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schuylercountyseal120Watkins Glen, NY – Over 200 community members attended the Schuyler County Legislative meeting yesterday where the legislature approved a resolution supporting the Finger Lakes LPG Storage facility in a 5-3 vote despite widespread local opposition. Over 100 people and several media outlets were denied entrance to the meeting as the assembly space reached capacity. Countless attendees justified their opposition to the facility citing geological instability, and negative effects on tourism, community health, and decline in quality of lake water which is a drinking source for over 100,000 people.

The legislature has officially endorsed that 2.1 million barrels of propane and butane (88.2 million gallons) be deposited in a storage facility and increase natural gas storage to 2 billion cubic feet in underground salt caverns alongside Seneca Lake. While the proposed resolution passed, the meeting exposed resistance from business owners, residents and neighbors alike who exhibited fervent opposition to a venture which poses a threat to the community’s well-being. The three other counties surrounding the lake, Ontario, Seneca, and Yates, along with the Town and City of Geneva, the Town of Waterloo, and the Town of Ulysses have officially expressed opposition to the projects, as have over 200 local businesses.

“We are extremely disappointed by the legislature’s final vote yesterday,” said Yvonne Taylor, co-founder of Gas Free Seneca, a local group strongly opposed to the LPG project. “A yes vote by any legislator on this resolution was a no vote for every one of their constituents, neighbors, and local business owners in the region.  The sustainable and growing agri-tourism businesses collectively comprise the largest employer in the county and in the region, and these decision- makers just slapped them in the face with this resolution.”

Despite endorsement by the Schuyler County Legislature, final approval from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is required. The DEC continues its assessment and has not yet completed the Environmental Impact Statement on the project.

A 30 minute public hearing prior to voting revealed the opinions of residents in opposition of the project and Crestwood employees in support. Crestwood has told both the Legislature and its employees that it will shut the plant down if it does not receive the permits.  According to the Energy Information Administration, propane exports increased 75% in 2013.   A Teppco pipeline that had been serving the Northeast with propane was also reversed to send ethane to the Gulf of Mexico.  This has created a shortage of propane for the Northeast. A motion to table the vote was proposed and ultimately denied, resulting in voting on two resolutions, one for the facility and one against. The opposing resolution, brought forward by Legislator Mark Lausell, failed in a 2-6 vote.

“This Resolution is a seriously flawed document. The DEC is nowhere near approving permits for this project and the Resolution should be rescinded on that point alone,” said fellow Gas Free Seneca co-founder, Joseph Campbell. “Now, the fate of the Finger Lakes is in the hands of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the DEC. We sincerely hope that the Governor and the DEC will realize that the community, economy and environment of our region is being threatened by Houston-based Crestwood, and will take the safety concerns more seriously than FERC and act to protect the heart of the Finger Lakes.”

Legislator Lausell introduced the opposing resolution after voicing concern that the project lacked an emergency response strategy in the instance that a crisis related to the proposed gas storage plant should arise. Gas Free Seneca supports Legislator Lausell in his efforts to implement a concrete plan that would protect citizens of Schuyler County and surrounding areas and ensure environmental protection.

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