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Oct 27, 2016 2:27 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

East Quogue Woman To Fight Climate Change At United Nations Conference

Dineen O'Rourke at Tiana Beach in Hampton Bays.  DANA SHAW
Nov 1, 2016 4:58 PM

Dineen O’Rourke of East Quogue has spent most of her college career fighting a proposed $3 billion pipeline, one that would have stretched from New Hampshire to Pennsylvania and, according to her, would have further accelerated the ill effects of climate change.When she enrolled at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 2013, she was immediately drawn to fighting the project proposed by Kinder Morgan, one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America. She helped organize community events where demonstrators would sing songs, as well as a four-day, 53-mile march along the expected path of the natural gas pipeline that would have run through Massachusetts.

After two and a half years of battles, Kinder Morgan withdrew its application for the 250-mile pipeline this past April after it failed to sign up enough utility customers, according to the company.

“That was the most hopeful thing that I ever became a part of, that I was part of that news that the pipeline was over,” said Ms. O’Rourke, 21, who is majoring in both climate change and sociology. “It really solidified the fact that people coming together can make a big difference, especially in the face of impending climate change.”

Ms. O’Rourke’s opposition to the pipeline helped the Westhampton Beach High School graduate secure a spot as one of 13 American youth delegates who will meet with the United Nations next week. On behalf of the youth empowerment and advocacy nonprofit SustainUS, the students will travel to Marrakesh, Morocco, for a U.N. climate change conference that runs from November 7 to 18.

“I’m really excited to go back to Morocco, because it’s a really beautiful country,” said Ms. O’Rourke, explaining that she studied abroad there last year. “I have these connections from students I met there already. To see them in this exciting space, the U.N. negotiations—it’s a big deal when a country gets to host these.”

To apply to become one of the youth delegates, Ms. O’Rourke had to get a work of writing published. She wrote about the defeated pipeline for Powershift, a blog for student voices found at powershift.org/blogs. Her story, titled “Why I’m (Mindfully) Celebrating The Suspension Of The Kinder Morgan Pipeline,” explains that although getting the company to pull out of the project was a big win, her fight is far from over.

“We will rest only when the fossil fuel industry is brought to a halt and when the U.N. mandates a target of net zero emissions by 2050,” she wrote.

The continuing goal, she explained, is to phase out carbon emissions and the burning of fossil fuels. Several studies recently published by different organizations have suggested that if the burning of fossil fuels is not phased out in less than 35 years, humans will no longer be able to mitigate climate change, according to Ms. O’Rourke.

“We are going to be pushing for zero by 2050,” she said during a recent interview at Tiana Beach on Dune Road in Hampton Bays. “And as young people from the U.S., we play this really unique role where we are really a front-line community … because we didn’t do anything to cause this problem, but it is us who are going to have to deal with it.

“But we are also from the U.S.—the country that primarily has caused most of this issue,” she continued. “A lot of what we will be doing is meeting with the U.S. State Department and holding them accountable and calling them out and trying to enforce some true reparations that the U.S. and other developed countries can pay for.”

Zero by 2050 is an especially important movement to Ms. O’Rourke as she grew up in East Quogue, where her home was only seven feet above sea level. It is an even bigger issue for other homeowners in her hometown. She pointed to the line of homes on Dune Road, explaining that fossil fuels need to be limited to prevent the sea level from rising and wiping out all of those houses.

“That’s a mind-boggling fact,” Ms. O’Rourke said. “I think that a lot of what I do, and what I care about, involves communicating that emergency to people. This isn’t a far-away problem anymore. It’s going to define our generation and the world that we live in.”

When Ms. O’Rourke was in high school, she was involved with environmental issues and advocacy concerning climate change, Westhampton Beach Superintendent of Schools Michael Radday recalled in an email this week. He said Ms. O’Rourke was always a strong student and had a knack for environmental and marine sciences.

At school, she could often be found conducting experiments in the science lab—nearly as often as some of her peers could be found on an athletic field—or holding a leadership role in the environmental club Classmates Uniting in Restoring the Environment, or CURE for short.

