13 Arrested at Crestwood Blockade While Reading Pope Francis' Encyclical on Climate Change
Early this morning, in a peaceful civil disobedience action against gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns, which took place the day after President Obama announced the Clean Power Plan to move the nation away from fossil fuels, 13 people from six New York counties were arrested while reading verses from Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on climate change.
Just after dawn, the 13 formed a human blockade at the north and south entrances of Crestwood Midstream’s gas storage facility on Route 14, preventing all traffic from entering or leaving and began their reading. Joining the pontifical read-aloud was the Rev. John D. Elder, former pastor of the historic First Church in Oberlin, Ohio and present part-time resident of Schuyler County. Rev. Elder was not arrested.
Large trucks attempting to leave the facility were blocked at both the north and south gates of the Crestwood property shortly after 7 a.m. Photo credit: We Are Seneca Lake
The words on the banners carried by today’s protesters—“Love the Common Good,” “And Care for This World”—were lines from the prayer that closes the encyclical.
Large trucks attempting to leave the facility were blocked at both the north and south gates of the Crestwood property shortly after 7 a.m. Schuyler County deputies arrested the blockaders at about 7:30 a.m. The 13 were taken into custody, charged with both trespassing and disorderly conduct and released. None of the 13 blockaders this morning had been previously arrested as part of the We Are Seneca Lake movement, which opposes Crestwood’s plans for methane and LPG storage in lakeside salt caverns.
Two other individuals on the media team were inadvertently arrested and charged with trespassing (one was the videographer and the other one was me).
Dan Taylor, 64, of Oxford in Chenango County said, "Yesterday, President Obama released the Clean Power Plan and put the nation on the path to renewable energy. Today, we are standing at the gates of dirty energy to say that Crestwood’s plan for the Finger Lakes is not a clean power plan. I am here to help impede the build-out of fossil fuel infrastructure."
This morning’s recitation continued the read-aloud from the Pontifical document, Laudato Si! On Care for Our Common Home, that began during a blockade on June 30 and that continued during blockades on July 7 and July 20. All together, 44 people have been arrested as part of encyclical-themed blockades at Crestwood.
Joining the pontifical read-aloud was the Rev. John D. Elder, former pastor of the historic First Church in Oberlin, Ohio, and present part-time resident of Schuyler County. Photo credit: We Are Seneca Lake
One of today's arrestees, Faith Muirhead, 45, of Beaver Dams in Steuben County, grew up in the town of Reading near the salt caverns. She said, “We are all of us stewards of the earth. I am a native of Reading and know that this area and Seneca Lake are gifts to be cherished and protected. I feel a responsibility to do what I can to protect these waters and this land. So I pray, I walk, I send letters, I call my state representatives and today, I stand at the gates of Crestwood to demonstrate my resolve. I am a teacher and a teacher of teachers. Today, I teach by putting my freedom in jeopardy in order to bring attention to the potential risks inherent in Crestwood’s plans."
The total number of civil disobedience arrests in the eight-month-old campaign against gas storage now stands at 332.
Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last October 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.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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