Climate Action: From Local to Global

Note: On Sunday 17, September 17, people concerned about climate change are invited to join a demonstration calling for climate action on the Broad Street Bridge in Nevada City, California following the Constitution Day Parade, which begins at 2. Everyone is invited to join. Some of us marching in the parade’s Minewatch contingent will be there with our NO MINE signs. This article describes why these two issues go together.

It is past time to have another big climate demonstration here in Nevada County, as we face the shared reality that the ravages of climate change that scientists warned us about decades ago are upon us. This summer’s record-breaking heat waves and other extreme disasters (including on Maui and now in Florida) bring home to us the extent of damage caused by a 1.2 ͦ C (2 ͦ F) rise in average global temperatures.  (See Global Citizens’ “Shocking Photos of Extreme Weather Around the World in 2023 So Far.”) The terms unprecedented, the new normal, and apocalyptic have become common but do not adequately express the climate emergency that has come upon us. Today’s disasters provide a preview of what’s coming if we don’t turn around and change our ways, a “new abnormal” of escalating dangers. At the current rate, greenhouse gas emissions will raise global temperatures by 3 or 4 ͦ C by the end of this century, and our beloved Earth will become progressively inhospitable to life.

Many of us respond as individuals or groups to these weather-related disasters through relief efforts, by donating money or with hands-on help. Some individuals, faith communities, and other organizations are adapting to climate change by “greening” their lifestyles and facilities. Some communities are working to become resilient and to be prepared for disasters. Nevada County has detailed plans and initiatives to address both Climate resilience and Emergency Preparedness. A primary focus is on being prepared for the danger of wildfires made worse by climate change. These actions provide relief, demonstrate renewable alternatives, reduce our carbon footprints, and offer a witness to our concern and care for our community, our global neighbors, and future generations.

Here in Nevada County, we have taken our collective response to climate change even further. We have expanded our work of relief, adaptation, and resilience to also take on the work of mitigation. In 2019, our Board of Supervisors adopted a Nevada County Energy Action Plan. Its goal is to “reduce the projected annual grid supplied electricity use in 2035 by 51% and annual natural gas use by 30%” through “energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water efficiency.” Following through with this plan allies us with others here in California and around the world who are taking coordinated actions to mitigate climate change, that is, to halt and reverse the upward trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions.

We should all be grateful for the work that has brought us to this point and support other such forward-looking policies in the future. This requires vigilance, which means paying attention to local development decisions, and it means adding our voices and our bodies to the struggle to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change and to protect the rural quality of life here in Nevada County.

A most pressing local development challenge continues to be the actions of Rise Gold, which, according to Market Screener, is “a Canada-based exploration-stage mining company” whose “principal asset is the past-producing Idaho-Maryland Gold Mine…” Now that the Planning Commission has gone on record opposing the mine, this foreign corporation is now threatening to force our County to accept the reopening of the old Idaho-Maryland Mine by filing a petition granting them the “vested right to mine.” This would mean proving that the Idaho-Maryland Mine is not a “past-producing mine” but has been a working mine all along.

As mentioned above, Nevada County’s Energy Action Plan calls for gradually reducing both electricity and natural gas use, but Rise Gold’s projected electrical and natural gas use would cancel out this plan. There would be massive carbon emissions caused by diesel-powered heavy equipment used for constant construction during the first year and half; ongoing continuous excavating, underground blasting, drilling, rock crushing, loading, hauling, unloading, spreading, and compacting to create engineered fill up to seven stories tall; continuous mine dewatering by pumping, treating and sending millions of gallons of wastewater down Wolf Creek; increased new diesel truck traffic (up to 100 round trips a day, seven days a week, 16 hours a day). This would result in significant increases in greenhouse emissions rather than decreases as outlined in the county’s Energy Action Plan.

There are plenty of other reasons to oppose reopening the mine, including the harmful impacts this working gold mine in the City of Grass Valley would have on our land, air, water, endangered species, and quality of life. Furthermore, Rise Gold has a terrible track record. CEO Ben Mossman is waiting to be sentenced after being convicted of fourteen counts in Canada for the environmental harm a previous mine of his caused there. Locally, this foreign corporation has misrepresented facts and has falsely claimed that our community is in favor of reopening the mine, despite broad, sustained, and reasoned opposition. Find details at the Minewatch website.

I will be part of the Minewatch contingent in the Constitution Day Parade at 2 p.m. on Sunday, September 17. This happens to also be the Global Day of Action to End Fossil Fuels, the day on which public demonstrations will take place around the world, including in New York, San Francisco, Sacramento, and here in our community. That’s why after the parade you will find me standing on the Broad Street Bridge with others who are concerned about climate change and the mine’s potential impacts on climate. I know from experience that it will be fun and energizing. I would love to see you there.

