91-year Old Scientist and Great-Grandmother Blockade with Six Others in Valentine’s Day-themed Action While 20 Others Rally Against Gas Storage at Seneca Lake
Watkins Glen, NY – In an act of civil disobedience, seven Finger Lakes residents formed a human chain across the north and south entrances of Crestwood Midstream, blocking all traffic from leaving and entering the facility this morning. Twenty other opponents of gas storage in the Seneca Lake salt caverns rallied along the side of the highway, reading poetry, singing love songs, and sharing chocolates and roses in a Valentine’s Day-styled protest.
Among those braving frigid temperatures to risk arrest was 91-year-old Martha Ferger of Dryden in Tompkins County.
Ferger, who received her Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1949 from Cornell University, noted that she will become a great-grandmother in a few weeks time. “I am expecting my first great grandchild to be born later this month, and I am doing all I can to prevent the climate change that would make that child’s world hazardous to live in before the end of his or her life.”
Ferger was arrested in a similar anti-gas storage demonstration at Seneca Lake in November 2014.
All the protesters were part of We Are Seneca Lake’s ongoing civil disobedience campaign against proposed gas storage in underground lakeside salt caverns.
The seven civil disobedients held banners that read, “We Love Seneca Lake” and “Lovers Against Crestwood.”
The group disbanded before noon, and no arrests were made.
The total number of arrests in the sixteen-month-old civil disobedience campaign now stands at 480.
The love poems read to the lake included verses from the 19th century ode, “To Seneca Lake” by poet and geologist James Gates Percival.
In a public statement, Margie Rodgers of Elmira described how the protesters were animated by their love of the lake and by the example of St. Valentine: “We feel duty-bound, as any lover does, to protect our beloved Valentine from harm. In this, we believe we are acting in the spirit of the original St. Valentine, who, according to legend, was killed while protesting the mistreatment of Christian prisoners in Roman jails.”
The 7 risking arrest today were:
Holly Adams, 56, Hunt, Livingston County
Richard Battaglia, 53, Richford, Tioga County
Jim Crevelling, 70, Keuka Park, Yates County
Martha Ferger, 91, Dryden, Tompkins County
Wayne Gottleib, 57, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Sandra Marshall, 67, Newfield, Tompkins County
Barbara Perrone, 40, Caroline, Tompkins County
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 29th, 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 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, 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/.