Big One Down! But More to Go . . .

CPNY celebrates the NYS ban on fracking, but knows it’s only one piece of the ongoing fossil fuel threat.

The Coalition to Protect New York’s grassroots members are greatly relieved that it’s almost certain New York will not allow fracking. Governor Cuomo has given us a holiday gift in announcing that he has truly left the decision to science, and that common sense prevailed.

Dr. Howard Zucker, who did a health assessment, and Department of Environmental Conservation commissioner Peter Martens came to the only possible conclusion— that fracking harms human health and our environment and should not be undertaken.

This decision came about because of the hard work of thousands of people — scientists, health practitioners, veterinarians, and primarily grassroots activists. These individuals have tirelessly and without fanfare sponsored public forums, panels, and screenings; gone door-to-door to educate their neighbors and local officials; lobbied state officials; rallied; bird-dogged the governor; protested infrastructure buildout; spoken to the media; and written countless public comments, brochures, letters, op-eds, websites, research studies, white papers, policy briefs, testimonials, even documentary films and books.

“There are a lot of heroes in this movement,” said Jack Ossont, one of CPNY’s cofounders. “Perhaps none are as worthy of kudos as attorneys David and Helen Slottje. Their tireless work through their public-interest law firm Community Environmental Defense Council, Inc. gave hope to the scores of towns that have passed strong local bans that stood through challenges in the highest courts in the state.”

CPNY is celebrating this victory along with the many other groups in the state that helped make it happen. But we are not blind to the proliferation of fracking and fossil fuel infrastructure going on all around us, right here in “frack-free” New York State. “We know we must keep our focus to stop the pipelines, compressor stations, water withdrawal for fracking, and brine spreading that are already here,” said another CPNY cofounder, David Walczak. “At least five New York State landfills are accepting radioactive frack waste from Pennsylvania. And of course in the Finger Lakes, we must continue to defy the Crestwood corporation’s dangerous gas storage on Seneca Lake, where more than 130 protesters have been arrested in the last two months.”

It’s good to take a brief breather, but the fossil fuel corporations have been laying their plans for years and are bound and determined to destroy our future. We must stop them.

Meanwhile, the many, many volunteers who helped make this ban happen should congratulate themselves for their selfless hard work. “One lovely gift we can thank the governor for this holiday season,” said CPNY’s Maura Stephens, “is a bit more restful sleep—something we have been living without for years.”

Lots of Indy Media Coverage of Ongoing Seneca Lake Protests, Arrests

The now-six-week-long escalating resistance to the Crestwood Midstream gas storage facility in salt caverns along beautiful Seneca Lake has added 93 people to the list of citizens who have been arrested. The peaceful resistance began when Jeremy Alderson, Gary Judson, Susan Walker and others first chained themselves to the fence at Inergy (now Crestwood) gas storage facitlity in September 2012; subsequently,  12 others were arrested, three imprisoned, in 2013.

The latest campaign has been getting a lot of press, including a segment on Democracy Now!

Some of the latest coverage:

From Inside Climate News: “In NY Tourist Haven, Arrests Continue at Methane Storage Project”
From EcoWatch: “6 Jailed, 9 Arrested in Ongoing Fight against Methane Gas Storage”



Seneca Lake Update from Odessa File, 11/19

*A busy Crestwood protest day: 9 arrests, a rally, 16 court cases and 3
jail terms*

SCHUYLER COUNTY, Nov. 20 — The number of arrestees protesting the
Crestwood energy firm’s gas storage plans climbed to 52 Wednesday with the
arrest of nine people at two Crestwood gates along Route 14 north of
Watkins Glen.

It was a busy day for the protest community — one that also saw a rally
and two court sessions involving 16 defendants, three of whom chose jail
over a fine.

