FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
We Are Seneca Lake Claims Victory; Crestwood Retreats from Gas Storage Expansion
Contact: Jan Quarles (607) 280-7730; Laura Salamendra (315) 759-8880; Michael Dineen (607) 280-2510.
May 10 Geneva, NY—We Are Seneca Lake is celebrating a successful campaign forcing Crestwood’s retreat from plans to expand methane storage in unstable salt caverns along the shores of Seneca Lake. In a two and a half year campaign, over 650 people from around the region were arrested protesting the Texas based corporation’s plans threatening Seneca Lake. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had granted a permit for the gas storage project in October, 2014 (which was renewed in May, 2015).
In response to the October 2014 permit, We Are Seneca Lake began protesting in front of Crestwood’s gates as part of a groundswell of community opposition to Crestwood’s project threatening the drinking water for over 100,000 residents living around Seneca Lake. The project put the region’s agriculture and eco-tourism in jeopardy, and would have expanded fossil fuel infrastructure over the growth of green energy jobs. The shaky shale formations in which the caverns are embedded also raised serious geologic concerns.
“I took a stand against Crestwood because we had no choice,” said Laura Salamendra, a member of We Are Seneca Lake in Geneva. “This is our drinking water, the drinking water of our families. The project threatened our safety and we couldn’t allow it. We would fight longer than them because it wasn’t about profit, but about protecting one another. We have to do that when government agencies won’t.”
“It takes consistency and dedication, and we had that,” Salamendra continued. “It started small but it grew larger than we could have imagined.”
In the beginning of the movement, 10 activists were arrested in front of the Crestwood facility late October, 2014. Word spread through the community quickly and mass arrests soon became frequent as grandparents, students, farmers, scientists, contractors, cooks, and those in the wine industry came out to express opposition to the project. A few celebrities even traveled to the small town of Reading in Schuyler County to add their voices to the chorus. Climate change author Bill McKibben, actor James Cromwell, and filmmaker Josh Fox joined the ranks of those protecting Seneca Lake. In all, there were 657 arrests as part of We Are Seneca Lake’s campaign in front of Crestwood’s gates.
“Don’t think people can’t make a difference,” Salamendra added. “People can prevail.”
“We could not have done this without all the people who stood up to Crestwood when they stood out in the cold, the rain, who were forced to endure hazardous storms, unconstitutional court closures, and a biased judge who ruled us guilty before he even listened to us. We are so grateful for the assistance of lawyers like Sujata Gibson and all of our Seneca Lake Defenders who stood up to injustice. This is truly a victory for people power,” said Jan Quarles, another member of We Are Seneca Lake from Ovid, NY.