Crestwood Promises Minor Changes to Gas Storage Plans at Seneca Lake. We Are Seneca Lake vows to continue opposition

 Press Kit  Comments Off on Crestwood Promises Minor Changes to Gas Storage Plans at Seneca Lake. We Are Seneca Lake vows to continue opposition
Aug 092016
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Media Contact: Lindsay Speer 315-383-7210 lindsayspeer@gmail.com

Crestwood Promises Minor Changes to Gas Storage Plans at Seneca Lake

We Are Seneca Lake vows to continue opposition

 

August 9, 2016 – Watkins Glen, NY—In a last-ditch attempt to make its project palatable to residents of the Finger Lakes, yesterday Crestwood’s attorneys promised the Department of Environmental Conservation that it was cutting back the scale of its plans to store explosive gases in old salt caverns under the shores of Seneca Lake.  These promises did not impress members of We Are Seneca Lake.

“Butane storage was always a minor part of the project,” noted Ruth Young, of We Are Seneca Lake and former Schuyler County Legislator and former Democratic Committee chair in Schuyler County.  “This slight reduction from 2.1 to 1.5 million barrels still builds 70 percent of the propane storage, and changes nothing about the plans to store methane. The risks still remain and threaten Seneca Lake as a drinking water source, a tourist hotspot and world-class wine region.”

“These reductions are not enough,” explained Lindsay Speer, of We Are Seneca Lake. “It’s like a smoker promising to cut back from 3 packs to 2 packs a day with a promise not to smoke in bed: it still puts the kids in the house at risk for asthma and house fires. Underground gas storage in any quantity is inherently unsafe. We do not want an Aliso Canyon at Seneca Lake.”

Crestwood’s decision to scale back to reduce risks and impacts in the face of overwhelming public opposition is validation for what We Are Seneca Lake and other groups opposed to the plans have said since the beginning: pressurized gas storage in unlined salt caverns brings with it inherent dangers.

Crestwood has still not addressed the very serious issue of cavern integrity that continues to be under review by the DEC appointed Administrative Law Judge, and the threat to the salinity level of the lake. Storage of LPG in these caverns in the 1970s corresponded with an increase in Seneca Lake’s salinity.  Further, it appears that the state employee who signed off on the permit for the propane storage project was never authorized to do so, another issue that is currently under review in the adjudicatory proceedings.

Thirty-two municipalities around Seneca Lake have passed resolutions in opposition to Crestwood’s plans.  The outlier remains Schuyler County.

On Monday night, the Schuyler County Legislature ignored a standing-room only crowd of constituents, business owners, and Seneca County Supervisor Steve Churchill voicing opposition to gas storage plans.

Legislative Chairman Denis Fagin, founder of Fagan Engineering, a company with extensive involvement in the oil and gas industry and pipelines, took the role of Crestwood defender during the proceedings.  The resolution passed 6-2, even though only two people spoke in favor of the resolution. Legislators Van Harp and Michael Lausell voted against it.

Crestwood’s revised proposal has been submitted in an unconventional method directly to the Administrative Law Judge in a letter and it is unclear whether it will be accepted.  The full revised plans should be made available for public review.  It is clearly an attempt to placate opposition by removing some of the visual surface impacts of mass industrialization.  All transport LPG by truck and rail are being scrapped, and propane will be transported by pipeline only.

“I believe the elimination of rail transport is significant but it shows they are aware of their weakness on this issue with Senators Schumer and Gillibrand,” noted Daryl Anderson, a local farmer and part of We Are Seneca Lake.

We Are Seneca Lake undertook a major letter-writing campaign last summer to the Senators, highlighting concerns including the risks of butane transport across the 75-year-old rail bridge that spans the gorge at Watkins Glen State Park.  The New York State Parks Commission passed a resolution in December 2015 opposing transport of explosive gases by rail over Watkins Glen State Park.

Crestwood’s concessions only apply to the LPG storage project, and do nothing to stop the storage of fracked methane gas, which is a separately regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on the same property as the LPG project.  The drilling, transportation and storage of methane poses huge impacts to the climate.

The We Are Seneca Lake movement began in 2014 when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved Crestwood’s plans for methane gas storage in the salt caverns at Seneca Lake, after years of citizens’ concerns voiced through the regulatory process going unheeded.  Since then, regular nonviolent direct action protests at the gates of Crestwood’s facility have resulted in over 650 arrests for civil disobedience or trespass in a massive upwelling of community opposition.  To date, construction of the methane gas project has not yet begun.

The We Are Seneca Lake movement remains committed to opposing gas storage in the unlined salt caverns under the shores of Seneca Lake.

 

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 Posted by at 3:41 pm

Environmental Leaders Arrested at Large Seneca Lake Gas Storage Protest

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Jul 182016
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 18, 2016

Media contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607.351.0719; ssteingraber@ithaca.edu

photos:  http://www.wearesenecalake.com/new-york-comes-to-seneca-lake-pix/

video: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/new-york-comes-to-seneca-lake-vid/

press release: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/new-york-comes-to-seneca-lake/

 

Environmental Leaders Arrested at Large Seneca Lake Gas Storage Protest

50 people from 18 NYS counties, plus 3 CA and NJ residents, form human blockade as part of We Are Seneca Lake campaign;

 Local arrestees include 92-year-old biochemist Martha Ferger and Damiani winemaker Phil Davis 

 

Watkins Glen, NY –  “We are ALL Seneca Lake” was the message delivered this morning by prominent environmental leaders Wes Gillingham, Program Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, David Braun, Co-Founder of Americans Against Fracking, and Rachel Marco-Havens, Youth Engagement Director of Earth Guardians on the driveway of a gas compressor station.

The three joined 50 others at a civil disobedience action against gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns that highlighted our interconnectedness in the struggle for a fast and necessary transition to clean energy and the folly and destructiveness of new fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

Organized by the direct action group, We Are Seneca Lake, the protesters formed a human blockade on the driveway of the Stagecoach (formerly Crestwood) gas storage complex along Route 14 in the Town of Reading shortly before 7:00 a.m.

During the blockade, the protesters stopped all traffic entering and leaving the facility. Shortly before 8:00 a.m., they were arrested by Schuyler County sheriff’s deputies, charged with disorderly conduct, and transported to the sheriff’s department. Watkins Glen police and NYS troopers assisted in the arrest process.

In reference to Con Ed’s recent investment in Seneca Lake gas storage and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s extension of an almost-lapsed permit, protesters held banners that said, “We Will Not be Con-ed“ and “We Will Not be FERC’ed!”

In an address to fellow protesters, Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Wes Gillingham, 56, of Ulster, said, “While we stand here in solidarity with the people of Seneca Lake, we are also standing up against the devastation in the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota and the bomb trains bringing that fracked oil to Albany. We are standing up against the oil and gas money that pollutes our politics. We are standing up against pipelines rubber-stamped by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.”

Describing the Aliso Canyon gas storage leak near Porter Ranch, California, that prompted thousands of evacuations, Americans Against Fracking’s David Braun, 45, of Oakland, said, “I am risking arrest with you today because of disasters with gas storage that I have seen up close in my home state. Don’t let it happen here. Don’t turn wine country into fracked gas country. Don’t build Aliso Canyon in New York’s Napa Valley.”

Gas storage is the only industry with the power to take down the entire local economy in the case of an accident, Braun noted. “Winemakers don’t poison the air if they have a bad year. Local farmers won’t force thousands to be evacuated from their homes if their crops don’t produce properly. No other industry does this.”

Earth Guardian’s Rachel Marco-Havens, 46, of Woodstock, said, “We must move to renewable sources of energy now. This summer, as fossil fuel build-out escalates, we will continue to escalate our efforts—for the protection of our children and those to come.”

Salt cavern storage accounts for only seven percent of total underground storage of natural gas in the United States but, since 1972, is responsible for 100 percent of the catastrophic accidents that has resulted in loss of life.

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was originally approved by the 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, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

Crestwood also seeks to store two other products of fracking in Seneca Lake salt caverns—propane and butane (so-called Liquefied Petroleum Gases, LPG)—for which it is awaiting a decision by Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Biochemist Martha Ferger, PhD, 92, of Dryden, said, “As a scientist, I know that there is no bigger threat to our planet than climate change. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Storing methane in the salt caverns here at Seneca Lake will make the problem of climate change worse, not better.”

