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Hundreds of New Yorkers Rally Against Fracking, Call for Renewable Energy

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Hundreds of New Yorkers Rally Against Fracking, Call for Renewable Energy

President Barack Obama traveled to Cooperstown, NY, today to tout the state's tourism economy and its role in job creation. The President was met outside the Baseball Hall of Fame by hundreds of residents and numerous organizations rallying for a rejection of fracking and a transition to renewable energy.

“We’re thrilled to have President Obama in Cooperstown to see this incredible village and countryside, and to promote tourism to one of the most beautiful places in New York,” said Ellen Pope, executive director of Otsego 2000. “It’s important for President Obama to see that fracking would put the Susquehanna headwaters, our community and our economy at risk and must not be allowed.”

Concerned residents pointed out that fracking would put tourism and the regional economy at risk, noting that the village, surrounding towns and many local businesses have long been leaders in New York's municipal ban movement—more than 1,000 New York State businesses have come out in support of a ban on fracking, including the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce and Brewery Ommegang.

“Our business relies on tourism driven by the beauty of the region and clean water and air, which fracking would destroy,” said Marc Kingsley, owner of The Inn at Cooperstown. “We urge President Obama to listen to the science and reject fracking, and instead usher in a new age of prosperity powered by renewable energy.”

The protest highlighted President Obama’s contradictory support of fracking while, at the same time, attempting to mitigate climate change. Recent research shows that methane leaks undermine natural gas's benefits, actually increasing greenhouse gas emissions and exacerbating climate change.

“For our communities and for the climate, we need to get off fossil fuels and onto renewables,” said Adrian Kuzminski of Sustainable Otsego. “And renewable energy will create more, better and long-lasting jobs." 

Helen Slottje, recent winner of the 2014 prestigious Goldman Prize for her leadership in passing municipal fracking bans, attended the rally and said, “President Obama should look at why nearly 200 New York municipalities have passed prohibitions on fracking and re-think his support. The facts show that fracking poisons our water and air, makes people sick, and it shouldn’t happen in New York or anywhere.”

Rather than fracking and fossil fuels, New Yorkers showed today that transitioning to renewable energy would protect public health and the environment, build on the incredible assets of small towns like Cooperstown and offer a brighter path forward. 

Partnering organizations include: Otsego 2000, Sustainable Otsego, Middlefield Neighbors, New Yorkers Against Fracking, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Frack Action and Citizen Action of New York, amongst others.

Also today in New York, a major rally took place at the New York State Democratic Convention, in Melville, NY, where Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) was in attendance. With a majority of New York Democrats and a plurality New York residents opposed to fracking, New Yorkers from around the state urged Gov. Cuomo to listen to his constituents and ban fracking.

Protesters rallying at the New York State Democratic Convention.

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A plume of smoke from wildfires burning in the Angeles National Forest is seen from downtown Los Angeles on Aug. 29, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images

California is bracing for rare January wildfires this week amid damaging Santa Ana winds coupled with unusually hot and dry winter weather.

High winds, gusting up to 80- to 90 miles per hour in some parts of the state, are expected to last through Wednesday evening. Nearly the entire state has been in a drought for months, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor, which, alongside summerlike temperatures, has left vegetation dry and flammable.

Utilities Southern California Edison and PG&E, which serves the central and northern portions of the state, warned it may preemptively shut off power to hundreds of thousands of customers to reduce the risk of electrical fires sparked by trees and branches falling on live power lines. The rare January fire conditions come on the heels of the worst wildfire season ever recorded in California, as climate change exacerbates the factors causing fires to be more frequent and severe.

California is also experiencing the most severe surge of COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with hospitals and ICUs over capacity and a stay-at-home order in place. Wildfire smoke can increase the risk of adverse health effects due to COVID, and evacuations forcing people to crowd into shelters could further spread the virus.

As reported by AccuWeather:

In the atmosphere, air flows from high to low pressure. The setup into Wednesday is like having two giant atmospheric fans working as a team with one pulling and the other pushing the air in the same direction.
Normally, mountains to the north and east of Los Angeles would protect the downtown which sits in a basin. However, with the assistance of the offshore storm, there will be areas of gusty winds even in the L.A. Basin. The winds may get strong enough in parts of the basin to break tree limbs and lead to sporadic power outages and sparks that could ignite fires.
"Typically, Santa Ana winds stay out of downtown Los Angeles and the L.A. Basin, but this time, conditions may set up just right to bring 30- to 40-mph wind gusts even in those typically calm condition areas," said AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Mike Doll.

For a deeper dive:

AP, LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, Weather Channel, AccuWeather, New York Times, Slideshow: New York Times; Climate Signals Background: Wildfires, 2020 Western wildfire season

For more climate change and clean energy news, you can follow Climate Nexus on Twitter and Facebook, sign up for daily Hot News, and visit their news site, Nexus Media News.

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