Expanding to Fight Pipeline Expansion

With the start of spring in Central Pennsylvania, new projects and relationships are blooming for the North-East Central PA Working Group! We recently welcomed three summer interns to our campaign. With extra boots on the ground, we hope to expand the reach of our Sullivan County Listening Project. This will include mass fliering, cold-calls, and door-to-door canvassing.

Our most recent interview was with a retired science teacher who now spends as much time as he can fishing on the Loyalsock Creek. “I know the creek” he said, when asked about his favorite part of living near the Loyalsock State Forest. His ideal 10 year vision involves a greener and more sustainable economy for Sullivan County. “This county could be developed as an eco-tourist site: skiing, biking, snow mobiles, hiking…it’s an untapped resource. You don’t have to depend on a gas well (for income) if you have tourists year round.” He echoed the concerns of many other retired people we’ve talked to about planning for old age in an area which has for a long time, depended on extractive industries and has seen multiple boom and bust periods. As a long-time resident of the Loyalsock he referenced the regrowth that has occurred since the major clear-cutting done by the logging industry in the early 1900’s. “Where I grew up in Schuylkill County I would always fantasize about what it looked like before the coal mines polluted the creeks.”

A picture from a previous pipeline expansion project in the area.

SOC’s new interns will also be key in getting our newest project off the ground. A pipeline project called the “Atlantic Sunrise Expansion” was recently proposed to be built from northern Columbia County through southern Lancaster County, where many SOC organizers and allies live, work, and play. The section nearest to us in Columbia, Northumberland, Schuylkill, Lebanon and Lancaster Counties is called the Central Penn Line South.” The Central Penn Line South would be a 178 mile, 42 inch high pressure pipe used to move natural gas more quickly from the extraction zones to market sources. It would begin at the northern end of Columbia County and travel South through Northumberland, Schuylkill, and Lebanon Counties and conclude in Lancaster County, heading towards numerous proposed natural gas export facilities. This would be a greenfield pipeline, meaning that rather than use existing right-of-ways, it would cross land previously untouched by natural gas infrastructure. This includes extensive farmland, forests and nature preserves, and it would hug the Susquehanna River for approximately 20 miles.

There have already been community meetings in Lancaster, Lebanon, and Columbia Counties. In Columbia County we will be focusing our efforts on informing and supporting landowners who may be on the proposed pipeline route. Our interns will be doing research on the pipeline, and we hope to contact every affected landowner in Columbia County (over 300!). This will be a big focus of the North-East Central PA Working Group for the foreseeable future.

With all this work on our plate, this could easily be a full-time job for the entire North-East Central Working Group. To ease the burden, we will be applying for larger grants in the next few weeks. We hope that more resources will aid in expanding our reach and growing the community around SOC. We also want to thank everyone who donated towards helping to fund the startup of our Sullivan County Listening Project.  Your donations have helped five different organizers cover their living expenses for a short period of time, which allowed us to focus full-time on building organizing and outreach in the Marcellus region of Northeastern-Central Pennsylvania.