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Mahwah Group, Ramapoughs To March In Energy Rally

At a recent No Pilgrim Pipeline rally at the Bergen County freeholders office are, left to right, Deke Defreese of Oakland; Ariel Schwalb of Food and Water Watch; Peggy Bost of Mahwah; and Norman Fischer of Teaneck.
At a recent No Pilgrim Pipeline rally at the Bergen County freeholders office are, left to right, Deke Defreese of Oakland; Ariel Schwalb of Food and Water Watch; Peggy Bost of Mahwah; and Norman Fischer of Teaneck. Photo Credit: Matt Smith

MAHWAH, N.J. — Three environmentally minded local groups will take part in the March for a Clean Energy Revolution in Philadelphia on the eve of the Democratic National Convention.

Among the marchers at the July 24 event will be locals from the Mahwah Environmental Volunteers Organization (MEVO) , the Ramapough Lunaape Nation , and Food and Water Watch .

On Saturday, members from all the groups are meeting 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Ramapough Lunaape Community Center in Mahwah to prepare artwork and banners to carry at the rally.

The public is invited.

It’s no accident the meeting is in Mahwah, one of many communities nationwide that is being directly affected by federal energy policy, according to Matt Smith, senior organizer for Food and Water Watch in New Jersey.

Opposition has formed in Mahwah and neighboring communities against a proposal by Pilgrim Pipeline, a private company, to create a major interstate oil pipeline through the New Jersey Highlands region.

“It would transport hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil every single day right over our aquifers, right near our wellheads,” Smith said.

Also participating in the effort are members of the Ramapough Lunaape Nation, including Chief Dwain Perry of Hillburn, N.Y., and Turtle Clan Chief Vincent Mann of West Milford.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the county, Smith said, protests have formed against oil trains.

These so-called “bomb trains” carry Bakken crude oil from North Dakota on the CSX River Line through 11 towns in Bergen, according to the Teaneck-based Coalition to Ban Unsafe Oil Trains.

The focus of the Philadelphia rally is to push for federal policy that keeps fossil fuels in the ground and facilitates a transition to clean, renewable energy.

But things are going in the opposite direction.

“Just last year,” Smith said, “the 30-plus-year embargo on crude oil exports in the U.S. was lifted, which gives oil companies free rein to drill in our communities and ship the product to the highest bidder on the international market.

“Meanwhile,” he added, “our communities are being turned into sacrifice zones so they can transport those products to market.”

Eric Fuchs-Stengel, executive director of MEVO, a grassroots organization, said his Mahwah group gets young people engaged and motivated to create the world in which they want to live.

MEVO is about getting people together, he said, which is exactly what’s happening Saturday.

“We are bringing the young people together, bringing the tribe together, bringing community members together to get ready to march for what we want to see happening in the world,” Fuchs-Stengel said. “That means renewable, clean, sustainable energy.”

The Ramapough Lunaape Community Center is at 189 Stag Hill Rd., Mahwah.

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