Pennsylvania nuns resist fracking gas pipeline through ‘holy’ land

Catholic order constructs chapel in middle of cornfield in attempt to use religion freedom protections to block Atlantic Sunrise pipeline

Catholic nuns in Pennsylvania are defying plans to build a$ 3bn pipeline for gas obtained by fracking through its land by creating a rudimentary chapel along the proposed route and launching a legal challenge, quoting religious freedom.

The Adorers of the Blood of Christ order has filed a complaint against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission( FERC) in a bid to keep the pipeline off their land. The nuns lawyers argue in court papers that a decision by FERC to force them to accommodate the pipeline is antithetical to the deeply held religious beliefs and convictions of the Adorers.

The Adorers, an order of 2,000 nuns across the world, have made protected environment central to their mission. The plan for the pipeline goes against everything we believe in we believe in the sustenance of all creation, Sister Linda Fischer, 74, told the Washington Post.

The 183 -mile Atlantic Sunrise pipeline is designed to supply enough natural gas to meet the daily needs of more than 7 million American homes by connecting making regions in northeastern Pennsylvania to markets in the Mid-Atlantic and southeastern states, its website says.

Atlantic Sunrise pipeline

It is an extension of the Transco pipeline, which runs more than 10,000 miles from from Texas to New York, and will carry gas removed from the Marcellus shale region since fracking was permitted by the state.

Williams, the company house the pipeline, wants to pay farm owners to allow it to dig up land, install the line, and return the land to farm employ. It has offered compensation for lost harvests and regular inspections to ascertain if the pipeline affects agricultural output.

About 30 landowners who refused to do a deal with Williams now face being forced to comply by a FERC order.

A section of the pipeline is planned to run underneath a strip of land owned by the Adorers in West Hempfield Township, Lancaster County, and leased to a local farmer.

Earlier this month, the nuns dedicated a makeshift outdoor chapel at the site, consisting of some wooden benches and an arbour surrounded by corn, with 300 people in attendance.

NoPipelinesLancaster (@ NoLancPipelines)

#standwiththesisters Details for today’s outdoor chapel dedication: https :// t.co/ fACEtnY0Mm pic.twitter.com/ qH2f0lOlEt

July 9, 2017

We just wanted to symbolise, truly, what is already there. This is holy ground, said Sister Janet McCann.

If the court rules against the nuns, Lancaster Against Pipelines, a local activist group, has pledged to mount a round-the-clock vigil at the chapel.

Alex Geli (@ alexgeli)

At a vigil held by the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a group of nuns who, w/ Lancaster Against Pipelines, oppose Atlantic Sunrise pipeline pic.twitter.com/ TPk1gB 5L8z

July 16, 2017

In 2005, the nuns whose order was founded in 1834 adopted a land ethic upholding the sacredness of creation. It says the earth is a sanctuary where all life is protected and which must be protected for future generations.

Their lawyers have told the court that the nuns religious beliefs include educating and addressing important issues of social and environmental justice, such as poverty, war, combating racism and global warming that separates humen in a way that the Adorers do not believe mirrors their hope for the Kingdom of God.

Their conviction that the earth is an example of Gods creation obligates the Adorers to exert their religious beliefs by, inter alia , caring for and protecting the land they own as well as actively educating and engaging on issues relating to the environment, including the current and future impact on the earth caused by global warming as the result of the use of fossil fuels.

Read more: www.theguardian.com