The 53 protesters arrested at Seneca Lake today came from 18 New York State counties plus California and New Jersey.  Eight were from Schuyler County. They are:

Richard Battaglia, 54, Richford, Tioga County

Marie Ely Baumgardner, 69, Burdett, Schuyler County

Michael D. Black, 64, Dundee, Yates County

Thomas Blecher, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County

David Braun, 45, Oakland, Alameda County, California

Desmond A. Brown Jr., 22, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Patricia Anne Campbell, 73, Sterling, Cayuga County

Lyndsay Clark, 55, Springwater, Livingston County

Fred Conner, 60, Dryden, Tompkins County

James Connor, 84, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County

Ann Cain Crusade, 60, Starkey, Yates County

Phil Davis, 64, Hector, Schuyler County

Daryl B. Denning, 66, Corning, Steuben County

Wendy J. Dwyer, 61, Canaan, Columbia County

Karen Edelstein, 55, Lansing, Tompkins County

Wesley Glenn Ernsberger, 68, Owego, Tioga County

Richard L. Evert, 69, Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey

Elisa Evett, 71, Brooktondale, Tompkins County

Martha Ferger, 92, Dryden, Tompkins County

Paula Fitzsimmons, 58, Hector, Schuyler County

Kenneth Fogarty, 76, Guilford, Chenango County

Lyn Gerry, 60, Watkins Glen, Schuyler County

Wes Gillingham, 56, Livingston Manor, Sullivan County

Ryan Goetz, 22, Woodstock, Ulster County

Wayne I. Gottlieb, 58, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Deborah Guard, 65, Schenectady, Schenectady County

Evelyn Hamilton, 69, Princeton, Mercer County, New Jersey

Margaret Hammond, 62, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Ellen Z. Harrison, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Niall Hodges, 19, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Wendy Roe Hovey, 73, Horseheads, Chemung County

Catherine Johnson, 54, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Sharon Kahkonen, 67, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County

Bill Kitchen, 64, Johnstown, Fulton County

Kim Knight, 32, Covert, Seneca County

Yvonne LaMontagne, 66, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Nathan Lewis, 33, Hector, Schuyler County

Peter E. Looker, 65, Glenville, Schenectady County

Rachel Marco-Havens, 47, Woodstock, Ulster County

Sage Anthony Mannino, 24, Shokan, Ulster County

Sandra Marshall, 67, Newfield, Tompkins County

Rebecca J. Meier, 59, Canaan, Columbia County

Mariana D. Morse, 67, Brooktondale, Tompkins County

Edward Nizalowski, 68, Newark Valley, Tioga County

Mary Ott, 59, Trumansburg, Seneca County

Dianne Marie Roe, 73, Corning, Steuben County

Jane Pfeiffer Russell, 64, Pulteney, Steuben County

Coby Schultz, 56, Springwater, Livingston County

Elan Shapiro, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County

John W. Suter, 71, Dryden, Tompkins County

Peter F. Tringali Jr., 64, Brewster, Putnam County

Jan Zeserson, 69, Ulysses, Tompkins County

Kenneth Zeserson, 68, Ulysses, Tompkins County

 

More about the protesters: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.

Bill McKibben’s March 2016 arrest with We Are Seneca Lake: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/science/earth/environmental-activists-take-to-local-protests-for-global-results.html?_r=0

NYT story on 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.

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/.

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 Posted by at 1:20 pm

Victory for We Are Seneca Lake Protesters as Mistrial Declared in Town of Reading Court

 Press Kit  Comments Off on Victory for We Are Seneca Lake Protesters as Mistrial Declared in Town of Reading Court
Jun 282016
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | June 28, 2016

Contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607-351-0719, ssteingraber@ithaca.edu

video [reaction statements of defendant Tom Angie and defense attorneys Joseph Heath and Sujata Gibson]:

http://www.wearesenecalake.com/mistrial-in-reading-vid/

photos:  http://www.wearesenecalake.com/mistrial-in-reading-pix/

press release:  http://www.wearesenecalake.com/mistrial-in-reading/

 

Victory for We Are Seneca Lake Protesters as Mistrial Declared in Town of Reading Court

 

In surreal breakdown of criminal procedure, Judge announces guilty verdict before defense presents case, then recuses himself amid charges of bias and lack of legal training

 

Watkins Glen, NY – The trial of a Seneca Lake gas storage protester ended in dramatic fashion in the Town of Reading Court on Tuesday afternoon when Justice Raymond Berry declared a mistrial at the urging of the prosecuting attorneys and accepted a motion from defense attorneys to recuse himself from this and future Seneca Lake protest trials. Berry’s rulings came after a strange series of declarations that appeared to indicate both prejudice against the defendant and ignorance of the law.

Defendant Tom Angie, 63, of Aurora in Cayuga County, was charged with violation-level trespass stemming from a December 16, 2014 protest near the main gates of the Crestwood Midstream compressor station near Seneca Lake in the Town of Reading.

Angie’s trial today – which was to represent the first trial of gas storage protesters in the Town of Reading Court – began at 10 a.m. By 2 p.m., the prosecutor, Schuyler County assistant district attorney John Tunney, who had put on the stand three witnesses, had just rested his case, and chief defense attorney Joseph Heath had just entered a motion for dismissal. At this point, Judge Berry abruptly issued a guilty verdict for Angie.

Clearly flummoxed, prosecutor Tunney explained to the judge that his verdict was premature in light of the fact that defendant Angie had not yet presented his defense or called his own witnesses to the stand.

Heath, noting Tunney’s attempt to explain criminal procedure protocols to Judge Berry, respectfully moved that the case be transferred to a law-trained judge. Heath noted that the judge’s premature ruling of guilt at this stage showed a fundamental lack of knowledge of basic criminal law, most notably, the right to present a defense.

Heath further said that the fact that the prosecution needed to stop the trial in order to lecture the judge on “the simplest trial procedures” was clear proof that his clients were unable to obtain a fair trial in this court.

In spite of the fact that the prosecutor had just warned the judge that his ruling was premature, Justice Berry then reiterated his verdict, saying, “I still find him guilty.”

Heath insisted that the trial could only go forward before a law-trained judge, which Berry is not. Heath noted, “The prosecutor is running this trial.”

Sujata Gibson, a second defense attorney, stated that if the judge were going to insist on finding guilt before allowing a defense, then the defendants would simply appeal. She then entered a motion that Berry recuse himself from hearing Angie’s case. She asked that the recusal be extended to all future cases of gas storage protesters.

In making her motion, Gibson described for the record a pattern of prejudice, unfair treatment, and blatant bias and provided examples. Among them: courtroom observer Daniel Pautz, who was neither a party to the trial nor an officer of the court, was allowed use of his cell phone in the courtroom while she herself, an attorney for the defense, along with all other courtroom observers, had been forbidden cell phones.

According to witnesses, the Bailiff’s response, when asked why Pautz alone was allowed to have access to his cell phone inside the courtroom was “because he is with Crestwood.”

Pautz, whose legal work focuses on defending property owners against lead paint claims, is an attorney for Crestwood. He was merely an observer in court today.

Justice Berry granted Gibson’s motion and agreed to recuse himself in this and all future trials involving Seneca Lake gas storage protesters.

He then asked, “Okay, where are we at?”

The prosecution then moved for an official declaration of mistrial. The defense attorneys offered no objection.

Granting the prosecution’s motion for a mistrial, Judge Berry adjourned the court.

In a reaction statement outside of the courtroom, defendant Tom Angie said that while he saw the mistrial and recusal as a victory for We Are Seneca Lake, he was nevertheless deeply shaken by the experience.

“To have somebody look me in the face and say that I was guilty before I had a chance to put on my defense … is chilling. I was not really given my day in court.”

Angie, who works as a mechanical design engineer, said that his time spent on legal defense comes at a personal financial cost. “I’m a contractor. When I don’t work, I don’t get paid, so being hauled into court over and over to defend my First Amendment rights of protest is tough. Like every other average American who wants to exercise my rights, I still have to live. And this affects my livelihood. That concerns me.”

Chief defense counsel Joe Heath noted that, even prior to the judge’s abrupt guilty verdict at the midpoint of the trial, the prosecution had failed to provide evidence that Angie was standing on Crestwood’s property and had already conceded that, at the time of his arrest, the no-trespass signs demarcating the line between public and corporate property were incorrectly located. “In 41 years of practicing law, this is one of the worst mistakes I have ever seen in the courtroom.”

Defense counsel Sujata Gibson hailed both the mistrial and the recusal. “This is a victory for the defense and for We Are Seneca Lake. I firmly believe Mr. Angie is not guilty. This is not a game. Each individual has the right to a fair trial.”

