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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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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