Category Archives: Sustainable communities

ECJ Green Drinks Paterson Area & Brunch for Bees Event

Bernie Sanders meets Green DrinksAugust Environment & Climate Justice Green Drinks Paterson Area
27 August 2015 at 12 noon
Sultan Restaurant
429 Crooks Ave, Paterson, New Jersey 07011

Everyone is welcome 🙂 and there’s never a meeting charge.
Mayor información – More information: | 201-477-8711

Green Drinks are gatherings where we discuss Environmental Justice, climate change and sustainable living issues in English and Spanish!

A lot of knowledge is shared around the table each month along with tasty food and good conversation. Come spend a couple interesting hours with the friendliest bunch of EJ nuts you’ll ever meet.

Please support our host venue by eating or drinking something while we chat.


  1. Brunch for the Bees – what are we eating and drinking that bees pollinate? What foods and drink don’t need pollinators?
  2. Delta incinerator company is trying to locate facility in Paterson. It needs to be stopped.
  3. The Wei Family is setting up a community garden. How can you help?
  4. Buying a home or property in Paterson as a community collective initiative to Occupy the City
  5. Pres. Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Kimi Wei, Ivan Gomez Wei, Ariel Lopez Wei, Joseph Dunsay and Sally Gellert


Newark cancelled this month due to Labor Day
Hackensack WED 16 SEPT 7-9 PM
Paterson date TBA
(more at

Spots still open in drought policy webinar starting 1pm today 8/20

There’s room for a few more registrants in this webinar, which already has 500 participants. Sign up here.

This is the second webinar in the Food, Water and Energy Nexus Webinar Series and pathways to a sustainable future, co-hosted by Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability.

Drought in the SW United States – Water Policy of the Past, Present and Future
20 Aug 2015
1:15 to 2:45pm EDT

Hudson River Ramble activities: bike, hike, boat, play, sightsee

Hudson River Ramble activities16 years of fall activities bring thousands out to enjoy the Hudson River Ramble and Hudson Valley in southern New York State. Take a look at through the activity choices in the website and Guidebook and head out to enjoy the culture and natural beauty of this region. There’s truly something for everyone.

Every September, participation continues to grow. ‘Ramblers’ come not only from the Hudson Valley region and New York State, but from other regions of the country as well to discover the riches our Valley has to offer. Whether you are interested in a challenging hike, bike ride or paddle, an inspiring walk through the grounds and homes of some of the Valley’s most notable artists, authors, and Great Americans, a trip back in time to experience the significant role the region played in the Revolutionary War, or a family-fun festival or river exploration event, the Hudson River Valley Ramble truly offers something for everyone!

Suggested Energy Master Plan talking/writing points from Environment NJ

climate change
Brazil’s 50graus produces street signs stickers that show true climate realities
Doug O’Malley, Director of Environment New Jersey, comments: “We need to compel the BPU to meet the goals of the 2007 Global Warming Response Act. Specifically, we need to tell them what a good Clean Energy New Jersey Energy Master Plan should look like. Here are some sample talking points I helped put together for this week’s hearings – feel free to share them widely so folks feel more comfortable taking a piece and expanding on it.”

Doug also suggests focusing in on just one or two points and expanding on them. For example, if you can tie in a single point with a personal story or concern, that can be very powerful.

Doug O’Malley’s Energy Master Plan 2015 Talking Points List

  • Less fossil fuel pipelines, oil trains, off-shore LNG facilities and fracking waste, and fossil fuel power plants in our neighborhoods like the Newark Energy Center.
  • More solar and wind generation, specifically with 3,000 MW of off-shore wind energy
  • 30% of our electrical energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 through a stronger Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)
  • 30% reduction in energy use by 2030 through an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard and a robust Combined Heat & Power program
  • 80% of our energy (for both electricity and total energy) to come from renewable sources by 2050 through a visionary Renewable Portfolio Standard.

    We should be moving the state forward, not backwards, towards clean energy. New Jersey’s energy future should be built on increased solar and wind generation and more energy efficiency. We need demand response programs, green job creation, and a commitment to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. The BPU needs to stop promoting doubling down on fossil fuels and work towards energy efficiency and clean energy programs.

    The 2011 Christie Administration Energy Master Plan hurts New Jersey’s environment and economy and undermines clean energy and green jobs. This plan will continue to send jobs and money out of New Jersey while adding more pollution, and hurting our public health.

