23 Arrested Protesting Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline

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By Marie Cusick for State Impact – Twenty-three people were arrested and charged with defiant trespassing Monday after they blocked construction equipment for the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline in Lancaster County. The showdown between the pipeline company and the protesters has been in the making since the project was first announced three years ago. The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline is being built to carry natural gas southward, from the Marcellus Shale in northeastern Pennsylvania. It will eventually pass through 10 counties, but it’s been met with the most opposition in Lancaster. 86-year-old Barbara Vanhorn of Duncanon was among those arrested, and says she’s worried about how natural gas contributes to climate change. “I feel really frustrated with our courts and our government,” she says. “They’re giving in to these big, paying, lying companies that are trying to destroy not only our country, but the world.” More than 100 people gathered in a cornfield in West Hempfield Township early Monday morning, next to the right-of-way where the pipeline is going to be installed. The property is owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a group of Catholic nuns who are suing to block the pipeline, citing their religious freedom. Before the protesters entered the construction zone the nuns’ attorney, Dwight Yoder, informed them that the Adorers were not giving people permission to enter the property, which has been taken through eminent domain.

Marylanders And West Virginians Unite Against Pipeline

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By John Zangas and Anne Meador for DC Media Group – Shepherdstown, W.Va. — Three hundred and fifty people spanned the James Rumsey bridge between Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Sharpsburg, Md. on Saturday to draw attention to TransCanada’s plan to drill under the Potomac River and lay a gas pipeline. Holding hands across the entire width of the Potomac River and symbolically connecting the shores of West Virginia and Maryland, the action was a display of unity and resolve to resist gas companies and their backers in elected office. After singing “this land is our land” and reading an indigenous people’s prayer, they threw flowers into the river below. “Hands Across the Potomac” was organized by Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Eastern Panhandle Protectors, Potomac Riverkeepers, Waterkeepers Chesapeake, Sierra Club Maryland Chapter, local farmers and concerned residents in the area. They are all urging Maryland Governor Larry Hogan to reject the project in keeping with the fracking ban legislation he signed last spring. Environmentalists have joined with local farmers in a growing regional resistance to the project which they say threatens drinking water for over six million downstream, including those in the Washington metropolitan area who depend on the Potomac.

WV & MD Unite To Oppose Potomac Pipeline In Historic “Hands Across The Potomac” Event

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By Staff of CCAN – SHARPSBURG, MD- On Saturday, October 14, hundreds of concerned West Virginia and Maryland residents joined hands over a key Potomac River bridge to send a powerful message urging Governor Hogan stop TransCanada from building a fracked-gas pipeline underneath the treasured river. Click here for a photo album on Flickr and here for videos on Twitter. The group of elected leaders, environmental and social justice advocates, landowners and concerned citizens stood hand-in hand to span the James Rumsey Bridge over the Potomac River in Western Maryland. By connecting the Maryland side of the river to West Virginia, the group showed that they stand as a united front in protesting this pipeline. Patricia Kesecker, West Virginia landowner who is currently being sued by Mountaineer Gas, said: “when you have put your blood, sweat and tears into the land for almost 50 years and someone can come and take it against your wishes, that is heartbreaking. When the judge granted Mountaineer Gas the right to our property, she not only robbed us, but she also robbed our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of their heritage.” The pipeline is being proposed by TransCanada, the company infamous for pushing the Keystone XL Pipeline, and Mountaineer Gas. It would ship fracked gas from Pennsylvania to West Virginia, passing through the town of Hancock, Maryland and underneath the Potomac River. This pipeline would not benefit Marylanders in any way, yet it would pose a grave threat to their drinking water and deepen dependence on dirty fossil fuels for years to come.

Is Dominion's Grip On Political Power At A Crossroads?

