ITHACA, NY – Two Tompkins county residents, aged 68 and 70, joined a growing list of people arrested for blockading a proposed methane gas storage facility near Seneca Lake.

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On Monday morning, six protesters blockaded the gates to the facility, holding banners that featured slogans proclaiming the dangers of fracking and the infrastructure it requires. All six were arrested, according to a press release from We Are Seneca Lake, an environmental activist group.

Texas-based gas company Crestwood intends to use lakeside salt caverns around Seneca to store methane and LPG (liquefied petroleum gas). We Are Seneca Lake, along with some local businesses and municipalities, have been opposing them since October 2014 when construction was slated to begin.

Related: 5 from Tompkins, including 90-year-old woman, arrested at Seneca gas protest

This is the second protest event in as many weeks that led to arrests – seven protesters, including three from Tompkins County, were arrested last Wednesday at a “Climate Action Now” protest event.

These demonstrations have both occurred while an international climate conference is ongoing in Paris. COP21, the shorthand name for the 21st Conference of the Parties, brings 190 nations together to hash out new international climate regulations.

Related: 14 Tompkins residents arrested in protest at Crestwood appeal to Pope Francis

According to the news release, Schuyler County deputies arrested the six shortly before 9:30 a.m. as they blocked a flatbed truck carrying construction equipment from entering the facility, and a pickup from leaving.

The six protesters were transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department, charged with disorderly conduct, and released. The total number of arrests in the civil disobedience campaign over the past year now stands at 413.

The six arrested on Monday were:

Debb Guard, 64, Niskayuna, Schenectady County

Hervie Harris, 69, Elmira, Chemung County

Rick Hoyt, 65, Geneva, Ontario County

Bill Kitchen, 63, Johnstown, Fulton County

Elan Shapiro, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County

John Suter, 70, Dryden, Tompkins County

Related: Oscar-nominated director joins over 200 people in court for Seneca Lake protests

But isn’t fracking banned in New York?

While fracking is prohibited in New York State, activists say that it’s still having a detrimental impact on the environment.

“We’ve banned fracking in New York, but are still facing massive impacts from pipelines, storage, and waste disposal,” said Debb Guard, 64, of Niskayuna. “Each part of the infrastructure supporting fracking and the distribution of natural gas are places where the methane can leak, and that is far more damaging to our atmosphere than carbon dioxide.”

“The natural gas industry is the major source of the methane [in the atmosphere],” said Robert Howarth, professor at Cornell University, at the Finger Lakes Climate March in Watkins Glen on November 29, according to the press releaase.

Howarth continued: “The shale gas revolution has aggravated that to no end. Satellite data show that the methane concentrations have been rising rapidly globally in the atmosphere since 2010. That is a result of shale gas and shale oil development in the United States. It’s globally noticeable.  It’s globally warming the temperature now, it’s the wrong trajectory.”

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.