FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – March 7, 2016
media contact: Sandra Steingraber 607.351.0719
press release: http://wearesenecalake.com/methaneismadness
Bill McKibben Arrested at Civil Disobedience Action Against Gas Storage at Seneca Lake
Famed author and climate activist joins 56 people from 20 NYS counties to form human blockade at the gates of Crestwood Midstream, demands halt to climate-damaging fracked gas infrastructure, as total number of arrests in sustained campaign hits 537
Watkins Glen, NY – The fight over the fate of the Finger Lakes became national today when best-selling author, environmentalist, and founder of the international climate campaign, 350.org, Bill McKibben joined the opposition. McKibben, 55, was arrested this morning with 56 area residents as part of an ongoing civil disobedience campaign against proposed gas storage in Seneca Lake’s abandoned salt caverns.
This is a developing story. At this writing, all 57 arrestees have been charged with disorderly conduct and released, except for Bill McKibben, who is still in the custody of the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Office.
Organized by the direct action group, We Are Seneca Lake, the protesters formed a human blockade on the driveway of the gas storage and transportation company, Crestwood Midstream. During the blockade, which began shortly after sunrise at 6:45 a.m., the protesters blocked all traffic entering and leaving the facility.
In a public statement to fellow blockaders, McKibben thanked We Are Seneca Lake for serving as a “curtain raiser” for the larger global movement to break free from fossil fuels that is now unfolding in frontline communities all over the planet: “Today and every day there are places like this where people are standing up…. This place is so important because it’s one of the places where people are understanding that it’s not just carbon dioxide we are fighting, it’s also methane, that there are two greenhouse gases and they are both spurring this incredible heating that we are seeing.… If we can hold off the fossil fuel industry for just a few more years, this stuff will never be built again.
Also arrested today were eight Schuyler County residents. Among them were the Reverend Felicity Wright, pastor of Elmira’s famed Park Church, and Phil Davis, co-owner and operator of Damiani Wine Cellars on the east shore of Seneca Lake and a seventh-generation resident of Schuyler County.
Ranging in age from 30 to 76, today’s protesters represented 19 different New York counties.
At 6:45 a.m. this morning, the group unfurled banners that read, “Methane is Madness. Break Free from Fossil Fuels” and “We Are Seneca Lake. Can You Hear Us Now?”
The group was charged with disorderly conduct and arrested shortly before 8:00 a.m. by Schuyler County deputies, Watkins Glen police, and New York State troopers, and transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department.
The total number of arrests in the seventeen-month-old civil disobedience campaign has now surpassed 500.
Reverend Wright said, “Climate change is not only an economic and ecological crisis. It is also, for many of us, a moral and spiritual crisis. Pope Francis understood this well when, in his recent encyclical on the climate crisis, he asks, “What kind of world do we want to leave…for those who come after us? And the answer must be: a world that supports creation, and a world that allows us to be divine agents for what is holy, good, and true.”
Phil Davis, 63, of Hector and co-owner/operator of Damiani Wine Cellars said, “I will stand once again in resistance to this imposition of corporate will upon our people and our land and water. There is an attitude of arrogance and dismissiveness in the Crestwood communiqués–regarding environmental concerns, community safety concerns, area business concerns–that I find so offensive that I can’t stand by without joining to further the outcry of opposition. My family has been a part of this community for seven generations. I’m here today to lend my back and all my resolve to this fight.”
Gerry Wiley, 68, of Owego in Tioga County, said, “I am here today as a public health nurse to call attention to the most urgent public health crisis of our time: the effects of climate change. Carbon dioxide lasts a long time in the atmosphere, and reducing it takes time that we no longer have. The only way we can buy more time, while working on cutting carbon dioxide emissions, is to quickly cut methane by ending its extraction, production, distribution, and storage now.”
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 57 arrested today were:
Marguerite (Peggy) Abbott, 65, Phelps, Ontario County
Elliott Adams, 69, Sharon Springs, Schoharie County
George Adams, 66, Danby, Tompkins County
Holly Adams, 56, Hunt, Livingston County
Alicia Alexander, 63, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Daryl Anderson, 62, Hector, Schuyler County
Danielle Angie, 37, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Kerry Angie, 63, Aurora, Cayuga County
Thomas Angie, 63, Aurora, Cayuga County
Shirley Barton, 68, Hector, Schuyler County
Richard Battaglia, 53, Richford, Tioga County
Marie Ely Baumgardner, 68, Burdett, Schuyler County
Darlene Bordwell, 58, Penn Yan, Yates County
Charley Bowman, 69, Getzville, Erie County
Patricia Buttolph, 70, Elmira, Chemung County
Cynthia Carestio, 55, Canandaigua, Ontario County
Jamie William Carestio, 30, Hector, Schuyler County
Donn Carroll, 65, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Lyndsay Clark, 55, Springwater, Livingston
Colleen A. Coss, 60, West Henrietta, Monroe County
Phil Davis, 63, Hector, Schuyler County
Jodi Dean, 53, Geneva, Ontario County
Martin Dodge, 73, Canandaigua, Ontario County
Joshua Dolan, 38, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Robert Eklund, 63, New Lisbon, Otsego
Wesley (Wes) Ernsberger, 68, Owego, Tioga County
Carrie Fischer, 39, Fayette, Seneca County
Paula Fitzsimmons, 57, Hector, Schuyler County
Paul Matthew Flansburg, 47, Henrietta, Monroe County
Kenneth Fogarty, 76, Guilford, Chenango County
Arthur Godin, 67, Enfield, Tompkins County
Mimi Gridley, 60, Dundee, Yates County
Ruth Groff, 64, Lansing, Tompkins County
Debb Guard, 64, Schenectady, Schenectady County
Susan Hughes-Smith, 44, Brighton, Monroe County
Nancy E. Kasper, 57, North Rose, Wayne County
Bill Kitchen, 63, Johnstown, Fulton County
Sharon Kahkonen, 66, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County
Mary (Meg) Downey Krywe, 57, Almond, Allegany County
Nathan John Lewis, 33, Hector, Schuyler County
Peter Looker, 65, Glenville, Schenectady County
Alison Marshall, 35, Penn Yan, Yates County
Bill McKibben, 55, Ripton, Addison County, VT
Katherine (Kit) Miller, 53, Brighton, Monroe County
Paul A. Passavant, 49, Geneva, Ontario County
Leslie Potter, 72, Big Flats, Chemung County
Stephanie Redmond, 39, Enfield, Tompkins County
Catherine M. Rossiter, 64, Sayre, Bradford County, PA
Coby Schultz, 55, Springwater, Livingston County
Tom Seaney, 66, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Susan Soboroff, 70, Trumansburg, Ulysses County
Ba Stopha, 70, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Louise Sullivan-Blum, 55, Corning, Steuben County
Robert S. Thompson, 62, Hemlock, Livingston County
Gerri Wiley, 68, Owego, Tioga County
Felicity Wright, 68, Alpine, Schuyler County
Ken Zeserson, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Read more about the protesters at: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.
Read more about widespread objections to Crestwood’s gas storage plans: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/26/nyregion/new-york-winemakers-fight-gas-storage-plan-near-seneca-lake.html?_r=0.
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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