The Department of Environmental Protection held a hearing in Lancaster last night to field comments about the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. The meeting specifically addressed two permits that are required from the DEP for construction. Attendees who registered to speak were given three minutes of time, which several LAP (Lancaster Against Pipelines) members used to address the personal, cultural and environmental damages the permits would allow. Below are the statements, in full, from three LAP members, Mark Clatterbuck, Malinda Clatterbuck and Tim Spiese.
Mark Clatterbuck comments:
So here we are again, gathered for yet another government hearing where the public is invited to comment on a dirty fossil fuel project we don’t need and we don’t want.
There are more than 300 water body crossings along the proposed ASP route that are crying out for the denial of these permits. But for the next 3 minutes, I’ll focus my attention on making 2 points regarding just one of these water crossings: namely, Williams’ plan to conduct Horizontal Directional Drilling under the Conestoga River in southern Lancaster County.
As you are well aware, local communities along the proposed ASP are feeling desperately threatened by this project. No where is this more obvious than right here in Lancaster County, where the Lancaster Stand has emerged as a base of pipeline resistance at the proposed HDD drill site along the Conestoga River.
To date, more than 900 residents have publicly signed a “Pledge to Resist” vowing to support non-violent civil disobedience to stop the ASP. Of those 900 people, more than 400 have now completed a day-long Non Violent Mass Action training.
The veil has been drawn aside, and you—the regulatory agencies charged with issuing or denying permits—are standing naked in front of us this evening. We know the game. We know you have no legal obligation to do anything with these comments after they fall from our lips.
And yet, we still showed up tonight. Because what does matter to us is that you understand how serious we are about stopping this project that puts our water, our land, our homes, our farms, our families, and our futures at risk. All the sold-out regulatory agencies and politicians the industry can buy won’t stop the wave of community uprising that’s growing larger every time they draw another greedy line on the map that FERC & the DEP are only too eager to approve.
Please understand what we’re telling you, and let it inform your conscience. If the Department of Environmental Protection refuses, once more, to stop this environmentally disastrous, billionaire pleasing, backward looking, community threatening, water poisoning, tree clearing, wildlife destroying, greenhouse gas spewing, clean energy killing project—then we, the people, are committed to stopping this project ourselves.
We’re not here to grandstand or bluster. We’re appealing to your shared humanity to stop this dangerous, dead-end game in which you are deeply complicit players.
And so Lancaster County joins Lebanon, Schuylkill, Luzerne, and Columbia Counties in calling on you, the PA DEP, to deny the permits being sought for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline.
Malinda Clatterbuck comments:
My name is Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck.
I am speaking tonight because I have grave concerns about the voices that are heard in this process, and the voices that are shut out.
I have been to a number of such hearings since the ASP was proposed over three years ago, only to find that the voices of the people have no power unless they are comments that fit into specific categories of acceptance. When I spoke with FERC representatives about comments on the Environmental Impact Statement, they emphasized the need to have substantive comments that show details of where on the route there are cemeteries, sewers, and buildings, all of which the pipeline would be moved around. We were to point out the location of natural springs, wetlands and old growth forests, not in order to stop their destruction, but to ensure that some kind of mitigation would be provided by Williams- as if the natural habitats themselves held no value.
We were told to have specialists or professionals comment on why it would be dangerous to put this line through karst formations, or on a seismic fault line- which meant hiring specialists to do the research, or for we, the people to study and become the specialists ourselves.
When I called the DEP to save my space to speak today, I was reminded that I should be sure to make substantive comments about water erosion and encroachment- of which I know next to nothing. Still, I am invited to have my words heard- but those words will only have an impact on the decision if they come from professionals with comments of quantitative value. So, again,
I must either hire experts to address technical and geological details that are not in my professional repertoire, or I am forced to spend all of my time, as I have for the past 3 years, to become professionally articulate in the details of how the construction of a pipeline damages and destroys our community and our environment.
The truth is- the Central Penn Line South will have destructive and even irreparable damage on the environment- One needn't be a professional to know this.
It is unconscionable to me that the opinion of the people who are bearing the brunt of the damage and destruction from this line are the voices with the least power in this decision. Instead, it is outside professionals- many of whom make their living from the industry.
