CONESTOGA, Pa. (WHTM) – A grassroots and Native American group held a joint news conference Saturday to discuss their fears of a proposed Midstate pipeline and its effects on the land it would go on.
Lancaster Against Pipelines expressed concerns about the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline going through rural Conestoga and Manor townships. It would be in other parts of Lancaster and Lebanon counties. They say some of the land proposed for the pipeline is on sacred Native American burial grounds.
The group chopped wood, cooked meals, and braved the elements at their encampment outside the Lancaster Stand.
We’re done waiting for the regulatory agencies to help us. We’re done waiting our cowardly elected officials to help us. We understand that the whole regulatory system is really designed to facilitate corporate exploitation of our land, our forests, our waters,” said Mark Clatterbuck, a co-founder of Lancaster Against Pipelines.
The group held the news conference to address what Brookfield Renewable Energy Group, who owns land close to the encampment, did this week.
“They went ahead and publicly announced that they would be allowing Williams to put that pipeline through their property,” Clatterbuck said.
“It’s disrespectful to us and to our ancestors when our remains are dug up and when our artifacts are dug up and thrown into a museum where people come and pay to see them,” said Gene Thunderwolf Whisler, president of American Indian Movement of Lancaster.
Christopher Stockley is the spokesperson for Williams. That’s the company who wants to build the pipeline. He sent ABC27 News this statement:
“We do not intend to destroy cultural resources or human burials of any age or origin. Throughout the regulatory process for Atlantic Sunrise, Williams has gone above and beyond federal standards when finalizing a route and implementing mitigation measures to minimize impacts in and around sensitive areas. We coordinated with 21 federally recognized tribes and other non-federally-recognized tribes or stakeholders in or near the project to determine locations of cultural significance, including the location of cemeteries and burial grounds. We also worked closely with the Pennsylvania Historic Museum Commission to conduct extensive fieldwork and data recording, especially in the Conestoga area, to ensure that no prehistoric archaeological deposits, eligible to the National Register of Historic Places, exist within the project construction footprint. In fact, we excavated approximately 45,000 shovel tests following state guidelines and developed a construction plan to avoid impacts and ensure potentially sensitive areas are not disturbed. We also made numerous changes to the proposed route, as well as modifications to the project design and construction methodologies, to ensure significant cultural resources are protected.”
“We’re going to physically put our bodies on the line and say to Williams, ‘You’re not welcome here, and we’re going to keep you from building a pipeline through Lancaster County and through Pennsylvania.’ That’s our intention,” Clatterbuck said.
The tents at the encampment are not going away. The group says they’ll continue to camp out to show their opposition to the pipeline.