Minisink Residents Protest Outside Senator Gillibrand's Office
Residents of Minisink, NY, and The Mothers Project, founded by Angela Monti Fox, mounted a peaceful demonstration outside Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)’s Midtown offices Tuesday. Together they are calling on the Senator to publicly stand with the community of Minisink, which has been entrenched in a groundbreaking case against the natural gas industry that is now headed to the U.S. Court of Appeals.
For two years, residents of Minisink, a small town in Orange County, home to many organic farms, young families and a large contingent of 9/11 First Responders with health issues, have waged an unusually spirited resistance to a 12,260 horsepower compressor station sited in a bucolic area, in which over 200 families live within half a mile. Construction was permitted before a final legal determination, and now the facility is on-line. Speakers at the rally included Angela Monti Fox of The Mother’s Project, Patti Wood of Grassroots Environmental Education and several Minisink residents who spoke about their personal experiences.
"Fracking is a children's health issue," said Wood, citing a study, Unconventional Natural Gas Development and Infant Health, by Elaine Hill at Cornell University. Her study showed that children born to mothers living near fracking operations had a 25 percent increase in low birth weight. Wood pointed out that, in contrast, smoking during pregnancy increases the risk of low birth weight by 0.18 percent.
During the rally, Mininisk residents submitted a letter to the Senator demanding that she take a stand to protect her constituents. They were shocked that no one from the Senator’s office would come down to receive the letter directly from them and instead had the letter delivered by a building security guard. “This is outrageous,” said Marge Schab, a supporter from New York City. “These families traveled a long distance with their young children and she couldn’t even send down an intern!”
The letter demanded that the Senator submit an amicus brief to the court in her capacity as member of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, describing the state-wide significance of the agricultural resources in Minisink that are endangered by this project. They are also asking for Congressional hearings into “regulatory failures” as documented by their case. “Senator, as a mother and 9/11 First Responder advocate, your contradictory silence on the crisis in Minisink is glaring and unacceptable,” states the letter. The group has posted a shorter version of the letter on their website so supporters can sign the letter and send it directly to Sen. Gillibrand.
"While many in New York are against the grave dangers that fracking poses, most are not aware of the infrastructure that supports it and delivers fracked gas to their kitchen stoves,” said Minisink resident Asha Canalos. “There is a vast infrastructure of pipelines, compressor stations, frack waste storage facilities, etc., growing at a phenomenal speed in our state; terrible harm is already occurring to people who live near this build-out. And the dangers are not just local—we are in the watershed and farmlands that provide for New York City—so this infrastructure presents incredible new risks for city-dwellers an hour away, as well.”
Pramilla Malick, mother of four, stated “There is particular concern for children, whose bodies are acutely affected by exposures to toxic chemicals, and for our 9/11 First Responders, who moved here for the cleaner air. On May 9, a blow-down event released unknown quantities of emissions and toxins causing residents, including children, to suffer nosebleeds, headaches and neurological symptoms. The families of Minisink are at risk and already suffering. We need help now.”
Minisink’s case challenges not only Millennium Pipeline—the company responsible for the highly controversial compressor station project—but also the final ruling of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the government agency that approved the plan. Already, Minisink has broken several precedents: The creation of a far safer, community-backed alternate proposal, known as The Wagoner Alternative; overwhelming support of their alternate proposal by two of the FERC Commissioners, including Chairman Jon Wellinghoff; and a highly unusual stay of construction granted by the U.S. Court of Appeals last fall. Their attorney, Carolyn Elefant, believes the community has one of the strongest cases currently pending review on the federal level. If Minisink is successful, it will be the first community to have a compressor facility shut down and completely removed; this would be a historic legal precedent that would empower communities across the country. If Minisink loses this battle, it’s a sure victory for the industry in terms of expansion into residential and agricultural areas everywhere, nationally.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS BELOW: How far would you take the battle to protect your neighborhood from fracking infrastructure?
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed a sweeping climate bill on Thursday that would have put the commonwealth on a path to eliminating carbon emissions by 2050.
