My Climate Movement Story: Fracking, and Environmental Legislation

My Climate Movement Story, although disjointed, is relative to the area in which I am residing. Whenever I think about the issue I’m most passionate about, it automatically redirects back to protecting my home and neighboring communities from the adverse effects of fracking, and the destructive infrastructure required for natural gas transportation. I have been involved in the anti-fracking movement since I left high school, and have continued advocating against natural gas, fracking, and pipelines in both New Jersey and Massachusetts — my home, and my home away from home. From drafting legislation in New Jersey, to protesting at the State Legislature, to lobbying New Jersey Senators and Assemblymen, to condemning our state’s Board of Public Utilities for green-lighting a pipeline, to muckraking about suspicious circumstances surrounding the pipeline…the list goes on, and on. How, over the course of four years, so very little has been accomplished, and yet one of the most catastrophic infrastructure investments New Jersey is making. Not only does the Pinelands Pipeline threaten unique biodiversity and the health of our water supplies, but it also promotes an unsustainable energy practice that only benefits fossil fuel executives, and their respective contractors.
Fortunately, on the issue of fracking in Massachusetts, I lobbied both Representative Joe Kennedy (MA-04) and Representative Jim McGovern (MA-02) as Environmental Caucus Chair for the College Democrats of Massachusetts and confirmed that they would support the fight against fracking in Massachusetts, and would condemn any future pipelines. Thankfully, the Northeast Direct pipeline proposed for the region, though delayed, was officially killed last spring.

It is really difficult to pour your heart into two different states you consider home, and to watch a stark juxtaposition in pipeline outcome. It was also emotionally draining to know that I was essentially useless to the struggling movement I dedicated four years to because I was so geographically removed. Nevertheless, even though I currently reside in London, UK until this fall, I’m thrilled to know that I get to assume a role as an investigative reporter for the premier New Jersey watchdog publication to delve into exactly why the board approved such a contested pipeline. I am also ecstatic to return home to continue lobbying legislators, and to resume my goal of passing moratoriums — until, that is, Chris Christie is leaves office. Then, we’ll just have to reconfigure our tactics to the new administration.

While I’m away in London, I’ve been fortunate enough to have earned two research positions within the House of Lords to advocate for both animal welfare and improved environmental regulations and legislation. While one of my bosses is the leading Parliamentary greyhound welfare activist, my other boss was responsible for spearheading environmental progress throughout Scotland. One of the coolest things I have been able to do thus far for my Scottish boss is to read through the Addis Ababa Action Agreement, and extract useful information that helped him to stress key Sustainable Development goals for his presentation in the Hague last month. Every week and a half, I am assigned a new research task where I’m to be familiarized with the specifics of a certain UN legislation, or document, (which has become a favorite past time of mine), and to answer specific questions he may have on it. One of the main reasons why I’ve been entranced by COP23, as well as the previous conferences, was because I know that I could have real-life application for both my knowledge of the subjects, and my ability to quickly understand formal documents.

I was fortunate enough to attend the 52nd Commission for Social Development, and the work I am currently doing is both policy rich, and intersectional — which is where I’ve found my strong suit within the movement. Between my experiences advocating for change on the ground, and also working within the bureaucratic structure, I believe that my greatest strength and contribution to the movement is my ability to discern, and comb through, dense legislation, in order to unearth prominent flaws masked in vague language. It’s one of the reasons why I thrive on muckraking journalism. Although my anti-fracking work will resume once I return home, I’m thrilled that I’m able to make an impact in the climate movement through policy work.

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