Seneca Lake Protests Continue: Total 61 Arrested
Above: People protesting Seneca Lake fracked gas storage facility on Wednesday, November 19, 2014. Photo from We Are Seneca Lake.
Nine more arrested today, nine arrested yesterday as community stands up to Texas Company building fracking infrastructure in New York
Watkins Glen, NY – Nine people were arrested Thursday morning for trespassing at Texas-based Crestwood Midstream’s gas storage facility gates on the shore of Seneca Lake. These arrests follow nine arrests primarily of business owners on Wednesday, eight on Tuesday and 10 on Monday as the ‘We Are Seneca Lake’ civil disobedience campaign continues a fourth week of blockades to stop the gas storage facility. In total, 61 arrests involving 56 unique individuals have now occurred at the gates of Crestwood since the campaign began Oct. 23.
The 9 people arrested today are: John Burger, 56 of Dryden; Becca Harber, 64 of Newfield; Bruce Agte, 58 of Binghamton; Coby Schultz, 54 of Springwater; Margie Rodgers, 60 of Elmira; Britton Dougherty, 28 of Ovid; Maryl Mendillo of Aurora; Kathy Russell, 67 of Dryden; Sara Hess, 68 of Ithaca. When asked to provide her age, Mendillo insisted that she was “forever young.”
Schultz’s wife, Lyndsay Clark, was arrested on Nov. 3. She appeared at the Reading Town Court before Judge Barry last night, plead guilty to her charges, and paid her fine and court fees. Clark was present today to witness and support her husband’s arrest.
“I love the Finger Lakes and I’m a firm believer in alternative energy, I’ve lived off the grid for 25 years,” Clark said. “I just feel committed to it, so I’m living it. If I’m not here, I just feel like I would not be doing my job.”
Rodgers marks the third member of the Seneca Lake 12, a group who were arrested in March of 2013 for blocking Crestwood’s gates, to return and be re-arrested in the We Are Seneca Lake movement. The other two are Michael Dineen, 65, of Ovid, who was arrested Nov. 18, and Sandra Steingraber, 55, of Trumansburg, who was arrested Oct. 29.
Steingraber, along with fellow arrestees Colleen Boland and Roland Micklem, went to jail last night after pleading guilty to trespass and refusing their fines. Micklem is being kept at the Schuyler County Jail in Watkins Glen, while Steingraber and Boland have been sent to the Chemung County Jail in Elmira. They were each given the maximum sentence of 15 days.
Today’s group of 9 interacted mostly with New York State Police, who were polite and cordial and willing to listen to the protester’s concerns. One trooper commented that he liked the protester’s “We Are Seneca Lake” t-shirts.
Each of today’s arrestees were charged with a trespass violation, and some of them have court arraignment dates scheduled as far out as Feb. 4.
Those who have been inspired by this week’s actions can get involved by signing the Seneca Lake Pledge of Resistance here: http://www.wearesenecalake.com/pledge-protect-seneca-lake/
Those who wish to support from home can make a contribution to the We Are Seneca Lake jail fund at the online button on the webpage: WeAreSenecaLake.com
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. Yesterday, November 3rd, another 15 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.
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/.