Megan Holleran lost the latest round of her long-running battle with the natural gas industry on Tuesday when men with chain saws began to fell trees on her family’s property to make way for an interstate pipeline.
The felling crew took down about one and a half acres of trees on the 23-acre Susquehanna County lot. They were expected to cut about the same amount again Wednesday in preparation for construction of the 124-mile Constitution Pipeline, which would carry natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale into New York State.
When the clearance is complete, it will have stripped about 90 percent of the trees from which Holleran and her family harvest maple syrup in a commercial operation that she says is now destroyed.
The pipeline’s builders, led by the Williams Companies, won court permission about a year ago to take some of the family’s land under eminent domain, a legal mechanism that is being pursued by other pipeline companies as they begin a massive build-out of Pennsylvania’s natural gas pipeline infrastructure.
Landowners like the Hollerans are rejecting offers of compensation by pipeline builders—who, in some cases, are going to court to seek eminent domain over the land.
Holleran said her family, which has owned the property since the 1950s, has urged Williams to find a different route for the pipeline—perhaps even burying it underground. But Williams has insisted on the current route.