FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 18, 2016
Media contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607.351.0719; email@example.com
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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