FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Sandra Steingraber | 607.351.0719
Nineteen Protesters Arrested This Morning
in Earth Day Blockade at Crestwood Midstream
Protesters Call on Senators Schumer, Gillibrand
to Halt Fracked Gas Infrastructure Buildout at Seneca Lake
Watkins Glen, NY – In an act of civil disobedience, nineteen people from ten New York counties created a human blockade this morning at both of the gated entrances of Crestwood Midstream. Protesters prevented all traffic from entering or leaving the gates before their arrests shortly after 10 a.m. by Schuyler County Sheriff’s deputies and NY state troopers.
None of the protesters arrested 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.
Today’s arrests mark the first since February 11 and bring the total number of arrests to 235 in the six-month-old civil disobedience campaign.
Two dozen other Finger Lakes residents rallied along Route 14, holding signs and banners that declaimed the beauty of the region and declared themselves united against gas storage.
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.
Arrested protesters were transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department, charged with trespassing, and released.
Protester Deborah Guard, 64, of Niskayuna in Schenectady County, said, “I was born and raised in Geneva and was a college student during the first Earth Day, and I’ve commemorated it for 45 years. I spent by childhood along these shores. Our farm used water directly from this lake. Without the lake, there would be no agriculture. In honor of Earth Day today, I felt that I had to travel from Schenectady back to my birthplace and defend it.”
While blockading, Bonnie Chollet, 70, of Horseheads delivered a message to Senators Gillibrand and Schumer: “We have written our letters and circulated petitions and sent our emails to our senators. We really want to see some action and you are our representatives. There are thousands of New Yorkers concerned about Seneca Lake. Although fracking is supposed to be banned, the methane is being gathered in Pennsylvania and elsewhere, and Crestwood is looking to store it here. It is not for local markets as the pipelines that connect the salt caverns to the Northeast show us.”
Many protesters drove for many miles to attend this morning’s protest in a show of Finger Lakes-wide solidarity with Seneca Lake.
Bob Thompson, 61, of Livonia said, “I live by Hemlock Lake. If you break one finger, it affects the whole hand. I’m here to protect the finger called Seneca Lake. During the anti-fracking movement, we got a lot of support in Livingston County from people in other counties. I want to pay that back.”
Those arrested today were:
Melanie Bush, 50, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Cynthia Carestio, 54, Canandaigua, Ontario County
Bonnie Chollet, 70, Horseheads, Chemung County
Nancy Cook, 62, Painted Post, Steuben County
Barbara Coyle, 63, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Bill Glasner, 67, Victor, Ontario County
Elsbette Grove, Wolcott, Wayne County
Deborah Guard, 64, Niskayuna, Schenectady County
Heide Horowitz, 76, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Gale Lyons, 72, Elmira, Chemung County
Lee Marcus, 65, Arkport, Steuben County
Larry Martin, 64, Town of Torrey, Yates County
Kit Miller, 52, Rochester, Monroe County
Sheila Out, 65, Ithaca, Tompkins
Lisa Ripperton, 64, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Maribeth Rubenstein, 49, Aurora, Cayuga County
Todd Saddler, 50, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Jim Shaw, 64, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Bob Thompson, 61, Livonia, Livingston County
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.
Background on the protests:
Protesters have been blocking the Crestwood gas storage facility gates since Thursday, October 23, 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 12.
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/.