Inergy's subsidiary, Arlington Storage Co., is seeking permission from the department and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to expand an existing natural gas storage project in the salt formation. Inergy also continues to mine high-quality salt at the site.
Two residents formed Gas Free Seneca when details of the plans began to emerge. The first public forum, in April 2011, was attended by about 500 people, said Joseph Campbell, who had recently built a lakefront home.
Some in the community supported the project in recent letters to the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Chris Franzese, owner of the Villager Motel in Watkins Glen, said it would create jobs, generate tax revenues and strengthen the local economy. Jamie Wade, owner of a local fuel company, said it would create a reliable, affordable source of propane in Schuyler County, where more than 20 percent of residents rely on propane for heating and cooking.Michael Dineen, 64, was one of the three activists jailed. He said he's not normally one to protest but was moved to action as landowners surrounding his 63-acre organic farm signed gas-drilling leases and Inergy came in with its expansion plans. "I feel strongly that somebody has to step forward," Dineen said. "Going to jail shows I really mean it. I don't want this company in my community."