Dr. Joseph Campbell is a lifelong resident of the Finger Lakes. After graduating (cum laude) from New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls in 1996, he established a successful practice in Naples, NY.
In late 2009, he learned of a plan by Chesapeake Energy to convert a depleted gas well in Pulteney, NY, into a deep injection disposal well for toxic waste flowback from Marcellus Shale fracking operations in Pennsylvania. The proposed project was near his home and less than 1/2 mile from Keuka Lake. With no previous experience as an activist, Joseph became involved in fighting that proposal. He worked with Pulteney Pure Waters, a grass roots organization, to oppose the project and was the spokesperson for the project. With the help of state and federal elected officials and massive local opposition, the grass roots organization prevailed and the permit application was withdrawn.
In 2010, Joseph and his partner, Yvonne Taylor were building a year round home on the East side of Seneca Lake. They learned of a proposal by an out of state oil and gas corporation to build an integrated gas storage and transport hub servicing the Northeast US on the shores of Seneca Lake, across Seneca Lake from their new home. Originally, the plan was to store 88.2 Million gallons of Liquefied Propane and Butane in the unlined salt caverns along the lake, with a truck and rail depot for transporting the gas. They formed Gas Free Seneca which became the lead organization in the 7 year fight to keep dirty industrial gas storage from impacting the region. In 2012, Seneca Lake Pure Waters awarded Gas Free Seneca one of its annual awards, for its efforts to educate and inform the general public, elected officials and government administrators on the potential threats to Seneca Lake from the proposed LPG storage facility near Watkins Glen. Gas Free Seneca also received the Sustainability Award from Sustainable Tompkins.
Now, with other immediate threats to Seneca Lake and the Finger Lakes region and in order to branch out from the single issue of gas storage, Seneca Lake Guardian is taking the lead in fighting for the right to drinkable, swimmable and fishable water for generations and a safe environment for years to come.
Joseph likes to say that, even though the corporations insist that these projects are completely safe, “There is no right way to do the wrong thing.”
Yvonne Taylor has a BA in English and a Minor in Public Relations from SUNY Geneseo , a BA in Speech and Language from Elmira College, and a Masters Degree in Reading from SUNY Cortland. She lives on the East side of Seneca Lake on land that has been in her family for generations. Yvonne is a Speech-Language Therapist who works with at-risk adolescents, with an early work history in the Finger Lakes agri-tourism industry in wineries, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, and on sailing charters on Seneca Lake (and as the Pace Car Driver for Watkins Glen International.) Through her work experience and family love of Seneca Lake, she sees the Finger Lakes as a bucolic haven for people from all over the world. To protect the Finger Lakes, she fought to keep drilling for gas out of the Hector National Forest and worked to help ban fracking in NY. When Texas-based Crestwood purchased US Salt for the sole purpose of storing and transporting fracked gas in 2011, she helped found and became Vice President of Gas Free Seneca.
Over the past 7 years, she has helped form the Gas Free Seneca Business Coalition comprised of nearly 500 regional businesses, planned, organized, and presented at educational forums throughout the region, created alliances between various groups dedicated to preserving the region, networked with statewide and national groups to garner support for the Finger Lakes, worked to obtain pro bono legal representation from internationally renowned environmental law firm Earthjustice, worked to connect Seneca Lake Communities with one another to create a united front and obtain pro bono legal representation from NRDC, assisted businesses and residents in speaking out against Crestwood’s plans through letter writing campaigns and Public Relations outreach, mounted tremendous pressure on Governor Cuomo to deny permits for gas storage, coordinated Press Conferences and meetings with top governmental officials, and managed social media communications to reach thousands of concerned citizens.
Her leadership has led to Crestwood’s decision to eliminate expanded natural gas storage and butane from their proposal along the shores of Seneca Lake, along with the removal of substantial above ground industrial infrastructure that would threaten the vital agri-tourism industry in the Finger Lakes.
Yvonne has been elemental in utilizing this momentum to help found Seneca Lake Guardian, a Waterkeeper Affilliate, a group designed to continue to protect and preserve the Finger Lakes for generations to come.
Mary Anne Kowalski moved to Seneca Lake after retirement from New York State government. She became involved with Finger Lakes Future Alliance (FLFA) a grass roots group working to stop an ethanol plant from operating at the closed Seneca Army Depot. During that fight, she searched for assistance from a lake advocacy organization and SLPWA was moribund and could provide no assistance. What had been a vital organization protecting the lake had stopped operating. So, when she was asked to help restart SLPWA, she joined the group that resurrected the organization.
She has been on the board of Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) since 2008 and was President from 2011 through 2016. Under her direction, SLPWA challenged the State Department of Health for failure to release documents about health impacts of fracking of natural gas and filed to be a petitioner in the challenge against LPG storage in salt caverns on Seneca Lake. Mary Anne created the stream monitoring program and was critical in the creation of the SLPWA HABs monitoring program, which is now a model for the Finger Lake. In 2013, SLPWA received the Region II EPA Award as Environmental Quality Award for its achievements in protecting public health and the environment.
Before retirement, she was responsible for the legislation, regulation, freedom of information and public and media relations for the New York State Health Department (DOH) , Public Health Laboratory (Wadsworth). Wadsworth provides clinical and environmental testing for New York DOH and local health agencies and has a role in all the programs that involve testing including drinking water and environmental health activities. Her regulatory responsibilities included both clinical and environmental laboratories. These activities required cooperation and coordination with other parts of the State Health Department and the State Department of Environmental Conservation on many issues, providing a background on program operations of the two agencies that most impact Seneca Lake and Finger Lakes.