Residents Claim Energy Transfer Partners Violated Constitutional Rights


By Sue Sturgis for Facing South – Four Pennsylvania residents filed a federal lawsuit this week against Texas-based pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), claiming the Fortune 500 company and its subsidiaries violated their constitutional rights by engaging in illegal surveillance and harassment against landowners and pipeline protesters and caused emotional distress and other harm. The suit, which seeks compensatory damages, also names ETP’s private security provider, North Carolina-based TigerSwan, as well as local law enforcement officers who arrested pipeline opponents on charges that ultimately were not prosecuted. It claims that energy companies like ETP are increasingly relying on de facto public-private partnerships with government to “strong-arm” opponents into silence with false arrests and malicious prosecution. “Since May of 2015, every day of my life has been affected by the plans to build this pipeline, and the lengths that Energy Transfer Partners will go to in the pursuit of profit,” said plaintiff Elise Gerhart, who lives on property that will be crossed by the pipeline. “We’ve been needlessly harassed by agencies and violently threatened by individuals who’ve been intentionally incited and mobilized.” The lawsuit claims that energy companies like ETP are increasingly relying on de facto public-private partnerships to “strong-arm” opponents into silence.

Anti-Pipeline Paddlers Insist On Protection Of Potomac Waters


By Anne Meador for DC Media Group – Greedy pipeline companies in league with complicit government officials are the driving force behind two gas pipelines intended to deliver Pennsylvania gas to the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, opponents contend. On August 11, environmental advocacy group Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) hosted a press conference on the Potomac River’s banks in Sharpsburg, Md., to highlight the adverse consequences of constructing two interconnected gas projects affecting western Maryland the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. TransCanada’s Potomac Pipeline (formally the Eastern Panhandle Expansion) and Mountaineer Gas’s distribution line would transport fracked gas from Fulton Co., Pa., to Morgan Co., W.Va. For most of the summer, opponents of the pipelines and communities affected by them have been holding weekend camp-outs and events along the Potomac to raise awareness about them. They believe TransCanada’s plan to drill under the Potomac River poses grave risks in case of accidents. They displayed their message to protect the water on the river itself: a flotilla of about a dozen kayaks paddled downstream toward the gathering at Taylor’s Landing, holding aloft banners reading, “Keep Our Water Clean,” and “Hogan: Stop the Potomac Pipeline.”

Feds Back In Pa. ‘Gasland’ Town To Test Water, Air

This Feb. 13, 2012, file photo shows a Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. wellhead in Dimock, Pa. Federal government scientists are collecting water and air samples in the first week of August 2017 from about 25 homes in Dimock, Pa., a tiny, rural crossroads about 150 miles north of Philadelphia that became a flashpoint in the national debate over fracking, to investigate ongoing complaints about the quality of the drinking water. Associated Press

By Michael Rubinkam for The Sentinel – The federal government has returned to a Pennsylvania village that became a flashpoint in the national debate over fracking to investigate ongoing complaints about the quality of the drinking water. Government scientists are collecting water and air samples this week from about 25 homes in Dimock, a tiny crossroads about 150 miles north of Philadelphia. “Residents have continued to raise concerns about natural gas activities impacting their private water well quality,” the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said Thursday in a statement to The Associated Press. Dimock was the scene of the most highly publicized case of methane contamination to emerge from the early days of Pennsylvania’s natural-gas drilling boom. State regulators blamed faulty gas wells drilled by Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. for leaking combustible methane into Dimock’s groundwater. Cabot, one of the largest natural gas producers in the state, has consistently denied responsibility, saying methane was an issue in the groundwater long before it began drilling. The ATSDR, a federal public health agency, said Thursday that it is “conducting an exposure investigation to determine if there are drinking water quality issues that may continue to pose a health threat.”

Judge Orders Halt On All Mariner East 2 Drilling

Chris Jordan-Bloch/Earthjustice

By Staff for Clean Air Council – (PHILADELPHIA, PA – July 25, 2017) On Tuesday, the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board granted the petition of Clean Air Council, Mountain Watershed Association, Inc., and the Delaware Riverkeeper Network to halt all drilling operations associated with the construction of the Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipelines. This ruling comes after last week’s filing which disclosed 61 drilling fluid spills and water contamination in multiple Pennsylvania regions. After hearing the argument about drilling spills and water well contamination from Sunoco’s drilling operations for the Mariner East 2 pipeline, the Environmental Hearing Board issued an order stating, “it is hereby ordered that the Appellants’ application for a temporary partial supersedeas is granted.” “Residents living along the route of the pipeline have been assailed over the last few months by drilling spills and damage to water wells and water quality due to Sunoco’s reckless drilling,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Executive Director and Chief Counsel for Clean Air Council. “Today’s decision provides residents with much-needed protection over the next two weeks.”