The day started with a gathering of 30 protesters in Seneca Harbor Park at
7 a.m., followed by carpooling to the two Crestwood gates. The
gate-blocking went on for seven hours in bitter cold temperatures before
police arrested seven men and two women. Three other men had been in one or
the other of the two blockade lines for hours, but departed before police

The rally occurred outside the Reading Town Hall, with almost 100
supporters braving the bracing temperatures and gusting winds to hear
speeches strongly urging that protesters continue their civil disobedience.

The two court sessions were both in Reading Town Court, where three of the
16 defendants — including 86-year-old Roland Micklem — opted for jail as
an extended form of protest. Many of the other defendants pled guilty to
Trespass and paid fines, with money provided by funds collected from
supporters of the protest effort. A handful of cases were adjourned
following not-guilty pleas.

*The day’s highlights:*

*1. The nine arrests.*

The group taken into custody included several area business figures.

Arrestees, according to organizers, included:
–Will Ouweleen, Conesus, Livingston County, owner, Eagle Crest and
O-Neh-Da Vineyards;
–Peggy Aker, 57, Trumansburg, owner and founder, Marco Mama’s;
–Stefan Senders, 56, Hector, owner, Wide Awake Bakery;
–Julia Uticone, 40, Cayutaville, Swamp Road Baskets;
–Asa Redmond, 40, Ithaca, Regional Access, a natural food distributor.
Redmond is also the drummer for The Sim Redmond Band.
–And: Anna Redmond, Trumansburg; Jessica Thorpe, Hector; John Dennis,
Lansing; and Chuck Geisler, Ithaca. Geisler had also been arrested on Oct.

Protesting for several hours, organizers said, but not present at the time
of the arrests:
–Phil Davis, 62, Hector, owner, Damiani Wine Cellars;
–Scott Signori, 47, Hector, owner and executive chef, Stonecat Cafe;
–Chris Tate, 52, Hector.

*2. The rally.* Scores gathered outside the Reading Town Hall despite
bone-chilling temperatures to hear a rousing speech from key protester
Sandra Steingraber, who would later plead guilty to trespass, refuse to pay
the fine, and be sentenced to 15 days in jail. She criticized Schuyler
County Sheriff Bill Yessman for remarks he made on TV and online
complaining about the cost of housing protest inmates, and about a fatal
heart attack victim who could not be treated by an EMT-trained deputy
because the deputy had been dispatched to Crestwood.

Steingraber said a 911 call should always take precedence over Crestwood
protesters, and that they didn’t mind being “the bottom rung” on the ladder
of Yessman’s concerns. “He has no obligation to prioritize Crestwood over a
911 call,” she said, adding that if the county personnel “is stretched so
thin, how can they deal with a catastrophic accident?” should one occur at
Crestwood — something protestors and a risk analysis by a former area
hospital CEO say has a good chance of happening over the next 25 years.

She also suggested cutting the 15-day sentences handed down to protesters
to something closer to an overnight stay. “That would reduce the cost,” she

In any event, she added, “We will not give up.” She told the supporters
that she was likely going to jail that night, but didn’t want any
candlelight vigils or communications while she was incarcerated. “Just take
my place” on the protest lines, she said.

Joseph Campbell *(pictured at right)*, president of Gas Free Seneca, said
Yessman’s remarks were “disturbing" because he “more than implied … that
some peaceful protesters, from young mothers to local business owners to
grandmothers and grandfathers, are a threat and are putting the residents
of Schuyler County at risk. While we understand that Sheriff Yessman is
frustrated, perhaps he should realize that those who are risking arrest are
also frustrated, at the utter lack of representation they are getting from
their elected representatives and the agencies that regulate these
projects. People are being arrested for trespassing, but it is a Houston,
Texas-based oil and gas corporation which is the true trespasser here.”