Out of 606 total arrests in the 21-month-old We Are Seneca Lake campaign, 370 cases remain open. The majority of the adjudicated cases have been dismissed in the interests of justice at the prosecution’s request or with their approval, many for admitted lack of evidence of guilt.

Last week, in the Town of Dix Court, Seneca Lake defendants Sue Kinchy and Barbara Barry were both found guilty of trespass.

Read more about the arrested 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

 

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 Posted by at 7:33 pm

Star Trek Actors James Cromwell, J.G. Hertzler and 17 Others Arrested at Seneca Lake Gas Storage Facility, Call on Gov Cuomo to Boldly Go Beyond Fossil Fuels

 Press Kit  Comments Off on Star Trek Actors James Cromwell, J.G. Hertzler and 17 Others Arrested at Seneca Lake Gas Storage Facility, Call on Gov Cuomo to Boldly Go Beyond Fossil Fuels
Jun 062016
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – June 6, 2016

media contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607.351.0719; ssteingraber@ithaca.edu

 

photos: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/boldlygo-pix

video: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/boldlygo-vid

press release: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/boldlygo

 

Star Trek Actors James Cromwell, J.G. Hertzler Arrested at Seneca Lake Gas Storage Facility, Call on Gov Cuomo to Boldly Go Beyond Fossil Fuels

19 arrested this morning at Crestwood as total arrests in the We Are Seneca Lake civil disobedience campaign pass 600 

 

Watkins Glen, NY – Early this morning on a hillside above Seneca Lake, actors James Cromwell and John “J.G.” Hertzler, of Star Trek fame, joined 17 area residents in an act of civil disobedience that is part of an ongoing citizen campaign against salt cavern gas storage here.

While blockading the main entrance to the Crestwood compressor station, the two actors urged Governor Cuomo to stand up to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for greenlighting an expansion of this fracked gas infrastructure project against overwhelming local opposition and for undermining the governor’s own stated commitment to a rapid transition to renewable energy.

Starting at 6:45 a.m. and continuing until their arrests by Schuyler County deputies shortly before 7:30 a.m., the protesters blocked all traffic from leaving and entering the facility, including two Crestwood tanker trucks. All 19 were transported to the Schuyler County sheriff’s department, charged with disorderly conduct, ticketed, and released.

John Hertzler, 66, who played Klingon General Martok on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, said“The prettiest place I’ve ever seen is right here: the Finger Lakes region of New York….Governor Cuomo, we, the people, do not want to see these pristine lakes turned into cheap, contaminated, industrialized storage facilities for Crestwood and Con Ed. Stand with us, Governor! Defend your own program for getting New York State off of fossil fuels and transitioned to renewable energy. FERC—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—seeks to keep us chained to the energy of the past and, in so doing, threatens our water, our lands, our safety, and the very climate of this, our planet. Boldly go with us, Governor Cuomo, into a renewable energy future.”

Hertzler lives in the Finger Lakes region with his family in the Town of Ulysses where he serves on the town board.

James Cromwell, 76, who played Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact and who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Farmer Arthur Hoggett in Babe, called on New Yorkers to join the We Are Seneca Lake movement. He said, “FERC-approved fracked gas infrastructure projects are taking over our entire state—from the crumbly salt caverns of Seneca Lake, where the gas will be stored, to the pipelines and compressor stations that devastate our farmlands, wetlands, and maple groves, all the way to the burner tips of the natural gas-fired power plants that are planned for downstate. With all of New York under attack by the fossil fuel industry and by the rogue agency called FERC, all New Yorkers now need to stand up, stand together, and say NO.”

[Full text of both statements appear below.]

Referencing the films in which the two have appeared, protesters held banners and signs that read, “We Are Seneca Lake, Babe / And We Will Not Be FERC-ed” and “Trekkies Against Crestwood-Con Ed Boldly Going Toward Renewables.”

The total number of arrests in the 20-month-old We Are Seneca Lake civil disobedience campaign now stands at 604.

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was originally approved by the 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, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people. In spite of near-unanimous citizen opposition, FERC’s last-minute permit extension on May 16 gave Crestwood’s Arlington subsidiary another two years to build out its natural gas storage facility.

Salt cavern storage accounts for only seven percent of total underground storage of natural gas in the United States but, since 1972, is responsible for 100 percent of the catastrophic accidents that has resulted in loss of life.

Crestwood also seeks to store two other products of fracking in Seneca Lake salt caverns—propane and butane (so-called Liquefied Petroleum Gases, LPG)—for which it is awaiting a decision by Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

The 19 arrested at Seneca Lake today were:

Richard Battaglia, 54, Richford, Tioga County

Leslie Brack, 49, Ithaca, Tompkins County

James Cromwell, 76, Warwick, Orange County

John V. Dennis, 66, Lansing, Tompkins County

Lauren Eastwood, 46, Plattsburgh, Clinton County

Bob Eklund, 63, New Lisbon, Otsego County

Linda C. Fedele, 53, Perinton, Monroe County

John Garman “J.G.” Hertzler, 66, Ulysses, Tompkins County

[Reverend] Gary Judson, 76, Burdett, Schuyler County

Jeanne Judson, 78, Burdett, Schuyler County

Sandra Marshall, 67, Newfield, Tompkins County

David H. McLallen, 61, Ulysses, Tompkins County

Patricia Rodriguez, 47, Brooktondale, Tompkins County

Mark Scibilia-Carver, 63, Ulysses, Tompkins County

Trellan Smith, 50, Oxford, Chenango County

Dan Taylor, 65, Oxford, Chenango County

Catherine Taylor, 52, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Suzanne Winkler (Suzy), 57, Burlington, Otsego County

Robyn Wishna, 58, Slaterville, Tompkins County

 

Full text of J.G. Hertlzer’s prepared statement:  

Hi, everyone. My name is John Hertzler, although some of you may know me better as Klingon General Martok on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

My forty-some years as an actor have taken me all over the world. But the prettiest place I’ve ever seen is right here: the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

And so I chose to live here, just on the other side of Seneca Lake. I have a daughter going to school here.

I am also a member of the Ulysses Town Board. When I first ran for office, our platform was PRESERVING OUR HERITAGE and PLANNING for the FUTURE. Today, I am here for both of those reasons.

Governor Cuomo, we, the people, do not want to see these pristine lakes turned into cheap, contaminated, industrialized storage facilities for Crestwood and Con Ed.

Stand with us, Governor! Defend your own program for getting New York State off of fossil fuels and transitioned to renewable energy. FERC—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—seeks to keep us chained to the energy of the past and, in so doing, threatens our water, our lands, our safety, the very climate of this, our Planet.

Boldly go with us, Governor Cuomo, into a renewable energy future.

And now I’d like to introduce my friend and fellow actor, James Cromwell.

 

Full text of James Cromwell’s prepared statement:

Good morning. My name is James Cromwell. I’m an actor and a producer. You might know me as Farmer Arthur Hoggett in the movie Babe; as Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact; as Captain Dudley Smith in L.A. Confidential; as Hal Moores in The Green Mile; or from my work on American Horror Story.

Today, I’ve come from my home in Orange County to take a stand against gas storage at Seneca Lake and to take a stand against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that has enabled and approved this project in spite of near unanimous public opposition.

And I bring a message to all New Yorkers: FERC-approved fracked gas infrastructure projects are taking over our entire state—from the crumbly salt caverns of Seneca Lake, where the gas will be stored, to the pipelines and compressor stations that devastate our farmlands, wetlands, and maple groves, all the way to the burner tips of the natural gas-fired power plants that are planned for downstate.

Thus, with all of New York under attack by the fossil fuel industry and by the rogue agency called FERC, all New Yorkers now need to stand up, stand together, and say NO.

Last December, I was arrested along with five other people while blocking the construction of the CPV Valley Power Plant in Waywayanda, New York, near my home in Warwick.

Here is what I said on that cold winter day:

‘I am here in support of the people of this town, this country, and people all over the world who have a right to live in an environment that is not being polluted poisoned and devastated by an industry that cares more about its own profits than the well-being of all sentient beings.’

And I bring those same words to Seneca Lake, where I am risking arrest with 18 other people on a warm summer day—and where I just may have the honor of becoming arrest #600 here on the driveway of the Crestwood compressor station.

Fellow New Yorkers, we have a movement on our hands. It’s a growing movement of peace-loving people who are saying YES to renewable energy and NO to poisonous, devastating fracked gas projects.

Join us here at Seneca Lake.

 

More about the protesters: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.

Bill McKibben’s March 2016 arrest with We Are Seneca Lake: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/science/earth/environmental-activists-take-to-local-protests-for-global-results.html?_r=0

NYT story on 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.

