WEST WHITELAND — About 50 demonstrators sang, held signs high and read from an anti-pipeline book at the site of Friday’s clear cut pipeline construction, at the Chester County Library.
Sunoco cut down trees and a neighbor’s garden at the Chester County easement that runs next to local resident properties, private bird sanctuaries, an Exton Little League field, a playground, and the library.
This construction comes in the face of a lawsuit Chester County Commissioners brought against Sunoco last year.
As the county awaits its day in court, the newly elected Commissioners brought a court injunction to halt construction until all pending legal issues had been addressed. On Thursday, a judge ruled against the injunction.
Commissioners are appealing this decision, but Sunoco has taken this as an opportunity to move full steam ahead. The pipeline stretches 350 miles across the width of the state, and 23 miles in Chester and 11 miles of Delaware counties, through high density areas.
Demonstrators have fought the pipeline for more than three years and the fight is intensifying.
Jerry McMullen lost his backyard sanctuary.
“You’ll never know we were here,” McMullen said. This popular refrain is what residents say they were told by the Sunoco Mariner East pipeline builder.
“This is a 350-mile disaster,” McMullen said. “They do it for profit.”
Ginny Kerslake, Democratic candidate for state Legislative District 167 was sad to see the McMullen’s garden destroyed.
“Today was a day many of us have feared for a few years now,” she said. “This couple’s beautiful garden and designated wildlife habitat, lovingly created and tended for 43 years was ripped apart, in an abuse of eminent domain, for corporate gain.”
Some sold easements to Sunoco.
“We paid for your silence so don’t make a fuss,” event organizer Luke Bauerlein said was the opinion of the pipeline builder.
The colorful signs read, “We can’t eat money,” and “Sunoco pipeline’s blast zone equals five football fields.”
Ethane, butane and propane will be shipped overseas, enough to make up to a billion plastic bottles per day.
State Sen. Andy Dinniman, D-19, has fought the pipeline for several years.
“You have to keep fighting,” he said. Dinniman also said the Public Utility Commission should have never given the project eminent domain status.
West Whiteland resident and McMullen neighbor Libby Madarasz spoke to the group.
“They were told, you have no choice,” she said about Sunoco. “We’re still going to take your land.”
And the demonstrators sang, while construction workers moved around equipment, watched and videotaped.
“People gonna rise like the water, We’re going to face this crisis now, I hear the voice of my great-granddaughter, Saying shut this pipeline down.”