As protests continue over construction of a gas storage facility on the shore of Seneca Lake, people across the entire Finger Lakes region opposed to the project are getting involved.

As protests continue over construction of a gas storage facility on the shore of Seneca Lake, people across the entire Finger Lakes region opposed to the project are getting involved.
“The Finger Lakes is all of us,” said Rosemary Hooper, a Naples resident who has joined others from Ontario County in participating in the campaign to stop the building of the gas storage facility on the shore of Seneca Lake in Schuyler County.
Texas-based Crestwood Midstream's proposal is to use old abandoned salt caverns along the lake to store millions of barrels of liquid petroleum gas and billions of cubic feet of natural gas.
Those opposed include organizations, individuals, businesses and municipalities. The Ontario County Board of Supervisors, Yates County Legislature, Seneca County Board of Supervisors and Geneva City Council are among those that have passed motions opposing the proposed storage facility.
The proposal has generated opposition from over 200 businesses, over 60 wineries, 13 municipalities and thousands of residents in the Finger Lakes region who are concerned about the threat it poses to public health and safety, one of the state's largest supplies of drinking water, the local economy, and the area's growing wine and tourism industry, according to a grassroots opposition movement called We Are Seneca Lake.
While Hooper and others circulate petitions and help spread the word about protests and information on the project, those in the wine and tourism industries are finding creative ways to buck the project.
Eagle Crest Vineyards on Hemlock Lake just put out a series of wines aimed at helping environmental groups carry on their opposition to the storage project on Seneca Lake as well as other activities related to hydraulic fracturing.
No Frackin' Way is the new label on the series by Eagle Crest. While the wines are not new, the labels are, said Eagle Crest co-owner Will Ouweleen. Ouweleen said Eagle Crest chose to feature its three best sellers in the series (Midnight Moon, a red blend; On-no-lee, a Cayuga White; and Queen of the Vine, a blush). For every bottle sold in the No Frackin' Way series, a portion of the $14.99 cost per bottle will go the cause, he said. (The wines are also still available with the traditional label, and those are not part of the campaign).
Ouweleen said the funds will be used to help a pay for a legal challenge to the project's permit as well as other costs related to the cause.
In July, Ouweleen joined other winery and vineyard owners statewide in Albany to call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration to block approval of the facility.
As of Tuesday, 35 people had been arrested in the civil disobedience campaign to stop the project. Hooper said she and others from Naples were in Reading, Schuyler County, to witness the arrest of 10 people last month when the campaign started. A number of people have refused to pay fines for trespassing and have gone to jail instead.
“The methane gas storage expansion project is advancing in the face of broad public opposition and unresolved questions about geological instabilities, fault lines, and possible salinization of the lake, which serves as a source of drinking water for 100,000 people,” according to We Are Seneca Lake (
State regulators have released draft permit conditions for the proposed facility. The state Department of Environmental Conservation says the move doesn't signal an ultimate decision on the controversial project, which has been under review for five years.
The agency has scheduled an "issues conference" on Feb. 12 in Horseheads, Chemung County, because of extensive public interest in the proposal. The release of draft permit conditions Nov. 10 was part of the process leading to that conference.
The issues conference will determine if there are significant issues that require a hearing before a judge. To participate, individuals or groups must file a petition for party status by Dec. 10.
— Includes reporting from The Associated Press