Climate Change and Faithful Banking

This year the World Council of Churches put forth the initiative, “Climate-Responsible Finance: A Moral Imperative towards Children,” which links the deadly impacts of climate change on the world’s children with the strategy of engagement with banks that are invested in fossil fuels. At the launch of this initiative in May 2022, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “It is now time for financial service providers to accelerate the shift to renewables. They have the power – and the responsibility. The scientific and moral imperative is clear: there must be no new investment in fossil fuel expansion, including production, infrastructure, and exploration.” 

Clearly, the climate impacts of our investments are linked to ethical decisions about our money. Here in the United States, an organization called Third Act, which is geared toward elders, is taking this connection to heart. Formed by seasoned climate organizer (and United Methodist) Bill McKibben, Third Act promotes both democracy and effective climate action.

Locally, four local climate organizations are sponsoring an “Day of Action” on March 21st, in coordination with Third Act’s Banking on Our Future Campaign. It will be a rally at the intersection of Sutton and Brunswick from 3:30 to 5:30. All are welcome at this intergenerational event.

The Banking on our Future Campaign focuses on the four top banks that fund fossil fuel projects: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citibank. This “money pipeline” from banks enables fossil fuel companies to build new extraction, transportation, processing, sales, and export infrastructure that lock us into increasing fossil fuel use and accelerating global heating for decades–decades that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says we don’t have. Without the money pipeline, the big fossil fuel profiteers would have to stop funding new infrastructure, stop actively spreading climate change denial, and make good on their promises to transition to renewable forms of energy.

As a member of the Coordinating Committee of Third Act Faith, a working group of Third Act, I am charged with explaining the work of Third Act to faith communities as well as to all people of goodwill and conscience, and to encourage people to participate.  Explaining the work of Third Act has been made easy by Bill McKibben and others. Watch a four-minute PBS News Hour special with McKibben, “A Brief but Spectacular take ( Why an organization of elders? People over sixty own seventy percent of the wealth in this country, there are 70 million of us, most of us vote, many of us have children in our lives whom we love, and we hope to leave all the earth’s children and future generations a legacy of abundant life on a stable planet, such as we have enjoyed.

To understand the rationale of the Banking on Our Future Campaign, read Your Money Is Your Carbon ( or Third Act’s Blog).

Explaining how participating in Third Act’s Banking on Our Future Campaign is an act of faith and conscience involves highlighting points that the World Council of Churches and others have made about the morality of our money in this time of climate emergency.  Others have used a simple slogan to explain it: “It’s wrong to profit by wrecking the planet.”

In practical terms, this campaign offers suggestions, action opportunities, and resources at varied levels of commitment, including writing letters to the big banks, pledging to divest if your bank continues funding fossil fuels, engaging with bank managers, or participating in public demonstrations. By participating, we join with many other groups offering resources and taking similar actions, including Stop the Money Pipeline and Customers for Climate Justice.

On March 21, 2023, our local action will be one of hundreds taking place as part of a National Day of Action. Many people will be publicly divesting from these four banks. See  32123! Big Banks are Driving the Climate Crisis So We’re Pushing Back ( The local organizations co-sponsoring the Grass Valley event are Earth Justice Ministries, Sierra Foothills Elders Climate Action, Nevada County Climate Action Now, and Nevada County Sunrise Movement.

To join us here in Grass Valley, as part of a faith contingent or as an individual or part of a group, just show up!  To find out more go to For support in changing banks or to identify a local bank or credit union that does not fund fossil fuel projects, email .

I encourage you to rise to the challenge that the climate emergency presents to us in our time. Taking steps toward “faithful banking” is one way to go beyond individual actions and to work toward systemic change by exerting our collective power to pressure our dominant institutions to move toward a justly and sustainably sourced clean energy future.


Banking on Our Future–Grass Valley Action

On March 21, 2023 (32123) from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., local climate groups are organizing a Banking on Our Future demonstration at the corner of Brunswick and Sutton Way in Grass Valley, in coordination with Third Act and coordinated with similar events all across the country. This event will highlight the link between the top four banks taking our money in the front door (via bank accounts and credit cards) and giving it out the back door (via loans to fossil fuel companies that make climate chaos worse). Without this funding, the vital transition to clean energy would have happened years ago.

Third Act’s Banking on Our Future Campaign addresses the moral dilemma of investing in fossil fuels and points us in the direction of financial faithfulness through our banking choices. Third Act, whose members are age 60+, is organizing the March 21st Day of Action that will give all of us, regardless of age, an opportunity to assert that moral claim and pressure the “Big Four” banks (Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo) to stop bankrolling the expansion of the fossil fuel industry.  Third Act is not doing this alone. To date, 29 other organizations have signed on as partners, including GreenFaith, the Sierra Club and the Hip Hop Caucus. See Why We Must Act: Banks Drive Climate Destruction.