Tom Wilber’s award-winning 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/.

 

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 Posted by at 11:41 am

Families Arrested at Seneca Lake Protesting FERC Extension for Crestwood/Con Ed Gas Storage – 5.26.16 (Press Release)

 Press Kit  Comments Off on Families Arrested at Seneca Lake Protesting FERC Extension for Crestwood/Con Ed Gas Storage – 5.26.16 (Press Release)
May 262016
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 26, 2016

Media contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607.351.0719; ssteingraber@ithaca.edu

photos: http://wearesenecalake.com/we-will-not-be-ferced-pix

video: http://wearesenecalake.com/we-will-not-be-ferced-vid

press release: http://wearesenecalake.com/we-will-not-be-ferced

Families Arrested at Seneca Lake Protesting FERC Extension for Crestwood/Con Ed Gas Storage 

21 arrestees include spouses, siblings, parent-child teams

 

Watkins Glen, NY – “We Will Not be FERC’ed!” was the rallying cry this morning as 21 New York residents from seven counties engaged in an act of civil disobedience in response to a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to extend Crestwood Midstream’s permit to expand gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns.

Forming a human blockade at the main entrance of Crestwood along Route 14 in the Town of Reading, the group included several family teams. Among them were Robert and Katie Eklund (father and daughter) from New Lisbon; Clare, Teresa, and Ellen Grady (sisters) from Ithaca; Margaret and Hervie Harris (spouses) from Elmira; Lisa and Grace Marshall (mother and daughter) from Horseheads; and Elan and Gabriel Shapiro (father and son) from Ithaca.

Starting at 6:45 a.m. and continuing until their arrests by Schuyler County deputies shortly before 7:30 a.m., protesters blocked all traffic from leaving and entering the facility, including two tanker trucks. Watkins Glen police assisted in the arrests. All 21 were transported to the Schuyler County sheriff’s department, charged with disorderly conduct, ticketed, and released.

Lisa Marshall, 48, of Horseheads in Chemung County, arrested with her daughter, delivered a message to Governor Cuomo while blockading. “Governor Cuomo, New York’s families are full of resolve, but we can’t do it alone. Help us stand up to the bullies here at Seneca Lake, Crestwood and Con Ed. And help us take a stand against FERC … that shows such disregard for New York’s water, safety, health, climate, and for your own good plans to make our state a leader in renewable energy.”  [Full text of statement below.]

The group held banners that read, “New York Families Against Crestwood/Con Ed” and “99.1% Said No / Shame on FERC!”

99.1 represents the percentage of public comments received by FERC that expressed opposition to gas storage expansion: 332 out of 335 comments received during the public comment period were against the expansion. In spite of this overwhelming citizen opposition, FERC’s last-minute permit extension, giving Crestwood’s Arlington subsidiary another two years to build out its natural gas storage facility, was granted on May 16.

Salt cavern storage accounts for only seven percent of total underground storage of natural gas in the United States but, since 1972, is responsible for 100 percent of the catastrophic accidents that has resulted in loss of life.

The total number of arrests in the nineteen-month-old civil disobedience campaign now stands at 585.

Bob Eklund, 63, of New Lisbon in Otsego County, who was arrested with his daughter, said, “While I applaud Governor Cuomo for the wisdom he displayed in banning fracking in our state, I would ask that he show the same wisdom in doing everything in his power to halt further infrastructure build-out here in New York. We must build infrastructure for renewable energy, not for fossil fuels. We can do it. We must do it.”

Ellen Grady, 53, of Ithaca in Tompkins County, who was arrested with her two sisters, said, “The decision on the part of FERC to give Crestwood more time to complete its expansion project is totally irresponsible. This is the time when our government should be encouraging renewable energy, not helping gas companies expand their very life-threatening work.”

Gabriel Shapiro, 19, of Ithaca in Tompkins County, who was arrested with his father, said, “FERC represents one component of the powerful partnership between energy and politics, a system based on exploitation and protected by deceit. This moment requires us to make clear the crimes being committed by our government.”

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was originally approved by the 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, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

Crestwood also seeks to store two other products of fracking in Seneca Lake salt caverns—propane and butane (so-called Liquefied Petroleum Gases, LPG)—for which it is awaiting a decision by Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

This morning’s action follows immediately on the heels of other actions directed at FERC-enabled gas infrastructure projects in New York State. Yesterday, FERC opponents in Peekskill, New York locked themselves into a shipping container at a construction site for Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline that would run within 400 feet of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. On Saturday, 21 civil disobedients were arrested after forming a human blockade at the Peekskill site. On May 21, NY Senators Schumer and Gillibrand  joining an earlier call by Governor Cuomo, urged FERC to halt construction of the AIM pipeline, citing safety concerns and the need for more study.

The 21 arrested at Seneca Lake today were:

Marguerite (Peggy) Abbott, 65, Phelps, Ontario County

Heather Mackenzie Cook, 54, Dundee, Yates County

Colleen A. Coss, 61, West Henrietta, Monroe County

Timothy Dunlap, 61, Hector, Schuyler County

Katie Marie Eklund, 18, New Lisbon, Otsego County

Robert Eklund, 63, New Lisbon, Otsego County

Clare T. Grady, 57, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Ellen Grady, 53, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Teresa Grady, 51, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Hervie Harris, 70, Elmira, Chemung County

Margaret R. Harris, 65, Elmira, Chemung County

Nathan Lewis, 33, Hector, Schuyler County

Grace Evelyn Marshall, 18, Horseheads, Chemung County

Lisa Marshall, 48, Horseheads, Chemung County

Sandra Marshall, 67, Newfield, Tompkins County

Kelly Morris, 57, Danby, Tompkins County

Jeanne Olivett, 69, Jacksonville, Tompkins County

Barbara Perrone, 42, Caroline, Tompkins County

Todd Saddler, 51, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Elan Shapiro, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Gabriel Shapiro, 19, Ithaca, Tompkins County

 

Full text of Lisa Marshall’s statement:

Hi, everyone. My name is Lisa Marshall. I’m 48 years old, and I live in Horseheads, New York.

Horseheads is the place where the Millennium Pipeline connects with the Dominion Pipeline. And those very pipelines are both connected to the abandoned salt caverns right under our feet here on the banks of Seneca Lake where Crestwood, along with its new partner Con Ed, seeks to store massive amounts of fracked gas.

Now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, has just approved a two-year extension for this reckless project. This decision, along with the nearly one billion dollars that Con Ed just dumped into Crestwood’s pockets, is why we are here today.

The families of the Finger Lakes are threatened by gas storage in salt caverns, while the families of the Southern Tier and elsewhere are threatened by the pipelines that will be fed by these salt caverns.

Hence, I am risking arrest today with my 18-year-old daughter, Grace, who just voted in her first election.

I have three beautiful children who have a bright future ahead of them but for the threat of climate change. We are an all-American family. My husband Geoff served in the Navy for 21 years, and we’ve done everything within our power to protect and nurture our kids.

Here’s our story. Six years ago, shortly after we moved here from Pensacola, Florida, I awoke to the news that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had exploded, killing 11 men and sending untold gallons of crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill went on and on and on for 87 days; no one knew how to stop it.

This catastrophe hit close to home for us. Big balls of tar and dead fish washed up on the pristine white sand beaches where my children had played.

My son Charlie, who was eight years old, began building contraptions out of Legos to try to stop the oil spill. Seeing this disaster through the eyes of my own sweet child struck me to the core. It hit me that the fossil fuel juggernaut was on a course to destroy human life. I knew that I could not keep my children healthy and safe as long as the fossil fuel industry was hell bent on their destruction.

So here I am. I am proud to stand in the way of Crestwood’s dangerous gas storage project along with other parents and their young adult children, along with husbands, wives, and sisters and brothers. Standing here blocking trucks, I feel that I am doing my mother’s job.

And I bring three messages with me. The first one is to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC, shame on you!  Your permission slip to Crestwood is outrageous. This two-year extension sanctions a project that threatens drinking water, imperils the climate, keeps New York dependent on fracked gas, and flies in the face of public opinion.

Indeed, 99.1 percent of the hundreds of comments that FERC received from ordinary families like us were OPPOSED to the extension and to gas storage itself. Nobody wants Seneca Lake turned into a gas station.

FERC, you know that, and we know that.

The second message is to mothers and fathers. Though my own children are all teenagers now—Grace here is 18 and headed to college in the fall—it is still my job to do what I can to keep them healthy and safe. I’ve realized the only way I can do this is to fight climate change, fight fossil fuel build-out, and fight for immediate, large-scale investment in renewable energy.

