Wednesday, October 29, 2014, 10 area residents were arrested at the gate to Houston, TX based oil and gas corporation Crestwood Midstream for blockading the access gates to their proposed LPG and methane storage facilities. Included in their number, the protestors included Dr. Sandra Steingraber, author and biologist, 86 year old Roland Micklem, Master Sergeant Colleen Bolland-US Air Force (retired), 76 year old mother and grandmother Jeanne Judson and her son Patrick and 6 others.
These ordinary citizens are taking the extraordinary step of putting their bodies on the line to protect Seneca Lake and the Finger Lakes from this out-of-state corporation whose only goal is to develop gas storage as quickly and cheaply as possible, and who are receiving a blank check from the agencies responsible for overseeing these projects. The rubber stamp of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has already approved the expansion of fracked methane storage against the wishes of those of us who call this place home.
Ironically, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State DEC announced an Issues Conference at almost the exact time that those 10 people were getting hauled away.
Why do regular citizens take these extreme steps? When they feel that they are being ignored after years of trying to work within the system by runaway agencies like FERC, when DEC continues the permitting process after independent experts have pointed out the flaws in this misguided project, when our elected officials ignore our pleas, then out of a sense of frustration and helplessness they feel this is their last resort.
A contingent of local business owners, scientists, doctors and others went to our nation’s capital, Washingon, DC, a week ago and met with staff for US Senators Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Tom Reed. We presented compelling arguments that these projects should be denied and we pleaded with them to intercede on behalf of their constituents with FERC. Our pleas have been falling on deaf ears for nearly 3 years now. Even though Congressman Reed has publicly stated that the Finger Lakes Region is too valuable a resource to allow hydro-fracking within its watershed, he has been silent on the gas storage project that carries the very same dangers with it. It’s time that our elected representatives in Washington stand up for the residents of the Finger Lakes Region and tell Crestwood that this is not a place for massive industrial gas storage.
Over 240 local and regional businesses and thousands of local residents have joined a coalition opposing Crestwood’s plans to industrialize our region putting the vibrant and growing winery and agri-tourism based economy we have here at risk. An independent study found that the risk of a serious or extremely serious catastrophic accident happening with this type of gas storage over a 25 year period is more than 40%. One incident like the catastrophe in Hutchinson, KS in 2001 would tarnish the brand of the Finger Lakes for generations.
Recognizing this, 13 municipalities in the Finger Lakes, including 4 counties, numerous Townships and the City of Geneva and Village of Watkins Glen have passed resolutions opposing Crestwood’s plans, most unanimously and across party lines.
We don’t want to take that risk so that an out of state corporation with no ties to the Finger Lakes and with zero liability in case of a catastrophic accident can take their profits back to Houston, TX, leaving us to clean up the mess.
We call on Senator Chuck Schumer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Tom Reed to step up, speak out, and help their constituents keep the Finger Lakes safe from heavy industrial gas storage.