To Block Pipeline, Nuns In Court To Defend Cornfield Chapel

Supporters of the nuns' fight to protect their farmland from the pipeline project gathered at their open-air chapel for a vigil on Sunday. (Photo: @alexgeli/Twitter)

By Jessica Corbett for Common Dreams – The sisters appeared at a U.S. District courthouse in Reading for an 11:00am hearing, following two prayer vigils earlier Monday morning. About six months ago, they came up with the idea to build the chapel on their farmland as “a visible symbol of their commitment to the land,” Mark Clatterbuck, of Lancaster Against Pipelines—which helped build the chapel—told the York Daily Record, a local paper. “We have to pay reverence to the land God has given us,” said Sister George Ann Biscan. “We honor God by protecting and preserving His creation.” Friday, seeking a federal injunction, the Adorers filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, claiming the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates interstate natural gas pipelines, and its commissioner have violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, “by forcing the Adorers to use their land to accommodate a fossil fuel pipeline,” the order said in a statement. The nuns, the statement continued, “allege that FERC’s action places a substantial burden on their exercise of religion by taking their land, which they want to protect and preserve as part of their faith, and forces the Adorers to use their land in a manner and for a purpose they believe is harmful to the earth.”

Outdoor Chapel Built In Path Of Proposed Pipeline

Lancaster Against Pipelines has built an outdoor chapel on the property of an order of Catholic nuns, which is in the proposed path of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. (Williams graphic. )

By Steve Marroni for Penn Live – A dedication for a new outdoor prayer chapel on the land belonging to a group of Lancaster County nuns is set for Sunday. It’s a small setup where visitors can enjoy the outdoors in this rural part of West Hempfield Township for quiet prayer and meditation. There’s only one problem. Lancaster Against Pipelines built the outdoor chapel right in the middle of the path of a proposed pipeline – and at the center of a court battle, too. Part of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline is planned to go through the property of The Adorers of the Blood of Christ, an international order of Catholic women. In a press release issued today, the sisters and Lancaster Against Pipelines indicated they will hold a dedication ceremony for the prayer chapel at 2 p.m. Sunday at 3939 Laurel Run, Columbia. The pipeline will ship natural gas across 183 miles of Pennsylvania, connecting gas-producing regions in the northeast to customers in the mid-Atlantic and the South. Williams Partners, which is the builder of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, is seeking an emergency order of the court to seize the land. “While we respect the rights of people to protest, we view this simply as another blatant attempt to impede pipeline construction,” spokesman Christopher Stockton told LancasterOnline.

One Family’s Bold Stand To Block Construction Of A New Pipeline

Ellen Gerhart holds a palm-sized Wood Turtle with a distinctive design on its shell. (WNV/Chris Baker Evens)

By Chris Baker Evens for Waging Nonviolence – Two years ago the most trouble Ellen Gerhart had faced with the law was a parking ticket. Today, standing on a wide swath of cleared forest overlooking miles of mid-construction natural gas pipeline the 62-year-old retired school teacher and mother of two has three arrests on her record. All for the crime of standing on her own property. Energy Transfer Partners is probably best known as the owners of the North Dakota Access Pipeline that the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe resisted through the depths of winter and continues to do so to this day. The network of natural gas pipelines that cross the country rivals the complexity of the natural water systems, and Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania is now in the crosshairs of the industry. In central Pennsylvania Ellen Gerhart’s property lies about midway along the length of the Mariner East 2 pipeline that reaches from west to east across the state. It is slated to carry a variety of natural-gas liquids under high pressure to the coast and then exported onto the international markets. This project is not without opposition, however. The Gerhart family are one of a number of private property owners across the state who object to their land being confiscated using eminent domain laws and used to further global climate destabilization.

The Class War Should Unite Us

Nijmie Dzurinko (bottom, middle) with the Mother Jones Leadership Program participants and mentors, 2017. (Photo: Courtesy of Nijmie Dzurinko)

By Sarah Jaffe for Truthout – Nijmie Dzurinko: I think the first thing to know about the piece is that, although it does chronicle the story of one of our members, Danelle Morrow, and her husband Kevin, from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, a place where Trump campaigned heavily in the election, the purpose of the story is not to say that our intention was to turn him from being a Trump voter. That was an outgrowth of the strategy, which is to really build an intersectional working class movement across the state of Pennsylvania that meets people where they are at, sees them for who they are, engages them around where they are hurting, then, moves us all toward a vision of human rights that is inclusive of all people. Including them. Danelle wrote this piece about her husband. She found Put People First online. She saw us on Facebook. The first contact she ever made with us was jumping in a car with her two daughters and driving about two and a half hours to come to a meeting with a bunch of people she had never met before because she just liked the sound of what we were doing. She then found a place in the organization and has since has become a leader of an organizing committee in Johnstown…