*3. The 5 p.m. court session.* It saw nine cases handled by Town Justice
Raymond Berry that had been held over from court two weeks before. The big
hang-up on Nov. 5 had been an assertion by defendants that they were being
charged unreasonably with Disorderly Conduct in addition to Trespass. The
two charges had been lodged against 7 of 10 arrestees on Oct. 29 — the
starting date for the current wave of 52 arrests. Their argument was that
Disorderly Conduct applies to public property, and Trespass to private
property, and that therefore the two should not reasonably co-exist in
these cases. The District Attorney’s office, represented Wednesday by
Assistant DA John Tunney, concurred, and permitted the DisCon to be dropped
if a defendant pled guilty to Trespass.

Five of the seven jointly charged defendants followed that route, pleading
guilty to Trespass, with three of them — Steingraber, Micklem and Colleen
Boland — refusing to pay the $250 fine and $125 surcharge. They were each
sentenced to 15 days in jail, the Micklem case prompting some catcalls from
the audience and a question from one woman.

“Why can’t you give him community service?” she said, obviously concerned
by the man’s age and health. But the woman got a look from Tunney and a
terse: “You’re not a party to this.”

After they were sentenced, the three were held in the town hall until just
before the start of the 7 p.m. session, when they were led by deputies to a
transport van that had just arrived. Steingraber and Boland walked through
a gauntlet of supporters, cuffed hands held high, while Micklem shuffled
along well behind, walking as always with a cane. A deputy was at his
elbow. Unfortunately, Micklem fell as he tried to descend from curbing to
the parking lot, prompting cries throughout the crowd of “Roland's down!”
After being helped to his feet, he complained of an injured knee and was
seated for comfort in the passenger seat of an adjacent van. Asked if he
wanted medical attention, he said yes, and an ambulance was called.
According to a protest participant who witnessed the ambulance’s arrival,
Micklem decided not to submit to treatment after all, opting for jail, and
was taken there in a squad car.

Among other defendants at that first hearing, Patrick Judson and his mother
Jeanne — originally charged with both Trespass and Disorderly Conduct –
pled guilty to Trespass and paid the fine and surcharge, with funds
provided by supporters. Charles Geisler and Rev. Nancy Kasper, each charged
only with Trespass, pled not guilty, as did Patricia Heckart and Catherine
Rossiter, both charged with Trespass and Disorderly Conduct. The Geisler,
Heckart and Rossiter cases were adjourned to Jan. 21, while Kasper,
requesting a public defender, was told to return on Dec. 7.

*4. The 7 p.m. court session.* Seven cases dating from the arrest Nov. 3rd
of 15 people were handled, with most of the defendants pleading guilty to
Trespass and paying the $250 fine and $125 surcharge from donated funds.
They included Darlene Bordwell, Jodi Dean of Geneva, Lindsay Clark of the
Rochester area, Mariah Plumlee of Interlaken, and Stephanie Redmond, a
mother of three from Ithaca whose husband, Asa, was arrested in Wednesday’s
protest. One defendant, Kenneth Fogarty, 75, of Chenango County, opted to
pay the fine himself over 30 days, while another, 88-year-old Robert Henrie
of Wolcott, Wayne County, asked for a delay in his plea until after he
undergoes surgery for an aneurysm on Dec. 1. He was given a sheet of paper
with instructions to call the court for rescheduling his case, and he said
he would “if I don’t die.”

*5. The statements.* Defendants were generally given the opportunity to
make brief statements, and asked if they wanted anyone notified about their
situation. One woman, Mariah Plumlee, said yes, she would like to have
someone notified about her charges: “Governor Cuomo.” Responded Justice
Berry: “I doubt he’d take my call.” Answered Plumlee: “He hasn’t been
taking mine.”

Another defendant, Stephanie Redmond, said she wanted Sheriff Yessman
notified, with information given him as to “who the actual trespassers are
on Seneca Lake.”

Among the statements, there was Plumlee’s: “I’m really sad and angry to be
here. I don’t like to break the rules; I usually try to follow them. But I
also have principles and children” who, she said, are endangered by the
Crestwood storage projects.

