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Hundreds Rally Asking Gov. Cuomo to Deny the Constitution Pipeline
Nearly 400 people from across the state of New York and beyond rallied in Albany today asking Gov. Cuomo to stand up to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and use the state's authority under the Clean Water Act to deny the 401 water quality certificate for the Constitution Pipeline.
The Constitution Pipeline, a joint venture between Williams Pipeline Companies and Cabot Oil & Gas, would run approximately 124 miles from Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania to Schoharie County, New York. The pipeline would be 30 inches in diameter, and transport natural gas—the equivalent of 4.68 million gallons of oil per day—from the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania to New York state.
The rally was organized by Stop the Pipeline, with the support of 60 participating organizations. The event included speeches from prominent environmentalists, including Waterkeeper Alliance president Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and a march from the capitol to the headquarters of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation. People whose land has already been taken by eminent domain for the construction of the pipeline led the march, followed by “the spirit of the Susquehanna,” symbolizing the water that nourishes all life.
“FERC is a rogue agency that is captured by the very industry it is supposed to regulate,” Kennedy said. “We need to reclaim our democracy from corporations that routinely pollute our water, and are now taking people’s land for their profit. Governor Cuomo can continue his environmental leadership by denying this 401 water quality certificate.”
“I implore Governor Cuomo to protect the health and safety of all New Yorkers by saying no to dangerous fracked gas pipelines and other fossil fuel infrastructure,” Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch, said at today's rally.
“He should start by denying a water quality certificate for the Constitution Pipeline. This project would cross hundreds of streams and put New York’s most essential resource—its clean drinking water—at risk. Governor Cuomo should listen to the hundreds of New Yorkers who are here today, and the many more that they speak for, and reject antiquated fossil fuel infrastructure like the Constitution Pipeline.”
In January, FERC approved limited tree cutting along the Pennsylvania section of the pipeline route, which includes about 25 miles of the 124-mile route. But, FERC delayed similar operations in New York.
On March 1, guarded by heavily armed U.S. marshals, a Constitution Pipeline tree crew began felling trees in the Holleran family’s maple sugaring stand in New Milford, Pennsylvania to make way for the pipeline. The cutting began 11 days after Federal Judge Malachy Mannion dismissed charges of contempt against the landowners for allegedly asking a tree crew that had arrived on the property not to cut the trees.
On March 24, seven people, including Gasland filmmaker Josh Fox and Pennsylvania landowner Megan Holleran, were arrested in the driveway of FERC in Washington, DC, while waiting for commissioners to join them for pancakes topped with the last drops of maple syrup from the Holleran family farm.
"FERC has become the henchmen of the pipeline companies,” Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum said. “It uses legal loopholes and violations of law to strip states and communities of their legal rights to review, challenge, and even deny pipeline projects. We need Governor Cuomo to stand as our champion by saying "no" to the Constitution pipeline and "no" to FERC."
Other speakers today included Karenna Gore, director of the Center of Earth Ethics at Columbia University; Kanerahtiio Jock, Kanien’kehá:ka (Mohawk) Bear Clan; William Roche, a property owner whose land and dreams have been taken by eminent domain; Doug Couchon, We Are Seneca Lake; Jim Cutler, Sugar Shack Alliance and Hilltown Community Rights; and representatives of many other groups.
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A powerful volcano on Monday rocked an uninhabited island frequented by tourists about 30 miles off New Zealand's coast. Authorities have confirmed that five people died. They expect that number to rise as some are missing and police officials issued a statement that flights around the islands revealed "no signs of life had been seen at any point,", as The Guardian reported.
"Based on the information we have, we do not believe there are any survivors on the island," the police said in their official statement. "Police is working urgently to confirm the exact number of those who have died, further to the five confirmed deceased already."
The eruption happened on New Zealand's Whakaari/White Island, an islet jutting out of the Bay of Plenty, off the country's North Island. The island is privately owned and is typically visited for day-trips by thousands of tourists every year, according to The New York Times.
My god, White Island volcano in New Zealand erupted today for first time since 2001. My family and I had gotten off it 20 minutes before, were waiting at our boat about to leave when we saw it. Boat ride home tending to people our boat rescued was indescribable. #whiteisland pic.twitter.com/QJwWi12Tvt— Michael Schade (@sch) December 9, 2019
Michael Schade / Twitter
At the time of the eruption on Monday, about 50 passengers from the Ovation of Seas were on the island, including more than 30 who were part of a Royal Caribbean cruise trip, according to CNN. Twenty-three people, including the five dead, were evacuated from the island.
The eruption occurred at 2:11 pm local time on Monday, as footage from a crater camera owned and operated by GeoNet, New Zealand's geological hazards agency, shows. The camera also shows dozens of people walking near the rim as white smoke billows just before the eruption, according to Reuters.
Police were unable to reach the island because searing white ash posed imminent danger to rescue workers, said John Tims, New Zealand's deputy police commissioner, as he stood next to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in a press conference, as The New York Times reported. Tims said rescue workers would assess the safety of approaching the island on Tuesday morning. "We know the urgency to go back to the island," he told reporters.
"The physical environment is unsafe for us to return to the island," Tims added, as CNN reported. "It's important that we consider the health and safety of rescuers, so we're taking advice from experts going forward."
Authorities have had no communication with anyone on the island. They are frantically working to identify how many people remain and who they are, according to CNN.
Geologists said the eruption is not unexpected and some questioned why the island is open to tourism.
"The volcano has been restless for a few weeks, resulting in the raising of the alert level, so that this eruption is not really a surprise," said Bill McGuire, emeritus professor of geophysical and climate hazards at University College London, as The Guardian reported.
"White Island has been a disaster waiting to happen for many years," said Raymond Cas, emeritus professor at Monash University's school of earth, atmosphere and environment, as The Guardian reported. "Having visited it twice, I have always felt that it was too dangerous to allow the daily tour groups that visit the uninhabited island volcano by boat and helicopter."
The prime minister arrived Monday night in Whakatane, the town closest to the eruption, where day boats visiting the island are docked. Whakatane has a large Maori population.
Ardern met with local council leaders on Monday. She is scheduled to meet with search and rescue teams and will speak to the media at 7 a.m. local time (1 p.m. EST), after drones survey the island, as CNN reported.
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