Photos: Climate Activists Camp on Amherst Town Common

Dozens of activists spent the night in the cold on the Amherst town common February 20 - 21 to call for action on global warming. More than 150 people attended a rally in support of the campers. The event was organized by The Leadership Campaign www.TheLeadershipCampaign.org The first photo was taken February 20 in Amherst. The second was taken at another recent "camp out" organized by the Campaign.

Climate Actions Around the Valley Oct. 24

Activists are planning a mass bicycle ride, marches, rallies with speakers and live music, and other actions around the Valley on Saturday, October 24 to protest the government’s lack of meaningful action on climate change. Climate change resulting in large part from burning fossil fuels in cars, electricity generation, and heating and cooling buildings, is causing glaciers to melt, which in turn causes flooding of places where people live and grow food. Droughts and severe rainfall are both becoming more common, which makes it harder for farmers to grow food.

Feds To Hold Hearing on Polluting Power Plant

On August 13 at 7 p.m. in Russell, Mass. – about a 30 minute drive from Northampton - the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a public hearing about a plan by a Connecticut corporation that wants to build polluting power plants in Greenfield, Russell, Palmer, Fitchburg and Pittsfield.

Russell Biomass Corporation says it wants to discharge hot, contaminated effluent into the Westfield River, a federally-designated "wild and scenic river" that is home to endangered Atlantic salmon.

The hearing will be at the Russell Elementary School auditorium: 155 Highland Avenue.

Proposed Local Biomass Plants Debated

Biomass - burning wood and other organic products for energy and heat - has elicited intense passions throughout the Pioneer Valley as proposals to build plants in Greenfield, Springfield and Russell receive public airing.

Nashawannuck Pond To Get Facelift

The city of Easthampton, Mass., near Northampton, and the federal Army Corps of Engineers have awarded a contract worth $1.5 million to Palmer Federal Constructors, Inc. for dredging Nashawannuck Pond. Slated to begin in August, the dredging is the first step of the Aquatic Habitat Restoration of Nashawannuck Pond project. At an approximate cost of $2.5 million dollars, the aim of the project is to repair the ecosystems for aquatic life and to minimize so-called “nonpoint source” pollution threats to the pond.

Valley Activists Fight Proposed Power Plants

More than 250 people turned out for a second public hearing on a proposed polluting power plant in Greenfield on June 25. City officials allowed only about 12 people to speak, though many more members of the public wanted to speak. Of those who spoke, only one was in favor of the proposal.

Vermont Governor Opposes Health Care, Cuts Environment Protection

On June 24, Vermont governor Jim Douglas personally lobbied President Obama to reject universal health care. “This governor does not represent the wishes of the people of Vermont,” said Richard Davis, director of the Guilford, Vermont-based www.universalhealthvt.org Guilford borders Brattleboro.

Meanwhile, the Burlington Free Press newspaper reported that the number of people working at the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources is down almost 10 percent over the last six months. Douglas eliminated 58 jobs in the agency. That number includes 11 people laid off between June 22 and June 24.

Collapse Leaves Parts of Downtown Keene Without Water

A major water main broke at around 3 a.m. on May 8 in downtown Keene leaving residents with no water or low water pressure. Water and Sewer Superintendent Joseph W. Tonweber told the Keene Sentinel that the collapse “blew a big hole in the street." The crater reached from a sidewalk fence to the middle of the road, he said.

Steve Chase lives in Keene, where he is director of Antioch University’s program in Environmental Advocacy.

What Now?

With the closing of big box stores in Brattleboro and Hinsdale, local environmentalists consider how to reuse sites in a greener, more economically responsible way

Four years ago, Home Depot opened a store in Brattleboro directly across the street from a locally owned hardware store. A citizens' group called BrattPower quickly formed to call for a boycott of the giant corporate chain. Members of the group stood outside the Home Depot holding "Shop Local" signs and talking to passersby about the importance of keeping their money in the community.

No Way to Run a Railroad

There is just one passenger train a day that runs down the length of the Valley. Assuming the train is on time, which it often isn’t, it takes two hours and nine minutes to get from Brattleboro, Vt. to Springfield, Mass. That’s an average speed of 27 miles per hour. (The train makes just one stop, in Amherst.) Driving from Brattleboro to Springfield usually takes under an hour.