A federal judge in Reading has dismissed a freedom-of-religion lawsuit brought by a Roman Catholic order of nuns near Columbia to try to stop a gas pipeline.
The judge said the court lacked jurisdiction .
The Adorers of the Blood of Christ immediately announced they would appeal the case to the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
The Adorers had brought the lawsuit against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company in a last-ditch effort to stop the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline from running through farmland they own in West Hempfield Township.
They sued under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The nuns maintained that their deeply held belief is that the Earth is God's creation and that land is a "gift of beauty and sustenance" that should not be used in an "excessive and harmful way."
"The development of largescale fracking operations and construction of new pipelines as proposed by Transco will only accelerate the damage to the Earth and cause great harm to all of God's creation," the nuns said in a news release following the court ruling.
The Tulsa-based company Williams Partners wants to build a 50-foot-wide pipeline right of way through 35 miles of Lancaster County, involving …
A simple, open-air chapel the nuns allowed Lancaster Against Pipelines to build in a corn field in the pipeline right of way has attracted worldwide media attention. The group has vowed to protect the chapel from being destroyed.
But U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey Schmehl in Reading agreed with FERC and Transcontinental that the court lacked jurisdiction in the matter.
Christopher Stockton, spokesman for the Atlantic Sunrise gas pipeline and owner of Transcontinental, issued this statement to LNP: “We are pleased with the court's well-reasoned decision to dismiss the Adorer's Religious Freedom Restoration Act action against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Transco.
“As always, our goal is to respect and treat every landowner fairly. Our team has been willing to negotiate in good faith with the Adorers for more than two years. We remain open to constructive dialogue with the landowner to find an amicable resolution of our differences.
“While we respect the Adorer's right to express their opinion, we disagree with the position they have taken with regard to this important infrastructure project. Access to inexpensive, domestic natural gas is a huge benefit to all people, especially the economically disadvantaged.
“Sufficient access to affordable natural gas supplies keeps our energy costs low and supports thousands of good-paying jobs, in addition to helping America lead the world in combating climate change.”