Mothers and fathers, I implore you. Will you stand up and fight with me? Will you join me in fighting for a livable planet for our kids?

My final message is to our governor. Governor Cuomo, New York’s families are full of resolve, but we can’t do it alone. Help us stand up to the bullies here at Seneca Lake, Crestwood and Con Ed. And help us take a stand against FERC, the federal agency in Washington that shows such disregard for New York’s water, safety, health, climate, and for your own good plans to make our state a leader in renewable energy.

Join us in saving Seneca Lake, Governor Cuomo. Tell FERC they’re not the boss of you.

This is the defining issue of our time. This is the issue that will test our mettle and show us who were truly are as a people. Will we allow ourselves to be extinguished for the short-term profit of the oil and gas profiteers?

Or will we say to them, as we say to our children when they are unruly, “Stop it right now! Mom has had enough!”

 

More about the protesters: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.

Bill McKibben’s March 2016 arrest with We Are Seneca Lake: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/science/earth/environmental-activists-take-to-local-protests-for-global-results.html?_r=0

NYT story on 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.

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/.

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 Posted by at 11:34 am

We Are Seneca Lake Unites with NYC Advocates Protest Con Ed Investment in Underground Fracked Gas Storage Facilities

 Press Kit  Comments Off on We Are Seneca Lake Unites with NYC Advocates Protest Con Ed Investment in Underground Fracked Gas Storage Facilities
May 162016
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Monday, May 16, 2016

Contact: Lindsay Speer, We Are Seneca Lake, 315-383-7210 lindsayspeer@creatingchangeconsulting.com

 

Photos:  http://www.wearesenecalake.com/wasl-nyc-pix/

Video:  http://www.wearesenecalake.com/wasl-nyc-vid/

 

We Are Seneca Lake Unites with NYC Advocates to Protest Con Ed Investment in Underground Fracked Gas Storage Facilities

 

“An Aliso Canyon-style disaster in New Yorks wine country is not worth the risk!” says actor James Cromwell and others outside Con Ed shareholder meeting

 

May 16, 2016 – New York, NY—More than 100 upstate and downstate New Yorkers joined forces today in a demonstration against Consolidated Edison’s recently announced $975 million investment in fracked gas infrastructure, including a controversial gas storage facility in old salt mines at Seneca Lake in the heart of New York’s wine country.

Joined by New York City-based climate and environmental justice advocates, unions, and actor James Cromwell, Finger Lakes residents made their voices heard outside of the Con Edison annual shareholder meeting. This diverse community minded group assembled to call for an end to risky gas storage projects in the Finger Lakes and for Con Ed instead to put its resources into energy efficiency and renewable energy.

While demonstrators outside the shareholder meeting urged Con Ed to back out of the risky deal, We Are Seneca Lake activist and environmental consultant John Dennis, PhD, delivered a similar message, speaking for eight minutes, inside the meeting to the shareholders themselves. Dennis drew attention in particular to the geologic and water quality risks associated with the Seneca Lake facility, while also questioning the wisdom of a partnership with Crestwood Equity Partners, which has a troubled record of environmental violations throughout the United States.  Dennis hand-delivered a letter from the Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition stating their concerns and opposition to the project.

“Seneca Lake is the heart of Finger Lakes wine country,” explained winemaker Will Ouweleen. “We simply can’t afford any accidents there.”

“We can’t believe Con Ed would invest, and become liable, in this facility, particularly under continued Crestwood management,” noted Jan Quarles, a Seneca County farm owner, during a press conference outside Con Ed headquarters near Union Square. “Does Con Ed, its shareholders and ratepayers really want this risk? The methane leak in Porter Ranch, California was a complete disaster and forced 5000 people to evacuate, and SoCalGas is being sued for over $2 billion.  New York can’t afford that.”

“Crestwood has a terrible history of water quality violations and brine spills,” she continued. “Our drinking water, our health, and our sustainable economy based on farming and viticulture are beyond value and cannot afford to be compromised.”

Chanting “No Porter Ranch in New York” and “Break free from fossil fuels,” the protesters held banners that read “We will not be Con-ned #BreakFree” and “Say no to fracked gas infrastructure,” and confronted shareholders as they arrived for the annual meeting.

Con Ed’s joint venture with Crestwood Equity Partners is to “own and expand” four underground methane gas storage facilities and three pipelines in the Northeast, including the Seneca Lake facility. Bloomberg reports the joint venture is expected to be finalized in the second quarter. Demonstrating opposition to the danger posed by this project, over 550 area residents who call themselves “We Are Seneca Lake” have been arrested peacefully protesting this facility in the two years since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved construction.  Since then, Crestwood’s stock has plummeted, and notably Crestwood has teetered on bankruptcy for the past year.

No construction has begun to date.

Thirty-one municipalities and 372 businesses have also voiced opposition to gas storage in salt caverns under the shores of Seneca Lake, and FERC has been flooded with comments opposing the extension of the project’s construction permit, thanks to years of organizing work by Gas Free Seneca.

Maria Castaneda, Secretary Treasurer of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, the largest healthcare union in the nation said, “As healthcare workers and community members, we are opposed to the building of this gas storage facility because it could be a threat to clean drinking water and public health.”

“We oppose efforts to expand dependence on fossil fuels that exacerbate the crisis of climate change, and instead support the creation of good, middle-class green energy jobs,” Castaneda continued. “It’s fundamentally wrong to build out the infrastructure for fracking, which is known to be toxic and dangerous for human health. We stand in solidarity with the Finger Lakes against the risks of this project.”

“Communities across New York are fighting to protect themselves from an onslaught of fracked natural gas pipelines, storage, and power plants,” said Irene Weiser, a town councilmember in the Finger Lakes region and organizer of Fossil Free Tompkins. “Together we banned fracking in New York – now we’re standing together, united against all fossil fuel expansion.  Our futures depend on it!”

Methane is 86 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a twenty year timeframe, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  A 2015 study found that methane leakage rates from gas infrastructure have been nationally underreported due to a faulty sensor in the device used to measure such emissions at each site. A study from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences in March 2016 found that methane emissions in the United States have increased by 30% over the past decade.

Annel Hernandez of NYC Environmental Justice Alliance said, “it’s the communities that can least afford it – low income, people of color – that bear the biggest costs of climate change.  We need Con Ed to invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy infrastructure, not tie itself to risky fossil fuels.”

Con Ed’s bet on methane gas as New York City’s energy future undermines New York’s commitment to 50 percent of all electricity consumed in New York State is to result from renewable energy sources by 2030, as laid out in the Clean Energy Standard.

“Creating ‘sacrifice zones’ upstate will only result in New York City becoming a sacrifice zone itself as the sea levels rise,” Cromwell concluded.  “This is an incredible opportunity to bring all these movements together.  When we recognize the interconnection between all the issues – economic justice, racial justice, justice for women – and stand together, we will win.”

###

 

We Are Seneca Lake is an ongoing, citizen-based, grassroots campaign that seeks to protect Seneca Lake and the surrounding region from gas storage expansion by Texas-based energy company, Crestwood Midstream. Crestwood’s intention is to repurpose the crumbling salt mines underneath Seneca Lake’s hillside into massive, unlined gas tanks for three highly pressurized products of fracking: methane (natural gas), and propane and butane (LPG, or Liquefied Petroleum Gases) and to turn the Finger Lakes into a fracked gas transportation and storage hub for the entire Northeast. Our intention is to direct the future of our community down sustainable, renewable pathways.

 

 

Danielle Filson

BerlinRosen Public Affairs

(O) 646.335.0443

(C) 860.707.3584

danielle.filson@berlinrosen.com

 

 Posted by at 1:49 pm

15 Arrested Protesting Con Ed’s Joint Venture with Crestwood at Seneca Lake During Week of Global Action Against Fossil Fuels

 Press Kit  Comments Off on 15 Arrested Protesting Con Ed’s Joint Venture with Crestwood at Seneca Lake During Week of Global Action Against Fossil Fuels
May 052016
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 5, 2016

Media contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607.351.0719; ssteingraber@ithaca.edu

 

photos: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/we-will-not-be-conned-pix/

video: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/we-will-not-be-conned-vid/

press release: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/we-will-not-be-conned/

 

15 Arrested Protesting Con Ed’s Joint Venture with Crestwood at Seneca Lake During Week of Global Action Against Fossil Fuels

 

We Are Seneca Lake warns downstate Con Ed ratepayers of bad deal; calls on Con Ed to ‘break free’ of gas infrastructure build-out; SUNY Geneseo senior arrested wearing graduation cap; two Cornell U students join blockade

 

Watkins Glen, NY – In an act of civil disobedience aimed at the recently announced gas storage partnership between downstate energy giant Consolidated Edison and Houston-based Crestwood Midstream, 15 residents from across the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier, Albany, and Long Island formed a human chain across the main entrance of Crestwood.

