Businesses send Cuomo letter against gas project
SENECA LAKE--Residents are stepping up the fight against a plan to store millions of barrels of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) in unlined abandoned salt caverns beneath the shores of Seneca Lake near Watkins Glen. Nearly 500 local business owners, including leaders of the region's winery and tourism industries, sent a letter to Gov. Cuomo condemning Crestwood's proposed industrial gas storage and calling on the governor to work with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner, Basil Seggos, to prevent it from moving forward. At the same time, Gas Free Seneca along with The Seneca Lake Communities and Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association filed a formal response with the DEC's Chief Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), presenting new information about alternative sites and arguing Crestwood's proposed project is unnecessary.
"Local families and businesses are united to protect our health, our economic future, and the natural splendor that makes the Finger Lakes a world-class destination," said William Ouweleen, secretary of the Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition who signed the letter along with nearly 500 other local business owners whose economic impact annually exceeds $4.5 billion. "Our communities have everything to lose, and nothing to gain, from an unnecessary, dangerous LPG storage facility in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country. We are urging the governor to stand with us, not an out-of-state corporation that threatens our regional economy."
The opposition groups say one of the propane stored in the Seneca Lake facility would be used to heat New York homes or businesses. All of it would be shipped out of state via a pipeline to serve New England and the mid-Atlantic states. The unlined salt caverns along Seneca Lake were never engineered for storage. By Crestwood's own admission, the proposal will create three to five permanent jobs for the area.
Tourism in the Finger Lakes supports more than 59,000 jobs for the region. Cuomo's 2018 budget includes $16.5 million to further expand and enhance tourism and economic development in Watkins Glen, the village closest to the project.
"The governor's new budget reflects his commitment to the region and to our state's wine and tourism industries," said Joseph Campbell, president of Gas Free Seneca. "Under his leadership, our state has made real investments that are paying off for the Finger Lakes. So why would he allow that investment and all our hard work to be threatened by industrial-scale propane storage on Seneca Lake? It's completely incompatible with the vibrant economy we've created here, with the governor's commitment to the region, and with his own environmental agenda."
Crestwood LP has been fined twice by the United States Environmental Protection Agency in six years for violations of accident-prevention rules at its Bath/Savona LPG facility. The New York State DEC has fined them a total of $57,500. Spills include chloride, brine and diesel fuel.
"Governor Cuomo can help us continue to build on our success story," said Vinny Aliperti, co-owner of Billsboro Winery and winner of the 2016 NY State Governor's Cup, awarded to the best wine in New York state. "He did the right thing with the moratorium on fracked gas, protecting residents and communities. Now, he has an opportunity to cement his economic and environmental legacy in Finger Lakes Wine Country, by rejecting dangerous industrial gas storage on the shores of Lake Seneca."