Healthcare workers join victorious effort to protect Seneca Lake

May 12, 2017

Opponents of a plan to store gas near Seneca Lake in upstate New York prevailed this week, after Crestwood, a Texas-based corporation, announced it is abandoning its effort to expand fracked gas storage in unlined salt caverns along the lake. According to a

filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the company couldn’t secure long-term contractual commitments with customers.

“This is a tremendous victory for those who fought for years to protect Seneca Lake and the Finger Lakes," said Yvonne Taylor, Vice President of Gas Free Seneca. "

Alarmed by the risk that gas storage at salt caverns with a history of collapse posed to thousands of 1199SEIU members, families and communities who depend on drinking water from the Finger Lakes, in 2015, 1199SEIU joined Gas Free Seneca, area small business owners and a diverse group of coalition members in a fight to stop Crestwood.

The union’s Executive Committee unanimously passed a resolution opposing Crestwood’s plan. The resolution states, “1199 is proud to support the efforts of hundreds of committed activists across the region who have the courage to stand up to Crestwood and protest its pursuit of profit at the expense of the health of our communities.”

Upon passage of the resolution, 1199SEIU Vice President Todd Hobler said, “Healthcare workers have always been committed to defending clean drinking water, advocating for the health of our communities, and stopping climate change. We are calling on our public officials to do the right thing by prohibiting a wealthy corporation from polluting Seneca Lake.”

Since that time, 1199SEIU members and staff collected hundreds of petition signatures opposing the plan, made their voices heard at press conferences locally and at the state capital, participated in blockades near Seneca Lake and staged a protest in front of Con Ed’s shareholder meeting in NYC.

While Crestwood’s decision to abandon their ill-conceived plan is a major victory, the fight for climate justice is gaining steam and 1199SEIU will continue to oppose any efforts to expand dependence on fossil fuels that would exacerbate the crisis of climate change and endanger the health and safety of our communities.