4 Tactics to Protect your Community from Dirty Energy: Lessons from New York

Residents of Finger Lakes, NY are organizing in an effort to block construction of what would be a major hub for fracking. The community, which relies on its picturesque landscape and waterways for tourism, fears that plans for fracking infrastructure would threaten their natural resources, economy, and the inherent beauty of their community.

The area has long been a model for sustainability. Local farms use sustainable production techniques, and the region has even committed to the development of renewable energy—such as solar and wind.

That all may change. For six years now, Crestwood Midstream Partners, has sought to build storage facilities for fracking fuels sourced throughout the greater region. The company already stores over a billion cubic feet of methane, and is intent on drastically increasing capacity.

Residents and community leaders have responded by building a community coalition to protect their home—bringing together businesses, organizations, residents, and 23 municipalities. Their focus and tactics have proven effective in several respects.

  • Broad coalition: Members of the coalition come from all sectors of the community. They include doctors, lawyers, farmers, city officials, cooks, and a diverse coalition of residents. This has helped to moderate any political tensions, and enables a focus on the community.
  • Direct action: The coalition focuses on pledges, stand-ins, and themed protests to garner public support and press.
  • Clear message: The organizers and community have established clear goals for their resistance. They have focused on jobs, clean energy, their economy, and the inherent beauty of their land that all members can relate to, and stand behind.
  • Viable alternative: The previous three elements all benefit by previous investments and commitments to clean energy. The community now has a robust clean energy alternative that residents embrace.

Community leaders in the Finger Lake region have proven to be a positive force for climate solutions. Their actions show that a long-term commitment to climate protection can benefit a region, and empower the community. For more resources on making an impact in your community, visit Path to Positive.

Meet the New York State Community That’s Standing Up to Big Energy

By Ellen Cantarow | The Nation | July 9, 2015

Let’s amend the famous line from Joni Mitchell’s “Yellow Taxi” to fit this moment in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. There, Big Energy seems determined to turn paradise, if not into a parking lot, then into a massive storage area for fracked natural gas. But there’s one way in which that song doesn’t quite match reality. Mitchell famously wrote, “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” As part of a growing global struggle between Big Energy and a movement focused on creating a fossil-fuel-free future, however, the residents of the Finger Lakes seem to know just what they’ve got and they’re determined not to let it go. As a result, a local struggle against a corporation determined to bring in those fracked fuels catches a changing mood not just in the United States but across the world when it comes to protecting the planet, one place at a time, if necessary.

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