Thursday, September 6, 2012

Protestors chain selves to fence to impeded NY gas project Is Watkins Glen harbinger of civil disobedience strategy?

Two anti fracking protesters – reportedly senior citizens – have chained themselves to a fence at an Inergy facility near Watkins Glen, New York to impede a gas storage project under development there. Sandra Steingraber, founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking, said the protest began as an independent act by residents frustrated with Inergy’s conversion of salt mines along the lake into gas storage facilities without public input. As of late this morning, several dozen protestors have gathered in support.

Steingraber, an author and scholar in residence at Ithaca College, leads a coalition of anti-fracking groups in New York which has become a central part of a national anti-fracking movement. Late last month, Steingraber was among a delegation of activists who delivered a “pledge of resistance” signed by 3,000 activists to the office of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo as part of a campaign to keep gas development out of New York state.

While protesters have enthusiastically gathered for rallies in Albany, they have yet to begin an organized campaign of civil disobedience implied in their “pledge of resistance.” The Watkins Glen protest is worth keeping an eye on because it marks the first high-profile test of this approach against the gas industry in New York.

Update 6 p.m. The protest ended peacefully when Schuyler County Sheriff William Yessman arrived with state police, according to witnesses. When the protesters refused to leave after a brief warning period, the police cut their handcuffs from the fence and walked them to squad cars. The protesters were identified as Jeremy Alderson, 63, and Gary Judson, 72. A third protester, Susan Walker, 53, was not chained to the fence but also arrested for refusing to leave. All three were issued trespassing violations and released with a warning that the penalties would become harsher with repeat offenses.
The protest was aimed at plans by Inergy LLC to build a $40 million storage and transfer station for natural gas and liquid petroleum in underground salt caverns on the western side of Seneca Lake. The project is part of a build-out of infrastructure that would increase New York’s role in shale gas development. Proponents see on shore drilling – enabled by high volume hydraulic fracturing -- as a positive step to increase domestic energy supplies and national independence. Critics see it as a reckless and unregulated corporate land grab that comes at the risk of the environment and public health.

The Inergy projecg is under review by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

1 comment:

  1. Tom, photo credit should read: "William Huston / Shaleshock Media". Thanks :)