U.S. Vets Lead Civil Disobedience Action at Crestwood to Protest Seneca Lake Gas Storage

January 27, 2016

Green Leader, Former NY Gubernatorial Candidate Howie Hawkins Among 13 Arrested in Human Blockade

Eleven veterans representing all branches of the U.S. armed forces, were among 13 arrested on Tuesday morning in a human blockade at Crestwood Midstream on Route 14 as part of We Are Seneca Lake’s ongoing civil disobedience campaign against gas storage in underground lakeside salt caverns. The protesters blocked all traffic entering and leaving the facility.
Among them was former NY gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins (Green Party), a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Hawkins said, “The massive gas leak in Porter Ranch, California shows the inherent dangers of underground gas storage. The shores of Seneca Lake—New York’s own Napa Valley—are the wrong place for a massive gas storage hub. The salt caverns are too geologically unstable. One accident would turn visitors away and ruin the economy.”
The We Are Seneca Lake movement opposes Crestwood’s plans for methane and LPG storage in lakeside salt caverns and has been ongoing since October 2014.
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.

The 13 arrested today were:

Bold=VFP members

  • Elliott Adams, 69, Sharon Springs, Schoharie County (veteran, U.S. Army)
  • Colleen Boland, 59, Elmira, Chemung County (veteran, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army)
  • Colleen Condon Coss, 60, West Henrietta, Monroe County 
  • Doug Couchon, 65, Elmira, Chemung County (veteran, U.S. Army National Guard)
  • Martin C. Dodge, 73, Canandaigua, Ontario County (veteran, U.S. Coast Guard)
  • Hervie Harris, 70, Elmira, Chemung County (veteran, U.S. Navy)
  • Howie Hawkins, 63, Syracuse, Onondaga County (veteran, U.S. Marine Corps)
  • Nathan Lewis, 33, Hector, Schuyler County (veteran, U.S. Army)
  • Peter Looker, 65, Glenville, Schenectady County
  • Jenifer Paquette, 63, Corning, Steuben County (veteran, U.S. Navy)
  • Wendell F. Perks, Jr., 67, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County (veteran, U.S. Army)
  • Richard Rogers, 67, Spencer, Tioga County (veteran, U.S. Army)
  • Dwain Wilder, 76, Brighton, Monroe County (veteran, U.S. Navy)
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/.
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media contact: Sandra Steingraber  607.351.0719
photos:   http://www.wearesenecalake.com/veterans-pic/
video:   http://www.wearesenecalake.com/veterans-vid
press release: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/veterans/