Enviro groups, business owners claim victory in Seneca Lake gas storage fight

Seneca Lake

Arlington Storage Company, a subsidiary of energy distributor Crestwood, is abandoning its effort to expand fracked gas storage in unlined salt caverns along Seneca Lake. In its bi-weekly Environmental Compliance Report, filed today with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Arlington states:

Despite its best efforts, Arlington has not been successful in securing long-term contractual commitments from customers that would support completion of the Gallery 2 Expansion Project… Accordingly, Arlington has discontinued efforts to complete the Gallery 2 Expansion Project.

The decision was met with cheers from environmental groups and some 400 businesses that had been fighting the plan for years.

“This is a tremendous victory for the people of the region who have fought for years to protect Seneca Lake and the Finger Lakes from industrialized gas storage. This ill-conceived plan has cast a shadow on the region’s burgeoning tourist industry from the start, and today we celebrate our victory against Goliath,” said Yvonne Taylor, vice president of Gas Free Seneca.

Crestwood is a Texas-based natural gas distribution and storage company that was seeking to turn a depleted salt mine along Seneca Lake, two miles north of Watkins Glen, into a major methane, propane, and butane storage and transport hub for the Northeastern United States.

Opponents of the plan argue that storing large quantities of gas is not only incompatible with the existing wine and tourism industries, for which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has shown enthusiastic support, but that it is irresponsible to store gas along a drinking water source for 100,000 people.

“The admitted failure to secure customers establishes that there is no need for Arlington to expand,” said attorney Deborah Goldberg of Earthjustice, which has been representing Gas Free Seneca. “We will be asking FERC to rescind its 2014 project approval, which rested on a plainly flawed finding that expansion was required by ‘public convenience and necessity’.”

While Crestwood has said their project would create jobs in the region, opponents say the number of local jobs that could be lost, should there be an accident, would far outnumber those created at the storage and transport hub. The wine and tourism industry — which had been vocal in their opposition to the plan — currently employs about 58,000 people.

“This has been a long drawn out battle to protect a World Class region from a Texas based oil and gas corporation. They only see dollar signs, where we see tranquil beauty, clean air, and fresh water,” said Joseph Campbell, president of Gas Free Seneca. “Crestwood should see the writing on the wall where 32 municipalities across the Finger Lakes region, representing 1.2 million residents are on record opposing gas storage on Seneca Lake, and they should withdraw their applications to store LPG in these unsafe salt caverns as well. They are clearly not wanted here.”