Sharpening Our Focus

Pro-Pipeline Forces Ramp Up Intimidation Tactics Against Grassroots Resistance

Last week, while addressing a fracking and pipeline-expansion conference in State College, PA Public Utility Commissioner Robert Powelson described grassroots pipeline resistance as a “jihad.” With this choice of words, industry insiders are attempting to paint local residents as domestic terrorists for protecting their own homes, families, and properties against dangerous, unwanted, pipelines—including  the Atlantic Sunrise Project (ASP) that would send US gas to overseas markets.

The disturbing rhetoric appears to be working. Three days after Powelson’s remarks, PA federal judge Matthew Brann announced that peaceful residents engaging in civil disobedience against the ASP “shall be hauled into court by the United States Marshals’ Service and a contempt hearing conducted.” 

While such tactics are clearly intended to break the spirit of grassroots pipeline-resistance efforts across Pennsylvania, the resolve of Lancaster Against Pipelines is only further galvanized by these threats. Despite federal complicity in the industry’s seizure of our land and exploitation of our natural resources, LAP is more committed than ever to peaceful, courageous resistance to Williams’ assault on our land, water, safety, and rural way of life.

Make no mistake about it. We, the people of Lancaster County, stand ready to extend one of America’s most enduring traditions—namely, participation in non-violent civil disobedience to dismantle an abusive system of corporate power that endangers our communities, destroys the environment, tramples civil liberates, and sabotages our children’s future.

In the face of such threats, the published values of the Lancaster Stand feel more relevant than ever:
“We the people” have the power. 
“We the people” includes all of us. 
“We the people” have a moral duty to stand against corporate greed.
“We the people” will defend our families, land, water, and future generations.

Despite Judge Brann’s perverse vision of justice, we refuse to be labeled “criminals” for peacefully defending our deepest values. Rather than threatening to jail Mennonite pastors and Catholic nuns, Amish farmers and indigenous elders, the US Marshals Service should “haul into court” the billionaire CEOs of Transco/Williams for assaulting local communities and the environment.

In Response to Construction Delays, the Lancaster Stand Shifts to a Weekend Schedule

Last fall, LAP began preparing local community members for non-violent mass action when it became clear that project approval was set for Spring 2017. Back on February 3, when FERC issued its preliminary approval for the ASP almost two months ahead of schedule, LAP accelerated the launch of its encampment under the assumption that construction would begin immediately. Over the past six weeks—through consultation with affected landowners, lawyers, and other organizations opposed to the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline—a consensus emerged that active construction is not, in fact, as imminent as we thought. 

Here’s why: [1] a number of state permits have yet to be issued; [2] final condemnation hearings for several resistant landowners have been pushed back; [3] FERC has yet to issue an official notice to proceed; [4] there remain numerous pending lawsuits challenging FERC’s premature approval of the project; [5] Williams testified in court last week that pipe would not be laid until July, a claim they allegedly reasserted with local supervisors this week. While Williams’ timeline remains frustratingly vague, it’s increasingly apparent that sustained pipeline construction in Lancaster County will likely not begin before July.

While all of us are troubled by the sight of survey crews working this week in Conestoga Township, permission for this work was granted by landowners in an effort to delay the seizure of their land for construction via eminent domain. To our knowledge, all of these landowners remain staunchly opposed to the ASP, and have no intention of further cooperation with Williams. LAP is particularly grateful for the ongoing courage of Justin and Susan Cappiello, who continue to host the Lancaster Stand on their farm along the Conestoga River.

Toward continuing the goal of preparing our community for effective non-violent direct action in this hostile political climate, the Lancaster Stand encampment has shifted to a more sharply focused Saturday 8AM to Sunday 8 PM schedule. This means that, for the time being, camp will be closed Monday through Friday. This decision was made through extended consultation with the landowners and informed by all the available information provided to us by pipeline resistance movements across the country. 

Camp leadership did not take this decision lightly, especially since a few campers from other states had already joined The Stand on a full-time basis. We are deeply appreciative of those who joined our fight to resist this project, respected our camp values, and oriented themselves to our movement. We wish them well as they join other projects across the country that have a more immediate need for full-time encampment participants.

The Lancaster Stand Weekend Schedule Will Sharpen Our Focus

With an even more robust weekend-training schedule planned for the coming months, the Lancaster Stand will continue to serve as LAP’s base of operations for recruitment, training, and community-building as we ramp up efforts to defeat the ASP.

Therefore, over the next few months, your ongoing involvement in weekend activities at the Stand is urgently needed to achieve the following goals:

⚫ The expansion of encampment infrastructure until active construction begins (e.g. communal gathering spaces, water stations, expanded cooking facilities);

⚫ Orientation sessions for newcomers to the Lancaster Stand;

⚫ Non-Violent Mass Action (NVMA) trainings to increase capacity and preparedness for coordinated, creative, peaceful mass actions;

⚫ Legal trainings, including “Know Your Rights” & Legal Observer sessions;

⚫ Community-building events.

Save the Date: April 9

  • With these developments in mind, we invite all friends and allies of Lancaster Against Pipelines to attend an important COMMUNITY RESISTANCE WORKSHOP on Sunday, April 9, from 2-4 PM at the Lancaster Stand.

Together, we hope to: [1] assess where our movement stands today, [2] discuss strategies for expanding capacity and broadening our impact, and [3] ensure that everyone leaves with a clear role to play as we anticipate the start of construction.

Pledge to Resist

To date, 800 community members have signed our Pledge to Resist to publicly support non-violent civil disobedience as we seek to protect our land, water, and local communities. Add you name today.

Thank you!

• The Lancaster Stand Facebook page
• Lancaster Against Pipelines Facebook page
• Lancaster Against Pipelines Website