Catholic Workers Carry Seven-foot Replica of Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Climate Change to Blockade Crestwood’s Gates, 13 Arrested as Number of Total Arrests Hits 309.
July 20, Watkins Glen, NY – In an act of civil disobedience against gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns, 13 Finger Lakes residents, led by local members of the Ithaca Catholic Worker Movement, formed a human blockade shortly after sunrise this morning at the north entrance of Crestwood Midstream on Route 14.
Carrying with them a seven-foot-tall replica of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on climate change, Laudato Si! On Care for Our Common Home, they blocked all traffic from entering or leaving.
Schuyler County deputies arrested the 13 shortly after 9:30 a.m. as they sang and read from the Ponitical document. Their recitation continued the read-aloud from the encyclical that began on June 30, as part of earlier blockade that led to the arrests of 19 individuals, and which continued on July 7, as part of an all-day blockade of 11 individuals that resulted in no arrests.
Immediately after their arrest, a large tanker truck labeled “TRADEBE—Emergency Response” sped through the gates. According to the Tradebe website,”TRADEBE’s Emergency Response Team is trained, equipped and ready to respond to Hazmat, Oil Spills and other Emergencies.”
As before, the protesters were taken into custody, charged with trespassing and released.
The Catholic Worker Movement was founded by journalist Dorothy Day and social activist Peter Maurin in 1933. Its purpose is to “live in accordance with the justice and charity of Jesus Christ.”
Delivering a statement on behalf of the Ithaca Catholic Worker Movement, blockader Ellen Grady said, “Today members of the Ithaca Catholic Worker join the Seneca Lake Defenders in their effort to resist the desecration of this beautiful Finger Lakes region. We bring with us a seven and a half foot tall replica of Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si! On Care For Our Common Home, to the gates of Crestwood Gas Storage facility….Creation is a gift from God. It is our duty to care for it and not misuse it.” [Grady’s complete statement is below.]
Barbara Smith, 61, a Catholic Worker, mother of nine children, and dairy farmer from the Town of Lodi in Seneca County, said, “No one has the right to risk damaging this lake in any way for the short term gain of one company. Seneca Lake is only on loan to us but belongs ultimately to God, and we have been charged to protect it for the common good of future generations.”
The total number of arrests in the nine-month-old civil disobedience campaign now stands at 309.
None of the protesters 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 and which has been ongoing since October 2014.
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.
The 13 arrested today were:
Daniel Burns, 55, Ithaca Tompkins County
Rebecca Elgie, 74, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Linda Finlay, 76, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Neil Golder, 69, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Clare Grady, 56, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Ellen Grady, 52, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Joan Jedele, 67, Dryden, Tompkins County
JoAnn Kuentz, 64, Elmira, Chemung County
Arlene Leach-Bizari, 46, Rochester, Monroe County
James Ricks, Ithaca, 65, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Rebecca Schillenback, 40, Caroline, Tompkins County
Barbara Schlierf, 60, Henrietta, Monroe County
Barbara Smith, 61, Lodi, Seneca County