  • Christie denies Sandy is result of climate changeWe need much more aggressive clean energy goals and the Christie Administration has slowed our advances in clean energy – like the ones in the 2008 Energy Master Plan that called for 30% of our electrical energy to come from clean, renewable sources by 2020. New Jersey was on track to meet the 2008 goals, until Governor Christie repealed the previous plan’s aggressive goals. The Christie Administration rolled the 2020 goals back to 22.5% and there’s concern this standard will be cut even further.
  • The BPU Energy Master Plan doesn’t acknowledge the importance of the state Global Warming Response Act. The legislation, passed in 2006, mandated carbon reductions of 20% by 2020 and 80% by 2050, which sets forward an aggressive timeline for carbon reductions over the next 35 years.
  • The Energy Master Plan still strongly endorses the expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure across the state, especially expanding gas pipelines and gas power plants in our communities. From the fights against the South Jersey Gas pipeline through the Pinelands to the efforts to stop the bi-state PennEast pipeline that has been proposed in Mercer and Hunterdon County to the placement of four new gas power plants in the state, including in the heart of the Ironbound community in Newark, expanding fossil fuels is harmful to New Jersey residents.
  • The BPU Plan is silent on the EPA Clean Power Plan, which will federally reduce power plant pollution by 32% over the next 15 years. While the reductions are less in New Jersey (23%), it still means we need more investment in clean energy and energy efficiency to reduce New Jersey’s overall base load power demands.
  • We need a more aggressive solar energy carve-out: New Jersey was second in the nation in solar before the Christie Administration took office and we are now seventh in solar installations. We previously had 10,000 jobs in solar and we now have only 5,500, as other states have caught up to New Jersey’s policies.
  • We need to ramp up invest in energy efficiency, especially for weatherization for the residential sector, and Combined Heat & Power programs for the commercial sector. Energy efficiency programs can be a boon for consumers and businesses alike, but New Jersey has now fallen to the 19th state in the country making progress on energy efficiency, from being previously in the top 10. We are massively behind on the 2011 Energy Master Plan goal for 1500 MW from Combined Heat & Power program for commercial businesses. The Energy Master Plan should explicitly be clear that the state budget process needs to stop continually raiding the Clean Energy Fund, which has now lost $1 billion during the Christie Administration.
  • We’ve already hurt our state by pulling out of RGGI: Gov. Christie’s initial decision to pull us out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cost our state $50 million a year in revenue and more than 1800 jobs in 2011. The program has gotten stronger in the last 4 years, and New Jersey has now squandered close to $200 million that could be invested in energy efficiency program that would save consumers money.
  • We’re stalled on the 2011 Energy Master Plan goal for Off-Shore Wind: New Jersey was poised to be the first state in the nation with offshore wind, especially after Gov. Christie signed off-shore wind legislation into place five years ago calling for 3000 MW of off-shore wind, although the 2011 EMP only set a 1100 MW goal. Offshore wind projects could provide a vast majority of our energy needs but now other states are leapfrogging ahead of us.
  • The Energy Master Plan needs to do more to support and expand clean energy, energy efficiency and public transportation, VMT (Vehicle Miles Travelled) reduction programs and zero emission vehicle infrastructure, which reduces air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels. Energy efficiency is the most cost effective way to reduce greenhouse gases and help lower energy costs. Energy efficiency cuts peak demand, preventing the use of peaker plants, which prevent blackouts, air pollution, and saves New Jersey residents’ money. Energy efficiency creates jobs and will reduce our greenhouse gas pollution. Public transportation clearly provides an opportunity for residents to avoid traffic and their carbon emissions by taking NJ Transit, VMT reduction program can fund measures to encourage corporate and private car-pooling and electric vehicle charging stations, with enough penetration in public streets and private parking lots can provide a way to relieve range anxiety.

Thanks for the share Klaus Rittenbach. Klaus also comments:

The energy calculation issue is a huge issue. We are not going to hit the 2011 EMP stated goal of 22.5% of renewables from electricity generation by 2020 as per the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). BPU is saying we are on track. It would be good to challenge their numbers directly.

The EMP is a narrowly focused document and does not get to the full energy picture. The biggest issue is that the EMP doesn’t deal with energy used for transportation at all, which is the biggest source of carbon emissions in the state.

NJ Assemblyman Den Benson shared his own list of what a strong EMP should contain.

