The Justice Project - Social Justice

How Young Activists Hope to Make Climate Change a Political Priority

By Amy Sisk ~ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Standing in the middle of a grassy field just outside Pittsburgh, Anaïs Peterson recalled the years she spent playing soccer here.

“That’s the goal you always want,” she said, nodding to the east.

A mile beyond that goalpost in Indiana Township lies a natural gas well pad that didn’t exist during her soccer days.

“It’s like 2 miles from two schools, a daycare, a park,” she said. “It’s right by this field.”

Now, her brother plays soccer here, and her dad’s the coach. They’re searching for another location for games in light of the gas development nearby, she said.

Peterson wants municipalities like this one in the Pittsburgh suburbs to beef up their zoning rules to prevent fracking in residential areas.

This issue, in part, has fueled her young activism career. The 20-year-old college student has testified in front of governing boards, attended rallies and joined student groups focused on environmental issues.

Now, for the first time, she’s spearheading her own event, a march on climate change Saturday in Pittsburgh. It coincides with the “This is Zero Hour” march taking place in Washington, D.C. and others across the country rallying young people around the idea that they make up the last generation that can curb climate change.

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