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How To Fight a Pipeline

- by Alex Lotorto, Energy Justice Network
Energy Justice Network is on the cutting edge of fighting fracking and related infrastructure in the northeast.
It's a special organizing challenge to fight pipelines, as we're fighting a line, not a point, on the map. Companies and agencies won't release data listing all impacted landowners. In Pennsylvania, we have enhanced our outreach by using GIS to overlay company pipeline maps with 911 emergency addresses obtained from each county, allowing us to identify impacted landowners.
Along the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in northeast Pennsylvania, we used this information to mass-mail and go door-to-door to over 200 landowners in three counties to inform them of their rights and build a landowner coalition that meets quarterly.
Our goal for landowner organizing is to have them each deny survey permission to the company (Williams Partners LLC) so that permit filing can't be completed. Then, we intend to support landowners through eminent domain proceedings by providing referrals to vetted attorneys and appraisers.
Media strategy is just as important and we have had a number of human interest stories published in local and national news about compelling cases where landowners are standing up against Williams and other companies.
In Pike and Northampton Counties, we appealed the PA Department of Environmental Protection's air permits for twin compressor stations meant to pressurize the Columbia Pipeline 1278 line that transports gas to the proposed Cove Point LNG export terminal. Both compressors emit the equivalent of a fleet of idling diesel school buses, making the local air quality especially dangerous for children's developing lungs.
During the compressor appeals, Columbia Pipeline motioned to dismiss our case and Governor Tom Wolf's attorneys agreed. However, the judge dismissed their motion and is allowing us to proceed with our arguments regarding best available control technologies, health impacts, local zoning approval, and other important considerations.
Most urgently, we're leading the cutting edge battle against the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline, a project of Williams and Cabot Oil & Gas, which is proposed to carry fracked gas from Susquehanna County, PA to Albany, NY and beyond.
On January 29, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission permitted tree cutting to begin in Pennsylvania that must be finished by March 31 to comply with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and Endangered Species Act as enforced by the US Fish & Wildlife Service.
We have landowners across Susquehanna County who have given our volunteers and staff permission to monitor the pipeline clearing for violations. On one property, where a sugar maple farm is producing syrup this season, we have set up a picket line where we've turned away tree crews for 16 days straight.
The picket at North Harford Maple has drawn both the attention of national media organizations like NPR and the Associated Press and legal action in federal court by the company. We're pledging to stick to it for the long haul so stay tuned for more updates!