What NJ’s 2015 Energy Master Plan needs to include: Take 1

NJ State emp graphicThe New Jersey Board of Public Utilities holds three hearings this month (August 2015) to collect public input in preparation for upding the state’s Energy Master Plan (EMP). Individual state goals for cutting power plant emissions are laid out in President Obama’s new national Clean Power Plan. Assemblyman Dan Benson explains their impact on New Jersey’s EMP:

States can .. decide for themselves how to get there .. (but) if New Jersey fails to produce our own plan in compliance with the Clean Power Plan, we may be forced by the federal government into a program of its design.

This is the Assemblyman’s list of characteristics of a strong state EMP – which you can freely incorporate into your spoken or written testimony. You can also review Environment New Jersey’s list of suggested talking points:

  • Obtains input from policymakers, energy suppliers, utilities, consumers, and other stakeholders
  • Coordinates specific state implementation planning so that it will adhere to the Federal Government’s Clean Power Plan’s standards and other Federal rules
  • Includes both supply and demand-side requirements
  • Focuses on energy efficiency programs and renewable energy goals
  • Builds upon a record of the past, what was successful and what needs to change
  • Seeks to provide a blueprint for the future, with achievable and specific goals
  • Examines the impact of consumer behavior on energy usage, and how does education and other policymaking modify market and consumer behavior in a beneficial manner

The Sierra Club will help you sign up and prepare testimony for an EMP hearing.

There’s Clean Energy Call to Action rally outside Newark’s Aug 11 EMP hearing. Feel free to join in – or just check out the materials.

Join EJ rally Aug 11 on Energy Master Plan or comment at a BPU hearing

On Tuesday August 11 from 1-3PM please join Newark residents, the Ironbound Community Corporation (ICC) and allies at a peaceful rally and protest outside of Seton Hall Law School (1109 Raymond Blvd, Newark, NJ) where the Board of Public Utilities will be hosting a public hearing to review the NJ State Energy Master Plan created in 2011, which is in the process of being updated. Some community activists will wish to attend the hearing and possibly, to comment – which is an activity rallying protestors wholeheartedly endorse.

The Sierra Club comments,

The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) is putting together the 2015 Energy Master Plan (EMP) which will help determine where we get our energy from in New Jersey. The plan decides New Jersey’s priorities for clean AND dirty energy and can also set limits on how much energy we waste.

Compelling statements from environmental justice (EJ) and environmental groups were made before the 2011 plan was adopted. But community voices were ignored, with operation of existing dirty fossil fuel and incinerators not only continuing unabated, but expanding. A new 655 megawatt natural gas plant was situated in Newark’s already heavily polluted Ironbound neighborhood; and several other dirty fuel facilities were located around the state.

Let’s not allow community demands for clean energy to lose impetus because New Jersey state has recently opted to label as “clean energy” both nuclear energy and fracked natural gas – which are anything but … are also dangerous to the environment and cause health issues too.

Since the facilitators of public hearings do not listen to the community anyway, the EJ community is taking their objections, concerns and demand for real solutions to the street and demanding JUSTICE across the board, including: Energy Justice, Environmental Justice, Climate Justice. Stefan Ali of the ICC writes,

The last time there were public hearings on the Energy Plan, industry was allowed to speak first and concerned residents spoke at the end when the media had left. We want to make our voices heard by protesting and rallying.

The August 11 action will not be about standing around listening to an endless roster of speakers. Instead, there will be activities, performances, music and some fun street puppets as well. Please join in and support #actonclimate!

Please email or phone Molly Greenberg at 973.817.7013 x217 or 218 for additional information.

Should you wish to comment on the New Jersey Energy Master Plan 2015 and the state’s energy future, you can do so in person or electronically. Here are your options:

  • Comment in person at one of the three public hearings taking place on August 11, 13 and 17; or
  • Submit a public comment electronically through the Sierra Club’s website. Please feel free to edit any information which already appears in the Sierra Club’s form by adding to it or you can entirely replace their wording with your own.
  • Send your comment directly to the State of NJ. Written public comments on updates to the 2011 Energy Master Plan can be submitted by close of business on Wednesday, August 24, 2015 to


  1. BPU Hearing Schedule for the NJ Energy Master Plan 2015
  2. NJ Spotlight article looks at some issues the BPU needs community feedback on
  3. Download English & Spanish language fliers for the August 11 rally

Fabulous animated NASA graphic clearly shows the cause of global warming

Greenhouse gases create global warmingNASA’s Goddard Institute has gathered data on various conditions that could be the cause of rising earth temperatures – but aren’t – as well as data on greenhouse gas emissions, which is the primary cause. Don’t take my word on it – see for yourself.

