Fighting Threat to Beautiful Lake Region, "Seneca Lake 12" Anti-Fracking Activists Face Jail for Civil Disobedience

Activists were protesting a company's plans to store billions of barrels of fracking gas in salt caverns below a lake.

Photo Credit: Twitter


This article was published in partnership with

Three New York anti-fracking activists will appear in court Wednesday on trespassing charges related to an act of civil disobedience carried out last month.

The defendants, Melissa Chipman, Michael Dineen and Sandra Steingraber joined nine other activists in blockading a gas compressor station site near Seneca Lake. Linking arms and displaying a banner emblazoned “Our future is unfractured,” the activists protested Missouri-based Inergy’s plans to build natural gas and liquid petroleum gas storage facilities in the Finger Lakes Region. Deputies arrested the activists, self-described as the “Seneca Lake 12,” when they refused to disband, blocking a company truck from the site.

Inergy LLC, the largest energy storage and transportation company in the country, wants to use two salt caverns below Senaca Lake to store billions of barrels of fracking gas. Opponents fear Inergy’s planned storage facilities pose serious risks, including drinking water contamination, air pollution, transportation-related accidents and disruption of the area’s tourist and wine industries. Environmentalists also note that salt caverns are particularly unsafe for energy storage. As Peter Mantius reported for DC Bureau, “Salt caverns represented only 7 percent of the nation’s 407 underground storage sites for gas in 2002, but they were responsible for all 10 of the catastrophic accidents involving gas storage between 1972 and 2004.”

One of the arrested, Sandra Steingraber, is an acclaimed author and biologist who currently serves as environmental scholar-in-residence at Ithaca college. Last month, Steingraber explained to AlterNet’s Tara Lohan her decision to participate in civil disobedience.

“I have testified about this facility in the past and submitted comments and feel as though I have pursued all legally available channels for me to object to this facility as a menace to public health, climate and drinking water,” Steingraber told AlterNet. “And it has all fallen on deaf ears and there is a race to get this thing in the ground.”

Another defendant, Melissa Chipman, wrote on a site dedicated to halting Inergy’s project, “I think it’s criminal how the gas industry treats the earth and the people on it.”

Watch the "Seneca Lake 12" protest against Inergy:

Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.

Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018