Or that of Kenneth Fogarty, who was one of several defendants requesting a
lighter fine, only to be told by Judge Berry that his hands are tied by New
York regulations. He cannot reduce fines for trespass or the jail sentence,
15 days, for those who refuse to pay the fine. “Justice,” said Fogarty, “is
served best when tempered with compassion. I know you sent a man in his 80s
to jail with great misgivings. I plan to study this further” with an eye
toward mounting a campaign to get the state rules altered.

Or the statement of Jodi Dean, who said: “The (Assistant) DA was saying
‘The People say this’ and ‘the People say that’” when referring to his
office. “But history will show that *we *are the people.”

Or that of Redmond, who said she was participating in the protest because
“I have children, and the laws of motherhood supercede the laws bought and
paid for by large corporations.” She deemed the Crestwood projects “a
direct threat to my family,” adding: “Our sustainable economy” based on
wineries and tourism “should not be undermined by this insanity.”

“WASTE! What to Do About It?” Public Forum in Horseheads, Thurs. Nov. 20, 7:00 p.m.

When: View in Calendar » November 20, 2014 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Where: View Map » St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, 408 South Main Street, Horseheads,NY 14845, USA
Contact: Bette Ek

a public forum, will be presented by PHE, Inc. on Thursday, November 20, at 7:00 p.m. in Horseheads.  The forum is intended to promote discussion about a problem that is plaguing our society.

Speakers and topics:

  • Radioactive drilling wastes in Southern Tier landfills. Attorney Rachel Treichler
  • Can landfills make us sick? Barbara Warren, RN, executive director of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition
  • The road to zero waste. Chris Burger, Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition and NYS Sierra Club Zero Waste Committee

The forum is free and open to the public. For additional information visit

To arrange an interview with any of the speakers, contact Bette Ek, 607) 739-2648,


Arraignment of Martha Ferger et al. at Reading Town Court

When: View in Calendar » November 19, 2014 @ 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Where: View Map » Town of Reading Court, 3914 County Route 28, Watkins Glen,NY 14891, USA

Dryden resident Martha Ferger, age 90, being arrested; photo by Ross Horowitz

Sixteen of those arrested defending Seneca Lake from the Crestwood onslaught (many of whom are members of CPNY-affiliated and -allied groups) will be arraigned in Reading Town Court. The first group will be in court at 5:00 p.m., the second starting at 7:00 p.m.

A press conference and rally are set for 4:00 p.m. in the courthouse parking lot.

Dress warmly; there will almost surely not be room in the courthouse for everyone. Supporters are asked to bring signs and instruments and to wear blue in solidarity.

Dwain Wilder has already served time in jail for refusing to pay a fine. Tonight, those we know about who will be facing the judge are Colleen Boland, Martha Ferger, Ken Fogarty, Charles Geisler, Bob Henrie, and Nancy Kasper.

Be sure to read the Facebook page for information updates before heading to Reading Town Court on Wednesday Nov. 19 OR Wed. Nov. 26; do not rely on this website or other announcements:

Reading Center Town Court
3914 County Rd. 28 Reading Center, NY 14876

Arrested on October 29: Colleen Boland, Charles Geisler, Patricia Heckart, Nancy Kasper, Jeanne Judson, Patrick Judson, Roland Micklem, Katherine Rossiter, Sandra Steingraber, and Dwain Wilder

Arrested on November 3: Darlene Bordwell, Joanne Cipolla-Dennis, Lindsay Clark, Jodi Dean, John Dennis, Martha Ferger, Ken Fogarty, Lyn Gerry, Bob Henrie, Paul Passavant, Mariah Plumlee, Stephenie Redmond, Laura Salamandra, Elan Shapiro, and CPNY cofounder/former Schuyler County legislator Ruth Young

CPNY Monthly Meeting Teleconference

When: View in Calendar » November 25, 2014 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
Where: Teleconference
Contact: Maura

Call-in this month, 6:30-8:00 p.m.


