Thursday, October 23, 2014

Yes on Question 2

Election day, Tuesday, November 4, is fast approaching. Please help get the word out about voting yes on Question 2, which will update the state’s long-standing and successful bottle bill to include water, sports drinks, juice and other non-carbonated beverage bottles. These types of bottles are a major source of litter.

Check out Progressive Massachusetts' webpage about all four of the ballot questions: Ballot Questions - November 4, 2014.

And download this handy scorecard.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Solar rooftop map gives you all the numbers


By Eric Smalley

The Boston Solar Map just got a lot more useful. The site has had a high-tech makeover and can give you a detailed estimate for installing a rooftop solar electric system for pretty much any home in the city. Give it a try here: www.mapdwell.com/en/boston. Type in an address – or click on a rooftop on the map –  and you’ll be able to see all the numbers, including how many trees worth of carbon you’ll be saving by putting solar on your roof and how long it will take you to break even.

The estimates include carbon offset (in CO2 tons, trees, 60-Watt lightbulb days, air conditioning hours, driving miles and flying miles), cost to owner, years until payback, and a detailed breakdown of credits and revenue. The Boston Solar Map was made by Mapdwell LLC, which licensed the underlying technology from MIT. In addition to Boston, Mapdwell has solar system maps for Cambridge, Wellfleet, Washington DC and Washington County, Oregon.

The Boston Solar Map assumes an installed system cost of $5.33 per watt. The map uses a sophisticated model to determine the amount of sunlight that hits each roof. Here’s the company’s description:
The tool uses high-resolution (1- by 1-meter grid) Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data to create a three-dimensional model of the sample terrain that accounts for the shape of building rooftops and structures, existing infrastructure, and tree foliage. The model is later used as the base for evaluating the amount of solar irradiation that falls on each unit of surface – for every single hour of a typical year – and determining its individual potential for solar electric generation using photovoltaic (PV) panels.
Mapdwell says that its technology has been validated to a 5 percent margin of error.

Take a look at your house on the map, then consider making it happen. Take the next step here: www.nextstepliving.com/partners/rozziesolar.

Tell your neighbors!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Residents say no to West Roxbury pipeline

By Eric Smalley

On the eve of a primary election, more than 100 people turned out for a public meeting at the Dedham Holiday Inn last night held by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to hear comments about a natural gas pipeline slated to run from Westwood through Dedham into the heart of West Roxbury. The proposed route places the pipelines adjacent to an active quarry that does blasting about three times a week and has heavy truck traffic.

The meeting was called to comment on FERC’s draft environmental impact statement for the planned expansion of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Gas Transmission natural gas pipeline. The expansion would increase the capacity of the pipeline, which runs from New Jersey to Beverly. The project includes a new, 5-mile spur into West Roxbury.

A near universal concern was the lack of notice for the meeting and for an earlier informational session held by Spectra Energy. Many, including City Councilor Matt O’Malley, State Rep. Ed Coppinger, and representatives for Mayor Marty Walsh and City Counselor Michelle Wu, called for a second meeting. Despite the short notice and proximity to the election, more people turned out than the meeting’s organizers anticipated. Hotel staff put out an additional 30 chairs shortly after the meeting started.

Twenty-seven people spoke, two in favor of the pipeline and the rest expressing concern. Many voiced vigorous opposition. Here’s an audio recording of the hour-and-a-half comment session.

Here’s a sampling of the comments:

Several residents who live near the quarry said they were concerned about having a natural gas pipeline so close to such powerful explosions. “I live about two blocks from the quarry and when they blast in the quarry my whole house shakes like there’s been an explosion in the basement,” said Catherine Arnold, a Boston public school teacher.

Edward Doyle, a retired engineer and Dedham resident, noted that the environmental impact statement doesn’t include a list of structures that would be within 300 feet of the pipeline. “If there’s going to be a pipeline coming into Boston, it shouldn’t be through these high residential areas,” he said.

Doyle also referred to the San Bruno, California gas explosion and 1,000-foot fireball that killed eight people 4 years ago today. The pressure in that pipeline was 386 PSI. The pressure in the proposed West Roxbury pipeline would be 750 PSI.

Judy Kolligian of the Boston Climate Action Network noted that there are 4,000 gas leaks in National Grid’s distribution network in Boston and said that we should get a handle on fixing these before a new pipeline is built.

Several speakers expressed concern that the project could enable more fracking and gas export. And many speakers cited the threats to public health, the environment and the climate. “The cost estimates cited don’t include the health costs, the risk of worsening climate change, the loss of habitat and the deforestation,” said Susan Bergman, a physician from Framingham.

