FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—August 13, 2015
Media Contact: Sandra Steingraber | 607.351.0719
Eight Arrested in Civil Disobedience Blockade at Crestwood Include Two from Schuyler County
Rev. Felicity Wright of Elmira’s Park Church Leads Recitation of Pope Francis’ Encyclical on Climate Change as Number of Total Arrests Hits 340
Watkins Glen, NY – In a peaceful act of civil disobedience against proposed gas storage, eight people from six different New York State counties, led by the Reverend Felicity Wright, pastor of the historic Park Church in Elmira and resident of Schuyler County, formed a human chain shortly after 7 a.m. this morning at the north entrance of Crestwood Midstream on Route 14. They blocked all traffic entering and leaving the facility.
The eight were arrested by Schuyler County deputies at 7:37 a.m. as they read aloud from Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on climate change, “On Care for Our Common Home.” All were taken into custody, charged with trespassing and released.
Musician Ed Nizalowski of Newark Valley accompanied the reading on saxophone, playing “Amazing Grace” and “We Shall Overcome.” He was not arrested.
Immediately after their arrest, two large tanker trucks left the facility, with deputy cars assisting, and one large tanker entered.
The blockaders held banners that said “What Kind of World Do We Want to Leave…” “…For Those Who Come After Us?” which are lines from the Pope’s letter. Their recitation from the Pontifical document continued the reading that began on June 30 and has continued throughout the summer.
Today’s arrests bring the total number of arrests to 340 in the ten-month-old civil disobedience campaign.
None of the protesters this morning had been previously arrested as part of the We Are Seneca Lake movement, which opposes Crestwood’s plans for gas storage in lakeside salt caverns and which has been ongoing since October 2014.
The Reverend Felicity Wright, 67, of Elmira, said, “Many of the early writers and thinkers—both Jewish and Christian—celebrated “God in all things,” where God is found in all things on earth and in heaven. It was thrilling to learn that many of the greatest people of faith could recognize God in birds, flowers, shamrocks, rivers — and so much more. These natural gifts are not themselves divine, but they are representations of the divine, and God expects us to care for them as the treasures that they are. So, I am here to worship, treasure, and protect the God that lives in the Seneca Lake waters, the God that nourishes our bodies with pure refreshment, and the God that calls us to be divine agents for what is holy, good, and true.”
Claire Holzner, 50, of Watkins Glen in Schuyler County, said, “I live one block away from Seneca Lake. I can see the lake from my front yard, and I walk along her shoreline every day. The lake is the source of drinking water for me and my husband, a lifelong non-smoker with stage 4 lung cancer. Why should Crestwood have more say than we residents of this region about what happens here? The Encyclical says that safe drinking water is a basic human right. That statement has real meaning for us in Schuyler County.”
Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last October in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of Seneca Lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.
Those arrested today were:
Fred Conner, 59, Freeville, Tompkins County
Barbara Deitz, 49, Rochester, Monroe County
Jim Gregoire, 46, Geneva, Ontario County
Claire Holzner, 50, Watkins Glen, Schuyler County
Donald Kitzel, 51 Brighton, Monroe County
Elizabeth Mozer, 54, Binghamton, Broome County
Frank Potter, 73, Big Flats, Chemung County
Felicity Wright, 67, Alpine, Schuyler County
Read more about the protesters at: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.
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.
Read Gannett’s investigative report about the risks and dangers of LPG gas storage: http://www.democratandchronicle.com/story/news/local/watchdog/2015/06/26/seneca-gas-storage-debated/29272421/.
Background on the protests:
Protesters have been blocking the Crestwood gas storage facility gates since Thursday, October 23rd, 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. 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 on February 12th.
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/.