Highlander stands in solidarity and support with biologist Sandra Steingraber and other activists in Watkins Glen, New York, who served 10-day jail terms after they blocked the entrance to Inergy LP’s property at Seneca Lake. The activists were protesting the company’s plans to use its abandoned salt mines underneath the lake for storage of natural gas obtained by fracking. Engineers deemed these caverns unusable ten years ago, and they are similar to the caverns which collapsed in Belle Rose, Louisiana last August, causing a 14-acre sinkhole which has polluted both ground and surface water and forced the community to evacuate.

Sandra Steingraber talks to Bill Moyers shortly before beginning her jail sentence. Video from Moyers and Compan

Of twelve protesters charged with trespassing, Steingraber and two others refused to pay the fine. In her prepared sentencing statement, Steingraber said, “Inergy has been out of compliance with EPA regulations every quarter for the past three years. In spite of this, Inergy applied for, and has received, from the state of New York a permit to discharge, every day, an additional 44,000 pounds of chloride into Seneca Lake… a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. Those industrial discharges trespass into the bodies of those who drink it. Additionally, Inergy’s planned 60-foot flare stack will release hazardous air pollutants, including ozone precursors. This kind of air pollution is linked to heart attack and stroke risk, preterm birth, and asthma in children. Thus does Inergy trespass into our air and lungs. To bring attention to such hazards for the Finger Lakes–and for the act of protecting water, which is life itself–I trespassed. It was an act of civil disobedience. For that, and because I have deep respect for the rule of law, which Inergy company does not, I am willing to go to jail.”

Inergy’s plans are currently under review by the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. You can leave a statement of support for Sandra Steingraber and her colleagues on her facebook page.