READING — Sister Bernice Klostermann bowed her head and led a small group of nuns and other protesters — united in their opposition to the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline crossing Lancaster County — in a prayer asking God “to nourish and shape, to challenge and energize both the life and the world” they have vowed to protect.

“Give us the courage we need to confront those things that compromise our consciences or threaten our integrity,” Klostermann prayed. She asked for the courage “to brave the pressure that comes with being out of public step,” and to “follow those before us who challenged wrong and changed it, whatever the cost to themselves.”

Klostermann was one of several members of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ, a Roman Catholic religious order that owns land in West Hempfield Township on the Atlantic Sunrise route.

Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Co. took the nuns to court on Monday for an injunction granting them the right to seize the land via eminent domain. The nuns, who oppose the pipeline, have filed a counter injunction to block the seizure.

Sister Janet McCann, acting as spokeswoman for the Adorers, said members of the order “remain opposed to construction” of the pipeline despite approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for Transco to proceed.

The order shares a “land ethic,” McCann said, that “honors the sacredness of creation, reverences Earth as a sanctuary where all life is protected and treasures land as a gift of beauty and sustenance and legacy for future generations.”

The pipeline project, she said, compromises their values “on the very land that is ours.”

The protest, which preceded a hearing before U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl, was centered around a 50-foot-long quilt created by supporters of Lancaster Against Pipelines, according to group spokesman Mark Clatterbuck, to showcase their opposition to the project.

David Jones noted the supply pipeline that exploded recently in Millersville, killing a UGI worker and destroying or damaging several homes, was a 9-inch line, compared to the 42-inch line — under higher pressure — planned by Atlantic Sunrise.

An explosion along the proposed pipeline, he said, would cause destruction at a far greater radius.

Outside on Washington Street, Philadelphia resident Tamara Clements led a small group of sign-toting protesters who also oppose the pipeline.

Besides their signs, Clements brandished a 15-foot-long printout listing several hundred pipeline accidents in the United States in the past 10 years.

Pipeline owners are “not responsive” to the people whose land is traversed, Clements said. Most leaks are found by a landowner — or, in some cases, a child — and not a pipeline employee.

“We have the technology in wind and solar,” she said. “There are jobs in wind and solar. We’re being held back because of all the money to be made in fracking in Pennsylvania, while they poison people’s homes in the shale fields.”

Williams has called the pipeline an "important, federally approved project" that will deliver low-cost natural gas from Pennsylvania's shale fields to millions of Americans.

What to Read Next