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Over 300 people brave frigid temps to voice their opposition to LPG storage at Seneca Lake
Residents of Geneva and the northern Finger Lakes state
“We are Seneca Lake, Too!” advocating for the right of surrounding municipalities to have their voices heard
GENEVA, NY — January 31, 2015– Over 300 residents of municipalities surrounding the Finger Lakes of New York gathered on a brutally cold January day at the north end of Seneca Lake to express their opposition to gas storage on the shores of Seneca Lake. Crestwood Midstream has proposed a massive expansion of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and methane gas storage at the southern end of Seneca Lake. Since October 2014, there have been over 200 arrests blockading the gates of the facility. This is the first protest held at the northern end of the lake.
“Schuyler County, hey, hey, hey, the rest of us should have a say!” protesters chanted.
Crestwood Midstream Corporation of Houston, Texas is seeking state approval to store 88 million gallons of LPG in unlined salt caverns. Schuyler County has signaled its approval for the project, while 16 other municipalities have passed resolutions in opposition to it. The corporation’s application is pending with the NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation and will be the subject of a state Department of Environmental Conservation issues conference Feb. 12 in Horseheads, NY. Twelve municipalities are being represented by the Natural Resources Defense Council in the proceedings.
“We are here because there is no other choice for us to defend and preserve this region,” explained Geneva Councilman Ken Camera, citing the importance of the fresh water to the food and wine production of the area, as well as health and tourism. Over 100,000 people depend on Seneca Lake for their drinking water.
Speakers at the two rallies – one on the shores of Seneca Lake and the other at the end of the march on the steps of Geneva’s City Hall – included Camera, Seneca County Supervisor Steve Churchill, journalist Michael Fitzgerald, acclaimed scientist and author Dr. Sandra Steingraber, former Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins, We Are Seneca Lake organizers Doug Couchon and Faith Meckley, and Geneva resident Laura Salamendra, who organized the rally. Speakers emphasized the importance the issue to the region as well as the world.
“We fight for the right to decide what is best for our communities,” explained Couchon. “Corporations are not people. People, communities, should have the right to decide their future, not the corporations.” This lack of democracy is at the heart of opposition to oil and gas projects around the world.
“We are fighting for our whole world,” stated Hawkins, noting this storage facility’s contributing role in the massive buildout of the oil and gas industry in direct contradiction to the clear statement of the International Energy Agency that to avoid catastrophic climate change, we must leave two-thirds of known reserves of hydrocarbons in the ground. The storage facility promotes the further use and export of fracked gas. “The Jacobson study of Stanford showed that New York can go 100% renewable, providing 4.5 million construction jobs and 58,000 jobs in permanent operations. This is our future.”
Faith Meckley, who took the fall 2014 semester off from college to march with the Great March for Climate Across across the United States but returned home early to help organize We Are Seneca Lake, is a Geneva resident. “I never thought, marching across the country, and in NYC, that I would be marching in my hometown of Geneva and addressing a massive crowd from the steps of city hall. I am so proud of Geneva right now.”