FERC is accepting additional comments until September 29. There are two ways to comment, either through FERC’s eFile system (follow the eFile link on the top right of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement information page) or by printing out this form and mailing it in.

Monday, September 8, 2014

West Roxbury pipeline: health, safety and climate at risk


Source: Spectra Energy

By Eric Smalley

Please take advantage of a rare chance to comment on a natural gas pipeline expansion near our neighborhood. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is holding a public comment meeting in our area about the capacity expansion of Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Gas Transmission natural gas pipeline. The expansion includes a new, 5-mile spur into West Roxbury.

The public comment period on FERC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement (PDF) for the project ends September 29. You can comment either in person at the meeting or online using FERC’s eFile system (follow the eFile link on the top right of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement information page).

The meeting is Monday, September 8, at 6:30 PM at the Holiday Inn Dedham, 55 Ariadne Road, Dedham, MA 02026.

Here’s some background on the pipeline and its expansion:

The Algonquin Gas Transmission pipeline begins in New Jersey, where it connects to the Texas Eastern Pipeline, which brings natural gas from Texas to the northeast. The pipeline ends in Beverly, where it connects to the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, which runs from Nova Scotia through Maine and New Hampshire. The Beverly facility also connects to a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) port 10 miles offshore.

The stated purpose of the expansion, labeled Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) Project, is to increase the pipeline’s capacity for delivering natural gas to New England, where the current pipeline capacity is blamed for higher energy costs. Much of the gas that flows through the pipeline to New England comes from fracking operations in Pennsylvania and other parts of the Marcellus Shale Region as well as the deep South.

It also looks like domestic natural gas producers, including fracking operators, could use the expanded infrastructure to export natural gas. Here’s an excerpt from an energy industry blog post:
Despite the challenges they would likely face, as many as four companies are exploring the possibility of exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the Canadian Maritimes to Europe, Latin America and Asia... Now there is serious talk of reversing [Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline]. Spectra Energy, majority owner in MNP, in early February initiated an open season on the proposed Atlantic Bridge project, which would expand Spectra’s Algonquin Gas Transmission and MNP systems, and move Marcellus and other U.S.-sourced gas north on MNP into Maine.
Exports could increase the demand for fracking and contribute to the continuing increase in the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.

One of several grassroots organizations that oppose the pipeline expansion, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), is against the project because it threatens to “exacerbate climate change, endanger our safety and quality of life, contaminate water, air and soil, cause harm to domestic animals and wildlife, and threaten farmland and property values.”

People’s Climate March

You can also make yourself heard on a global scale. Join people from all over the country and all over the world at the People’s Climate March in New York City on Sunday, September 21. 350 Massachusetts is sending busloads of Bay Staters to the Big Apple. You can catch a bus from Jamaica Plain. Sign-up ends Wednesday, September10. For tickets and more information, contact 350 Massachusetts.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Cancer, a house on fire, and an unstoppable snowball



If you’ve been looking for that one video that conveys the urgency of climate change, places it in a very human and personal context, and offers realistic advice about what you can do, this is it. It’s a talk by University of Toronto psychology professor Dan Dolderman. Here’s an interview with Dolderman: Can an 'Unstoppable Snowball' fight climate change and change the world?

- Eric Smalley

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Rozzie Roofs Sprout Solar Panels

Photo: Eric Smalley

The Rozzie Solar Challenge is making great progress. In less than a year 11 homes have added solar panels to their roofs and 11 more are in progress. If you (or anyone you know) are interested in learning about your options for putting solar panels on your roof, there will be a workshop on Monday, May 19 at 6:30 PM in the community room at the Longfellow House.


If your roof passes an initial online screening for suitability, you can schedule a no-cost assessment to determine if your home can go solar. Everyone who has the assessment will receive $50 in Rozzie Bucks, which can be redeemed at many shops and restaurants in Roslindale.

For more info, contact Josh Lynch of Next Step Living at josh.lynch@nextsteplivinginc.com.

- Eric Smalley

The City and the Rising Sea

The April 4 issue of the Boston Globe Magazine has an article about the city's preparations for climate change: How Boston is — and should be — preparing for rising seas. The article identifies five things Boston is doing and five things Boston should be doing.


Five things Boston is doing now:
  • Fostering public-private coordination
  • Building with higher sea levels in mind
  • Ensuring that the city's emergency services function without grid power
  • Requiring developers to plan for sea-level rise
  • Flood-proofing microgrids.


Five things Boston should be doing:
  • Study a storm surge barrier
  • Use its political and economic power to lead the state and the private sector
  • Retrofit homes for flood preparedness
  • Coordinate with neighboring towns and area universities
  • Move vulnerable infrastructure and facilities inland

    - Eric Smalley