Early this morning, two local youth engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience by locking themselves to the entrance gate of the Delaware State Forest in eastern Pennsylvania which is being used for access by pipeline workers to clearcut trees for the construction of the Northeast Upgrade Project of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline.
Allison Petryk, of Vernon, NJ, and Alex Lotorto, of Milford, PA, plan to remain locked to the gate at the end of Schocopee Road in Milford, PA, all day to prevent access to the tree clearing crews. Tree clearing began on Friday within 24 hours of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Notice to Proceed.
At 10 a.m., residents from throughout the impacted area of Pennsylvania and New Jersey will rally at George Feighner’s home near Milford in Montague, NJ. Feighner, 86-years-old, had his property taken by eminent domain by FERC’s decision while still involved in legal appeals. Tree clearing up to his home commenced on Friday morning.
The new Loop 323 is meant to add more volume to the Tennessee Pipeline system to service Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling using the controversial fracking method. Loop 323 will stretch from Milford, PA to Vernon, NJ as additional pipeline loops continue to be constructed elsewhere to the east and west.
“I was born and raised in Vernon, NJ, where the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Loop 324 has already impacted my community and where Loop 323 will end when it’s finished,” said Petryk.
“After graduating from Ramapo College with a degree in environmental studies I became an outdoor environmental educator at the Pocono Environmental Education Center. During this time I fell in love with Pike County and the bountiful hiking and the beautiful vistas. The Tennessee Pipeline is a major artery for the monster that is the Marcellus Shale industry that will cut across the Delaware River valley with disrespect to the people here and valuable ecology we are meant to steward. The pipeline will give enormous incentive for use of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, proposed natural gas power plants like the one in Newark, compressor stations and all related natural gas infrastructure. I encourage our decision makers to abandon the dead end of fossil fuels and seek to innovate our way toward a clean energy future,” said Petryk.
“Milford is my home town, where I grew up, where I work, where I fish, where I hunt and the place that I remain. We are not a resource colony of Washington, DC, or Harrisburg. I took this action to blockade the construction of the Tennessee Pipeline Loop 323 upgrade today to stop the rapid industrialization of Pike County by natural gas infrastructure.” said Lotorto.
“Most of all, my trade as a landscaper has been to keep and make this place beautiful. Marcellus Shale drilling to our west has hit home with its pipelines here after two years of our local leaders’ and neighbors’ dissent and appeals. The Upper Delaware River region thrives on tourism, recreation, real estate, agriculture and the scenic value of our land. My mother, who recently passed, sold many homes and properties along the roads this right of way will cross as a realtor. She helped hundreds of families fall in love with our area and move here, which paid to clothe and feed me as a child. The short term boost to our bars and hotels as the workers come in from around the country will never replace the long term losses to our rural heritage industries as this pipeline scars our land. I stand in solidarity with every working family now impacted by the massive, trillion dollar Marcellus Shale gas industry. I hope our nation realizes these are the tragedies we support when we elect dirty energy politicians like Barack Obama,” said Lotorto.
This action is also a response to President Obama’s State of the Union address, when he said, his “administration will keep cutting red tape and speeding up new oil and gas permits.”
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