Yesterday, Orion friend and columnist Sandra Steingraber was arrested in New York’s Finger Lakes region, as she and eleven others attempted to shut down a gas storage facility used to store hydrofracked natural gas.
The Seneca 12, as the group has called itself, locked arms and displayed a banner in front of a facility operated by the Missouri-based energy company, Inergy.
Inergy’s activity in the Finger Lakes region—which is known for its Reisling grapes and, now, shale gas deposits—was the topic of Sandra’s column in the January/February 2013 issue of Orion, “The Silence of Science. “ In it, she describes the activism of seventy-two-year-old Methodist minister Gary Judson, who was arrested recently for chaining himself to the fence of one of Inergy’s formaldehyde-emitting compressor stations:
While chained to the compressor station fence, Reverend Judson, an avid fisherman, spoke about the sparkling lake behind him. “They don’t have the right to do this—to put the lake in jeopardy. We’ll all end up paying for their mess.” I was impressed not only with the force of Judson’s moral argument but also with his knowledge of aquatic ecology, climate change, and the arcane details of environmental regulation. This is a man who can talk water-quality indices as well as apostles.
“Inergy has been in violation of the Clean Water Act at this facility every single quarter for the past three years,” he said. “Since 1972, there have been fourteen catastrophic failures at gas storage facilities.”
When the sheriff and his deputies arrived and most of the protesters dispersed, Judson did not. No sooner had bolt cutters emancipated him from the fence than handcuffs re-manacled him. As he was led away, his wife (age seventy-four) ran up and adjusted his glasses.