Jul 182016


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