Climate activists from near and from as far as Maine, Quebec and central Pennsylvania are converging on downtown Albany for a day of protests against fossil fuels.
The action is part of a broader, week-long global effort that involves 23 major climate actions worldwide, targeting fossil fuel projects like fracked gas, pipelines and so-called "bomb trains." Marc Johnson, the associate pastor at Greater St. John’s Church of God In Christ in the South End, explains the Albany events are meant to raise awareness about the oil trains, which ship Bakken crude through the city to the port of Albany. "It endangers us. It puts our community at a high impact if there's ever a spill or derailment or an explosion. We're the first impact. And our communities are predominantly communities of color. And usually it’s low-income communities that are most affected by these transactions, these oil companies, and we want it to stop."
10 a.m. Saturday, what's being billed as a "rally, march and mass civil disobedience" is set to step off in Albany. Demonstrators plan to gather in Lincoln Park with an estimated noon arrival at the port, one mile away, where they plan to halt the trains with their bodies, according to author and environmentalist Bill McKibben. "They constitute a terrific danger to the planet as a whole. They're key nodes in the system that's bringing us the out-of-control climate change. This winter and spring is soaring past every record for temperature we've ever seen, is triggering the massive die-offs of ecosystems like coral reefs in the space of a few weeks, fueling some of the biggest forest fires we've ever come across."
Organizers say over a thousand people signed up to participate and more than 600 plan to risk arrest by stopping the trains. McKibben says despite the solar panels popping up on houses and electric cars traversing city streets, society is still taking "baby steps." "It must be said that the Cuomo administration is doing some good and useful things. The ban on fracking. The news just in the last few weeks that some of these pipeline projects across the state are on hold or nixed. The decision not to build the big LNG port out on Long Island. These are all important important steps. And there's other things that haven't happened yet. There's still a crazy plan for a big fracked gas storage cavern down on the edge of Seneca Lake. Bomb trains rolling through. The idea that we have to wait forever is just wrong. We need to be ramping up, as fast as ever we can, to transition to renewable energy, which we know is possible, because there's places on earth that have done it."