Opponents, Crestwood both double-down on LPG storage under Seneca Lake

When Crestwood announced the sale of U.S. Salt to another firm, it appeared that their years-long effort to store LPG underneath Seneca Lake was coming to an end.

While that proved not to be the case, Crestwood later announced that they would be maintaining their interest in the LPG storage business, continuing to seek what they classified as a viable option for gas storage in the northeast market.

Now, residents, officials, and business owners are doubling-down on their opposition to gas storage under Seneca Lake.

It also comes on the heels of nearly 500 local property owners sending a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo condemning the proposed industrial gas storage and calling on him to act immediately to reject it.

With the DEC appointed Chief Administrative Law Judge’s ruling almost resolved, a decision on the nearly seven year, hotly contested LPG storage facility in the heart of the Finger Lakes seems imminent, and stakeholders in the region are gearing up to ensure a favorable decision from Cuomo’s DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.

“Finger Lakes residents and businesses are making dramatic strides to reduce—and ultimately end—our dependence on climate-disrupting fossil fuels,” said Lou Damiani, co-owner of Damiani Wine Cellars and Gas Free Seneca advisory board member. “We have thrown our support behind the Governor’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. The proposed industrial LPG storage facility in the heart of Finger Lakes Wine Country would be a huge step backward for the region, our state, and the governor’s environmental legacy.”

“We’re proud to be part of the vibrant Finger Lakes wine and tourism economy,” said Kim Aliperti, co-owner of Billsboro Winery, winner of the 2016 Governor’s Cup. “Together, wine and tourism create nearly 59,000 local jobs and inject $3 billion a year into the local economy. All that is imperiled by the proposal, especially now with news that Crestwood has sold the property. Any future proposal of gas storage on Seneca Lake would put residents, property owners and communities in incredible risk—and would harm the Finger Lakes brand we’ve worked to build.”

Finger Lakes growers took time to speak out during the incredibly busy harvest season because of the existential threat that Crestwood’s proposal poses to the region and their businesses.

“I can’t overstate the hard work of growers, wine makers, and other small business owners—and of the tens of thousands of workers we employ—that has built the Finger Lakes into a world-class wine-producing region and wine tourism destination,” said Rick Rainey, co-owner of Forge Wine Cellars. “Finger Lakes wine is experiencing an explosion of interest and new investment. International investors are coming to the region, like renowned French winemaker-grower Louis Barruol who is a partner in Forge Wine Cellars, and Paul Hobbs, who Forbes called the ‘Steve Jobs of wine.’ They are selling wine from the Finger Lakes in countries around the world. Why would we risk all of this for a handful of dirty energy jobs and more profits for an out-of-state gas and oil company?”

“Finger Lakes business owners understand that the risks posed by this proposal far outweigh any benefits,” said Will Ouweleen, winemaker and secretary of the Finger Lakes Wine Business Coalition. “More 500 local business owners have already signed a letter to the governor outlining our opposition to Crestwood’s Seneca Lake plan. We continue to urge him and DEC Commissioner Seggos to reject it.”

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, the state has invested more than $16.5 million in Watkins Glen, and the governor just pledged $22 million for upgrades to water infrastructure in the area,” said Michael Lausell, a member of the Schuyler County Legislature. “Why would we allow industrial gas storage on the shores of Seneca Lake to jeopardize these investments and the health and future prosperity of our communities?”

“The plan for industrial LPG storage at Seneca Lake is a lose-lose for the Finger Lakes,” said Steve Churchill, a member of the Seneca County Board of Supervisors. “It puts residents at unnecessary risk—including 100,000 of us who draw drinking water from the lake. And it threatens the local wine and tourism economy, our property values, and the character of our community.”

Seneca County, which lies along the eastern shores of Seneca Lake, is one of 32 municipalities—representing 1.2 Million New Yorkers—that oppose the proposal.

“Storing millions of gallons of explosive propane—none of which would heat a single local home or business—in unlined abandoned salt mines under the shores of Seneca Lake is a terrible idea,” said Joseph Campbell, president of Gas Free Seneca. “Crestwood has announced that it is selling U.S. Salt, meaning they can no longer claim to be the largest employer in the county. This makes a denial of the project even more economically prudent, since the project would only support 3-5 jobs. We had hoped that Crestwood was finally responding to the community’s concerns about the threats to public safety, community character, and the burgeoning wine and tourism industries of the Finger Lakes region, but they continue to push for this ill-conceived project. We are here to let the Governor know of our unabated opposition to the Project and to ask him to ensure that DEC denies the application.”

Also on FingerLakes1.com