FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—August 26, 2015
Media Contact: Sandra Steingraber | 607.351.0719
College Students and Great Grandmother Stand Up for Future Generations at Seneca Lake
13 Finger Lakes Residents, Including Students from 5 Colleges, Arrested in Civil Disobedience Blockade at Crestwood
Watkins Glen, NY – Led by college students and inspired by the Haudenosaunee directive to consider how our decisions will affect the next seven generations, 13 people, including a great grandmother from Yates County, blockaded the north entrance of Crestwood Midstream on Route 13 just after dawn this morning. They blocked two tanker trucks attempting to enter the facility.
The protesters held banners that said, “We Must Safeguard the Planet for Those Who Follow.”
Among the blockaders were two family pairs. Tamar Law, 20, a student at Cornell University, blockaded together with her sister Hannah Law,18, who attends Hampshire College. Liz Brown, 53 of Mecklenberg in Schuyler County stood with her son, Owen Senders, 23, a student at Harvard University.
Also joining the human chain was retired art teacher Donn Carroll, 65, from Ithaca, formerly employed at the Boynton Middle School.
Schuyler County deputies arrested the 13 at about 7:30 a.m. All were taken into custody, charged variously with trespassing and disorderly conduct, and released.
Today’s arrests bring the total number of arrests to 372 in the ten-month-old civil disobedience campaign.
None of the protesters this morning had been previously arrested as part of the We Are Seneca Lake movement, which opposes Crestwood’s plans for gas storage in lakeside salt caverns and which has been ongoing since October 2014.
Owen Senders, 23, of Mecklenburg in Schuyler County and a student at Harvard University, said, “Crestwood threatens us, Crestwood threatens those we love, and Crestwood threatens the lives of the kids we dream of one day raising in this region. Crestwood’s plan for massive gas storage comes in direct conflict with the vision of a better planet that we are fighting for. We are writing a different story for our species and our world, and this is the first chapter.”
Sheila Brown, 20, of Ithaca in Tompkins County and a student at Hampshire College, said, “Young people are taking a stand to protect the Finger Lakes Region. We millennials are facing a future of global uncertainty and chaos. We value clean water, air, land, and a thriving economy that works for all who reside here.”
Janie Meaney, 77, of Starkey in Yates County, a grandmother of ten and a great grandmother of three, said, “The dangers of gas storage in the leaky, old salt caverns in Watkins Glen are shrugged off by Crestwood. Children who live in Schuyler County are the basis for my decision to risk arrest to protest the debacle of endangering children and the ruin of Seneca Lake that provides drinking water for their families and neighbors. My children and grandchildren safely attended Watkins Glen schools, played and swam in Seneca Lake as did my grandchildren and as do my great grandchildren.”
Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last October 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.
Those arrested today were:
Zachary Birnbaum, 23, Geneva, Ontario County (student, Hobart and William Smith Colleges)
Elizabeth Brown, 53, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County
Sheila Brown, 20, Ithaca, Tompkins County (student, Hampshire College)
Donn Carroll, 64, Ithaca, Tompkins County (retired teacher, Boyton Middle School)
Georgia Decker, 22, New York City, New York County (alumna, Hobart and William Smith Colleges)
Aidan Hodges, 20, Ithaca, Tompkins County (student, Tompkins County Community College Farm-to-Table Program)
Tamar Law, 20, Ithaca, Tompkins County, (student, Cornell University)
Hannah Law, 18, Ithaca, Tompkins County (student, Hampshire College)
Janie Meaney, 78, Starkey, Yates County
Owen Senders, 23, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County (student, Harvard University)
Sam Schmidt, 20, Interlaken, Seneca County (student, Tompkins County Community College)
Rachel Shapiro, 57, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Ray Vanek-Johnson, 18, Ithaca, Tompkins County (student, Tompkins County Community College)
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 October 23rd, 2014. On 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 Department of Environmental Conservation Issues Conference held on February 12th, 2015.
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, and 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/.
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