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On our return ride from DC rally, we were treated to this video:

It comes from here:

“A review of history will show that environmental campaigns have rarely been successful.  There has been at least one noteworthy exception.  The present effort to fight hydrofracking in NY is connected to an earlier campaign, to keep a “low level” nuclear waste dump out of NY.  Shaleshock Media is pleased to present “My Name is Allegany County”  a video documentary about this incredible time.”
We were still napping and chatting quietly among ourselves as the film started.  In minutes we were silent, mesmerized, leaning forward in our seats to catch the captions.
"This is a documentary about a rare and successful environmental campaign — to keep a “low level” nuclear waste dump out of NY. This campaign was so successful, the entire siting project, which had a national scope, was abandoned. Shaleshock Media is very pleased to present this documentary, and asks the modern Shale-Gas movement to take lessons from history. This internet presentation is dedicated to Spike Jones. Sorry about the typos on the intro slate. May fix that someday…."
It is highly instructive for NY'er's and everyone else interested in saving the planet one town at at time.  Can't believe I do not recall this!  It's 1 1/2 hours long, so I will create a synopsis to read until you can view the entire video. Leap the tangerine hedgerow for the whole story!

The most amazing part is, it was done by ordinary townspeople, just trying to save their town. The Sierra Club uses the video for presentations, and I can see why.  

The people of Allegany County felt they were to be the “sacrificial lambs” for the low level nuclear waste industry, even after other site developed leaks and were shut down.

The citizens had no large industries that would threaten to move out if the waste dumps moved in.  They felt it was a large part of the reason they were targeted.  And, of course, they were lied to by NYS and the nuclear industry.  Members of the siting committee had conflcts of interest as well.

I'm going to steal a quote from here:

Initially, opposition mounted with the formation of the Concerned Citizens of Allegany County (CCAC), who were committed to waging a political and legal battle against the commission. Then, the Allegany County Nonviolent Action Group (ACNAG) formed from concerned residents who determined that nonviolent resistance was the only way to stop the dump from being built.
Residents were ridiculed.  "No one here wants to give up their appliances or DVR's."  A commissioner slept through one meeting.  Some worked for lobbying groups, or were still taking income from interests who stood to benefit from the dump sites.  And of course, residents were kept in the dark, and misinformed about meeting dates and times.  Public Officer Law was violated. The level of risk was seriously underplayed.  

The fact that the industries that created the waste were not willing to take care of it themselves, but rather passed the burden on to defenseless citizens is discussed, as is the importance of developing a working relationship with elected officials, such as the county sherriff, because he/she is answereable to the locals.  The State Police the Governer sends in, and he sent in a lot, do not care about the locals or their concerns.  

There were two especially poignant scenes for me: Caneadea, NY, 4/5/90.  Starting at time stamp 1.13.00, an 89 YO protester, chained to the bridge, in a wheelchair, gave an American flag to the county sherriff to give to Governer Cuomo, so that he could return it to President GHW Bush, because she felt her freedom was being taken away from her.  He honored her request.  And at 1.13.00, an older leader of the protesters scoffed at siting commissioners who suggested the elderly protesters [who were willing to be arrested] were being "exploited" by the movement.  They considered themselves the ringleaders.  "He shot himself in the foot."

Turns out they had another foot, and they proceeded to shoot themselves in that one, as well.  As the conflict dragged on, the police broke the agreed upon rules, and began arresting people at random.  I'm not going to tell you the final tactic the protesters used, because I want you to watch the film.  If you want to jump ahead, it's at 1.19.00.  It's worth it, if only for the schadenfreude.  While the film shows the actual behavior of the protesters, superimposed were headlines from Buffalo News and NY Times, which were so contrary to what one can see with ones' own eyes, it was laugh out loud funny.  

The final screenshots say it all.  

On April 6, Governor Cuomo, who had previously claimed he had no control over the siting commission, ordered them to “refrain from any on site work on the candidate sites.”
After a grand jury hearing, all charges against the ACNAG protesters were dropped.  In addition to refusing to indict any protesters, the grand jury recommended that the State Troopers receive additional training for handling civil disobedience protests in the future.
However, naming the Commissioners who were questioned regarding conflict of interest early on,
A New York State Ethics Commission investigation found “no validity” to charges of conflict of interest regarding Commissioners Richard Wood, Dr. Davis Maille and Dr. Stanley Goldsmith.  All three continue to serve on the NYS Siting Commission.
Funny, that.

Originally posted to wadingthroughthebs on Tue Feb 19, 2013 at 12:54 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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