Dec 222014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | December 22, 2014

Contact: Sandra Steingraber, 607-351-0719

Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and 7 Elves Arrested Today Blocking Crestwood Gas Storage Facility, Marking 170 Arrests in Two-Month-Old Civil Disobedience Campaign 

Arrests Follow on the Heels of 28 Arrests Last Wednesday, Led by Many Prominent Local Musicians

Watkins Glen, NY – Carrying banners that declared “Christmas Against Crestwood” and “Methane in Your Stocking is Worse Than Coal,” nine area residents dressed as Santa Claus and his North Pole ensemble were arrested this morning and charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct at Texas-based Crestwood Midstream’s gas storage facility gates on the shore of Seneca Lake as the ‘We Are Seneca Lake’ civil disobedience campaign enters week 9 of blockades to stop construction at the gas storage facility.

Santa Claus was the only one of the nine to be handcuffed and searched before taken into custody.

Mr. Claus (Stefan Senders of Schuyler County) was quick to assuage concerns that his arrest would delay his upcoming world tour, saying, “Don’t worry, boys and girls, I’ll be out of jail in time to deliver your presents.”

Chief elf Stephanie Redmond, who was not arrested on Monday, addressed concerns about outsiders participating in the ongoing protests, saying, “Some refer to us North Pole residents as ‘outsiders.’ But after Christmas is over, we elves vacation here at Seneca Lake. We like the wineries, and we come every year as tourists.”

Today’s arrests follow 28 arrests last Wednesday in a blockade lead by prominent local musicians. Members of the Irish folk band, The Grady Girls, along with acclaimed banjoist Richie Stearns and fiddler Rosie Newton, were among those arrested last Wednesday, along with assorted jazz, classical, and roots musicians. While blockading a large truck, the musicians sang, danced, played instruments, and held banners that read “This Land is Our Land” and “Gas/Water: Which Side Are You On?”

Referring to legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, singer and banjo musician Richie Stearns, 56, said, “When I was deciding whether to get arrested or not, I saw a sticker on my own car that said, ‘What Would Pete Do?’”

Singer Marie De Mott Grady, 29, of The Grady Girls, said, “Everyone has a duty to stand up and say something. Music inspires people, and people might pay attention if they know a musician is taking action.”

All total, 170 arrests have now occurred at the gates of Crestwood since the campaign began on October 23. There have also been multiple rallies with hundreds of people and numerous winery owners, local businesses and health professionals.

The 9 Finger Lakes residents arrested today are: 

Stefan Senders, 55 (as Santa Claus), Schuyler County

Charlotte Senders, 18, Schuyler County

Kim Cunningham, 58, Heron Hill Winery, Naples, Ontario County

Ilona Marmer, 68, Montour Falls, Schuyler County

Jean Olivett, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Hope Rainbow, 24, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Gabriel Shapiro, 18, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Bill Carini, 53, Newfield, Tompkins County

Chrys Gardener, 53, Newfield, Tompkins County

The 28 arrested on Wednesday, Dec. 17 are:

Richie Stearns, 56, Trumansburg, Tompkins County

Rosie Newton, 25, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Asa Redmond, 40, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Stephanie Redmond, 38, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Barbara Pease, 68, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Charles Greenrider, Chandler, 58, Fort Bragg, CA

Coby Schultz, Springwater, Livingston County, 54

Tom Seaney, 65, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Jodi Dean, 52, Geneva, Ontario County

Edgar Brown, 60, Naples, Ontario County

Kirsten Pierce, 44, Burdett, Schuyler County

Crow Marley, 55, Hector, Schuyler County

Ann Sierigk, 57, Hector, Schuyler County

Chris Tate, 52, Burdett, Schuyler County

Heather Hallagan 41, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County

Elisa Evett, 69, Brooktondale, Tompkins County

Nancy Miller, 68, Dryden, Tompkins County

Judy Pierpont, 70, Dryden, Tompkins County

Alicia Alexander, 62, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Marie De Mott Grady, 29, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Josh Dolan, 37, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Leah Grady Sayvetz, 25, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Andrew Lem, 19, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Martha Stettinius, 50, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Dan Rapaport, 54, Newfield, Tompkins County

Judy Abrams, 66, Trumansburg, Tompkins County

Mimi Gridley, 59 Glenora, Yates County

Read more about the arrested protesters at



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

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


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 Posted by at 11:19 pm