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‘No luxury emissions!’ Enviro activists disrupt Hudson River Park heliport

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | Wednesday afternoon, activists from Extinction Rebellion disrupted private helicopter takeoffs at JRA W. 30th Street Heliport Airport, in Hudson River Park.

Protesters warned that there are “no luxury emissions on a dead planet,” and demanded an end to fossil fuels. The group, with baby strollers and soft toys — representing children whose futures are at risk — blocked the heliport’s entrance using lock-ons, and held banners stating, “LUXURY EMISSIONS DESTROY FUTURES.” The ’copter pad’s entrance was blocked for 90 minutes and six people were arrested.

According to a press release by XR, “Today’s action and precursors, such as the shutdown last November of private aviation at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, are a necessary response to the refusal of governments to stop the burning of fossil fuels that are accelerating the global climate emergency. All conventional means of effecting change appropriate to the scale of the catastrophe — including voting, petitioning, lobbying, etc. — have failed and continue to fail. Yet the science makes clear that we have only a very small window of time in which to end fossil fuels and stop carbon emissions.”

(Extinction Rebellion)

The direct-action activists decry “carbon-intensive lifestyles,” which include helicopters, mega-SUVs, yachts and mansions.

“Luxurious lifestyles result in unnecessary carbon emissions, at the expense of the planet and future generation,” the group said. “These actions showcase a new front against climate destruction: striking not just at pipelines and at mines, but at obscene, senseless consumption.”

Blade Air Mobility, Inc, which operates many of the flights out of Manhattan heliports, has committed — in word only, though, according to XR — to purchasing electric helicopters to replace its current fossil fuel-powered fleet. However, the environmentalists warn, merely electrifying “wasteful, unnecessary transportation” will not avert climate disaster.

Extinction Rebellion is demanding that government declare a climate and ecological emergency and cut greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2025. The group recently disrupted the U.S. Open to highlight the need to address climate change; during the protest, one of its members glued his bare feet to the cement floor inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

The Hudson River Park heliport protest is one of multiple actions by various climate groups leading up to the “Biden: End Fossil Fuels” mass march scheduled for New York City on Sun., Sept. 17.

“Why are we doing this?” said Laura Robertson, an Extinction Rebellion activist. “Because nothing else has worked. There have been 27 COP [Conference of the Parties] conferences. The ominous IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] reports have fallen on deaf ears. Politicians continue to approve new fossil fuel infrastructure, locking in emissions for decades. There is no time left, ecologically, for the super-rich to continue pumping out emissions. There is no time left for outsized carbon footprints.”

(Extinction Rebellion)

Charles Komanoff, a leading local bicycle and transportation analyst, declared, “Helicopters are a pestilence to New Yorkers and a rotten pinnacle of an economic system that places pleasure over planetary survival. We must stop them.”

Jack Baldwin, an XR spokesperson, said, “This is our last resort. Moderate action won’t do anymore. Two days ago, a powerful storm unleashed catastrophic floods in Derna, Libya, overwhelming dams and drowning more than 5,000 people. We are looking at complete upheaval of our vital life systems: food and water shortages, forced climate migration, and wars for vanishing natural resources. Yet private helicopters still fly. No more.”


  1. Adrian Benepe Adrian Benepe September 18, 2023

    It is simply unconscionable for Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) to continue to operate this heliport in the park. First, it is extremely dangerous to park visitors and passersby on the Greenway and Rt. 9A; several helicopters have crashed at this very busy location, and many people have been knocked off their bikes and feet by the propeller wash of landing helicopters, They store highly flammable jet fuel at this location–it is a horrific accident waiting to happen.
    Second, they are inflicting noise and air pollution on the millions of annual visitors to the park and on residents in nearby Chelsea/Hell’s Kitchen and West Village.
    Third, the luxury Blade flights to JFK and the Hamptons from this heliport and the other NYC-owned heliport on E. 34th St. fly directly over the West Side of Manhattan and the entire length and width of Brooklyn and parts of Queens, including many Environmental Justice neighborhoods, imposing noise and air pollution on millions of New Yorkers.
    Fourth, HRPT gets its dirty money by inflicting horrific noise, 7 days a week, 15 hours a day, on those neighborhoods and on ALL the major parks of Brooklyn, ironically flying the FAA “Parks Route” that in some twisted bureaucrat’s cynical vision is also called a “Noise Abatement Route.”
    Finally, all of these flights are completely nonessential, luxury convenience flights for the privileged that enrich the owner and shareholders of Blade Mobility while damaging the physical, mental and environmental health of the entire Metro Area, and worsening climate change and global warming.
    HRPT must end this horrific and hypocritical abuse of its park, the nearby community, NYC, the region, and the planet. ENOUGH

    • Georgette Fleischer Georgette Fleischer September 19, 2023

      Hear, hear!

  2. redbike redbike September 17, 2023

    Not mentioned in this story — and apparently ignored by the protest: NYPD helicopters.

    So far as I’m aware, NYPD helicopters don’t use the West 30th St heliport. But NYPD helicopters are — obnoxiously and pervasively — intruders in NYC airspace. And frequently they operate at a much lower (hence, noisier) altitude than commercial helicopters. To what purpose? Chasing … shoplifters?

    Are there emergency situations when NYPD helicopter surveillance might (emphasizing — “might”) be appropriate? Perhaps, but they’re increasingly rare. For example: the recent crane collapse on 10th Ave in Midtown attracted pervasive — and mostly useless — helicopter activity. The best high-rez continuous surveillance coverage was from static cameras on adjacent buildings.

    Related: NYFD increasingly relies on drones to provide high-rez real-time surveillance of building rooftops when a building is on fire.

    Of what use is NYPD’s Air Force?

  3. Ali Ali September 17, 2023

    Reminder: Diana Taylor, longtime partner of Michael Bloomberg, was a longtime board member of the Hudson River Park Trust.

  4. Tom Fox Tom Fox September 15, 2023

    It’s an appropriate time to protest The continued operation of the heliport 25 years after the 1998 Hudson River Park Act required its removal. Citizen lawsuits that enforced the removal.

    But an amendment to the 1998 Act drafted by the Hudson River Park Trust and supported by former Assemblymember Gottfried allowed the heliport to stay. Parks are no place for a heliport.

    Everyone except for helicopter owners, the operator and the developers of Hudson Yards agree the heliport should be removed, legislation has been introduced to that effect, and the city and state should just relocate the heliport and build the portion of the park that was planned there.

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