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By Robert Zullo for Richmond Times-Dispatch – Sen. David R. Suetterlein, R-Roanoke County, partnered with Sen. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax City, last session on a bill that would have repealed the rate freeze law. The measure died early in the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee, and attempts to revive it during the session illustrated how lonely it can be for lawmakers on the wrong side of a bill Dominion wants to pass or fail. “As a regulated monopoly, Dominion is very involved at the General Assembly and the State Corporation Commission is constitutionally responsible for overseeing a lot of things related to Dominion’s business,” Suetterlein said. “Unfortunately, they’ve been able to convince the General Assembly to kidnap the SCC’s authority.” But that hasn’t stopped the State Corporation Commission from pushing back in some cases, and in one recent example exerting its power in defiance of the General Assembly. Last month, for a second time, the commission rejected the bulk of a Dominion plan to bury several thousand miles of electric lines. The commission’s decision came despite explicit legislative direction from the General Assembly last session to cast a more favorable eye on the program. The SCC’s three commissioners, who are elected by the legislature, unanimously concluded that at an eventual price tag of $6 billion to ratepayers, the cost outweighed the benefits.

Top Pipeline Safety Official Profits From Oil Spills

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By Itai Vardi for Nation of Change – A newly appointed federal regulator charged with overseeing pipeline safety personally profits from oil spill responses, a DeSmog investigation has found. Drue Pearce is the acting administrator for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), an agency in the Department of Transportation responsible for ensuring oil and gas pipeline integrity. However, she is also associated with a company specializing in the sale of oil spill equipment. Pearce, a Republican from Alaska, was appointed on August 7 by the Trump administration to serve as PHMSA’s deputy administrator, a position that does not require U.S. Senate confirmation. However, since at the time the administration had yet to nominate an administrator for the agency, Pearce stepped into the role as acting administrator. In early September, Trump finally nominated, and last Friday the Senate confirmed rail transport executive Howard Elliot as PHMSA administrator. Once Elliot formally takes the helm at PHMSA, Pearce will serve as his deputy. Business records filed in the state of Alaska and reviewed by DeSmog show that since 2009 Pearce and her husband, Michael F. Williams, have owned Spill Shield Inc., an Anchorage-based company selling equipment for oil spill responses. The company’s website offers various products, including booms, baffles, skimmers, absorbents, and oil spill response kits.

Resistance To Line 3 Pipeline Seeks To Save Sacred Manoomin

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By Staff of Unicorn RIot – Construction on the planned Line 3 Replacement Project (L3RP) is almost finished in the northwest corner of Wisconsin, where several direct actions by water protectors and land defenders have attempted to halt construction and resulted in numerous arrests. L3RP has yet to be approved in Minnesota, but Enbridge already has yards filled with sections of pipeline being protected by law enforcement agencies in Minnesota. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission held a public hearing in St. Paul during the last week of September; Unicorn Riot was live at a rally and march in opposition of the project and for five hours of public comments on the proposed project. The planned Line 3 pipeline route goes through several unceded treaty territories with five tribes, the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe, in the direct path of the proposed route which crosses Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Lessons From The Front Lines Of Anti-Colonial Pipeline Resistance

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By James Rowe and Mike Simpson for Nation of Change – The Standing Rock standoff over the Dakota Access Pipeline was a reminder that colonization, and resistance to it, both exist in the present tense. Fossil fuel pipelines that despoil indigenous lands and waters have become key flashpoints in long-standing anti-colonial resistance. An important precursor and inspiration for the Standing Rock camp is an indigenous occupation in northern British Columbia, Canada. For the past eight years, the Unist’ot’en clan have reoccupied their traditional territory. When the camp began in 2009, seven pipelines had been proposed to cross their territory, as well as their water source, the salmon-bearing Morice River. But thanks to Unist’ot’en resistance, oil and gas companies have been blocked from building new fossil fuel infrastructure. The lesser known but wildly successful Unist’ot’en encampment holds crucial lessons for anti-pipeline and anti-colonial organizers across North America, or Turtle Island, as many indigenous nations call it. We visited the occupation this summer. Upon arriving, visitors must undergo a border-crossing protocol. There is only one way in and out of Unist’ot’en territory – a bridge that crosses the Morice River. Before being allowed to cross, we were asked where we came from, whether we worked for the government or the fossil fuel industry, and how our visit could benefit the Unist’ot’en.

