Hundreds march in Watkins Glen rally
WATKINS GLEN--The day before the commencement of United Nations climate change negotiations in Paris, some 350 upstate residents marched through downtown Watkins Glen Sunday afternoon, Nov. 29. Along with calling for worldwide action on climate change, the group also advocated for an end to gas transport and storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns in the town of Reading.
The event was organized by We Are Seneca Lake. We Are Seneca Lake is a movement that opposes Crestwood's plans for methane and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage in Reading. Protests at the site have been ongoing since October of 2014 when Crestwood's methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. According to We Are Seneca Lake, the total number of arrests in the year-old campaign now stands at 400.
The Finger Lakes March for Global Climate Action was one of more than 2,000 marches that took place this weekend in 175 countries as delegates gather in Paris for the World Climate Summit. The event kicked off at the Seneca Lake marina with a rally, music and speeches from political leaders and sustainable energy innovators.
Schuyler County Legislator Michael Lausell addressed the health and safety risks of Crestwood Midstream's proposed gas storage facility in the nearby town of Reading. Crestwood proposes to store Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and natural gas (methane) in abandoned salt caverns on the west shore of Seneca Lake.
"Our Watkins Glen State Park is a natural wonder and a very popular destination," said Lausell referring to Crestwood's plans to transport LPG by rail through Watkins Glen State Park. "Visitors from near and far enjoy its unique charm. It would be a mistake to subject our beautiful gorge to the risk of daily transport of explosive fossil fuels over the tall rail trestle that crosses through the park."
Suzanne Hunt of Branchport in Yates County emphasized the technical feasibility of renewable energy solutions. She is also president of Hunt Green LLC, which provides sustainable energy solutions to wineries, government agencies, and businesses.
"We need to come together as communities -- big and small -- to understand everyone's needs in creating a solution," said Hunt. "Addressing global climate change is the challenge of our lifetime, but it's also an unprecedented opportunity to create jobs, enhance security and improve the health and quality of life for us all."
Marchers then walked down Franklin Street to the Watkins Glen State Park and reassembled at the gorge trailhead. Bob Howarth, PhD, climate scientist and ecologist at Cornell University spoke about the climate threat posed by natural gas and the products of fracking, along with Sandra Steingraber, PhD, biologist and co-founder of We Are Seneca Lake. Both Howarth and Steingraber will attend the climate talks in Paris later this week. The participants then walked back to the marina before dispersing.
The Finger Lakes March for Climate Justice was part of a day of marches, concerts, rallies and workshops spanning the globe took place the day before the start of global climate negotiations in Paris. The marches are loosely organized by 350.org and the online network Avaaz, featuring some 2,460 different Global Climate March events. The listed demands of the movement include "Keep fossil fuels in the ground and finance a just transition to 100 percent renewable energy by 2050," while pushing leaders at every level of government to commit to a rapid transition to renewable energy.