NEW MILFORD, PA – Constitution Pipeline Company received federal permission to cut trees Friday afternoon on properties in Susquehanna County, including those obtained by eminent domain condemnation and through a commercial maple syrup operation.
A partial Notice to Proceed with non-mechanized tree cutting was issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday afternoon for the Pennsylvania portion of the Constitution Pipeline. Tree cutting is imminent and can begin any time during daylight hours today through March 31, the deadline set by FERC.
The Constitution Pipeline is a project of Williams Pipeline Companies and Cabot Oil & Gas to be used to transport shale gas obtained through the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. The right of way would be at least 100-ft wide, with additional intermittent 50ft wide workspaces and access roads.
One New Milford family, led by Catherine Holleran and her daughter, Megan Holleran, have opposed eminent domain condemnation of an access road, an additional workspace, and more than 1,670 linear feet of their own property, which is used for maple syrup production by their family business, North Harford Maple.
Megan Holleran said, “This is our land and family business. The pipeline has been years in permitting and we just staged our equipment to set up for this year’s syrup production. If they cut the trees now, they would destroy our equipment and that’s criminal. That’s property destruction. We asked them to speak with our attorney before cutting and that hasn’t happened yet. I’m ready to stop them by standing in the right of way if they try.”
In February 2015, federal judge Malachy Mannion in Scranton ordered that the Holleran property and several others in Susquehanna County be condemned using eminent domain for the private use of Constitution Pipeline Company. No construction activities proceeded after that, as state and federal agencies extended their reviews of archaeology, impacts on endangered species, and wetlands.
In a cease and desist letter served on the company by the Holleran family on Friday, Catherine Holleran wrote, “We assert our Fourth Amendment rights, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, that we must receive compensation before eminent domain condemnation. As compensation hearings have yet to be held, we find any action to develop our property to be unconstitutional. We hope that your client will proceed with good faith negotiations with our counsel prior to any tree cutting, especially given their affinity for the name ‘Constitution Pipeline’.”
LOCATION: 2131 Three Lakes Road, New Milford, PA USE COORDINATES: 41.8272387, -75.7585062
PHOTO BY SCRANTON TIMES TRIBUNE, FROM ARTICLE “Property owners brace for Constitution pipeline eminent domain” BUY PHOTO HERE: http://citizensvoice.mycapture.com/mycapture/enlarge_remote.asp?source=&remoteimageid=16671700
On the Holleran property, blue sap lines are ready to receive maple sap when it starts running in February and March. Pink survey flags show the proposed route of the Constitution Pipeline.
ENERGY JUSTICE NETWORK
A project of Action Center, Inc.
CEASE AND DESIST
January 29th, 2015
Elizabeth U. Witmer, Esq.
Saul Ewing LLP
1200 Liberty Ridge Drive, Suite 200
Wayne, PA 19087
Re: Parcel # 127.00-1, 063.00,000
Tract # ALT-A-PA-SU-020.000
Dear Ms. Witmer,
This letter is being served by Energy Justice Network, with full support of our counsel, on behalf of North Harford Maple, the landowners, and our organization. We order your client to immediately cease and desist any and all tree cutting operations on Parcel # 127.00-1, 063.00,000, Tract # ALT-A-PA-SU-020.000. Heretofore is the statement of Catherine Holleran, part landowner of the property:
My siblings and I are property owners of the above referenced parcel in New Milford
Township, Susquehanna County, PA, through which Constitution’s right-of-way for the pipeline passes. It cuts through most of the woods on this property which we use in our maple sugaring operation, and it will be obstructing our ability to produce from this portion of our sugarbush. The sugaring season is upon us and we are preparing to tap maples.
We presently have sugaring equipment staged in the right of way that will be in imminent threat of property destruction if tree clearing proceeds on our parcel. Destruction of our equipment may subject Constitution Pipeline company to civil and/or criminal charges, which we will pursue.
Therefore, we ask Constitution to cease and desist from the cutting of the trees in the corridor through our woods until an amicable resolution can be reached through our counsel Michael Faherty Esq., with whom you are in communication.
We formally request that we be able to utilize our sugarbush this season, especially since we lost the use of these trees last season due to the threat of our woods being destroyed. Since we are one of the few parcels that has NOT given any signed approval for your intrusion, and the only access is due to the eminent domain process and without our permission, we ask that Constitution refrain at this time from beginning the cutting on this parcel, which will result in the destruction and loss of countless mature maple trees vital to our sap yield and maple syrup production.
Most importantly, we assert our Fourth Amendment rights, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, that we must receive compensation before eminent domain condemnation. As compensation hearings have yet to be held, we find any action to develop our property to be unconstitutional. We hope that your client will proceed with good faith negotiations with our counsel prior to any tree cutting, especially given their affinity for the name “Constitution Pipeline”.
/s/ Catherine Holleran /s/
Owner, North Harford Maple
/s/ Alexander Lotorto /s/
Shale Gas Program Coordinator, Energy Justice Network