Coalition travels to Albany
ALBANY--A coalition in opposition to the proposed Crestwood gas storage project traveled to Albany, Thursday, Feb. 11, to voice their concerns in the state capital. The group is opposed to the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) and natural gas storage and transport facility in Reading. The trip was held on the one year anniversary of the Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) issues conference in Horseheads.
The groups included the Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition (FLXWBC), 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Gas Free Seneca (GFS) and several elected officials throughout the region.
Schuyler County Legislator Michael Lausell was one of those who spoke during the press conference. While he said the group did not meet with Gov. Andrew Cuomo or any other state officials, he said he provided the governor's office with information about the plan. He added they have not yet heard any response from the governor's office.
During the press conference, Lausell cited his concerns with train traffic carrying propane and butane across an 80-year-old trestle that spans the Watkins Glen Gorge that he said could increase from nine rail cars per year to nearly 2,000.
"The Watkins Glen State Park attracts over 700,000 visitors a year," Lausell said. "The rail line crosses over the park at the north entrance where visitors descend into the gorge to enjoy the sculpted rock formations and waterfalls along trails that lead to the east entrance of the park and the center of the village of Watkins Glen. Any accident at the trestle would have catastrophic consequences. Most recently, the Finger Lakes State Park Regional Commission passed a resolution expressing their concerns over the impact to visitors and to the park itself."
The group claims in 2015, there were 217 businesses opposed to Crestwood, adding there are over 400 today. Some 12 Finger Lakes municipalities were represented at the issues conference, with the group adding 31 municipalities have registered opposition.
"We implore the governor to take a precautionary approach that evaluates the independent science, and the potential negative impacts to our economy, the environment and public health when making a decision about this ill-conceived plan," said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Gas Free Seneca. "While we are still awaiting a decision by the administrative law judge who presided over the issues conference last year, we recognize that in the end, the decision ultimately lies with Governor Cuomo. We believe, particularly in light of the ongoing disasters in Porter Ranch, California, Flint, Michigan, and even more recently at Indian Point, that a similar fate in the heart of the Finger Lakes can only be avoided by denying all permits to Crestwood and its subsidiaries."
Crestwood's subsidiary, Arlington Natural Gas, has requested that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) grant them an extension for natural gas storage expansion on the Seneca Lake site.
Justin Boyette, co-owner and wine maker of Hector Wine Company and Forge Cellars, said, "We urge the governor to request that FERC not issue the extension to Arlington. While the Porter Ranch disaster is from leakage in a depleted oil well in porous sandstone, our independent expert states that salt cavern storage facilities are 20 times more likely to have accidents than the wells in Porter Ranch, due to the corrosive nature of salt. Given the track record of gas storage in salt caverns and the ongoing disaster in Porter Ranch, which was supposedly a safer storage venue, we believe that the governor should weigh in on this request with FERC and ask them to deny Arlington's expansion request. We cannot afford these risks to the multi-billion dollar wine and craft beverage industry surrounding the Finger Lakes."