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Kittappa Reaffirms Opposition to Central Penn Pipeline Proposal, Calls for Additional Forum

Editor’s Note: Our publishing of this press release is not an endorsement of Kittappa by Lancaster Against Pipelines.

 

PRESS RELEASE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 2, 2014

Contact: Michael Palin

rajforcongress2014@gmail.com

 

 

Kittappa Reaffirms Opposition to Central Penn Pipeline Proposal, Calls for

 Additional Forum

 

Dr. Raj Kittappa, Democratic candidate for Congress in the Pennsylvania 16th District, reaffirmed his opposition to the proposed Williams Partners pipeline, which would run through Lancaster, and called for additional public forums to discuss the matter.

“The proposed Williams Partners pipeline in Lancaster County is troubling. My friends and neighbors, local farmers, and other members of the community have approached me in recent days stating their opposition to this pipeline, expressing their concern that this proposal will disrupt our economy and environment while providing no tangible benefit to Lancaster County. In fact, the most recent proposed route of the pipeline runs within just a few miles of my parents’ home in West Hempfield Township, the house that I grew up in. I continue to strongly oppose this pipeline, and remain uneasy about the potential harm it could bring to Lancaster County.

I am pleased that Williams Partners, along with the Lancaster County Commissioners, finally held a forum to discuss this important issue with the public. Unfortunately I, like many of my friends and concerned Lancaster citizens, was turned away for lack of space in the meeting room and had to watch the live stream from Lancaster Newspapers at the nearby Convention Center.

Despite the claim by Williams Partners that they will be hosting numerous public open houses in the week of June 9 to allow those affected in the community to voice their concerns, there is only one meeting planned in the proposal recently submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It is imperative that Williams Partners ensure that the community has the opportunity to speak its mind. Given the lack of transparency and severe limitations on the most recent hearing, I am concerned this will not be the case moving forward.

I am very proud of the Lancaster Countians who were able to raise many of the pressing issues about this proposed pipeline during the last meeting, including the safety of our citizens and the protection of our historically and economically important farmland, as well as our beautiful nature preserves and timberland in western Lancaster County. As a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Congress in the 16th District, I am encouraged to see such active participation by my fellow citizens on an issue that will truly affect our home.

The people of Lancaster County have plenty of reasons to be concerned with this proposed pipeline. Safety is the most critical issue. On March 31, an explosion at a Williams plant in Plymouth, Washington, resulted in the evacuation of more than 1,000 nearby residents throughout a two-mile zone. Less than a week later on April 5, a ruptured pipeline in Marshall County, West Virginia, led to a significant public scare, apologies from Williams Partners, and a promise to adhere more stringently to safety standards. Just last week, the entire town of Opal, Wyoming was forced to evacuate their homes after another Williams explosion. These grievous problems with safety have all occurred within approximately the last month.

In the last several years, Williams Partners have accrued millions of dollars in fines from the Federal government for safety and environmental violations. Williams Partners havenʼt given satisfactory explanations for their irresponsibility, represented by repeated explosions and evacuations of thousands. Everyone in  Lancaster County deserves to know that they wonʼt be forced from their houses due to the shortcomings of Williams Partners.

It is also reasonable for residents of Lancaster County to demand to see how this pipeline will be built, so that Williams is not able to circumvent a “full” FERC permit, a situation which could very easily compromise our safety, our agricultural heritage, and our wonderful natural resources. Constructing the pipeline in segments could lead to more lax standards in safety and environmental protections.

While I was watching the hearing closely, another candidate, Tom Houghton, was quoted as saying that “he would likely oppose the proposed pipeline,” and later that he opposes the pipeline “as it is currently proposed.” These statements do not inspire the confidence of Lancaster County residents, nor do they suggest that any research or significant thought has been given to this important issue. Lancaster County deserves better leadership.

The people of Lancaster, Berks, and Chester Counties deserve a representative in Washington who is committed to the issues that affect our community. As ascientist and, someone raised in Lancaster County, who cares about central Pennsylvania, I have spent a great deal of time speaking with scientists, archaeologists, Lancaster County conservationists, and officials in Washington, researching this proposed pipeline and the safety record of Williams Partners. In Congress, I would actively oppose a pipeline that would disrupt our economy and that could jeopardize our safety in Lancaster County.

The people of Lancaster County deserve better explanations about the safety of this proposed pipeline. There has been a tremendous lack of transparency and great disregard for the reasonable questions of Lancaster Countians. This company has failed to show a concern for and commitment to the people that live next to their pipelines. Williams has certainly lined the pockets of influence makers at the Federal level, and we must make sure that the concerns of Lancaster County citizens for their safety and the beauty of this county that we all love are fully considered. There should be no rush to move forward without the proper assurances. Lancaster Countians deserve better.”

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