Starting at 7 a.m. and continuing until their arrests by Schuyler County deputies for disorderly conduct shortly after 8 a.m., protesters blocked tanker trucks from leaving and entering the facility.

The group held banners that read, “Crestwood + Con Ed = Bad Deal for NYS” and “We Will Not Be Con’Ed.”

Three of the 15, who ranged in age from 19 to 73, were Schuyler County residents. Another three were college students.

With her commencement ceremony days away, SUNY Geneseo honors student, Julia Mizutani, 22, was arrested wearing her graduation cap.

Cornell students Elizabeth Chi, 19, and Gabrielle Illava, 27, were also arrested with the group.

This morning’s protest was a direct response to the April 21 announcement by utility giant Consolidated Edison that it had formed a joint venture with Crestwood Equity Partners to own three pipelines and four gas storage facilities, including the controversial Seneca Lake storage facility where Houston-based Crestwood has been pursuing a massive expansion project. Con Ed will invest $975 million to own a 50 percent stake in the newly named entity, dubbed Stagecoach Gas Services.

The protest was timed to correspond with a two-week wave of civil disobedience actions against fossil fuel projects that is taking place all around the world under the banner Break Free 2016.

Among those arrested this morning was the co-founder and executive editor of Fresh Dirt magazine, Rebecca Barry, 48, of Trumansburg in Tompkins County.  As part of a statement of solidarity with residents of New York City, where she lived for ten years, Barry said, “Everyone who lives downstate is a Con Ed ratepayer, and, with this 50 percent purchase in Crestwood’s gas storage facility at Seneca Lake, they are all now participating in a threat to an important source of drinking water here in the Finger Lakes.”

“Water matters. I can’t believe I have to fight for this idea,” Barry continued. “Con Ed, the whole world is going renewable, which we have to do. Help New Yorkers lead the way. Let wine, food, and culture connect the Finger Lakes to Manhattan, not pipelines and salt caverns full of fracked gas.”

Fresh Dirt is a profile-driven, green living magazine that celebrates sustainability in the Finger Lakes region.

The protesters this morning were all charged with disorderly conduct and transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department, where they were ticketed and released.

The total number of arrests in the eighteen-month-old civil disobedience campaign now stands at 564.

Laura Salamendra, 32, Geneva, Ontario County, said,  “I’m here today to introduce myself to Con Edison. I’m a daughter, a sister, and an aunt who will fiercely protect her family from the threats associated with Crestwood’s dangerous gas storage plan. The people of the Finger Lakes oppose this project and if Con Edison plans to align with Crestwood, they should plan on seeing a lot of me and my fellow defenders.”

  1. Timothy Walcott, 64, of Johnson City in Broome County, said, “I stand in solidarity for the protection of Seneca Lake and its environs. Con Ed may be leading white horses for Crestwood, aka Stagecoach Gas Services, but they are wearing black hats.”

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the 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, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

Crestwood also seeks to store two other products of fracking in Seneca Lake salt caverns—propane and butane (so-called Liquefied Petroleum Gases, LPG)—for which it is awaiting a decision by Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

The 15 arrested today were:

Rebecca Barry, 48, Trumansburg, Tompkins County

Marie Ely Baumgardner, 68, Burdett, Schuyler County

Elizabeth Chi, 19, Great Neck, Nassau County

Timothy Dunlap, 61, Hector, Schuyler County

Wesley Ernsberger, 68, Owego, Tioga County

Jim Gregoire, 47, Geneva, Ontario County

Gretchen Herrmann, 67, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Gabrielle Illava, 27, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Gale Lyons, 73, Elmira, Chemung County

Julia Mizutani, 22, Geneseo, Livingston County

Jeanne Olivett, 69, Jacksonville, Tompkins County

Lory Peck, 65, Cayutaville, Schuyler County

Laura Salamendra, 32, Geneva, Ontario County

Regi L. Teasley, 64, Ithaca, Tompkins County

  1. Timothy Wolcott, 64, Johnson City, Broome County

 

Full text of Rebecca Barry’s statement:

My name is Rebecca Barry. I am a 48-year-old mother of two boys, ages 12 and 10, and I am also the co-founder and executive editor of a magazine called Fresh Dirt, which celebrates sustainable living here in the Finger Lakes.

Although I’m a native of this place, like a lot of writers, I got my professional start in New York City, where I lived for ten years.

And as an upstate resident with downstate roots who loves both places, I would like to talk to Consolidated Edison.

Con Ed recently joined together with the Texas gas company called Crestwood to jointly own the abandoned salt caverns here at Seneca Lake—right under our feet where we are standing.

Their plan, for which Con Ed laid down nearly a billion dollars, is to store massive amounts of fracked gas here in an underground facility like the one that catastrophically failed this past fall in California and caused 5,000 people to be evacuated from their homes.

It’s a plan that involves not just Seneca Lake but three other gas storage facilities in both upstate New York and Pennsylvania, along with three pipelines, and it will keep downstate New Yorkers hooked on dirty fossil fuels for years to come.

In a time of climate emergency, this is no way to link downstate with upstate.

Everyone who lives downstate is a Con Ed ratepayer, and, with this 50 percent purchase in Crestwood’s gas storage facility at Seneca Lake, they are all now participating in a threat to an important source of drinking water here in the Finger Lakes.

Water matters. I can’t believe I have to fight for this idea.

Con Ed, the whole world is going renewable, which we have to do. Help New Yorkers lead the way. Let wine, food, and culture connect the Finger Lakes to Manhattan, not pipelines and salt caverns full of fracked gas that threaten vast bodies of water and wineries that win awards all over the world.

Creativity and progressive ideas connect upstate to downstate, including ideas that help move us into a sustainable future. I know because I profile these ideas in my magazine, and I’ve seen over and over that an economy based on renewable energy is a lived reality here.

The symbiosis between the Finger Lakes and New York City is all about wine, bread, and models for sustainable living.

And it all depends on water.

As a mother, as a writer, as an editor, as a former Manhattanite and as a current resident of the Finger Lakes, I’m risking arrest today to protect our upstate water from dangerous fracked gas infrastructure before it locks downstate communities into evermore fossil fuel dependency.

To New Yorkers in the city: join us. Tell Con Ed you want investments in renewable energy not potentially catastrophic fossil fuel projects that endanger drinking water here at Seneca Lake.

More about the protesters: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.

Bill McKibben’s March 2016 arrest with We Are Seneca Lake: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/science/earth/environmental-activists-take-to-local-protests-for-global-results.html?_r=0

NYT story on 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.

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/.

 

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 Posted by at 11:27 am

Statement from We Are Seneca Lake on Crestwood-Con Ed Gas Storage Joint Venture

 Press Kit  Comments Off on Statement from We Are Seneca Lake on Crestwood-Con Ed Gas Storage Joint Venture
Apr 252016
 

For Immediate Release

Monday April 25, 2016

Contact: Sandra Steingraber, ssteingraber@ithac.edu, 607.351.0719

 

Statement from We Are Seneca Lake on Crestwood-Con Ed Gas Storage Joint Venture 

Stagecoach Gas Services is a dangerous, archaic plan that undermines Governor Cuomo’s climate goals and pits downstate against upstate residents

 

Watkins Glen, NY – We Are Seneca Lake denounces the ill-conceived venture by Crestwood and Consolidated Edison to jointly own four gas storage facilities that will deepen New York State’s dependency on dirty fracked gas at a time when Governor Cuomo is leading our state toward a renewable energy future. In addition, this alliance results in downstate Con Ed gas customers endangering the drinking water of 100,000 upstate residents, placing them on the hook for possibly tragedies and financial losses.

“At a time when Governor Cuomo has struck a bold course on climate, a New York energy giant is investing nearly a billion dollars to tie a fossil fuel ball and chain to downstate residents while putting upstate lives at risk—along with drinking water and climate,” said Sandra Steingraber, We Are Seneca Lake steering committee member.

