By JENNIFER SZULMAN
Former gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout may not have won the primary election for governor against incumbent Andrew Cuomo back in September, but her campaigning for other causes shows no signs of slowing down.
The fervent former Democratic candidate joined organizers, activists and environmentalists near the steps of New York State Supreme Court on Tuesday to protest the continuation of the Keystone Pipeline, denouncing it as a “pipeline to the past.”
Last week, the House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly in support of the Keystone XL Pipeline project. Next week, the Senate was expected to vote whether the plan for the pipeline moves forward.
Most of the 1700-mile oil pipeline conceived by the TransCanada Corporation in 2008 now brings crude oil from Canada to refineries in the Midwest all the way to the Gulf Coast. The proposed forth phase of the pipeline, named Keystone XL Pipeline, has garnered the most controversy because of its routing over Nebraska’s Ogallala Aquifer which supplies much of the drinking water consumed by the High Plains area. If the project gets approved, refineries would process the crude oil into gasoline and other fuels. Approvals were pending in local courts.
Teachout, a vocal opponent of fracking and an activist for alternate environmental energy technologies has criticized the development of the pipeline citing the health hazards it would pose across the country – even in places like New York where it doesn’t directly run through but, she says, still cause detrimental effects.
“The Keystone Pipeline will transfer 800,000 barrels a day of the dirtiest fuel on the planet,” Teachout said. “It may not be proposed to go through New York State or New York City but the effects will be felt [here.] We will feel the effects of the asthma caused by ground level ozone that comes from climate change.”
Environmentalists at the rally chanted and cheered in support of renewable technologies like wind power, water and solar energies. They urged Governor Cuomo to oppose the Keystone Pipeline, using FDR’s famous quote that, “A nation that poisons its soil, poisons itself.”
Proponents favor the development of the Keystone XL Pipeline, arguing it would create thousands of jobs. However, environmentalists say the benefits of job growth fall short against the detrimental effects of the pipeline.
“Laborers are increasingly understanding that they want clean energy jobs that have a lasting future,” moderator Clara Vondrich said at the rally. “They don’t need these temporary jobs the pipeline would create. As soon as that pipeline is built, they’re out of there. We will have at most 50 permanent jobs. Is that worth it? Polluting our aquifers, our water and land with this dirty oil and dirty tar sands? No! ”
Film director Josh Fox, known for his documentary on hydraulic fracturing, (fracking), Gasland, said that New Yorkers will “wake up” after realizing that according to Bloomberg News, New York City is the third most vulnerable city in the world economically to climate change.
“We are the frontline of climate change,” said Fox. “We are standing on the shoreline now. There is no certainty unless we kick out dirty energy and develop renewable energy.”