Thousands of people rallied yesterday in all 50 states urging President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline. At 158 events from Maine to Los Angeles, with many weathering frigid temperatures in the single digits, people chanted, sang songs, and held signs and banners calling on President Obama to veto the Keystone XL bill if and when the bill passes the Senate.
From high school students rallying in Mission, South Dakota on the Rosebud Sioux Indian reservation, where tribal leaders recently called the Keystone XL "an act of war" to Nebraska where Omaha Pipeline Fighters rallied outside the offices of U.S. Rep Brad Ashford (D-NE) to condemn his vote for pro-Keystone legislation in Congress to Seattle, Washington where hundreds encircled the Henry Jackson Federal Building to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where activists spelled out, "Reject KXL Now" in lights on a highway overpass to Washington, DC where a groups delivered 500,000 signatures calling on President Obama to veto the Keystone XL, last night's events showed solidarity among people across America that know the Keystone XL pipeline is the wrong direction for our country, our climate and our future.
"There's a healthy and growing movement of people in this country who want to see dirty fuels like tar sands stay in the ground and move rapidly to clean energy," said Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club. "The events taking place today across the nation let President Obama know that the people have his back. If the president denies the Keystone XL pipeline it attests to the fact that nobody voted for dirty air, polluted water and climate denial."
“History will judge President Obama harshly if he fails to reject Keystone XL,” said Rainforest Action Network climate program director Amanda Starbuck. “If the president is serious about his legacy on climate change, a clear ‘no’ on this destructive project is the only course of action. The science is clear: to avoid a climate catastrophe, we have to leave nearly all Canadian tar sands oil in the ground. It’s time for the president to reject the pipeline.”
“We’re here today to send one message loud and clear to this White House: the time for rejection is now,” said Jason Kowalski, policy director for 350.org. “A lot’s changed since we began this campaign, but the facts haven’t—Keystone XL puts American land, air and water at risk while releasing tons of new carbon into the atmosphere to hasten the worst impacts of climate change. It’s bad public policy, but President Obama’s in a better position than ever before to put this issue to bed, and reject this pipeline once and for all."
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Jean-Marc Neveu and Olivier Civil never expected to find themselves battling against disposable mask pollution.
When they founded their recycling start-up Plaxtil in 2017, it was textile waste they set their sights on. The project developed a process that turned fabrics into a new recyclable material they describe as "ecological plastic."
Mounting Piles of Waste<p>It is not only the streets of Chatellerault where pandemic pollution is piling-up, but also the world's beaches and oceans. Once there, they can take up to 450 years to degrade and disappear.</p><p>Esther Röling, co-organizer of the annual Adventure Clean Up Challenge held on Hong Kong Island, has seen this waste firsthand. In October the sports challenge pitted teams against one another in a competition to remove trash from 13 hard-to-reach coastal areas around the city.</p><p>They find tons of both disposable and reusable masks, said Röling. "You wonder how it ended up there. Was it just thrown on the ground? Or was it in a garbage bag that broke open?"</p><p>Almost 10,000 kilometers away in Antibes on the sunny French Riviera, it's a similar picture. For the past few months, divers and clean-up volunteers working with an ocean clean-up non-profit called Operation Mer Propre have been collecting an increasing number of masks found on land and in the sea.</p><p>"Since the beginning of the lockdown when we started to count, we've reached 800, 900, [and now in total] 1000 masks," said co-founder Joko Peltier. </p><p>According to <a href="https://unctad.org/news/growing-plastic-pollution-wake-covid-19-how-trade-policy-can-help" target="_blank">UN estimates</a>, up to 75% of all coronavirus-related plastic could end up as waste in oceans and landfills.</p>
The Limits of Recycling<p>Yet not all are convinced the recycling of this waste is possible on a global scale. </p><p>"What those citizen groups are doing is really beneficial but once they collect it, it should just go to a landfill or an incinerator. They shouldn't necessarily expect it to get recycled," said Jonathan Krones, an industrial ecologist and visiting assistant professor of environmental studies at Boston College.</p><p>That's because mask recycling programs like Plaxtil are few and far between and most don't have the benefit of a readily adaptable production process. </p><p>Even in countries with solid recycling infrastructure, he says, the system is designed to separate out specific types of waste like bottles or cardboard.</p><p>"I imagine that it would be technically feasible to develop a separation process to filter out masks, but there simply aren't enough of them to make that economical," he said.</p><p>Collection is a big hurdle, he adds. Since each mask only weighs a fraction of a gram and they're scattered on roads or mixed with other trash, it is difficult and costly. </p><p>"You need a lot of raw material of the right quality to make investing in the recycling technology and the recycling system worthwhile," he said.<span></span><br></p>
Hemp, Sugar Cane and Sustainable Alternatives<p>Some projects are instead addressing the material used to make masks.</p><p>French company Geochanvre have created a mask made primarily from hemp, while in Australia, researchers at the Queensland University of Technology are experimenting with a disposable product made from agricultural waste. </p><p>Biodegradable options are exciting alternatives to reduce the fossil fuels needed for the creation of plastic-based masks, said Krones, but they don't absolve the wearer from the responsibility of what happens afterwards. </p><p>Bio-based masks often need their own composing solutions, he explains, because in landfill they can produce high amounts of the greenhouse gas methane when anaerobic bacteria feeds on the organic material. Methane is known to be significantly more potent than carbon dioxide.</p><p>"I think as long as we have in our mind that we want to have disposability, we're going to have to wrestle with a variety of different sorts of environmental tradeoffs," he said, adding that reusable, fabric masks are the best option available to most people.</p><p>Precimask is developing a clear face covering with an optional visor made from hard plastic, designed to be long-lasting.<br></p><p>Air enters either side of the cheeks through a technology normally found in pool filters and car exhaust systems, said company spokeswoman Juliette Chambet.</p><p>"We wanted to make ceramic-based filters that would be washable and cleanable, which would allow them to be reused as many times as desired without having to buy a new consumable or produce waste," she said. </p><p>Ultimately, encouraging mask wearers to think about the entire lifecycle of a mask is key, explains Neveu. </p><p>"We want people who put on the masks to realize that they are also responsible for the waste, he said. "It's not inevitable that this [pandemic] will become an environmental catastrophe.</p><p><em>Reposted with permission from </em><em><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/covid-19-recycling-pollution-trash-pandemic/a-55707817" target="_blank">Deutsche Welle</a>.</em><a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/r/entryeditor/2649032193#/" target="_self"></a></p>
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