The residents of Planet Ithaca have a superiority complex that keeps them coming, uninvited and unwanted to the aid of Schuyler County, New York.
Let’s start with recap of recent history that has to do with the trumped-up “life or death tipping point” that is occurring in Schuyler County, New York. A LOT has happened in just the last 2 months.
A newly-named group “We Are Seneca Lake” has popped-up, with the requisite new web pages, one at www.wearesenecalake.com and another on Facebook (at https://www.facebook.com/WeAreSenecaLake ). There is obviously some good-money behind the webmaster.
Schuyler County and Its Arrestees
Gas Free Seneca, the opposition group formed against LPG-Storage in 2010 has posted many pictures of people proclaiming “We Are Seneca Lake!”.
We already know the Gas Free Seneca bunch is a Park, Heinz and Rockefeller Foundations-linked bunch, whose money, with other donation, flows through the Sustainable Markets Foundation. That has been well-documented.
The roots of the new group are murky, but we can clearly see the stamp of “Park Foundation-Funded Idealogue-Activist Group” on it. Sandra Steingraber keeps showing-up as a rally-leader, and protester/arrestee, photo-op leader, and jail-bird. There are a few other repetitive names and faces posting “Press Kits”, being arrested and such, but mostly it is a story of deluded and mis-led “useful idiots” being led to waste their time and energy to learn what the inside of courtroom and a jail looks like.
This group (We Are Seneca Lake) is specifically to fight a “last-ditch battle” against the storage of natural gas, propane and butane in the mined-out salt cavities now owned by Crestwood, in the brinefield operated down through history by a progression of names: International Salt, Akzo, Cargill (just 1 year) and now US Salt. The reason: “All other efforts have failed….”
But this group is different than the standard “group of concerned citizens allied to perform public education”, as most others profess to be. Their intent, most-clearly outlined by Ruth Young in a December 4, 2014 piece in the Star-Gazette, is to “punish” Schuyler County Legislature for daring to be supportive of local-business advancement and provision of new jobs. They want to make Schuyler County pay by having to fund the ladies to be housed in Chemung or Yates County Jails, and the guys in Schuyler County Jail. Yes, that’s right, they want to punish every resident of Schuyler County by having to pay higher taxes. That’s right, they think Schuyler’s taxes should rise towards….well, Tompkins County’s, for instance!
This group is notably-different because it has members designated as “Arrestees”. They will achieve their goal to stop progress by using non-violent civil disobedience. The arrestees are of course ‘just special’, and wear red armbands to show it. The non-armband people are the 2nd-string, the supporters, needed to stroke the self-sacrificing Arrestees, make videos of their arrests, and provide ‘numbers, color and quotes’ for any news-people within reach.
Yes, “We Are Seneca Lake” is a collection of the misguided individuals who have “drank the Kool-Aid” with gusto. They want to expand their resumes’ “Concerned about Mother Earth” section with bona fides to include being arrested for trespassing in the course of stopping progress on the facilities to provide the larger society with needed energy-storage services.
In other circles those “arrestees” are tagged “useful idiots” — a term which harkens-back to the days of the ‘50s-‘60s anti-American radicals trying to promote the concept “Communists really DO know how to run the world better!” Many of the older generation will remember the infamous Saul Alinsky as their “PhD-Professor” aka “Community Organizer.” It is significant to current-politics that both President Obama and Hillary Clinton consider themselves to be disciples of his. But I digress….
FERC has already granted approval last summer to proceed with construction to store additional natural gas in a second cavity (the first has been in use since 1994). The surface facilities would not change substantially and most people driving-by on Route 14 do so without noticing, or caring, about the unobtrusive gas-handling facility installed there now.
Gas Free Seneca, another front group of “The Ithacans”, has tried without any luck to foment angst about what could be seen from the other side of the lake. From the other side of the lake the ‘Seneca Gas Storage facility looks, to anyone without powerful spotting-scope, like just another barn, brewery or winery. Same goes for the view from Seneca Lake itself.
And the same can be said for the surface facilities needing installation for the LPG-Storage function. Even though they have a larger ‘footprint’ for Brine Ponds and the 32-RR car capacity loading & unloading spurs, they will just not be particularly-noticeable nor look out of place. Whereas the wineries are generally made to be noticeable from the highway, these facilities have the opposite desire – to be unnoticed – since they are not intended to attract the public, only serve its needs indirectly.
