By Sandra Steingraber for Eco Watch - The news broke Wednesday in the most banal of venues: the biweekly environmental compliance report submitted by Arlington Storage Company to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Deep in the third paragraph of section B, this wholly owned subsidiary of the Houston-based gas storage and transportation giant, Crestwood Midstream, announced that it was walking away from its FERC-approved plan to increase its storage of methane (natural gas) in unlined, abandoned salt caverns along the shoreline of Seneca Lake. In its own words, "Arlington has discontinued efforts to complete the Gallery 2 Expansion Project." It was a blandly expressed ending to a dramatic conflict that has roiled New York's Finger Lakes region for more than six years. Together with a separate—and still unresolved—plan for lakeside storage of propane (LPG) in adjacent salt caverns, Crestwood's Arlington operation has been the focus of massive, unrelenting citizen opposition that has taken many forms.
By Stephanie Redmond of We Are Seneca Lake. Reading, NY - Phil Davis received a guilty verdict on Friday, Nov. 18, and was sentenced to ten hours of community service and a $125 NYS surcharge. Davis was arrested during a peaceful protest outside the gates of the Crestwood gas storage facility in Reading with nine other individuals on December 21, 2014. They were part of the We Are Seneca Lake movement, which has been utilizing non-violent direct action since October 2014 to block the expansion of gas storage in the crumbling salt mines on the western shore of Seneca Lake. Defense counsel Sujata Gibson, an attorney with Schlather, Stumbar, Parks and Salk, stated after the trial that she planned to make an expedited appeal of Davis’ case, and that she believes the verdict was fundamentally wrong.
By Nicholas Kusnetz for Inside Climate News - On a warm May morning, two dozen people wearing blue shirts formed a neat line in front of the gates of a natural gas compressor station in central New York. The facility lay hidden somewhere in the trees behind them, and just beyond was Seneca Lake, a 38-mile azure gash through deep green hills that provides drinking water to 100,000 people. The sun crept over a ridge on the far side of the lake. It was still early enough to intercept the day's first delivery.
By Sandra Steingraber for Eco Watch - "We are ALL Seneca Lake" was the message delivered this morning by prominent environmental leaders Wes Gillingham, program director of Catskill Mountainkeeper, David Braun, co-founder of Americans Against Fracking, and Rachel Marco-Havens, youth engagement director of Earth Guardians during a protest at Stagecoach (formerly Crestwood) gas storage complex along Route 14 in the Town of Reading. The three joined 50 others at a civil disobedience action against gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns that highlighted our interconnectedness in the struggle
By Sandra Steingraber for Eco Watch - The fight over the fate of the Finger Lakes received national attention today when best-selling author, environmentalist and founder of 350.org, Bill McKibben, joined the opposition. McKibben, 55, was arrested this morning with 56 area residents as part of an ongoing civil disobedience campaign against proposed gas storage in Seneca Lake’s abandoned salt caverns. This is a developing story, but at this time all arrestees have been released except for McKibben who is still in custody at the Schuyler County sheriff’s department.
By Dan for We Are Seneca Falls - Watkins Glen, NY – 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.
By Sandra Steingraber for EcoWatch - Just two weeks before Pope Francis’ visit to the U.S., where he is expected to call for urgent action to protect the world’s environment, 28 people, led by local members of the Catholic Worker Movement, formed human chains shortly after sunrise this morning across both entrances of Crestwood Midstream on Route 14. Joining the protest was famed peace activist Martha Hennessy—the granddaughter of Catholic Worker co-founder and candidate for sainthood, Dorothy Day. As in previous blockades this summer, the protesters carried with them a seven-foot-tall replica of Pope Francis’ recent encyclical letter on climate change, Laudato Si! On Care for Our Common Home, as they blocked trucks from entering or leaving.
In an act of civil disobedience, sixteen women from six Finger Lakes-area counties—including one who is pregnant—created a human blockade this morning at both of the gated entrances of Crestwood Midstream. Holding banners that said, “Happy Mother’s Day! Honoring Mother Earth” and “Mothers Against Crestwood: Because I Said So, That’s Why,” protesters prevented all traffic from entering or leaving the gates before their arrests shortly after 11 a.m. by Schuyler County Sheriff’s deputies and NY state troopers. None of the protesters arrested this morning had been previously arrested as part of the We Are Seneca Lake movement, which opposes Crestwood’s plans for methane storage expansion in lakeside salt caverns and which has been ongoing since October 2014. Today’s arrests mark the first since April 22 and bring the total number of arrests to 251 in the seven-month-old civil disobedience campaign.
