FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – May 5, 2016
Media contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607.351.0719; email@example.com
press release: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/we-will-not-be-conned/
15 Arrested Protesting Con Ed’s Joint Venture with Crestwood at Seneca Lake During Week of Global Action Against Fossil Fuels
We Are Seneca Lake warns downstate Con Ed ratepayers of bad deal; calls on Con Ed to ‘break free’ of gas infrastructure build-out; SUNY Geneseo senior arrested wearing graduation cap; two Cornell U students join blockade
Watkins Glen, NY – In an act of civil disobedience aimed at the recently announced gas storage partnership between downstate energy giant Consolidated Edison and Houston-based Crestwood Midstream, 15 residents from across the Finger Lakes, the Southern Tier, Albany, and Long Island formed a human chain across the main entrance of Crestwood.
Starting at 7 a.m. and continuing until their arrests by Schuyler County deputies for disorderly conduct shortly after 8 a.m., protesters blocked tanker trucks from leaving and entering the facility.
The group held banners that read, “Crestwood + Con Ed = Bad Deal for NYS” and “We Will Not Be Con’Ed.”
Three of the 15, who ranged in age from 19 to 73, were Schuyler County residents. Another three were college students.
With her commencement ceremony days away, SUNY Geneseo honors student, Julia Mizutani, 22, was arrested wearing her graduation cap.
Cornell students Elizabeth Chi, 19, and Gabrielle Illava, 27, were also arrested with the group.
This morning’s protest was a direct response to the April 21 announcement by utility giant Consolidated Edison that it had formed a joint venture with Crestwood Equity Partners to own three pipelines and four gas storage facilities, including the controversial Seneca Lake storage facility where Houston-based Crestwood has been pursuing a massive expansion project. Con Ed will invest $975 million to own a 50 percent stake in the newly named entity, dubbed Stagecoach Gas Services.
The protest was timed to correspond with a two-week wave of civil disobedience actions against fossil fuel projects that is taking place all around the world under the banner Break Free 2016.
Among those arrested this morning was the co-founder and executive editor of Fresh Dirt magazine, Rebecca Barry, 48, of Trumansburg in Tompkins County. As part of a statement of solidarity with residents of New York City, where she lived for ten years, Barry said, “Everyone who lives downstate is a Con Ed ratepayer, and, with this 50 percent purchase in Crestwood’s gas storage facility at Seneca Lake, they are all now participating in a threat to an important source of drinking water here in the Finger Lakes.”
“Water matters. I can’t believe I have to fight for this idea,” Barry continued. “Con Ed, the whole world is going renewable, which we have to do. Help New Yorkers lead the way. Let wine, food, and culture connect the Finger Lakes to Manhattan, not pipelines and salt caverns full of fracked gas.”
Fresh Dirt is a profile-driven, green living magazine that celebrates sustainability in the Finger Lakes region.
The protesters this morning were all charged with disorderly conduct and transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department, where they were ticketed and released.
The total number of arrests in the eighteen-month-old civil disobedience campaign now stands at 564.
Laura Salamendra, 32, Geneva, Ontario County, said, “I’m here today to introduce myself to Con Edison. I’m a daughter, a sister, and an aunt who will fiercely protect her family from the threats associated with Crestwood’s dangerous gas storage plan. The people of the Finger Lakes oppose this project and if Con Edison plans to align with Crestwood, they should plan on seeing a lot of me and my fellow defenders.”
- Timothy Walcott, 64, of Johnson City in Broome County, said, “I stand in solidarity for the protection of Seneca Lake and its environs. Con Ed may be leading white horses for Crestwood, aka Stagecoach Gas Services, but they are wearing black hats.”
Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October 2014 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.
Crestwood also seeks to store two other products of fracking in Seneca Lake salt caverns—propane and butane (so-called Liquefied Petroleum Gases, LPG)—for which it is awaiting a decision by Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
The 15 arrested today were:
Rebecca Barry, 48, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Marie Ely Baumgardner, 68, Burdett, Schuyler County
Elizabeth Chi, 19, Great Neck, Nassau County
Timothy Dunlap, 61, Hector, Schuyler County
Wesley Ernsberger, 68, Owego, Tioga County
Jim Gregoire, 47, Geneva, Ontario County
Gretchen Herrmann, 67, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Gabrielle Illava, 27, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Gale Lyons, 73, Elmira, Chemung County
Julia Mizutani, 22, Geneseo, Livingston County
Jeanne Olivett, 69, Jacksonville, Tompkins County
Lory Peck, 65, Cayutaville, Schuyler County
Laura Salamendra, 32, Geneva, Ontario County
Regi L. Teasley, 64, Ithaca, Tompkins County
- Timothy Wolcott, 64, Johnson City, Broome County
Full text of Rebecca Barry’s statement:
My name is Rebecca Barry. I am a 48-year-old mother of two boys, ages 12 and 10, and I am also the co-founder and executive editor of a magazine called Fresh Dirt, which celebrates sustainable living here in the Finger Lakes.
Although I’m a native of this place, like a lot of writers, I got my professional start in New York City, where I lived for ten years.
And as an upstate resident with downstate roots who loves both places, I would like to talk to Consolidated Edison.
Con Ed recently joined together with the Texas gas company called Crestwood to jointly own the abandoned salt caverns here at Seneca Lake—right under our feet where we are standing.
Their plan, for which Con Ed laid down nearly a billion dollars, is to store massive amounts of fracked gas here in an underground facility like the one that catastrophically failed this past fall in California and caused 5,000 people to be evacuated from their homes.
It’s a plan that involves not just Seneca Lake but three other gas storage facilities in both upstate New York and Pennsylvania, along with three pipelines, and it will keep downstate New Yorkers hooked on dirty fossil fuels for years to come.
In a time of climate emergency, this is no way to link downstate with upstate.
Everyone who lives downstate is a Con Ed ratepayer, and, with this 50 percent purchase in Crestwood’s gas storage facility at Seneca Lake, they are all now participating in a threat to an important source of drinking water here in the Finger Lakes.
Water matters. I can’t believe I have to fight for this idea.
Con Ed, the whole world is going renewable, which we have to do. Help New Yorkers lead the way. Let wine, food, and culture connect the Finger Lakes to Manhattan, not pipelines and salt caverns full of fracked gas that threaten vast bodies of water and wineries that win awards all over the world.
Creativity and progressive ideas connect upstate to downstate, including ideas that help move us into a sustainable future. I know because I profile these ideas in my magazine, and I’ve seen over and over that an economy based on renewable energy is a lived reality here.
The symbiosis between the Finger Lakes and New York City is all about wine, bread, and models for sustainable living.
And it all depends on water.
As a mother, as a writer, as an editor, as a former Manhattanite and as a current resident of the Finger Lakes, I’m risking arrest today to protect our upstate water from dangerous fracked gas infrastructure before it locks downstate communities into evermore fossil fuel dependency.
To New Yorkers in the city: join us. Tell Con Ed you want investments in renewable energy not potentially catastrophic fossil fuel projects that endanger drinking water here at Seneca Lake.
More about the protesters: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/seneca-lake-defendes/.
Bill McKibben’s March 2016 arrest with We Are Seneca Lake: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/20/science/earth/environmental-activists-take-to-local-protests-for-global-results.html?_r=0
NYT story on 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.
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/.
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