FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | February 4, 2015
Contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607-351-0719
Ten Arrested This Morning in a Fathers and Grandfathers Blockade At Crestwood Gates
Men are residents of 6 different counties; 83-year-old father of two, in wheelchair, among those arrested; two local fathers blockading in memory of their deceased sons
Total arrests in sustained We Are Seneca Lake civil disobedience movement against gas storage is 210 as campaign enters 4th month
Watkins Glen, NY – Nine men and one woman from six different Finger Lakes-area counties blockaded the main entrance at Crestwood Midstream this morning as part of an ongoing civil disobedience campaign against gas storage called We Are Seneca Lake. After 45 minutes, they were arrested by Schuyler County deputies.
Two of the fathers, John Dennis, 64, of Lansing and Daryl Anderson, 61 of Hector—both teachers—said their actions as civil disobedients were in memory of the deaths of their respective sons two years ago.
Anderson and Dennis, who met each other in a local bereavement group, commuted together to the protest.
Anderson said, “In the past two years, I had a child of mine die and a granddaughter born. I think in those two years. I’ve learned something about what’s important in life. The first even makes you wonder if you can go on. The second event, the granddaughter, makes you know you have to go on and think about the future. Since the 1980s, I’ve watched the fossil fuel industry wrap its tentacles around our culture and take away our choices. My nine-month-old granddaughter deserves a fossil-fuel free future.”
Anderson’s son, Collin Anderson worked as a substitute teacher in the Trumansburg middle school along side his father, who is a math teacher there. Collin died February 7, 2013 of injuries sustained in a traffic accident. He was 26.
Dennis’s son, Christopher Dennis, drowned in Cayuga Lake on May 22, 2013 days before graduating from Cornell University. He was 22. Dennis said, “Chris was an avid environmentalist. He would have been here today. So I am here for him. Crestwood Midstream should go back to Texas. Storing gas in interbedded salt caverns is leaky by definition.”
During the blockade, protesters held banners saying, “DADS AND GRANDDADS AGAINST CRESTWOOD,” “FATHERS KNOW BEST: CRESTWOOD, GO HOME,” and “DADS SAY HELL NO.” Some also carried signs that included photos of their children or grandchildren. During the blockade 15 others, both men and women, rallied alongside the roadway along Route 14. Among those rallying was John Wertis, of Trumansburg, who wrote a recent blog that was the inspiration for the action.
The line of fathers and grandfathers included one man in a wheelchair, Jim Connor, 83 of Mecklenburg and his wife, Sharon Kahkonen, 65, of Mecklenburg. The protesters began blockading at 9:45 a.m. and blocked the main entrance to Crestwood in below-freezing temperatures, preventing one truck from from entering the facility and two trucks from leaving. Supporters shoveled snow along the side of the road to ensure safety. At 10:30 a.m., all ten were arrested by Schuyler County deputies and transported to the sheriff’s office where they were charged with trespassing and released.
The total number of arrests in the ongoing protest now stands at 210.
Edgar Brown, 60, of Naples in Ontario County, said, “I have two young sons. They are water boys who would never miss a chance for total submersion. I want them to grow up to understand, love, and protect the Finger Lakes and so I want to model that. There is no pocketbook deep enough to challenge and prevail against this kind of fierce, collective commitment.”
Jim Connor, 83, Mecklenburg, said, “I am here to help protect the air, water and land from the idea to store gas in the caverns where it is very very dangerous. I am here to protect the lake for myself, the people here, and for my children—two boys.”
The fathers and grandfathers’ action today is the latest in the series of themed actions and comes on the heels of a farmers and chefs’ blockade on Jan. 28, a MLK Day blockade on Jan. 19, and a mothers and grandmothers’ blockade on Jan. 16.
On Saturday, Jan. 31, more than 300 rallied and marched in Geneva in opposition to gas storage in the salt caverns on Seneca Lake in a day of protest called We Are Seneca Lake, Too.
Those arrested today were:
Daryl Anderson, 61, Hector, Schuyler County
Edgar Brown, 60, Naples, Ontario County
Jim Connor, 83, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County
Doug Couchon, 64, Elmira, Chemung County
John Dennis, 64, Lansing, Tompkins County
Marty Dodge, 72, Canandaigua, Ontario County
Peter Drobney, Corning, Steuben County
Sharon Kahkonen, 65, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County
Peter Tringali, 62, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Dwain Wilder, 75, Rochester, Monroe County
Read more about the arrested protesters at http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.
Read more about the persistent bias of the Reading Town Court: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/12/26/a-report-from-the-frontlines-in-the-war-against-fracking/#.VJ7OU5npvxE.facebook
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.
Background on the protests:
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 on February 12.
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/.