CONESTOGA TWP., Pa. - Opponents of a proposed pipeline in Lancaster County are organizing a rallying spot in case the government approves its construction.
The Lancaster Against Pipelines group is preparing for the potential approval of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline by focusing its efforts on a farm on Conestoga Boulevard to provide a central place for demonstrators.
"If the government's not going to stop you from doing what's wrong, then we feel like we need to," Malinda Harnish Clatterbuck, one of the group's co-founders, said.
With that in mind, volunteers are building a 14-foot tall stand to serve as a focal point. Fire pits are also in place for demonstrators to build campfires.
"This is the center of our resistance. This is the landowner who said you can come here, you can occupy this space and you can be here," Jon Telesco, one of the volunteers building the structure, said. "So we wanted this physical structure that would allow people to see that here is the place that we will be resisting."
The property owners here have refused several offers from Williams partners to allow them to build the pipeline. Opponents say this is a critical spot because this is where the pipeline builders plan to drill under the Conestoga River.
"Part of it is for people to feel familiar with the space to better understand what we're trying to do, that we're not extremists, we're not anti-government," Clatterbuck said. "What we're about is protecting our health and safety in a way that our local officials aren't protecting us right now."
A decision on the pipeline is expected sometime in January with immediate construction expected if approved. That is why pipeline opponents are mobilizing now.
"We will hopefully form an encampment here, we will bring people here to stand here and say we are not going to let this pipeline go through, and we will be here to protect this land," Telesco said.
"It's wrong for an outside big corporation to come in and tell this community what risk they have to bear, what burden they have to bear for the right of the corporation to make money," Clatterbuck added.
The group is organizing an event on October 22nd to open this area to any and all demonstrators against the pipeline as they await a decision from the government.