon Diet as a guide, to support participants in reducing their own carbon footprint.

“People are concerned about global warming but they don’t really understand how they contribute to climate change themselves — and what they can do about it,” Heart said. “Unless we change our behaviors, we’re going to lose this battle.”

The bazaar will feature local vendors offering organic cotton t-shirts and baby clothes, soybean candles, homemade soaps, children’s toys made from recycled materials, “green books” with stories about the environment and ecological activities for kids, and organic pet food and treats, along with a green restaurant (offering gift certificates and baked goods), green home experts, and a green laundry.

Coal and climate change

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers spoke in Chicago today at the Sustainable Manufacturing Summit focused on how manufacturers can reduce their climate impact.  But local environmental and consumer groups are pointing out that Duke is building new coal plants in Indiana and North Carolina that will add 10 million tons of carbon emissions annually.

Duke’s proposed $2-billion-plus coal plant in Edwardsport in southwest Indiana is touted as using “clean coal” gasification technology, but it would add 3.5 million tons of carbon dioxide a year over the plant it is to replace, according to Grant Smith of the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana.

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Challenging the Carbon Trading Consensus

Since the Kyoto Treaty, carbon trading has been the most prominent solution under discussion for addressing global warming. Today it’s promoted by the Chicago Climate Exchange, supported by the City of Chicago and State of Illinois; it’s the centerpiece of a recent climate change pact by Midwest governors; and it’s a major feature in legislative initiatives and the platforms of presidential candidates.

Now grassroots environmental groups are challenging the consensus. Climate Justice Chicago says carbon trading is “both ineffective and unjust.” They’re sponsoring a speaking tour March 1 to 5 by author Larry Lohmann of the Durban Group for Climate Justice, a coalition of grassroots environmental justice organizations from around the world.

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Coal and Climate Change

Does the new Illinois agenda to reduce global warming emissions conflict with the state’s push to promote coal-fired electricity plants?

Global warming activists will demand “no new coal plants” at a forum this weekend which highlights the gap between the public’s concern and the actions of political leaders.

A forum Saturday, November 3, 12 noon at High Risk Gallery, 113 W. Belmont is sponsored by the Sierra Club and Step It Up, and they’ll be asking elected officials to pledge to oppose new coal plants and support major reductions in carbon emissions and the creation of millions of new green jobs.

Step It Up is planning similar events across the country for November 3 — which is one year before the 2008 election.

On Global Warming

Maybe we could invite Al Gore to Illinois to talk to the governor about mass transit funding (which he wants to cut), or coal power plants (which he wants to build) — two issues highlighted in recent Newstips on local efforts to address global warming.

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