As the summer progresses, Williams (the parent company for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline expansion) has moved ahead with planning and preparations for their new project. Not ones to miss a beat, the Northeast-Central Working Group is keeping pace with our work to educate and support local landowners in developing a plan for resisting the pipeline.
We’ve got several teams of people knocking on doors along the proposed pipeline route to network with landowners and we’re beginning to make connections between different community groups. We hosted a presentation from the Mountain Watershed Association that brought out almost 100 concerned landowners from across Columbia County to explain how pipelines work and give an overview of the permitting process. We made appearances at each one of the open houses Williams held and talked to folks along the entire 178-mile route of the proposed pipeline. Plus, we’ve got some exciting things in the works to continue to develop a campaign against this pipeline that keeps the community’s interests at heart.
This pipeline, which cuts through Susquehanna, Lackawanna, Luzerne, Columbia, Northumberland, Schuykill, Lebanon, and Lancaster counties, would serve as a shortcut between the currently operating and already connected Transco Leidy and Transcontinental Gas pipelines. This shortcut would bring natural gas to the Cove Point LNG Terminal in Maryland, providing direct access to the eastern seaboard, which will pave the way for an expansion of drilling and infrastructure across the northeastern and central part of Pennsylvania. Many landowners have expressed that they do not want this pipeline to be built, and several have asked for support in opposing the project.
On the immediate horizon, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is hosting a series of scoping hearings in preparation for environmental assessment of the pipeline route. While Williams hasn’t officially submitted their proposal for this project, they’re still moving forward with several aspects of the permitting process, including conducting environmental surveys. FERC has just announced their intent to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement, (which can be found here), and the scoping hearings are the next step in the process. The information gathered by FERC from these hearings will inform how the EIS is conducted and what information will be gathered. This is a chance for landowners and concerned citizens to raise issues, concerns, and questions as to where this 42” pipeline expansion is to be placed. The Northeast-Central PA working group will be at the Columbia County scoping hearing at Bloomsburg University on Wednesday August 6th. More information about the scoping hearings and suggestions for issues to raise can be found at http://www.cleanair.org/atlanticsunrise.
Later this month, on August 15th at 7PM, SOC is partnering with the Clean Air Council to host a town hall meeting in the Bloomsburg Fire Hall (911 Market St). This meeting will be a chance for landowners to talk with each other and hear our collective concerns. Coming out of the series of open houses hosted by Williams, one frequently heard concern was that the style of the open house was designed in a way that interfered with community discussion. People felt representatives from Williams were not open to discussing concerns with neighborhoods and communities as a whole. We aim to facilitate that kind of broader discussion to address the questions, concerns, and needs of the communities impacted. We will have pipeline research and hopefully legal experts present that can speak pointedly about pertinent topics such as collective negotiation with Williams and how to handle the threat of eminent domain. Our hope in hosting a meeting like this is to push for more community resilience. We’d like to see neighbors meeting each other and talking about how they’re mutually affected by the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, and how we can all continue creating a popular movement against this industrial expansion.