Several online advocacy publications have been reporting on public resistance to plans for installing the Atlantic Sunrise Natural Gas Pipeline in Lancaster County. Our conference’s Committee on Native American Ministry (CONAM) will welcome two courageous leaders of that resistance to their spring gathering on Sunday, April 30, at 4 PM at the Conference Office (980 Madison Ave., Norristown, PA).
Everyone is invited to come join in worship, a light meal and a presentation and discussion led by Tim Spiese and Malinda Clatterbuck of the growing Lancaster Against Pipelines movement.
The event is timed ideally to occur on The United Methodist Church’s Native American Ministry Sunday. That’s when churches are encouraged to recognize and support advocacy by and for Native Americans, including concerns for the safety and sacredness of our natural environment–concerns that affect and should involve all of us.
According to an article by journalist Brandon Jordan in Shadowproof, “Months after thousands at Standing Rock stood up against the Dakota Access Pipeline, activists in Pennsylvania are ready to take a stand against a nearly $3 billion pipeline project called Atlantic Sunrise.
“First proposed in 2014, it is an extension of the current Transco (Transcontinental) pipeline that transports natural gas throughout the eastern United States,” writes Jordan, “Williams Partners proposed this nearly 200-mile long project to transfer natural gas from the Marcellus shale fields, one of the richest U.S. gas fields.
“Last year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which regulates interstate natural gas, accepted comments from the public to determine if Williams should receive a certificate for construction. Despite a vast majority writing against the pipeline, FERC gave its approval on February 3….” Read more of this article.
Appalachian Voices in “Resistance to Pipelines Across the East,” offers perhaps one of the best explanations of the natural gas extraction process and the dire risks it poses to communities. The publication describes the work of anti-pipeline advocates in the East and challenges they face.
“The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline would allow the nearly 1,800 mile Transcontinental Pipeline, which currently runs from south Texas north to New York City, to run in the other direction as well,” the article reports. “The pipeline, also known as Transco, would transport the natural gas pumped from the Appalachian Basin to the Gulf, presumably for export.
According to Tim Spiese, a member of the community action group Lancaster Against Pipelines, the project will also build what Transco describes as a nearly 200-mile “shortcut” between existing pipelines that “crosses every tributary that feeds the Susquehanna River.”
“Our hope is that when they do start building the pipeline there will be such a huge groundswell of opposition to this that it’s going to create the energy we need to have industries pull away,” Spiese says.
The group has established an encampment, called The Stand, on a piece of farmland in the path of the pipeline. About 10 people are currently living there, and dozens more come out for events and training.
“‘Non-violent mass action’ is what we’re calling it, and we are likening it to what happened in the Civil Rights era and even women’s suffrage,” says Malinda Clatterbuck, also a member of Lancaster Against Pipelines. “We really believe that the only way we will stop this is through the power of people coming out in mass numbers to help bring about an awareness and a change in how people are thinking about what’s happening here.”
“We’re doing this work to stop a pipeline,” says Clatterbuck, who has faced intimidation for her outspoken opposition to the project. “But I feel like the bigger picture here, what we’re really fighting against, is this unjust system that has allowed corporations to become personhoods and have more power over the destruction of communities than those communities have the power to protect themselves against it and protect their health and safety. And that’s what’s gotta change.”
The Pennsylvania Council of Churches reports “As best we can tell, serious, concerted construction of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline has been delayed by up to several months. There are still state permits that have yet to be issued for the project to go forward, and FERC has still not issued their official notice to proceed. Williams Partners employees testified in court this week that pipe would not begin being laid until July at the earliest.
“With that in mind, the Lancaster Stand is moving to a weekend-only schedule effective immediately. Our weekend gatherings will focus on action planning, trainings, and workshops in preparation for when construction does occur.
“Orientation, mass action trainings, and legal trainings will continue to be held at camp on the weekend. Community dinners and special events will also be held.”
Come learn more from Tim Spiese and Malinda Clatterbuck at our conference’s Committee on Native American Ministry (CONAM) spring gathering on Sunday, April 30, at 4 PM at the Conference Office (980 Madison Ave., Norristown, PA). the conference‘s attendance and support is part of its continuing commitment to the Act of Repentance celebrated at the 2016 Annual Conference. Download the event flyer.