BlueGreen Alliance

Good Jobs, Clean Environment, Green Economy

A year ago today, the families of 15 people—including 12 volunteer firefighters—in the town of West, Texas started their day not knowing that they had given their last goodbye to their loved ones. The small community of 2,800 was devastated when a fire broke out at a fertilizer plant, leading to an explosion that felt like a 2.1 magnitude earthquake. The blast killed 15, injured hundreds, destroyed 120 homes and damaged 200 dwellings.

Footage of the explosion from three different angles from WTSP.

Business owner Bryan Anderson was in his truck with his son Kaden when the explosion occurred near the middle school, he said, “It blew us across the road. The glass and debris and airbags.” He and Kaden were injured but survived. Even today his son is frightened by loud noises and attends therapy weekly. “It’ll never be the same,” said Anderson. “But every time I really do get down I think of all the people that have it way worse than me. I’ve got a bunch of phone numbers in my phone that I can’t call anymore, and I could be one of those. Kaden could be one of those.”

Posted In: Texas, Work, Environment and Public Health

THE TOP 10 FOR APRIL 17 

One year after – The community of West, Texas is still recovering a year after a deadly blast at a fertilizer plant killed 15 people and injured hundreds. (Wall Street Journal) 

Scary – In Houston, Texas, nearly 100 schools are near toxic chemical facilities. Nationally, 4.6 million children attend schools near chemical facilities, according to a new study. (Houston Public Media) 

Things are looking up – Clean energy investment is off to a good start this year. Will it be a big year? (Christian Science Monitor) 

The following blog has been crossposted from  on APRIL 15, 2014. The original is online here.

It’s hard to believe that last year’s bad weather cost taxpayers like you and I around $277 million in damages across the state—a $67 million increase from the year before. Had our infrastructure been better prepared in the first place, this money could have been spent elsewhere in many different ways.

Of course we can’t prevent dangerous weather from happening, but we can do more to prevent the electric grid, wastewater treatment systems and more from breaking down on us as easily the next time around.


Posted In: Michigan

This crosspost is from Callum Beals, an editorial intern at Sierra. You can find the original here

The American Public Transportation Association is partying like it's 1956. That's because Americans took 10.65 billion trips on public transit systems in 2013 -- numbers not seen since the 1950s. In its annual ridership report, APTA stated that more Americans were using trains, buses, and subways as an alternative to commuting to work by car.

The 2013 numbers narrowly surpassed the post-1950s high of 10.59 billion in 2008, when gas prices ballooned. According to APTA, what makes the 2013 numbers so exciting is that gas prices are lower now than they were in 2008.


Posted In: Infrastructure, Transportation, Sierra Club

THE TOP 10 FOR APRIL 16 

Meetings – Representatives from the electric power industry are meeting with the White House to talk about the Environmental Protection Agency’s forthcoming rules to reduce carbon emissions in current stationary sources, like power plants. (The Hill) 

10 percent – U.S. greenhouse gas emissions fell nearly 10 percent between 2005 and 2012 and we are more than halfway toward our pledged United Nations emissions reduction target. (Reuters) 

Backup plan – An editorial says the world should have a backup plan to deal with climate change(Washington Post) 

THE TOP 10 FOR APRIL 15 

Tell us something we don’t know – An article points out that political fights have gotten in the way of progress on climate change(New York Times) 

A year later – Texas regulators are still trying to improve the information flow about dangerous chemicals between state agencies and fire departments a year after the West, Texas explosion. (E&E News) 

Letters – Several letters to the editor highlight climate change as a vital issue to our future and take to task an opinion piece on the issue printed recently. (New York Times) 

We all have a general awareness about the power of severe weather—that it can cause a lot of damage and that it can destroy millions of dollars of property in a matter of minutes or seconds, for example. What we didn’t know was the full extent of what it is all costing us. A new report out by Climate Central reveals some sobering facts that show just how prevalent and destructive extreme weather has been over the past few years, and how we need to so something about it. 

Sticker shock 

Climate change is getting worse. Weather-related events caused 80 percent of all outages between 2003-2012. Michigan led all of the states with 71 major weather related outages. Michigan residents certainly paid for it too—to the tune of $277 million—which is what it cost to repair all weather related damages in the state last year. All in all, from 2011-2012 Americans spent $188 billion in repairs on extreme weather damages. 

Apart from having clean water, electricity is a basic need that we all depend on. When outages are interrupting our lives more and more frequently, like they are today, it’s time to talk more about what we can do about it.

Posted In: Infrastructure

THE TOP 10 FOR APRIL 14

Renewables key to addressing climate – The Intergovernmental Panel and Climate Change’s (IPCC) newest report says a rapid shift to less-polluting energy is vital to tackling climate change. (USA Today)

Avoiding the worst – The IPCC report says greenhouse gas emissions have doubled despite action to reduce them, but also gives a ray of hope by asserting that there’s still time to avert the worst impacts of climate change(Wall Street Journal)

THE TOP 10 FOR APRIL 11

Laying the groundwork – A bipartisan group of four Senators laid out the framework for a transportation bill  that would renew funding. The current bill expires in October. Additionally, here are five recommendations on how to fix the  Highway Trust Fund. (Washington Post)

Troubling news - According to a UN report, greenhouse gas emissions grew twice as fast over the last 10 years as in the 30 years prior. (The Guardian)

THE TOP 10 FOR APRIL 10

Power out – The number of weather-related power outages have doubled since 2003, according to a new report by Climate Central. (Climate Central)

Mitigation warning – The UN’s third report on climate change—due to be released this Sunday—suggests renewable energy is a key tool in fighting climate change. (Wall Street Journal)

Don’t go back – A Toledo Blade editorial urges lawmakers not to roll back the progress of a clean energy law that has shrunk electricity bills and brought about progress in the state. (Toledo Blade)