Help for pollinators – from the simple to the sublime

pollinator friendly actionsNational Pollinator Week (June 15-21) just ended but nobody’s going to mind if you keep supporting beautiful bees and butterflies all year round. Your kids will actually thank you one day.

For inspiration, check out the probono project With Honey In My Heart is leading to transform a paved San Francisco street into a pollinator sanctuary but remember – the power to save our pollinators lies within easy reach of most of us.

Pollinator Blvd

Pope Francis’ climate change encyclical might be a global game changer

vatican ws - encyclical imageOn Thursday, Pope Francis released his 180-page papal encyclical, “On Care for Our Common Home”, which sets for the need for the people of the world to halt climate change and end global social injustice. I have high hopes that his statement will change our world, transforming personal human choices that have led us to the brink of nature’s destruction and ultimately, our own … because the Pope’s standing as a world leader is never in dispute.

pope-francis-600I have noticed that even lapsed Catholics, people whom are not Catholics and people who do not believe in Christ, nonetheless respect the Pope and pay attention to His Holiness’ edicts and opinions.

The Guardian provides an overview of the encyclical. Here’s an excerpt:

Pope Francis has called on the world’s rich nations to begin paying their “grave social debt” to the poor and take concrete steps on climate change, saying failure to do so presents an undeniable risk to a “common home” that is beginning to resemble a “pile of filth”.

The pope’s 180-page encyclical on the environment, released on Thursday, is at its core a moral call for action on phasing out the use of fossil fuels.

But it is also a document infused with an activist anger and concern for the poor, casting blame on the indifference of the powerful in the face of certain evidence that humanity is at risk following 200 years of misuse of resources.

Up to now, he says, the world has accepted a “cheerful recklessness” in its approach to the issue, lacking the will to change habits for the good of the Earth.

“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” the papal statement says. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

…The pontiff included a personal handwritten note in his communication, ending with a plea for help: “United in the lord, and please do not forget to pray for me.”

Another Guardian article shares reactions from scholars and citizens around the world. Prof Ian Gough speaks to the difference between need and greed, terms Pope Francis reintroduces to global discussion that modern economics has buried:

• Pope Francis’s encyclical “on care for our common home” introduces two terms buried by modern economics: “need” and “greed”. These represent two opposing worldviews. One seeks to satisfy our wants or preferences, which are limitless, non-satiable, substitutable and amoral. The other prioritises meeting universal human needs, which are limited, sufficient, non-substitutable and with clear ethical grounding. By counterposing these and putting them centre-stage, he has clarified the egregious moral dilemma inherent in climate change in a way that can unite both religion and humanism.

The pope also takes issue with the arguments of green growth, which is the current dominant strategy to handle climate change. Yes, we must support the fastest possible decarbonisation of the global economy through eco-efficiency, as Nicholas Stern persuasively argues in his new book, but at some point, very soon, we will need to switch to post-growth strategies.

This revolutionary encyclical challenges both current ethics and economics.
Prof Ian Gough
London School of Economics

I’m interested in knowing your views on the Pope’s encyclical and the impact it may have on our world. Please share …

We need Green Infrastructure, and EPA infographic shows why

EPA GI infographicThis EPA infographic may just be the mother of all Green Infrastructure elucidations. It shows many different ways to incorporate GI in communities and how this helps us conserve water, reduce energy use, reduce flooding risks and make both buildings and Planet Earth, cooler.

Wikipedia‘s Green Infrastructure definition is pretty empty: it doesn’t help us paint a mind picture of what GI is.

Green Infrastructure or blue-green infrastructure is a network providing the “ingredients” for solving urban and climatic challenges by building with nature.

But American Rivers helps us understand the scope and relevance of Green Infrastructure.

Green infrastructure is an approach to water management that protects, restores, or mimics the natural water cycle. Green infrastructure is effective, economical, and enhances community safety and quality of life.

It means planting trees and restoring wetlands, rather than building a costly new water treatment plant. It means choosing water efficiency instead of building a new water supply dam. It means restoring floodplains instead of building taller levees.

Green infrastructure incorporates both the natural environment and engineered systems to provide clean water, conserve ecosystem values and functions, and provide a wide array of benefits to people and wildlife.