Statement of Colleen Boland, Nov 5, 2014
We Are Seneca Lake Arrestee and Senior Master Sergeant, U.S. Air Force, (Retired)
Pre-Arraignment Press Conference – Town Hall, Reading, NY
Good evening & thank you for coming out to support tonight’s arrestees.
My name is Colleen Boland and I was born and raised down the road in Corning, New York. Like most of us here tonight, I grew up grateful for the beauty and accessibility to Seneca Lake and her sisters throughout the Finger Lakes region.
I retired from the U.S. military in 1995 as an Air Force Senior Master Sergeant. I served 4 years in the Army and another 13+ in the Air Force. When I took off my uniform for the last time, I moved on to new things.
But with the industrialization of this rich agrarian region by the oil and gas industry—unabated and from every direction—I reluctantly pulled out my boot polish and dusted off my fruit salad of awards and decorations and prepared to serve in a new way.
I didn’t come to this decision lightly.
As we approach Veteran’s Day, I want to be perfectly clear, that I intend no disrespect to my brothers and sisters who have served our country in the past and who continue to do so today across the globe.
While on active duty, I served the United States in over 20 countries—Brunei, Oman, India, Solomon Islands, Korea, Japan, and many others. In reflecting upon those experiences and comparing them to where I am today, I realize a common thread. Water. Children in Malaysia, the Cook Islands, and the Philippines and children here in Schuyler County, and Dimock, and Longmont, and Fort Berthold need access to clean water; for water is indeed, life.
I am wearing a civilianized version of my Air Force uniform for a number of reasons in protest and with the goal of shutting down the expansion of the gas storage facility along Seneca Lake’s shore:
One is to try to dispel the notion that the only people standing up to protect our water, our air, and our communities are treehugging hippies or out of touch dreamers. Don’t get me wrong, I love trees but I was never quite cool enough to be a hippie—and, I’m certainly not dreaming.
As I have invested time, money, and energy over the last few years to say no to extreme fossil fuel extraction practices and its invasive infrastructure, I am offended and distressed that those of us who stand in opposition are being dismissed as people who don’t belong here. We do belong here and we will stay. It is Crestwood that must go.
I wear this jacket to symbolize that I am still serving…still defending.
I am defending the natural beauty of the Finger Lakes region that I love, against all enemies—foreign and domestic; Crestwood is my enemy.
I am defending our right to clean and plentiful water against all enemies—foreign and domestic; Crestwood is my enemy.
I am prepared to defend this region of New York state, which holds such great promise, against all enemies—foreign and domestic; Crestwood is my enemy.
We, here tonight, are all Seneca Lake and,
I am an active duty Seneca Lake Defender.
Thank you and God bless Seneca Lake.