Dan Rapaport

A Crestwood Subsidiary’s Attorney Acknowledges Issues with Salt Caverns Under Seneca Lake

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May 232018

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, May 21, 2018

Contact: Kenneth Londono, kenneth.londono@berlinrosen.com, 646-335-0420

Joseph Campbell, muchado2@gmail.com, 607-769-4639

BREAKING: A Crestwood Subsidiary’s Attorney Acknowledges Issues with Salt Caverns Under Seneca Lake

 Gas Free Seneca and Earthjustice Call for Cuomo to Reject Crestwood’s Dangerous Gas Storage Plan

 Crestwood Proposes to Store Millions of Gallons of Propane Gas In Caverns That Need Additional Testing


SENECA LAKE, NY – The following statements by Gas Free Seneca and Earthjustice are in response to a letter to the Department of Environmental Conservation by Crestwood’s subsidiary, FLLPG’s attorney Kevin Bernstein that called for additional testing of the unlined salt caverns under Seneca Lake.

Gas Free Seneca Statement

 “The gas storage project has kept families and businesses in the region in limbo for nearly 8 years while a DEC judge reviewed independent expert reports submitted during an Issues Conference.” said Joseph Campbell, President of Gas Free Seneca. “The judge decreed that all of those reports should be entered into the record, making it possible for DEC Commissioner Seggos to deny permits for the project, based on the numerous unanswered questions and risks the project poses to public safety and to air and water quality, not to mention the threat to the robust Finger Lakes economy and the character of our community.  This new information suggests what we knew all along, that the caverns are not stable and the gas could migrate if stored there.  It is inconceivable to us why Governor Cuomo would not work with his DEC Commissioner, Basil Seggos, to deny the permits in light of this development.”

“For years, we’ve been saying that the unlined ​caverns under Seneca Lake can’t safely hold the LPG that Crestwood wants to store there,” said Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Gas Free Seneca.  “Now Crestwood’s subsidiary, FLLPG’s attorney is saying there are issues with the caverns that require more testing.  This is one more critical ​reason for Governor Cuomo to reject this dangerous proposal now​.”

Earthjustice Statement

“The applicant’s attorneys have not fully disclosed the conditions that prompted the sudden need for additional testing,” said Deborah Goldberg, an attorney with Earthjustice.  “All well studies and other data that are not in the official record should be released for independent third-party review, including all sonar studies completed since 2013, so that Finger Lakes residents can be sure their concerns about cavern integrity are receiving serious, unbiased evaluation.”

Earthjustice additionally issued a letter on behalf of Gas Free Seneca in response to Bernstein letter, you can view the letter in full, here.


Crestwood, a Texas-based corporation, is proposing a plan to store dangerous, explosive liquefied petroleum gases in abandoned salt caverns under the shores of Seneca Lake. Over 450 Seneca Lake property owners, 500 local and regional businesses on the GFS and FLXWBC coalitions and 32 municipalities representing 1.2 million New Yorkers oppose the proposal.


Kenneth Londono

  1. 646.335.0420
  2. 917.574.8756



New York • Washington D.C. • Los Angeles



Senators Schumer, Gillibrand Send Second Letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Regarding Gas Storage on Seneca Lake

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Sep 012016

Senators Schumer, Gillibrand Send Second Letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Regarding Gas Storage on Seneca Lake

Urge FERC to Carefully Consider Gas Free Seneca’s Appeal

September 1, 2016, Watkins Glen, NY

US Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand co-signed a second letter to FERC https://gasfreeseneca.com/…/Schumer-Gillibrand-08.30.2016-Le… in support of their constituents’ unresolved concerns regarding natural gas storage expansion and FERC’s recent approval of a two year extension for that build-out.

Gas Free Seneca filed an appeal of FERC’s decision https://gasfreeseneca.com/…/2016-06-15-Gas-Free-Seneca-Petit… in June, stating that the Commission did not consider critical safety concerns related to the project, as well as new information on safety that was not available when the certificate issued, arguing that the extension of time was not justified and the Commission should not permit Arlington to proceed until these issues are addressed. (FERC’s reasoning for granting the extension was that there was no appointed state geologist to issue the underground storage permit, which prompted further questions regarding the validity of the permit issued for Crestwood’s other proposed project on the same site to store 88.2 Million gallons of propane in the salt caverns.)

