Quantcast

Judge Awards Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Builder Rights to Seize Last 5 Holdout Properties, Including Nun's Land

Energy
A speaker at a chapel constructed by opponents of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in a cornfield owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.

Builders of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline now possess the five remaining holdout properties in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, following a federal judge's decision Wednesday.

The ruling from Judge Jeffrey Schmehl granted Transcontinental Pipe Line Co.'s (Transco) motion to condemn the rights of way on the properties and granted the company immediate possession of the land, Lancaster Online reports. This includes land owned by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ near the town of Columbia.


The order of Catholic nuns consider the fracked gas pipeline—a project of Oklahoma-based pipeline developer and Transco owner Williams Partners—a violation of their beliefs and environmental values.

Last month, the Adorers and their fellow pipeline opponents built an open-air chapel on a strip of the nun's farmland where the pipeline is set to go through to fight the fossil fuel company's efforts to seize the land.

"We are disappointed that the federal judge today made the decision to condemn the rights of way and grant immediate possession of our (and others') property in Lancaster County to the Transcontinental Pipe Line Co. for the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline project," the nuns said in a statement.

"We will be evaluating our next steps."

Williams Partners said the chapel does not have to be removed immediately but will eventually have to be relocated before pipeline construction.

Dwight Yoder, a lawyer for the nuns, declined Lancaster Online's request to comment on Wednesday's ruling but noted the limited right for appeal in eminent domain cases.

Meanwhile, the nuns' lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is still pending. The nuns claim that the interstate natural gas pipeline violates their rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, as it "places a substantial burden on their exercise of religion by taking their land, which they want to protect and preserve as part of their faith, and forces the Adorers to use their land in a manner and for a purpose they believe is harmful to the Earth."

The four other condemned properties are in the Conestoga and Manor townships. They are owned by Stephen Hoffman, Hilltop Hollow Partnership, Blair and Megan Mohn and Lynda Like, none of whom have granted easements for right of way for pipeline construction.

According to a statement issued by Williams Partners, the judge's order means pipeline construction can begin in a timely fashion "pending receipt of the last remaining state and federal clearances expected in the coming weeks."

"We now have possession of the last remaining right of ways needed for the project," the statement continued. "As we move closer to construction, we are committed to continuing the dialogue we've established, treating all of our Atlantic Sunrise landowners with respect and courtesy throughout the construction process and once the pipeline becomes operational.

"It is important to stress that landowners still retain ownership of their property and are fairly compensated for the easement. The easement only gives us the limited right to install and operate the pipeline. Use of the land, with certain limitations, can remain the same as before construction."

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A roller coaster on the Jersey Shore flooded after Hurricane Sandy. Photo credit: Hurricane_Sandy_New_Jersey_Pier.jpg: Master Sgt. Mark C. Olsen / U.S. Air Force / New Jersey National Guard / CC BY 2.0

New Jersey will be the first state in the U.S. to require builders to take the climate crisis into consideration before seeking permission for a project.

Read More
Workers selectively harvest slightly under-ripe Syrah grapes to make a Blanc de Noir wine for the Israeli winery Zaza on Aug. 6, 2019 in central Israel. Israeli vintners are harvesting their grapes earlier than they did a decade ago due to shorter winters and more intense summers. David Silverman / Getty Images

The climate crisis may be coming for your favorite wines.

Read More
Sponsored
An aerial view of a neighborhood destroyed by the Camp Fire on Nov. 15, 2018 in Paradise, Calif. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

Respecting scientists has never been a priority for the Trump Administration. Now, a new investigation from The Guardian revealed that Department of the Interior political appointees sought to play up carbon emissions from California's wildfires while hiding emissions from fossil fuels as a way to encourage more logging in the national forests controlled by the Interior department.

Read More
Slowing deforestation, planting more trees, and cutting emissions of non-carbon dioxide greenhouse gases like methane could cut another 0.5 degrees C or more off global warming by 2100. South_agency / E+ / Getty Images

By Dana Nuccitelli

Killer hurricanes, devastating wildfires, melting glaciers, and sunny-day flooding in more and more coastal areas around the world have birthed a fatalistic view cleverly dubbed by Mary Annaïse Heglar of the Natural Resources Defense Council as "de-nihilism." One manifestation: An increasing number of people appear to have grown doubtful about the possibility of staving-off climate disaster. However, a new interactive tool from a climate think tank and MIT Sloan shows that humanity could still meet the goals of the Paris agreement and limit global warming.

Read More
A baby burrowing owl perched outside its burrow on Marco Island, Florida. LagunaticPhoto / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Burrowing owls, which make their homes in small holes in the ground, are having a rough time in Florida. That's why Marco Island on the Gulf Coast passed a resolution to pay residents $250 to start an owl burrow in their front yard, as the Marco Eagle reported.

Read More