April 1, 2017
By Wanda Guthrie

“We must learn that to passively accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil… The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands in times of challenge and controversy. The true neighbor will risk his position, his prestige, and even his life for the welfare of others.” Martin Luther King Jr

Opposing the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in Lancaster, County is one place to stand.

 “We’re done waiting for the regulatory agencies to help us. We’re done waiting for our cowardly elected officials to help us. We understand that the whole regulatory system is really designed to facilitate corporate exploitation of our land, our forests, our waters. We’re going to physically put our bodies on the line and say to Williams, ‘You’re not welcome here, and we’re going to keep you from building a pipeline through Lancaster County and through Pennsylvania.’ That’s our intention,” says Mark Clatterbuck, co-founder of Lancaster Against Pipeline.

The tents at the encampment are not going away. The group will continue to camp out to show their opposition to the pipeline.

Huntingdon County: Last year, Elise Gerhart of Huntingdon, and Alex Lotorto, were arrested on the Gerhart’s family property. Elise was inhabiting a tree house and Alex was on the ground warning the crew not to cut her down. They were protesting the eminent domain decision issued by the Public Utilities Commission. Elise said she didn’t know what else to do, so she established a home in the tree to keep the crews away from at least one tree.

“We’ve been forced to do this because the government isn’t protecting us,” Gerhart said, wearing a helmet and sitting on a platform wedged between branches of the tree, forty feet in the air. “These agencies aren’t doing their job to protect the people and the environment.”

This particular pipeline, the Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East 2 pipeline, has the same purpose as all others: to connect an estimated 4,600 miles of interstate pipes carrying natural gas liquids from Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania to Philadelphia for export. They will tunnel under Pennsylvania’s farms, wetlands, waterways, and backyards.

The Gerharts are among dozens of property owners in Pennsylvania fighting with Sunoco over Mariner East 2. The $2.5 billion pipeline travels through 2,700 properties in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The ethane would be exported from the Marcus Hook industrial complex in Philadelphia overseas but eventually could be “part of other petrochemical processing units.”

It’s a lucrative business, plastics. The Royal Dutch Shell petrochemical plant proposed for Potter Township along the Ohio River and 30 miles from Pittsburgh in Monaca, across from Potter County, will be fed by the planned Falcon Pipeline. Supplied by Mark West Energy facilities.

Ethane processed at Mark West Energy facilities in the region will flow to the cracker plant. The new pipeline would carry approximately 107,000 barrels of ethane per day from Cadiz, Ohio, and Houston, PA. Construction will begin in 2018.

The Falcon project’s map shows the pipeline running north from the Cadiz plant to a point near Scio. It will then pivot eastward to run through the northern portion of Jefferson County and then run under the Ohio River into Hancock County, where it will continue into Pennsylvania toward Monaca.

The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, Mariner East 2 and the Falcon project are only a few of the proposed and sanctioned pipelines across our State. There are seven projects approved by the Federal Environmental Regulatory Agency (FERC) across the north eastern region. In Pennsylvania, the Rover, Mariner East 1, Northern Access, and Orion projects are approved. More are being planned. There are 8,000 fracked and producing wells, all planning to process methane and get it to market quickly and efficiently.

With many projects having cleared regulatory hurdles, eminent domain proceedings are officially underway in four Pennsylvania counties. Opponents, having seen direct action and physical barriers mainstreamed and magnified in North Dakota, now see such tactics as increasingly unavoidable.

How might local communities come together and serve as the base or center of the resistance? Perhaps we have moved from being “observers” to being “witnesses,” moved to stand with our neighbors and resist.


Wanda Guthrie  is Convener of EcoJustice Working Group