In their letter, the Senators echoed the sentiments of Gas Free Seneca, stressing that “New concerns have been raised and the conclusions in the Quantitative Risk Analysis have been questioned for being true and independent results. Considering this appeal should give pause to this project and allow for much needed clarity and impartial risk analysis for the caverns in question. This would help the Finger Lakes community get answers to their concerns while also allowing new safety information learned from current events involving underground gas storage like the four month leak at Aliso Canyon, to be addressed as well. We strongly urge FERC to give this appeal full consideration and allow these concerned citizens the opportunity to make their voices heard.”

With the recent contamination of drinking water in Flint Michigan and Hoosick Falls, NY, the Senators also urged FERC to consider the potential risk to Seneca Lake’s water, a 4.2 Trillion gallon body of fresh water: “Arlington’s project is located in salt caverns adjacent to Seneca Lake, the largest glacial lake of New York’s Finger Lakes region. One very important factor to consider is that Seneca Lake provides clean drinking water for 100,000 residents living in the area, and is relied on for recreational opportunities in one of the most highly-trafficked tourist destinations in upstate New York. We continue to hear well-argued concerns about the economic effects this project could have on the region, including the burgeoning Finger Lakes wine industry, which has become a major driver of the region’s economy and tourism.”

They also enumerated the many concerns the public has raised about the project, writing “These include the adverse impacts this project could have on public health, safety, the environment and quality of life currently enjoyed by many in this area. In addition, the federal government is considering new regulations to address the safety of natural gas storage that, if applied to this facility, could have substantial impact on a variety of constituent concerns and the way this facility would operate. We are also aware that many of our constituent groups including Gas Free Seneca, Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association, and many surrounding town and counties have come together to file an appeal to FERC halting this project until the serious environmental and safety issues they have raised are properly addressed. We ask that you give this appeal appropriate and thorough consideration.”

“We are extremely grateful to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand for listening to their constituents and lending their support”, stated Joseph Campbell, President of Gas Free Seneca. “We know that FERC has come under great scrutiny for rubber-stamping all gas related projects, so we hope that hearing from our Senators will encourage FERC to carefully consider our appeal,” he added.

Groups Condemn Schuyler County Legislature for Premature Resolution Supporting Gas Storage

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Aug 082016


Joseph Campbell, Gas Free Seneca 607- 769-4639 muchado2@gmail.com

Will Ouweleen, Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition (FLXWBC) 585-734-7324 info@FLXWBC.com

Mary Anne Kowalski, Seneca Lake Pure Waters Association (SLPWA) (315)-759-3761 maryannekowalski@gmail.com


For Immediate Release

August 8, 2016 Watkins Glen, NY

Groups Condemn Schuyler County Legislature for Premature Resolution Supporting Gas Storage

Gas Free Seneca, FLXWBC and SLPWA Urge County, Crestwood and DEC to Complete Legal Procedures

At their regularly scheduled meeting Monday, August 8th, the Schuyler County Legislature plans to vote and pass a resolution reaffirming support of the proposed Crestwood Equity Partner’s subsidiary Finger Lakes LPG’s gas storage project on the west side of Seneca Lake in Reading, NY.

The resolution https://gasfreeseneca.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/SC-Resolution-Reaffirm-LPG-08.02.2016-1.pdf  states that the “Schuyler County Legislature… has sought modifications to the original scope of the project” which would include: the elimination of butane storage, elimination of rail transport and related infrastructure, elimination of the truck depot and truck transport, elimination of the brine pond on the lake side of Route 14, and provision of resources to monitor and improve Seneca Lake water quality.

According to Gas Free Seneca, FLXWBC and SLPWA private negotiations between Crestwood and the Schuyler County Legislature are not enforceable and the groups urge Crestwood to submit a formal amendment of its application so that the changed terms can be memorialized in binding permit conditions subject to review and comment.

