|A Regional Rally to Repeal the Resolution! Save Seneca Lake from LPG Storage!
Dear Fellow New Yorkers,
This urgent invitation to put on some blue clothes and come rally with me in Watkins Glen on Monday, July 14 comes attached to Aesop’s Fable #87.
It’s the one called The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs. You remember: the cottagers who own this amazing, wealth-producing bird decide to kill it and get all the gold at once. In so doing, they find themselves at the moral at the end of the story: GREED LEADS TO UNPROFITABLE ACTION.
The version of this story now playing out in New York’s Finger Lakes region comes with a twist. It’s not us cottagers who seek to wring the neck of the goose, whom we cherish and respect, but a Houston-based company called Crestwood.
The goose is Seneca Lake, the largest body of water wholly contained within New York and a source of drinking water for nearly a 100,000 people. But whether or not you’ve taken a sip of Seneca’s pristine water, we all profit from her golden eggs.
Seneca Lake holds so much water—4.2 trillion gallons—that it creates a microclimate throughout the region that makes climate suitable for wine grapes. Thus, it’s the center of New York State’s wine and grape industry, which contributes, every year, $4.8 billion to our state’s economy—an increase in 27 percent over the last four years alone.
Seneca Lake is also a golden-egg tourist destination—named one of the top-ten lakeside destinations anywhere on earth. It’s the Lake Trout Capital of the World. And it’s New York’s Yellowstone: just last year, a half million tourists hiked through Watkins Glen Gorge.
But now, all that sustainable revenue from the wine and tourism is at risk from a gas and storage company seeking to store millions of barrels of fracked gases—propane, butane, methane—in abandoned salt caverns beneath and beside the lake.
These projects, for which Crestwood Midstream seeks permits, would bring mass industrialization: brine pits, 60-foot flare stacks, compressor stations, pipelines, and 24/7 truck and rail depots. Thousands of trucks hauling explosive flammable materials will travel along the same scenic byways that draw tourists for leaf-peeping and wine-tastings. Train cars hauling explosive, flammable gases will cross the tracks running over the Gorge in Watkins Glen State Park.
Constant noise, visible flames, air pollution, lowered property values, and endless traffic.
Why would tourists continue to come here if the very things they seek—say, serenity—are destroyed by industrialization?
In 2010, 21 area vineyards employed 161 people and paid wages of $24.5 million.
By contrast, Crestwood is promising 8 to 10 jobs for doing work that will produce air pollution of the type that is known to harm the growth of wine grapes.
Even worse, salt cavern storage of compressed natural gas and liquefied petroleum gases bring risks of catastrophic accidents.
Of 407 underground gas storage facilities in operation in the United States, only seven percent are salt caverns. But salt caverns represent 100 percent of the 11 instances of catastrophic failure of gas storage facilities—including one in Hutchinson, Kansas in which gas leaked, traveled to the surface through capped abandoned brine wells and, when it exploded, killed two people and prompted a mass evacuation.
In Kansas, the brine wells that served as the escape route were located seven miles from the gas storage sites. On the banks of Seneca Lake, there are old brine wells just three miles from the proposed salt cavern storage.
No surprise that 200 local and regional businesses OPPOSE the plan by one out-of-state business, Crestwood, to massively industrialize the Finger Lakes region for fracked gas storage.
But in spite of this mass opposition—and in spite of staunch opposition from county legislatures and town boards all around the lake, the Schuyler County Legislature just passed a stealth resolution in favor of Crestwood’s plans.
It’s time to rescue the goose, New Yorkers. Drop everything, grab some friends and a blue shirt, and come to the most beautiful place in the state, which also happens to serve as the economic engine for us all.
In praise of golden eggs and the geese who lay them,
WEAR BLUE FOR CLEAN WATER!