Back in Ms. O’Rourke’s hometown, local coastal engineers, including Aram Terchunian of First Coastal Corporation in Westhampton Beach, have been researching ways to implement the zero by 2050 plan that she is advocating.

“Cleaner is always better,” Mr. Terchunian said. “Technological improvements [are] what gets us out of the fossil fuel box.”

Mr. Terchunian explained that based on his research he thinks that lithium ion batteries will be able to wean people off fossil fuels by 2025. The batteries, he said, could back-up solar and wind energy suppliers on days when there isn’t enough sun or wind to keep the power on. He added that the batteries will eventually be common in cars as well.

When Ms. O’Rourke graduates this May, she wants to work for an organization that’s fighting climate change, or become a teacher to inspire youth to speak up for what they believe in. Regardless of her future profession, she said her passion will never waver, and that is working with her neighbors to fight those projects that could pollute the environment.

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Ah yes, another daughter of privilege advocating that fossil fuels, including natural gas, to be made as inaccessible and expensive as possible.

If that 90 year old pensioner has to shiver in the winter cold, if that working class family has to struggle with extremely expensive transportation, it's only the "punishment" they deserve for "causing" climate change.

Innocent Dineen and her like minded friends will be *FLYING* to Morocco to discuss the progress they've made in attacking ...more
By AngelaGomez-Caldone (16), on Oct 31, 16 8:49 AM
2 members liked this comment
Remind me... exactly how does a pipe cause "global warming?" I must be missing something. Or is it that anything which facilitates fuel transfer is evil? I've had it with this nonsense.
By Liman (30), Montauk on Oct 31, 16 8:58 AM
It's the latter. Anything which facilitates the extraction, processing, transportation, or use of conventional energy must be destroyed, regardless of the availability of a viable alternative or how prohibitive it's cost. "Punishment for climate sins", that is to say the infliction of suffering on people who use energy (in the US), is an integral part of today's environmental extremist agenda.
By AngelaGomez-Caldone (16), on Oct 31, 16 9:09 AM
1 member liked this comment
Oh the naivety of youth. Pipelines are the safest method of transportation of fossil fuels. Over the road and rail car are far more hazardous.
By Duckbornandraised (184), Eastport on Oct 31, 16 9:30 AM
... how can you criticize what this young woman is doing? She is not a woman of privilege, she is the product of her own hard work and that of her parents and the East Quogue school. Dineen has brought more important issues to the forefront at an early age that most people would in their lifetimes.

I have seen her speak in public and she is both passionate and mesmerizing. She has come along way from the quiet fifth grader I remember dribbling a basketball around the school gym.

We ...more
By William Rodney (561), southampton on Oct 31, 16 9:54 AM
1 member liked this comment
Is passion all that matters? No criticism is allowed because she sincerely believes in what she's advocating? She wants American taxpaying families to make reparations? From whom, to whom, and for what?

Please answer one simple question. If her demands that all pipelines be shut down immediately were met, how would the resulting skyrocketing cost of energy make the world a better place?
By ChrisDiPetta (37), on Oct 31, 16 10:04 AM
Not sure that anyone is advocating for 'all pipelines to be shut down immediately'

Criticism is great but err ummm angry typy keyboard mashings without substance will probably be ignored.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Oct 31, 16 10:16 AM
Without substance? Are you saying she's not advocating for policies that will make energy more expensive?

I'd love to hear an explanation about how that's not the case, but I can feel you inching away towards your safe space with your nonsensical criticism of my comment as lacking substance.

The cost of the policies she and her fellow travelers to Morocco are advocating will be borne by those who can least afford it. It wouldn't be as objectionable if that was brought out right ...more
By ChrisDiPetta (37), on Oct 31, 16 10:25 AM
Seems to me this young woman is trying to help bring about some change, for the betterment of future generations. What are all of you doing, aside from belittling a 20-year old female college student in the comments section of a local newspaper?
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Oct 31, 16 10:27 AM
Why doesn't she get passionate about the heroin problem that is killing our teenagers before she saves the world....
By Rayman (64), southampton on Oct 31, 16 12:08 PM
she should also solve our issues with Dune Rd. flooding, traffic, and affordable housing.

