Thu, 02 May 2013 15:38 CDT
© Reuters/Les Stone
A gas flare burns at a fracking site in rural Bradford County, Pennsylvania January 9, 2012.
Gary Judson had just been removed from his shackles when they slapped the handcuffs on him. The 72-year-old Methodist minister had chained himself to the fence surrounding a compressor station -- part of the critical infrastructure associated with hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking -- a stone's throw from Seneca Lake in upstate New York. The sheriff and his deputies freed him only to arrest him for trespassing.
"They don't have the right to do this -- to put the lake in jeopardy. We'll all end up paying for their mess," Judson told a small group of supporters on hand to witness his act of civil disobedience. The "this" he was protesting, Sandra Steingraber recounts
in a recent issue of Orion
magazine, was the plan of Missouri-based Inergy Midstream to turn abandoned salt caverns beneath the lake's shores into storage areas for millions of barrels of natural gas piped in from Pennsylvania's fracking fields. "Inergy has been in violation of the Clean Water Act at this facility every single quarter for the past three years,"
Judson said. "Since 1972, there have been fourteen catastrophic failures at gas storage facilities. Each one of them has been at a salt cavern." A "failure" at Seneca Lake could be particularly catastrophic because, Steingraber writes
, it provides the drinking water for 100,000 people. (Last month, Steingraber was jailed
for 15 days
for her own act of civil disobedience against Inergy.)
In Pennsylvania, where gas is currently being forced out of the shale rock in which it's resided for millions of years, "failures" are already an everyday affair, as TomDispatch regular
Ellen Cantarow reports in the latest in her series
of articles from fracking's front lines.