Recently, highly publicized stunts like splashing soup on priceless artwork and gluing oneself to the floor of NBA arenas have earned the lucrative industry of disruptive environmental activism a less than intimidating reputation. Deluged by these performative, self-aggrandizing stunts, many have written off the environmental activism wing of the far Left as absurdly radical, but impotent. This is premature.
It may not make the headlines, but small-time environmental activists across the country are still very much willing and able to be cruel, disrupting and destroying lives wherever they gain power to implement their agenda.
For a refresher on how far environmental zealots will go, look no further than Seneca Falls, New York, where a mom-and-pop environmental group with barely $50,000 in the bank is looking to claim its third major victim in a decade.
Gas Free Seneca
Around 2010, a local organization known as Gas Free Seneca was formed to oppose construction of an underground liquid propane storage facility in the bedrock near Seneca Lake. The facility’s construction was initially supported by county administrators, local businesses, and citizens who welcomed the project as a chance to grow the local economy with limited environmental risks.
However, the activists at Gas Free Seneca were not happy, formed an organization to call in the pro bono legal support of EarthJustice, and tied the project up in court for the next eight years. Eventually, after years of pressure campaigns, environmental impact reports, and protests “resulting in hundreds of arrests,” the project was cancelled for good, and Gas Free Seneca claimed victory.
Like any good environmentalist group should, Gas Free Seneca had raised awareness about the potential environmental risks (though perhaps overstating them) and made their case to the public, resulting in the state government taking action taken on their behalf. In doing so, however, the activists at Gas Free Seneca got their first taste of the coercive power of the state, and that power seems to have had a corrupting effect.
Seneca Lake Guardian
After their first victory, the leaders of Gas Free Seneca sought more powerful friends and better funding as their agenda moved further and further away from merely protecting the local waterways. In 2018, the organization merged with another local activist group to become the Seneca Lake Guardian, and since then the Seneca Lake Guardian’s activities have had little to do with guarding Seneca Lake.
Their most recent victory came when they waged war against cryptocurrency, of all things.
In 2021, the Seneca Lake Guardian organized staunch opposition to the approval of a new crypto-currency mining facility in Niagara County. Thanks to a pressure campaign by Seneca Lake Guardian and its allies, the permit request was denied, and Governor Kathy Hochul (D) quickly signed a bill placing a two-year moratorium on new crypto-mining facilities in the state.
Would a crypto-mining operation miles from the lake shore have poisoned the water of Seneca Lake?
No, not at all.
Would it have harmed the wildlife or the surrounding watershed?
So why was the Seneca Lake Guardian so opposed to the project?
Well, because the computers used to mine crypto-currency at the new facility would have been powered by the same fossil fuel powerplant that powers everything else in the area. Using electricity generated by a fossil fuel power plant will exacerbate climate change, they claimed, and that simply couldn’t be allowed, regardless of whether the facility would actually produce a physically measurable environmental impact.
If that sounds like a weak argument, that’s because it is, but the state of New York was more than willing to accept it when the Seneca Lake Guardian presented it on a silver platter.
After the facility’s permit was denied and the two-year moratorium was issued, Seneca Lake Guardian’s vice president gloated to reporters, “The crypto industry is going to whine that this is a blow, but it’s not.”
The Next Target
Fresh off of shuttering harmless crypto-mining because of infinitesimal contributions to climate change, the Seneca Lake Guardian has set its sights on a target that would shatter the local economy and cripple waste-management systems for most of New York: shutting down the Seneca Meadows landfill.
The Seneca Meadows landfill is the largest landfill in the state of New York and handles a huge portion of the waste generate by New Yok City, but it is facing permanent closure unless the state renews its permits by 2025. Seneca Lake Guardian is determined to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Making bold claims about the environmental damages caused by the landfill (claims that Seneca Meadows has called baseless and defamatory), the Seneca Lake Guardian has apparently retained Pythia Public, the most powerful public affairs firm in all of New York, to lead the charge. Press releases from the group are already calling for Governor Hochul to shut down the landfill entirely.
According to its website, the Seneca Meadows landfill employs 160 people (95 percent of which live within 20 miles of the landfill), offers recycling services, maintains a wetlands preserve that is eight times larger than the landfill, and operates one of the largest landfill-gas power plants in the country, which powers the local energy grid by using the methane gas byproduct produced by decomposition in the landfill as fuel.
None of that is good enough for the Seneca Lake Guardian, though. The 160 people need to lose their jobs, and the waste management system of New York needs to be crippled in order to save the planet, never mind the possible side effects—160 people unemployed, thousands of extra miles per year for gas-guzzling garbage trucks, higher garbage disposal costs, and the dumping of waste at less responsible facilities, just to name a few.
Soup Splashing Is a Gateway Drug
It’s easy to laugh at the privileged children gluing themselves to the floor and flinging soup on art, but the radical environmentalist wing of the Left is no joke. The hapless activists performing for social media clout are just a small part of a much larger and more powerful movement that cannot be appeased and is impervious to reason.