More Than NIMBYism at Work
There is more than just NIMBY-ism at work here (NIMBY-ism = ‘Not In MY Back Yard’ – put it in SOMEBODY ELSE’S back yard!).
Some “end of the world old-time-religion” is now present. Yes, the anti-gas+LPG people have convinced themselves that “the end is near” if any facilities are built and operated right here, on the hillside overlooking Seneca Lake. Yes, this facility will be different than the other New York Facilities for storing gas (26) and LPG (3). Yes, 29 facilities in the state, already!! Who would have guessed!? Unless you do a little digging, you just don’t realize how much of that ‘storage’ business goes on without being noticed at all!
Luckily our NYS DEC has put them all on a map so we can understand how many are out there (and my thanks to them!):
Oh sure, the antis have their rationales about why this expansion of storage is not just ‘bad’, but the end of the world! Here is a rundown of some of the more outlandish rationales:
LPG-Storage is a “…Fracking “Gateway Drug” In New York” …gas projects would spell ecological and economic disaster for the region”
‘Storage’ is really just ‘fracking’ by another name, and we know that really is the end of the world!
The ‘antis’ have produced some really notable rhetoric long this line:
“I have come to understand climate change as a mass murderer that has my children in its sights. (And fracking is its toxic, thuggish, water-destroying accomplice).
“….[we] are on the leading edge of an emergent social movement that will only grow in numbers and intensity as the dire urgency of the climate change emergency (and fracking, its obscene, clanging bell) becomes evermore apparent.”
That was from Sandra Steingraber’s “Crappy Mom Manifesto: Letter to Fellow Mothers from the Chemung County Jail.” It was half pity-party and half-propaganda. I could go on, but it becomes repetitive; just keep your eyes and ears open for your own favorites.
LPG and natural gas will contaminate Seneca Lake!
Yes, there are people out there who don’t let the laws of physics and chemistry get in the way of their imaginary delusions. They don’t understand that even if these those valuable hydrocarbons somehow made it into the lake, they are immiscible with water, have low density so they will float to the top of that water, and they have high vapor pressure so will evaporate and disperse rapidly at the surface.
Nor can they explain just why these valuable stored materials would leak. There is no history of surface fault movement in NYS in known history. “Surface faulting” is not to be confused with earthquakes from stress-relieving deep in the basement rock. Even the little one under Seneca Lake that occurred in 2013 was >5 miles deep, in the basement rock.
Others think disaster-scenarios are possible because they do not understand the “plastic” nature of the salt under pressure from the weight of rock above it — it is a self-sealing substance, and also seals the shale layers within the salt.
Salt will contaminate the drinking water for 100,000 people!
First of all, this lake only supplies water for ~55,000 people. Rounding-up as was done here is not good technical practice, and is misleading.
Some picture the ground as so fractured that it is inconceivable that gas or LPG would want to stay in a cavity. Others like to picture contamination happening “Hollywood-style” with huge cracks opening in the earth, and brine and hydrocarbons squirting-out every which way.
Why? Well, Cavity #2, you see, will be “different” than Cavity #1, which has not leaked now for 21 years. Similar in “not leaking” to the other 28 storage facilities in NYS that have not leaked.
Some picture contamination happening through brine pond failure and spillage into the lake. The problem with this scenario is that engineered impoundments are not known to have a failure-rate higher than zero.
Those 8 or 10 jobs are too small to worry about to trade for the ‘risk’.
Yeah, jobs are like that sugar cube in your coffee. You don’t miss them until not there! Ask anyone paying a mortgage, who is suddenly laid-off due to the end of tourist-season, and is facing 6 months before their return, how much they miss a ‘real job’.
The ‘antis’ pooh-pooh the fact that these jobs are:
- Full-time year-round jobs paying $40-50k/year;
- With benefits valued at another ~25% of that.
And they don’t want you to remember that:
- Vineyard and winery jobs are ~$18-24k/year average wages;
- With no benefits;
- And are part-time.
So right away each “gas-job” has an economic-value to this region of 5-6x the “vineyard/winery-jobs.”
Then you ask: Does that ‘ag’ job worker do some other part-time job in the off-times, or do they collect unemployment benefits, or welfare? Well, you get the idea – full-time jobs that can support a mortgage are worth a lot more to an economy that are part-time minimum-wage jobs. That is why New York was hurt so much when its taxing-practices chased so many manufacturing jobs out of state.
