Groups Applaud Cuomo’s Decision on Port Ambrose, Urge him to do the same with Crestwood

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Nov 132015

Seneca Lake Communities

Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition

Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association

Gas Free Seneca

Michael Lausell, Schuyler County Legislator


The Honorable Andrew M. Cuomo

Governor of New York State

NYS State Capitol Building

Albany, NY 12224

RE: Rejection of Port Ambrose and its relationship to Gas Storage in the Finger Lakes


Dear Governor Cuomo,

We applaud your recent decision to reject the Port Ambrose LNG Facility.  Your commitment to preserving existing economies, your sensitivity to potentially negative impacts on New York’s unique regions, and your pledge to mitigate the catastrophic effects of climate change by reducing fossil fuel infrastructure is outstanding.

We trust that you will use the same logic for the Finger Lakes that you did with Port Ambrose when you examine Crestwood’s proposed gas storage and transport facility, and deny permits for this incompatible plan in the heart of the Finger Lakes region.

The threat to New York’s security and economy by this ill-conceived project are far too great, and will only add to the problem of climate change, rather than help us achieve your goal of reducing carbon emissions and sourcing 80 percent of New York’s energy from renewables by 2030.  We here in the Finger Lakes are moving away from the dirty fossil fuel industry, and leading the way toward the use of alternative energy.  This year, 10% of the wineries in the region have switched to solar, with many more to follow in the coming year.  Solar initiatives throughout our area are helping more and more businesses and residents switch to renewables, with one local solar company’s employment rate increasing by 725% this year alone.  These are the kinds of jobs we want in our region.

Crestwood’s project poses unmitigated concerns similar to that of Port Ambrose.  Heavy industry will negatively impact our sustainable agri-tourism economy much like Port Ambrose’s activity would hinder the local maritime economy and businesses throughout Long Island.  Just as Port Ambrose’s activity could impact Long Beach’s fishery for longfin squid and sea scallops, the proposed gas storage facility could potentially cause a spike in Seneca Lake’s already dangerously high salinity levels, killing off our famed trout, perch, sunfish, bass, and pike. Moreover, Seneca Lake water, a drinking water source for 100,000 people, is already too salty for infants and people on sodium restricted diets.  Crestwood is contributing to this problem, already proving itself to be a bad neighbor, by violating their effluent discharge permit and exceeding their 44,000 pound limit to discharge sodium chloride per day into the lake for 9 of the last 12 quarters. Taking risks that could potentially make our water undrinkable is unthinkable.

We also know a predicted rise in extreme weather incidents, like the recent flood in the Town of Reading this June, could lead to a catastrophic accident involving 2 giant open brine pits situated above the lake.  Further, the fact that the abandoned salt caverns slated for gas storage lie along a fault line where, as recently as September of 2013, we experienced an earthquake only 12 miles north of the storage caverns,  make the risk of a catastrophic event even greater.

The impact from an explosion or spill would negatively impact New York’s tourism commerce for generations to come.

In your decision to reject the Port Ambrose facility, you also address unanswered security questions. We have our own unanswered concerns about security and the gas storage facility. In the Schuyler County 2008 Hazard Mitigation Plan, approved by FEMA, both terrorism and hazard material released in transit are rated at a moderately high level. A #4 ranking of Terrorism suggests both Watkins Glen International (WGI) racetrack and a major gas storage facility are potential targets for terrorism.  The ranking notes such an attack would target WGI during a race event, when both the racetrack and the village are crowded with visitors. Crestwood’s project also includes a conservative projection of transporting propane and butane via 1,875 rail cars a year over the 80 year old trestle 190 feet above the Watkins Glen State Park Gorge, which was voted the third most popular state park in the nation in a USA Today poll.  There is no security or surveillance technology proposed for the trestle, allowing reconnaissance, recording/photographing and possible secretion of destructive material to go undetected.  Should the Crestwood project be approved, the county will be facing a danger of an entirely different dimension.

