Nineteen Americans arrested defending community, Seneca Lake, and world from fossil fuel industry
Concerned citizens from NC, NJ join local protest in NY to point out the global climate impacts of expanding storage, transport, and extraction of natural gas.
December 9, 2015 – Watkins Glen, NY – Nineteen people from New York, New Jersey, and as far away as North Carolina added their bodies and voices to the blockade at Crestwood’s proposed methane gas storage facility on the shores of Seneca Lake on Wednesday morning. They stood in an orderly line with banners reading “Protecting Our Only Home” and “There Is No Plan(et) B” across the entrance to Crestwood’s facility on Route 14 in Watkins Glen. This is the third blockade in the past week, timed to coincide with the COP21 climate negotiations in Paris. Over 400 people have been arrested in similar actions over the past year.
“Crestwood’s plans endanger the drinking water for 100,000 people, and the fracking industry’s extraction, transportation and storage of fracked gasses are major contributors to our planetary climate chaos,” said John Wagner, 62, of Pittsboro, North Carolina. “I am also here today as a small act of support and solidarity with Vanda Shiva, indigenous groups, Sandra Steingraber and others that are in Paris to try to keep the Climate Summit goals from being derailed by powerful corporations.”
Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the United States 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.
The facility plans to store natural gas and then sell it to urban areas such as New York or Boston during times of increased demand and profit. It is one of many projects, including pipelines, which aim to develop “new markets” for the current glut of natural gas from the fracking boom, committing people to using natural gas in the future. Natural gas is primarily methane, a significantly more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide over a 20-year timeframe.
Whether due to low natural gas prices or the ongoing direct action campaign, construction of Crestwood’s natural gas storage expansion has not yet begun.
“When my grandchildren ask me if I knew about climate change long ago in the early 2010’s, I will say yes,” said Richard Battaglia, 53, of Richford, NY. “I am standing here so when they ask me what I did about it, I will not have to hide in shame.”
“We need to stop investing in fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Charley Bowman, 69, of Getzville, NY.
“The climate negotiations in Paris are important,” said Karin Suskin, 58, of Ithaca, “but words on paper take time to implement. We are quite literally ‘thinking globally, acting locally’ and stopping the fossil fuel industry where we can – in our own backyard.”
Schuyler County deputies arrested the nineteen at 9:40 a.m. as they blocked a pickup driven by Crestwood’s Director of Operations, Barry Moon, from leaving the facility. They sang “We are a peaceful gentle people / and we are standing for our home,” referring to both Seneca Lake and the world.
The nineteen protesters were transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department, charged with disorderly conduct, and released. The total number of arrests in the civil disobedience campaign over the past year now stands at 432.
The nineteen arrested today were:
George Adams, 65, Danby, Tompkins County, NY
Richard Battaglia, 53, Richford, Tioga County, NY
Charley Bowman, 69, Getzville, Erie County, NY
Heather Cook, 53, Dundee, Yates County, NY
Richard Evert, 68, Princeton, Mercer County, NJ
Martha Fischer, 58, Enfield, Tompkins County, NY
Ellen Grady, 53, Ithaca, Tompkins County, NY
Jim Gregoire, 46, Geneva, Ontario County, NY
Ben Guthrie, 63, Covert, Seneca County, NY
Lyn Hamilton, 68, Princeton, Mercer County, NJ
Gabrielle Illava, 26, Ithaca, Tompkins County, NY
Astrid Jirka, 44, Ithaca, Tompkins County, NY
Nancy Kasper, 56, North Rose, Wayne County, NY
Kelly Morris, 55, Danby, Tompkins County, NY
Haley Pasquale, 24, Livonia, Livingston County, NY
Todd Saddler, 51, Ithaca, Tompkins County, NY
Karin Suskin, 58, Ithaca, Tompkins County, NY
Phil Terrie, 66, Ithaca, Tompkins County, NY
John Wagner, 62, Pittsboro, Chatham County, NC
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/.
Background on the protests:
Protesters have been blocking the Crestwood gas storage facility gates since Thursday, October 23, 2014, 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 decision from a Department of Environmental Conservation Administrative Law Judge on whether the matter needs a full adjudicatory review.
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 was given approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in October 2014 to move forward with plans to store highly pressurized, explosive gas in abandoned salt caverns on the west side of Seneca Lake. However, despite ongoing activity on site, Crestwood reports to FERC that construction of the methane storage expansion has not yet begun.
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/.
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