The budding wine and tourism industry will be ruined!
“Why would anyone want to risk all that so many of us have worked so hard to achieve? We must be stewards of this very sacred land of lakes and make every effort to keep Schuyler County and the Finger Lakes Region as pristine and natural as possible. We must ensure that our children and their children have the opportunity to live and thrive in this region, as we have. We must keep corporations, who have no connection to our regional history, with no concern for our heath and safety, out of our region.” (From recent letter-to-editor from Phyllisa DeSarno and Peter Widynski published in The Odessa File.)
Observers such as this author wonder: How has the wine and tourism industry boomed while the local storage of gas and LPG was already in-place before their boom, and continued with it to this day? The presumed destruction of the one booming industry by the other….uh, well… just ‘does not compute.’
Again, back to ‘NIMBY-ism’ to introduce some levity for you. These readers are surely familiar with ‘NIMBY’, for “Not In My Back Yard”. But do you know that outlook has advanced to the new Ithaca-special version ‘BANANA’ for “Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything” (or alternately, ‘Anyone’). And the more-radical elements have had their philosophy tagged as ‘NOPE!’ (Not On Planet Earth!).
Keep these acronyms in mind for the next speech, article or opinion against some form of societal-progress that ‘antis’ are trying to roadblock.
Back to the Ithacans – “They Are Not Our Taxpayers”
Late in October the ‘arrestees’ took to blocking one or two gates off of Route 14 leading into the Seneca Gas Storage facility, and the Brinefield in general. The idea was to bring construction around the 2nd gas cavity to a halt. This got off to a bad start because….NO GAS-CAVITY-RELATED CONSTRUCTION WAS OCCURRING! They spent several days standing-around not bothering anyone, until on October 29th a semi-truck tried to deliver some oxidizer used in the brinefield. They stood in front of the semi, who stopped, tried to reason with them, read the tea leaves correctly, and called the State Police. In 20 minutes the protesters were arrested and hauled-away. It actually went better than they expected — the officers did not discriminate, as they took both “arrestees” (with the red arm-bands) as well as “supporters” (to their chagrin and shock!). 10 total. Anyone standing in the way of progress was….gone!
Four days later they came back with a big crew of ‘arrestees’ on November 3rd and 15 were arrested and booked. There was a 2-week lull and then they hit it hard for 5 days straight: 10 arrested on the 17th, then 8, 9, 9 and 12 more on the 21st. That brought the total to 73 arrests.
But an interesting thing was happening, and social media helped bring the facts in front of many people: Only a few of the ‘arrestees’ were locals (Schuyler County residents), and the rest were from all-around, but mostly from “The People’s Republic of Ithaca” in Tompkins County, which does not even border Seneca Lake (that’s Cayuga Lake over there, similar to Seneca, yes, but distinctly different).
On November 18th, Sheriff Bill Yessman was on a news-clip explaining how much this was costing the County. That story was put onto the Facbook page ‘Schuyler-County-NY-Sheriff’ and a comment-war ensued. The ‘locals’ were not impressed with all of the concern brought over from Tompkins County, and began expressing it in their comments (I leave the authors off, but it is all public. Here is some of that dialogue for your entertainment:
“…thank you people for being peaceful and not using guns but you also suck for the butterfly effect on others.”
“Our deputies and other affiliated law enforcement officers have better things to do with their time than pick up these people and give them a ride to be booked.”
“Fine them $10,000 or one year in jail in state facility”
“Fine them 250 dollars or 10 days in jail and pay boarding cost, that would make the punishment fit the crime if they want to go to jail.”
“Not only are they wasting the precious resource of our law enforcement officers, and causing concern to area travellers, they then waste taxpayer money when they draw crowds to our courts, where they may again waste those law enforcement resources for “crowd control” and traffic control, they then refuse to pay the penalties and waste our tax dollars as we have to pay for these “imports” to be housed, fed, and cared for in our county jail! I object to that practice!”
“They are not all of our tax payers! They are outsiders. Maybe there should be some law where the fees for our law enforcement, courts and jails should be judgements put against them or add it to their property taxes! Protesting is okay IF you do it right.”
