Anti-fracking activists gathered in an act of non-violent civil disobedience on Friday morning near where energy company Crestwood Midstream was scheduled to begin construction on a massive underground gas storage depot on the banks of one of the Finger Lakes in central New York.
Wearing the color blue and calling themselves We Are Seneca Lake, protesters congregated for a rally and human blockade at the gates of the Crestwood compressor station site. Some were prepared to get arrested.
"Seneca Lake is a source of drinking water for 100,000 people and a source of economic prosperity for the whole region, not a gas station for fracking operations," said biologist and author Sandra Steingraber, who lives in the Finger Lakes region and participated in the demonstration. Steingraber spent 10 days in jail last year for blocking the entrance to the Inergy natural gas facility. "It’s a place for tourists, wineries, farms, and families. Speaking with our bodies in an act of civil disobedience is a measure of last recourse to protect our home, our water, and our local economy—with our bodies and our voices, telling Texas-based Crestwood to go home!”
In late September, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Crestwood Midstream's request to begin construction to expand underground methane storage in salt caverns next to Seneca Lake, one of 11 Finger Lakes. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation is still considering whether a Crestwood subsidiary, Arlington Storage, can use other caves near the lake to store liquefied petroleum gas.
Opponents of both projects say the effort to store highly pressurized, explosive gas in salt caverns is part of a coordinated strategy to build out fracking infrastructure throughout the Northeast. More than 200 businesses, along with at least 60 wineries, 11 municipalities, and thousands of residents in the Finger Lakes region have stated concerns about the threat gas storage poses to human health, drinking water, and the local economy, including the tourism industry.
There remain unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of the lake.
Friday morning's action follows a smaller, seven-hour human blockade that took placeThursday.
Protesters are calling on elected officials to step in and block Crestwood's ambitions.
"As we literally put our bodies on the line, we once again call on President Obama, Governor Cuomo, Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Congressman Reed to do what’s right and step in and stop this terrible project from ruining the heart of the Finger Lakes," said Watkins Glen resident Lyn Gerry, who also participated in Friday’s blockade.
This story was originally published on Common Dreams.