By Anne-Emilie Rouffiac, Emma Burstiner
On Monday, September 17, a group of Greenwich High School students attended the Representative Town Meeting (RTM) to support the passage of an act regarding fracking in the Greenwich area. That evening, they joined the wave of student activism that has grown across the country over the past year. When asked why she had come, senior Katie Large said, “Obviously it’s a huge problem in our country, and in the world…. It’s great to start somewhere small to that you can build it up.”
But fracking has been a topic on the state’s agenda as well. In 2014, Connecticut addressed the issue of fracking, or the pumping of fluid into the ground to split up rock layers and extract natural gas, through new legislation. Beginning on July 1, 2014, the government enforced a moratorium, or a suspension, on several processes that would bring fracking waste-products to Connecticut. Due to this legislation, the deposition, transportation, or storage of fracking waste was strictly limited.
On September 17th, the RTM also took a stance on the topic as they debated an ordinance that forbid waste products from out-of-state natural gas fracking. This ordinance was submitted to the town’s government in May, 2017 (Greenwich Free Press).
At the meeting, around 20-30 Greenwich High School students spoke up about fracking and their belief that it negatively impacts the environment, demonstrating their support for the proposed ordinance. Fracking requires large quantities of water to be mixed with chemicals and sent into the ground. Numerous activist organizations as well as scientific researchers argue that these chemicals spill into the Earth’s ecosystems, affecting the air and wildlife, while contaminating water supplies. As a result, the GHS students in attendance wanted to eliminate fracking waste from the state.
“I’m here tonight to ensure that the town stays clean and beautiful and free from any chemicals that are a consequence of fracking,” explained Rachel Alliker, a GHS junior who is the Vice-President of the Environmental Action Club.
Rachel and her peers had created posters saying “Greenwich is for friends, not fracking”, “No Fracking Way”, and “We Can’t Drink Money”
Even though the meeting lasted until after midnight, GHS students gathered around the podium when the opportunity to make a speech arrived. The Co-Presidents of the Environmental Action Club- seniors Cameron Castelli and Renata Malyshev- were the two speakers who addressed the RTM on behalf of the students present, urging the representatives to pass the ordinance.
“It’s really interesting to see how many students have come. I’m a senior and the majority of the people here are juniors- it is important for them to be here because when I leave I feel like there will still be people who will be pushing to make our town better,” Cameron Castelli explained. She hopes that GHS students will continue to get involved in community discussions and issues they feel passion about in the future as it often has a vast impact.
Propelled by GHS students’ support and the views of the representatives, the anti-fracking ordinance was passed with 105 votes supporting and 31 votes opposing it.
Last year, a group of GHS students fought for the ban on plastic bags, which also was passed. Now, it becomes clear that GHS students are passionate about issues that impact the globe. The strength of their voice has truly been heard.
By leading his students to achieve applicable results in regards to causes that they care about, Mr. Conlan, a GHS AP Environmental Science and Biology teacher, has empowered students to take action.He was also in attendance at the RTM on September 17.
Thus, GHS students can truly inspire the change they wish to see in their community when they unite and share their views, whatever those may be.
Photo by Anne-Emilie