“It is interesting that MOST of those arrested recently don’t live in Schuyler County. The group has to find people from Oregon, Iowa and Ohio to protest? Well I protest that these people are costing me tax dollars, police protection and tying up other resources. Here is an interesting article showing corruption in the anti-gas movement www.naturalgasnow.org/corrupt-world-fractivism-champions/ ”
[Comment by the Sheriff] “…out of the last 43 arrests only 3 were from Schuyler County. They are not our taxpayers.”
“they could protest without blocking the gates but they only get noticed if they get arrested. As for punishment high fines no jail time, second offense triple the fine, third time triple the previous fine. Why because they don’t deserve 3 hots and a cot on our dime, and they would be a pain to any jail that had to house them, special vegan gluten free diets and daily abuse charges if you look at them wrong. As for high fines they are supported by the local winerys and musicians with the funds from the Big Splash fests.”
“All expenses should be responsiblity of the people arrested for protesting”
“The real outsiders? The Texas based Crestwood. From thousands of miles away they plan to exploit our beloved lake, hiding facts (such as the maps) with blatant disregard to our safety and to our lake and our local economy.
All to store gases for export out of the area.”
“Good, bad or indifferent, Crestwood has the right to free enterprise, just like any other legal business, and if these people want to block entrance to the facility, lock them up and make them pay the $$$ amount that it costs to house them in jail! The sheriff isn’t complaining about doing his job…..You that are saying that aren’t getting it. Anyone who resides in SCHUYLER county, and pays taxes here is footing the bill for these a**holes that feel they should be able to protest wherever they feel. Just because free speech is a protected right, it’s not a right to block a place of business. I say they go eat their granola and tofu someplace else! Bunch of hippies”
“Who is the number one property tax payer in Schuyler County?” [It is well-known locally to be Crestwood]
“First of all the Park Foundation in Ithaca should use it’s funds as Mr. Park wanted, to help the community, not fund propaganda. Second, the violators should pay their own cost of incarceration or that cost should be billed to the County they live in – so far only four of the arrested protestors appear to actually live in Schuyler. Third, the phosphate in the fertilizers used around the lake have a much higher chance of polluting our drinking water. Why are they harrassing and trespassing at the Company’s gates and not harrassing their State politicians who make the decision. Is it because they’ve had the State’s doors shut in their face? Do they harrass their neighbor if they come home at 11:01pm, put their garbage out too early, mow their lawn every two weeks, breathe on the wrong day? We have a small amount of property tax owners paying taxes that aren’t agricultural or government exempt. This funds a small Sheriffs department that shouldn’t be spending their time on nonsense.”
“….remember we are talking about tax payers dollar’s that are paying the Emergency Personal Responders for people that block an entrance to a company that impacts the REAL emergencies in this county. Think about that. Apples and Oranges. At the end of the day it’s a waste of time for a Deputy to have to be detailed to people that are known to be non compliant on purpose. I want my money going to someone who truly needs help. Not to babysit.”
“Thank you sheriff yessman! You and your deputies are supported fully! If someone was trespassing on my peppery, i would expect the sheriff’s department to show up and remove or correct the issue. Trespass is illegal! Protesting in a peaceful and legal manner is our right, when you do it to be obnoxious manner….. and you break the law….. you will be arrested. There are so many other uses for our law enforcement! I support our sheriff’s department fully! Trying to get arrested to get “influential people” to back you is ridiculous….. (they’ve already been bought by big business anyway)”
“ “No one is “being imported” ” says Dan Rapaport — HA! The BIG LIE doesn’t fly well against facts — on November 17th were arrested, among others: John Abbe of Eugene, Oregon; Jimmy Betts of Iowa; Jane Kendall from NYC; Michael Clark of Cleveland, Ohio; Kelsey Erickson, from Carlisle, Massachusetts. All rate as ‘imports’ to me!”
“Thank you sheriff!!!! And all the deputies for over-performing. I feel the same way… As before I am not for or against the gas storage, if people must protest then do it legally. It’s pretty simple to understand.”
“Keep up the good work boys.”
“When every one of these protesters prove to me they are totally “GREEN” THEY ARE ALL HYPOCRITES! Apparently they all use fossil fuels… They don’t want propane here, but don’t care if it’s in someone else’s back yard.”
The Bandwagon That No One Jumped On
The protesters must have expected the locals to rally-round the cause, and were stunned to find they didn’t jump on the bandwagon.
Even more stunning was that they dared to criticize the arrestees and others as ‘outsiders’ coming to tell the ‘locals’ what was good for them.
