For those who missed this Letter to the Editor, published on Tuesday, April 19 in the Huntingdon Daily News:
To all concerned citizens,
Throughout my life I've been told that in America we have freedom, we have personal rights, and that nobody should be able to take those basic rights, those freedoms, away from us. But that is exactly what Sunoco is doing to families all across Pennsylvania. Sunoco's Mariner East 2 Pipeline is to be a 350 mile natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Ohio to southeast PA. It will transport 275,000 barrels of natural gas every day to the Marcus Hook Refinery in Delaware County. According to Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields, nearly all of the gas is to be shipped overseas.
Most will say, "but the pipeline is good for the economy." As I personally witnessed, cutting crews are brought in from out of state. Landowners, farmers and family-owned businesses have had their livelihoods destroyed as a result of tree cuttings for the pipeline. Once the cutting is done, what will be left? A 350 mile gash in our beautiful landscape. And where will the gas go? It won't stay here, it will go overseas and ultimately up into an already struggling atmosphere. So who will benefit from the pipeline? Certainly not us. The profits will make a faceless, multi-billion dollar company and its associated industries even more rich and powerful.
Sunoco has used eminent domain to take land from approximately 2,700 private properties for this project. Eminent domain means "the power to take private property for public use;" and it is typically reserved for utilities like the electric company or for PennDOT, which provides services to the general public. But if all the gas goes overseas, how will the American public use it? Currently, Sunoco has not been federally deemed a public utility. So how can they legally claim eminent domain? You should ask Judge Zanic, who sided with Sunoco in a dispute over their claim filed by the Gerhart family, whose land has been taken for the pipeline--land they pledged 34 years ago would never be developed under the Forest Stewardship Program, or "Clean and Green."
Recently Sunoco clearcut 3 acres of the Gerhart property, including a beautiful wetland that is home to birds, bats, fish, and other creatures. In order to cut a wetland, permits are required from the Department of Environmental Protection. Those permits were never acquired by Sunoco, who claims they did not cut in or around the wetland. I saw with my own eyes giant trees being felled on and around the surveyors' signs marked "Wetland Boundary" and "Water Crossing," trees literally crushing those signs. Their case is currently in an appeals process, and so we must ask: "If the decision could be reversed in a higher court, what kind of system allows for a company to create irreversible damage to someone's property before a final decision is made?"
Sunoco and other multinational corporations don't care about you. They don't care about the environment. They don't care about our legal system. And if we keep electing officials who allow these criminals to walk right in and take and destroy our land, then you will see more of these projects happen, creating more destruction and pollution. With 30,000 miles of pipeline slated to be built in Pennsylvania the next ten years, they may even end up in your backyard ready to take whatever they want. As Americans we must make our voices heard above the growl of chainsaws and the swish of pens in privileged offices, the sounds of our basic rights slipping away from us.
This is an issue that affects all of us either directly or indirectly, regardless of politics or personal beliefs; and the purpose of this letter is not meant to be divisive. Rather, we should be working together with our local officials, Judge Zanic, and environmental agencies. If you are upset about this issue you can call the DEP, the governor, the Public Utility Commission, and anyone else you think may have an impact on future decisions. Exercise your hearts and your voices. For the good of the land, our friends, and our rights.