Energy Justice Network is fiscally sponsoring a fund for supplies, legal expenses, and costs associated with challenging and monitoring Constitution Pipeline construction for environmental and safety violations.
Urgently, in order to defend the Holleran/Zeffer family successfully in federal court from Williams’ and Cabot’s motions (see below), there are legal and logistical costs associated with a short timeframe for filing responses, admitting new counsel to the middle district, and travel for counsel and family members who have been subpoenaed from across the country.
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*(Note: landowners benefitting from the legal funds are not eligible for a tax deduction)
Here’s Megan Holleran’s story:
My family has lived in New Milford in Susquehanna County for 65 years. We love this beautiful area. So, when we learned four years ago that Williams Pipeline LLC and Cabot Oil & Gas’ planned to build a 30-inch “Constitution Pipeline” in the backyard my aunt and uncle’s place, cutting down sugar maple trees from which our family business, North Harford Maple, have been commercially producing maple syrup for years, I resolved that I was going to do everything I could to prevent this from happening.
We also hoped that one day, at least one or more two more family homes could be built there, but the Constitution Pipeline and the Tennessee Pipeline Northeast Energy Direct pipeline proposed adjacent to it, would prevent that dream from becoming reality.
With the aid and assistance of others in my county and beyond, our family has been doing what we can to stand up for our rights against the often-underhanded actions of Williams employees. Ultimately, Constitution Pipeline LLC condemned our property using the courts accessing federal eminent domain for private profit. Compensation has never been paid to us for the loss of the property. Ironically, that kind of “quick take” eminent domain is something the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution is supposed to protect us from.
On January 29th of this year, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, gave Williams the authorization to cut down trees in Pennsylvania along the route of the planned pipeline. Since then, a presence of supporters, media publications, and our friendly interactions with the tree crews have protected our family land. All we have done is ask the tree crews not to cut when they arrive, and they have obliged.
It is important to know that FERC did not give Williams the authorization to cut down trees in New York, where 100 miles of the proposed 124-mile-long pipeline would be built, because New York has not granted their Clean Water Act water quality certification. In other words, it is possible that this pipeline will not be built because the NY Department of Environmental Conservation may not issue them a permit, which they need. The Army Corps of Engineers also has not yet issued a needed permit for crossing navigable waterways like the Schoharie River.
As I write it is now day 19 of our direct action. Tree-cutting is happening on other properties along the 24 mile stretch of land in PA, but it has not yet happened on the Zeffer/Holleran land, although we had a close call.
Last Wednesday, Feb. 10th, chain-saw tree cutters and Williams security and supervisors came at 9:30 am to start work, but after discussion between representatives of the family and Williams, and then between reps of the family and state police which were called, the state police told Williams that they did not see a basis to take any action against the family and the 30 or so people gathered in support of them. Williams’ crews then left and they have not been back since.
Two days later, Williams unleashed a legal offensive against us. They filed motions in federal court, one of which was 122 pages long, calling upon a federal district court judge to find my family in contempt, order us off parts of our property during tree felling, and make us liable for what Williams claims could be the financial cost to them if they are delayed.
They don’t just want our land for their pipeline; they want to make an example of us. They want to show how powerful they think they are, use the courts to undercut landowner rights and, indeed, our constitutional rights to speak up and take action for what we believe is right. They want to deter other landowners around the country from emulating what we have done.
This Friday, my family has to go to court in Scranton. Subpoenas to us were delivered Tuesday evening telling us to appear to present our case as to why we should not be held in contempt and damages leveled against us.
This on-the-ground battle is now becoming also a legal battle, and the stakes are high. We are aiming to raise $10,000 this month so that we can get the best legal help we can. Remaining funds will be made available to other landowners who will be facing similar situations in New York if tree cutting begins there. We and they will be defending not just our land but the constitutional rights of all of us.
If you can, please use the Donate button above to make a generous, tax-deductible contribution.
P.S. You can keep up with what is happening with our struggle by going to Facebook and going to “Stop the Constitution Pipeline in PA.”