May 262016


Media contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607.351.0719;



press release:

Families Arrested at Seneca Lake Protesting FERC Extension for Crestwood/Con Ed Gas Storage 

21 arrestees include spouses, siblings, parent-child teams


Watkins Glen, NY – “We Will Not be FERC’ed!” was the rallying cry this morning as 21 New York residents from seven counties engaged in an act of civil disobedience in response to a decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to extend Crestwood Midstream’s permit to expand gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns.

Forming a human blockade at the main entrance of Crestwood along Route 14 in the Town of Reading, the group included several family teams. Among them were Robert and Katie Eklund (father and daughter) from New Lisbon; Clare, Teresa, and Ellen Grady (sisters) from Ithaca; Margaret and Hervie Harris (spouses) from Elmira; Lisa and Grace Marshall (mother and daughter) from Horseheads; and Elan and Gabriel Shapiro (father and son) from Ithaca.

Starting at 6:45 a.m. and continuing until their arrests by Schuyler County deputies shortly before 7:30 a.m., protesters blocked all traffic from leaving and entering the facility, including two tanker trucks. Watkins Glen police assisted in the arrests. All 21 were transported to the Schuyler County sheriff’s department, charged with disorderly conduct, ticketed, and released.

Lisa Marshall, 48, of Horseheads in Chemung County, arrested with her daughter, delivered a message to Governor Cuomo while blockading. “Governor Cuomo, New York’s families are full of resolve, but we can’t do it alone. Help us stand up to the bullies here at Seneca Lake, Crestwood and Con Ed. And help us take a stand against FERC … that shows such disregard for New York’s water, safety, health, climate, and for your own good plans to make our state a leader in renewable energy.”  [Full text of statement below.]

The group held banners that read, “New York Families Against Crestwood/Con Ed” and “99.1% Said No / Shame on FERC!”

99.1 represents the percentage of public comments received by FERC that expressed opposition to gas storage expansion: 332 out of 335 comments received during the public comment period were against the expansion. In spite of this overwhelming citizen opposition, FERC’s last-minute permit extension, giving Crestwood’s Arlington subsidiary another two years to build out its natural gas storage facility, was granted on May 16.

Salt cavern storage accounts for only seven percent of total underground storage of natural gas in the United States but, since 1972, is responsible for 100 percent of the catastrophic accidents that has resulted in loss of life.

The total number of arrests in the nineteen-month-old civil disobedience campaign now stands at 585.

Bob Eklund, 63, of New Lisbon in Otsego County, who was arrested with his daughter, said, “While I applaud Governor Cuomo for the wisdom he displayed in banning fracking in our state, I would ask that he show the same wisdom in doing everything in his power to halt further infrastructure build-out here in New York. We must build infrastructure for renewable energy, not for fossil fuels. We can do it. We must do it.”

Ellen Grady, 53, of Ithaca in Tompkins County, who was arrested with her two sisters, said, “The decision on the part of FERC to give Crestwood more time to complete its expansion project is totally irresponsible. This is the time when our government should be encouraging renewable energy, not helping gas companies expand their very life-threatening work.”

Gabriel Shapiro, 19, of Ithaca in Tompkins County, who was arrested with his father, said, “FERC represents one component of the powerful partnership between energy and politics, a system based on exploitation and protected by deceit. This moment requires us to make clear the crimes being committed by our government.”

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was originally 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.

This morning’s action follows immediately on the heels of other actions directed at FERC-enabled gas infrastructure projects in New York State. Yesterday, FERC opponents in Peekskill, New York locked themselves into a shipping container at a construction site for Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline that would run within 400 feet of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. On Saturday, 21 civil disobedients were arrested after forming a human blockade at the Peekskill site. On May 21, NY Senators Schumer and Gillibrand  joining an earlier call by Governor Cuomo, urged FERC to halt construction of the AIM pipeline, citing safety concerns and the need for more study.

