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NYPIRG seeks to end dependence on fossil fuels

NYPIRG’s Queens College chapter rallied against fossil fuel dependence during a fundraiser held by New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Richard Rodgers Theatre.

Ali Kirkpatrick, a project coordinator for NYPIRG, serves as a campaign leader for Reforming Energy Vision on campus, which raises awareness on alternative energy and fossil fuel divestment.

“It is an initiative that is being overseen by the Public Service Commission to completely rethink the way that energy is used and distributed here in the state,” Kirkpatrick said. “With this campaign we have a chance of changing [our dependency on fossil fuels] and basically innovating infrastructure in a way that will provide huge boosts while using renewable energy, making energy more efficient and cost effective for everybody.”

One project proposed is, if approved, to build a liquefied natural gas facility on the coast of Long Beach.

The Port Ambrose Project, another proposal, is the offshore energy infrastructure project designed to deliver natural gas to New York and New Jersey, primarily during the winter season.

According to Cuomo’s proposal, the project will provide enough gas to meet the energy needs of more than a million homes. It would also create more than 800 construction jobs as well as dozens of permanent and contracted operations jobs.

However, the Democratic governor is doubtful of the proposed project.

“There are obvious questions that would have to be answered before I know that New York would approve it,” Cuomo said.

NYPIRG, meanwhile, urged Cuomo to veto the project, claiming it will endanger public health, safety and the environment.

The last LNG facility was located in Bloomfield, Staten Island. The facility exploded on Feb. 10, 1973, killing 40 workers.

At the same time, efforts are underway to build a wind farm, potentially the country’s largest offshore wind project, in the same area off the Long Island coastline.

REV believes 350MW, of which the project could produce, would provide enough energy for 112,000 homes, while operating at 40 percent of its capacity.

The collaborative is still working out the exact location of the wind farm, pending results of environmental and wind-strength studies; however, the proposed location does conflict with the Port Ambrose Project.

Only four percent of the 127 square miles of the proposed wind farm’s area of interest would be required for the operation of the LNG facility, based on information from Port Ambrose Project’s site.

While critics may cite the shared location of both proposals, NYPIRG focused on the volatility of natural gas in comparison to wind energy as well as reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

“We’ve been totally gridlocked into depending on fossil fuels and kept at the mercy of these huge corporations in the utility industry that have had way too much control over far too much for far too long. With this campaign, we have a chance at changing that,” Kirkpatrick said.

NYPIRG is working with local businesses in the Long Beach area to raise awareness on how local residents are most affected by the LNG pipeline.

“We are also doing business outreach in Long Beach, going to local businesses, talking to the owners and making sure they’re aware of the proposed LNG facility,” Kirkpatrick said.

NYPIRG drafted a letter for local business owners to sign and send to Cuomo and oppose the Port Ambrose Project as well as support the proposed wind farm. A press conference is scheduled at Long Beach City Hall on Oct. 27.

Kirkpatrick encouraged students to get involved in efforts to oppose the project. She also emphasized the importance of students being heard as they are an important demographic.

“Submitting public comments, engaging with local politicians and letting their voice be heard [all help],” Kirkpatrick said.

Phil Vallone

Phil is a junior majoring in Political Science and minoring in Journalism. He is also a Marine Corps veteran who served in Afghanistan in 2013. He covers events and activism at CUNY. After graduating, he plans to cover politics and activism around the world. You can follow him on Twitter @philvallone or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/journophil. Contact him at philvallo[at]theknightnews.com

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