Watkins Glen, NY
Seneca Lake has long been known for its natural and picturesque beauty and thriving wine industry, attracting tourists from throughout New York State and around the world. Gas Free Seneca (GFS), an all-volunteer grassroots organization representing a nearly 400 strong business coalition and 32 municipalities wants to keep it that way calling for the halt to a proposal that would store liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) in salt caverns beside Seneca Lake and threaten nearby water sources. A chorus of other key voices in the region were present and raised concerns over the Crestwood gas storage facilities, including Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition, Seneca Lake Communities, 1199 SEIU Healthcare Workers, Elected Officials, and Property Owners around Seneca Lake.
The groups convened today at the Marina Park at the foot of Seneca Lake in Watkins Glen, NY in response to a series of modifications submitted by Crestwood Midstream and its subsidiaries, a Texas based company. Under the revised plan, only propane would be stored at the facility and Crestwood nixed some of its above-ground construction project, however GFS reiterates its overarching position that these storage facilities have serious health, safety and economic repercussions. Crestwood’s project has the potential to threaten a nearly 3 billion dollar a year tourist and wine industry that employs nearly 60,000 people.
“Notwithstanding Crestwood’s recent desperate attempt to sway public opinion by announcing that they are downsizing the proposed gas storage, we stand more resolved than ever that this misguided industrial gas storage project, sited on a steep hillside over the largest body of freshwater in NY State and in the very heart of a world class tourist destination, as evidenced by the many accolades that the Finger Lakes has earned and continues to earn, will never be acceptable. In fact, the changes that Crestwood is proposing simply underscore the fact that we were right all along; the project has transportation safety risks, it would be noisy, ugly and a visual blight that is inconsistent with the Finger Lakes Brand that generations have spent building,” said Gas Free Seneca President Joseph Campbell.
"Finger Lakes wines have repeatedly won the Governor’s Cup, many of them from Seneca Lake, because we are blessed with the right terroir, the right water, and generations of hard-working people who have made the Region what it is today”, said winery owner Vinny Aliperti, whose Billsboro Syrah recently won the distinguished Governor’s Cup Award. “We simply cannot afford to have any industry threaten what we have fostered here in the Finger Lakes, and Crestwood Midstream Partners' plan for gas storage, even with the recently proposed changes, does just that. Governor Cuomo’s continued support is appreciated and essential. We urge him to deny all permits to Crestwood and its subsidiaries.”
GFS also announced that they have sent a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo urging his consideration of the LPG project, stating “This kind of unstable geology makes the caverns along Seneca Lake profoundly unacceptable for gas storage, making a relocation of its gas storage operations to a more suitable site the only acceptable concession Crestwood could make.”
“Crestwood’s voluntary concessions mean nothing until they are translated into binding and enforceable legal obligations,” said Deborah Goldberg of Earthjustice, counsel for Gas Free Seneca. “What’s more, none of its promises addresses the most serious risks presented by the storage of liquid petroleum gas in unstable underground salt caverns.“
Earthjustice, an environmental law organization representing GFS also submitted a letter to Chief Administrative Law Judge James T. McClymonds, where it calls for a revised application that “will enable the DEC to revise the draft permit conditions, to ensure that FLLPG’s trumpeted changes are formalized in clear, binding and enforceable requirements. The letter further requests that the serious unresolved issues of cavern integrity and water quality be fully adjudicated.
The Finger Lakes wine region has been a leader in showing the promise of renewable energy as the future for generations to come whereas the Crestwood project is stuck in the past, promoting dirty fossil fuels that are incompatible with energy sustainability and independence. Last year, the region was awarded the Solar Champion award for its commitment to strengthening solar energy in America and boasts over 20 wineries in the area that have converted to solar panels. As GFS calls for Governor Cuomo’s attention to this matter, it also remains committed to the governor’s Renewable Energy Vision (REV) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
“The Finger Lakes is Wine Country, not Gas Country, and Seneca Lake is the absolutely wrong place to store fracked gas”, said wine maker and Secretary of the Finger Lakes Business Wine Coalition Will Ouweleen. This project is all risk and no reward and is simply a bad idea, especially in the wake of the Aliso Canyon/Porter Ranch disaster. All underground gas storage needs new regulations, and until those federal regulations are finalized and adopted, it is irresponsible to move forward with any expansion of gas storage on Seneca Lake.”
Read the letter to the Governor.
Read the letter to the Judge.