We know that Crestwood’s initial plan is just the beginning of a much larger expansion.  There are 93 wells on Crestwood’s US Salt property (not counting one dry hole). Two caverns currently hold methane, with three more being prepared for additional methane and monitoring.  Three more are proposed for 2.1 million barrels (88.2 million gallons) of liquefied propane and butane. That leaves 85 potential storage wells.  Crestwood has boasted that they have over 40 million barrels of previously solution mined cavern space potential.  This Texas-based corporation’s plan would turn the Finger Lakes into a sacrifice zone for the gas industry, devastating our local ecology, economy, and threatening our health and safety- all for supplies that are not intended to serve the region, as noted in their recent Transportation Allocation letter to the DEC. 40 million barrels of previously solution mined cavern space potentially convertible to “energy” storage. storage wells. The company boasts on it’s website that they have over 40 million barrels of previously solution mined cavern space potentially convertible to “energy” storage wells. The company boasts on it’s website that they have over 40 million barrels of previously solution mined cavern space potentially convertible to “energy” storage.

The potential gains for an out-of state company versus the cumulative negative impacts for your constituents in New York State make it imperative for you to use the same reasoning as you did for Port Ambrose here in the heart of the Finger Lakes.  We thank you for your commitment to being a leader in the fight to protect our communities from dangerous pollution and the devastating effects of the climate crisis, and we strongly urge you to deny Crestwood’s permits.

Respectfully Submitted,


Seneca Lake Communities

Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition

Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association

Gas Free Seneca

Michael Lausell, Schuyler County Legislator




When the LPG storage advocates call you…

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Jan 202015

Things you might want to ask when/if the gas storage advocacy people call you to convince you that storing gas under Seneca Lake is a grand idea.

  • What kind of storage has been done there for years?
  • What kind of gas has been stored, and for how long?
  • In what type of caverns: lined rock caverns, engineered for gas storage, or unlined salt caverns on faults, that were never engineered to store anything?
  • How many jobs will be created, now that the Transportation Allocation Letter says that no trucks will be used for Propane or Butane?
  • Will you still be building the truck depot?
    • If so, why? – is your Transportation Allocation letter a way to avoid significant and substantive issues at the Issues Conference?
    • If not, why don’t you re-write the entire DSEIS to be more reflective of the current project, and indicate how many full-time permanent jobs will be created now?
  • If the Propane and Butane are being transported via pipeline and rail headed to Selkirk, NY and points unknown (presumably New England), then why should we store it when we won’t be accessing any of it?
  • Are you fully insured in the event of a natural or human-caused accident?
  • Why should we assume all of the risk, when we receive NONE of the reward?

Gas Free Seneca on WCNY

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Jan 032015

Gas Free Seneca Co-Founders Jeff Dembowski and Joseph Campbell talk about the latest developments in Watkins Glen.  They were interviewed just moments after the decision to ban fracking in New York was announced on December 17th:

Dennis Fagan, Schuyler County Legislature Chair, was also contacted for a telephone interview.  He states that the “protestors are from Hector, which is close to Ithaca”. He also states that he has unanimous support from his constituents when he talks to them about the gas storage project, and that he has neither ties to the firm Fagan Engineering, nor the gas industry.

DC Bureau investigative journalist Peter Mantius suggests otherwise: “The company he had founded, Fagan Engineers, has done extensive work with companies involved in oil and gas production and pipelines. Fagan recently sold his firm to his brother and other partners, but he said he continues to receive payments from them as part of the sales agreement. Fagan Engineers is currently building a facility 15 miles south of Watkins Glen for Access Midstream, a joint venture partner with Crestwood in a Wyoming project valued at well over $100 million.

Fagan has long touted Crestwood’s planned storage hub. In an October 2011 letter of support to the DEC, he predicted that the LPG project would expand Schuyler County’s tax base by $20-30 million. Two years later, he announced that the property Crestwood plans to use for its methane gas storage would have its assessed value reduced from $29 million to $22 million by 2015, despite plans for extensive development.”

Seneca Earthquake

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Sep 182013

On 9/10/13 a 2.0 Earthquake struck the west shore of Seneca Lake.  Earthquakes occur on fault lines and are a sign of geological instability and stress. Inergy wants to store billions of gallons of combustible gas in salt caverns in the same location as where the earthquake occurred.  Sound OK to you?


 Posted by at 8:14 am

Inergy Seeks Approval for Gas Storage in Once Deemed Unusable Salt Caverns

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Jan 092013

New information regarding the history of the salt caverns.


