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"Star Trek" actors James Cromwell and John Hertzler were arrested at this demonstration against the fracked gas storage project in Seneca Lake last June. (Photo: We Are Seneca Lake/Twitter)

'Huge Victory' in Seneca Lake: After Years of Protest, Gas Storage Project Abandoned

"Don't think people can't make a difference. People can prevail."

Nika Knight Beauchamp

After a years-long popular resistance against a proposed fracked gas storage project in Seneca Lake, N.Y., the people have emerged victorious.

The Arlington Storage Company announced Wednesday that it was finally abandoning a contentious plan to store fracked gas in unlined salt caverns along the pristine lake in New York's Finger Lakes region.

"This has been a long drawn out battle to protect a world class region from a Texas-based oil and gas corporation. They only see dollar signs, where we see tranquil beauty, clean air, and fresh water," said Joseph Campbell, president of the Gas Free Seneca coalition of businesses, in a statement.

Ecologist and author Sandra Steingraber, who has been involved with the protests led by We Are Seneca Lake since they began in 2014, reported for EcoWatch:

The news broke Wednesday in the most banal of venues: the biweekly environmental compliance report submitted by Arlington Storage Company to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

Deep in the third paragraph of section B, this wholly owned subsidiary of the Houston-based gas storage and transportation giant, Crestwood Midstream, announced that it was walking away from its FERC-approved plan to increase its storage of methane (natural gas) in unlined, abandoned salt caverns along the shoreline of Seneca Lake.

In its own words, "Arlington has discontinued efforts to complete the Gallery 2 Expansion Project."

"It was a blandly expressed ending to a dramatic conflict that has roiled New York's Finger Lakes region for more than six years," Steingraber observed.

Indeed, the nonviolent direct action campaign saw hundreds arrested, including prominent environmental activists such as author Bill McKibben and filmmaker Josh Fox.

In the wake of the company's decision to end the project, participants celebrated the victory and credited the power of popular resistance.

"I took a stand against Crestwood because we had no choice," said Laura Salamendra, a member of We Are Seneca Lake, in a statement. "This is our drinking water, the drinking water of our families. The project threatened our safety and we couldn't allow it. We would fight longer than them because it wasn't about profit, but about protecting one another. We have to do that when government agencies won't."

"It takes consistency and dedication, and we had that," Salamendra continued. "It started small but it grew larger than we could have imagined."

"Ranging in age from 18 to 92, Seneca Lake Defenders have included teachers, nurses, doctors, midwives, farmers, winemakers, faith leaders, town board members, military veterans, mothers, fathers, chefs, bird watchers, cancer survivors, and numerous disabled individuals," observed Steingraber.

"Don't think people can't make a difference," Salamendra said. "People can prevail."


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