North Carolina Nixes Part Of The Atlantic Coast Pipeline Proposal

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By Lisa Sorg for The Progressive Pulse – The NC Department of Environmental Quality has rejected the Atlantic Coast Pipeline’s erosion and sediment control plan, dealing yet another setback to the $5.5 billion project. In a letter dated Sept. 26, the Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources told the ACP owners it had disapproved the plan, primarily because there was so much missing information. The ACP is co-owned by Dominion Energy, Duke Energy, Southeast Energy Company and Piedmont Natural Gas. The utilities have until Oct. 11 to submit a revised plan for consideration. If they want to contest DEQ’s disapproval, they must request an administrative hearing by Nov. 25. ACP’s plan, according to the letter, failed to provide detailed construction sequence and erosion control methods, plus measures required to protect all public and private property from construction damage. DEQ lists the shortcomings of the plan in 17 separate points over three pages. A specific concern for DEQ is the potential damage pipeline construction would have on the Neuse River. The plan, which originally called for open trenching, has been changed to a method known as a cofferdam. A cofferdam is an enclosure placed in a river, for example, that allows the water to be pumped out. However, the Neuse River is a habitat for many threatened or at-risk species, including the Neuse River waterdog, and draining the water could kill them. The utilities have claimed that they would try to collect any key species and relocate them — where, though, they didn’t say.

TransCanada Terminates Energy East Pipeline Project

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By Mike De Souza for National Observer – TransCanada Corp. has terminated its Energy East pipeline, triggering a $1 billion loss and bringing an end to an epic battle between politicians, big oil, Indigenous leaders and environmental groups. In a statement released on Thursday morning, the Calgary-based company’s president and chief executive officer, Russ Girling, said it was notifying the federal regulator, the National Energy Board, and Quebec’s Environment Department of its decision, after reviewing “changed circumstances.” Girling said the decision would cost his company $1 billion due to the investments it has already made in the project. The company said it wasn’t expecting to recover any of its losses from any third parties since it failed to get a regulatory decision on the project. “We appreciate and are thankful for the support of labour, business and manufacturing organizations, industry, our customers, Irving Oil, various governments, and the approximately 200 municipalities who passed resolutions in favour of the projects,” Girling said in the statement. “Most of all, we thank Canadians across the country who contributed towards the development of these initiatives.”

Minnesotans Rally To ‘Hold The Line’ Against Enbridge Pipeline Project

Activists march toward the only public hearing on Enbridge’s Line 3 proposal in St. Paul, Minnesota. (Oil Change International/Matt Maiorana)

By Brandon Jordan for Waging Nonviolence – Hundreds of residents gathered in front of the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul on Thursday for a rally to “Hold the Line” against a pipeline project called Line 3. Backed by the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Energy, the inter-state project was the subject of the city’s only public meeting held later that day, and residents were firmly determined to make their voices heard. With an hour to go until the public hearing, they marched over a mile to the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront hotel. Once inside, they argued against the project’s approval to the judge who will decide Line 3’s fate next year. “It’s just nice to be in a sea of people who feel the same way that you do,” said Mysti Babineau of the Red Lake Band of Ojibwe in northwestern Minnesota. “It gives me hope because a lot of these people I’m seeing nowadays are so young.” Enbridge is proposing a replacement of its old Line 3, which was installed in the 1960s and is now considered to be inefficient and too costly to remove. Once decommissioned, the old Line 3 would be cleaned and left in the ground and a new $7.5 billion pipeline would be constructed. While taking a slightly different path through northern Minnesota, it would end at the same oil facility in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge claims the project is the “best [way] to maintain system integrity while minimizing disruption to landowners and communities.”

Residents Claim Energy Transfer Partners Violated Constitutional Rights

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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.

Historic Union Hill Community Threatened By Atlantic Coast Pipeline

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By Sammy DiDonato for Unicorn Riot – Dominion plans to build a large compressor station for the pipeline in Union Hill, a historic Black community founded by descendants of freed slaves in unincorporated Buckingham County near the Cumberland State Forest, west of Richmond. Local residents see the pipeline company’s disregard for their community as part of an established history of environmental racism in Virginia. “As African-Americans living in a county where racial inequality and retaliation have been facts of life for over 300 years, where many of their ancestors were enslaved, the community of Union Hill’s lack of access to political decision-making makes them vulnerable to Dominion Power’s corporate profit-making plans.” – Lakshmi Fjord, anthropologist and activist with Friends of Buckingham County. The kayak actions were carried out to call on the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to not defer to the Army Corps of Engineers decision when issuing permits to projects that threaten water quality. Organizing groups included Friends of Buckingham County, Allegheny-Blue Ridge Alliance, Friends of Nelson County, and Yogaville Environmental Solutions. Friends of Buckingham County has been organizing around the Atlantic Coast Pipeline for three years.

