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senecalakesouthendAfter months of consideration the Watkins Glen Village Board voted 3-0 Monday in opposition to a gas storage facility proposed by Texas-based Crestwood Midstream near Seneca Lake. Board members expressed concerns about negative economic impacts the facility would have on tourism and increased truck traffic.  In the wake of major protests against the project, including one only a few hours earlier the Board concluded that the community is opposed to the project.

"We applaud the Watkins Glen Village Board for courageously taking a stand against Crestwood's dangerous and reckless proposal to turn our precious homes and Finger Lakes economy into an unsafe heavy industrial zone," said Gas Free Seneca co-founder Yvonne Taylor. "Residents, winery owners, other local businesses, health experts and many towns including Geneva and now Watkins Glen have overwhelmingly united in telling Crestwood that they are not welcome here."

The proposal is to use abandoned salt caverns along Seneca Lake to store millions of barrels of liquid petroleum gas (LPG) and billions of cubic feet of natural gas.  A permit to store methane or natural gas in the caverns received approval from the Obama Administration's FERC agency.  Crestwood Midstream is awaiting state approval.

Watkins Glen joined Seneca, Schuyler, Yates and Ontario Counties; the Towns of Geneva, Waterloo, Ulysses, Fayette, Romulus; and the City of Geneva in opposing the facility.  Gas Free Seneca says the advocacy group hopes to enlist state opposition as well.

"Since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission still needs to approve construction on  build-out for the natural gas storage expansion leg of the projects, we think it's time that Senators Schumer and Gillibrand represent the region and demand a halt on any FERC approval as well," said Gas Free Seneca co-founder Joseph Campbell.

A recent report on the state's grape and wine industry showed that it contributes $4.8 billion to the New York State economy every year, supporting the equivalent of 25,000 full-time jobs, paying over $408 million in taxes, and generating over 5.2 million wine-related tourism visits.  In addition to municipalities, local businesses and individuals, more than 60 local winery owners have been most vocal in opposing the gas storage facility.  They site concern about potential explosions and water contamination along the Finger Lakes, and say salt cavern storage represents only a small percentage of gas storage facilities, but is responsible for the majority of instances of catastrophic failure.

"Crestwood has already had two significant salt brine spills on site in Seneca Lake, and, four weeks ago was responsible for a million gallon spill in North Dakota," noted former President and CEO of Cayuga Medical Center Dr. Rob Mackenzie. "A large salt brine spill in Seneca Lake could destroy the drinking water for 100,000 people, thirty wineries, and millions of tourists."

A decision on whether or not to grant a permit for the proposed facility will be determined by Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

"With one voice, the entire Finger Lakes community brings this message for Crestwood today: Stop trespassing in our home," said Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Ithaca College Dr. Sandra Steingraber at Monday's rally. "Seneca Lake is not the Houston shipping channel; it's our drinking water. Your plans for lakeside gas and LPG storage here are a menace to us and to our children, and, in our opposition, we will not back down."

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