A Kansas City energy company is urging New York and federal regulators to disregard explicit warnings about the structural integrity of two salt caverns that it plans to use to store millions of barrels of highly-pressurized liquid propane and butane.

One cavern was plugged and abandoned 10 years ago after a consulting engineer from Louisiana concluded that its roof had collapsed in a minor earthquake. He deemed the rubble-filled cavity “unusable” for storage. It is now scheduled to hold 600,000 barrels of liquid butane.

The other cavern sits directly below a rock formation weakened by faults and characterized by “rock movement” and “intermittent collapse,” according to a 40-year-old academic study that cautioned that the cavern might be plagued by “difficulties in production arising from the geological environment.” That cavern is scheduled to hold 1.5 million barrels of liquid propane.

 Posted by at 7:19 am

Gas Free Seneca Wants to Be Heard

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Aug 112011

Latest coverage.


Reading Center, N.Y. – Members of the group Gas Free Seneca say their concerns about a possible liquid petroleum gas storage facility, near Seneca Lake, aren’t being heard.

The underground storage facility would be built in the Town of Reading, by the Missouri based Inergy Corporation.

Wednesday, at the Reading Town Board Meeting members of Gas Free Seneca were planning to voice their concerns about this possible facility to the board.  But they weren’t allowed.

The board refused to hear any public opinion about the possible liquid petroleum gas storage facility.  This caused members of Gas Free Seneca to walk out on Wednesday’s board meeting.  Gas Free Seneca members we spoke with say they’re very disappointed.


 Posted by at 6:12 am

GFS In the News

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May 312011

Article about the hiring of Richard Lippes

A newly formed business alliance – opposing the proposed Kansas City, Mo.-based Inergy Corporation project to store liquid propane gas in salt caverns three miles north of Watkins Glen – announced this week it has hired a well-known attorney to look into ways to stop the project.

Attorney Richard Lippes of Buffalo, best-known for his successful litigation on behalf of homeowners in the Love Canal case, has been hired and is reviewing documents.

“This is an investment to protect our assets,” Lou Damiani, owner of Damiani Wine Cellars said. “We don’t want them (Inergy) to make this the hub of northeast gas distribution.”

 Posted by at 12:15 pm

Inergy Doublespeak

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Apr 262011

When Inergy speaks to Wall Street they say one thing, when they speak to us they say another.

In this first video, Inergy CEO John Sherman talks to Wall Street about “Making Marcellus Happen”


In this video, William R. Moler, Senior Vice President, Natural Gas Mid Stream Operations says the following:

“This thing is getting tangled-up with the whole Marcellus drilling debate… this has nothing to do with Marcellus drilling”


One of them is telling the truth. Which one do you believe?

 Posted by at 10:35 am

Inergy’s Plan

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Feb 282011

Inergy, LP (Finger Lakes LPG Storage, LLC) based in Kansas City is a pipeline and natural gas storage company with approximately 3,000 employees and annual sales of about $1.8 billion.
In 2008, Inergy purchased the U.S. Salt plant on the west side of Seneca Lake approximately 2 miles north of Watkins Glen to “build an integrated gas storage and transportation hub in the Northeast.”

Details of the Inergy proposal include:

  • Construct and operate a new underground LPG storage facility for the storage and distribution of propane and butane on a portion of a 576 acre site near the intersection of Rts. 14 and 14A in the Town of Reading.
  • Proposed storage capacity of 2.10 million barrels (88.20 million gallons)
  • Construction of a 14 acre brine pond located on a steep slope just above Seneca Lake with a capacity of 91.8 million gallons.
  • Construction of a new rail and truck LPG transfer facility consisting of:  A 6 track rail siding capable of allowing loading/unloading of 24 rail cars every 12 hours 24/7/365.  A truck loading station capable of loading 4 trucks per hour (with the possibility to expand) 24/7/365.
  • Construction also to include surface works consisting of truck and rail loading terminals, LPG storage tanks, offices and other distribution facilities and stormwater control structures.

Please refer to the “Resources” page for more detailed information on the project and its potentially devastating environmental consequences.

To stay informed please join the Gas Free Seneca Listserv.



 Posted by at 1:59 pm