Appeals Court Grants Temporary Stay on Fracked Gas Pipeline

Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline Temporarily Blocked From Beginning Construction

Jonathon Berman,

Washington, DC -- Today, the D.C. Circuit of Appeals granted a temporary stay on construction of the fracked gas Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Williams, the company behind the project, had sought to rush construction of the pipeline before petitioners’ case was reviewed.

"It’s no small relief being able to spend a little more time feeling safe in my own home now that construction has been temporarily halted," said Kate Ruof, Sierra Club member and Lancaster County resident. "It will be hard enough to repair the damage that has already been done but I'm glad that we are one step closer to this destructive project receiving the thorough review it sorely needs."

The petitioner groups, represented by Appalachian Mountain Advocates and the Sierra Club, include Lancaster Against Pipelines, Lebanon Pipeline Awareness, Allegheny Defense Project, Clean Air Council, Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County, Heartwood, and the Accokeek, Mattawoman, Piscataway Creeks Communities Council had requested that construction not move forward unless and until FERC conducts a comprehensive environmental review that fully accounts for the project’s short- and long-term impacts, as well as the public need for the project. A report prepared by Key-Log Economics details the ways that FERC has overstated the pipeline’s economic benefits while discounting or ignoring its true costs.

“The arrogance of the industry is on full display as they rush this project and silence protestors while there are still pending cases in court,” said Mark Clatterbuck of Lancaster Against Pipelines. “Transco wouldn't be rushing if they weren't worried and I hope this is the beginning of a turning tide that will check the fossil fuel industry, an industry that has been rolling over the rights of communities for years.”

The decision is a critical time-out for the fracked gas project, which has received widespread criticism across Pennsylvania. The opposition intensified after an order of nuns saw their land seized and sacred chapel removed by a project they were vehemently opposed to.  

“Today’s decision reinforces the fact that FERC must conduct a thorough examination of the threat these dirty and dangerous projects pose to communities across the country,” said Sierra Club Senior Campaign Representative Patrick Grenter. “Williams and FERC can no longer railroad this project without adequately and legally examining the threats Atlantic Sunrise will create for our health, our water, and our air. Communities have been forcefully voicing their opposition to this project for years, and we are thankful that they’re one day closer to having their day in court.”

The D.C. Circuit panel will now rule on whether to issue a full stop to the project so that the court can give impacted communities a fair hearing and meaningful relief.


About the Sierra Club

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