Reading is where a Houston, Texas-based gas company wants to put in an 88-million gallon propane storage facility, using old salt caverns. It also is using the project as Phase One of a massive industrial complex to serve the propane and natural gas needs of the entire northeastern United States. Gas from hydrofracked gas wells in Pennsylvania is also likely to find its way into the proposed facility before being shipped to export terminals for overseas sales.
Alderson has been arrested twice for protesting at the gates of the Town of Reading Crestwood facility.
Here's a video of the first arrest Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012:
In the Town of Reading trial, and again last night in the Town of Dix, he was unsuccessful in getting the judges to let him use what's called a justification defense. That defense is based on the accused's belief that there is a clear and present danger.
Both judges disallowed the defense, saying it had nothing to do with his trespassing on property owned by the Crestwood Corporation. Crestwood bought the property, along with U.S. Salt and a development plan from the Inergy Corporation of Missouri. Alderson has argued - unsuccessfully - that it has everything to do with not only his defense, but having the community understand what it will be like if the project is approved.
In addition to additional truck traffic and likely water and air pollution, no safety plan has been draw in the eventuality of any major explosions, fires or spills at the company site.
Here's what Alderson had to say outside of court Wednesday:
And here is a video of Alderson's second arrest, June 28, 2013:
Ten days ago the Schuyler County Legislature narrowly passed a resolution in favor of the project, but only over the objections of nearly 300 local residents who came to a meeting to protest. Representatives of Crestwood and U.S. Salt attended. The pro-project attendees (most of whom worked directly for Crestwood) were provided with company t-shirts if they agreed to speak in favor of the project. Local opponents said only a handful of the 48 people in T-shirts were actually local residents. The rest were bussed in and/or came from out of state.
A request to Crestwood to confirm - or deny - that it provided t-shirts, lodging at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel, and food for a cadre of out-of-town, paid supporters was answered by this email from Debbie Hagen, a Crestwood spokesperson:
"We encouraged project supporters to attend Monday’s meeting
but we have no way of knowing how many supporters
attended on their own.
That said, we are grateful for those who attended
and showed support for the project."
Here's a video of the Schuyler County Legislature meeting:
In the second court hearing, the judge was briskly efficient, rendering a guilty verdict on the trespassing charge in just under two hours. Repeated objections from defense counsel Jerry Kinchey of Sayre, PA were generally brushed aside quickly. The same thing happened with the contention by Alderson that the entire question of trespassing and property lines has never been established.
The district attorney and Crestwood have never produced legal documents showing property demarcations at either of his trials.
Alderson will go back into the Town of Reading court sometime later this summer. The Town of Dix court however will see Alderson July 9 for sentencing.
In the meantime, local activists opposed to the project are burning up social media with various conversations about issues related to Crestwood's project, other propane and gas-related issues nationally and internationally and continuing a simmering resentment over the Schuyler County Legislature's 5-3 vote to support the project.
The five members of the legislature who voted in favor of the Houston, Texas company's plan even found themselves featured on a wanted poster. From left to right, Stewart Field, Phil Barnes, Dennis Fagan (chair of the legislature) Van Harp and Thomas Gifford.
Barnes is up for re-election in November and will likely run unopposed.