350 Chicago's Divestment Bill Introduced in the General Assembly
Learn more about 350 Chicago's Divest IL campaign.
350 Chicago Newsletter for 3/20/23
350 Chicago Gets Illinois Divestment Introduced into General Assembly!
Derailments with Hazardous Materials
It’s been almost a month since the derailment of a train carrying toxic chemicals in East Palestine, OH. The hazardous materials that were spilled include vinyl chloride (a toxic gas), benzene (a carcinogen) and butyl acrylate (a lung irritant). These petroleum-based chemicals are all used to create plastics; in addition to harming the health of workers and communities, chemical industries are harming the planet as well. This article from Scientific American discusses the need for safer, sustainable chemicals:
Chemistry Urgently Needs to Develop Safer Materials
Please sign the petition calling for appropriate Train Derailment Response from Ohio and Pennsylvania state officials!
Doomsday Clock for Climate Crisis
An organization with support from March for Science called ClimateClock. World is selling doomsday-like clocks based on the climate crisis, specifically, the 7 years IPCC scientists tell us we have to cut emissions worldwide by 43% to avoid catastrophic, and irreversible changes to our climate. So far there are clocks in New York, Seoul, and Berlin. The organizers of the clocks say they hope the clocks will, “dramatically focus the world’s attention on our climate challenge. To help get every country in the world on a shared timeline . . . to make it clear how urgent it is to act now.” For more on the climate clocks visit: https://climateclock.world/clocks#monument
350 Chicago Launches Divest Illinois Campaign
by Ricardo Pierre-Louis
One of the most influential divestment movements in the United States occurred in the 60s and 70s. Young, hopeful college students believed that it was wrong for our government to continue to fund and finance apartheid South Africa while their human rights abuses had become so brazen and egregious. They believed that our tax dollars should not be invested in this violently racist government and started organizing campus-wide movements to stop investing in human rights abuses and it worked. In the 1980s divestment started to reach a critical mass across the U.S. Nelson Mandela even stated that the UC Berkeley’s divestment campaign (valued at $3bn) was important for helping end minority-white rule in South Africa.
Now sixty years later we’re again demanding that we put people over profit. The bottom line cannot be more important than the countless lives that will be lost to heatwaves, flooding, food scarcity, and crumbling infrastructure. Profit cannot be more important than clean air, and clean water. Profit cannot be more important than the future young people will inherit. When we look back at this moment in time we will be judged by how we responded. Did we take meaningful action to build a better future for others, or did we stand by and watch our house burn down before our very eyes. We don’t know about you, but we refuse to stand idly by while the world burns.
That’s why today 350 Chicago and our allies are proud to announce that we are kicking off our statewide divestment campaign. We demand that the largest pension funds in the state fully divest from fossil fuels. No longer can we allow our tax dollars to finance the end of the world. It’s imperative that we act now if we want to have a habitable future. If you are also someone that refuses to sit by while oil companies destroy the world around you, then join us in our campaign, our fight to fully end fossil fuel financing in the great state of Illinois.
The Willow Project and Government Accountability
by Joshua Horwitz
On Monday March 13th, the Biden Administration just approved the Willow Project, one of the largest oil drilling projects ever and the largest proposed oil project on US Public Land. The project was originally proposed under the Trump administration and allows ConocoPhillips, one of the largest oil and gas drilling companies, to drill into federal land in the petroleum reserve in northern Alaska in order to access an estimated 600 million barrels of oil. To give a sense of scale, by the Biden administration’s own estimates, the project would release over 9 million metric tons of carbon pollution into the atmosphere, the rough equivalent to 76 coal plants according to the Sierra Club’s estimates, or two new coal plants per year according to Politico and the EPA’s greenhouse gas calculator.
The approval of course flies in the face of promises Biden himself made to voters. As a candidate, Biden promised, “No more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period.” Even as recently as November 2022, in responding to a climate change activist at a press event, Biden promised there would be “No more drilling.” Clearly, the approval of the Willow Project undercuts his own legacy and promises. The Inflation Reduction Act, one of the administration’s crowning achievements was hailed by the administration as “the biggest step forward on climate ever … Ever”. Clearly the administration wants to signal to voters that they care about climate change and are working towards addressing the problem. And yet, they could have fought the Willow Project if they wanted to. As the New York Times points out, there was no court order or congressional mandate requiring the administration to approve the project.
Somewhere in the Biden administration’s political calculus, it was decided that sacrificing the health of our planet was worth it for some kind of political gain. It is ultimately up to the voters to convince the administration that this decision was a mistake. For those who wish to let the administration know they disagreed with their decision, a good starting point is the change.org petition “SAY NO TO THE WILLOW PROJECT”, already nearly at 3.5 million signatures within just one day. Activists have been taking to social media and the streets of Washington, DC to protest the Biden administration’s decision.
Meet Our Member: Melissa Brice
Today’s featured member is Melissa Brice. She is the founder of 350 Chicago! Melissa is a Chicago-area native living in a net-zero home in Bronzeville. When not busy with 350 Chicago, she is a packaging engineer for a food company, working on sustainable alternatives.
“I was feeling anger, despair and sadness when I thought about climate change and needed to act.” - Melissa Brice
What turned you into a climate activist? The great concern I have for the future of the planet; from the flora and fauna to the people, I want it all to last. It is a precious, beautiful miracle and we should treasure it. I was feeling anger, despair and sadness when I thought about climate change and needed to act.
You founded 350 Chicago! How and why? I founded 350 Chicago because I loved participating in the 350 national Keystone pipeline events. I felt energized when surrounded by a community of people of the same level of passion and determination as me and wanted to carry that with me into Chicago. I reached out to 350 National and 350 Madison to see how to get started, and Larry and I made a pact to strongly commit and dedicate time to the creation of 350 Chicago. I could not have stayed motivated without his mutual support and ambition.
Which part of 350 Chicago are you most involved with now? I manage the state divestment campaign and bring the group together for general meetings.
What's your favorite 350 Chicago memory? Meeting Bill McKibben and winning our city divestment campaign!
What's one climate action you've taken that you're proud of? Attending the 2013 Reject the Keystone Pipeline Rally in DC. It was the largest climate rally in history at the time and spurred my desire to launch the local chapter of 350 Chicago.
Early bird or night owl? Early bird these days.
Homebody or adventurer? Adventurer.
Thinker or doer? Doer.
Eggs or pancakes? Pancakes.
TV or book? Book.
See the future or change the past? Change the past.