Participants in the #WeAreMamaBear Statewide Community Day of Resistance took direct action on Saturday to oppose the Mariner East Pipeline project and highlight the unjust jailing of Ellen Sue Gerhart
Pennsylvania — Today, community groups across Pennsylvania participated in a coordinated day of resistance to the Mariner East pipeline projects. In Middletown Township, Delaware County, 3 residents were arrested protesting the construction of the Mariner East pipelines and an above ground valve station just 600 feet from an elementary school.The actions, ranging from a rally to a die-in to a prayer vigil, highlight the growing opposition and resistance movement to the Mariner East pipelines, as well as the unjust jailing of grandmother and retired teacher Ellen Sue Gerhart, who was sentenced to 2-6 months and a $2,000 fine for opposing pipeline construction on her own land.
Known by many as “mama bear,” Ellen has been a vocal advocate for protecting land and water, and defending private property rights from eminent domain. “The fight against this industry is going to take a long time,” said Ellen Sue Gerhart, who gave a statement from the Centre County Jail to her daughter Elise Gerhart during a visit last week. “It’s really important that people continue to work together and support each other – that’s the only way that we’re going to get through this.” The Gerharts continue to challenge the Mariner East pipelines on their property and have a filed an appeal of the permits before the Environmental Hearing Board. Huntington County Judge George Zanic has attempted to further silence Ellen by filing a motion to prevent her from testifying before the EHB. Among other demands, activists are demanding that Ellen be allowed to testify at this critical hearing.
Three members of the “Mama Bear Brigade,” a local resistance group of concerned mothers and grandmothers, were arrested as part of an action in which over 30 impacted residents staged a bake sale on the pipeline easement next to Glenwood Elementary School. The school has been the epicenter of the fight for school and community safety in the densely populated Philadelphia suburbs. “We’re holding this bake sale to raise awareness,” said Abbie Wysor, one of the 3 women arrested as part of the action. “It is unconscionable that Governor Wolf and the state of Pennsylvania have allowed Sunoco/ ETP to construct this extremely hazardous industrial infrastructure just feet from our homes and our children’s schools. We demand safety; we demand Governor Wolf order a full and complete shutdown of the entire project to protect our communities and our children.”
Slated to transport over 750,000 barrels of ethane, propane, and butane per day, the Mariner East pipelines pose a grave risk to residents, schools, communities, and waterways of the Commonwealth. Since construction of the Mariner East 2 and 2X pipelines began, there have been an astounding 224 documented spills, including a 4,000 gallon hazardous drilling fluid spill on the Gerhart property. Over a dozen families across the Commonwealth have lost access to their well water due to spills. This past week it was discovered that sections of the buried Mariner pipeline have flaws in their coating and other irregularities that could lead to greater risk of leak or rupture down the line.
Organizers of the events chose the #WeAreMamaBear hashtag to demonstrate that resistance to Mariner East is growing, and that communities across Pennsylvania stand in solidarity with the Gerharts. Residents across the state demand the full and complete shutdown of the Mariner East Pipelines that put our waterways, residences, schools, and communities at unacceptable risk.
Abbie Wysor, Ann Dixon and Barbara Montabana are given a lawful order to dismiss by state troopers. They decided to remain in place. #stopetp and #freeellen solidarity action in Middletown township Delaware county, PA. Community elders hold a bake sale while activists place Teddy bears and cookies on Sunoco’s Mariner Eat 2 pipeline behind Glenwood Elementary School. The natural gas liquid slated to pump through the pipeline would place students and local residents at risk of lethal gas leaks or explosions. Private security contractors have shown up asking residents to leave the construction site.