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By Ajit Niranjan
World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
Adaptation Has a Long Way to Go<p>The Adaptation Gap Report, now in its 5th year, finds "huge gaps" between what world leaders agreed to do under the 2015 <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/5-years-paris-climate-agreement/a-55901139" target="_blank">Paris Agreement</a> and what they need to do to keep their citizens safe from climate change.</p><p>A review by the Global Adaptation Mapping Initiative of almost 1,700 examples of climate adaptation found that a third were in the early stages of implementation — and only 3% had reached the point of reducing risks.</p><p>Disasters like storms and droughts have grown stronger than they should be because people have warmed the planet by burning fossil fuels and chopping down rainforests. The world has heated by more than 1.1 degrees Celsius since the Industrial Revolution and is on track to warm by about 3°C by the end of the century.</p><p>If world leaders <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-change-performance-index-how-far-have-we-come/a-55846406" target="_blank">deliver on recent pledges</a> to bring emissions to <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/joe-bidens-climate-pledges-are-they-realistic/a-56173821" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">net-zero</a> by the middle of the century, they could almost limit warming to 2°C. The target of the Paris Agreement, however, is to reach a target well below that — ideally 1.5°C. </p><p>There are two ways, scientists say, to lessen the pain that warming will bring: mitigating climate change by cutting carbon pollution and adapting to the hotter, less stable world it brings.</p>
The Cost of Climate Adaptation<p>About three-quarters of the world's countries have national plans to adapt to climate change, according to the report, but most lack the regulations, incentives and funding to make them work.</p><p>More than a decade ago, rich countries most responsible for climate change pledged to mobilize $100 billion a year by 2020 in climate finance for poorer countries. UNEP says it is "impossible to answer" whether that goal has been met, while an OECD study published in November found that between 2013 and 2018, the target sum had not once been achieved. Even in 2018, which recorded the highest level of contributions, rich countries were still $20 billion short.</p><p>The yearly adaptation costs for developing countries alone are estimated at $70 billion. This figure is expected to at least double by the end of the decade as temperatures rise, and will hit $280-500 billion by 2050, according to the report.</p><p>But failing to adapt is even more expensive.</p><p>When powerful storms like cyclones Fani and Bulbul struck South Asia, early-warning systems allowed governments to move millions of people out of danger at short notice. Storms of similar strength that have hit East Africa, like <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/zimbabwe-after-cyclone-idai-building-climate-friendly-practices/a-54251885" target="_blank">cyclones Idai</a> and Kenneth, have proved more deadly because fewer people were evacuated before disaster struck.</p><p>The Global Commission on Adaptation estimated in 2019 that a $1.8 trillion investment in early warning systems, buildings, agriculture, mangroves and water resources could reap $7.1 trillion in benefits from economic activity and avoided costs when disasters strike.</p>
Exploring Nature-Based Solutions<p>The report also highlights how restoring nature can protect people from climate change while benefiting local communities and ecology.</p><p><a href="https://www.dw.com/en/climate-fires-risk-climate-change-bushfires-australia-california-extreme-weather-firefighters/a-54817927" target="_blank">Wildfires</a>, for instance, could be made less punishing by restoring grasslands and regularly burning the land in controlled settings. Indigenous communities from Australia to Canada have done this for millennia in a way that encourages plant growth while reducing the risk of uncontrolled wildfires. Reforestation, meanwhile, can stop soil erosion and flooding during heavy rainfall while trapping carbon and protecting wildlife.</p><p>In countries like Brazil and Malaysia, governments could better protect coastal homes from floods and storms by restoring <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/mudflats-mangroves-and-marshes-the-great-coastal-protectors/a-50628747" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">mangroves</a> — tangled trees that grow in tropical swamps. As well as anchoring sediments and absorbing the crash of waves, mangroves can store carbon, help fish populations grow and boost local economies through tourism. </p><p>While nature-based solutions are often cheaper than building hard infrastructure, their funding makes up a "tiny fraction" of adaptation finance, the report authors wrote. An analysis of four global climate funds that spent $94 billion on adaptation projects found that just $12 billion went to nature-based solutions and little of this was spent implementing projects on the ground.</p><p>But little is known about their long-term effectiveness. At higher temperatures, the effects of climate change may be so great that they overwhelm natural defenses like mangroves.</p><p>By 2050, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/rising-sea-levels-should-we-let-the-ocean-in-a-50704953/a-50704953" target="_blank">coastal floods</a> that used to hit once a century will strike many cities every year, according to a 2019 report on oceans by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the gold standard on climate science. This could force dense cities on low-lying coasts to build higher sea walls, like in Indonesia and South Korea, or evacuate entire communities from sinking islands, like in Fiji.</p><p>It's not a case of replacing infrastructure, said Matthias Garschagen, a geographer at Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany and IPCC author, who was not involved in the UNEP report. "The case for nature-based solutions is often misinterpreted as a battle... but they're part of a toolkit that we've ignored for too long."</p>
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