FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—May 12, 2015
Media Contact: Sandra Steingraber | 607.351.0719
Bird Watchers Blockade at Crestwood Midstream
Protesters Call for Halt to Gas Storage Expansion at Seneca Lake and for Protection of Important Flyway for Migrating Birds
Watkins Glen, NY – In an act of civil disobedience—and accompanied by a human-sized yellow-bellied sapsucker and an eight-foot indigo bunting puppet—six binocular-wielding bird watchers blockaded both entrances of Crestwood Midstream on Route 14 for six hours today. Protesters held a banner that said, “Birds Against Crestwood, Defending Our Habitat.” No arrests were made.
A dozen other Finger Lakes residents rallied along Route 14, wearing bird masks and holding signs and banners.
The protesters birdwatched while blockading and counted more than 30 species during their blockade. Highlights included a bald eagle and a Tennessee warbler. Using the cell phone app called Birdlog, the civil disobedients fed their birding data into bird, a worldwide, online database where birders can enter their sightings.
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 methane storage expansion in lakeside salt caverns and which has been ongoing since October 2014.
The total number of arrests is 251 in the seven-month-old civil disobedience campaign.
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.
Seneca Lake is a key stopover on the Atlantic flyway for migrating waterfowl and songbirds. It offers many habitats and is world-renowned for birdwatching.
According to the National Audubon Society, half of all North American bird species are now at risk for extinction due to climate change.
Protester and marketing analysis Jonathan Cook, age 43, of Trumansburg in Tompkins County, said, “Every spring and autumn I love to watch the migrating birds. Seneca Lake is a major flyway for migration. We have to treat the Finger Lakes with respect. We can’t risk contaminating this lake with gas or brine.”
Protester and public artist Dan Burgevin, age 68, of Trumansburg in Tompkins County, said, “One in two bird species is on the path to extinction due to fossil fuels. Song birds and warblers are chief among them. And methane, which is what Crestwood wants to compress and store here, is one of the most powerful climate change gases. I have two great-grandchildren. For them to never hear the sound of a yellow throated warbler is a tragedy. DIrty gas storage at Seneca Lake is part of the climate tragedy. I am here to change the tragic story.”
Those blockading today were:
Dan Burgevin, 68, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Jonathan Cook, 43, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Martha Fischer, 58, Enfield, Tompkins County
Richard Hoyt, 65, Geneva, Ontario County
Frank Potter, 72, Big Flats, Chemung County
Regi Teasley, 63, Ithaca, Tompkins 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.
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/.
# # #