Jan 092015

Ten Arrested in New Year’s-themed Blockade at Crestwood Midstream

Total Arrests in Ongoing Civil Disobedience Campaign is 180 as We Are Seneca Lake Enters Third Month of Actions


Watkins Glen, NY – Snow was beginning to fall and wind chill drove temperatures into single digits in when 43 protesters with We Are Seneca Lake rallied at the gates of Crestwood Midstream at 11 AM this morning.

After a round of New Year’s toasts with sparkling apple cider, ten protesters, wearing party hats and blowing noise makers, formed a human blockade on the driveway of the main gate and held banners that read “Happy New Year!  Resolved: Stop Crestwood” and “Out With the Old: Gas is So 2014.”

Protesters blocked and turned away one truck at 12:15 PM. Deputies arrived at 12:45, arrested all ten and charged them with trespassing. Blockaders were processed and released at the Schuyler County Sheriff’s Department.  All ten were ordered to appear in the Reading Town Court on January 21. Nine of the ten arrestees are residents of Tompkins County, including biologist Dan Flerlage, 63, who teaches science at the Lehman Alternative School.

Flerlage, who lives in the Town of Enfield in Tompkins County, said, “Corporations have a job to do, and that is to make money, and the government has a job to do, which is to keep their money-making efforts sane … When government fails to do its jobs, it becomes our job.”


Maryl Mendillo of Aurora in Cayuga County, said,

“When the community follows all the avenues available to address a danger and are ignored by corruption and money the appropriate response we are left with is putting our bodies in the way.”


Ellen Harrison, 66 of Caroline in Tompkins County, said

“I’m here because I object to the whole fossil fuel industry at this time. From climate change issues to the impact it has on people’s lives where they’re extracting fossil fuels, it’s a nightmare. It’s time to put a stop to it.”


Jessica Evett-Miller, 36, of Brooktondale in Tompkins County, said, “I’m here for my daughter and for the next generation …. I can’t stand idly by while Seneca Lake and the community around it becomes a sacrifice zone in a completely ill-conceived attempt at extracting more fossil fuels out of our earth and burning them. So this storage facility seems to me to be just a part of a bigger picture that really we need to rise up and try to stop.”


Bringing the total arrests in the ongoing We Are Seneca Lake civil disobedience campaign to 180, the ten arrests this morning come at a time of mounting questions about the ability of the Reading Court to offer impartial hearings to the civil disobedients and signs that the court is overwhelmed by the growing number of cases.

During the Wednesday night arraignments of 24 We Are Seneca Lake blockaders arrested in earlier actions, Town Justice Raymond Berry opened the proceedings by announcing that some defendants would be transferred to other courts.  Hearings are scheduled into July.

Several defendants, when called to the bench Wednesday night, prefaced their own statements with requests that Justice Berry recuse himself on the grounds of apparent improprieties, including reports of private conversations between the judge and the district attorney on Dec. 17, and that he is not a law-trained judge.

Others objected to the closed-courthouse policy that barred members of the public, who were waiting for a seat to open up inside the packed courtroom, from gathering in the public meeting hall inside the courthouse and forced them outside in bitterly cold temperatures.


Tompkins County legislator and 2014 Congressional candidate Martha Robertson served as a court observer and registered her own objections, at an accompanying press conference, at the closed courtroom policy. Robertson called on the Town of Reading to open their Town Hall to the public.

Those arrested today are:

Ellen Harrison, 66, Caroline, Tompkins County

Jens Wennberg, 79, Dryden, Tompkins County

Jessica Evett-Miller, 36, Brooktondale, Tompkins County

Kevin McKinzey, 40, Trumansburg, Tompkins County

Sabrina Johnston, 48, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Dan Flerlage, 63, Enfield, Tompkins County

Kelly Morris, 55, Danby, Tompkins, County

Mariana Morse, 66, Caroline, Tompkins County

Maryl Mendillo, will not provide age, Aurora, Cayuga County

Alicia Alexander, 62, Ithaca, Tompkins 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.


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/

 Posted by at 6:59 pm