The ‘score’ as of November 21st stood at 8 arrestees from Schuyler County, out of 73 total arrests, with a few being repeat-offenders.
The protesters took Thanksgiving week off, the came back on December 1st with their response – they had rounded-up a dozen ‘locals-only’ as that day’s arrestees. They expected to get it over quickly. After standing-around for hours a couple of them left to do “real work”. Then the rest (10) “got lucky” after about 7 hours, blocked a truck, and were promptly hauled off to booking.
Things reverted to almost back to normal on December 3rd, with 9 total arrestees, of which 4 were from Schuyler County.
Here is a summary of the arrests day-by-day with the origins of the “arrestees.”
Obviously, Schuyler County is at the nexus of this story. Yet, only 11% of the arrestees were from Schuyler, until the protesters were stung by how lop-sided the tally was. In the next 2 days, they brought the Schuyler arrestees to 24%. The evidence is that they are running-out of reserve sacrificial arrestees, and this attempt to flood the jail will not continue. The plot was never destined to work very well anyway, as there are only a limited number of arraignments (20 or so) scheduled per the once per 2 weeks court sessions (the other Town Judge recused himself as he is a US Salt employee).
Don’t Mess with Our Jobs!
The onset of the arrests triggered the union at US Salt (Steelworkers, part of the United Association) to take an active role to counter the protesters. Efforts on their part came to fruition with an arrival of yard-signs and bumper stickers that are now showing-up around Watkins Glen. Here is one on a street:
The bumper stickers have started showing up on the pipefitter’s mobile welding trucks, and the Finger Lakes RR has taken some to decorate their engines with:
OK, now it is time for the final analysis with the help of Google’s ‘Earth’ Software. We Are Seneca Lake has thoughtfully provided data on each arrestee’s hometown in most cases on their Seneca Lake Defenders page. One, Patrick Judson, has moved from Trumansburg, where he was initially reported to live, to claim Burdett instead, where he apparently grew up, as his mother lives there (she is also an “arrestee” with him, on the same day). Burdett is in Schuyler County, whereas Trumansburg is not.
The arrestees literally came from both the left and right-coasts of the country, and the middle (Oregon and Massachusetts; Nebraska). Looking closer to home at New York and plotting the locations, we get a spatial-distribution like this:
The numbers designate the “arrestee #.” As you might expect, they look to be scattered around the Seneca Lake area. But are they?
Looking closer, we find this distribution:
Now we are starting to see patterns in the data. There are groupings at Hector/Burdett/Cayutaville, Trumansburg, Ithaca/Lansing and Dryden, with a small cluster up at Geneva. But note the paucity on the west side of Seneca Lake where gas storage is actually proposed. Seems odd, doesn’t it?
Looking closer at Schuyler County only, you see:
Here we see some shocking-truth: There are absolutely no (ZERO) arrestees from the west side of the County at all! And, just one from Watkins Glen itself.
If you understand the local-sociology situation, you will recognize the source of the east Schuyler arrestees is what has become a bedroom community of Ithaca; the Hector/Burdett/Cayutaville ‘northeast Schuyler’ half which is collectively “Hector.” When you lump those residents in with Tompkins County, you find they comprise more than half of arrestees!
Now with Bill Huston working his Photoshop he predicts the Town of Reading will be “cratered” like this:
You’d think the locals would be up in arms, wouldn’t you?? Why not? After all, you know, the residents of the “Sacrifice (or Blast) Zone,” are the “Ground Zero” of the upcoming “End of the World”!!
But just the opposite is true — if absence implies consent, they are voting with their feet to consent to gas and LPG-Storage, and avoid this “arrestee” silliness.
So what does the map tell, as a story, besides this?
Perhaps: “The closer you are to Planet Ithaca, the more gullible you are to ‘anti’-influence?” Does it have to do with the 2nd or 3rd-generation spoiled-brat trust-funders who attend there? There is a dearth of hard-workin’ farm kids among that crowd.
Or is there truly something in the water there, as many have speculated? Or is it perhaps….the hazy smoke from “home grown produce” there, combined with mirrors manipulated by the Park Foundation?
Answer with your best guess as a comment, please.
Mr. Crea is a US Salt technical professional employee who is involved with their brinefield and wells management, but writes this as an interested citizen-observer, not as a spokesman for Crestwood or US Salt.
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