FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | January 19, 2015
Contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607-351-0719
20 Arrested at Crestwood Midstream Gate in MLK Day Blockade as Part of Continuing Civil Disobedience Campaign Against Seneca Lake Gas Storage; total arrests in 3-month campaign hit 200
Arrestees Include Former Tompkins County Legislator Pamela Mackesey, Who Marched with MLK in 1963
Action Follows on the Heels of Mothers/Grandmothers Blockade on Friday
Watkins Glen, NY – Wearing blue T-shirts proclaiming “We Are Seneca Lake” over their coats and parkas, 20 protesters formed a human blockade on the driveways of both the main gate of Crestwood Midstream on Route 14 and a smaller gate a quarter mile south. After a 3.5-hour blockade, during which they turned away two trucks, the protesters were arrested at 2:00 p.m. by Schuyler County deputies. All were charged with trespassing and released. All were ordered to appear in court on February 18.
Forty other protesters rallied in support along the shoulder of the highway. Four other protesters were originally part of the blockade but left the scene early or dispersed and were not arrested.
Led by singer-songwriter, Edith McCrea, the blockaders sang Civil Rights-era songs and held banners with messages honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. on the national holiday that celebrates his birth: “We Are Seneca Lake and We Have a Dream” and “Clean Air, Clean Water = Civil Rights. Justice Requires Action.”
Former Tompkins County legislator Pam Mackesey, 69, who marched as a teenager with Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “We all need to stand up to protect our environment and the future of the world. It’s outrageous that Crestwood can jeopardize the future of this part of the county. The Fingers Lakes belong to all of us. I was there in the March on Washington in 1963, and almost nothing is the same from that time expect for one thing: the fight for justice and equality for all of us.”
Marty Dodge, 72, of Canandaigua in Ontario County said, “I am here to do what I can to prevent Crestwood from destroying this lake. It just doesn’t belong here.”
Seth Thomas, 34, of Lodi in Seneca County, said, “I’m protesting gas storage because I was born and raised here. I’m in the wine industry, so this is a direct threat to our way of life.”
The 20 blockaders arrested today are:
Mike Black, 62, Lakemont, Yates County
Leslie Brack, 47, Ithaca
Caroline Byrne, 38, Ithaca
Deborah Cipolla-Dennis, 49, Dryden
Jodi Dean, 52, Geneva
Marty Dodge, 72, Canandaigua
Celeste Froehlich, 37, Ithaca
Lyn Gerry, 58, Reading
Jennifer Johnson, 68, Corning
Nancy Kaspar, 56, North Rose
Pam Mackesey, 69, Ithaca
Edith McCrea, 46, Ithaca
Ed Nizalowski, 67, Newark Valley, Tioga County
Jean Olivett, 68, Danby
Kirsten Pierce, 45, Burdett
David Sanchez, 26, Rochester
Sarah Schantz, 61, Odessa
Coby Schultz, 54, Springwater
Seth Thomas, 34, Lodi
Kip Wilcox, 70, Ithaca
This morning’s protests follow Friday’s blockade of 13 mother and grandmothers. The women blocked the entrance into Crestwood for 5.5 continuous hours in bitterly cold temperatures, preventing all traffic from entering or leaving the faciltiy. No arrests were made. At 4 p.m. the women dispersed.
Those who risked arrest on Friday are:
Jane Russell, 63, Poultney, Steuben County, mother and grandmother
Peggy Aker, 57, Trumansburg, mother and grandmother
Kim Cunningham, 58, Naples, Ontario County, mother and grandmother
Tobi Feldman, 47, Ithaca, mother
Gretchen Hildreth, 38, Ithaca, mother
Barbara Kazyaka, 53, Spencer, Tioga County, mother
Jean Olivett, 68, Ithaca, mother and grandmother
Stephanie Redmond, 38, Ulysses, mother
Susan Soboroff, MD, 69, Ulysses, mother and grandmother
Ann Sullivan, 67, Ithaca, mother and grandmother
Monica Daniel, 54, Enfield, mother and midwife
Sara R. Ferguson, 44, Ithaca, mother
Jennifer Wapinskil-Mooradian, 42, Trumansburg, mother
The two blockades come at a time of mounting questions about the ability of the Reading Court to offer impartial hearings to the civil disobedients and signs that the court is overwhelmed by the growing number of cases.
During a special Tuesday 2 pm court session, 32 We Are Seneca Lake blockaders arrested in earlier actions faced arraignments that went on for more than five hours. It was a chaotic scene. For the third consecutive court session, the public was locked out of the Reading Town Hall that serves as the courthouse. Those waiting to enter the court, including defendants, were forced to wait outside in dangerously low temperatures.
Ten defendants, when called to the bench Wednesday night, learned that they had a surprise second charge against them (disorderly conduct). Court was recessed for 45 minutes so that the court clerk could enter the paperwork of 8 defendants into the computer. An empty water cooler meant defendants and members of the public alike had no access to drinking water during the more than five-hour court session. One court observer drove to Watkins Glen to purchase water and cups for the gathered crowd, and deputies allowed attendees to drink water in the inner rooms of the Town Hall where they had been excluded earlier in the evening. Several defendants learned that their cases were being transferred to other courts.
Read more about the arrested protesters at http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.
Read more about the persistent bias of the Reading Town Court: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/26/a-report-from-the-frontlines-in-the-war-against-fracking/#.VJ7OU5npvxE.facebook
Read more about widespread objections to Crestwood’s gas storage plans: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/nyregion/new-york-winemakers-fight-gas-storage-plan-near-seneca-lake.html?_r=0.
Protesters have been blocking the Crestwood gas storage facility gates since Thursday, October 23, including a rally with more than 200 people on Friday, October 24th. On Wednesday, October 29, Crestwood called the police and the first 10 protesters were arrested. Since then, protests have been ongoing, with more arrests each week.More information and pictures of the actions are available at www.WeAreSenecaLake.com.
The unified We Are Seneca Lake protests started on October 23rd because Friday, October 24th marked the day that major new construction on the gas storage facility was authorized to begin. The ongoing acts of civil disobedience come after the community pursued every possible avenue to stop the project and after being thwarted by an unacceptable process and denial of science.The protests are taking place at the gates of the Crestwood compressor station site on the shore of Seneca Lake, the largest of New York’s Finger Lakes.
The methane gas storage expansion project is advancing in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of the lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. Crestwood has indicated that it intends to make Seneca Lake the gas storage and transportation hub for the northeast, as part of the gas industry’s planned expansion of infrastructure across the region.
*Note that the WE ARE SENECA LAKE protest is to stop the expansion of methane gas storage, a separate project from Crestwood’s proposed Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) storage project, which is on hold pending a Department of Environmental Conservation Issues Conference.
As they have for a long time, the protesters are continuing to call on President Obama, U.S. Senators Schumer and Gillibrand, Governor Cuomo, and Congressman Reed to intervene on behalf of the community and halt the dangerous project.In spite of overwhelming opposition, grave geological and public health concerns, Crestwood has federal approval to move forward with plans to store highly pressurized, explosive gas in abandoned salt caverns on the west side of Seneca Lake. While the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has temporarily halted plans to stockpile propane and butane (LPG) in nearby caverns—out of ongoing concerns for safety, health, and the environment—Crestwood is actively constructing infrastructure for the storage of two billion cubic feet of methane (natural gas), with the blessing of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
More background, including about the broad extent of the opposition from hundreds of wineries and more than a dozen local municipalities, is available on the We Are Seneca Lake website at http://www.wearesenecalake.com/press-kit/.
# # #