Lancaster County, PA, Community Members Halt Pipeline Drilling Activity
Civil Disobedience Puts Pipeline Corporation on Notice

 On January 5, approximately 40 residents of Conestoga & Martic Townships, together with a local chapter of the American Indian Movement and supporters from across Lancaster County, PA, halted drilling activity related to a natural gas pipeline project being proposed by Williams Corporation. Test drilling was being conducted in Conestoga Township, approximately 25 feet from the Conestoga River, and near an area registered with the state as a historically significant Native American cultural site (#36LA15).

When PPL Electric Utilities, the property owner, ordered the residents off the land, eight were arrested for refusing to vacate the property.

This action ups the ante, as these community members are no longer willing to be on the receiving end of harmful corporate projects that are illegitimately licensed by state and federal levels of government. While this particular pipeline has not yet been permitted, the relevant permitting agency (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC), has not once denied a Williams proposal. These communities have stopped hoping for relief from other levels of government; instead, through actions like these, they are asserting their unalienable rights to govern what happens in the places where they live.

Quotes from participants in yesterday’s action:

“We as a community have unequivocally stated that Williams Partners is not welcome here. We intend to peacefully do everything we can at each stage of the process to stop Williams from destroying our rural way of life. ” Mark Clatterbuck of Martic Township.

“Well over half of registered voters in Conestoga support an ordinance outright banning this pipeline. This action is an enforcement of the will of the people of Conestoga Township. The people of Conestoga Township are stopping this drilling today and any day in the future that Williams attempts it.” Leslie Bunting of Conestoga Township.

The Ordinance that Ms. Bunting is referring to is a Community Rights Ordinance, versions of which residents of both Conestoga and Martic Townships have been asking their local elected officials to adopt. The proposed Ordinances would secure community rights to clean air, water, and local self-governance, and ban unsustainable energy systems, such as pipelines, as a violation of those rights.

We at the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund applaud the efforts of all those involved in today’s action. The time has come for us to stop hoping that our state or federal levels of government are going to protect us from corporate harms, and instead take collective action where we live to assert and protect our rights. These communities are leading the way.