Downstate utility giant Consolidated Edison Inc announced last Thursday that it had formed a joint venture with Crestwood Equity Partners to own three pipelines and four gas storage facilities including the controversial Seneca Lake storage facility where Houston-based Crestwood has been pursuing a massive expansion project. Con Ed will invest $975 million to own a 50% stake in the newly named entity, dubbed Stagecoach Gas Services.

“‘Stagecoach’ is a comically apt name for this outdated venture. In an age of Tesla, it’s an investment in the Pony Express,” Steingraber added. “$975 million would buy a lot of off-shore wind,”

For years, local residents have opposed lakeside gas storage expansion in the heart of New York’s wine country because this massive industrial project imperils the wine and tourism industry brings air and noise pollution to the beautiful Finger Lakes region, threatens a source of drinking water, poses a demonstrable health and safety risk to residents, and is destructive to the climate.

Opposition to the facility has been vigorous and widespread, resulting in 549 arrests for civil disobedience and 31 municipal resolutions, representing 1.2 million New York residents.

By providing cash to Crestwood, whose stock has been deeply devalued, Con Ed provides an antiquated gas giant financial life support and undermines New York’s Clean Energy Standard, as announced by Governor Cuomo during the Paris Climate Accord negotiations last December. The Clean Energy Standard mandates that 50 percent of all electricity consumed in New York State is to result from renewable energy sources by 2030.

Winemaker Will Ouweleen, of Eagle Crest and O-Neh-Da wineries on Hemlock Lake, said, “Con Ed is purchasing crumbly salt caverns to store pressurized, explosive hydrocarbons just at the moment when we are hitting cost tipping points in wind and solar such that they will increasingly undermine the viability of expensive gas infrastructure projects.”

He added, “And what kind of neighbor will Stagecoach be for us here in the Finger Lakes? Con Ed was just ordered to pay $171 million for briberies and kickbacks. Meanwhile, Crestwood has a terrible track record in North Dakota regarding spills, including a million gallon spill that made its way into a lake that serves as a source of public drinking water. New York’s winemakers have no trust in these two reckless players.”

We Are Seneca Lake calls on the Public Service Commission, Senators Gillibrand and Schumer, Con Ed investors, and downstate Con Ed customers to join us in opposition to this wrong-headed venture.

 

Background:

We Are Seneca Lake is an ongoing, citizen-based, grassroots campaign that seeks to protect Seneca Lake and the surrounding region from gas storage expansion by Texas-based energy company, Crestwood Midstream. Crestwood’s intention is to repurpose the crumbling salt mines underneath Seneca Lake’s hillside into massive, unlined gas tanks for three highly pressurized products of fracking: methane (natural gas), and propane and butane (LPG, or Liquefied Petroleum Gases) and to turn the Finger Lakes into a fracked gas transportation and storage hub for the entire Northeast. Our intention is to direct the future of our community down sustainable, renewable pathways.

 

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 Posted by at 4:04 pm

12 arrested: Earth Day blockade of Crestwood on Seneca Lake

 Press Kit  Comments Off on 12 arrested: Earth Day blockade of Crestwood on Seneca Lake
Apr 212016
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – April 21, 2016

media contact: Sandra Steingraber  607.351.0719, ssteingraber@ithaca.edu

photos:    http://www.wearesenecalake.com/earth-day-2016-pix/

video: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/earth-day-2016-vid/

press release: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/earth-day-2016/

 

On Eve of Earth Day, the Whole World Joins Human Blockade at the Gates of Crestwood Midstream  

Irene Weiser, Town of Caroline councilmember, among 12 arrested as total number of arrests reaches 549 

 

Watkins Glen, NY – Five feet in diameter and swirling with clouds, a blue and green replica of Planet Earth helped a dozen human inhabitants block three trucks this morning at the main entrance of Crestwood Midstream. The Earth Day-themed civil disobedience action was part of an ongoing campaign against proposed gas storage in Seneca Lake’s abandoned salt caverns.

Organized by the direct action group, We Are Seneca Lake, the protesters, plus Earth, formed a blockade on the driveway of the Houston-based gas storage and transportation company shortly after sunrise at 6:45 a.m.

The group held banners that read, “Happy Earth Day! Decarbonize Now” and “We All Are on This [Earth] Together.  While blockading, they read aloud together from a new report released this week by the World Resources Institute, which documents alarming new scientific findings about the ongoing climate crisis.  Among them: 2015 was the warmest year on record, and the first three months of 2016 each far surpassed the warmest average temperature ever recorded for those months.

In a public statement to fellow blockaders, Town of Caroline Councilmember Irene Weiser, 57, said:  “Today is the day before Earth Day and the historic signing of the Paris Climate Treaty—enjoining the United States, China, and 195 other nations of the world in a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to keep global warming below the catastrophic 1.5 degree level. I am proud to stand here today, an elected official, joined by activists from across the region—to say that we stand in solidarity with the people of nations across this one precious earth, with a commitment to hold ourselves and our leaders accountable in upholding that essential promise.”

Weiser is an active member of Fossil Free Tompkins,  working politically across Tompkins County to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and increase renewable energy construction. Their work includes political action against new fossil fuel infrastructure, including the Crestwood storage facility on Seneca Lake.

 

The protesters this morning were all charged with disorderly conduct and arrested at about 7:30 a.m. by Schuyler County deputies and transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department, where they were ticketed and released.

 

Among the 12 arrested was a member of the We Are Seneca Lake media team, Michael Dineen. At the time of his arrest, Dineen, who was not part of the blockade, was photographing the protest from across Highway 14.  Dineen was also charged with disorderly conduct.

The total number of arrests in the eighteen-month-old civil disobedience campaign now stands at 549.

Nathan Lewis, 33, of Hector in Schuyler County, said, “We will not stop blocking the gates of Crestwood until the expansion is canceled. We will not sit idle as our community is threatened. There is more than one way to vote. We vote with our body and soul when we resist the fossil fuel industry.”

 

Debb Guard, 65, of Schenectady in Schenectady County, said, “It’s been six years since the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico; six months since the failure of the methane storage in Aliso Canyon; and over six days since TransCanada’s 16,800 gallon dilbit leak into South Dakota farmland. Earth Day is a time to remind people that water, air, and land are still at risk of contamination by the oil and gas industry. Earth Day is also a time to embrace renewable energy sources: solar, wind, and geothermal.”

 

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the 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, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

Crestwood also seeks to store two other products of fracking in Seneca Lake salt caverns—propane and butane (so-called Liquefied Petroleum Gases, LPG)—for which it is awaiting a decision by Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

The 12 arrested today were:

Bruce Agte, 59, Binghamton, Broome County

Jim Crevelling, 70, Keuka Park, Yates County

Michael Dineen, 67, Ovid, Seneca County

August Faller, 25, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Lyn Gerry, 60, Watkins Glen, Schuyler County

Debb Guard, 65, Schenectady, Schenectady County

Nathan Lewis, 33, Hector, Schuyler County

Kelly Morris, 56, Danby, Tompkins County

Mark Pezzati, 57, Andes, Delaware County

John Suter, 70, Dryden, Tompkins County

Irene Weiser, 57, Caroline, Tompkins County

Suzanne Winkler, 57, Burlington Flats, Otsego County

 

Full text of Irene Weiser’s Earth Day statement:

 

Today is the day before Earth Day and the historic signing of the Paris Climate Treaty – enjoining the US, China, and 195 other nations of the world in a pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to keep global warming below the catastrophic 1.5 degree level. I am proud to stand here today, an elected official, joined by activists from across the region –  to say that we stand in solidarity with the people of nations across this one precious earth, with a commitment to hold ourselves and our leaders accountable in upholding that essential promise.

Forty seven years ago a peace activist named John McConnell proposed Earth Day at a UNESCO conference – with a vision to create a special day each year to draw people together in appreciation of their mutual home and to bring a global feeling of community through the realization of our deepening desire for life, freedom, love, and our mutual dependence on each other.

As a peace activist he considered the devastation caused by pollution as acts of violence against the earth. One can only imagine what he would have thought about today’s desperate measures to unearth fossil fuels by blowing off mountain tops, and raping the ground by injecting poisoned waters. What of the violence of slashing trees and leaving huge scars across our landscape to make way for pipelines? And what of the violence of ocean acidification killing countless species, and the warming waters and habitat loss in the arctic? What of the violent storms, massive floods, fires, droughts, and heat waves that have claimed countless lives? And the violence to the workers who are subjected to unsafe conditions to feed this planet’s fossil fuel habit, and the cancers, heart and lung disease, low birth weights to those who live in sacrifice zones? What of the violence that is already visiting the poor in under-developed countries, where sea level rise has caused them to relocate, and where droughts and famine underpin massive uprisings and refugee crises?

