The fight over the fate of the Finger Lakes received national attention today when best-selling author, environmentalist and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, joined the opposition. McKibben 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. Join us in urging President Obama to secure his Climate Legacy by keeping fossil fuels safely in the ground.
Bill McKibben Arrested + 56 Others in Ongoing Campaign Against Proposed Gas Storage at Seneca Lake Sandra Steingraber / EcoWatch
(March 7, 2016) -- The fight over the fate of the Finger Lakes received national attention today when best-selling author, environmentalist and founder of 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, but at this time all arrestees have been released except for McKibben who is still in custody at the Schuyler County sheriff's department.
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, 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," McKibben said. "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 several prominent local residents. Among them were the Rev. Felicity Wright, pastor of Elmira's famed Park Church, and Phil Davis, 63, 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 at least 19 different New York counties.
At 6:45 a.m., 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 conducted and arrested shortly before 8 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 17-month-old civil disobedience campaign has now surpassed 500.
"Climate change is not only an economic and ecological crisis. It is also, for many of us, a moral and spiritual crisis," Rev. Wright said during the blockade.
"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 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."
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 Gov. Cuomo's Department of Environmental Conservation.
"I will stand once again in resistance to this imposition of corporate will upon our people and our land and water," Davis said this morning. "There is an attitude of arrogance and dismissiveness in the Crestwood communiques—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."
ACTION: Obama End All Coal Oil Extraction ObamaClimateLegacy.org Brought to you by
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(March 6, 2016) -- In the last nine months, President Obama has rejected the Keystone pipeline, cancelled Arctic Ocean drilling leases, and halted new coal mining leases on public lands. But our children and grandchildren need him to be even more audacious in stabilizing the climate.
Barack Obama has just 324 days left in office:
Join us in urging the President to secure his Climate Legacy by keeping fossil fuels safely in the ground.
President Obama has shown that when the people come together to speak out and take action -- when the whole world is watching -- he will rise to the occasion to do what’s right. Even if it means pissing off Big Oil, Gas, and Coal.
So we’re coming together to make one more bold demand: for the President to halt all drilling, mining, and fracking on our public lands and waters before leaving office.
There is growing consensus among climate experts that in order to stabilize our climate we must keep 80% of our known fossil fuel reserves safely in the ground. We’re counting on the President to use his executive authority to protect and defend our public lands and waters from fossil fuel extraction.
Watchdog.net has joined forces with a powerful group of allies to bring sustained strategic pressure on the White House to make this happen. Our alliance includes government watchdogs and netroots groups as well as those fighting for our climate -- because this is going to take all of us.
Please visit ObamaClimateLegacy. US to join us in calling on the President to use his final days in office to Keep It In the Ground.
We’ve connected our website to the White House's “We the People” platform. That means that once we hit 100,000 signatures, the President will be required to respond.
We call on you to secure your climate legacy by halting all new drilling, fracking, and mining on public lands and waters, including stopping all new offshore drilling in the Arctic, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic.
The world is in a deep climate hole and now that we find ourselves here, we must stop digging. As you said when you rejected the Keystone XL pipeline, "we’re going to have to keep some fossil fuels in the ground."
We couldn't agree more.
The science is clear. (1) A safe climate means we need to stop drilling and mining for more fossil fuels; and we need to keep at least 80% of what we already have in the ground.
The first place to start is our precious public lands and waters. New oil and gas sales on these lands would expand known reserves of fossil fuels, which would clearly fail to harmonize our energy policy with climate science.
The historic Paris climate agreement was the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era. To create that fossil free future we need a just transition to 100% renewable energy, and we need to implement a climate test to stop expanding reserves and keep our fossil fuels in the ground.
We thank you for your leadership to date, and we urge you to boldly secure your climate legacy by announcing that America’s public lands and waters will no longer be auctioned off to oil, gas, and coal companies.