Disputed East Coast Pipeline Likely To Expand

This Monday Feb. 2, 2015 photo shows vice president and general manager of Southern pipeline operations for Dominion Energy, Daniel A. Weekley, left, as he speaks in support of a bill dealing with utility rates presented by Sen. Frank W. Wagner, R-VA Beach, right, to the Senate Commerce and Labor committee inside the General Assembly Building in Richmond, Va. Remarks from Weekley suggest developers of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline are looking at the possibility of a major expansion of the project into South Carolina. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP) The Associated Press

By Sarah Rankin for Associated Press – RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The developers of a disputed natural gas pipeline on the U.S. East Coast are considering a major expansion of the project into South Carolina, according to remarks made by an energy company executive and interviews with others in the industry. Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline said that raises questions about whether Dominion Energy, the project’s lead developer, has withheld important information from the public and whether the pipeline is even needed as initially proposed. But business leaders say the pipeline would help lower energy costs and boost economic development in South Carolina. Dan Weekley, Dominion Energy’s vice president and general manager of Southern pipeline operations, told attendees at a recent energy conference “everybody knows” the Atlantic Coast Pipeline — currently slated to pass through Virginia, West Virginia and North Carolina — is not going to stop there, despite what the current plans say. “We could bring in almost a billion cubic feet (28 million cubic meters) a day into South Carolina,” Weekley said, according to an audio recording The Associated Press obtained from a conference attendee. The attendee requested anonymity out of concern for not wanting to harm business or personal relationships. The remarks appear to be the Richmond, Virginia-based company’s most direct public signal to date that it intends to expand the pipeline, though industry analysts said the potential has been discussed for years.

Virginians Press Gubernatorial Candidate To Oppose Pipelines

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By Staff of Beyond Extreme Energy – LOUDOUN COUNTY, VA–Virginia citizens against fracked gas pipelines send Gubernatorial Candidate Ralph Northam nearly 300 “Hear Our Voice” postcards from Loudoun County. Kamie Bledsoe, environmental activist member of 350 Loudoun, started the post card campaign shortly after Tom Perriello lost the Democratic Primary. Tom Perriello came out against the new proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline and the Mountain Valley Pipeline. But, Ralph Northam, despite taking the Hippocratic Oath in his training as a medical doctor, failed to oppose the pipelines and in an interview on a conservative radio station stated that governors cannot take a position against pipelines. Regrettably, Dr. Northam is mistaken. The governors of New York and Maryland have come out against fracked gas pipelines. In fact, Lieutenant Governor candidate Justin Fairfax and at least ¾ of candidates running for the VA House of Delegates have also come out against the pipelines. Dr. Northam’s position on pipelines is contrary to the National Democratic platform to promote renewable sources of energy.

Santa Barbara Votes To Divest From Banks Funding Dakota Access Pipeline

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By Grace Feldmann and Emiliano Campobello for Last Real Indians – SANTA BARBARA, California / village of Syuxtun—9/19/17, Santa Barbara City Council voted to proceed toward divesting over $40 million from banks funding the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) starting with divestment of $6.25 million. This includes the early sale of $2.25 million in investments with Wells Fargo & Goldman Sachs. Also, a $4 million note with Union Bank is maturing and will be reinvested according to ethical investment goals, to the extent that such investments achieve “substantially equivalent safety, liquidity and yield” compared to traditional investments. These decisions come after a year of public pressure by the Santa Barbara Standing Rock Coalition (SBSRC), Chumash tribes, and allied groups. The City Council decided it is in the city’s best interest to encourage social responsibility goals rather than align with companies that disrespect indigenous treaties, commit human rights abuses, and destroy the environment. The policy specifically discourages investments in entities that “manufacture, distribute or provide financing to industries such as tobacco products, weapons, military systems, nuclear power, and fossil fuels,” and encourages companies that “support community well being through safe, environmentally sound practices, and fair labor practices.”