Community Groups, Environmental Organizations Respond to Pennsylvania DEP Approval of Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Permits

On August 31st, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection approved water permits for Transco’s Atlantic Sunrise project, a fracked gas pipeline that will cut through hundreds of Pennsylvania streams and wetlands. The permits follow on the Department’s decision more than a year ago to grant a crucial water quality certification for this pipeline, without reviewing the pipeline’s impacts on water quality through the state permitting process. Since then, communities have appealed that certification and submitted thousands of comments urging the Department to protect Pennsylvania’s waters through the permitting process. Instead, the permits the Department issued would allow Transco to use the “open cut” method of laying pipe, which has a terrible track record of polluting streams and wetlands, including in Pennsylvania.

In response, groups opposed to the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline issued the following statements:

“This decision is not a surprise to anyone opposing the Atlantic Sunrise but it is always disappointing when they allow the industry to exploit and damage the earth while trampling on the rights of landowners and jeopardizing the health and safety of all Pennsylvanians,” said Malinda Clatterbuck from Lancaster Against Pipelines. “We, the people, have come to realize that our politicians and our regulatory agencies work for the industry and not for us, and that this injustice is only going to change if we the people force that change.”

“We have little confidence that the work done will indeed protect the environment and public safety, as the construction process of the Mariner East 2 has certainly indicated otherwise with its lengthy list of construction problems and violations, some of which were predicted and pointed out during the permit approval process,” said Pam Bishop, principal, Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County.

“We certainly would like to think that Pennsylvania regulators would hold more value in protecting our air, water and land for Pennsylvanians,” said Ann Pinca, president of Lebanon Pipeline Awareness. “The recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision that has finally upheld the 1971 Environmental Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution–which grants us the right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of our natural environment–does not appear to have been a part of this decision and it should have been.”

“Today, we stand with residents along the pipeline route who have a genuine, legitimate concern that this massive fossil fuel project will fundamentally change their valued way of life,” said Joanne Kilgour, Director of the Pennsylvania Chapter of the Sierra Club. “Residents across Pennsylvania voiced their opposition to this project, but once again, we saw the Department of Environmental Protection advance the interests of the industry rather than those most impacted by this project.”

“As stated in the Land Ethic of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ…’we treasure land as a gift of beauty and sustenance; we see it as a legacy for future generations,'” said Sister Janet McCann, US Region Councilor for the Adorers of the Blood of Christ. “To the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection giving approval for permits for the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, we ask these questions in the name of our future generations:  Where is our beauty?  Where is our sustenance?  Where is our legacy?”

The Transco-Williams Atlantic Sunrise pipeline will cross 327 streams and waterbodies in Pennsylvania and affect 4100 acres of land during construction. The project will also cross multiple public drinking water supply sources, watersheds, acres of wetlands, and designated high quality streams, exceptional value streams, and trout streams.

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