People Gather in Plattsburgh to Protest Oil Trains

FOX44 News | July 5, 2014 | Column by Kristen Tripodi

PLATTSBURGH, Ny. - Dozens of activists gathered in Plattsburgh to stop trains from carrying oil.

Mary-Alice Shemo, with People for Positive Action says this event is part of a week of action across the U.S. and Canada to commemorate last year's deadly derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec that killed 47 people. Shemo says the trains that carry oil are extremely dangerous and pose a threat to communities in our region.

“Those same trains with that same stuff go right through here and it could happen here,” said Shemo.

To make sure a tragedy like Lac-Mégantic doesn't happen again, Shemo says the group is working to try and change the way oil is transported. She says if a train carrying oil exploded here it would threaten our rivers, lakes, wildlife, and our neighbors.

“We have to start acting, and we have to start acting like last year,” said Shemo.

Protestors say on average three oil trains a day pass through Plattsburgh en route to Albany. The group says the companies are using unsafe methods for transportation something protesters say should change immediately.

“We could immediately use tankers that are safe rather than tankers that were not intended for shipping this kind of highly explosive fuel. And that could be done quickly,” said Tim Palmer, a Grad Student and Protester.

But as for a long term goal, protestors want people to stop depending on oil itself because then they say big companies might transport less oil through our communities.

“Raising consciousness generally so people can start thinking about the connection between the trains, and the wellbeing of the planet,” said Shemo.

“I think that it is absolutely critical that we cut back on the amount of fossil fuel that we use with the ultimate goal being to stop using it almost entirely,” said Palmer.

Shemo says one person can't change things but she believes as a group they can create change.

“The right question is what can we do, and we can make it work,” said Shemo.

The two groups who organized this rally are the Center for Biological Diversity out of Vermont and People for Positive Action out of Plattsburgh.

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PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.