Mass Arrests on Seneca Lake Coincide with Fracking Ban in NYS

Dec 24, 2014, 10:10 ET from Finger Lakes CleanWaters Initiative, Inc.

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., Dec. 24, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves took a short break this week by joining forces with 'We Are Seneca Lake' and blockading the Crestwood salt cavern gas storage facility just north of Watkins Glen, NY.  Marking 170 arrests in a two-month-old civil disobedience campaign, this Monday's arrests (Dec. 22) follow on the heels of 28 arrests last Wednesday led by many prominent local musicians, and 41 arrests last Tuesday led by local teachers.

Carrying banners that declared "Christmas Against Crestwood" and "Methane in Your Stocking is Worse Than Coal," nine area residents dressed as Santa Claus and his North Pole ensemble were charged with trespassing and disorderly conduct at the gates of Texas-based Crestwood Midstream's gas storage facility on the west shore of Seneca Lake. The 'We Are Seneca Lake' civil disobedience campaign enters week 9 of blockades to stop construction at the gas storage facility.

The North Pole is melting fast due to climate change and I felt we should throw our considerable weight behind this nice bunch of folks called 'We Are Seneca Lake' -- Santa, aka Stefan Senders, Schuyler County.

As a greenhouse gas, methane is carbon dioxides younger and more dangerous brother. Methane is eighty-six times more powerful at trapping heat than carbon dioxide. Methane will inevitably leak from this facility as well as the surrounding pipeline infrastructure. We're going to shut this place down -- Sandra Steingraber, Ph.D., biologist

Monday's arrests follow the 28 arrests last Wednesday in a blockade led by prominent local musicians including acclaimed banjoist Richie Stearns (Natalie Merchant, The HorseFlies) and Asa Redmond of the Sim Redmond Band.

Referring to legendary folk singer Pete Seeger, Richie Stearns, 56, said, "When I was deciding whether to get arrested or not, I saw a sticker on my own car that said, 'What Would Pete Do?'"

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). Inexplicably, when computing the probability of a catastrophic occurrence in the salt caverns, they use as their denominator, all types of gas storage facilities, not just salt caverns. Salt caverns make up a very small proportion of gas storage facilities, yet they account for all the catastrophic incidents. Loading the denominator with the types of facilities that are relatively safe makes the caverns appear much less dangerous than they actually are; yet Crestwood deceptively underestimates the risk, and FERC allows them to get away with it.

The fracking ban announcement was made as the last of the musicians was being released from the Schuyler County Jail after initial processing. Steingraber, who had been listening in to the fracking ban announcement, broke the news to approximately one hundred musicians and well-wishers. Stunned onlookers broke into a spontaneous celebration that included the spiritual "We Shall Not Be Moved" accompanied by Stearns on the banjo.

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SOURCE Finger Lakes CleanWaters Initiative, Inc.