Should I go to jail for my convictions? What will my children think, who will look after them while I’m in jail? Questions few of us actually will ever face but ones that a growing number of people are considering as we confront new and powerful assaults to our freedoms, our bodies, our children and our mother earth. Our dear friend and Climate Mama extraordinaire, Pramilla Malick, mother of 4 has steeled herself to report for jail on July 14, 2017, to raise attention to the crisis we face, and to demand justice for her children and for ours.
As Climate Mamas and Papas, we recognize and understand the urgency of the crisis we face because of climate change. Yet, we also recognize that many of our friends, our families and our colleagues do not understand or choose not to see that our collective “house is on fire” and that the fire department not only is NO WHERE in sight, it hasn’t even been called. While more and more people anecdotally do see and feel climate change, the immediacy of the problem is often beyond comprehension and the perceived ability to take meaningful action seems too hard to take or too removed from our abilities to act.
We want to share a brief account of the back-story to Pramilla’s conviction and sentencing; we will be sharing a longer version in the weeks to come. Pramilla is a busy mother of four, who works in the information technology sector and has always been active in her community. But in 2011, when a gas compressor station was being built in her New York town, she not only got curious she took action. Pramilla began speaking out, insisting on facts about what this would mean to the health and welfare of families living near the compressor station. Pramilla organized her community to demand answers too. She helped her neighbors have their voices heard in federal court in Washington DC and she has selflessly helped other towns and neighborhoods around the country learn more about the health and environmental impacts of gas infrastructure. Pramilla shows us daily how each of us can make a difference. She embodies our Climate Mama motto: “Tell the truth, actions speak louder then words, and don’t be afraid.”
The Minisink, NY compressor station was the “tip of the iceberg” for Pramilla and her neighbors, and for many communities around the country as well. This New York compressor station has resulted in the building of pipelines and also, in this case, of one of the largest gas power plants in New York State. The CPV fracked gas power plant (the gas to run the plant will come from fracking fields in Pennsylvania) is a 650 megawatt plant. During Pramilla’s trial, esteemed Cornell scientists Bob Howarth and Tony Ingraffea testified to the imminent harms this power plant would cause. You can listen to their press conference here.
There are close to 200 other large fracked gas fired power plants proposed or under construction in the United States; a disaster for our climate and our health, as more and more details are emerging on the impact of emissions from these plants, and on the health impacts for our children, our livestock, our farms and us.
So, while New York State is being touted as a “climate hero” state in fact it is in the final stages of construction of one of the biggest fracked gas fired power plants in the country, with a second large gas power plant that just broke ground last week. Clearly, energy policy and climate policy are at odds in New York. Pramilla along with a small group of determined people from the Wawayanda area in Orange County New York, are trying to raise this alarm and wake people up to these facts. This particular story is one full of intrigue and unexpected twists and turns. This complicated and massive power plant was approved by a small town planning board. Many 9/11 responders who settled in this area after the twin towers attack are now being assaulted again. A senior aide to Governor Cuomo is caught up in a bribery case that involves this power plant; and the list goes on.
As Pramilla prepares to go to jail, these are her thoughts: “Since I was young whenever I saw a movie about prison I was always afraid of being in one. I had a premonition that I would one day be in one for some erroneous reason, like being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So my premonition is about to come true. I am not as brave as James Cromwell. I am a bit nervous. But I know it was necessary to get peoples attention to the magnitude of this issue. For now the most important thing to do is to come on Friday (July 14th) and use our 7 days sacrifice to alert your friends and neighbors everywhere about this issue.”
Please join us and follow along. You can find more information on Facebook here, and here. If you can, be present on July 14th and join Pramilla on her “walk” to jail. Help us share this story with your friends and family. We are facing the greatest challenge that any of us will every face, and we need to begin acting like there is an emergency. Pramilla is showing us the way; leading with dignity, determination and grace.
Sending our thanks, love and support to all the Climate Mamas and Papas around the country and the world who are on guard and standing strong for us all.