“Koch Brothers Exposed,” with special guest Jeff Cohen Wed. 10/29 in Spencer

When: View in Calendar » October 29, 2014 @ 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Where: Spencer Town Hall, 79 East Tioga Street, Spencer,NY 14883, USA

On Wednesday, October 29, at 7:00 p.m. in Spencer Town Hall, the Spencer and Van Etten community will host a screening of Koch Brothers Exposed, 2014 edition. It will be followed by a Q&A with author, media critic, former pundit on Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, and founder of FAIR and of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College Jeff Cohen.

Jeff Cohen

Jeff Cohen on Thom Hartmann special "Conversations with Great Minds"

The film uses true stories to illustrate how two oil-billionaire brothers, Charles and David Koch, manipulate laws that hurt real people while padding their already overstuffed bank accounts.

The Koch brothers, under the guise of libertarianism, have backed politicians and laws that resegregate schools, suppress votes, dismantle unions, promote gun violence, fund fracking and fossil fuel exploitation — and generally demolish democracy.After the 56-minute film, we’ll have a question and answer session with Jeff Cohen. The event is free and open to all (donations welcome), and Halloween refreshments will be served.

Wed., Oct. 29, 2014, 7:00 p.m., Spencer Town Hall, 79 E. Tioga Street, Spencer NY 14883



Loving Farewell to Dear Hilary Acton

On Sunday, October 26, 2014, a large crowd of family and friends of Hilary Acton paid tribute to her loving, courageous spirit and her unparalleled support of antifracking and related movements near and far.

The celebration of Hilary’s life was organized and orchestrated by Joanne and Deborah Cipolla-Dennis, her close friends and allies in DRAC (Dryden Resource Awareness Coalition) and held at the First Unitarian Society of Ithaca.

So that her friends around the USA and around the world — especially in South Africa and in Poland and Ireland and Northern Ireland, from where South African filmmaker (Unearthed) Jolynn Minnaar sent a moving video message — could witness, provide livestreaming coverage. After the ceremony, those in attendance watched Unearthed, which would not have been possible without Hilary. In summer 2012 Hilary drove Jolynn around the USA and Canada while she filmed it. Jolynn is now touring the UK and Ireland with the film.

The entire Hilary Acton memorial, which included some of Hilary’s favorite music, shared memories from her sisters and cousin, and tributes by her daughter, Kenyon, and more than a dozen friends and fellow activists is available for viewing online at Shaleshock Media Collective, thanks to Cris McConkey, Eddie Rodriguez, and Bill Huston.

Read more about Hilary’s rich life in the obituary published in the Ithaca Journal on October 25.

We in CPNY are grateful and proud that she chose to serve on our leadership council and will never forget her wise, kind, gentle spirit, her warm hugs, and her deep and accepting eyes. We will keep those memories of her close as we continue the fight to save the Earth to which she was so devoted.

Here’s to Hilary.





CPNY Joins Others Fighting Pipelines in Northeastern USA

Members of CPNY and affiliates, plus many other New York groups, joined scores of people from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in Albany on October 18. Representing nearly three dozen groups fighting pipeline construction and expansion in the Northeast, the activists held a daylong coalition-building strategic session.

In almost every state nationwide, residents are learning there’s a new fossil fuel pipeline or pipeline expansion planned near them — or already permitted. In the Northeast at least 20 pipelines — so far — traversing thousands of miles are underway or in the permitting stages, and public opposition is mounting.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversees pipelines permitting. Most new pipelines are intended to transport tar sands oil or fracked gas destined for export to foreign markets, where they fetch much higher prices than in the USA. Pipelines, depending on size, geography and other factors, require a compressor station every 7-100 miles.

Towns along routes are placed in extreme danger, from explosions and fires and also from leakage of toxic fumes that have devastating effects on human and animal health, and contribute mightily to climate disruption.

