FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | December 22, 2014
Contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607-351-0719
Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and 7 Elves Arrested Today Blocking Crestwood Gas Storage Facility, Marking 170 Arrests in Two-Month-Old Civil Disobedience Campaign
Arrests Follow on the Heels of 28 Arrests Last Wednesday, Led by Many Prominent Local Musicians
Watkins Glen, NY – Carrying banners that declared “Christmas Against Crestwood” and “Methane in Your Stocking is Worse Than Coal,” nine area residents dressed as Santa Claus and his North Pole ensemble were arrested this morning and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct at Texas-based Crestwood Midstream’s gas storage facility gates on the shore of Seneca Lake as the ‘We Are Seneca Lake’ civil disobedience campaign enters week 9 of blockades to stop construction at the gas storage facility.
Santa Claus was the only one of the nine to be handcuffed and searched before taken into custody.
Mr. Claus (Stefan Senders of Schuyler County) was quick to assuage concerns that his arrest would delay his upcoming world tour, saying, “Don’t worry, boys and girls, I’ll be out of jail in time to deliver your presents.”
Chief elf Stephanie Redmond, who was not arrested on Monday, addressed concerns about outsiders participating in the ongoing protests, saying, “Some refer to us North Pole residents as ‘outsiders.’ But after Christmas is over, we elves vacation here at Seneca Lake. We like the wineries, and we come every year as tourists.”
Today’s arrests follow 28 arrests last Wednesday in a blockade lead by prominent local musicians. Members of the Irish folk band, The Grady Girls, along with acclaimed banjoist Richie Stearns and fiddler Rosie Newton, were among those arrested last Wednesday, along with assorted jazz, classical, and roots musicians. While blockading a large truck, the musicians sang, danced, played instruments, and held banners that read “This Land is Our Land” and “Gas/Water: Which Side Are You On?”
Referring to legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, singer and banjo musician Richie Stearns, 56, said, “When I was deciding whether to get arrested or not, I saw a sticker on my own car that said, ‘What Would Pete Do?’”
Singer Marie De Mott Grady, 29, of The Grady Girls, said, “Everyone has a duty to stand up and say something. Music inspires people, and people might pay attention if they know a musician is taking action.”
All total, 170 arrests have now occurred at the gates of Crestwood since the campaign began on October 23. There have also been multiple rallies with hundreds of people and numerous winery owners, local businesses and health professionals.
The 9 Finger Lakes residents arrested today are:
Stefan Senders, 55 (as Santa Claus), Schuyler County
Charlotte Senders, 18, Schuyler County
Kim Cunningham, 58, Heron Hill Winery, Naples, Ontario County
Ilona Marmer, 68, Montour Falls, Schuyler County
Jean Olivett, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Hope Rainbow, 24, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Gabriel Shapiro, 18, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Bill Carini, 53, Newfield, Tompkins County
Chrys Gardener, 53, Newfield, Tompkins County
The 28 arrested on Wednesday, Dec. 17 are:
Richie Stearns, 56, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Rosie Newton, 25, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Asa Redmond, 40, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Stephanie Redmond, 38, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Barbara Pease, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Charles Greenrider, Chandler, 58, Fort Bragg, CA
Coby Schultz, Springwater, Livingston County, 54
Tom Seaney, 65, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Jodi Dean, 52, Geneva, Ontario County
Edgar Brown, 60, Naples, Ontario County
Kirsten Pierce, 44, Burdett, Schuyler County
Crow Marley, 55, Hector, Schuyler County
Ann Sierigk, 57, Hector, Schuyler County
Chris Tate, 52, Burdett, Schuyler County
Heather Hallagan 41, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County
Elisa Evett, 69, Brooktondale, Tompkins County
Nancy Miller, 68, Dryden, Tompkins County
Judy Pierpont, 70, Dryden, Tompkins County
Alicia Alexander, 62, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Marie De Mott Grady, 29, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Josh Dolan, 37, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Leah Grady Sayvetz, 25, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Andrew Lem, 19, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Martha Stettinius, 50, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Dan Rapaport, 54, Newfield, Tompkins County
Judy Abrams, 66, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Mimi Gridley, 59 Glenora, Yates County
Read more about the arrested protesters at http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.
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.
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/.
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