Photo courtesy of We Are Seneca Lake

A judge in the town of Reading dismissed charges Wednesday night for 42 people arrested during ongoing acts of civil disobedience at the gates of a proposed natural gas expansion in Schuyler County.


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Twelve of of the protesters who saw their charges dropped are from Tompkins County.

“We Are Seneca Lake,” the group protesting the expansion of Crestwood Midstream Partners at the mouth of Seneca Lake, said in a statement that Judge Raymond Berry’s had agreed to drop all of the protesters’ charges. (About 100 other people also face trespassing charges in connection with the protests.)

“We’ve seen a sea change in the way the court and the prosecutors have reacted to our cases—from maximum sentences for jail terms for trespassing violations to large-scale offers to support dismissals in the interests of justice,” said Sujata Gibson, an Ithaca attorney who has represented We Are Seneca Lake, in a statement.

“This is a testament to the sincerity and passion of the protesters.”

Photo courtesy of We Are Seneca Lake

The fight over the Crestwood facility’s proposal to store gas in abandoned lakeside salt caverns has been ongoing since at least the fall of 2014.

Dozens of protesters have been arrested over the course of several months, but it remained unclear how much jail time — if any — many of the protesters would be ordered to serve.

A statement said their appeal for leniency was helped recently by Ray Schlather, a well-known Ithaca attorney, who helped negotiate the settlement.

According to a statement, last night the protesters in Reading Town Court read the following:

“We only have this planet. We must safeguard it for those who follow. Would that it not be necessary, but sometimes citizens of good conscience must engage in non-violent acts of civil disobedience to protect that sacred trust. As long as Crestwood Midstream Partners, or any other corporate or public or private entity, continues to threaten our way of life by the proven dangerous storage of highly compressed gas in the crumbling caverns at the Salt Point facility, I reserve the right to act as my conscience dictates in order to protect Seneca Lake, its citizens, and the surrounding environment. I reserve all rights to protest further at the Crestwood facility, although it is not my intent at this time to break the law in doing so.”

Here’s the list of those whose charges were dropped last night:

Judy Abrams, 66, Trumansburg, Tompkins County

Edgar Brown, 60, Naples, Ontario County

Carolyn Byrne, 38, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Deborah Cippola-Dennis, 49, Dryden, Tompkins County

Joanne Cippola-Dennis, 53, Dryden, Tompkins County

Lyndsay Clark, 53, Springwater, Livingston County

James Connor, 83, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County

Doug Couchon, 64, Elmira, Chemung County

Kim Cunningham, 58, Naples, Ontario County

John Dennis, 63, Lansing, Tompkins County

Michael Dineen, 65, Ovid, Seneca County

Peter Drobney, 56, Corning, Steuben County

Martha Ferger, 90, Dryden, Tompkins County

Richard Figiel, 68, Hector, Schuyler County

Carrie Fischer, 38 Fayette, Seneca County

Kenneth Fogarty, 75, Guilford, Chenango County

Lynn Gerry, 58, Watkins Glen, Schuyler County

Heather Hallagan, 41, Meckenburg, Schuyler County

Carey Harben, 47, Hector, Schuyler County

Nancy Kasper, 56, North Rose, Wayne County

Sharon Kahkonen, 65, Mecklenburg, Schuyler County

Crow Marley, 55, Hector, Schuyler County

Faith Meckley, 20, Geneva, Ontario County

Kelly Morris, 55, Danby, Tompkins County

Paul Passavant, 48, Geneva, Ontario County

Kirsten Pierce, 44, Burdett, Schuyler County

Mariah Plumlee, 35, Covert, Seneca County

Leslie Potter, 70, Big Flats, Chemung County

Dan Rapaport, 54, Newfield, Tompkins County

Stephanie Redmond, 38, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Rick Rogers, 66, Spencer, Tioga County

Cat Rossiter, 62, Sayre, Bradford County, PA

Laura Salamendra, 30, Geneva, Ontario County

Coby Schultz, 54, Springwater, Livingston County

Elan Shapiro, 67, Ithaca, Tompkins County

Brion Seime, 42, Newfield, Tompkins County

Stefan Senders, 55, Hector, Schuyler County

Audrey Southern, 31, Burdett, Schuyler County

Chris Tate, 52, Hector, Schuyler County

John Wertis, 51, Wertis, Trumansburg, Tompkins County

Dwain Wilder, 75, Rochester, Monroe County

Ruth Young, 77, Horseheads, Chemung County

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.