WATKINS GLEN, NY – Ulysses Town Board member J.G. Hertzler, who portrayed Klingon General Martok through three seasons of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, was among 6 Tompkins residents arrested during a civil disobedience action at the Crestwood Gas Facility on Seneca Lake.

19 people in total were arrested for disorderly conduct for blocking traffic in and out of the facility for about 45 minutes on Monday morning. The total number of arrests in the 20-month-old civil disobedience campaign is now 604, according to a press release from activist group, We Are Seneca Lake.

The group continues to fight construction of the storage facility, which will be used to store methane, propane and butane – much of it, they say, produced by fracking – beneath the shores of Seneca Lake. There are concerns about geological instabilities, fault lines, and the possible salinization of Seneca Lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people

Recently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission extended the permit for one of Crestwood’s subsidiaries, giving it another two years to build out the facility. Over 250 comments from the public opposed the extension.

Also among those arrested was another “celebrity guest”: award-winning actor James Cromwell of Orange County, NY. Cromwell is known for his appearances in the films Star Trek: First Contact and Babe. Riffing on the Star Trek mantra, protesters encouraged New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to “boldly go beyond fossil fuels.”

Hertzler gave a statement saying: “My forty-some years as an actor have taken me all over the world. But the prettiest place I’ve ever seen is right here: the Finger Lakes Region of New York. And so I chose to live here, just on the other side of Seneca Lake… I am also a member of the Ulysses Town Board.”

“When I first ran for office, our platform was preserving our heritage and planning for the future. Today, I am here for both of those reasons. Governor Cuomo, we, the people, do not want to see these pristine lakes turned into cheap, contaminated, industrialized storage facilities for Crestwood and Con Ed.”

Click below for the full statement from We Are Seneca Lake:

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Watkins Glen, NY – Early this morning on a hillside above Seneca Lake, actors James Cromwell and John “J.G.” Hertzler, of Star Trek fame, joined 17 area residents in an act of civil disobedience that is part of an ongoing citizen campaign against salt cavern gas storage here.

While blockading the main entrance to the Crestwood compressor station, the two actors urged Governor Cuomo to stand up to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for greenlighting an expansion of this fracked gas infrastructure project against overwhelming local opposition and for undermining the governor’s own stated commitment to a rapid transition to renewable energy.

Starting at 6:45 a.m. and continuing until their arrests by Schuyler County deputies shortly before 7:30 a.m., the protesters blocked all traffic from leaving and entering the facility, including two Crestwood tanker trucks. All 19 were transported to the Schuyler County sheriff’s department, charged with disorderly conduct, ticketed, and released.

John Hertzler, 66, who played Klingon General Martok on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, said“The prettiest place I’ve ever seen is right here: the Finger Lakes region of New York….Governor Cuomo, we, the people, do not want to see these pristine lakes turned into cheap, contaminated, industrialized storage facilities for Crestwood and Con Ed. Stand with us, Governor! Defend your own program for getting New York State off of fossil fuels and transitioned to renewable energy. FERC—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—seeks to keep us chained to the energy of the past and, in so doing, threatens our water, our lands, our safety, and the very climate of this, our planet. Boldly go with us, Governor Cuomo, into a renewable energy future.”

Hertzler lives in the Finger Lakes region with his family in the Town of Ulysses where he serves on the town board.

James Cromwell, 76, who played Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact and who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role as Farmer Arthur Hoggett in Babe, called on New Yorkers to join the We Are Seneca Lake movement. He said, “FERC-approved fracked gas infrastructure projects are taking over our entire state—from the crumbly salt caverns of Seneca Lake, where the gas will be stored, to the pipelines and compressor stations that devastate our farmlands, wetlands, and maple groves, all the way to the burner tips of the natural gas-fired power plants that are planned for downstate. With all of New York under attack by the fossil fuel industry and by the rogue agency called FERC, all New Yorkers now need to stand up, stand together, and say NO.”

[Full text of both statements appear below.]

Referencing the films in which the two have appeared, protesters held banners and signs that read, “We Are Seneca Lake, Babe / And We Will Not Be FERC-ed” and “Trekkies Against Crestwood-Con Ed Boldly Going Toward Renewables.”

The total number of arrests in the 20-month-old We Are Seneca Lake civil disobedience campaign now stands at 604.

Crestwood’s methane gas storage expansion project was originally approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in October 2014 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. In spite of near-unanimous citizen opposition, FERC’s last-minute permit extension on May 16 gave Crestwood’s Arlington subsidiary another two years to build out its natural gas storage facility.

