New Yorkers Tell Obama: No Keystone XL, Yes Renewables
Yesterday, when President Obama came to New York City for a fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria hotel, more than 500 people were there to greet him. They came in force with signs and banners to remind him of their opposition to the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, as well as local natural gas pipelines like Spectra and the Rockaway Pipeline.
The crowd of people gathered in Bryant Park, where Reverend Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping kicked off the event, and then the group marched down Sixth Avenue and rallied in front of the Waldorf Astoria hotel. Representatives from several sponsor organizations, along with a number of other concerned citizens, addressed the crowd, discussing the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy, their concerns about Keystone XL and local natural gas pipelines, and their hopes for a clean energy future. The crowd wore yellow and orange, colors which symbolize renewable energy and the Occupy Sandy movement.
The calls for clean energy were particularly poignant in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, whose effects are still being felt by many New York City residents. Many speakers and participants discussed the continuing devastation resulting from the hurricane and the urgent need to replace fossil fuels with cleaner, safer energy sources.
Albert Carcaterra, a teenage resident of Rockaway Park, an area heavily impacted by Hurricane Sandy, echoed the sentiments of many rally participants: “The time for change is now, not later!”
"In October, New York City saw firsthand the impacts of climate change when Hurricane Sandy devastated our city," said Lyna Hinkel, of 350 NYC. "If President Obama is serious about addressing this problem, he has an obligation to us to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and move away from dirty energy. We will also continue to fight local natural gas pipelines and will not accept natural gas as an alternative."
The event was focused specifically on the development of oil and gas pipelines.
“The presence of pipelines in the U.S. tethers us to fossil fuels and makes us further dependent upon sources of energy that are poisoning our water, polluting our air and rapidly changing our climate,” said Patrick Robbins, a member of Occupy the Pipeline.
“Fossil fuel interests benefit from promulgating the notion that organized labor supports Keystone XL. The truth is that organized labor is destined to play a leading role in fighting climate change," said Bruce Hamilton, vice president of Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) who discussed the support from organized labor for rejecting oil and gas, and instead developing clean energy. "We need jobs. But we don't need jobs that poison workers, destroy communities and leave the planet uninhabitable."
“President Obama has an obligation to my generation, the generation of his own daughters, to make the right decision, the smart decision," said Sophie Lasoff, a 19-year-old student organizer with NYU Divest, who emphasized the passion and energy among young people advocating for clean energy. "Because if he doesn't, he should be prepared to have a lot of passionate young people on his hands. Past generations have made a choice to value profit over life. We will no longer stand for that choice. The fossil fuel industry has all the money and power in the world. But we have something that they don't have—something worth fighting for.”
The fight over Keystone XL has energized millions and has become a real test of President Obama's commitment to dealing with the climate crisis. Keystone XL would transport 830,000 thousand barrels a day of the world's dirtiest oil and would open up development of the Canadian tar sands, among the largest carbon bombs on the planet.
For the past several months activists have met President Obama at nearly all of his public events and demanded that he reject the permit for the pipeline. “I'm here to make sure President Obama knows that wherever he goes, we will remind him that we are ready to put ourselves on the line,” said JK Canepa, of Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline.
The event was co-sponsored by a broad coalition of local and national environmental and social justice organizations, including 350 NYC, 350 NJ, 350.org, 99Rise, Brooklyn For Peace, Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline (CARP), CREDO, CUNY Divest, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Global Kids Inc., Green Party of NY, Human Impacts Institute, NYC Friends of Clearwater, NYU Divest, Occupy the Pipeline, Occupy Sandy, Restore the Rock, Sane Energy Project, Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter, Sierra Club, United for Action, World Can't Wait, WESPAC and You Are Never Alone (YANA).
Visit EcoWatch’s KEYSTONE XL page for more related news on this topic.
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By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.