Adding to the long list of issues in play, most Northeastern states manage public pension funds that are heavily invested in fossil fuels. A populist movement against such misuse of public funds is growing rapidly: Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New York have fossil-fuel divestment campaigns and have introduced legislation.

“People across the region are coming to realize that even if their state has little or no potential for actual drilling, they are still at risk from the effects of fracking,” said Clare Donohue of Sane Energy Project, a New York City-based group that organized the gathering. “Communities throughout New York and New England are already impacted by the expansion of pipelines, compressor stations, storage facilities and waste dumping. We arranged this meeting to bring people together to share resources and strategies.” founder Rosemary Wessel was among the attendees from Massachusetts, which has rapidly mobilized against several pipeline threats; 34 communities along planned routes have passed opposition resolutions. Wessel pointed out that although each group at the meeting has to deal with different state and local laws, there is much they share in common, especially FERC.

“FERC would more accurately be called the Federal Energy Rubberstamp Corporation,” said CPNY’s Maura Stephens. “Its primary mission is to help industry begin projects, no matter how well documented the adverse effects on human health, no matter how apparent the scary contributions to hastening climate disruption, and no matter how vehement the local resistance.”

Some at the meeting shared stories of their painful personal experience in communities under siege. Attendees from Minisink, in Orange County, NY, with many of their fellow residents, mounted strong opposition to a compressor station run by Millennium Pipeline, Inc. They filed thousands of pages of comments, provided hundreds of supporting documents, traveled 20 times to Washington, DC for FERC meetings, filed a lawsuit, and even offered an alternative location for the project farther away from their homes.

Yet FERC allowed the 12,600-horsepower compressor station to go forward despite there being 200 homes within a half-mile radius. Since it opened in June 2013, many residents have been suffering physical and stress-related illnesses and watching their property values plummet. Now they’re facing another assault with a gas-fired power plant planned just a few miles away.

“It’s an odd feeling no longer being safe in your own home because the government that is allegedly protecting us allows this infrastructure to be built,” said Douglas Burd of Minisink.

“Stories like that,” said Stephens, “make it clear that no community can possibly stop assaults like this — unless we all band together. That’s what we’re doing. With others in the Northeast and then joining with similar coalitions across the continent, we will arrest these criminal, short-sighted industrial invaders of our health, homes and future.”

Chemung County Rally and Legislature Meeting Report

Here’s a brief report from Doug Couchon on behalf of People for a Healthy Environment, Chemung County Alliance, Elmirans and Friends Against Fracking, and Neighbors for the Protection of Lowman and Chemung. The four groups sponsored a press conference and rally on Tuesday, October 14. After the rally, people spoke at the legislature meeting once again (this was month 10 of a concerted effort by citizens to get the legislature to renounce an application by Casella Waste to expand the county dump to accept yet more radioactive, toxic frack waste from Pennsylvania.

At the press conference, residents unveiled the new YOU ARE HERE fracking infrastructure map, which was built by Sane Energy Project and members of FrackbustersNY and many other groups statewide to show the tremendous amount of peripheral industrial activity to fracking that has been sprouting up all across the state, even as New Yorkers think the state is NOT being fracked:

The You Are Here map is a new tool for us to use in helping our friends, colleagues, associates and elected officials connect the dots. Viewing the map makes it possible to see how every ‘dot’ thereon is connected to every other. The map makes it easy for folks who do not ‘sing in the choir’ to understand how we are being harmed, and more difficult to deny the realities of the toxic industrialization going on all around us:

Couchon at press conference

The map was introduced in Chemung County on Oct. 14 during a rally and again at the county legislature meeting that followed. Be on the lookout for information about ‘You Are Here’ introduction events in a community in your region.

The map is a permanent work in progress. Dozens of major infrastructure locations appear on the map currently, but hundreds more will populate the map as we move forward.

Below find a link to media coverage of yesterday’s rally in Chemung County. Though coverage was good no footage of the mapping project made it in:

Link to photos of the event on the PHE Facebook page.