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February 18, 2013

North Country residents join in environmental protest

KEENE VALLEY — About 40 hearty demonstrators gathered near a busy Keene Valley intersection Sunday to show their concern about climate change and add their voices to the national Forward on Climate rally.

The protesters, whose ages ranged from pre-school to senior citizen, picketed at the intersection of routes 9N and 73. Despite the frigid temperatures, melting snowcaps and global warming were on their minds as they held posters reading: “Combat Climate Change,” “Cut Carbon emissions, Nix the pipeline,” and “The earth is in peril.”

“This is a good time to reach the skiers who are returning from Lake Placid. We want to continue to spread the awareness,” said David Thomas-Train of Keene Valley. “In his inaugural address, President Obama promised to respond to the threat of climate change, and we want not only the president, but other public officials to do something about it.”

Local organizer Monique Weston, of Keene, explained her motivation.

“I have been very concerned about the environment and what our kids and grandchildren will have to face, which is something our generation has not handled well,” she said. “We need more and more grassroots efforts. I think Obama is asking for help and this supports the efforts in Washington.”

“It’s really gratifying to see how many have come out on a day like today. We need to keep this effort up somehow. We need the public to know the true costs of all this.”

The Keene Valley protest was part of a national day of environmental concern, which included a large demonstration in the nation’s capital. Thousands of protesters there hope to persuade President Obama to cancel TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline project. The Forward on Climate event was organized by 350.org, the Sierra Club and the Hip Hop Caucus.

In Plattsburgh, Mary-Alice Shemo, a community member and member of the People for Positive Action, planned a rally in the city parking lot for noon. Unlike the Keene Valley event, only a handful of people showed and the rally lasted only a few minutes.

“We needed more planning time,” Shemo said.

She said she had planned a Connect the Dots rally in support of 350.org last spring, which gathered 30 to 40 people, and plans to do that again this spring with more planning than this February rally.

“I’m not giving up,” she said.

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