Can she tell us what to do about the proposed supermarket in tuckahoe.
By adlkjd923ilifmac.aladfksdurwp (747), southampton on Oct 31, 16 2:44 PM
A better question even would be what are parents, teachers, coaches and local law enforcement doing about it?
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Nov 1, 16 4:40 PM
250 million years ago, "The Great Dying" occurred on planet Earth. This mass extinction not only wiped out nearly all life on the planet, it gave us the petroleum we use by sequestering carbon, by burying dead life forms.

Wind the clock forward to the present, where we have burned most of that carbon plus the coal which was created millions years before by trees which did not decompose. By putting that carbon back in the atmosphere, the conditions which led to the "Great Dying" will easily ...more
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 31, 16 6:11 PM
Yes zipping around the globe on planes shows me how they are doing their part to reduce their carbon footprint. Better to drive a small car, live in a small house and do what one can do to reduce his or her own use of fossil fuels. But I see that "Conspicuous Conservation" is alive and well in the Hamptons. After all, it doesn't count if no one sees you doing it.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Oct 31, 16 10:57 PM
What do you expect them to do?

Perhaps they should resurrect Thor Heyerdahl to ferry them on papyrus...
By Mr. Z (11847), North Sea on Oct 31, 16 11:07 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Nov 1, 16 7:20 AM
Sorry honey you didn't stop the pipeline the oil industry did. When you have 50 dollar oil and storage tanks fulled to caoacity you have no reason to transport oil. This country has serious problems and these people can only think of climate change. Watch Trump get elected because people are sick of these liberal self important idiots.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 1, 16 12:18 AM
Watch Hillary get elected because women are sick of not being taken seriously by condescending men who call them "honey."
By SH_Res (342), Southampton on Nov 1, 16 10:38 AM
"sorry honey"? How about you let isis and the libs attack people who are guilty of no more than possessing different beliefs than you? That's where we all get into trouble.
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Nov 2, 16 6:43 AM
Another loudmouthed climate bully.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Nov 1, 16 7:20 AM
I think we should have an earthquake summit so we can put an end to them.....
By Rayman (64), southampton on Nov 1, 16 12:20 PM
1 member liked this comment
I'm sure she was a Bernie supporter...Feelin' the Burn! and probably thinks climate changed caused Isis to come about too. smh :/
By Jaws (245), Amity Island on Nov 2, 16 2:48 AM
Leave the young woman alone. What is wrong with you people?!
By SlimeAlive (1181), Southampton on Nov 2, 16 6:42 AM
She intends to force her beliefs and convictions on us and make the USA pay reparations. If you want her to be left alone, tell her to abandon her misguided agenda.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Nov 2, 16 6:46 AM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By Babyboo (293), Hampton Bays on Nov 2, 16 6:46 AM
Reparations???!!! While this young lady seems bright and articulate , her liberal indoctrination has made her ideas regarding this topic ridiculous.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 2, 16 7:19 AM
Give her a job, a checkbook, and some bills, and she will see reality. Don't insult our intelligence with this bs.
By chief1 (2800), southampton on Nov 2, 16 7:26 PM
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By johnj (1024), Westhampton on Nov 3, 16 10:29 AM
1 member liked this comment
How can some of you criticize her for FLYING to Morocco? It's called travel you halfwits. What would you rather her do? Take a steamboat? Or walk? In the scheme of things, commercial aviation accounts for only a fraction of our carbon output anyways.
And as far as reparations are concerned, we are a nation with 5% of the world's population yet we consume 25% of its available resources, so yes, the term reparations would be suitable. We also contribute 25% of all waste and garbage to the Earth, ...more
By vexatiousmass (12), Sag Harbor on Nov 3, 16 12:30 PM
1 member liked this comment
This comment has been removed because it is a duplicate, off-topic or contains inappropriate content.
By bigfresh (4666), north sea on Nov 3, 16 12:37 PM
I actually think we are in more danger of an asteroid coming into our atmosphere in the future.
That should be what we are paying retribution for.
I think she should go to Norway and start throwing rocks into the sky.....
By Rayman (64), southampton on Nov 3, 16 1:02 PM