Landowners Going to Federal Court to Fight Pipeline Eminent Domain Condemnation

UPDATE(3/23/2017): Williamsport, PA – Federal Judge rules in favor of Williams to use eminent domain.


IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Cassie Moore
Shalefield Organizing Committee
cassmoore16@gmail.com
570-360-7617

Deirdre Lally
Clean Air Council
dlally@cleanair.org
570-854-2288

Landowners Going to Federal Court to Fight Pipeline Eminent Domain Condemnation

Williamsport, Pa. – Landowners in the path of Williams Companies’ proposed Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline challenging eminent domain property seizure will appear in federal court in Williamsport on Thursday, at 9:30AM at 240 W 3rd St. #218, Williamsport, PA 17701.

The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline is proposed to run north to south from Susquehanna County to Lancaster County Pennsylvania. The pipeline will transport gas obtained from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale using the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking.”

Judge Matthew W. Brann, an Obama appointment to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, Middle District of Pennsylvania, ordered landowners of ten properties to come to court for oral arguments regarding eminent domain condemnation in situations in which landowners refused easement offers.

Williams Companies proposed the pipeline project in 2014 and began offering easement agreements to landowners along the route in order to obtain a 75-foot right of way, access roads, and additional workspace. Some landowners refused, willing to face eminent domain to keep the pipeline from crossing their property.

Ryan Regec, a landowner from Schuylkill County, said, “I purchased this property to subdivide for building lots, but this pipeline will prevent me from building those homes. Williams has been unwilling to negotiate for the full value, make adjustments to the route, or even allow a road crossing for my construction equipment.”

“I have been dealing with them for three years and they have refused to negotiate. They plan to take 8.04 acres for the construction road and right of way, which crosses my entire property,” said Regec.

Susan Pantalone, a homeowner in Elysburg, Columbia County losing 0.47 acres, said, “It’s open season on citizens’ rights. We have been threatened with eminent domain since the beginning. All we did was say no.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency that permits interstate natural gas pipelines, dismissed landowner objections and issued their final approval, a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity, in February.

Clean Air Council, Allegheny Defense Project, and Sierra Club are challenging the FERC certificate, which allows Williams to petition a federal judge for eminent domain condemnation of properties for which landowners have not signed easements. FERC granted the groups’ request for a re-hearing on March 13, but a timeline for further review has yet to be set.

Judge Mann will hear arguments by Williams attorneys asking for “quick take” eminent domain condemnation, which would allow the company to build the pipeline before compensating landowners who have not given consent. The US Constitution Fifth Amendment’s just compensation clause reads “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation,” but a “quick take” ruling would delay the compensation process for years.

On Monday, landowners for nine parcels in Lancaster County appeared in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals Eastern District of Pennsylvania in front of Judge Joseph Leeson in Allentown, also an Obama appointee. No ruling has been made following that hearing.

Final approval for the pipeline hinges on a Notice to Proceed with construction from the FERC, which can be issued for disputed properties only after the easement has been condemned by federal court.

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Fight for the Land: No Pipelines Rally!

On March 4th 2017, roughly 100 rally goers came out to attend the Fight for the Land: No Pipelines Rally, which was hosted at Hearts & Bones Farm in Bloomsburg, PA. The event was co-sponsored by Columbia County Against the Pipeline, Juniata Watershed People Before Pipeline, Clean Air Council, Shalefield Organizing Committee, and Hearts & Bones Farm.

An array of land defenders, water protectors, activists and community organizers showed up in solidarity to actively resist the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. The rally was a call to action to protect the land, water and the health of local communities who are threatened by the Atlantic Sunrise, as well as other pipeline construction projects, locally and nationally.

Speakers from various organizations protecting the land were in attendance to share thoughts and experiences in actively resisting pipelines and other fracking infrastructure projects, including Mariner East 2 and PennEast pipelines. The event allowed for activists to network and discuss opportunities for future collaborative efforts in combating pipeline construction across the region.

Below are some pictures from the event, in case you missed it!

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Orange Township Residents Crowd Supervisors Meeting

Orange Township Supervisors Meeting: October 6, 2016

Concerned residents of Orange Township listen to solicitor Barry Lewis discuss the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline and compressor station.

October 6, 2016 – Over 55 people crowded into the Orange Township municipal building Thursday night for the Township Supervisor’s Meeting. Last month, residents presented a list of questions for the Supervisors regarding the proposed compressor station to be built in the township as part of William’s planned Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. The supervisors declined to extensively comment, asking that residents attend their October meeting when the township solicitor, Barry Lewis, would be present to answer questions.

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Health Presentation Prompts Questions for Orange Township Supervisors

sept-cs-info-session

Dr. Saberi and Deirdre Lally answer questions from the audience following the presentation.

by Casey Pegg & Sierra Shamer

The August 28th presentation on the health impacts of the proposed compressor station was a huge success and that energy was carried into the Orange township supervisors meeting.  Members of Columbia County Against the Pipeline presented the supervisors with a list of questions about the compressor station.  The supervisors agreed to review our questions with their solicitor. They will provide answers for us at their next meeting on Oct 6 at 7:30pm in the Orangeville Municiple Building, 2028 PA-487, Orangeville, PA 17859.

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