The Schuyler County district attorney has decided not to dismiss trespass charges against 84 protestors arrested at the gates of Crestwood Midstream Partners, We Are Seneca Lake said Thursday. Those protesters were part of a civil disobedience campaign organized by We Are Seneca Lake in opposition to plans by Crestwood to expand natural gas storage and add liquefied petroleum gas storage on the lake's western shore. District Attorney Joseph Fazzary rescinded his support for dismissing charges againt the 84 protesters that was to take place Thursday, We Are Seneca Lake said. "We understand that the district attorney says that he has withdrawn the promised offer because 19 new community members blocked the gates of Crestwood in a peaceful act of civil disobedience on Earth Day (April 22)," the group said in a news release. Those 19 protesters, ages 49 to 76, had not been arrested before and were not part of the dismissal agreement, the group said. "There has never been any promise that there would be no more protests or even more arrests," the group said.
We only have this planet. We must safeguard it for those who follow. Would that it not be necessary, but sometimes citizens of good conscience must engage in non-violent acts of civil disobedience to protect that sacred trust. As long as Crestwood Midstream Partners, or any other corporate or public or private entity, continues to threaten our way of life by the proven dangerous storage of highly compressed gas in the crumbling caverns at the Salt Point facility, I reserve the right to act as my conscience dictates in order to protect Seneca Lake, its citizens, and the surrounding environment. I reserve all rights to protest further at the Crestwood facility, although it is not my intent at this time to break the law in doing so.
In three speedy hearings on Wednesday night in the Town of Reading court, Judge Raymond Berry granted a motion to dismiss all charges “in the interests of justice” brought by 42 Seneca Lake protesters. All had been arrested as part of a sustained civil disobedience campaign at the gates of Crestwood Midstream. Further, attorneys for the defendants announced that an agreement had been reached with the Schuyler County district attorney’s office to accept identical dismissal motions from the roughly 100 other civil disobedients also charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct relating to protests at Seneca Lake and whose cases are still pending. At least 20 cases have been transferred to other area courts in Schuyler County.
We’re very fortunate to have abundant and relatively affordable domestic natural gas … But utilizing that gas to meet climate goals require the expansion and construction of gas infrastructure, both pipelines and compressor stations, to get it to where it needs to be to keep the lights on. But while gas is critically important to our climate goals and other environmental goals, it has issues of its own. Pipelines are facing unprecedented opposition from local and national groups including environmental activists. These groups are active in every FERC docket, as they should be, as well as in my email inbox seven days a week, in my Twitter feed, at our open meetings demanding to be heard, and literally at our door closing down First Street so FERC won’t be able to work. We have a situation here.
On Dec. 3 of last year, a tall 24-year-old Cornell University graduate with wild, curly blond hair was called up to the bench of Judge Raymond Berry in the Town of Reading. Kelsey Erickson was being accused of committing a violation trespass on Nov. 17 at the main gates of Crestwood Midstream, a gas storage company looking to store massive amounts of explosive gas in unstable salt caverns beneath the shores of Seneca Lake. To this accusation, Erickson pleaded guilty. Judge Berry asked zir* to pay a fine of $250, and ze refused. He looked up from the papers sitting on the desk in front of him and stared at zir for a long moment down his nose over his glasses. From my seat in the audience, my posture tensed and my energy bristled. Judge Berry obviously had no idea who Kelsey Erickson was. Kelsey Erickson, who walked 26 miles with a 50+ pound backpack in the midst of a Nebraska summer rather than use the March’s gas-guzzling U-Haul.
There are no guidebooks for how to carry out a sustained civil disobedience campaign during winter—let alone one that involves human blockades that intercept trucks attempting to enter a compressor station site on a steeply sloping lakeshore with 18 inches of snowpack. Ice fishing with a chance of handcuffs. It’s as good a metaphor as any. With that in mind, I bought a pair of waterproof boots that looked like something that you might bench-press at a gym and were guaranteed to 40 below. After two hours of standing on ice at 10 above, my feet were—surprise!—distressingly cold.