Energy. Environment. Economy.

Pipeline route revised to avoid Lancaster County nature preserves

In response to public criticism, a company seeking to build a new natural gas pipeline through parts of north and central Pennsylvania has proposed changes to part of the route to avoid several nature preserves in Lancaster County.

More than 1,000 people turned out to Millersville University Wednesday night for a public meeting hosted by Oklahoma-based Williams Partners. The company is seeking to transport natural gas from Pennsylvania to markets along the Eastern Seaboard as part of its $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise expansion project.

It’s part of a larger effort to rearrange the flow of gas pipeline systems southward to accommodate the rapid growth of gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

Williams operates the Transco system which has over 10,000 miles of existing pipeline moving gas to other businesses like utility companies and power plants.

Spokesman Chris Stockton says Williams is revising its plans to keep off the Lancaster County Conservancy’s Tucquan Glen and Shenk’s Ferry preserves.

“We’ve actually developed a route that avoids those areas now,” he says. “It is a direct result of the feedback we’ve heard so far.”

The new proposed route would still cut through a portion of Steinman Run Preserve, according to Conservancy and county officials.

Over the past few weeks, nearly 1,000 people have attended Williams’ nine other public meetings in communities affected by the project– including Lycoming, Clinton, Susquehanna, Wyoming, Northumberland, Columbia, Schuylkill and Lebanon counties.

The pipeline has faced its fiercest opposition in Lancaster County.

Several dozen protesters briefly disrupted the meeting, by staging a sit-in and chanting “Go home Williams!”

Other residents criticized the format of the meeting. There was no formal presentation from Williams, but the company had employees on hand with maps answering questions.

“I thought it was going to more of a question-and-answer format,” says Adrienne Boulliane of West Lancaster Township. “I thought Williams would present their case, someone could oppose it, and we’d hear differing views.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is charged with siting the placement of interstate pipelines.

FERC is planning to hold public meetings on the Atlantic Sunrise project later this summer, but has not announced dates yet. If approved, the pipeline could be operational by 2017.

See the proposed changes in Lancaster County (note: original route is green; new route is pink).



  • CitizenSane1

    As I’ve said before…. NUMBERS MATTER! Numbers of people, numbers of signatures, numbers of voices, and numbers of voters. To all those who feel so overwhelmed, powerless, convinced that they can’t fight back, and so helpless that they can’t motivate themselves to come off the couch and show up at these events to defend your communities, wake up and take notice! Williams isn’t rerouting this pipeline because they care about “nature preserves”. They decided to reroute it because 1100 people showed up, stood up, and spoke out in one loud voice- NO!

  • wendylynnelee

    Let me interject one note of caution here–and my apologies if this seems like a downer:

    1. It is of absolutely no value for WPZ to merely change the route. Changing the route is not abandoning the project–and the only acceptable outcome here is the latter.

    2. If changing the route to protect one thing–a nature preserve–whatever–means converting something else into a sacrifice zone, this not only does not help us achieve our objective–NO PIPELINE–it actively undermines our efforts. That is nothing but a concession to the “special places” bull-pucky we at Shale Justice explicitly reject as inconsistent with the intimate relationship between ecological integrity and social/economic justice. If changing the route, for example, means putting the pipeline through a location where people are simply less able to put up resistance–and we concede to this–we are as guilty as is WPZ of determining that some are of less value than others.

    We cannot afford this:

    3. From the pint of view of WPZ, we are all of no greater value than what they have to pay to get us out of their way. If they can extort our consent by moving a pipeline they will because they still get to construct it and,

    4. in that case, they make us complicit, willing partners in the pipeline.

    5. We will then have no claim to demand it not be built. We cannot concede to moving a pipeline–AND demand there be NO pipeline. That’s just like demanding that fracking stop, and then asking for better regulations–inconsistent and incoherent.

    We must speak with a single unified voice: NO PIPELINE.

    For more, please see:

    For the maps of Columbia County–including names of landowners:

  • Briget Shields

    Then the next community must take action, and the next and the next and the next until this industry realizes they are no longer welcome here.

    • CitizenSane1

      I agree, Briget. That is where we must focus our attention. Williams will continue to propose alternative routes. We need to stop them at every pass until they run out of options, lose shareholder support and investment, and abandon the project, like they did with the Bluegrass Pipeline. Then… we fight the next one, and the next one, etc.

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