By Alexander Schlutz
Yesterday’s educational forum on Today’s Fossil Fuels and the Future of Our Children’s Health – co-sponsored by The Mothers Project, Climate Mama, the Center for Environmental Health, and John Jay’s program in Sustainability and Environmental Justice – was packed with information: eye-opening, enraging, frightening, but also inspiring. There’s no way to summarize and respond to the presentations by scientists, lawyers, policy-makers, organizers and activists on the forums three panels in a blog post, but the two reports by Pramilla Mallick and Cherri Foytlin, two activist mothers on the front-lines of environmental justice and the fight for safe and healthy lives in the face of ever-more frenzied fossil-fuel extraction stood out.
Mallick, a journalist, blogger, community organizer, and a mother of four, told the story of Minisink, NY and the havoc emissions from a natural gas compressor station for the Millenium pipeline that transports fracked natural gas from Pennsylvania is wreaking in her community. Mallick founded two grass-roots organizations in upstate New York to fight fracking-related gas infrastructure: StopMCS (opposing the compressor station in Minisink) and ProtectOrangeCounty(opposing a natural-gas-fired power plant). You can learn more about Minisink and the Compressor Station on the StopMCS website and about the fight against the power plant on the Protect Orange County blog.
Foytlin, a freelance journalist, author, advocate, speaker and mother of six, who lives in South Louisiana, spoke powerfully about the suffering of Gulf Coast communities sprayed with chemical dispersants in the wake of the 2011 BP Deep Water Horizon disaster and the many health problems local residents experience, while doctors will not acknowledge any link to chemical exposure. You can learn more on Foytlin’s blog, maintained on BRIDGE THE GULF , a “community media project that lifts up the voices of Gulf Coast communities working towards justice and sustainability.
Women, as Osprey Orielle Lake, co-founder and executive director of Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, WECAN emphasized in the final talk of the evening, have always led the way in the struggle for environmental justice and a sustainable future.