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City Tech Student Volunteers Help Out at Food & Water Watch Advocacy Rally in Manhattan

City Tech student volunteers Semoy Lopez and Cecilia Charles, both pursuing baccalaureate degrees in nursing, are pictured here with New York State Senator Tony Avella, lead speaker at a Food & Water Watch advocacy rally held in late February 2012 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. More than 700 people attended the event.

Both students, who are enrolled in Associate Professor of Nursing Margaret Rafferty’s course in Urban Issues, actively support the banning of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” a technology that is used in connection with the annual drilling in the U.S. alone of an estimated 35,000 wells to produce oil and natural gas. More than 40 organizations co-sponsored the St. John the Divine rally, which featured 17 speakers, including several local and state elected officials and environmentalists.

Food & Water Watch works to ensure that the food, water and fish people consume is safe, accessible and sustainably produced. The movement works to help people take charge of where their food comes from, to keep clean, affordable, public tap water flowing freely to their homes, to protect the environmental quality of oceans, to force government to do its job protecting citizens, and to educate people everywhere about the importance of keeping their shared resources under public control. Food & Water Watch’s vision is to help ensure “a world where all people have access to enough affordable, healthy, and wholesome food and clean water to meet their basic needs – a world in which governments are accountable to their citizens and manage essential resources sustainably.”

Food & Water Watch and other critics of fracking point out that the process involves the injection of a massive volume of water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure to break up rock formations, allowing oil or gas to flow up the well. They argue that fracking threatens the air we breathe, the water we drink, the communities we love and the climate on which we depend.

“Both Semoy and Cecilia have shown tremendous nursing leadership and passionate advocacy for environmental health this semester,” says Professor Rafferty. “I am proud of their impressive work.”

In 2010, City Tech nursing students in the baccalaureate program concluded a successful petition drive to enforce a temporary moratorium on hydraulic fracturing. More than 1,000 letters were signed by City Tech students, faculty and staff and sent to Albany. The group maintained that fracking poses a severe threat to the New York City’s watershed, has contaminated millions of gallons of water, increased air pollution, and caused worker fatalities and numerous health problems for people who live near the drilling sites.

3.23.12


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