Methane Is Madness, Central New York

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No one contributing to these pages has (yet) taken protest quite this far. We are not surprised to see the man in the blue jacket getting arrested, on principle, but the others listed below–none with as famous a name but all living in a famously protest-inclined part of New York State–make us wonder whether we have what it takes:

Bill McKibben Arrested at Civil Disobedience Action Against Gas Storage at Seneca Lake

Famed author and climate activist joins 56 people from 20 NYS counties to form human blockade at the gates of Crestwood Midstream, demands halt to climate-damaging fracked gas infrastructure, as total number of arrests in sustained campaign hits 537

Watkins Glen, NY – The fight over the fate of the Finger Lakes became national today when best-selling author, environmentalist, and founder of the international climate campaign, 350.org, Bill McKibben joined the opposition. McKibben, 55, was arrested this morning with 56 area residents as part of an ongoing civil disobedience campaign against proposed gas storage in Seneca Lake’s abandoned salt caverns.

This is a developing story. At this writing, all 57 arrestees have been charged with disorderly conduct and released, except for Bill McKibben, who is still in the custody of the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office.

Organized by the direct action group, We Are Seneca Lake, the protesters formed a human blockade on the driveway of the gas storage and transportation company, Crestwood Midstream. During the blockade, which began shortly after sunrise at 6:45 a.m., the protesters blocked all traffic entering and leaving the facility.

In a public statement to fellow blockaders, McKibben thanked We Are Seneca Lake for serving as a “curtain raiser” for the larger global movement to break free from fossil fuels that is now unfolding in frontline communities all over the planet: “Today and every day there are places like this where people are standing up…. This place is so important because it’s one of the places where people are understanding that it’s not just carbon dioxide we are fighting, it’s also methane, that there are two greenhouse gases and they are both spurring this incredible heating that we are seeing.… If we can hold off the fossil fuel industry for just a few more years, this stuff will never be built again.

Also arrested today were eight Schuyler County residents. Among them were the Reverend Felicity Wright, pastor of Elmira’s famed Park Church, and Phil Davis, co-owner and operator of Damiani Wine Cellars on the east shore of Seneca Lake and a seventh-generation resident of Schuyler County.

Ranging in age from 30 to 76, today’s protesters represented 19 different New York counties.

At 6:45 a.m. this morning, the group unfurled banners that read, “Methane is Madness. Break Free from Fossil Fuels” and “We Are Seneca Lake. Can You Hear Us Now?”

The group was charged with disorderly conduct and arrested shortly before 8:00 a.m. by Schuyler County deputies, Watkins Glen police, and New York State troopers, and transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department.

The total number of arrests in the seventeen-month-old civil disobedience campaign has now surpassed 500.

Reverend Wright said, “Climate change is not only an economic and ecological crisis. It is also, for many of us, a moral and spiritual crisis.  Pope Francis understood this well when, in his recent encyclical on the climate crisis, he asks, “What kind of world do we want to leave…for those who come after us? And the answer must be: a world that supports creation, and a world that allows us to be divine agents for what is holy, good, and true.”

Phil Davis, 63, of Hector and co-owner/operator of Damiani Wine Cellars said, “I will stand once again in resistance to this imposition of corporate will upon our people and our land and water. There is an attitude of arrogance and dismissiveness in the Crestwood communiqués–regarding environmental concerns, community safety concerns, area business concerns–that I find so offensive that I can’t stand by without joining to further the outcry of opposition. My family has been a part of this community for seven generations. I’m here today to lend my back and all my resolve to this fight.”

Gerry Wiley, 68, of Owego in Tioga County, said, “I am here today as a public health nurse to call attention to the most urgent public health crisis of our time: the effects of climate change. Carbon dioxide lasts a long time in the atmosphere, and reducing it takes time that we no longer have. The only way we can buy more time, while working on cutting carbon dioxide emissions, is to quickly cut methane by ending its extraction, production, distribution, and storage now.”

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October 2014 in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of Seneca Lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

Crestwood also seeks to store two other products of fracking in Seneca Lake salt caverns—propane and butane (so-called Liquefied Petroleum Gases, LPG)—for which it is awaiting a decision by Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

The 57 arrested today were:

Marguerite (Peggy) Abbott, 65, Phelps, Ontario County

Elliott Adams, 69, Sharon Springs, Schoharie County

George Adams, 66, Danby, Tompkins County

Holly Adams, 56, Hunt, Livingston County

Alicia Alexander, 63, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Daryl Anderson, 62, Hector, Schuyler County

Danielle Angie, 37, Trumansburg, Tompkins County

Kerry Angie, 63, Aurora, Cayuga County

Thomas Angie, 63, Aurora, Cayuga County

Shirley Barton, 68, Hector, Schuyler County

Richard Battaglia, 53, Richford, Tioga County

Marie Ely Baumgardner, 68, Burdett, Schuyler County

Darlene Bordwell, 58, Penn Yan, Yates County

Charley Bowman, 69, Getzville, Erie County

Patricia Buttolph, 70, Elmira, Chemung County

Cynthia Carestio, 55, Canandaigua, Ontario County

Jamie William Carestio, 30, Hector, Schuyler County

Donn Carroll, 65, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Lyndsay Clark, 55, Springwater, Livingston

Colleen A. Coss, 60, West Henrietta, Monroe County

Phil Davis, 63, Hector, Schuyler County

Jodi Dean, 53, Geneva, Ontario County

Martin Dodge, 73, Canandaigua, Ontario County

Joshua Dolan, 38, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Robert Eklund, 63, New Lisbon, Otsego

Wesley (Wes) Ernsberger, 68, Owego, Tioga County

Carrie Fischer, 39, Fayette, Seneca County

Paula Fitzsimmons, 57, Hector, Schuyler County

Paul Matthew Flansburg, 47, Henrietta, Monroe County

Kenneth Fogarty, 76, Guilford, Chenango County

Arthur Godin, 67, Enfield, Tompkins County

Mimi Gridley, 60, Dundee, Yates County

Ruth Groff, 64, Lansing, Tompkins County

Debb Guard, 64, Schenectady, Schenectady County

Susan Hughes-Smith, 44, Brighton, Monroe County

Nancy E. Kasper, 57, North Rose, Wayne County

Bill Kitchen, 63, Johnstown, Fulton County

Sharon Kahkonen, 66, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County

Mary (Meg) Downey Krywe, 57, Almond, Allegany County

Nathan John Lewis, 33, Hector, Schuyler County

Peter Looker, 65, Glenville, Schenectady County

Alison Marshall, 35, Penn Yan, Yates County

Bill McKibben, 55, Ripton, Addison County, VT

Katherine (Kit) Miller, 53, Brighton, Monroe County

Paul A. Passavant, 49, Geneva, Ontario County

Leslie Potter, 72, Big Flats, Chemung County

Stephanie Redmond, 39, Enfield, Tompkins County

Catherine M. Rossiter, 64, Sayre, Bradford County, PA

Coby Schultz, 55, Springwater, Livingston County

Tom Seaney, 66, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Susan Soboroff, 70, Trumansburg, Ulysses County

Ba Stopha, 70, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Louise Sullivan-Blum, 55, Corning, Steuben County

Robert S. Thompson, 62, Hemlock, Livingston County

Gerri Wiley, 68, Owego, Tioga County

Felicity Wright, 68, Alpine, Schuyler County

Ken Zeserson, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County

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