I am a not a professional hydrologist, or geologist- but I am a professional counselor, pastor, educator and mother-my family has been in Lancaster County for 10 generations- and I will speak from my areas of expertise.
I have watched members of my community fall apart. Marriages break up. Women have complications with pregnancies. Lifetime farmers suffer heart attacks- and hundreds of people speak to me of the pain and distress this pipeline has brought into their lives.
I have watched neighbors cry over the destruction of their forests, couples grieve over the devaluation of their properties- and still others choosing to flee their homes to escape the destruction of the line, only to find they cannot even sell their homes, because there is the possibility of a pipeline bisecting it.
I have watched industry insiders contact employers of locals, trying to get them fired for their anti pipeline work.
These are the stories that should sway your decision. The environment that needs protecting is the land- the water- the air, and even the communities that depend on that land, water, and air for life.
There is only one answer to the question of whether this line will damage the environment--YES it will, incontestably.
There is only one answer to the question of whether this line is necessary or ethical-
It most definitely is not.
We, the people, believe there is only one answer to the question of whether the DEP should issue the 102 and 105 permits- they most definitely should not- for the sake of our Lancaster County community, we beseech you, Department of Environmental Protection- protect our environment and deny these permits, Thank you.
Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck,
founding board member, LAP (Lancaster Against Pipelines)
Tim Spiese Comments:
Thank you for the opportunity to speak concerning the proposed Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. I’m here today to represent Lancaster Against Pipelines and hope to make clear our opposition to this pipeline and to ask that you deny the water quality permits for this unneeded project. In April of 2014 Williams presented their planned project to residents at a meeting of the county commissioners. Over forty residents spoke. All of them were opposed. In June of 2014 over 1000 people showed up at an open house in Millersville for residents to share their concerns with the pipeline company’s representatives.
These open houses are supposed to address the concerns of landowners but no one there was writing anything down and nothing expressed was ever documented. In August of 2014 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission listened to four and a half hours of comments in opposition to this project. A FERC spokeswoman said they had never seen opposition to a project quite like this before. Of the over 6000 comments received by FERC during the comment period over 97%were opposed. Clearly the regulatory process is not designed to serve the public but rather it serves the desires of the industry.
So why are we dead set against this pipeline? Landowners will be forced through eminent domain to accept a 42” high pressure pipeline that will be used primarily for exporting fracked gas overseas as liquefied natural gas. But this is not an environmental issue and for the Pa DEP has no bearing on tonight’s hearing. It should however be of great concern to anyone who values the right of hard working Americans to protect their greatest asset from corporate greed.
As your name suggests let’s talk about the environment. This pipeline if built will carry fracked gas from the Marcellus Shale to export facilities. Fracking is shown to have health impacts in the form of contaminated wells, cancer causing VOC’s from compressor stations, decrease birth weights, asthma and the release of otherwise stationary radon in the shale formations. As the project moves south it crosses hundreds of streams and wetlands in the Susquehanna River watershed. Horizontal directional drilling will be used to go underneath the Conestoga River and other large water crossings.
Just several weeks ago Energy Transfer Partners experienced a release of bentonite while performing an HDD on the rover pipeline in Ohio. The Ohio EPA says the area will take decades to recover. During construction of the ten mile long Rock Springs pipeline in 2016 Williams was cited for numerous soil erosion control measures. They had in fact not installed any where they were removing trees and shrubs at the Fishing creek crossing just upstream from the fishing creek conservancy. It was people like myself who sounded the alarm not the DEP, the Army Corp, or the soil conservation district. It took several weeks before officials made a site visit. They still found numerous violations yet no fines were issued.
Perhaps the most compelling reason to deny permits for this project is the overwhelming science concerning global warming. While CO2 emissions may indeed be down the increase in emissions of methane will have catastrophic results that will be as bad as or worse than if we continue to burn coal.
Agencies like the DEP may or may not have a legal mandate to consider these cumulative impacts but you certainly have a moral obligation to do so. The potential for disaster occurs at every water crossing, at every well head and at every LNG facility. All this for something we don’t need. Just for corporate profit. It is no secret that the DEP is grossly underfunded. Until the DEP can adequately review and enforce the regulations under its jurisdiction regarding the construction of this pipeline no permits from the state should be issued.
Tim Spiese-Lancaster Against Pipelines