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Kent County chapter in solidarity with anti-pipeline struggle in Pennsylvania

Chapter activst Ann Pohl in Pennsylvania with anti-fracking activist Vera Scroggins..

The Council of Canadians Kent County chapter is expressing solidarity with an anti-pipeline fight in Pennsylvania.

Three people were arrested there this week trying to stop work crews from cutting trees on a family’s wooded property to make way for Sunoco Logistics’ Mariner East 2 pipeline, which will carry natural gas liquids from Ohio, West Virginia and western Pennsylvania to the Philadelphia area.

Elise Gerhart climbed a tree to stop it from being cut down.

The Allegheny Front explains, “The company was granted a right-of-way on the Gerhart’s land by a judge through eminent domain in January. Though they are appealing that decision, the Gerharts were ordered by Huntingdon County Common Pleas Court Judge George Zanik Monday to stay clear of the chain saw crews. …’We’ve been forced to do this because the government isn’t protecting us’, Gerhart said, wearing a helmet and sitting on a platform wedged between branches of the tree, 40 feet in the air. ‘These agencies aren’t doing their job to protect the people and the environment.'”

Last night, State Impact reported, “A pair of protesters remained in trees Thursday as a deadline neared for clearing a path for a $2.5-billion natural gas pipeline.”

PennLive.com notes, “This week, the Gerharts lost hundreds of trees on the 28-acre Huntingdon County property they purchased in 1982 and soon enrolled in the Pennsylvania Forest Stewardship Program. The silent promise they made to never develop or profit from the land was superseded by a pipeline project the minute the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission classified the Mariner East 2 as a public utility. But this pipeline is not like the natural gas lines that deliver winter heat to numerous homes across the state. It’s a behemoth that stretches hundreds of miles from the shale fields of Ohio, West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania to a Sunoco Logistics hub in Marcus Hook.”

Dozens of landowners in Pennsylvania are fighting to stop this pipeline.

Mariner East 2 is also an export pipeline.

The article notes, “Those exports are why nearly all landowners and plaintiffs’ attorneys say these pipelines don’t deserve eminent domain status. That right is usually reserved for a project with a clear plan to serve the public good, such as highways and schools. Industry lawyers argue that whatever benefits companies is also considered a public benefit, but that rationale doesn’t fly with the Gerharts.”

Chapter activist Ann Pohl has just returned from a trip to Pennsylvania and says, “We must defend our fracking moratorium in New Brunswick. What I have seen clearly in Pennsylvania is that the actual ‘fracking,’ as terrible as that can be, is only the tip of the iceberg. Even much worse is the infrastructure that follows, the intensified use of state force against civilians, and the way this fractionalizes rural neighbours who depend on one another for survival.”

In December 2014, the New Brunswick government implemented a moratorium on fracking in the province. Premier Brian Gallant said that moratorium would not be lifted until five conditions are met: 1) social licence; 2) a process to consult with First Nations; 3) a plan for wastewater disposal; 4) credible information on the impacts of fracking on health, water and the environment; 5) the development of a royalty structure. In February, a government-appointed commission found that these conditions are not in place. The Council of Canadians and its four New Brunswick chapters are calling on the Gallant government to recognize it has no choice but to extend the fracking moratorium.

The Council of Canadians is also working with landowners in New Brunswick whose property would be crossed by the proposed 1.1 million barrel per day TransCanada Energy East pipeline.

Fredericton-based Council of Canadians campaigner Mark D’Arcy has been meeting with landowners over the past year to hear their concerns and provide information to them. He has been focusing on the watershed regions of Washademoak Lake, Belleisle Bay, Kennebecasis Bay and River, Bay of Fundy, Upper Saint John River, and Grand Lake. To date, D’Arcy has compiled a list of about 60 landowners in New Brunswick concerned about the pipeline. He has also been providing these landowners with our When TransCanada Comes Knocking: Living along the proposed Energy East pipeline path toolkit.

For more from Brent, follow him on Twitter at @CBrentPatterson