Today’s the 11th anniversary of “the day that changed everything,” September 11th, 2001. I remember where I was on that day, where my wife and children were. I remember news and official information about using plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect myself and my family from a gas attack that could well be imminent. There’s a lot that can be said about 9/11, and a lot that’s already been said. I might try to say something new about it on an anniversary other than this one. (I’ll take my 12/21/12 chances that this isn’t my last chance – haven’t been hearing too much about that day which will change everything lately.) There’s a related topic I’m going to write about today. I got an email from Jen Lahey a few days ago. She’s one of the organizers of the anti-fracking vigil I covered last week. I met Jen after the event and talked to her for a little while. I liked her, and I liked her vocal group, the Earth Tones, who came out to support the cause. I admire Jen, as I do most people who are willing to take stands for what they believe in and step outside their comfort zones to support those stands. Jen is a supporter of a group called StopMCS – citizen-activists attempting to prevent a natural gas compressor station from operating in Minisink, their town. Minisink is a New York community of about 4,500 people quite close to the spot where New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey touch each other. There’s a natural gas pipeline running through it. The gas in such pipelines requires periodic compression, which is provided by compressor stations. Natural gas compressor stations are not appealing pieces of technology. They are very noisy, 24 hours a day, they emit a variety of toxic and carcinogenic substances and they bring with them a risk of catastrophic explosion. The people at StopMCS, understandably, don’t want a compressor station in their neighborhood. In her email Jen expressed a sense of urgency because there’s a connection between the campaign to stop the compressor station and the terror attacks on 9/11. A number of 9/11 responders live in Minisink, some of them advised by their doctors to move away from the post-9/11 air quality issues in New York City.
A certain cognitive dissonance was evoked in me by the connection between the fight against the compressor station and the 9/11 responders. I’m not sure how persuasive the argument is, nor to whom, that the noise, toxicity and risk of explosion is more objectionable when it affects 9/11 responders. In Hypothetical World, were one given a choice to build a compressor station amidst 9/11 responders or an equal number of, say, women and children, I’m not sure there’s an obviously morally superior answer. It seems like this is a “compressor stations are bad for 9/11 responders and other living things” situation. Which is not to say that the brave people who worked during and after the 9/11 attacks aren’t real heroes, that they and their families should as much as possible be left in peace and treated with respect, and that putting compressor right near them is a bad thing to do. Jen’s goal is to help stop the Minisink Compressor Station, and if bringing 9/11 responders into it makes her case more persuasive to some of the people she’s trying to reach, then more power to her. (I’m assuming that someone from StopMCS has talked this over with the 9/11 responders.) The bottom line is: Seriously, fracking is very bad, fracking well-sites are very bad, and compressor stations are very bad. The people of StopMCS, to protect themselves, their town, their women, children, 9/11 responders and all other nearby living things, have resolved to stop the Minisink Compressor Station. I encourage everyone who feels they might be willing to help in any way to learn more about it at the StopMCS website (StopMCS.org) or get in touch via email at StopMCS@gmail.com. If everyone went three-quarters of a step outside their comfort zones to take positive action based on their principles and beliefs the world be a significantly better place. I applaud the people of StopMCS for doing what they’re doing, and I hope they win, and I hope people show up to lend a hand. If someone reads this and ends up showing up and helping out, then I’ll feel like I made a contribution, too.