Pittsburgh’s Energy Upheaval

Penn Future – Pittsburghs Energy Upheaval

A Coal-Fired Power Plant
A Coal-Fired Power Plant

Over 200 Pittsburghers gathered at Phipps Conservatory Sunday March 29th to discuss the future of climate change action in the region.  The group Citizens for Pennsylvania Future (Penn Future) organized the event – bringing together activists, government workers and scientists together – to talk about recent major developments in energy and the environment.

Pennsylvania’s a coal state – responsible for 1 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – but now the state’s on the precipice of a new era for energy use and production. After decades of talking about climate change and the need for dramatic action, 2009 looks to be a watershed year.

Suddenly there’s lots of money for  solar & wind energy production and for improving the energy efficiency of our buildings and infrastructure.  But the big question remains: will people change their lifestyles in response?

Produced for Rustbelt Radio.


Green Jobs in Steel Country

Green Jobs in Braddock

Rob Rogers in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Rob Rogers in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The promise of green jobs proliferated on the presidential campaign trail and in the stimulus package.  Now it’s come to Braddock, the quintessential Rust Belt town on the outskirts of Pittsburgh.  Braddock’s been in the news lately, with its young tattooed mayor John Fetterman appearing on The Colbert Report & a long profile in The New York Times last month. 

This burst of national attention comes after a rough past two decades.  Since the steel industry petered out in the mid-1980s, no other industry has come into the town – and unemployment, drug use, and violent crime all remain high.  A new program has started up in Braddock – the Mon Valley Environmental Innovative Training program (or MOVE IT) – to train area residents to be environmental technicians.  The Pittsburgh area has plenty of post-industrial pollution problems, and MOVE IT aims to supply a new crop of ‘green workers’ to remediate brownfield sites.

The first group of MOVE IT trainees just graduated from the 9 week course – and what do they think now?  Do they believe in the promise of green jobs?  Do they care more about the environment?  And are they optimistic about finding work in this economy?

After the Obama Campaign

 Dan Gore After Obama

Obama in Pittsburgh
Obama in Pittsburgh

Dan Gore founded the University of Pittsburgh chapter of Students for Obama two years ago, and spent the time since then running a massive drive to get the university vote out. The response was enormous in Pittsburgh, just as it was nationwide, but now that the campaign has given way to the administration, it’s not clear whether the mass political mobilization can be sustained. Dan reflects on the winding down of the campaign, the start of Obama’s time in Washington, and his own political future.

And if you want to enter the world of political junkie-ism, Dan’s got a few recommendations for online reading.  For a more balanced perspective there’s http://politico.com or http://politicalwire.com.   But if you’re looking for bombast or bias, he has some other picks.  Leftists and liberals, head to http://dailykos.com, or http://mydd.com.  And the Republicans – http://redstate.com.

Guantánamo Uyghurs

The Guantanamo Uyghurs

The Five Uyghur Detainees released in 2006 to Albania
The Five Uyghur detainees released in 2006 to Albania

The countdown to Bush’s exit is on — and it has special meaning to a group of 17 Uyghur men who have been incarcerated in Guantánamo Bay detention facilities since 2001 –despite having been cleared of enemy combatant status as as early as 2003.  If soon to be-President Obama closes Guantánamo, the Uyghurs will finally be released — but the question then is, where will they go?

The Uyghurs are Turkic Muslims from the far West of China, but the US refuses to return them to China for fear of the abuse and execution they would face there.  China and the Uyghurs are locked in a long-standing low-level conflict, like that of China and the Tibetans. 

But even though it doesn’t want to give China the Uyghur detainees, the Bush administration won’t admit them to the US, and it hasn’t been able to persuade European, Canadian, or Australian governments to resettle them either.  If the Guantánamo system is finally closed in the coming weeks, the question of ‘what next’ for the detainees may prove just as Kafkaesque as their past seven years. 

Produced for RustBelt Radio

Election 08: A Ron Paul Convert

Claire Hagan on Ron Paul

Ron Paul Humor
Ron Paul Humor

The election is long over, but the 2008 presidential candidates – and their supporters — persist.  Republican Congressman Ron Paul didn’t make it on the ticket in November, but his appearances in the primary debates brought him a wide crop of new supporters – including Claire Hagan, a social worker in Baltimore. 

After watching him face off with the other Republican candidates last year, she found him to be the only real conservative on the stage and has been a Ron Paul convert since.   No matter his ‘out-there’ reputation, Claire believes in his program for cutting government agencies, pulling out of Iraq, and abiding closely to the Constitution.  She’ll even buy you a copy of his book if you show any degree of interest in him.

Produced for The Politics Show.