The chapel built on land owned by Lancaster County nuns on the proposed path of Williams’ Atlantic Sunrise pipeline has received worldwide attention. It’s one of the all-too common stories of private citizens losing their land to corporations building fossil fuel pipelines for their own gain.
A lesser-known story is set in Dallas, Pennsylvania, where a landowner farther north on the same route was presented with two options by Williams – they’d either bisect his organic farm and, thus, destroy it or they’d run the pipeline next to the road, affecting his water well and a 100-year old barn built with chestnut timbers, a material that is hard to come by these days.
Dale Wilkie had put a lot of work into his barn, but couldn’t risk his entire farm. He figured he could relocate the barn.
That was back when he thought he’d be compensated. The estimates he’d been required to provide to Williams and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission put the replacement value of the barn at $450,000 to $475,000. But once the eminent domain proceedings were done, Williams refused to pay up.
If he had to lose his barn, Wilkie thought he’d donate the wood to the non-profit Hillside Farms, a conservation organization in Trucksville, Pennsylvania, where it could be used to repair buildings. But the barn had already been taken by Williams. The company wouldn’t allow the wood to be donated.
Bear in mind, this is the same company that took down hundreds of maple trees on a property in Susquehanna County to create a right-of-way for its proposed Constitution pipeline. The line had all of the necessary permits on the Pennsylvania side thanks to our Department of Environmental Protection’s never-ending rush to do the bidding of the industry. New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation understands its job is to protect environmental resources and the people who rely on them, so weeks after the trees came down in Pennsylvania, New York denied the permit needed on its side of the route. Williams recently lost its appeal of New York’s decision. In petulant behavior typical of bullying pipeline companies, Williams left the felled trees scattered on the property. They’re still rotting in place today. Williams has no respect for nature or, as Wilkie’s story reveals, history.
The barn is still standing, although demolition could occur at any time. Videographer Scott Cannon has produced a short video interview with Wilkie in which he tours the barn.
Dr. Anthony Ingraffea of Cornell University shows a slide of a well pad atop Pennsylvania’s Endless Mountains in some of his presentations. He asks the audience why drillers would choose to put it there. The answer? Because they can. We have been victims of the oil & gas industry’s hubris for more than a decade in Pennsylvania. Enough is enough.