Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline protesters arrested after standing in way of backhoe

WEST HEMPFIELD TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline protesters were arrested while trying to stop construction in West Hempfield, Lancaster County.

Melinda Harnish Clatterbuck, a protester, said, We have the right to clean air and clean water and a healthy future. The right of that corporation to come in and violate our constitutional rights is an abomination."

Protesters gathered at the cornfield, where construction of the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline started Monday.

The pipeline is an addition to Williams Partners' Transco Pipeline.

Mark Clatterbuck, a protester, said, "It might be a disruption because cars are parked in your parking spot. But if Williams gets their way, there's going to be a high pressure crack gas explosive pipeline that could incinerate half your community."

But protesters were soon asked to leave after standing in front of a backhoe and arrested if they refused.

The cornfield is property of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ.

Brett Hambright, a spokesperson with the Lancaster County District Attorney's Office, said, "The owners of the property, which would be the Adorers group, essentially revoked their permission for the individuals protesting to be on the easement to be on that specific location, which made this a trespass incident for anyone who remained there."

A total of 23 people were arrested and charged with defiant trespass. The juvenile charged has been released, according to Hambright.

The sisters with the church tried to stop the pipeline through legal means, but a judge ruled in favor of Williams.

In a statement, Christopher Stockton, a spokesperson for Williams, said, "We respect the rights of people to protest, but our focus is on constructing this important, federally approved infrastructure in a safe, efficient manner. We will continue to coordinate with local and state authorities to ensure protestors, construction personnel and our employees are protected during the construction process."

"We are committed to treating all landowners fairly and with respect. It is important to note that the Adorers property, which until recently has been used for farming, will continue to be able to be used for farming once the pipeline is installed."

But protesters are more than willing to go to prison to try to stop the construction.

Clatterbuck said, "It's an injustice that I feel convicted and compelled to try and change."