The 21 arrested at Seneca Lake today were:

Marguerite (Peggy) Abbott, 65, Phelps, Ontario County

Heather Mackenzie Cook, 54, Dundee, Yates County

Colleen A. Coss, 61, West Henrietta, Monroe County

Timothy Dunlap, 61, Hector, Schuyler County

Katie Marie Eklund, 18, New Lisbon, Otsego County

Robert Eklund, 63, New Lisbon, Otsego County

Clare T. Grady, 57, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Ellen Grady, 53, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Teresa Grady, 51, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Hervie Harris, 70, Elmira, Chemung County

Margaret R. Harris, 65, Elmira, Chemung County

Nathan Lewis, 33, Hector, Schuyler County

Grace Evelyn Marshall, 18, Horseheads, Chemung County

Lisa Marshall, 48, Horseheads, Chemung County

Sandra Marshall, 67, Newfield, Tompkins County

Kelly Morris, 57, Danby, Tompkins County

Jeanne Olivett, 69, Jacksonville, Tompkins County

Barbara Perrone, 42, Caroline, Tompkins County

Todd Saddler, 51, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Elan Shapiro, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Gabriel Shapiro, 19, Ithaca, Tompkins County


Full text of Lisa Marshall’s statement:

Hi, everyone. My name is Lisa Marshall. I’m 48 years old, and I live in Horseheads, New York.

Horseheads is the place where the Millennium Pipeline connects with the Dominion Pipeline. And those very pipelines are both connected to the abandoned salt caverns right under our feet here on the banks of Seneca Lake where Crestwood, along with its new partner Con Ed, seeks to store massive amounts of fracked gas.

Now the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, has just approved a two-year extension for this reckless project. This decision, along with the nearly one billion dollars that Con Ed just dumped into Crestwood’s pockets, is why we are here today.

The families of the Finger Lakes are threatened by gas storage in salt caverns, while the families of the Southern Tier and elsewhere are threatened by the pipelines that will be fed by these salt caverns.

Hence, I am risking arrest today with my 18-year-old daughter, Grace, who just voted in her first election.

I have three beautiful children who have a bright future ahead of them but for the threat of climate change. We are an all-American family. My husband Geoff served in the Navy for 21 years, and we’ve done everything within our power to protect and nurture our kids.

Here’s our story. Six years ago, shortly after we moved here from Pensacola, Florida, I awoke to the news that the Deepwater Horizon oil rig had exploded, killing 11 men and sending untold gallons of crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill went on and on and on for 87 days; no one knew how to stop it.

This catastrophe hit close to home for us. Big balls of tar and dead fish washed up on the pristine white sand beaches where my children had played.

My son Charlie, who was eight years old, began building contraptions out of Legos to try to stop the oil spill. Seeing this disaster through the eyes of my own sweet child struck me to the core. It hit me that the fossil fuel juggernaut was on a course to destroy human life. I knew that I could not keep my children healthy and safe as long as the fossil fuel industry was hell bent on their destruction.

So here I am. I am proud to stand in the way of Crestwood’s dangerous gas storage project along with other parents and their young adult children, along with husbands, wives, and sisters and brothers. Standing here blocking trucks, I feel that I am doing my mother’s job.

And I bring three messages with me. The first one is to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

FERC, shame on you!  Your permission slip to Crestwood is outrageous. This two-year extension sanctions a project that threatens drinking water, imperils the climate, keeps New York dependent on fracked gas, and flies in the face of public opinion.

Indeed, 99.1 percent of the hundreds of comments that FERC received from ordinary families like us were OPPOSED to the extension and to gas storage itself. Nobody wants Seneca Lake turned into a gas station.

FERC, you know that, and we know that.

The second message is to mothers and fathers. Though my own children are all teenagers now—Grace here is 18 and headed to college in the fall—it is still my job to do what I can to keep them healthy and safe. I’ve realized the only way I can do this is to fight climate change, fight fossil fuel build-out, and fight for immediate, large-scale investment in renewable energy.

Mothers and fathers, I implore you. Will you stand up and fight with me? Will you join me in fighting for a livable planet for our kids?

My final message is to our governor. Governor Cuomo, New York’s families are full of resolve, but we can’t do it alone. Help us stand up to the bullies here at Seneca Lake, Crestwood and Con Ed. And help us take a stand against FERC, the federal agency in Washington that shows such disregard for New York’s water, safety, health, climate, and for your own good plans to make our state a leader in renewable energy.

Join us in saving Seneca Lake, Governor Cuomo. Tell FERC they’re not the boss of you.

This is the defining issue of our time. This is the issue that will test our mettle and show us who were truly are as a people. Will we allow ourselves to be extinguished for the short-term profit of the oil and gas profiteers?

Or will we say to them, as we say to our children when they are unruly, “Stop it right now! Mom has had enough!”


More about the protesters:

Bill McKibben’s March 2016 arrest with We Are Seneca Lake:

NYT story on widespread objections to Crestwood’s gas storage plans:

Gannett’s investigative report about the risks and dangers of LPG gas storage:

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 Posted by at 11:34 am