Foodies and Farmers, Bakers and Cider Makers
Turn Up the Heat on Crestwood
Story and photo by Janet McCue
More than 75 activists, representing a sizeable slice of the food scene in the Finger Lakes, protested Crestwood Midstream’s proposal to store liquefied petroleum (LPG) in abandoned salt caverns beneath Seneca Lake. The protest on Wednesday, January 28 featured chefs, B&B owners, nutritionists, bakers, restauranteurs, apple growers and maple syrup tappers. One theme was clear: Crestwood’s proposed facility presents a serious threat to the established wine, food and tourism industry. The protesters illustrated how their endeavors provide many more jobs than the 8-10 new jobs that Crestwood promises. Crestwood’s expanded facility and the associated environmental risks could derail or destroy the entire Finger Lakes tourism industry.
Of course, no protest with farmers could start without a feast. Chefs, bakers, caterers and foodies served savory meatballs, quinoa salads with sun-dried tomatoes, freshly baked breads and angel food cake dipped in maple syrup to help energize the 75+ protesters.
Crestwood Midstream Partners’ Plan
The Houston company plans to create a storage and transformation hub for the entire Northeast with their Seneca Lake facility. According to company documents, their firm “connects energy supply in North America’s premier shale plays with energy demand through a best-in-class midstream network.” Crestwood has already received federal approval to expand its methane-gas storage; the upcoming issues conference with the NYS DEC will determine whether they can expand capacity with liquid propane and butane storage.
We Are Seneca Lake
We Are Seneca Lake, which sponsored the demonstration, is a coalition of citizens concerned about the environmental risks of LPG storage and the economic impact of this type of industrial development on the Finger Lakes. With over 100,000 people dependent on Seneca Lake for their drinking water, hundreds of grape-growers, farmers, and residents relying on the health of the lake, the potential risk of catastrophic failure in an underground salt cavern facility or leakage from a brine pit would be disastrous. Crestwood is not insured to handle this type of environmental disaster and most of the small towns and municipalities around the lake are not equipped to respond to one.
February Issues Conference
On February 12, the NYS DEC will hold an issues conference on Crestwood’s application. A Cavern Integrity Analysis Report filed on January 15, 2015 by H.C. Clark, an emeritus geology & geophysics professor at Rice University, stated: “In my opinion, there are serious questions remaining about the solution-mined salt caverns in this area and their future integrity, and the data gaps are serious enough to warrant denial of the permit.” (Click here for the full report and other resources.) Crestwood officials said that they are looking forward “to presenting the facts and dispelling the many myths that have surrounded this project.”
Janet McCue is an avid hiker who enjoys both the beauty and the bounty of the Finger Lakes. Her website follows her six-day culinary trek through the Finger Lakes, a journey that Edible Finger Lakes covered in its July/August 2014 issue (“Hike to Eat”).
For more of Janet’s work with Edible Finger Lakes, check out her story on skiing and eating in the Finger Lakes.