Hearing about Star Trek actors protesting fracking might at first make a typical fan think the genre is being confused with “Battlestar Galactica.” But fracking — where miners drill into the Earth, shooting a high-pressure water mix to release the gas inside — is a real environmental concern to many, including popular Trek actors J.G. Hertzler and James Cromwell.
The two were arrested Monday morning during a protest at Seneca Lake, just north of Watkins Glen. They were among 19 people put in cuffs for blocking traffic in and out of the Crestwood Midstream facility, where a company looks to store materials needed for fracking.
Hertzler, who is a local elected official in the nearby town of Ulysses, played the one-eyed Klingon Gen. Martok in 27 episodes of “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” but also appeared as other characters in both “Star Trek: Voyager” and “Star Trek: Enterprise.”
Cromwell is best-known for his outing as Zefram Cochrane in 1996’s “Star Trek: First Contact,” but also has made other appearances in the Trek franchise, including three episodes of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and an episode of DS9. Archive footage from his role in “First Contact” was used in the popular “In the Mirror Darkly” episodes of “Enterprise,” and he even made an uncredited appearance in the show’s pilot episode.
Cromwell was nominated for an Oscar for his work in 1995’s “Babe,” and earned four Emmy nominations through his career, finally winning one in 2013 for his work in “American Horror Story: Asylum.”
The protesters, according to the group We Are Seneca Lake, blocked traffic trying to access the fracking company’s facility, keeping two tanker trucks from moving.
Although the protesters were placed under arrest, they were only ticketed and released, according to the Ithaca Journal.
The group released statements from both actors explaining why they were willing to break the law for their cause, while calling out Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“Gov. Cuomo, we the people do not want to see these pristine lakes turned into cheap, contaminated, industrialized storage facilities for Crestwood and Con Ed,” Hertzler said, referring to the partnership between Consolidated Edison Inc. and Crestwood Equity Partners to create a company that will manage four natural gas storage facilities and three gas pipelines in New York.
“Stand with us, governor,” Hertzler said. “Defend your own program for getting New York state off of fossil fuels and transitioned to renewable energy.”
Cromwell targeted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has given initial approval for expanded methane storage at Crestwood, according to the Journal.
“Today I’ve come from my home in Orange County to take a stand against gas storage at Seneca Lake and to take a stand against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that has enabled and approved this project in spite of near unanimous public opposition,” Cromwell said. “And I bring a message to all New Yorkers: FERC-approved fracked gas infrastructure projects are taking over our entire state, from the crumbly salt caverns of Seneca Lake where the gas will be stored, to the pipelines and compressor stations that devastate our farmlands, wetlands and maple groves, all the way to the burner tips of the natural gas-fired power plants that are planned for downstate.”
Cromwell is certainly no stranger to getting arrested. He was first charged in February 2013 for protesting what he said was animal mistreatment on the University of Wisconsin campus. He also was arrested last December protesting the construction of a power station in Wawayanda, New York, not far from his home in Warwick, New York.
This appears to be Hertzler’s first major run-in with the law. He was first elected to the Ulysses town council as a Democrat in 2013, and is currently serving a term that will take him through 2020.
The facility where Hertzler and Cromwell were arrested is located in New York’s Schuyler County, near the state’s Southern Tier, where the famous race track town of Watkins Glen serves as the county seat. It’s located about 90 miles southeast of Rochester.