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New Yorkers mark first anniversary of statewide fracking ban with blockade at Seneca Lake gas storage facility, call for end to fracking infrastructure buildout
Nine arrested in “red line” action inspired by Paris climate march
December 17, 2015 – Watkins Glen, NY – Over thirty people rallied at the gates of the Crestwood gas storage facility on Route 14 Thursday morning to mark the one-year anniversary of the New York ban on high volume hydraulic fracturing – or “fracking” – and to demonstrate resolve to prevent further buildout of natural gas infrastructure that uses fracked gas from other states. Nine of the demonstrators stood in front of the gates to block a Crestwood tanker truck from exiting, behind a long red line holding signs that said “2014 – No Fracking: 2015 – No fracked gas storage!” and “The line has been drawn: no fossil fuel infrastructure!”
“I was here a year ago when they banned fracking, and I’ll be here next year if this gas storage facility hasn’t been stopped, for the sake of the Finger Lakes and of the planet,” said Jodi Dean, 53, of Geneva. “We have to continue to stand up against the fossil fuel industry that puts all of us at risk.”
Today marks the one-year anniversary of the announcement by Governor Cuomo, the Department of Health, and the Department of Environmental Conservation that New York would ban high-volume fracking given serious public health and environmental risks. The state of Maryland and many other communities have followed New York’s lead, and science and economics increasingly show the wisdom of this action, particularly as it becomes clear how much methane contributes to climate change. The Crestwood gas storage facility proposes to store methane, propane, and butane in salt caverns under the shores of Seneca Lake. It is one of many projects, including pipelines, which aim to develop “new markets” for the current glut of natural gas from the fracking boom, committing people to using natural gas in the future. Natural gas is primarily methane, a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe.
“With this red line laid down across Crestwood’s driveway, we declare that its plans to store fracked gases in abandoned salt caverns on Seneca Lake constitutes an emergency,” said Colleen Boland, who recently returned from the Paris climate talks. “We declare that these plans threaten our water, our children, and our climate.”
The red line motif emerged at the end of the Paris climate talks last Saturday, as 15,000 people marched in the streets of Paris. It signifies a commitment to holding society to the lines that cannot be crossed in order to avoid catastrophic climate change. Eighty percent of fossil fuels must be left in the ground in order to curb climate change.
The red line motif also was prominent last weekend as 300 residents in Porter Ranch, CA demanded closure of the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility. The Southern California Gas Co. field has spewed natural gas into the atmosphere since Oct. 23. It currently contributes a full one-quarter of California’s daily methane emissions. There have been hundreds of complaints from the surrounding community of headaches, nosebleeds, stomachaches, rashes, and respiratory illness from exposure to the gas and its additives. 1,000 families have evacuated. The company estimates it will take 3 months to plug the leak.
“Aliso Canyon is a clear warning to us of what can go wrong with underground gas storage,” said Tony Del Plato, 67, of Covert, “and how willing the companies are to ignore the plight of the communities around them, and the impact on the climate.”
Schuyler County deputies arrested the nine shortly before 10 a.m. as they blocked a Crestwood tanker truck from leaving the facility.
The nine protesters were transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department, charged with disorderly conduct, and released. The total number of arrests in the civil disobedience campaign over the past year now stands at 441.
The nine arrested today were:
Therese Araneo, 64, Brooktondale, Tompkins County
Jodi Dean, 53, Geneva, Ontario County
Tony Del Plato, 67, Covert, Seneca County
Lynn Donaldson, 72, Keuka Park, Yates County
Susan Kelley, 50, Hector, Schuyler County
Janet McCue , 65, Hector, Schuyler County
Rick Rogers, 66, Spencer, Tioga County
Mark Scibilia-Carver, 63, Ulysses, Tompkins County
Peter Tringali, 63, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October 2014 in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of Seneca Lake.
Whether due to low natural gas prices or the ongoing direct action campaign, construction of Crestwood’s natural gas storage expansion has not yet begun.
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 23, 2014, 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 decision from a Department of Environmental Conservation Administrative Law Judge on whether the matter needs a full adjudicatory review.
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 was given approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in October 2014 to move forward with plans to store highly pressurized, explosive gas in abandoned salt caverns on the west side of Seneca Lake. However, despite ongoing activity on site, Crestwood reports to FERC that construction of the methane storage expansion has not yet begun.
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/.