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Media Contact: Sandra Steingraber | 607.351.0719
Six Finger Lakes Residents Arrested This Afternoon
in a “Finger Lakes United” Blockade at Crestwood Midstream
Total arrests in ongoing We Are Seneca Lake campaign against gas storage reaches 216
Watkins Glen, NY – In an act of civil disobedience, seven people from five counties throughout the Finger Lakes region created a human blockade this morning at both of the gated entrances of Crestwood Midstream. Protesters prevented all traffic from entering for four hours. Six were arrested at 1:50 p.m. by Schuyler County sheriff’s deputies. (One of the blockaders, Janet McCue, 64, of Hector in Schuyler County left before law enforcement arrived.)
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.Their actions were part of a four-month-old campaign called We Are Seneca Lake, which seeks an end to gas storage in lakeside salt caverns.
Crestwood’s 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 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. The total number of arrests in the ongoing campaign stands at 216.
Kim Cunningham, 58, of Naples in Ontario County, said, “I grew up on Keuka Lake, and raised my kids there. When I travel and someone asks me where I’m from, I say I’m from the beautiful Finger Lakes Region of New York, so I believe Seneca Lake is my lake. I’ve been a farmer for 35 years. I work for Heron Hill Winery, and I feel we’re impacted by this mess.”
John Tornow, 69, of Seneca Township in Ontario County, said “I’m an environmentalist, and I just don’t think storing gas inside old salt mines is worth the risk. Also, this is all part of the fossil fuel train that we need to get off of. The third thing is, I don’t feel like I have representation here. I live in Seneca Township in southern Ontario County. The government that made this decision is not responding to me. I don’t have money. So, my presence is my offering.”
Carrie Fischer, 38, of Fayette in Seneca County, said, “This decision affects many more areas than just Schuyler. We get our drinking water from Seneca Lake, as do 100,000 other people. It’s our duty to protect the lake. Crestwood’s plan is a risk to public health and safety for the whole Finger Lakes region.”
Today’s protest comes the day before the opening of an Issues Conference, called by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, that will examine the evidence for harms and risks of the proposed liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) storage facility, as raised by parties opposing the project. The Issues Conference takes place at the Holiday Inn in Horseheads, New York and begins on Thursday, Feb. 12.
We are Seneca Lake protesters are focused on methane storage in the salt caverns—approval for which was granted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last summer—but also oppose LPG storage.
Those arrested today were:
Kim Cunningham, 58, Naples, Ontario County
Jodi Dean, 52, Geneva, Ontario County
Carrie Fischer, 38, Fayette, Seneca County
Jane Russell, 63, Pulteney, Steuben County
John Tornow, 69, Seneca Township, Ontario County
Jan Zeserson, 67, Town of Ulysses, Tompkins County
Read more about the arrested protesters at http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.
Read more about the persistent bias of the Reading Town Court: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/26/a-report-from-the-frontlines-in-the-war-against-fracking/#.VJ7OU5npvxE.facebook
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. Since then, protests have been ongoing, with more arrests each week. 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/.