Hundreds convened in Lancaster County on Sunday to dedicate a chapel that stands in the path of the proposed Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. Despite a last-minute effort by energy company Williams to thwart the dedication with a 45-page motion in federal district court, members of Lancaster Against Pipelines (LAP) stood in solidarity with Catholic sisters and community members to "establish the land as a place of holy resistance," according to LAP co-founder Mark Clatterbuck. "It almost sounds like Williams is a little bit scared," he exclaimed, "and I would say they should be."
Members of LAP have spent the last three years exhaustively defending their community from the proposed fracked-gas export line that threatens to permanently displace residents from their homes, cause irreversible damage to the natural environment and pose serious health risks to local citizens. "It's hard not to get frustrated, exhausted and even a little bit cynical when we're up against billionaire bullies who have all the money in the world," Clatterbuck told supporters.
"It's going to take more than outrage and frustration; we're all going to need moral clarity, an unwavering reliance on each other for strength and courage, and a fearless disregard for the cost of defending the sacred Earth."
The chapel sits 7 miles west of Lancaster City on property currently owned by Catholic nuns affiliated with the Adorers of the Blood of Christ--land that will be forcibly transferred to Williams according to the controversial practice of eminent domain. Opponents of the line that cuts across 36 miles of Lancaster County plan to engage in peaceful acts of civil disobedience at the chapel by using similar tactics that stopped a project in Kentucky three years ago.
Williams' high-powered lawyers filed an unsuccessful motion to stop the event on the sisters' own property, asking a federal judge to deploy U.S. Marshals, according to court documents. "I think they're scared of our tenacity," Clatterbuck contends. "I think that they're scared of our sacred commitment to the land, to the Susquehanna River, to the rugged river hills whose relentless rocky beauty is reflected in our own rugged convictions about this place we call home."
Local community members are likely to square off with builders in September, when the project is estimated to begin.