53 Arrested Protesting Gas Storage Near Seneca Lake
"We are ALL Seneca Lake" was the message delivered this morning by prominent environmental leaders Wes Gillingham, program director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, David Braun, co-founder of Americans Against Fracking, and Rachel Marco-Havens, youth engagement director of Earth Guardians during a protest at Stagecoach (formerly Crestwood) gas storage complex along Route 14 in the Town of Reading.
The three joined 50 others at a civil disobedience action against gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns that highlighted our interconnectedness in the struggle for a fast and necessary transition to clean energy, and the folly and destructiveness of new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.
Organized by the direct action group, We Are Seneca Lake, the protesters formed a human blockade on the driveway of the gas storage facility shortly before 7 a.m.
During the blockade, the protesters stopped all traffic entering and leaving the facility. Shortly before 8 a.m., they were arrested by Schuyler County sheriff's deputies, charged with disorderly conduct and transported to the sheriff's department. Watkins Glen police and NYS troopers assisted in the arrests.
In reference to Con Ed's recent investment in Seneca Lake gas storage and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's extension of an almost-lapsed permit, protesters held banners that said, "We Will Not be Con-ed" and "We Will Not be FERC'ed!"
In an address to fellow protesters, Gillingham, 56, of Ulster, New York, said, "While we stand here in solidarity with the people of Seneca Lake, we are also standing up against the devastation in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota and the bomb trains bringing that fracked oil to Albany. We are standing up against the oil and gas money that pollutes our politics. We are standing up against pipelines rubber-stamped by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission."
Describing the Aliso Canyon gas storage leak near Porter Ranch, California, that prompted thousands of evacuations, Braun, 45, of Oakland, said, "I am risking arrest with you today because of disasters with gas storage that I have seen up close in my home state. Don't let it happen here. Don't turn wine country into fracked gas country. Don't build Aliso Canyon in New York's Napa Valley."
Bill McKibben Arrested + 56 Others in Ongoing Campaign Against Proposed Gas Storage at Seneca Lake https://t.co/zaLpSmw2hB @Greenpeace— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1457388632.0
Gas storage is the only industry with the power to take down the entire local economy in the case of an accident, Braun noted. "Winemakers don't poison the air if they have a bad year. Local farmers won't force thousands to be evacuated from their homes if their crops don't produce properly. No other industry does this," he said.
Salt cavern storage accounts for only seven percent of total underground storage of natural gas in the U.S. but, since 1972, is responsible for 100 percent of the catastrophic accidents that has resulted in loss of life.
Crestwood's methane gas storage expansion project was originally 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.
"As a scientist, I know that there is no bigger threat to our planet than climate change," Biochemist Martha Ferger, PhD, 92, of Dryden, New York, said. "Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Storing methane in the salt caverns here at Seneca Lake will make the problem of climate change worse, not better."
The 53 protesters arrested at Seneca Lake today came from 18 New York State counties plus California and New Jersey. Eight were from Schuyler County, New York.
"We must move to renewable sources of energy now," Marco-Havens, 46, of Woodstock, New York, said. "This summer, as fossil fuel build-out escalates, we will continue to escalate our efforts—for the protection of our children and those to come."
Returning the ‘Three Sisters’ – Corn, Beans and Squash – to Native American Farms Nourishes People, Land and Cultures
By Christina Gish Hill
Historians know that turkey and corn were part of the first Thanksgiving, when Wampanoag peoples shared a harvest meal with the pilgrims of Plymouth plantation in Massachusetts. And traditional Native American farming practices tell us that squash and beans likely were part of that 1621 dinner too.
Abundant Harvests<p>Historically, Native people throughout the Americas bred indigenous plant varieties specific to the growing conditions of their homelands. They selected seeds for many different traits, such as <a href="https://emergencemagazine.org/story/corn-tastes-better/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">flavor, texture and color</a>.</p><p>Native growers knew that planting corn, beans, squash and sunflowers together produced mutual benefits. Corn stalks created a trellis for beans to climb, and beans' twining vines secured the corn in high winds. They also certainly observed that corn and bean plants growing together tended to be healthier than when raised separately. Today we know the reason: Bacteria living on bean plant roots pull nitrogen – an essential plant nutrient – from the air and <a href="http://www.tilthalliance.org/learn/resources-1/almanac/october/octobermngg" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">convert it to a form that both beans and corn can use</a>.</p><p>Squash plants contributed by shading the ground with their broad leaves, preventing weeds from growing and retaining water in the soil. Heritage squash varieties also had spines that discouraged deer and raccoons from visiting the garden for a snack. And sunflowers planted around the edges of the garden created a natural fence, protecting other plants from wind and animals and attracting pollinators.</p><p>Interplanting these agricultural sisters produced bountiful harvests that sustained large Native communities and <a href="http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/eam.2015.0016" target="_blank">spurred fruitful trade economies</a>. The first Europeans who reached the Americas were shocked at the abundant food crops they found. My research is exploring how, 200 years ago, Native American agriculturalists around the Great Lakes and along the Missouri and Red rivers fed fur traders with their diverse vegetable products.</p>
Displaced From the Land<p>As Euro-Americans settled permanently on the most fertile North American lands and acquired seeds that Native growers had carefully bred, they imposed policies that <a href="https://doi.org/10.1086/ahr/87.2.550" target="_blank">made Native farming practices impossible</a>. In 1830 President Andrew Jackson signed the <a href="https://guides.loc.gov/indian-removal-act" target="_blank">Indian Removal Act</a>, which made it official U.S. policy to force Native peoples from their home locations, pushing them onto subpar lands.</p><p>On reservations, U.S. government officials discouraged Native women from cultivating anything larger than small garden plots and pressured Native men to practice Euro-American style monoculture. Allotment policies assigned small plots to nuclear families, further limiting Native Americans' access to land and preventing them from using communal farming practices.</p><p>Native children were forced to attend boarding schools, where they had no opportunity to <a href="https://doi.org/10.5749/jamerindieduc.57.1.0145" target="_blank">learn Native agriculture techniques or preservation and preparation of Indigenous foods</a>. Instead they were forced to eat Western foods, turning their palates away from their traditional preferences. Taken together, these policies <a href="https://kansaspress.ku.edu/978-0-7006-0802-7.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">almost entirely eradicated three sisters agriculture</a> from Native communities in the Midwest by the 1930s.</p>
Reviving Native Agriculture<p>Today Native people all over the U.S. are working diligently to <a href="https://www.oupress.com/books/15107980/indigenous-food-sovereignty-in-the-united-sta" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">reclaim Indigenous varieties of corn, beans, squash, sunflowers and other crops</a>. This effort is important for many reasons.</p><p>Improving Native people's access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods will help lower rates of <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/aian-diabetes/index.html" target="_blank">diabetes</a> and <a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/ethnicity-health/native-american/obesity" target="_blank">obesity</a>, which affect Native Americans at disproportionately high rates. Sharing traditional knowledge about agriculture is a way for elders to pass cultural information along to younger generations. Indigenous growing techniques also protect the lands that Native nations now inhabit, and can potentially benefit the wider ecosystems around them.</p>
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