Salt cavern storage accounts for only seven percent of total underground storage of natural gas in the United States but, since 1972, is responsible for 100 percent of the catastrophic accidents that has resulted in loss of life.

Crestwood also seeks to store two other products of fracking in Seneca Lake salt caverns—propane and butane (so-called Liquefied Petroleum Gases, LPG)—for which it is awaiting a decision by Governor Cuomo’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

 

The 19 arrested at Seneca Lake today were:

Richard Battaglia, 54, Richford, Tioga County

Leslie Brack, 49, Ithaca, Tompkins County

James Cromwell, 76, Warwick, Orange County

John V. Dennis, 66, Lansing, Tompkins County

Lauren Eastwood, 46, Plattsburgh, Clinton County

Bob Eklund, 63, New Lisbon, Otsego County

Linda C. Fedele, 53, Perinton, Monroe County

John Garman “J.G.” Hertzler, 66, Ulysses, Tompkins County

[Reverend] Gary Judson, 76, Burdett, Schuyler County

Jeanne Judson, 78, Burdett, Schuyler County

Sandra Marshall, 67, Newfield, Tompkins County

David H. McLallen, 61, Ulysses, Tompkins County

Patricia Rodriguez, 47, Brooktondale, Tompkins County

Mark Scibilia-Carver, 63, Ulysses, Tompkins County

Trellan Smith, 50, Oxford, Chenango County

Dan Taylor, 65, Oxford, Chenango County

Catherine Taylor, 52, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Suzanne Winkler (Suzy), 57, Burlington, Otsego County

Robyn Wishna, 58, Slaterville, Tompkins County

 

Full text of J.G. Hertlzer’s prepared statement:  

Hi, everyone. My name is John Hertzler, although some of you may know me better as Klingon General Martok on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.

My forty-some years as an actor have taken me all over the world. But the prettiest place I’ve ever seen is right here: the Finger Lakes Region of New York.

And so I chose to live here, just on the other side of Seneca Lake. I have a daughter going to school here.

I am also a member of the Ulysses Town Board. When I first ran for office, our platform was PRESERVING OUR HERITAGE and PLANNING for the FUTURE. Today, I am here for both of those reasons.

Governor Cuomo, we, the people, do not want to see these pristine lakes turned into cheap, contaminated, industrialized storage facilities for Crestwood and Con Ed.

Stand with us, Governor! Defend your own program for getting New York State off of fossil fuels and transitioned to renewable energy. FERC—the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission—seeks to keep us chained to the energy of the past and, in so doing, threatens our water, our lands, our safety, the very climate of this, our Planet.

Boldly go with us, Governor Cuomo, into a renewable energy future.

And now I’d like to introduce my friend and fellow actor, James Cromwell.

 

Full text of James Cromwell’s prepared statement:

Good morning. My name is James Cromwell. I’m an actor and a producer. You might know me as Farmer Arthur Hoggett in the movie Babe; as Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact; as Captain Dudley Smith in L.A. Confidential; as Hal Moores in The Green Mile; or from my work on American Horror Story.

Today, I’ve come from my home in Orange County to take a stand against gas storage at Seneca Lake and to take a stand against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that has enabled and approved this project in spite of near unanimous public opposition.

And I bring a message to all New Yorkers: FERC-approved fracked gas infrastructure projects are taking over our entire state—from the crumbly salt caverns of Seneca Lake, where the gas will be stored, to the pipelines and compressor stations that devastate our farmlands, wetlands, and maple groves, all the way to the burner tips of the natural gas-fired power plants that are planned for downstate.

Thus, with all of New York under attack by the fossil fuel industry and by the rogue agency called FERC, all New Yorkers now need to stand up, stand together, and say NO.

Last December, I was arrested along with five other people while blocking the construction of the CPV Valley Power Plant in Waywayanda, New York, near my home in Warwick.

Here is what I said on that cold winter day:

‘I am here in support of the people of this town, this country, and people all over the world who have a right to live in an environment that is not being polluted poisoned and devastated by an industry that cares more about its own profits than the well-being of all sentient beings.’

And I bring those same words to Seneca Lake, where I am risking arrest with 18 other people on a warm summer day—and where I just may have the honor of becoming arrest #600 here on the driveway of the Crestwood compressor station.

Fellow New Yorkers, we have a movement on our hands. It’s a growing movement of peace-loving people who are saying YES to renewable energy and NO to poisonous, devastating fracked gas projects.

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James Cromwell (all photos courtesy We Are Seneca Lake).
J.G. Hertzler (all photos courtesy We Are Seneca Lake).
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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.