The following is a republished press release … to submit community announcements to The Voice, contact us at jstein@ithacavoice.com.

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Watkins Glen, NY – In an act of civil disobedience, gas storage protesters led by leaders of the renewable energy movement—including Renovus Solar CEO Joe Sliker—and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker, Josh Fox, formed a human blockade this morning at both entrances of Crestwood Midstream on Route 14 and prevented all traffic from entering or leaving the site.

All 21 people were arrested just before noon by Schuyler County deputies and Village of Watkins Glen Police, taken into custody, charged with trespassing, and released. (Fox was the director of “Gasland,” an anti-fracking documentary.)

Fox getting arrested today.

At part of the demonstration, Renovus Solar—a local renewal energy company—set up an outdoor “help wanted” desk directly outside of Crestwood’s gates. Staffed by Renovus’ manager of human resources, Tiffany Walker, the display advertised job openings in the company and offered applications. Renovus created 50 full-time permanent jobs last year alone and is currently hiring.

The blockaders held banners that said, “Renewable Energy Builders Against Crestwood: Whatever Gas Can Do, We Can Do Better” and “The Fossil Fuel Party is Over. Vacate Premises Immediately.”

Arrestees included singer and long-time renewable energy advocate, Bethany Yarrow and cellist Rufus Cappadocia, of the New York City musical duo “Bethany and Rufus,” who led blockaders in song before and during arrests.

In a speech made while blockading a truck, Sliker announced that local small business in the thriving renewable energy industry were now joining the fight against Crestwood—just as local wineries had done before them.

Cornell University climate scientist, Robert Howarth, was on hand to address the blockaders and emphasized that the regional opposition to gas storage in Seneca Lake salt caverns reflects a growing commitment to a thriving renewable Finger Lakes and is part of a nationwide rejection of a backwards-looking fossil fuel industry whose air pollution along was responsible for more than 4,000 deaths per year in New York State.

None of the protesters this morning had been previously arrested as part of the We Are Seneca Lake movement, which opposes Crestwood’s plans for methane storage expansion in lakeside salt caverns and which has been ongoing since October 2014.

The total number of arrests now stands at 272 in the seven-month-old civil disobedience campaign.

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last October in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of Seneca Lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people.

Joe Sliker, CEO of Renovus Energy, said, “Solar is rapidly expanding and Renovus is a thriving regional business. In contrast to the eight to ten permanent jobs created by the gas storage facility, Renovus has added over 50 new, permanent jobs—just in the last year alone. And we are adding more every single day. These are real, good jobs. We pay better wages. It’s safer. We offer full benefits, and paid time off, and we respect our team. We value the whole of the region and the region’s economy which is why its so important to us that our business compliment the existing economies, what it’s taken generations to build, not undercut it, as Crestwood would do. We value our employees, we value our neighbors and encourage families throughout the Finger Lakes to choose a more prosperous path forth.” [Full statement below.]

Josh Fox said, “I’m here to support my friends and my community who are protecting Seneca Lake from underground gas storage. It’s an incredibly important location – drinking water for 100,0000 people part of a microclimate that supports distilleries, wineries, breweries and agriculture. I’m here primarily though because this is a fracking site. We have to stop fracking all across America, wherever it is going to be… I’m also here to say the regulatory agency, which is FERC – the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – which is just 5 people who are appointed by the President- is really acting like a subsidiary of the fossil fuel industry masquerading as a government agency. FERC has to be overhauled. FERC is a disaster….So today is very important because it is a national moment. It is a very clear message….We want renewable energy, and not these kinds of crazy projects.”

Krys Cail, 62, of Ulysses, and a co-organizer of a shared solar energy cooperative and one of the arrested blockaders, said, “New York State, through its Public Service Commission, is launching the REV (Reforming the Energy Vision) process, by which our state will move rapidly into the new era of renewable energy. Now is not the time to build dangerous and polluting fossil fuel storage that will look, down the road just a few years, like promoting a buggy-whip factory while competitors introduced the automobile. Renewable energy is the future– and the companies and cooperatives making renewable energy available to us can create many, many more jobs in our state than fossil fuels do. For the jobs, for the safety of our residents and businesses, and for Seneca Lake, we need to ramp up renewables as we ramp DOWN fossil fuels.”

Those arrested today were:

Gordon Bonnet, 54, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Dan Burgevin, 68, Trumansburg, Tompkins County
Rufus Cappadocia, 47, Brooklyn, Kings County
Krys Cail, 62, Ulysses, Tompkins County
Greg Copeland, 54, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Lauren Eastwood, 45, Plattsburgh, Clinton County
Lisa Fernandez, 48, Burdett, Schuyler County
Josh Fox, 43, Brooklyn, Kings County
John Hoffman, 62, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Colleen Kattau, 56, Cortland, Cortland County
Bill Kitchen, 62, Johnstown, Fulton County
Keith Liblick, 41, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Jon McNamara, 34, Owego, Tioga County
Amanda Postma, 30, Lodi, Seneca County
Johnno Potts, 34, Hector, Schuyler County
Joe Sliker, 33, Ulysses, Tompkins County
Phil Terrie, 66, Ithaca, Tompkins County
Michele VanCoppenolle, 62, Penn Yan, Yates County
Bethany Yarrow, 44, West Fulton, Schoharie County
Ken Zeserson, 67, Ulysses, Tompkins County
Lee Ziesche, 25, Brooklyn, Kings County


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.