Participants in the local demonstration will gather at the corner of Brunswick and Sutton Way in Grass Valley, near Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, and a Citibank ATM. People are encouraged to bring signs. Some participants will walk to these banks; some customers may cut up credit cards and close accounts. Organizers will share plans with local bank managers in advance. The purpose of the Day of Action is not to shut down banks, but to raise awareness about the link between banking and the climate crisis and to urge banks to fund clean energy projects rather than fossil fuels. Some bank managers and employee may agree.

The first step for participants, whether customers of these banks or not, is to Take the Pledge: “If Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, and Wells Fargo are still funding climate-destroying fossil fuel projects on March 21, 2023, I pledge to close my account and cut up my credit card. If I don’t bank at these institutions now, I pledge I won’t do so in the future.” Those who won’t be able to change banks immediately on March 21 are encouraged to sign the pledge anyway, start researching what it will take, and get the process going.

Those who need support to change banks can find help by reading How I Broke Free from Climate Bad Banks: It Feels So Good, and by joining or forming a Cohort, a group of four people who will walk together through changing banks and moving their money. We have a growing list of local Grass Valley banks and credit unions that do not invest in fossil fuels. If you want to take other creative action, check out Third Act’s resources or its Campaign toolkit.

Everyone is invited to participate in the local demonstration on the Day of Action, either as individuals or as part of a group. For instance, there will be a multifaith contingent.

Speakers, songs and chants, and other activities are still to be determined. This action is being sponsored locally by Earth Justice Ministries, Elders Climate Action, and Nevada County Climate Action Now.  [Other co-sponsors are welcome.]  For more about the local action, contact us at . For more about the national Banking on Our Future Ccampaign go to and for more about the national day of action, go to



The Mine is not Good for Children or Other Living Things

Sharon Delgado

On Mothers’ Day in 2006, after my husband Guari and I had moved back to Nevada County, our grown kids and grandkids gathered at Memorial Park for a picnic. I had requested it since I had happy memories of being there at the park when we raised our children. I imagined that our grandchildren would also enjoy playing at the playground and splashing in the creek.

I was shocked to see that metal fencing blocked the so-called creek. Signs warned people to stay out because it contained hazardous chemicals. What a nightmare. As it turned out, it was not a creek at all, but the Magenta Drain, which handles discharge from the Empire Mine. Some weeks afterward, I saw people in Hazmat suits working to strengthen the fence. Chilling.

I thought back, remembering the kids playing in the creek and wondering what they had been exposed to and how it might have impacted their health. I still wonder what ailments might be traced back to those exposures. I know now that toxic waste at the mine included mercury, arsenic, cadmium, lead, and other pollutants, and that it flowed into Wolf Creek and other area streams, where people fish and swim.

In 2014, a grand jury report found that local residents’ health, welfare, and water quality may be compromised by toxic pollution caused by the Empire Mine, Lava Cap Mine, and North Star Mine, and that for over 30 years governmental agencies failed to coordinate or properly enforce cleanup required by legal settlements and abatement orders.

Mine runoff from the Empire Mine is now being treated by a wastewater treatment system built by Empire Mine State Park and mine owner Newmont Mining. In other words, it was paid for with both public and private funds. This commonly takes place with mining corporations around the world. In fact, there is often no accountability for mining corporations that pollute. C  leanup from mining operations (if it happens) is often paid for by the state. It’s called corporate welfare—private gain for corporate “persons” at the expense of flesh and blood human beings, communities, and ecosystems.

For example, Rise Gold’s CEO Ben Mossman is currently on trial in Canada. He faces nine federal and twenty provincial charges related to toxic spills by his previous mining company, which polluted tribal waters, went bankrupt, and left Canadians with the costs.

Naturally, we oppose the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine. The Environmental Impact Report is deficient in so many ways. Members of our community have spent countless hours analyzing it and uncovering its flaws. And we have prior commitments as a community that we the people have worked hard to implement. Why would any member of the Planning Commission or the Board of Supervisors vote to approve this project, which would override and negate the stated goals of the Nevada County Energy Action Plan?

I entreat each member of the Board of Supervisors to oppose it. Community members, please take this time to study the issues. Go to Minewatch at to find out what you can do to stop this travesty from taking place. Make your views known to the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

The promises of a re-opened gold mine ring hollow considering the potential health risks, disruption of community values and commitments, damage to local ecosystems, threats of further toxicity to our children and future generations, and so much more. Our beloved Nevada County has been damaged by the toxic legacy of the Gold Rush, but there is still so much beauty and life here, so much to be saved and protected. We may think that we sit on top of the natural world and try to control it, that is not true, and the natural world is not expendible for human gain. We are part of the interconnected and interdependent community of life, and as Indigenous people have always known, what we do to the community of life, we do to ourselves.