|Bastille Day at Schuyler County Legislature 14 July 2014
Watkins Glen, NY. July 14, 2014. Camera: Bill Huston, Cris McConkey and Dave Walcsak. Edited by Cris McConkey.
On Monday night, Schuyler County Legislators refused to rescind its resolution that supports LPG storage on a 5 -- 3 vote while close to 500 rally-goers gathered at the south end of Seneca Lake and at the Courthouse to protest its actions.
Triggering the protest was last month's resolution by Schuyler County Legislature that supported the project by Texas-based Crestwood Corporation to store fracked gas and its derivatives in salt caverns on the side of Seneca Lake, and also urged Gov. Cuomo to approve the project immediately.
Two legislators switched votes after listening to the public comment period by local residents, one for and one against.
Although the project is located in Schuyler County, it has become a regional issue because Seneca Lake is the largest freshwater body within New York State borders and provides drinking water for 100,000 people. Three of the four counties surrounding Seneca Lake (Seneca, Yates, and Ontario) oppose the project, as does the city of Geneva and the towns of Geneva, Waterloo, Ulysses, Romulus, Fayette, and the village of Waterloo.
Concerned Citizens of Schuyler County demanded that Chair Dennis Fagan recuse himself immediately from all actions concerning the proposed Crestwood project because of a perceived conflict of interest. The engineering firm Fagan developed and later sold to his younger brother has a contract with Access Midstream, which is an investment partner with Crestwood Midstream, the corporation applying for permits in Schuyler County for gas storage and transport. Protestors further demanded that the Legislature rescind its June 9, 2014, resolution endorsing the proposal to construct Crestwood's industrial facility, not to support any gas storage facility or project on Seneca Lake, now or in the future, immediately initiate a proper safety and evacuation procedures plan until the facility is no longer operational, and hold itself accountable for and answer to the violation of open meeting laws and a violation of the Code of Ethics.
The rally started at 5 p.m. at the Watkins Glen Village Marina, where grape growers, winery owners, teachers, health professionals and other concerned citizens in the region pleaded with policy makers to refuse to approve an industrial project in a thriving agricultural and tourist area.
Rally goers then marched to the Schuyler County Courthouse down the main street of Watkins Glen, led by a children's choir. They then listened to Biologist and author Sandra Steingraber, and other regional leaders and local musicians while they waited for news updates from the regularly scheduled Legislative meeting, which was taking place inside the Courthouse.
When Fagan refused to recuse himself and the legislature voted not to rescind the resolution, participants in the rally became outraged.
Residents will continue to seek resolutions from towns, villages and boards which surround the lake, and will continue to fight the project on the state level. The ultimate decision whether or not to approve these projects lies with Governor Cuomo's DEC. Residents and neighbors alike are pleading with the Governor to protect their health, safety and way of life by denying all permits for gas storage and transport in the heart of the Finger Lakes.
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