As part of his Earth Day proclamation McConnell wrote that “Planet Earth is facing a grave crisis which only the people of the earth can resolve, and in our shortsightedness we have failed to make provisions for the poor as well as the rich to inherit the earth…and our new enlightenment requires that the disinherited be given a just stake in the earth and its future.”

I am not so naïve as to believe that the disinherited will be given that stake. I believe we have to take it – take it back from the purveyors of violence like ExxonMobil who have lied about the harms their industry causes; take it back from Williams and Cabot for their unconstitutional pipeline, take it back from Crestwood who threatens the drinking water for thousands of people, and take it back from the regulators and elected officials who fail to do their jobs of protecting the public and our future.

And so I am proud to stand here today – not in violence – but in peaceful, loving, hopeful protest – to pledge my commitment to preserving this one and only and beautiful and cherished earth for future generations.

 

Read more about the protesters at: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.

Read about Bill McKibben’s March 2016 arrest with We Are Seneca Lake: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/science/earth/environmental-activists-take-to-local-protests-for-global-results.html?_r=0

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/.

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 Posted by at 9:55 am

Public Statement by We Are Seneca Lake Regarding Chaos, Danger and Negligence at the Reading Town Court on March 16, 2016

 Press Kit  Comments Off on Public Statement by We Are Seneca Lake Regarding Chaos, Danger and Negligence at the Reading Town Court on March 16, 2016
Mar 182016
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | March 18, 2016

Contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607-351-0719, ssteingraber@ithaca.edu

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uv5SQAoeok8

Photos: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/pictures-reading-20160316/

Public Statement by We Are Seneca Lake Regarding Chaos, Danger and Negligence at the Reading Town Court on March 16, 2016

Watkins Glen, NY – On March 16, 70 individuals charged with disorderly conduct violations were scheduled for 5 p.m. arraignments at the Town of Reading Court in Schuyler County. All had been arrested between January and March at one of several peaceful protests against gas storage at Crestwood Midstream.

 

The court was unable to process this large number of defendants in a timely manner, and the courtroom itself, which holds 48 people, could not accommodate them. The court clerk ushered those with appearance tickets into the courtroom in small groups organized by date of arrest. This protocol compelled the remainder—including their loved ones, supporters, and assorted observers—to wait outside in the elements for up to three hours, even during severe rain, hail, and lightning.

 

While court was in session, Schuyler County Sheriff’s deputy J.D. Sworts locked the interior front door of the Reading Town Hall, in which the courtroom is located, and allowed no one into the public building (other than to briefly use the restroom), even though the town hall contains a large meeting space that could have provided shelter during the serious weather event that began shortly after 7 p.m.

 

The appeals of defendants locked outside of the building—who could be heard imploring Deputy Sworts and Town Clerk Alice Conklin to allow them to seek shelter inside the town hall while waiting for their turn before the judge—were audible to those inside the building.

 

Deputy Sworts advised individuals waiting outside to take refuge inside their cars. However, many defendants had carpooled and did not have cars on site. Others had been forced, by restrictions on parking, to park up to a quarter-mile away. Further, had they sheltered in their cars, defendants might have missed the calling of their names and risked a bench warrant for arrest.

 

Town Clerk Alice Conklin told one defendant, “If you can protest in this weather you can stand out in it now.”

 

By 8 p.m., courtroom decorum had completely broken down. Defendants, their supporters, and their attorney, Sujata Gibson, appealed directly to Judge Raymond Berry to allow those waiting outside in an electrical storm to enter the building.

 

In all cases, these requests were denied. Judge Berry claimed on the record that the sheriff, and not the Court, was responsible for the scheduling snafu and that the “town fathers,” and not the Court, were responsible for the decision to declare the interior of the town hall off-limits to defendants waiting to appear before him.

 

By 8:30 p.m., 42 individuals had been arraigned before Judge Berry, and defense attorney Sujata Gibson entered a global plea of not guilty for the remainder.

 

We Are Seneca Lake objects both to the reckless lock-out of defendants, who had no choice other than to appear at court at the assigned hour, and to the negligent scheduling that set the stage for such chaos. This is not the first time that the town hall (courthouse) has been declared off limits to defendants and their supporters during court hearings that take place during hazardous weather conditions. We assert that the physical safety of defendants is a prime responsibility of the court system.

 

With the help of our attorneys, We Are Seneca Lake is now exploring the possibility of filing a motion to transfer cases to a court that can safely accommodate all defendants, their supporters, and members of the press and public, with a law-trained judge outside of Reading Town Court. We are also exploring the possibility of filing a federal lawsuit for violation of due process under the Constitution.

 

The We Are Seneca Lake campaign opposes the expansion of gas storage in abandoned lakeside salt caverns owned by Crestwood. Since the campaign began in October 2014, there have been 537 arrests. Of these, 234 cases have been adjudicated (resulting in 176 total dismissals to date); 303 cases remain open.

 

On March 15, Judge Raymond Berry dismissed 112 violation trespass charges against 110 We Are Seneca Lake protesters after an investigation by Schuyler County District Attorney Joseph Fazzary determined there was insufficient evidence to prosecute them.

 

The list of those scheduled for arraignment at 5 p.m., Wednesday, March 16:

 

Bradford County, PA

Cat Rossiter, 63, Sayre

 

Cayuga County

Kerry Angie, 71, Aurora

Thomas Angie, 63, Aurora

 

Chemung County

Colleen Boland, 60, Elmira

Doug Couchon, 65, Elmira

Patricia Buttolph, 70, Elmira

Hervie Harris, 69, Elmira

 

Chenango County

Ken Fogarty, 76, Guilford

 

Erie County

Charley Bowman, 69, Getzville

 

Fulton County

Bill Kitchen, 63, Johnstown

 

Livingston County

Lyndsay Clark, 55, Springwater

Coby Schultz, 56, Springwater

Holly Adams, 56, Hunt

Bob Thompson, 62, Livonia

Jamie Carestio, 30, Dansville

 

Monroe County

Colleen Coss, 61, Henrietta

Paul Flansburg, 48, Rochester

Susan Hughes-Smith, 44, Rochester

Kit Miller, 53, Rochester

Dwain Wilder, 76, Rochester

 

New York County

Michael Bucci, 67, Manhattan

 

Onondaga County

Howie Hawkins, 63, Syracuse

 

Ontario County

Cynthia Carestio, 55, Canandaigua

Paul Passavant, 49, Geneva

Marty Dodge, 73, Canandaigua

Peggy Abbott, 64, Geneva

Angela Cannon-Crothers, 50, Naples

 

Schenectady County

Debb Guard, 61, Niskayuna

Pete Looker, 65, Glenville

 

Schoharie County

Elliott Adams, 68, Sharon Springs

 

Schuyler County

Daryl Anderson, 46, Burdett

Shirley Barton, 68, Mecklenburg

Phillip Davis, 63, Hector

Paula Fitzsimmons, 58, Hector

Sharon Kahkonen, 66, Mecklenburg

Beth Peet, 48, Hector

Wendell F. Perks, Jr., 67, Hector

Marie Ely Baumgardner, 67, Hector

Nate Lewis, 33, Hector

 

Seneca County

Michael Dineen, 67, Ovid

Kim Knight, 32, Covert

Carrie Fischer, 39, Fayette

 

Steuben County

Louise Sullivan-Blum, 55, Corning

Meg Krywe, 57, Arkport

Jeni Paquette, 63, Corning

 

Tioga County

Rick Rogers, 67, Spencer

Richard Battaglia, 53, Richford

Gerri Wiley, 68, Owego

Wes Ernsberger, 68, Owego

 

Tompkins County

Danielle Angie, 37, Trumansburg

Caroline Byrne, 39, Ithaca

John Dennis, 66, Lansing

Ruth Groff, 64, Ithaca

Stephanie Redmond, 40, Enfield

Therese Araneo, Caroline

Mariana Morse, 67, Caroline

Tom Seaney, 66, Ithaca

Alicia Alexander, 63, Ithaca

Donn Carroll, 66, Ithaca

Ken Zeserson, 68, Ulysses

Arthur Godin, 66, Enfield

George Adams, 66, Danby

Stacey McNeill, 44, Ithaca

Ba Stopha, 70, Ithaca

 

Wayne County

Nancy Kasper, 57, North Rose

 

Yates County

Michael Black, 63, Lakemont

Alison Marshall, 35, Penn Yan

Lynn Donaldson, 72, Keuka Park

 Posted by at 11:14 am