Jeremy Cherson, campaign advocacy coordinator of the Riverkeeper, has been organizing opposition to the proposed Pilgrim pipelines. Seven of nine cities in the path of the pipeline, including Albany and Rensselaer, have passed resolutions opposing the project. Developers have thus far secured only one permit of dozens required from state and federal agencies, Cherson said. "It gives us confidence that this pipeline will not be built," he said. Opposition forces are buttressed by the Transportation Corporation Law of 1909 that gives cities and villages veto power over oil pipelines, Cherson said, but legal challenges are likely.

"If the people will lead, the leaders with follow," said Carole Nemore, of Delmar, a retired policy analyst on environmental issues for Senate Democrats. She was joined by longtime activist Susan Weber, of Loudonville, a PAUSE founder and retired DEC lawyer. The two women met through state service in the mid-1980s.

"We're very concerned about the impact of oil transport on the residents of Albany's South End and on communities along the Hudson River," she said. "The only way to slow down climate change is to get us off fossil fuels."

The youngest participant was 7-year-old Violet Kellogg, who paddled a solo kayak alongside her father, Scott Kellogg, educational director at the Radix Ecological Sustainability Center in Albany.

"She's a good paddler, so we came to support the flotilla," her father said.

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