Judge Scrapped Pennsylvania Families’ $4.24M Water Pollution Verdict In Gas Drilling Lawsuit

Fracking-USA062-e1492026073750 (1)

By Sharon Kelly and Steve Horn for Nation of Change – For many residents of Carter Road in Dimock, Pennsylvania, it’s been nearly a decade since their lives were turned upside down by the arrival of Cabot Oil and Gas, a company whose Marcellus Shale hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) wells were plagued by a series of spills and other problems linked to the area’s contamination of drinking water supplies. With a new federal court ruling handed down late last Friday, a judge unwound a unanimous eight-person jury which had ordered Cabot to pay a total of $4.24 million over the contamination of two of those families’ drinking water wells. In a 58 page ruling, Magistrate Judge Martin C. Carlson discarded the jury’s verdict in Ely v. Cabot and ordered a new trial, extending the legal battle over one of the highest-profile and longest-running fracking-related water contamination cases in the country. In his order, Judge Carlson chastised the plaintiff’s lawyers for “repeatedly inviting the jury to engage in unwarranted speculation” and wrote that, in his personal estimation…

‘We Are Not Free’ – Pennsylvania Sues Communities For Banning Frack Waste


By Melissa A. Troutman for Public Herald – As an elected official, it is Stacy Long’s sworn duty to protect her constituents. As a resident, and now as a supervisor of Grant Township in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, she and her fellow citizens have taken bold steps to fight against government and industry who want to force oil and gas waste into their rural community. “This isn’t a game. We’re being threatened by a corporation with a history of permit violations, and that corporation wants to dump toxic frack wastewater into our Township,” Long told Public Herald last year. In 2015, Grant Township adopted the nation’s first municipal charter establishing a local bill of rights with help from the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF).

Pipeline Owned By Company Behind Dakota Access Leaks 55,000 Gallons Of Gasoline

By Alexandra Jacobo for Nation of Change – A different, completed pipeline owned by Sunoco Logistics, the same company behind the construction of the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, leaked 55,000 gallons, or 1,300 barrels, of gasoline into a major river on Friday. The pipeline leaked into the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. This river is already the third most endangered river in the United States, mostly due to the development of the natural gas industry.

A Plea From Pennsylvania: Don’t Accept Our Fracked Gas

Protesters march against fracking. (Photo: Garry Knight/flickr/cc)

By Staff of Broad Alliance – As one of the so-called “dragon ships” arrives in Grangemouth (September 27, 2016) carrying fracked gas from the United States, the great and the good of Scotland have been invited to a ritzy celebration at INEOS’ shiny new HQ. But the Broad Alliance sees nothing to celebrate. Instead we share this plea from a community affected by this dirty business

Pa. Residents Intensify Campaign Against Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

Protesters walk against proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Conestoga Township, Pa./ Photo by Mark Hand

By Mark Hand for DC Media Group – Residents of Lancaster County, Pa., are ratcheting up their efforts to prevent Williams Partners LP from building a 42-inch-diameter natural gas pipeline through their community. Approximately 150 people walked more than three miles on June 12 to protest the company’s proposed Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline project. The large turnout at the walk in the township of Conestoga, Pa., where 80% of the landowners have not accepted easement offers from Williams, served as another example of the well-developed campaign that residents of Lancaster County are waging against the pipeline project.

Community Defeats Nestle As It Drops Water Extraction Plans

A Deer Park water bottle sits on a beach.  (Photo: Dan Century/flickr/cc)

By Andrea Germanos for Common Dreams – After facing community resistance, bottled beverage giant Nestlé Waters North America this week ditched its plans to extract water from a Monroe County, Penn. spring. The plan would have seen Nestlé take 200,000 gallons of water per day from the source in Kunkletown, located in Eldred Township, and truck it away daily to a nearby plant where it would have been bottled under its Deer Park brand.

EPA Wrong About Dangers Of Frack-Impacted Water In Pennsylvania

Dimock resident Ray Kemble displays bottles of water that he said were collected from his well and his neighbor's well earlier this year, Laura Evangelisto, Copyright 2016

By Sharon Kelly for Desmg Blog – Back in 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made a startling announcement, shaking up the battle over fracking in one of the nation’s highest-profile cases where drillers were suspected to have caused water contamination. Water testing results were in for homeowners along Carter Road in Dimock, PA, where for years, homeowners reported their water had turned brown, became flammable, or started clogging their well with “black greasy feeling sediment” after Cabot Oil and Gas began drilling in the area.