Virginia Veterans Speak Out Against Fracked-Gas Pipelines
Military veterans from across Virginia released a letter Thursday opposing two proposed fracked-gas pipelines: Dominion Energy's Atlantic Coast Pipeline and EQT's Mountain Valley Pipeline. These pipelines would cross through pristine areas of Virginia, taking private property by use of eminent domain, removing mountain ridgetops and threatening valuable drinking water resources. The veterans view this as contrary to their service to protect and defend the freedom and security of American citizens.
The letter, signed by 13 veterans from all five military branches, states:
"We stand together to support our citizens and our Constitution. We stand against [the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and Mountain Valley Pipeline] because we stand against the seizure of private property for corporate gain. Both of these proposed pipelines would create new sacrifice zones and abuse eminent domain to strip property owners of land that, in many cases, has been in their families for generations. This direct attack on the constitutional rights of landowners goes against the oath we all took when we volunteered to serve this great country."
The letter discusses the battle between indigenous communities and police forces at Standing Rock, when thousands of military veterans showed up to form a human shield around the water protectors when their communities were under threat from the Dakota Access Pipeline. The signatories state, "We will continue to embody that spirit to protect our communities against the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley Pipelines."
The letter, released on behalf of Veterans Service Corps, criticized the pipeline projects for keeping Virginia "shackled to fossil fuel extraction for another generation." They call for action on climate change, noting the future should be "powered by clean energy and innovation."
The joint letter will be sent to Gov. Terry McAuliffe as well as each of the five Virginia gubernatorial candidates: Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Tom Perriello, Ed Gillespie, Virginia Sen. Frank Wagner and Corey Stewart.
Several veterans discussed the letter during a phone briefing.
Dave Belote, retired U.S. Air Force colonel, said:
"It's time we stopped looking backwards at dirty energy technologies of the past and started creating jobs in energy efficiency, solar and wind energy. Hampton Roads should be the center of a mid-Atlantic offshore wind industry that can employ thousands, maximize the use of our port facilities and point the way to a clean, resilient future."
Adam Fischbach, U.S. Navy hospital corpsman, 2nd class, concurred:
"As veterans we took an oath to support and defend the Constitution of the United States from all enemies, foreign and domestic. The Constitution was written to protect the rights of American citizens. Now, when we allow a private corporation such as Dominion to overpower individual rights in the name of unjustified business profits, we have lost what it means to be American and to our right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We, as veterans must take a stand to ensure that individual rights are not stepped on in the name of economic advancement for the fossil fuel industry."
Russell Chisholm, retired U.S. Army officer and Newport resident, concluded:
"Pipeline companies target communities like Newport, Virginia because they think we won't make trouble for them due to our rural values. They ignore the fact that people of faith live here. Veterans and active duty service members live here and we take our oath to 'support and defend' as a life-long promise. We stand up when Americans are threatened. You better believe we are going to stand up when fellow veterans are threatened."
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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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