I have been thinking about you for days now, ever since I heard the news that you were leading the peaceful protests defending Seneca Lake. Now you’re sitting in jail, taking your turn along with several others who also chose to serve jail time as an extension of the protest, rather than taking the “get out easy” card of paying a fine.
Thoreau would be proud of you! You are a living example of his famous injunction on civil disobedience, written from the jail cell that served as his bastion of protest against slavery and a war he knew was wrong: “Let your life be a counter friction to stop the machine.”
The machine of our time is the fossil fuel industry. It is an industrial monster, with mining claw arms, a drill bit mouth and a huge bloated body belching stinking carbon smoke. It has no eyes to see the destruction it causes, nor ears to hear the screams and wails of the innocent creatures—including human beings—mown down in its path or sickened beyond recovery.
You and a handful of courageous resisters have gathered on the shores of the mighty Seneca Lake, to put your bodies on the line to stop this monster at all costs, before it can carry out its federally sanctioned intention of making the fragile salt caverns beneath the water into a volatile gas depot.
Did we learn nothing from the tragedy of the BP gas spill in the Gulf of Mexico? Haven’t we learned that fossil fuels and pristine waters do not mix?
Drinking water is a finite and precious resource on this planet. We can find other ways to create energy—solar, wind, tidal, geothermal, hydrogen—but if we pollute the precious aquifers and freshwater reservoirs upon which our very life depends, there will be no return.
I know you of all people know this well, Sandra. Your first book, Living Downstream, tells the story of how you uncovered a serious cancer cluster in your own hometown, caused by the toxic runoff of chemicals into the groundwater.
‘Look upstream,’ you admonished us then. ‘What we need more than a cure for cancer,’ you said (still recovering from cancer yourself) ‘is strong action to prevent cancer, which means strong regulation against environmental pollution.’
Now one of the magnificent Finger Lakes is under direct threat of contamination. A gas rupture there would ruin the drinking water for tens of thousands of people; destroy the aquatic environment for millions of fish and other lake creatures; and severely impact the recreational use of the lake.
Is it really worth the risk? Can’t a safer place be found to store gas, away from the fragile ecosystem of the lake?
It’s beyond disappointing that our government caved to the fossil fuel monster in granting a permit to put a gas storage chamber beneath the floor of Seneca Lake. The people can do for ourselves what our craven politicians could not. We can make our lives “a counter friction to stop the machine.”
You are showing us the way, and I am with you in spirit, helping to spread the word and extend the protest into the potent realm of cyberspace. It’s time to banish the fossil fuel monster once and for all.
NOTE TO READERS: Please read the comment below which gives more ideas for taking action in solidarity with Sandra and the other Seneca Lake defenders. For starters, visit this site and voice your support: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/pledge-protect-seneca-lake/