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ssteingraberbw[Editor’s note: Hundreds of climate activists and renewable energy advocates gathered for a State of the Climate rally and march outside of Gov. Cuomo’s State of the State address in Albany Wednesday. Here below are the prepared remarks from Sandra Steingraber’s speech. Shortly after, from the top of a stairway in the Capitol building, fracking infrastructure opponents unscrolled a 40-foot petition, bearing 1,000 signatures, that urgently calls on the governor to oppose the storage of dangerous, explosive LPG (propane and butane) in abandoned salt caverns under the shores of Seneca Lake. Like methane, propane and butane are the products of fracking. Along with the petition scroll, the group also delivered more than 500 letters to Gov. Cuomo’s office.]

Hi, everyone. My name is Sandra Steingraber, and I bring warm greetings from the banks of Seneca Lake in New York’s wine country. That’s my home.

One year ago, we all came together at Governor Cuomo’s 2015 State of the State address as New Yorkers Against Fracking to celebrate our singular, hard-won victory—the bold decision of our governor to leave in the ground, uncombusted, an immense amount of fossil fuel in the form of vaporous methane trapped in our state’s bedrock.

Opponents of the proposed Constitution fracked gas pipeline rally outside the Capitol Building in Albany on Wednesday morning, demanding that Governor Cuomo deny the FERC-approved project a state water permit. Shortly after this photo was taken, news broke that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had objected to the proposed plan by the pipeline developer to immediately begin clearing trees in the pipeline’s path--which runs 120+ miles from the Pennsylvania gas fields north to Schoharie County, New York--ahead of receiving all necessary approvals to commence construction. Photo credit: David Walczak
Opponents of the proposed Constitution fracked gas pipeline rally outside the Capitol Building in Albany on Wednesday morning, demanding that Gov. Cuomo deny the FERC-approved project a state water permit. Shortly after this photo was taken, news broke that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had objected to the proposed plan by the pipeline developer to immediately begin clearing trees in the pipeline’s path—which runs 120+ miles from the Pennsylvania gas fields north to Schoharie County, New York—ahead of receiving all necessary approvals to commence construction. Photo credit: David Walczak

We worked, united, for years, night and day, to win a state-wide ban on fracking, and together, we made history. That methane is staying in the ground.

This year, we return to Albany wearing many different hats that represent many different campaigns. Some of us are fighting to push open the door to renewable energy. Others are fighting to slam shut the door on various fracking infrastructure projects that are menacing our health and safety as well as our climate: the Constitution Pipeline; the Northeast Direct Pipeline; the Algonquin Incremental Market Pipeline; the Cayuga Power Plant; the Greenidge Power Plant; the CPV-Valley Power Plant; the Dominion New Market Project; the Chemung County landfill expansion; and compressor stations by the dozens.

It all matters. It’s all important. It’s all necessary.

As we disperse from a single statewide fight against fracking to a multitude of local infrastructure fights, our activism diversifies and becomes more community focused. This trend represents a return to our activist roots. During the fracking wars, before the tribes united into a statewide coalition, we were also fighting on many local fronts and in many town halls. It’s how we began.

Faith Meckley, 21, of Geneva leads Seneca Lake gas storage opponents to Governor Cuomo’s office. The group delivered more than 500 individual letters from Finger Lakes residents, along with a petition. Photo credit: Jonathan Flanders
Faith Meckley, 21, of Geneva leads Seneca Lake gas storage opponents to Gov. Cuomo’s office. The group delivered more than 500 individual letters from Finger Lakes residents, along with a petition. Photo credit: Jonathan Flanders

In this return to the local, we bring with us three precious things from our statewide fight. First, we bring scientific knowledge. We can now all cite chapter and verse on the global warming potential of natural gas vis-à-vis carbon dioxide over various time frames, for example. And that knowledge emboldens us.

Second, we have newfound political skills that empower us. And third, we have trusted friends from all over the state who encourage us. We know now how to stick together, reinforce each other’s work, and generate synergy. Together, we are greater than the sum of our parts.

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