“Crestwood’s secret proposals to change the project are effective admissions that we were right about the original proposal all along:  it’s not safe, it threatens the Watkins Glen State Park, it’s too noisy and ugly, and it’s generally inconsistent with the character and brand of the Seneca Lake communities,” said Joseph Campbell, President of Gas Free Seneca. “If Crestwood wishes to make these welcomed changes, it should submit a formal amendment of its application, and the DEC should revise the draft SEIS and the draft permit conditions so that the public can understand the full project impacts and so that Crestwood has enforceable obligations to implement the changes it describes in the amended application. Anything short of that is nothing but smoke and mirrors.   We can’t hold Crestwood accountable for pledges that it won’t make formally under the law,” he added.

The adopted resolution states that the issuance by the DEC of a draft storage permit in 2014 is one reason the legislature supports the project.  “What the legislature fails to comprehend is that in an ongoing legal process with a DEC appointed Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), the validity of that storage permit is being called into question as we speak”, said Mary Anne Kowalski of SLPWA.  DEC cannot issue the permit without state geologist approval, but as SLPWA recently learned and disclosed, there has been no official appointment of a state geologist since 2010.  A supposed approval from 2013 appears to have been unauthorized, and the ALJ  has acknowledged that lack of authorized approval is grounds for denial of the permit. “The legislature should not take action until the ongoing judicial process is complete”, said Kowalski.

The ALJ is also in the process of considering a multitude of highly technical information presented by independent experts from across the country.  There are additional issues, such as cavern integrity and a potential spike in the salinity level of Seneca Lake, which Crestwood is not addressing in their recent offerings.   “If any action is to be considered by the county, it should be that the Schuyler County Legislature revoke its original endorsement of the project and reconsider a revised resolution contingent upon completion of the process before the ALJ and revision of the permit conditions to ensure that the changes are permanent and binding.  Supporting a project based on nothing more than FLLPG’s say-so, before the ALJ issues a decision and without enforceable permit conditions, violates the legislature’s fiduciary duties to the people they represent,” added Campbell.

The groups maintain that the legislature has also failed to consider that if Crestwood makes the proposed changes, they will likely sue to  have their property tax assessment reduced (as they have in the past, resulting in a $7 million reduction in assessed value), providing  even less revenue to the county.  The changes would also greatly reduce the number of jobs created by the project.  And yet, the risk of cavern collapse, fire, explosion, pollution, negative impact on climate change, and a spike in the salinity of our drinking water all remain.  “So we are still being asked to accept the risks inherent in gas storage and transport, but with even less benefit to the county”, said Campbell

Crestwood and DEC also should inform the ALJ that Crestwood is materially changing the project and urge him not to issue any decision about an adjudicatory hearing until the amended application, revised DSEIS, and revised permit conditions are filed officially and made available for public comment.

Further, the groups argue that the statement in the resolution, “the Project, if approved will ensure a redundant supply of propane for local businesses and residents, helping to meet our current and future energy needs,” is categorically false.  In a Transportation Allocation Letter https://gasfreeseneca.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Transportation-Allocation-Highlighted.pdf  Crestwood has represented to the ALJ that all of the propane will be sent via pipeline to Selkirk, NY where it is destined for New England and potentially further export.  The elimination of the truck depot further cements that fact.

According to Crestwood’s own statistics there is no need for additional storage in the Finger Lakes:

3 Facilities already exist within a 60 mile radius of Watkins Glen, NY that store 3.5 million barrels of propane, enough to heat 600,000 homes. In New York, only 225,000 homes rely on propane for heat. 100% of the propane stored at this facility will leave by pipeline and go to a supply terminal in Selkirk, NY that serves New England and the Mid-Atlantic states.

The groups point to Schuyler County Legislative Chair Dennis Fagan’s quote: “During the past two winters, which were quite severe, the Enterprise facility was able to meet the propane needs of the region.” (Odessa File  Nov. 19, 2015) as further evidence that there is no need for more storage.

“The bottom line is that the Finger Lakes Region does not need to be the sacrifice zone for gas industry export, it will not significantly benefit the region, we are being asked to accept all of the risk with none of the reward, and Crestwood must work within the guidelines of the legal process rather than make unenforceable behind-the-scenes overtures to people who might exert influence on local governments”, said Will Ouweleen, Secretary of the FLXWBC.




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.al 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.”