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Veterans Lead Civil Disobedience Action at Crestwood

In Anti-War, Energy, Renewables on January 26, 2016 at 12:53 pm

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

Green leader, former NY gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins among 13 arrested in human blockade

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.

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.”

Also joining the protest were Schuyler County resident and U.S. Army veteran Nathan Lewis, who served in Iraq, and Colleen Boland, U.S. Air Force Senior Master Sergeant (retired), who served in the White House during the George W. Bush Administration. Boland served an 8-day jail sentence in November 2014 for a previous act of civil disobedience at the Crestwood entrance.

At 8:45 a.m. this morning, the 13 ceremoniously unfurled banners that read, “Veterans Against Crestwood / Defending the Climate and Seneca Lake,” and formed a human chain across the north entrance of Crestwood Midstream, blocking chemical tanker trucks from leaving and entering the facility.

The group was arrested shortly after 9:00 a.m. by Schuyler County deputies, transported to the Schuyler County Sheriff’s department, charged with disorderly conduct, and released.

The total number of arrests in the sixteen-month-old civil disobedience campaign now stands at 480.

While blockading, the veterans from all branches of the military made public statements about the duty they feel to protect water and the climate.

“I continue to be mindful of my past oath to protect against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” said Colleen Boland, who traveled to more than 20 countries while on active duty.

In her remarks at the gate, Boland addressed recent, accusations that Seneca Lake protesters are “outsiders”:

“When the science on climate change is ignored, when our political leaders do the bidding of the gas industry rather than protect us, people rise up. Veterans rise up. And when we do, we should never—in any instance—be called outsiders here in our own country, in our own state, in the regions where we grew up. Veterans should never be dismissed when we speak out on issues that threaten our well-being and the security of our loved ones.”

Jenifer Paquette, 63, Corning, Steuben County said, “From 1970 to 1973, I served in the U.S. Navy as a Personnelman 3rd Class Petty Officer. Except for that military time, I have lived all of my 63 years in Corning, New York and feel a right and a duty to protect the air, land, and water that is my birthright. The Crestwood gas storage expansion is a threat to those basic rights for me, my son, and my granddaughter.”

Nathan Lewis, 33, Hector, Schuyler County said, “I served 2.5 years in the U.S. Army as a field artilleryman. What I saw in Iraq was that the war on terror is a catastrophe. What I see here at home, in Schuyler County, is that the fossil fuel industry is pushing our ecosystem to the point of collapse.”

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:

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 24thmarked 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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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – January 26, 2016

media contact: Sandra Steingraber  607.351.0719

photos:   http://www.wearesenecalake.com/veterans-pic/

video:   http://www.wearesenecalake.com/veterans-vid

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